Tag Archives: sales professional

Is Your Buyer a Liar? Here’s How to Find Out

By Jeff Beals

 “Buyers are liars.”

That’s an age-old saying in the sales profession, and I hear salespeople use it from time to time.

I’m not a fan of the saying, because using it can emotionally pull you apart from a client, but there have been times when I too have thought “buyers are liars.”

Why do sales pros feel compelled to utter these words? Is it because grizzled veterans get cynical and jaded after years of sales trench warfare?

Perhaps that’s the case for some burned-out old timers, but it’s not the main reason.

Is it because sales reps harbor feelings of hostility toward their clients?

No, it’s not that either. Most professionals are grateful they have clients.

Sales pros like to use the term “buyers are liars,” because sometimes they’ll work hard trying to find the perfect solution for a client only to have that client later say they want something completely different. It happens a lot in some industries.

Is that the buyer’s fault?

Occasionally, but not usually.

While some people choose to mislead a salesperson for whatever reason, blame is usually placed at the foot of the sales pro.  We sometimes think “buyers are liars” because we are not really listening. More significantly, we’re not listening as intensely and studiously as we should.

The key is to listen like a detective.  Think like a detective.  Act like a detective.

Ask questions and carefully listen. You need to listen as intently and actively as a detective listens while interrogating a suspect in a homicide or some other serious crime.

I have often thought that many of the activities professionals (of any industry) do each day are analogous to the work done by detectives.

Whether you are selling, negotiating, proposing or convincing, your success depends on conveying information and getting information out of somebody else. There are times when your clients, colleagues and vendors do not want you to know the whole story. Other times, they may accidentally omit important parts of the information.

As a “detective,” you need to keep digging. Turn over the rocks. Scratch the dirt. Use your Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass. Don’t take things at face value. If you have any doubts or feel like there is even the slightest hole in the information you are receiving, you need to keep questioning – and listening – like a detective.

During interrogation, criminal suspects have a vested interest in the outcome, which is why they lie, withhold, mislead and evade. Detectives look for inconsistencies in their stories and take cues from suspects’ body language. When detectives get the sense that they might be making progress in an interrogation, they start to go deeper, asking more detailed and intricate questions.

Hopefully, your professional interactions are not as grave and adversarial as a criminal interrogation. Nevertheless, you must know that many of the people with whom you interact feel compelled to withhold information. You need to get that information out of them, because it has a direct impact on your success.

Even when the other person and you have a mutual interest, it’s not uncommon for the truth to lie beneath the surface. Keep questioning and listening intently until you are convinced you have unearthed the whole story.

ATTENTION SALES PROS:

I want to make you aware of a unique prospecting resource available to you. My colleague Beth Mastre and I are offering the “Sales Prospecting Masterclass” on Tuesday, August 29th in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, but anyone, regardless of whether they are a chamber member, is welcome to register.

This class will change the way you prospect.  It’s a “deep dive.”  We’ll spend the whole day covering what actually works in today’s challenging sales environment.  Every participant will leave with a step-by-step, personalized prospecting plan and actual language you can use to engage prospects the very next day. Click here for information or to register!

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Prospecting Challenges

Sales Prospecting Class Logo NARROW

By Jeff Beals

Prospecting is not just something sales professionals do to fill their pipelines. Prospecting is a mindset, and for the most successful sales pros, it’s a way of life.

If you work in sales, nobody has to tell you that prospecting today is exponentially harder than at any other time in history.  Why is that?  Here are four reasons:

  1. Prospects are busier than ever, making them distracted and difficult to reach.
  2. Products are services are now commonly considered to be mere commodities.
  3. Salespeople all sound and act the same. Too many of us utter the same meaningless jargon and gimmicky sales lines.
  4. Prospects have access to unprecedented information about products and services. They can find out anything they want about your company through a simple Google search. In many cases, they can find online reviews about your offerings.  They can go onto a discussion forum and solicit opinions about you and your products. The problem with all this information, however, is that it tends to be overwhelming, unfiltered and often taken out of context.  Prospects are highly informed but not necessarily accurately informed.

The combination of these four challenges has turned prospects into price-sensitive buyers who are hesitant to engage with salespeople.

So, what can we do to rise above the fracas and succeed in an highly competitive selling environment?

Prospect like “your hair’s on fire” – Because prospecting is harder than ever, you need to be more diligent.  Like I mentioned earlier, prospecting is a mindset, a way of life.  You could even call is a “lifestyle.”  Embrace it. Welcome it.  Do it every single day of the week.  While prospecting can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, push through it.  If you are positive about it, you’ve won half the battle.

It’s not about you – Always focus on what the prospects value, not what you care about.  It’s never about you. It’s not about your company. It’s not about your product’s features and benefits.  Think of yourself as a detective assigned to figure out how you can best help the mysterious person known as your prospect.

Apply discipline to your prospecting – Even though there are more enjoyable things to do as a sales professional, you have to make prospecting one of your top daily activities.  You even have to do it on days you’re closing other deals.  Top producers reserve blocks of time for prospecting and they don’t allow any distractions during those times. I know of no other use of your time that is more likely to lead to long-term sales success than being a dedicated, disciplined prospector.

Value-based language – When emailing prospects, leaving them voicemails or talking to them face-to-face, ask questions that determine what they value and then explain things in a way that shows how you deliver that value.  Good prospectors research and test language they can use when engaging potential customers.  Ultimately, you want language that captures a prospect’s attention, conveys value, makes them feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with you and then compels them to make some sort of a commitment.

Make a plan – While you need to be an exuberant and disciplined prospector, you do need a plan. If you run to the nearest phone and start dialing cold prospects haphazardly, you’re wasting your time.  Your plan should include what types of people you target, where you get leads, how you do pre-call research, the language you use to establish value and the tactics you use to push them further down your pipeline.

This comes as a surprise to a lot of people, but did you know that prospecting is the number-one deficiency among salespeople and sales departments?  It’s true. Most of the problems that salespeople complain about are ultimately caused by poor prospecting methods or a lack of prospecting discipline.

I want to make you aware of a unique prospecting resource available to you. My colleague Beth Mastre and I are offering the “Sales Prospecting Masterclass” on Tuesday, August 29th in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, but anyone, regardless of whether they are a chamber member, is welcome to register.

This class will change the way you prospect.  It’s a “deep dive.”  We’ll spend the whole day covering what actually works in today’s challenging sales environment.  Every participant will leave with a step-by-step, personalized prospecting plan and actual language you can use to engage prospects the very next day. Click here for information or to register!

How Sales Professionals Can Harness the Power of Persuasion

By Jeff Beals

Some people are blessed with a natural ability to get what they want.

They have an innate ability to influence people, sway opinions and win arguments.  While such “mind powers” are instinctive to some, most of us have to work hard to persuade people to our way of thinking.  Fortunately, persuasion and influence cannot only be learned; they can be mastered.

Have you ever read Robert Cialdini?  He’s the “Godfather of Influence” and the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the most influential business books of the past 30 years.  More recently, he authored Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

Much of Cialdini’s work is focused on helping people master “leadership’s greatest challenge – getting things done through others.”  But the skills employed by accomplished leaders are quite similar to those needed in sales.  Let’s look at Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence through a sales lens:

Liking

The principle of liking says that people like those who are like them.  You should “uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.”

Cialdini uses the example of a Tupperware party to illustrate how liking works. The hostess invites friends and family members. Because the attendees like the hostess, they’re far more willing to buy Tupperware products.  For example, my wife finds herself at a handful of parties each year for multi-level marketing products such as Tuppperware.  Inevitably, she ends up buying something just to please her friend (the hostess).

The two most significant factors affecting liking are similarity and praise. People are more apt to like people who are similar to them.  If you praise other people – even if that praise isn’t terribly merited – they are much more likely to like you.

What does that tell us?

Sales managers should sales representatives who have similar interests and backgrounds as the targeted prospects. Sales reps should take time after meeting new prospects to establish common ground.  Find excuses to compliment your prospects on their companies, products, careers and accomplishments.

Reciprocity

According to the principle of reciprocity, people have a tendency to repay in kind.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – The Golden Rule has been scientifically proven to be true.  Cialdini says any manager can be the beneficiary of good behavior by displaying the same behavior to others first.

The same applies to sales professionals.

Gift giving is a somewhat primitive example of reciprocity, but I have had success reaching prospects by first sending them a little gift.  Simply because I mailed them a copy of my books or a unique gift that relates to their company, I am much more likely to reach them on the phone.

Social Proof

This is my favorite of Cialdini’s principles because it relates directly to sales: “People follow the lead of similar others.”  We should “use peer power whenever it’s available.”

Cialdini cites a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity.  When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

Social proof is why references, testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.  Take time to collect testimonials and make them available to prospective clients.  Get a referral from a respected source before making a prospecting call.  Your success rate should rise dramatically.

Consistency

“People align with their clear commitments,” Cialdini says. “Make their commitments active, public and voluntary.”

Cialdini says if you supervise an employee who should submit reports on time, get that understanding in writing (such as a memo or email); make the commitment public (perhaps by sharing it with people in other affected departments); and link the commitment to the employee’s values (such as the impact of timely reports on team spirit).

This is why winning mini commitments is so effective in selling. If your prospective client agrees to something up front, you are more likely to close a sale with them. Perhaps you could summarize the outcome of a meeting in an email and ask the prospect to email you back confirming that everything you said is accurate.

Authority

The principle of authority says that “people defer to experts,” and Cialdini advises you to “expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident.”

While it is critically important for sales people to listen more than they talk when sitting in front of prospective clients, you do need to take at least a little bit of time to demonstrate your credentials and backgrounds.

Scarcity

People naturally want more of what they can have less of, Cialdini says, so highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.”

Cialdini writes about a time when wholesale beef buyers’ orders jumped 600 percent when they alone received information on a possible beef shortage.  Provide exclusive information to persuade.  When you tell people they are getting information before everyone else, they are more interested.  If people know they have access to something that is closed to others, they value it more.

Sales professionals might want to make special offers or upgrades available to the best clients first, or in some cases, only to the best clients.

In the end, sales professionals can gain a clear advantage by employing  Cialdini’s six principles, but keep a few things in mind – Trust is one of the most important components to completing a sale especially a complex, high-ticket-price B2B transaction. If you use these principles with an exploitative and manipulative heart, you will hurt your chances of creating a recurring client.

The other key to selling is value. You must discover exactly what prospective clients value and then deliver products and services which deliver that value exactly. If you fail to do that, the principles of influence will ultimately be ineffective.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Navigate 7 Tricky Sales Conundrums

By Jeff Beals

More than 50% of sales reps do not make their annual quota, and most businesses produce revenue well below their production capacity.

What does this tell us?  We have a leadership void in the sales profession!

Good leadership is critical to success in any line of work.  Just this week, I sat through a speech by Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great.”  Collins argued that leadership is everything – that even in tough times and with scarce resources, great leaders can use dedication and fierce resolve to will their companies to success.

Sales departments are no different.  They need leaders with fierce resolve. Leading a sales team is not rocket science but it is not easy.  Great leaders are fixated on success and always finding ways to help their people be more successful.

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once described leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because (he or she) wants to do it.”

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done and his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”

But leaders also have to get results.  The acclaimed management theorist, Peter Drucker once said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Effective sales leaders drive revenue by empowering those who work with them to make decisions at the lowest level possible, while gathering and basing decisions upon quantitative facts which are interpreted and applied according to the leader’s experience and intuition.

That’s a mouthful, but what does it really mean?  Sales leadership is a dichotomous endeavor.  It requires you to balance seemingly contradictory things.

The 7 Dichotomies of Sales Leadership

  1. Sales leadership is both an art and a science.
  2. You must empower your people while requiring results.
  3. You must provide support while demanding accountability.
  4. You can’t allow staff to take advantage of you, but you should never lead by fear or intimidation.
  5. You must be a provider of data and forecasts as well as a teacher and counselor.
  6. You must be strategic and big-picture oriented but still accountable if your department allows details to fall through the cracks.
  7. You must produce impressive results while maintaining ethical standards.

How do sales leaders wrestle with these dichotomies and ultimately enjoy successful careers?

Strategy vs. Tactics

Effective sales leaders focus on developing strategy and casting vision.  In order to do this, they must create rock-solid systems of organization within the sales department.  It makes sense to automate as much of the process as possible.  For that portion of the sales process that can’t be automated, you need talented, committed sales managers who can supervise daily tasks.

Hire the Right People

Speaking of Jim Collins, he is also known for saying, “Get the right people on the bus.”  When hiring sales professionals, always look at their frequent past behavior. It’s the number-one indicator of future performance.  Go deeper in your due diligence on each prospective employee.

Avoid being blinded by great talent.  Just because someone is smart, extroverted and good-looking doesn’t mean they will do a good job of focusing on client value.

Put People First

Too many sales leaders barricade themselves behind closed office doors and barely glance away from their CRM screens.  While keeping up a firm grasp on sales data is important, don’t be analytical at the expense of your people-oriented responsibilities.

Regarding CRMs, it is important to enforce policies and procedures requiring sales personnel to update client and account information.  Obviously, the reports generated by CRM programs are only as good as the data entered.  That said, sales leadership requires you to strike a balance – make sure your people use the CRM properly, but never make them feel that serving the CRM is more important than serving clients.

Power to the People

Great leaders never micro manage their people.  Sure, they set expectations and demand that people perform, but they leave the “how” to individual sales reps. Want to know one of the most common reasons why leaders micromanage people?  Managers feel intimidated.  Don’t let your ego get the best of you.  If your surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you are, you will eventually succeed.

In the end, if you want to be a high-producing sales leader, find good people, figure out what motivates them, give them the preparation, tools and resources they need, stretch them beyond what they initially believe they can do and support them along the way.

If you do that, you will balance all the ambiguity and dichotomies that come with being a sales leader.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com