Tag Archives: sales professionals

How to Hire the Best Sales Professionals

By Jeff Beals

What’s the number one indicator of future success?

Frequent past behavior.

Do you have responsibility for hiring sales professionals?  If you’re not directly responsible for hiring, do you have influence over which candidates are chosen for sales jobs?

If so, you need to see clearly and think deeply. Don’t be fooled by flash and glamour.  Instead, focus on the basics and carefully examine exactly what candidates have done in their previous work.

The way a person has frequently behaved in the past is probably how they will behave in future.  Study the past carefully.  Ask detailed and probing questions.  Ask uncomfortable questions.  Do your homework and use other sources to find information about a person before hiring them.

Extroverts vs. Introverts? 

I have two kids. My son is an extrovert, while my daughter is an introvert. People are naturally drawn to my son and he makes friends easily both with adults and other kids.  He’s charismatic. People will often say to my son, “You should be in sales like your dad!”

Why do they tell him such things?  Well, because most people assume successful sales professionals are gregarious and outgoing.  Stereotypically, salespeople are loud, confident and comfortable being the center of attention, the life of the party.  Salespeople are supposed to be extroverts, right?

Despite all the outward advantages my son has as a would-be sales professional, my introverted daughter may end up being better at selling than her big-personality brother. Why?  She’s a great listener and she remembers everything.

The single most important thing you can do if you want to be successful in sales is to discover exactly what your client values without making any assumptions.  The single best way to do that is to listen intently and get inside your client’s head.  Keep that in mind when you are looking for sales talent.

Now obviously, prospective salespeople do need some level of charisma, and it does take some confidence to pick up the phone and call a complete stranger.  But don’t discount the quiet, introspective and studious personalities.  They might have to push themselves to make the initial call, but they could very well end up having a higher closing percentage because would-be customers will like their sincerity and authenticity.

Hiring Sales Managers

What About Hiring Sales Managers? What about hiring the people who will lead your company’s sales team on a day-to-day basis?

The most important advice I can give you is don’t be blinded by talent.

Who is most commonly promoted to sales manager?  Someone who has done a great job as a sales producer. At first glance, that might seem like a good idea.

Many executives think great sales reps make great sales managers, but that is frequently not the case.  How can you tell?  Look outside their patently obvious skills and attributes and determine who has the capacity to organize, manage budgets, coach, motivate and discipline people.

Great salespeople, especially the naturals who haven’t had to work terribly hard to be successful, aren’t always good at teaching others how to be successful.  Similarly, star athletes don’t often make successful coaches if the game came easily to them during their playing days; they can have a hard time relating to players who struggle and need time to develop.

If you’re a sales leader, hiring is one of the two or three most important things you will do. You will be judged on the success of your people, so shoot for the moon when you’re hiring.

Don’t be intimidated and don’t let your ego get the best of you – surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you are.  If you want to be a winner, surround yourself with winners.  Never hire anyone unless they are completely motivated to succeed and move up in the world.  Only hire salespeople and sales managers who play to win and are competitive.

You want sales professionals who are ambitious, and as long as they maintain their ethics, just a little bit greedy.

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

The Only Sales Knowledge You’ll Ever Need

anthony-iannarino-book

By Jeff Beals

In his new book on selling, Anthony Iannarino asks readers to finish this sentence: “I sell ___.”

He then writes, “If you answered anything other than ‘outcomes,’ you are wrong. If you answered with your product, service or solution, your answer is so off the mark that it might destroy your ability to succeed in sales.”

Iannarino then goes on to quote the late economist Theodore Levitt, who said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” In other words, customers are purchasing desired outcomes even if they are technically purchasing the means of creating outcomes.  Those sellers who realize what they are truly selling have a tremendous advantage over the great mass of ordinary sellers who are obsessed with products and services, features and benefits.

Among 19 meaty chapters of non-stop sales wisdom, the above quotes illustrate perfectly just how much value you’ll find in Iannarino’s The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need (Portfolio Penguin, 2016) which was just released a couple months ago.

Iannarino is an internationally acclaimed sales consultant and trainer as well as creator of one of the world’s most popular sales blogs.  In writing the book, he set out to explain why a small number of salespeople in any field are hugely successful, while the remaining common sales folk are mediocre or worse.

Some call it the “80-20” rule (and in some industries, it’s more like the “90-10” rule), but it’s essentially true – Twenty percent of sales people account for 80 percent of the business.  Everyone else is fighting over the scraps.  I certainly don’t want to dwell among the unexceptional 80 percent and hopefully you don’t either.

So, why the discrepancy among the haves and have-nots in the sales profession?  Iannarino’s answer is simple and straight forward – It’s all about the seller.  If you are in sales, you and you alone are responsible for your success and failure. In other words, you can decide to be a successful sales professional, and that decision is independent of product, service or industry.

Sales success, according to Iannarino, is not situational nor is about the market. It’s about the individual sales professional.  That leads us to a burning question: How do you make sure you’re part of the distinguished 20 percent?

The answer is divided into two parts which correspond to the two primary sections of Iannarino’s book: 1. your mindset, which includes beliefs and behaviors; 2. your skill sets.

The mindsets include self-discipline, positive attitude, competitiveness, resourcefulness, persistence and a few others. Once you thoroughly understand and adopt these mindsets, Iannarino says you can then start mastering the mechanics of selling.  Here are thoughts on just a few of his skill sets:

Closing Deals

Iannarino argues that selling effectively is all about gaining commitments.  You need to be an ethical and consultative seller while assertively asking for commitments. There are numerous mini closes in the buying process such as the commitments to devote time, to explore, to change, to build consensus, and to invest resources.  Each time you get a small commitment, you move the buyer closer to the finish line.

Prospecting

Never wait until you need to prospect as it should be something you do perpetually whether times are tough or you have so much business you can hardly keep your breath.  Regarding the art of prospecting, Iannarino says, “You can’t cram prospecting. It must be a daily discipline. Block out time every day.”  He also says, “Prospecting is a campaign, not an event. It’s a series of touches that lead to a conversation and an opportunity to meet.”

Business Acumen

In the olden days of selling, sales people got by as long as they had extensive product knowledge.  That’s becoming less important now, because so much information and so many reviews of products are available online. Innarino says today’s “dream clients” want salespeople who will partner with them and guide them to a better future.  Clients want trusted advisers.  In order to provide that kind of high-level value, you need business acumen.

How do you get business acumen?

Constantly read and study business, get mentors, play close attention to what clients say. Ultimately, you must know much more than what you sell. While this in some ways seems obvious, Iannarino says that business acumen is still rare in sales. Don’t worry so much about product knowledge that you don’t know enough big-picture stuff to help your clients truly improve their R.O.I.

In the end, successful salespeople stay ahead of their competitors in a dynamic selling environment.  Because of globalization and many other factors, Iannarino believes that selling is more difficult today than it was in the past. That’s despite all the technological advances that have made a salesperson’s just easier in other ways.

To become an elite sales professional, I highly recommend The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.

I have had the chance to talk with Iannarino on a couple occasions. His brain is packed with sales knowledge and experience. The sales world is fortunate that he finally decided to put that knowledge in a tidy, organized book that delivers amazing value.

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 Survive in a Post-Cold-Calling World

By Jeff Beals

In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold-call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes eight attempts.  That’s according to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group.  Some studies have indicated it requires 10 to 12 attempts to reach an executive-level decision maker.

No doubt about it, cold calling is getting less and less effective.  Unless you have a referral or some other way to warm up a prospecting call, cold calling has now become an utter waste of time for most sales people.

That’s not to say that telephone prospecting is dead.

On the contrary, the telephone remains one of the most powerful and effective prospecting channels on Earth. But old-fashioned cold calling – the idea of picking up the phone and talking to a complete stranger who has no idea who you are – is incredibly inefficient.  Fewer than five percent of cold calls lead to an appointment and a far smaller percentage leads to a sale.

Why is cold calling no longer effective?

There are a number of reasons but chief among them is that clients are time starved. They simply don’t have the time to chat with salespeople on the phone especially B2B clients.  Additionally, it’s hard to establish prospective client value on a cold call which inevitably makes the experience feel “salesy” to the call recipient. That’s not good, because as the old saying goes: “People love to buy but they hate to be sold.”

So what is an enterprising, motivated sales professional to do?  If cold calling is a waste of time, how can you access decision-making prospects and generate more business?

Here are some tips for you to survive a post-cold-calling sales world:

Referrals – Hands down, the single most effective way to cut through the clutter and actually get a busy decision maker to talk with you is to use a referral.  In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time a referral from a trusted source is your ticket to the show. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.

Marketing – Warm up people with a compelling marketing campaign which could be any combination of advertising, social, email, direct mail. Prospecting calls aren’t quite as chilly when the recipient has heard of you.

Personal Branding – As an individual sales professional, you need to be somewhat famous in your own sphere of interest. Build a a highly respected and widely recognized presence in your marketplace whether that is a geographic or industry marketplace.  Use social media especially LinkedIn as a way to promote yourself and get to know other people.

You can build your online presence by participating in discussion forums, joining/becoming active in LinkedIn Groups, reviewing products on Amazon.com that appeal to your prospects and commenting on articles that your prospects are likely to read.

Consider also writing blogs and creating podcasts or YouTube videos that are interesting and attract attention. Attracting prospects through the creation and distribution of free content is knows as inbound marketing, and if done properly, can be immensely effective.

Networking and Social Events – Get to know decision makers or direct reports of decision makers at chamber of commerce events, during community service activities and while helping charitable organizations.  You can even meet prospects along the sidelines of your kids’ or grandkids’ soccer games. Hang out where your prospects hang out.  I know this one works well because I have used it countless times.

Another nice thing about networking is that even if you don’t meet decision makers you can meet the direct reports of decision makers.  Referrals from trusted advisers and favorite direct reports are especially valuable.

Gift Marketing Campaign – Some sales pros will send a gift, perhaps an interesting new book and then follow up two-to-three days after the recipient receives the gift. I have had success with this technique many times. Prospects will usually talk to someone who sends them something appealing.

Have an Excuse – Finally, always have a reason to call that is of value to the prospect and preferably wait until after you have done some of the above items before you place a call.  Additionally, don’t just call because you would like to chat or haven’t heard from a person in a while. Don’t just call because you want to dump a bunch of product information on a prospect. Call when you have something interesting to say that is of value to your would-be client.

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 is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“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

“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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

4 Ways to Figure Out Exactly What Your Prospective Clients Want

By Jeff Beals

I’m at the stage in life when I’m surrounded by kiddos – my siblings, my friends and I all have kids at home. To me, it seems like kids are omnipresent. My family is a rather close-knit group and we get together fairly often. As a dad and uncle, I enjoy watching all the kids interact and build bonds with each other as they grow up and develop into the adults they will someday become.

In any group of kids there are typically a small percentage of them who are particularly gregarious. These kids are blessed with charisma, personality and are more advanced in their communication skills. They stand out. People are drawn to them.

What do adults say about such kids?

  •  “I just know he’ll grow up to be a politician!”
  • “She’ll be running a company someday!!”
  • “You should go into sales when you grow up!!!”

I get why people say such things. I’ve uttered these statements myself. But would you like to hear something that may come as a surprise?

Gregarious, outgoing people don’t automatically make good salespeople.

Sure, they’re more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may be better suited to deliver sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of sales comprises only one-third of the sales process. The other two-thirds of the process are very quiet. The majority of the sales process is comprised of researching, listening and determining exactly what the prospect values without any assumption or ambiguity.

If you want to be successful in sales, there’s something far more important than an outgoing personality. It’s the ability to determine exactly what your prospect values. Here are four ways to do just that:

Listen & Truly Hear

Too often we pretend like we’re listening or even think we’re doing a good job of listening, but in reality, we don’t retain what the other person is telling us. If you sell things for a living, you need to listen with the same intensity and attention to detail that a detective uses when he or she is interviewing a suspected criminal. Tell yourself that the person in front of you will say something at some point in the conversation that can directly lead to a closed deal. You can’t afford to miss it simply because you’re having a second conversation with yourself inside your mind when you need to be focused on the other person.

Never Assume

Our own biases often get in the way of our efforts to figure out what our prospects truly value. Look, you know your products and services better than the prospects do especially if you’ve been in your current selling role for a long time. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable sales professionals can be vulnerable to assuming what clients value because they’ve seen so many other clients and know so much about the product. Don’t succumb to temptation and start assuming you know everything you need to know about your prospect. I call it the “sin of assumption,” and it just might be the deadliest sin in business.

Ask Probing Questions

When we first sit down with a prospect, we engage in small talk or idle chit-chat. That’s a great way to warm up the conversation and make everyone comfortable. But don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. Start asking questions that help you uncover value. The best questions are probing in nature. Start questions with “Why?” “How?” “What if…?” “What would happen if you…?”

Don’t Talk Too Soon

I don’t intend to sound rude, but be quiet! Don’t start talking until you are sure you know what your prospect values. If you’re not 100 percent convinced, keep asking probing questions and keep listening intently to the answers. When you do talk, your sales pitch should be customized based on what the prospective client told you during the value discovery process. Portray your products or services in such a way that they satisfy exactly what the prospect wants and needs.

As you consider the four ways to determine value mentioned above, it should become patently obvious that there is plenty of room for introverts in the sales business. As long as they can muster the gumption to approach prospects in the first place and turn on the charm when it’s time to present, introverts might actually be better at sales than extroverts. When it’s all said and done, the deal typically goes to the person who most closely provides what each unique client really wants.

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 is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“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

“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

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“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

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com