Tag Archives: Sales

Are You Getting in Front of Enough Prospects?

By Jeff Beals

Only 24 percent of salespeople exceeded their quotas last year.

That’s according to a report by sales strategist Marc Wayshak entitled, “18 Sales Statistics You Need to Know About Right Now.”  The report summarizes Wayshak’s study of 400 practicing salespeople.  Sales reps like to talk about “crushing it,” but the majority are notcrushing it.

To make matters worse, 54 percent of the respondents said it’s harder to get in front of prospects than it was five years ago.

But there was one statistic in Wayshak’s report that particularly stood out, and it explains why less than a quarter of sales reps exceeded their quotas: “66.7 percent of respondents reached out to fewer than 250 prospects in the past year.”  Furthermore, only 15 percent reached out to more than 1,000 prospects in the past year.

That’s another piece of evidence in my quest to prove how important prospecting is to your sales success.  The majority of today’s sales reps simply are not putting themselves in front of enough prospective clients.

Prospecting is the key.  Prospecting has always been the key.  It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business, and why in some companies, 10 percent make 90 percent of the sales.  Prospecting separates the great from the good.

If you want to make more money, prospect like your life depends on it.  Consider prospecting to be a mindset, a way of life and a fundamental part of your company’s culture.  When things are going well and you’re closing so many sales you can hardly keep up, you still need to carve out at least a little time for prospecting.

Turn over every rock and scratch the dirt.  Opportunities are often buried layers below the surface.  Keep in mind that every person you meet could potentially lead to business and that prospects can theoretically be found any place you go.

In order to make sure you prospect perpetually, block out a couple periods of time each week that are reserved for prospecting activities: telephone calls, personalized direct emails or showing up at prospects’ offices.  This time should be a non-negotiable calendar commitment not to be interrupted or rescheduled unless it’s an emergency.

When you reach out to new prospects, talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  Research the prospect before contacting them and talk about what they value and then be ready to explain how the outcomes/results of your products and services satisfy those values.

Finally, map out your weekly prospecting plan on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.  Decide who you’re going to contact and research those prospects ahead of time.  That way, when you get to your dedicated prospecting time, you’re focused on communicating instead of digging through websites and looking up LinkedIn profiles.  If you do anything other than communicating during dedicated prospecting time blocks, you’re wasting the prime calling hours.

Ultimately, success or failure in sales comes down to prospecting.  If you prospect perpetually and enthusiastically, you’ll likely succeed.  If you cheat on prospecting, you will likely fail.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Why Do Underperforming Sales Reps Underperform?

By Jeff Beals

Why do underperforming sales reps underperform?

That question has vexed sales leaders since the beginning of time.  The consequences and manifestations of that question have caused many a sales manager to waste countless hours of precious time.

Below is a quick list of what leads to underwhelming results. The first couple of items are very difficult to fix.  The other items can be fixed but only if the sales rep has a strong personal desire to turn things around and succeed.

Mindset – Low performers often lack a love for sales and the competitiveness to go out and win deals.  They lack the self-generated motivation that drives other reps to strive for money, victories and a sense of accomplishment.  Furthermore, some people are actually embarrassed or ashamed to work in sales.  This is more common than you might think.  There are a number of people who work in sales but wish they didn’t because they don’t see it as a prestigious enough job or they feel guilty approaching strangers.  Finally, some sales reps just aren’t team players. They are difficult to manage and don’t collaborate well with co-workers.

Laziness – Sales is not rocket science, but it does take hard work.  Some people just aren’t willing to put in the effort that it takes.

Personal problems – Hopefully, these are just temporary barriers that will eventually go away, but it is awfully difficult to focus on your work when things are in shambles at home.

No understanding of client value – Underperforming reps are more likely to make product-focused calls, meaning they focus too much on the features and benefits of their products/services, talk too much about themselves and focus on how great their company is.  Instead, they should focus on what the prospect truly values and what outcomes the prospect seeks.

Questions – Poor producers typically don’t ask enough questions, and the questions they do ask are superficial in nature.  Successful sales reps ask probing questions and as many as necessary to understand what truly motivates the prospect.

Insufficient prospecting activity – In order to create new clients, sales reps must get on the phone, send emails and show up at prospects’ offices.  They must be willing to interrupt a stranger’s day.  Low producers almost never make enough “dials per day.”

Selling on price – Because low producers don’t build adequate pipelines, they tend to be too dependent upon any one prospect at any given time.  This can make them desperate and more willing to offer price reductions and discounts in order to close sales.  Additionally, underperformers are more likely to focus on price during calls and meetings instead of focusing on the true value the product or service provides.

Trustworthiness – At some level, prospects need to feel like they can trust a sales rep especially when it comes to complex or high-dollar sales.  If a sales rep can’t establish trust quickly with new prospects, he or she is facing a steep uphill climb.

Product Knowledge – When clients do have specific questions about a product, you better be able to answer the question confidently, accurately and quickly.  Many underperformers can’t or won’t.

Most sales managers spend an inordinate amount of time with their underperformers.  Except for new sales reps, it is generally counterproductive to spend a lot of time with your lowest producers.

If you’re trying to decide with whom to spend time, focus on your middle producers.  Those are the sales reps who are producing adequate results but have room for much more. Second, focus on your high producers, helping them maximize their already impressive results. Your third and final priority would be the low producers, determining which ones have potential and which ones should go work somewhere else.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Are You About to Lose Your Largest Client?

My friend and colleague, Lee Salz, has the #1 sales book on Amazon right now. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to grab your copy: Amazon is selling the Kindle version of Sales Differentiation for only $3.99 in the U.S.

In honor of Lee’s brand-new book I have invited him to be a guest columnist for this week’s Sales Shape-Up.

By Lee B. Salz

For the last five years, a hardware supplier sold screws to a national home building company. Whenever the home builder ordered screws, the supplier delivered them accurately and on-time. If the home builder wanted Philips screws, the supplier delivered them. If they wanted flathead screws, the supplier had those, too. The supplier had screws of all types and sizes which allowed them to serve this national home builder client.

The supplier was proud of its performance, and the home builder was pleased with the customer service responsiveness. Over the years, this client grew to become one of the largest, most profitable clients in the hardware supplier’s portfolio.

One day, everything changed. The home builder stopped buying screws from this supplier. A competitor came along and took the account away.

How could that happen given the performance of the hardware supplier?

The competitor talked with the home builder, not just about the screws. The salesperson inquired about the tools they used to install the screws and the material in which the screws were installed. Interestingly, just like the incumbent supplier, the competitor could provide a comprehensive solution rather than sell a single product. Unfortunately for the incumbent, they never had a conversation about the full solution they could provide. They were complacent with the revenue they had and felt that their customer service would create client loyalty. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong.

They lost this account, and the competitor didn’t win it on price. They used Sales Differentiation strategy to position the value of consolidating suppliers with a comprehensive solution which made a strong business case justifying a change. The incumbent was merely a product-pusher and did nothing to provide meaningful, differentiated value.

This story parallels a dynamic I find in most companies. They have a fragmented client portfolio. They sell a product to a client and don’t develop a strategy to position the full solution they can bring to bear. They may have sold a single product to a company or a full solution to a division or location. In both cases, there is more selling to be done!

The key is to use a selling strategy I refer to as conquering accounts. Your client portfolio represents both opportunities and vulnerabilities which a conquering accounts strategy addresses.

The opportunity you have is to grow revenue with those you presently have a relationship.

The vulnerability comes into play when you don’t have a conquering accounts strategy as a competitor, just like with the hardware supplier, comes along and presents a compelling solution rather than pushing a product.

Have you ever looked at your client portfolio and asked yourself how much untapped revenue it represents? If you haven’t, you should! In my experience with clients, I find their client portfolio looks like a slice of Swiss cheese. There are unnecessary holes in their portfolio where they leave revenue on the table and themselves unnecessarily vulnerable to the competition.

Salespeople are pushed to hunt for new accounts, but who is tasked with going back to the existing clients with a conquering accounts strategy?

The first step in the development of your Conquering Accounts Strategy is to put together a Product Contrast Matrix as described below:

1. List of all of your products in the left-hand column

2. In the second column, identify who the competitors are for each product

3. In the third column, ask yourself who buys this product (market segments and the Decision Influencers within them)

4. In the fourth column, for each product, ask yourself the following question:
If they are buying this product, what other products of ours should be of interest?
(If the hardware supplier had asked themselves that question, they would have identified opportunities on both sides of the screw.)

5. In the fifth column, explain why the other products should be of interest by asking this question:
What is the synergy between the product they are currently buying and the related ones?

6. In the sixth column, list the competitors for the other product(s).

Once completed, contrast the data in this tool with your client portfolio. You will quickly be able to see opportunities and vulnerabilities which you can resolve by conquering the account.

Assign each account to a salesperson to develop a conquering accounts strategy and develop a timeline for execution of the strategy.

Your conquering accounts strategy allows you to play both offense and defense against your competitors. You drive revenue and keep them out of your accounts. Using Sales Differentiation strategy to conquer accounts leads to explosive, profitable growth.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

Urgency: A Sales Lesson From the Far Side

By Jeff Beals

I was meeting with one of my coaching clients earlier this week, and he was lamenting that one of his top prospects wouldn’t call him back.  The prospect was a senior decision maker at large company.

As my client shared his frustrations, it reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon.  The Far Side was a syndicated, single-panel cartoon by Gary Larson that ran from 1980 to 1995.  I always loved Larson’s work.

At any rate, one of my favorite Far Side cartoons was captioned, “Same planet, different worlds.”

The cartoon panel is divided in half.  In the top frame, there is a man lying in bed staring at the ceiling with a thought bubble above his head that says, “I wonder if she knows I exist…Should I call her? Maybe she doesn’t even know I exist? Well, maybe she does…I’ll call her. No, wait…I’m not sure if she knows I exist. Dang!”

In the bottom frame, there’s a picture of a woman lying in bed staring at her ceiling with a thought bubble above her head: “You know, I think I really like vanilla.”

That cartoon cracks me up. Aside from aptly describing my teenage dating experience, it’s a metaphor for anyone who sells for a living.

As the cartoon so effectively illustrates, people have different priorities and different levels of urgency. As a sales professional, your level of urgency is often greater than that of your prospects.

Think about it. Your job depends on selling products or services.  You don’t get paid until you close a deal.  Because your livelihood depends on deal making, you have a vested interest in the process moving quickly and the purchase decision made promptly.

But your prospect could (and often does) have a very different timeline for a variety of reasons:

  • Your prospect might have to go through multiple layers of decision making inside his or her company
  • Your prospect might be considering additional options/vendors in addition to you and your offering.
  • In addition to making a decision on your proposed offering, your prospect has a hundred other things to worry about, some of which are more pressing and stressful.
  • Your prospect could be dealing with things in his or her personal life that take priority over a business decision, even an important business decision.
  • Your prospect’s “clock” might be different from yours.  Different people think and move at different speeds.  What’s “fast” to one person might be “slow to another.
  • Perhaps you haven’t done a good enough job of proving that your offering creates so much value that it deserves to be the prospect’s top priority.

If you find yourself in the sales equivalent of The Far Side cartoon, what should you do?

Stick to the basics.  Be persistent and focus on value-led messaging that focuses on the prospect’s outcomes.

When you discover exactly which part of your product or service most closely meets what the prospect most values at the time he or she most needs it, the prospect’s level of urgency suddenly will match and sometimes even exceed yours.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Sales Leaders: Make Sure You Are Not the Weak Link!

By Jeff Beals

It’s hard to admit this, but the weak link in many selling organizations is often the sales leader, the person in charge of driving revenue growth but who almost never receives proper training or mentoring. Not only do most sales leaders lack preparation, they receive very little formal support and guidance. Too many sales leaders feel like they’ve been hung out to dry.

One of the best ways a sales leader can maintain high-level success is to have a peer group of fellow sales experts who act as your own executive advisory board, a group that can answer questions, provide guidance and support you through both good times and bad.

In other words, if you’re a sales leader who has not yet joined a mastermind group, you’re missing out.

CEOs have long taken advantage of mastermind groups. But now in 2018, sales leaders are joining mastermind groups like crazy. By finally getting the support they need, sales leaders are recruiting better reps, developing better strategy and figuring out how to hold their sales teams accountable.

What’s a mastermind group?

It’s a group of professionals, usually about eight to 12 of them, who meet on a regular basis to help each other be more successful in a confidential setting. Leadership can be lonely, because there simply aren’t a lot of places you can seek guidance inside your organization without compromising confidential information or admitting your personal weaknesses.

If you’re asked to join a well-structured mastermind group consisting of high-quality people, consider yourself lucky. You should jump at the opportunity. Actively and enthusiastically participating in a mastermind group is hands-down one of the single best things you can do to up your game and improve your life. Here are seven reasons why:

1. You’re no longer on a deserted island. Once you join a mastermind group, you’re no longer alone. Instead, you’re part of a confidential group of outstanding leaders. Many masterminds allow only one person per industry. That means you can openly share information without your direct competitors hearing about it.

2. You gain transferable knowledge. If your mastermind group includes people from different industries, you can learn amazing ideas and apply them to your industry allowing you to jump ahead of your competitors.

3. You constantly learn new things. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises us to regularly “sharpen the saw,” meaning we take time to open our minds and increase our skills. Your profession is constantly changing; a mastermind group can help you stay on the cutting edge.

4. You develop better habits. A good mastermind is highly supportive yet also holds you accountable. If you say you’re going to tackle a new project one month, your fellow mastermind group members will expect to hear about your experiences the next month. This helps you avoid procrastination.

5. You benefit from a “personal board of directors.” A mastermind group functions as your own advisory board. You can go to them and seek counsel for just about anything. Peer-to-peer advising is effective because it allows you to get things off your chest, figure out what to do before you do it and discuss possible outcomes before they happen. Just think how successful you can be when you have a group of people who are invested in your success just as you are invested in theirs.

6. You might find new clients. While this isn’t necessary an expressed benefit of many mastermind groups, some of your fellow members might be ideal clients for your organization. Mastermind members tend to become friends. They bond together. There’s nobody better to do business with than somebody you completely trust.

7. You become more confident. When you have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of a potential decision with a group of talented and experienced people, you will carry out your decisions with much more confidence.

If you hold a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect mastermind group for you. It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group.” I personally facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre. We are recruiting members right now for our next year which begins November 1st. We have a few spots still available.

Our past members have had very positive experiences in the group, and some of them have even made dramatic changes at their companies because of what they have learned. One of our members credits the group for helping him land one of America’s 15 largest companies as a client.

There are four in-person meetings per year – All the other meetings are virtual, so you can join in no matter where in the world you might be.

Sales leadership can be a lonely existence. Joining this group will help you create a stronger sales culture, attract talented sales reps and drive more revenue while you better manage both your personal and professional life.

Click here now to read a prospectus about this mastermind group!

Here’s what some of our current members have to say about the Sales Leader Mastermind Group: 

“I can’t tell you how much I have learned this year. We are killing it on the sales side. We are bringing back clients in a big way, and we are chasing even bigger ones. It’s a great story of learning from mistakes and getting focused. Thank you again for leading our Sales Mastermind Group. It has really been a valuable experience for me, and I’ve made some close connections with members of the group.” – Brent Pohlman, President, Midwest Laboratories, Inc.  

“As a leader in your organization, it can be hard to go to other people and ask certain questions or bring up sensitive issues. When you join a group of people who are in the same roles at their companies, the creative energy flows and new ideas come about. Spending time with other successful sales leaders, leads to new revenue strategies and the type of candid feedback that’s really effective. It’s a no-brainer to get involved in a group like this.” – Alan Johnson, Vice President of Business Development, FocusOne Solutions, a C&A Industries Company  

“In the mastermind, I can bounce ideas off a group of high-level people and discuss how to handle strategic items, personnel issues or company initiatives. The idea is for each of us to throw a subject on the table, and then a group of your peers analyzes it and provides feedback. You get to know each other very well and form a deep bond, which means you become a valuable resource for each other.“ – Jason Thiellen, Chief Executive Officer, E&A Consulting Group, Inc.  

Questions? Send me a note at jeff@jeffbeals.com

Happy Selling Season

By Jeff Beals

“Happy Selling Season.”

That’s what I said to members of my mastermind group as we finished our monthly teleconference yesterday.

What’s “Selling Season?”  It’s the period of time between the U.S. holidays of Labor Day (the first Monday in September) and Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November).  It’s autumn, the harvest season.

As a sales practitioner, that two-and-a-half-month period has always been my favorite time of year.

Things get done and business happens during Selling Season.  Children are back in school.  Family vacations are over.  The holidays have not yet started.  People are back at their desks and trying to be productive.  Decision makers are zeroed in on their work and focused on making business decisions during that time.  Selling Season is when hard-working B2B sales pros can “make hay while the sun is shining.”

Upon mentioning Selling Season yesterday, one of my mastermind members asked me if I had any hard data that proves a larger amount of B2B sales happen during Selling Season.  I don’t, but it has always been the case for me.

Over the course of my career, I have basically sold three types of things.  In all three of those professions/industries, I have always been the busiest and had the most success in the early-to-mid fall (the second-best time of year is March through May).

Now that we are at the very beginning of Selling Season, what can you do to make the most of it?

I recommend you go on the offensive.  Selling Season goes by fast, so there’s not a lot of time to sit around and think about what you’re going to do.  Ideally, you prepare for Selling Season during the lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer when things are a little slower.  If you didn’t do that this summer, there’s no use in fretting over it.  Just jump into it and get going.

To maximize this rich time of year, practice of the discipline of “time blocking.”  That means you literally block out times during the week on your calendar during which you will make prospecting calls, direct emails or in-person visits.  Consider your time-blocking periods to be non-negotiable, in that you refuse to do anything but prospect during these protected time periods.

In order to be most efficient during Selling Season, do your prospect research and pre-call preparation during the weekends, evenings or very early morning hours.  Save the prime contact hours for direct communication with prospective clients.

When you go to networking events, go with a purpose in mind.  Too many sales pros miss lead generation opportunities when they don’t maximize networking events.  This is especially important if your clients tend to be geographically concentrated, i.e. you do most of your selling in one metro area.  Remember that you’re not going to networking events to socialize or hang out; you’re going to meet prospects.

Much of your success during Selling Season comes down to attitude, the right mindset.  Autumn is a time for you to go the extra mile.  Because prospects are more available and more focused on their work during the fall, we all need to work a little harder lest we waste an opportunity.

When you’re tired of calling, find the energy to make one more call.  When you’re tired of knocking on doors, stop by one more office.  When you don’t feel like going to an after-hours mixer, suck it up and go meet some prospects.

If you maximize your efforts and intensity during Selling Season, you’ll have a happier holiday season and you’ll likely be in an enviable position heading into 2019.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300. 

How Can We Improve the Sales Profession’s Reputation?

By Jeff Beals

The good news is that salespeople are considered more trustworthy than stockbrokers, politicians and lobbyists.

Unfortunately, that’s it. Pretty much every other profession is considered more trustworthy than sales.  Ouch.

Now here’s the bad news: only 3 percent of people consider salespersons to be trustworthy.  That’s according to a HubSpot Global Jobs Poll from 2016 that asked 928 people the question: “Who do you consider to be trustworthy?”  Each respondent was asked to choose three job titles from a list of 20 provided.

While salespersons ranked low, no profession did terribly well.  Doctors came in number one, but only 49 percent of people thought they were among the most trustworthy professions.  Only 48 percent thought firefighters were trustworthy.  For crying out loud, firefighters run into burning buildings to save lives and even rescue pets.

Lawyers get a bad rap, some of it deserved, but 12 percent of respondents thought lawyers were among the most trustworthy professions.  That’s four times the number of people who trust sales reps.

And this one kind of  makes me laugh: only 5 percent chose baristas as trustworthy.  Perhaps respondents were mad about screwed up latte orders at the coffeehouse drive-through.

Four percent of respondents named professional athletes as trustworthy.  If I was one of the survey participants, I would have definitely put those prima donnas below sales reps.

The sales profession has made great strides over the years, and it continues to become more professional and sophisticated each year. Nevertheless, old stereotypes about salespeople persist.

Given our profession’s tarnished reputation, how can we become more trusted by customers and more respected by the general public?

Ethics

Research indicates that ethical sales practitioners end up making more money (in the long run) than unethical sales reps.  They also head off potential trouble and are less likely to be fired.  Behaving ethically in no way makes you a weaker sales rep.  It makes you a good one.

Communication

Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Be truthful and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  Remember that bad news does not improve with age.

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.

Predictability

People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you’re the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.

Responsiveness

Because technology, people have become accustomed to getting any desired information immediately. That means we have to be ultra responsive to our prospects and current customers.

With so much information immediately available at our fingertips, we now view slow communicators as “untrustworthy.”  It’s almost as if people think you’re incompetent or perhaps hiding something if you take too long.  Speed is now equated with trust.

Trusted Adviser

Those sales pros who put their clients’ best interest first, become incredibly valuable to those clients.  Not only is that good for personal gain, it helps improve the reputation of our entire profession.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

Is Social Media Worth the Risk?

By Jeff Beals

“I’m taking a break from Facebook.”

“I don’t even check Twitter anymore.”

I’ve been hearing statements like these with increasing regularity.

As political vitriol reaches new pitch levels, some people are finding social media to be too unnerving.  While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter remain an important part of my life, I can understand why a person would want to avoid all the unpleasantries.  It’s almost as if you have to psych yourself up these days before opening your Facebook feed.

Like you, I have social media friends/connections who constantly spout fervent opinions on a host of socio-political issues.  I strongly agree with some; I vehemently disagree with others.  Nevertheless, I don’t share my political opinions on social media.

For me, spouting emotionally tinted political opinions is bad for business.  No matter what side of the aisle you favor, about 40 percent of the people agree with you, 20 percent don’t really care, and 40 percent disagree with you.  I can’t afford to alienate the two-fifths of the population that opposes with my politics.

Now ideological purists might say, “If you don’t share your beliefs, you’re not being true to yourself!”  Others might say, “By shying away from the political debates of our time, you’re selling out!”

I can see where those people are coming from, but the fact remains: making inflammatory political statements is a risky proposition.  The things you say on social media can hurt you.

Just think of the people who have missed out on new clients and career promotions, because they got carried away with controversial statements online.  We often don’t even realize who we have ticked off.

Of course, nobody is perfect. If you’re passionate about your opinions, it feels good to let them out on a public forum especially if you make a pithy and well-structured argument.  Despite my efforts to restrain myself, I sometimes slip up.  I have said things in public that would have been better left inside my head.

But none of us are immune from the consequences of our words.

So that brings us to an important question: With all the ways it can hurt you, is social media worth the risk?

If you’re careful what you say, social media are probably the most cost-effective way of building and maintaining your personal brand.

Professionals need a widely recognized and highly respected personal brand. When a large number of people have heard your name and have a positive feeling associated with it, you stand a better chance of winning new business, landing a new job and making a bigger difference in the community.

The key is to develop a system of “checks and balances” in your head — anytime you are about to post something, think about your personal brand.

If your purpose for posting a message is emotionally driven, it’s best to pause for a moment and cool down before you start writing. A little time and perspective can go a long way in preventing the consequences that could come from an inflammatory post.

Consider whether the post advances or damages your personal brand. Consider how it will come across to someone who doesn’t know you well or isn’t intimately aware of the subject you’re talking about.

When posting, it pays to think like a journalist. In other words, don’t assume you’re only communicating with close friends or family. Instead assume that the world will read your post. Theoretically, if just one person shares or forwards something you write, there’s a chance your message could go viral.

In some ways, these precautions might feel like a little overkill. Perhaps you think I’m demanding too high of a standard and that you don’t want to worry so much about everything little thing you post. I understand, but remember social media are like fire — if used properly, social media benefit your life; if used improperly they can kill your career.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

When Is It Time to Ask for the Sale?

By Jeff Beals

One of my all-time favorite “sales” quotes came from a man known simply as “The Greatest,” the late boxing champ Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

At the end of a boxing match, spectators see the glory and adoration of a victorious champion. They don’t see what it takes to get there. They don’t see the hard work or the blood, sweat and tears. It’s the investment of time, effort and discipline leading up to the fight that determines who wins.

The same can be said of the selling process.

Too many people believe that success in sales comes down to the closing, a magical time when a slick salesperson utters the most eloquent, carefully chosen words, thus dazzling a spellbound buyer into helplessly making a purchase.

That’s simply false.

Just as Ali won fights long before he stepped into the ring, sales are made long before closing time.

Sales reps worry too much about closing because they don’t realize it’s supposed to be a foregone conclusion. Follow the proper steps, and the close is an anticlimactic formality, just one step in a long process.

If you’re waiting until the close to win the deal, you’ve already lost. Good closers start at the beginning.

Here are five things you can do throughout the sales process to make closing a breeze:

Lead with Value

The most fundamental element in closing any sale is to determine what the prospective client truly values without ever assuming. The salesperson may have more product knowledge than the prospective customer, but that doesn’t mean the sales- person has the ability to read clients’ minds.

You need to ask probing questions and listen deeply to the answers. If you do this properly, and take the necessary amount of time, you will know just what your prospect wants. When you make your pitch, customize it to exactly what the prospect told you.

Miniature Closes

Remember that closing involves a series of small commitments before you get the big commitment to buy.  These little commitments are sometimes referred to as “miniature closes.” By simply agreeing to meet you, a prospect makes a mini commitment, and that’s a mini close for you.

Instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process (the next small commitment.)  Each time you get one of these commitments, you’re a little closer to the end prize.

Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order, with adequate time at each step.

Storytelling and Humor

Stories are a powerful selling tool. An opening story when you first meet a prospect can break the ice. A compelling story during your pitch can peak a prospect’s curiosity. A carefully selected story can effectively answer an objection. A motivational story about a previous client near the end of the presentation is a nice way to bring the whole process to a close.

Stories disarm and reassure people, allowing them to picture how great life is using your product or service. In the sales world, stories trump data and facts.

Humor helps as well. Making the process a little lighthearted can have many of the same benefits of storytelling. We all like to laugh—it’s like exercise but less painful. It releases endorphins into your brain, making you feel better about moving forward.

Ask for the Order

After you gone through all the steps, it’s time to ask for the order. Even though the close is a formality, a foregone conclusion if you’ve done everything right so far, the typical clients will still wait for you to tell them it’s time to move forward.  They see you as the leader of the transaction, so they will rely on you to tell them it’s okay to make the purchase.

Unfortunately, this part can make salespeople feel nervous. After all, you have put so much effort into making the sale that you fear getting your feelings hurt and your confidence bruised. Plus, you may have already spent the commission!

Those are normal fears, but when the time is right, just ask the question. The good news is you don’t need a cheesy gimmick to seal the deal. You know what the client cares about, and you know you have an ideal product solution, so all you have to say is “Let’s get you started” or “Are you ready to do this?” Avoid clichés like “What will it take to get you in this car today?”

Know What’s Next

I once watched an outstanding pool player demonstrate his craft at a sports bar.  The guy could sink unbelievable shots, but his best skill was setting up the next shot at the end of the current one.

Sales pros need to think the same way: each sale should set up the next.  No sale is made in a vacuum. Keep gathering information and building the relationship. You want a lifetime of sales from your customers, not just one.

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.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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 this year. 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 next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

How on Earth Do You Motivate Salespeople?

By Jeff Beals

It’s an over-used cliché, but managing sales teams has often been compared to herding cats.

Since the beginning of modern business history, sales leaders have struggled with how to motivate salespeople to go the extra mile and exceed their sales goals.

A rare few, perhaps 20 percent of sales reps, are naturally competitive and highly ambitious.  Those top producers consistently do well.  But what about everyone else?  How do you get the mid-level producers to do a little more?  How do you get the low-level producers to do at least something?

Motivation can be a tricky subject for managers.  Different people want different things from their jobs.  One person may be money-motivated. Another person may seek personal satisfaction and growth.  Others might be inspired to work hard because of the difference they are making in a clients’ lives.

In the 1950’s, psychologist Frank Herzberg set out to understand employee satisfaction.  He surveyed countless employees from various industries, asking them to describe situations in which they felt good and in which the felt bad about their jobs.

The result of this work became what’s known as Herzberg’s “Motivation-Hygiene Theory.  Herzberg discovered certain things are tied with satisfaction (motivators), while other things are consistently associated with dissatisfaction (demotivators):

Motivators

Achievement – The perception that a sales employee has that he or she is growing and improving.

Recognition – People love awards and intangible recognition as well.

Work itself – The best sales people simply enjoy the art of selling.  They enjoy products/industries.  To use this motivator to your advantage, you need find ways to add more meaning to the job.  One way is to link the rep’s work to a larger goal or purpose.  Help them understand why their work matters.  Be assured that people will find value in knowing how their work contributes to the goals of your company.

Increased responsibility – The desire to expand duties and authority.

Demotivators

  1. Company policies/procedures
  2. Supervision
  3. Working conditions
  4. Compensation

Are you surprised by the “demotivators” list?  Many leaders are shocked to see that compensation is not a motivator.

Herzberg calls the demotivators “hygiene factors.”  He uses that term, because hygiene is related to maintenance.  In other words, good hygiene is a daily thing you should do to stay healthy.  Hygiene factors, or demotivators, do not give us positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, but if they are absent from our lives, they result in dissatisfaction.

In other words, compensation is more of a base expectation, something you get in exchange for your work.  Because of that, compensation is not enough of a differentiator to make us stay at one job versus seeking another.

Plus, compensation is highly replaceable for top producers.  They realize they can get paid well anywhere they go because of their talents and work habits.  If money is an equalizer, they look for other quality-of-life factors.

What does this mean for you if you’re a leader of sales professionals?

Realize that fair and clearly communicated compensation packages are important, but they aren’t enough to motivate people.  Find ways to incorporate achievement, recognition, meaningful work and increased responsibility into your motivation repertoire.

Just like a prospective customer determines what is valuable to them, employees determine what they care about.  We need to be sensitive to what makes each person tick.

By the way, don’t confuse a lack of confidence with a lack of motivation.  If someone is underperforming, candidly assess whether it’s motivation issue or a confidence issue.  If confidence is the problem, the next step would be to look into increased training, coaching, field observation with feedback, role-playing and/or mentoring.

UNIQUE HELP FOR SALES LEADERS:

Being a sales leader can be a lonely existence. There are simply not a lot of places you can go to seek guidance without exposing your personal concerns and weaknesses inside your company.

That’s why my partner, Beth Mastre, and I have created the Sales Leader Mastermind Group.  It’s a collection of sales leaders who meet regularly, share ideas and grow in their profession.  The group has been meeting for a year and has been a smashing success.  We’re expanding the group from 8 to 12 members and are looking for a few sales leaders to join us.

Would you benefit from having such a resource?  If so, check out the prospectus HERE.

The Sales Leader Mastermind Group is a serious commitment, but it will change the trajectory of your career and your company.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  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.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com or call 402-637-9300.