Tag Archives: Sales

Replying to RFPs Is a Waste of Time (Most of the Time)

By Jeff Beals

When I was in high school (circa 1986), I auditioned for a couple of Hollywood movies.  One of the movies was being filmed here in my hometown while the other one held auditions here in addition to several other cities. I tried out just for fun, and knowing the long odds, I never expected to be chosen.  Though I wasn’t offered a part in either film, the experiences were eye opening for a 17-year-old kid.

The first audition was a positive experience. It was a comedy film written for a teenage audience. I tried out for the lead role, which was fittingly enough, a nerdy high school kid who was forced to fight an intimidating bully who had just transferred in from another school. I had an appointed time to show up and spent about 30 minutes with the casting director and his entourage. I read several scenes and then answered interview questions. I felt like I was actually being considered for the part.

The second audition was a “cattle call,” in which several hundred would-be movie stars showed up at a local hotel ballroom. After waiting a couple hours, I was brought into a separate room with a group of six other guys. They lined us up, looked at each of us in comparison to one another and then told half of us to go home. I was one of the guys told to leave.  That was it.  I waited for hours only to be sent packing having never said a word.

Do you want to know why I received so much more attention in the first audition than the second?  I was actually recommended for the first movie by a local talent agency that had been hired by the movie producers.  At the second audition, I was just one of 250 nameless, faceless unknowns.

Why do I tell you this story?

Because it reminds me of the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process in the world of sales.  As a general rule, I hate RFPs and I only respond to them under rare circumstances.

I hate RFPs, because they are just like that cattle-call movie audition. Think about it this way:

  • A company decides it needs a new vendor, so several employees sit down and think of all the things they do and don’t want and then dream up a bunch of hoops for would-be vendors to jump through.
  • They send the RFP to every potential vendor they can think of.
  • Prospective vendors practically do backflips trying to meet all the RFP requirements and end up rushing to meet the deadline.
  • The company that issued the RFP then examines all the proposals that were submitted and compares them.  Ultimately, they decide that some of the proposals are basically offering the same products/services, so they choose the lowest-priced bid.
  • And it can get even worse.  The finalists are sometimes pitted against each other in a bidding war to see who is willing to discount their price to the lowest number. It’s a race to the bottom.
  • The “winner” ends up doing a lot of work for too little money.

This is not a recipe for high profitability.

Generally speaking, I recommend you respond to RFPs only when your relationship with the client is so strong that you are essentially guaranteed of winning.  Some companies have policies requiring that vendor relationships go out to bid periodically. If this is the case at one of your best client companies, tell them you will help write the RFP.  You can then write the RFP to favor you and the way you do business.

If you don’t write the RFP or at least have heavy influence on the RFP, it very well could be an expensive waste of your time replying to the RFP.  An exception would be when the RFP is a mere formality designed to make shareholders feel better and you are the pre-chosen winner.

Now, I realize that there are some industries where RFPs are a rooted part of the culture. In other words, they’re so common that there’s no getting around them.  That’s not the case in most industries.  When at all possible, avoid RFPs.  Just like the cattle-call audition, you have little chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you spend tons of time and money preparing a proposal and get no revenue in return. If by some miracle, you are chosen, you’re probably going to get skewered on price.

Just say “no” to RFPs!

By the way, that movie for which I was actually considered turned out to be a box-office flop, earning only $1.5 million during its opening weekend. But it did play on cable television for many years.  To this day, I’ve never watched the entire show but have seen bits and pieces of it.  I’ll never forget the first time I stumbled upon it. I was flipping through television channels and landed on something that looked mildly interesting.  As I started watching the show, it felt so familiar. Then I realized that I was watching the very scene I read during that audition.  It was fun to think what could have been…

The Agenda: Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings?”

By Jeff Beals

Why do so many salespeople avoid sales meetings?  Why do some reps consider sales meetings to be just one step above pain, suffering and disease?  Part of the problem might be the structure of your meetings.

Too many sales meetings meander haphazardly from one topic to another without much purpose. Too many sales leaders wing it, showing up without a thoughtful agenda, and even worse, no real justification for holding the meeting.

During such meetings, attendees are generally disengaged until someone brings up a controversial subject. Only then, as the meeting becomes a gripe-fest, do people perk up and pay attention.

Never hold a sales meeting just for the sake of holding a meeting.  If the meeting doesn’t improve skills, encourage communication and foster trust, you’re wasting everybody’s time.

Last week, I wrote about some ways you could entice people to show up for your sales meetings. This week, I’m going to talk about the essential components of a meeting agenda.  You don’t have time for all of these agenda items at each meeting, so pick and choose which ones are best for you at any given time:

Celebrations of Success – In this part of the meeting, highlight the major sales that have been closed in the past week.  Discussing these completed deals boosts morale and also provides an opportunity for other sales reps to learn from the experience.

Pending Deals – Highlight transactions that are in the queue but not yet closed.  This will give everyone an idea of what business/revenue is on its way. Be careful about this section, however, as some sales reps are superstitious and don’t like to count their chickens before they hatch.

Announcements – Every sales meeting should have a “housekeeping” section in which you inform attendees about important details and events in the company.  Communication (or lack thereof) is a major complaint of salespeople and a big cause of their discontent.  While this agenda item is quite important, only spend the minimum amount of time necessary on it during the meeting. I’ve seen way too many sales meetings get sidetracked by unnecessary discussion related to simple announcements.  Read the announcements quickly then move on! Send an announcement summary email immediately following the meeting in which you reiterate the important announcement details.

Rumors in the Marketplace – Open the floor for attendees to share what they’ve heard about competitors, potential clients and about macro issues that could have an impact on your company.  Your sales force is out and about in the field every day, so they are collectively a tremendous source of intel.

Sales Training – No matter how long you’ve been in the sales game, you can always get better.  You probably won’t have time to do this at every meeting, but periodically bring in an expert speaker to help your team improve its prospecting, qualifying and closing skills.

Lessons of the Week – Here is a chance for one or more of your sales reps to share their experiences. Use it as a way to educate the entire group about the pitfalls and barriers sales reps encountered and how they either successfully overcame them or failed because of them.  This type of learning is immeasurably valuable and ultimately develops a set of best practices for your company’s sales department.

Internal Guest Speakers – Invite a key person from one your company’s operating units. Have him or her provide updates on important products or services.  It is obviously important that sales reps are up on all the important aspects of what they sell.

Marketing Demonstrations – Regularly invite representatives from the marketing department to go over new campaigns. Ask the marketing rep to show new ads, videos, mailings, social media posts, websites, etc.  Life is easier when salespeople and marketing employees work hand in glove.

Group Counseling – One way to get sales reps to bond with each other is to have them help each other out.  During this segment of the meeting, ask a rep to bring up a problem he or she is having with a difficult client or prospect. Invite the rest of the group to give input, ideas and advice. This can be immensely beneficial for the person with the client issue and educational for everyone else. Perhaps most importantly, it brings the sales reps together as a team.

Discussion Time – Some sales leaders ask their reps to read an article before the meeting and then have the group discuss it. It could be an industry-related article or a sales-and-marketing article.  If you do this, choose an article that is short, reads easily and has valuable content. An article that provides a new way of looking at a common problem tends to be received the most enthusiastically.

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 Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings

By Jeff Beals

Does this describe the sales meetings at your company?

It’s 10:06 a.m. on Tuesday and people are still strolling in for the start of your standing 10:00 sales meeting. Those who are already seated, including the vice president of sales, are chatting about what they did last weekend and in no apparent rush to get things underway. When the meeting finally does begin at 10:08, half the people are on their phones reading emails or playing games.  Several other attendees didn’t bother to show, claiming they had “important client meetings.” 

The meeting bounces from one topic to another with a lot of interruptions and spontaneous, tangential conversations.  When the meeting finally ends – seventeen minutes past the scheduled time – attendees bolt out as fast as they can, grumbling to each other about how much time they just wasted.  One sales rep says to another, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”

Sadly, the above passage describes way too many sales meetings at way too many companies.  And that’s why attendance at sales meetings is often not so stellar, and those sales reps who do show up are often sitting back in their chairs, rolling their eyes and not engaging in the meeting.

Sales reps generally dislike their sales meetings, but that’s because meeting leaders typically don’t put enough effort into those meetings.  If you’re the sales leader, it’s up to you to make your meetings useful and desirable. That’s especially true if your sales reps are independent contractors and legally can’t be “forced” to attend.

Do you want people to attend your sales meetings?  Do you want sales reps to be more engaged and contribute more during the meetings?  If so, I have some help for you:

See It Through their Eyes – Always try to see your meetings through the attendees’ eyes.  When you view the agenda from the sales reps’ eyes, you can assess the meeting’s strengths and weaknesses. In order to increase the attendance at and participation in your sales meetings, make the meetings valuable to the attendees. As a sales leader, you don’t define what the attendees value; they do.

No B.S. Zone – Be as honest and transparent as possible regarding company policies, changes in the commission structure, and new product launches. Try to establish a “No B.S. Zone.” Sales reps hate hearing a bunch of politically correct corporate double-speak from their sales manager.  Sure, there are some things you are not at liberty to discuss with sales reps, but with everything else, be an open book.  The sales reps will trust you more and become more engaged in all facets of the company.  Too many organizations are unnecessarily tight-lipped about non-essential things.

Skillful Facilitation – The person who leads the sales meeting must have good facilitation skills, which means he or she is fully present and in charge of the meeting. A competent meeting facilitator is inclusive-but-assertive, meaning he or she makes sure all people are involved in the discussion but has the discipline necessary to keep the meeting on schedule.  The facilitator should always be on the lookout for an excuse to publicly praise individual sales reps in front of the whole group. A good sales leader sees the facilitation of sales meetings to be an art, carefully balancing the agenda/business side of the meeting with humor and light heartedness.

Free Stuff – Everyone likes to receive something for nothing.  Periodically give away some company swag, such as t-shirts or coffee cups with the company logo. Free food also helps.  Some companies provide coffee and doughnuts at their sales meetings. Other companies will periodically reserve a room at a nearby restaurant and provide breakfast or lunch for the whole sales team.

Rotating Facilitators – Once in a while, it might make sense to have one of the sales reps lead the weekly meeting.  Periodically offer one of the normal attendees to be guest facilitator. Let him or her design their own agenda.  Having one of the reps act as guest facilitator would be fun and a nice change of pace for everyone.

Outside Speakers – Meeting attendees tend to listen more intently when someone outside the company is presenting.  Just like the rotating facilitator advice above, it’s a change of pace. What’s more, high-quality speakers provide valuable information that will help sales reps be more effective and close deals faster.

Book Club – Find a well-written book about sales techniques or industry content and provide a copy to each rep.  Assign one chapter a week and then take a few minutes to discuss that chapter during the meeting.  Discuss how the book content relates to your company’s work.

Team Building – It might make sense a couple times a year to cancel the weekly sales meeting. In its stead, schedule a bonding activity such as an outing to a go-cart-racing track, golf course or game arcade.  You could also consider hiring a retreat leader and going through a structured team building exercise.  If you choose to do a facilitated team building exercise, it is better to do it off site rather than inside your office.

Welcome the Newbies – Always take time to introduce newcomers to the sales team.  Give rookies a chance to introduce themselves and give an overview of their career backgrounds.  Then go around the room and have all the existing sales reps share their name, work function and length of tenure at the company.

Recruitment Tool – If you have a well-organized sales meeting with engaged attendees, you have a nice recruitment tool.  If someone is thinking about joining your team, let them observe a sales meeting (assuming you are not going over confidential internal information that week).  Most existing sales reps will be even more alert and active in the meeting if they have a prospective colleague present.

Leave Them Wanting More – In the end, the meeting should be a positive, enjoyable experience filled with valuable information that helps attendees be more successful.  But don’t go too long. A great meeting is even better when it ends on time.

Next time, it will be Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings,” in which I will discuss what should actually be on your meeting agenda. Stay tuned!

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 Get People to Actually Read Your Emails

By Jeff Beals

Just like you, I receive too many emails and many of them are mass emails trying to sell something.

The following message showed up in my inbox yesterday under the subject line, “Looking to Connect:”

Hello,

I’ll keep this short and sweet to make the 26 seconds it takes to read it well worth your time… Yes, I timed it.

I work at [Company X] and we help companies like yours get real results from events they organize with our technology platform. I wanted to learn how you handle this process within your organization and see if [Company X] is something that could contribute to you (sic) existing process.

Do you have 10 minutes to see if I can help?

[Name and Contact Info]

Let’s not beat around the bush – this is a terrible email. It’s getting harder and harder to get people to notice, actually read and then respond to our emails.  And it’s not just the mass emails we send; sometimes we struggle to get a sole recipient of a customized email to reply.

I don’t like to pick on people, but let’s use this email as an opportunity to make our own emails better.  Here are some problems I noticed:

1. The subject line, “Looking to Connect,” gives the reader no compelling reason to open the message and it doesn’t convey any value to the reader.

2. The message starts with a generic “hello” instead of my name. Even when you’re sending mass emails, it’s super easy to automatically insert each recipient’s name using a myriad of available software programs.

3. The first sentence is gimmicky.  I assume the writer was trying to say something witty to catch my attention, but it made me roll my eyes.  The first sentence is your most important sentence. Instead of gimmicky or throw-away lines such as “Hope you’re doing well,” it’s better to say something impactful that has value to the reader.

4. The middle paragraph is vague.  After reading it a few times, I have an idea what the company does but only an idea. What’s worse, there’s nothing about the text that makes me curious to get more than just an idea.

5. The final sentence/paragraph asks for my most precious and rare resource: time. Why would I give this person any of my time when he sent me a generic, vague message that showed me nothing of value?

6. Overall, the message’s biggest weakness is selfishness.  It’s selfish because it’s written totally from the writer’s perspective and for his benefit/convenience.  Think about it: He talked about where HE works. He talked about HE wants to learn about my company. He asked for my precious time to see if HE can help me.

The best messages, whether they are to a single person or a group of people, are razor focused on the recipient and what he or she cares about.

What was a good thing about the above message?  It was short.

When you write emails, use a compelling subject line, address the person by name, economize your words, avoid cheesy or gimmicky lines, catch their attention by saying something you believe they would value, and most importantly, make the recipient the star of the email, not you.

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 Can You Become a Top Producer?

By Jeff Beals

Take a moment and think back to your college days.

Whether you studied business, public administration, the social sciences, or any number of other academic disciplines, chances are good you read about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) argued that in order for a person to achieve greatness, he or she must have certain needs met. The needs can be ranked or organized into a hierarchical pyramid.

After a person has satisfied simpler needs, he or she is ready to pursue higher-level behavior until eventually reaching “self-actualization,” the pinnacle of human existence. Self-actualized people pursue intellectual curiosities. They are focused on personal growth, achievement and advancement. They constantly seek new challenges and although they thoroughly enjoy their victories, the joy of success only motivates them to conquer something grander.

Self-actualized individuals not only enjoy life more, they are typically more successful than everyone else.  If you want to experience life at the top of the pyramid, here are a few top-producer characteristics, in the spirit of Maslow, you might want to adopt:

Autonomy – They are independent, and despite having healthy relationships with other people, they tend to be self reliant.

Acceptance – They accept other people as they are and the surrounding world as it is.  In other words, self-actualized people don’t waste time on things outside their control. They find beauty and wonderment in our everyday world.

Privacy – They have a strong appreciation for privacy. Self-actualized people want time to think and contemplate. They focus heavily on their most significant personal relationships and “go deep” with a few people instead of having lots of superficial friends.  That said, they are often well known and admired by many people. They have deep feelings of empathy for humanity but they are often undisturbed by things that upset ordinary folks. They can help other people without getting too emotionally involved and allowing themselves to get pulled down.

Creativity – They are good at coming up with new ideas and place great importance on new ways of looking at existing things.

Action – They like to get things done once the decision is made. When you have so much going on in life and so many exciting things in your head, you don’t want to waste your precious time on this earth as a procrastinator.

Realistic – They see things as they are.  They’re not easily fooled or unrealistically idealistic.  They are also very good at seeing through phony and dishonest people.

Humor – Their sense of humor is spontaneous, thoughtful and intrinsic to the situation. Their humor steers away from hostility, superiority, and sarcasm.  In addition to a philosophical sense of humor, self-actualized people have a great deal of spontaneity.

Ethics – They are highly ethical. They clearly distinguish between means and ends and subordinate means to ends.

Open Minded – They have a fresh appreciation for alternative ideas and avoid stereotypes. Their decision making is more democratic than autocratic, and they are not likely to discriminate against people from different backgrounds. Self-actualized people resist mindless conformity to popular culture or temporary political passions.

Spirituality – They are not always religious in a classic denomination sense, but they tend to be spiritual people.

Transcendence – Perhaps most important, they transcend their environment rather than simply coping with it. Self-actualized people shape the world rather than becoming victims of the world.

While Maslow says only 2 percent of the population will ever experience self-actualization, there’s no law that says the percentage can’t be higher.  And there’s no reason you can’t be one of the lucky few.

This message is a liberating one. Self-actualization, or however else you may define success, is always within your grasp. You can manufacture it out of seemingly nothing. To reach Maslow’s pinnacle, you need to adopt certain behaviors and beliefs and make them part of your daily life. You have total control of your life. Success starts with you and ends with you.

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 Can You Be More Entrepreneurial in Your Work?

By Jeff Beals

Somewhere between 5-to-10 percent of the population is entrepreneurial.

But what does that really mean?  Do you have to own a business to be entrepreneurial?  Absolutely not. In fact, there are a number of entrepreneurs who frankly are not very entrepreneurial.

In the United States, about 13 percent of adults own some sort of business.  Yet not all those people have truly entrepreneurial personalities.  Think about it…Half of all business owners fail within the first five years of operation.  Even among business owners who succeed, a decent-sized percentage are unhappy. One reason for their misery could be incongruence – perhaps they are non-entrepreneurial people working as entrepreneurs.

Just as some entrepreneurs aren’t terribly entrepreneurial, some traditional employees do have entrepreneurial personalities.

No matter what professional role you play in life, you can be more successful if you incorporate some level of entrepreneurial thinking and behavior into your work. In that spirit, here are some entrepreneurial characteristics you may want to make part of your professional life:

Moderate Risk-Taking – Stereotypically, entrepreneurs have a reputation for taking big risks. That’s not really accurate. Big risks have a low likelihood of panning out. Successful entrepreneurs are moderate risk takers. They don’t shy away from ambiguity if they believe opportunity is present, but they study and calculate before taking the risk.

If you work as an employee in an office setting, the same approach to risk-taking may help you. If you don’t take any risks, you may never get ahead or you may be subjected to a career of perpetual boredom. If you take calculated risks, you’re more likely to advance and enjoy your work.

Tolerance of Uncertainty – Entrepreneurial people don’t have excessive fear of failure. Any fear they do have, they use as motivation to keep working hard. Similarly, they don’t crave security. They can handle living with the unknown. That’s a particularly valuable characteristic, because even traditional jobs are riddled with uncertainty these days. When entrepreneurs do fail, they don’t let it ruin their lives. Instead, they see each setback as a learning experience.

Ego – Entrepreneurial people are somewhat egotistical. Obviously, you don’t want to be an obnoxious ass, but if you’re lacking in confidence, you should work on it. Entrepreneurs ultimately believe they will be successful. They believe hard work is an investment. They use their sense of ego as a driving motivator. It’s one of the things that keeps them focused and working hard even when they feel tired.  Entrepreneurs have a “social” ego as well in that they build relationships and enjoy having positive reputations. Even if you’re an introvert, constantly develop and refine your people skills, because working with and through others is critically important.

High Energy – It takes a lot of energy to power entrepreneurial efforts. That’s why entrepreneurial people are full of oomph.  If your energy level is not high enough, try changing your nutrition, sleep and exercise habits. Energetic people attract more attention and create more excitement. Similar to energy is perseverance. When things aren’t going well, entrepreneurial people double down and push harder.

Goal-Oriented – This might be the most important entrepreneurial characteristic. The more likely you are to set goals, monitor those goals and be driven by them, the more likely you are to reach the highest heights in your career.

Two Views on the World – Entrepreneurial people are diverse thinkers. They can simultaneously manage tactics while thinking strategically. They can work on short-term and long-term goals at the same time.

Integrity – This might come as a surprise to some people who think of entrepreneurs as ruthless, selfish types, however, the most consistently successful entrepreneurs exhibit high levels of integrity. No, they’re not saints, but they are generally ethical and care about other people. The longer people and organization exhibit consistent integrity, the more likely they will succeed.

So, what can you do to be more entrepreneurial in your work?  How can it benefit you?

An entrepreneur is not some super-human creature. An entrepreneur isn’t necessarily a business owner. Instead, an entrepreneur is someone who takes “ownership” of their life/job and uses the above characteristics as a pathway to success.

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

A Story of Persistence

By Jeff Beals

An Air Force brat, Billy McGuigan grew up in a musical family. For much of McGuigan’s childhood, the family was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia. When his tech-sergeant dad would come home from duty in South Korea or other far-off places, he would entertain little Billy and his two younger brothers by playing Beatles songs on his guitar.  Those were good times celebrating dad’s return with music and laughter.

Eventually, McGuigan learned those songs himself, both the lyrics and the guitar chords. Unbeknownst at the time, those informal music sessions in the McGuigan living room sparked a love of performing that eventually led to a successful career in music.

Today, McGuigan is CEO of Rave On Productions. Along with his brothers, he tours nationally year-round performing high-energy shows based on the Beatles and Buddy Holly. Business is booming; the McGuigan brothers are selling out venues and delighting their rapidly expanding fan base.

But as you would expect, the road from family-room performer to national touring artist wasn’t always smooth.

When McGuigan was 10 years old, he enrolled in acting classes at the historic Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia.  The beloved Springer is a 146-year-old landmark and has been named the official theatre of the state of Georgia.

Shortly after starting the acting class, McGuigan was forced to leave when it was discovered that his mom’s check had bounced. Money was tight for a young Air Force family, and acting classes turned out to be a little too expensive at that time.

McGuigan was heartbroken and probably embarrassed too.  As you can imagine that memory and the related feelings stuck with him even as he grew up, moved to a different city and started his career.

Twenty-eight years later, as professional musician, McGuigan got a gig at the Springer. He performed his interactive Beatles show. The sold-out crowd paid $38 a ticket to get in. Like all of McGuigan’s shows, it was a big hit with the audience.

What must it have felt like performing on that grand old stage where he was once kicked out of an acting class? McGuigan confessed to being somewhat nervous before the show, but more important than the nerves was the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of overcoming.

Redemption makes for a compelling story. So does perseverance.  It’s also a great story when a young person grows up, returns home and vanquishes the ghosts of his youth.  More importantly, McGuigan’s story is a reminder to persevere, to stay positive in the face of disappointment.

As grown professionals, our problems tend to be weightier than the frustration a 10-year-old feels when his family can’t afford acting classes. Nevertheless, you never know what future glory can happen to you in the exact venue where you once experienced defeat.

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 Danger of Dirty Corporate Words

By Jeff Beals

By now you’ve probably heard a great deal about United Airlines’ infamous “re-accommodation” of a passenger on a recent flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville, Kentucky.

Just in case you missed it, the plane was overbooked – as is too often the case with major airlines – meaning four passengers had to give up their seats.  Nobody volunteered to leave their seats despite large bribes (travel vouchers) being offered by United.  Eventually, the airline randomly chose four unlucky souls to be forced off the plane.  One of those passengers refused to leave. He was eventually dragged off the plane violently.  Videos showed the 69-year-old passenger screaming in pain while being dragged toward the exit. His face was bloodied.

Predictably, those videos went viral, leading to a firestorm of backlash against United Airlines. The whole incident is made worse when you consider that the passengers were already onboard and in their seats waiting to depart.

Did the passenger act improperly by refusing to leave private property (the airplane) after being ordered to do so? Technically, yes. Was his anger understandable?  Yes. Chronically bad treatment by airlines is maddening to paying customers. Is there something inherently wrong with overbooking planes and forcing paying customers to leave? Yes. How many other industries could get away with such a practice?

But for now, let’s set aside the argument as to whether or not the passenger should have cooperated and instead focus on United Airlines’ response.

The incident is being described as a public relations nightmare. It brings to light the controversial subject of overbooking. It’s a vivid reminder that airlines generally aren’t known for their customer service.  It reminds people of poor treatment they may have experienced on previous United flights.  The optics are never good when the big powerful corporation is perceived to be picking on the little guy.

Whenever a huge company makes a huge mistake the quality and speed of the response is critically important. PR experts almost uniformly agree that United botched it.

As I watched this story unfold, one word grabbed my attention and planted itself permanently in my head: “re-accommodated.”

United CEO Oscar Munez has fumbled and bumbled several statements since the incident, but of all his poorly chosen words, this statement takes the cake:

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United,” Munoz said. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

Re-accommodate?  Is that a sanitized, made-up word for “having your face rearranged while getting kicked off a plane you paid to ride?”

Comedians and others have had a lot of fun with that statement, joking about the painful process of “re-accommodation” and how the CEO of United needs to get “re-accommodated” to the unemployment line.

When I read Munoz’s use of “re-accommodated,” I was reminded of something that has always chaffed my ears – meaningless, politically correct, corporate double-speak.  It’s a long-standing problem in the business world and it shows no sign of going away anytime soon.

The business world is full of patronizing language.

A study by the Financial Times a few years ago indicated that fewer than 10 percent of business executives actually understood the meaning of commonly used corporate jargon and business buzzwords. The researchers surveyed nearly a thousand executives and found that “the overwhelming majority were unable to correctly explain the jargon they use on a daily basis.

The study described most of the surveyed executives as possessing “‘admittedly ignorant’ understanding of ‘very confusing’ management speak.” Nevertheless, the survey respondents admitted to using an average of five corporate buzzwords each day.

Whether they uttered the words in board rooms, in client meetings or social settings, the executives believed the words “made them look more professional or intelligent” and “cemented their positions of authority.”

Similarly, when uttered in front of the media as a way to cover up or lessen the impact of bad corporate behavior, executives believe pseudo-intellectual, misleading euphemisms protect their companies and preserve their images.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Buzzwords, jargon and corporate double-speak are painful to the ear and patronizing to the brain. Those who use such “words” in the hope of sounding brilliant end up sounding anything but brilliant at least to those people who are good at seeing through nonsense. Those who use deceitful euphemisms to gloss over bad behavior lose all their credibility.

The business world has long been plagued by the use of hollow buzzwords. Resist the temptation! Use clear, concise language. Over the course of time, clear communicators are more respected than those whose mouths spew never-ending phrases of institutional bollocks.

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 Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals

Social Proof cover 150 RGB

By Jeff Beals

The sales manager got a lead on a nice piece of business. It was big enough of a deal that he assigned two sales reps to the account: Julie and David. Those two had worked together many times and had landed more than their share of big deals.

As expected, Julie and David did their due diligence before meeting with the prospect. During the first meeting, they asked questions and focused on what the client truly valued. After three meetings, it was time for the client to make his decision. Julie and David were confident. They’d really hit it off with the client. Everything “felt” right, so it was quite a surprise when they got the bad news: the client had chosen a competing company.

What happened? Julie and David did a post-mortem call to find out why they didn’t win the business. “It was very close,” the client said, “but the other company had a lot of testimonials.”

Seriously?!!? They lost a multi-million-dollar deal because of some testimonials?

This is actually a true story.

Even in sophisticated, high-ticket-price transactions, winning and losing can actually come down to little things like references and testimonials.

It’s called “social proof” and it’s one of the most powerful tools in a sales professional’s arsenal.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and the so-called “Godfather of Influence,” believes that social proof is one of the most important components of influence. You are far more likely to persuade someone’s thinking if you remember that “people follow the lead of similar others.”

Cialdini cited 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.

In another study, New York City residents were asked to return a lost wallet to its owner. The New Yorkers were highly likely to attempt to return the wallet when they learned that another New Yorker had previously attempted to do so. But learning that someone from a foreign country had tried to return the wallet didn’t sway their decision one way or the other.

Simply put, social proof is why testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.

But social proof has grown in importance in recent years. Why is that? The Internet.

Prospective clients can access social media reviews of your company with the simple click of a mouse, which means it’s getting harder to hide bad service and inferior products. But because so much information about companies and products is so readily available, buyers have come to expect social proof. Prospects want hard evidence that you’re a safe choice.

Social proof can literally be the difference between success and failure in today’s ultra-competitive selling environment. Make sure your sales tool box is stocked with the best tools available…

To continue reading about testimonials and referrals, download Jeff Beals’ brand-new eBook: “Social Proof: How to Get Glowing Testimonials & Valuable Referrals.”

You can download it for FREE by clicking here 

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 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