Tag Archives: selling

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle

By Jeff Beals

Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time.  If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up and down.  When markets are optimistic, investors begin to feel enthusiasm, then exhilaration.  Eventually, it starts to feel like you’re invincible, that every investment you make pays off.  That false belief compels some investors to make reckless decisions and take questionable risks.

Just as the stock market reaches its feverish peak, the bull market ends.  Most people don’t realize it right away, and investors often go through a period of denial.  But eventually pessimism sets in, which leads to panic and then despair: the bear market.  Of course, when people are depressed at the bottom of the trough, that’s when things slowly start to trend upwards, starting the whole cycle over again.

Sales practitioners tend to go through cycles quite analogous to the stock market: highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

At the peak of the prospecting cycle, the “bull market,” you have so many deals to close and so much easy business that you’re tempted to put off prospecting activities.  Of course, that eventually leads to an empty pipeline.  When you realize you have no prospects in the pipe, you prospect like crazy, which eventually leads to another up cycle.

If your personal sales cycle is too volatile, you are putting yourself under a great deal of stress.  There’s one secret to evening out your cycle while keeping your revenue going up each year: perpetual prospecting.

Prospecting is the key. It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business (In some companies, it might be closer to 10/90).  It’s the reason why some sales reps do well even during a recession.  Prospecting separates the good from the great.

I like to define prospecting as “the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that they might not yet know.”

As that definition implies, there is one aggressive part of prospecting: “interrupting someone.”  But the rest of the definition implies that sales reps are doing prospects a favor by introducing them to something important: valuable products and services.

If you want to be a better prospector, and consequently make more money, here are five quick pieces of advice:

Prospect Life Your Life Depends on It

Your sales life DOES depend on prospecting.  Ideally, you should 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.

Be an Opportunity Detective

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.

Apply Discipline to Your Prospecting

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.

Be Obsessed with Prospect Value

When you engage cold prospects, you want to talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  For instance, too many sales reps start prospecting messages with statements such as: “We’ve been in business since 1910,” or “We offer a full suite of IT solutions.”  Instead, 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.

Plan Ahead

Nobody plans to fail but sales practitioners regularly fail to plan.  I recommend you 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.

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

“You brought great value to our event. The 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

(402) 637-9300

Face-to-Face Selling Is Still Powerful in a Virtual World

By Jeff Beals

National associations are famous for holding big conventions each year.  Some conventions are so big they attract tens of thousands of attendees.

As you might imagine, it takes a great deal of work to pull off one of these major events.  Programs need to be planned, speakers booked, volunteers recruited, attendees encouraged to attend and logistics squared away.

One of the biggest decisions is where to have the event. When a meeting planner is looking for a venue for a convention or an industry meeting, they consider a number of factors:

  • Quality of the meeting facilities
  • Nearby attractions
  • Proximity of entertainment and restaurants
  • Ease of transportation

And then there’s the hotel.  Planners prefer a hotel that is either big enough to host the event itself or is right next door to a major convention center.  The hotel must be nice-looking, offer a range of amenities and have an adequate number of rooms.

But there is one thing that is an absolute MUST in order for a convention hotel to make the cut:  it has to have a large, full-service bar.

Yep, that’s right.  A great bar and lounge area in the convention hotel is generally considered a non-negotiable requirement.  Why?  It’s not because convention attendees want to drink more on the road than they do at home (although they typically do).  It’s because of something much more important – an age-old, primitive business practice known as networking.

Isn’t that interesting?  Organizations spend large amounts of time and money making everything just right for a convention, yet one of the most important parts of the experience comes when attendees retire to the bar after the last general session and simply network – build ties and bonds with their colleagues from other cities, states or countries.

They share ideas, refer business and counsel one another.  Despite the many sophisticated and highly valuable things modern business meetings offer, much of the value that comes from the event occurs in the evening in the crowded hotel lobby bar.

We professionals think we are so sophisticated, yet we’re still hopelessly tied to our ancient social instincts.  You know what?  That’s okay.  People make business interesting.  People make business meaningful.  People make business worthwhile.

No matter how sophisticated we become, nothing is as effective as in-person learning and one-on-one networking.  Those companies and professionals that remember this tend to do better and sell more products and services.

We have access to live webinars, digital recordings, interactive online learning programs.  Nevertheless, people still love to experience events in person.  They still benefit from taking continuing education courses in a room full of people from a qualified person standing there in the flesh.

Think about it…We have so many ways to deliver our sales messages to clients via mass media, social media and sophisticated email campaigns.  Nevertheless, sales practitioners still have to call prospects on the phone one at a time or show up at their offices to make a pitch.

It’s easy to say “no” to an advertisement, a tweet or a mass email.  It’s harder to say “no” when someone sits down with you, listens to your needs and wants and personally explains why their product or service will benefit you and your unique situation.

Don’t be misled and lulled to sleep by all the wondrous selling/marketing tools at your disposal.  While those technologies certainly help, you still have to reach out and shake hands if you want to make it big.

The next time you go to a convention, test this out.  Enjoy the speakers, take notes at the break-out sessions, attend the awards banquet, but at about 9:30 p.m., stroll through the hotel lobby bar.  Notice how many people from your convention are there.  Join the conversation and build long-term collegial relationships that can enhance your success for years and years to come.

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

(402) 637-9300

Put Big Mama’s Picture on the Business Card

By Jeff Beals

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally published this article six years ago in March of 2012.  The star of the article, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, passed away yesterday at age 76.  She was a bigger-than-life personality who made a positive difference in my hometown.  I enjoyed interviewing her and periodically chatting with her in the years since.  She was an amazing woman.  I hope you find the second release of this article interesting and enlightening…

When Patricia Barron first became a grandmother, she wasn’t ready to be called “grandma” or “granny.”  Such labels were way too old fashioned for her.  After all, she still felt young and had a lot of dreams left to pursue.

In some African-American families, the name “Big Mama” is affectionately used to describe a grandmother, but more than that, it’s a title of honor given to the family matriarch.  Such was the case in Barron’s family.  Once she became “Big Mama,” the name stuck, and there was no going back.

When you meet her today, it’s as if she has always been Big Mama. Everyone calls her that whether they’re related to her or not.  With her charming personality, welcoming nature and motherly persona, you immediately feel comfortable using such a friendly, informal title.

After a 30-year career working for the telephone company, Big Mama retired from Ma Bell and was ready to start the next chapter of her life.  It was time to pursue a lifelong dream: to be a restaurateur and owner of her own restaurant.

She developed a love of cooking as a little girl observing her grandmother prepare Sunday dinners.  In her early twenties, she studied culinary arts.  As her family grew, Big Mama loved preparing large meals for relatives and friends.  It wasn’t uncommon for 30 or 40 people to come over for dinner.  As she says, “I love to feed people.”

It only made sense that Big Mama would consider opening a restaurant upon her retirement. But she didn’t want to open just any restaurant.  She wanted to bring her grandmother’s old recipes to life – oven-fried chicken, collard greens, stir-fried cabbage and sweet potato pie.

What’s more, she wanted to open her business in economically challenged north Omaha, an urban, predominantly African-American quadrant of Omaha, Nebraska.  Big Mama hoped her restaurant would help breathe new life into the neighborhood and provide needed jobs for workers who could use a second chance.

While it was an exciting concept and a noble idea, it was not an easy sell to reluctant lenders, who had no confidence in funding a restaurant business in north Omaha.  Perhaps more surprising, lenders were hesitant, because Big Mama was 65 years old.  How long would she run the business?  Could they count on her staying healthy?

“I had experienced discrimination in my life, because I was black and because I was a woman,” Big Mama told me, “but I had never been discriminated against because I was old!”

Undeterred, she gathered her resources, relied on her faith and leaned on her network of friends/family to open Big Mama’s Kitchen on a youth services campus that was once a state school for deaf children.  It was hard work, but she did it.

Five years later, her restaurant is doing well.  She is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.  Her famous sweet potato ice cream is now stocked on local grocery store shelves. At age 70, Big Mama is loving life as an entrepreneur and plans to keep feeding people until she’s 100.  She now makes a living doing what she loves, and at the same time, she’s doing her part to help rebuild a community that has experienced so much disappointment.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking this story feels good, but it’s actually about to get even better.

You see, Big Mama’s story is not just motivational, it’s highly instructive.  Big Mama offers many lessons for those who wish to succeed in business.

Regular readers of this column know that I believe in the power of personal branding and what it can do to build businesses and strengthen organizations.  When people who work inside an organization become “famous,” the whole organization benefits.

Big Mama’s Kitchen has great food and great service, but much of its success is due to the owner’s personality and the personal brand she has built.

Awhile back, she sought the counsel of a marketing firm.  It turned out to be money well spent, as the consultant gave her a great piece of advice: “Big Mama, put your picture on the restaurant’s logo. Put your picture on your business card.”

At first, the modest Big Mama wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but she eventually agreed to give it a try.

The new logo is brilliant.  For one thing, Big Mama believes it’s good for African-American customers to see her face.   They can see that an African-American woman is running a soul food restaurant.  But a very large percentage of her customers are white, and most of them drive many miles to dine in her restaurant.  Her image resonates with those white customers too.  She is the personification of a “Big Mama.”  She is the face of her business.

Big Mama’s personal branding efforts are paying off as she has become a celebrity.  She is the local queen of soul food. Her restaurant has been featured on The Food Channel, The Travel Channel and the Sundance Channel.  People have been known to board an airplane, fly into town, eat at Big Mama’s and fly home the same day.  Her spicy “Afro Burger” was front-and-center on the popular television show Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

People who visit the restaurant come for the food, but you can see it on their faces when they walk in – they look around the room hoping to catch a glimpse of Big Mama, the woman who embodies the restaurant.

Granted, if the food and service weren’t great, the restaurant wouldn’t still be here.  But quality alone is often not enough.  There’s so much competition in this world.  There are so many ways a business can fail.  By building a personal brand and attaching it to your company, you benefit.  Everyone benefits.  People are the portals of profit.  We are much more comfortable doing business with someone than something.

Like Big Mama, your widely recognized and highly respected personal brand can set you apart from your competitors.

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 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

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

What Is the Truth About Relationship Selling?

By Jeff Beals

For several years now, I have been hearing that “relationship selling is dead.”

In other words, people are so busy and so self-absorbed they no longer have time to build relationships with companies and organizations. People are so time-starved that they no longer are interested in becoming “friends” with salespeople or even the owners/executives of the companies with which they do business.

Today, the argument goes, people are simply too overwhelmed for relationship-based selling to be effective.

What is relationship selling? It’s the theory that customers put so much value in the positive interaction with a company or company representative, that they develop strong feelings of loyalty, which sometimes can be even more powerful than the quality of the good or service and its price.

Well, relationship selling is still quite alive, but there have been some societal changes that have affected the way we conduct relationship selling.

It used to be that salespeople were the only true experts when it came to product features and benefits. If you wanted to learn what a product could do for your business, you had to sit down with a highly trained sales rep and ask a bunch of questions. Much of the value that the salesperson provided was in the form of knowledge dispensing.

In almost every industry, customers no longer are so dependent upon a salesperson’s knowledge. The internet provides a wide array of product information and all those blunt reviews on social media can provide incredible insight into products.

All this easily available product knowledge has sped up the sales cycle and caused buyers to see products and services as mere commodities. At the same time, if you cater to big companies, you are dealing with professional buyers who are growing ever sophisticated in how they “beat up” their vendors on price.

So, if you sell things for a living, what do you do?

Remember that building relationships with clients is still important. People like to have positive and trusting relationships with the people who provide them with products and services, but you have to build the relationship in a way and at a pace that appeals to them. These days, you have to do things a little differently:

1. Value – You must constantly focus on delivering what your customers value without assuming what they value. Only the customer can decide what is valuable to them, not you. Nobody needs to be buddies with a vendor just for the sake of having more friends. First and foremost, a business needs to provide exactly what a customer wants/needs. After that, you can differentiate yourself from the competition with a positive relationship. As long as the clients are receiving what they value, the advantage goes to whichever provider can develop the most positive connection. Life is short and full of stress, so when everything else is equal, we’d rather work with people we like.

2. Teammate – Since so much product information is available before prospects even pick up the telephone or send an email, the salesperson’s job has changed. Instead of being an all-knowing information provider, successful salespeople are coaches and guides. They listen carefully to what prospective customers want and then steer them to the best choice. If you do this properly, you WILL build a relationship that will yield fruit long into the future.

3. Speed – Because the marketplace is more hyperactive than in years past, you need to move quickly. You can still build long-term relationships but you don’t have much time to get started. Prospective customers expect calls to be returned immediately. They expect answers now instead of waiting a couple days for you to get back to them. If you’re a business leader, empower your staff to provide answers as autonomously as possible. Any delay, especially early in the selling cycle, can cause the prospect to drift over to your competitor. Gone is the old standard that “you have 24 hours to return a message.”

4. Take Charge – Once you have figured out exactly what the prospect values, it’s time to take charge.  While nobody likes a pushy salesperson, buyers do look to the sales rep to be the leader.  As long as your message is consistent with what your customer values, it’s okay to plant ideas in their heads and challenge them to think differently.

Contrary to popular belief, you could argue that business relationships are even MORE valuable than they were in the past. While customers have more knowledge and options at their disposal, they’re simultaneously under more stress. The successful sales practitioner is the one who constantly delivers client value in a pleasant and stress-free manner and knows when it’s okay to push.

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 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

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

Stop Selling the Wrong Stuff!

By Jeff Beals

What do you sell?

If you answered “software” or “real estate” or “industrial machinery” or any other specific product or service, you got it all wrong.

The world’s most successful salespersons don’t sell products and services. They sell VALUE. In other words, instead of selling insurance, you’re selling security, protection and peace of mind. Instead of selling Pampered Chef products, you are selling prestige, coolness and an easier way to prepare gourmet food.

You don’t want to be paid for the job, hour, gig, order, product, presentation, contract, deal, project etc. You want to be paid for the value you bring to the client. And if you do a truly effective job of establishing value, you then can receive regular income from that client on an on-going basis. You must be seen as an investment, not an expense.

How do you go about convincing a client that you provide great value?

Delivery – Consistently deliver outstanding results. With so much competition in the world, clients have the right to assume that all providers are competent. Make sure you are more than competent in your operations.

Interpersonal Communication – You will have a hard time determining what the client values if you don’t communicate thoroughly and listen carefully.

Relationships and Trust – Do what it takes to build a strong bond with your clients.

After have figured out what they value (or care about) it is time to start talking about what you can do for them. Too many business leaders and sales representatives start spouting off the features and benefits of their products before it’s time.  When it is your turn to talk however, don’t be afraid to take charge.  Take the initiative!  Show the prospect how your solution best delivers value.  It’s okay to push the prospect a bit at this point because you know you have just the right product for them.

Remember, always focus on the client value. Determine what is most important to him or her.

Ultimately, you are not in the product- or service-selling business. You’re in the results-selling business. The right results, along with a trusting relationship are what your clients truly value.

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

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

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events 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

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

What Happens When You Befriend Your Competitors?

By Jeff Beals

Some of my favorite people to hang out with work in the same profession I do.  In other words, I’m friends with a lot of my competitors.  It makes sense if you think about it. People who compete with each other have many of the same interests.

But friendships with professionals from competing companies can be touchy.

It is in your best interest to have positive relationships with your competitors, but you have to be careful.  On one hand, such relationships keep job possibilities open for you, and if you’re in a leadership position, these relationships form a candidate pool from which you can hire.

On the other hand, it’s easy to let your guard down when you befriend competitors thus compromising your company’s position.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to befriending people who want to beat you in the sales arena:

1. Even if you have the heart of a cut-throat competitor, be cordial when you run into the competition. You never know when you actually might need them.

2. A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and “sanitized” talk.  Don’t divulge your secrets.

3. If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps.  Befriend people from much larger companies.  They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.

4. If you engage in one-upmanship and gamesmanship with competitors, make sure you do it for valuable reasons and not simply to boost your ego or satisfy a constant craving for attention.  If you engage in one-upmanship just for the fun of it, be careful – make sure the other person has a thick skin and/or good sense of humor.  Friendships among competitors can be fragile.

5. Sometimes you must get between your client and your competitor.  That’s not just figuratively “in between” them; it might be a good idea to show up if you know your client is going to encounter a competitor.  In highly competitive sales efforts, your personal, physical presence may be necessary to ward off competitors looking to steal your client at the last minute.

6. As appropriate, find ways to “hide” your prospects from your competitors.  If you find a “diamond-in-the-rough” client, don’t let the world know about him or her.  Do what you can to keep them under the radar.

7. All is fair in love, war and sales. Because business can be so brutally competitive, some sales leaders look for ways not only to beat the competition but to weaken it preemptively.  Many of Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese theories on military strategy apply to the game of sales. In sales, you sometimes need to outflank the competition, employ the element of surprise and weaken your competitors before you even begin the battle.  A dramatic way to strike a blow to a competitor is to hire away one of their sales reps.  If you can’t beat ’em, steal their best salesperson.

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

Stop Mistaking Marketing for Selling

By Jeff Beals

On separate occasions I recently met with two small business owners.  These guys don’t know each other but they have a lot in common: Despite great effort, neither is happy with their revenue. Both companies are “getting by” but are far from thriving.

A quick examination revealed the same reason why revenues are falling short. Both owners are mistaking promotional activity for selling activity.  Let me explain…

Both of these entrepreneurs tirelessly promote their companies.  They belong to service clubs and chambers of commerce. They show up at networking events.  They lead active social lives.  They advertise on radio and in print. They buy Google AdWords. They sponsor events.  One of them even sponsors a youth sports team.  Yet despite this activity, neither is getting enough new business to come through the door.

So, what’s the problem?

While they’re doing a great job with promoting, neither is focused on selling. Both entrepreneurs are getting their brands out in the marketplace.  They are creating name recognition and associating their brands with positive feelings.  But promotion is simply not enough.  Promotional activities don’t in-and-of-themselves lead directly to signed deals.  If you stop at promotion, you’re not going far enough.

To make a military analogy, think of promotional activity as analogous to an air raid and selling to be an analogy for the infantry.  If one country is going to attach another, they often use their air forces to weaken the target before the infantry soldiers invade.  You don’t win wars with air power alone.  At some point, soldiers have to win it on the ground.

Now, I’m a little hesitant to use the military analogy because good sales people don’t “attack” prospective customers.  Instead they work with them to find beneficial solutions.  Nevertheless, promotional activities “soften” up the target audience while salespeople (the “ground forces”) finish up everything.

No matter how tirelessly you promote and no matter how much you spend on marketing, making a sale usually requires someone from a company to do four things in exact order:

  1. Interrupt someone’s day and turn them into a prospect;
  2. Figure out what prospects truly care about;
  3. Demonstrate how the product/solution exactly meets their needs;
  4. Confidently ask them to sign up.

To be successful, companies have to repeat this process with multiple people each and every day.  If you’re not focused on the four activities above, you are wasting time and money.

But it’s not just glad-handing, socializing owners/executives who are guilty of this.  Some salespeople are too.  Yes, people who actually work in sales will often promote instead of sell.

Some salespeople will wine-and-dine clients but not steer them to the close.  A good name for these salespeople would be “professional lunch eaters” or “professional coffee drinkers.”

It’s easy to do the relationship-building part of sales, but it’s hard for some people to follow through with the closing part. Asking for the order is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful entrepreneurs, executives and sales professionals must engage in promotional activity, but that is simply a means to an end. Your success is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.  That means you must be constantly focused on the real measure of 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

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Stay Motivated in Sales

By Jeff Beals

Leading a sales team is not easy. Consider these scenarios based on true stories:

Scenario #1

Your sales team is in the running for what would be the biggest contract in company history. You invest countless staff hours and other resources to win the business. For a while, it looks promising.  You build a trusting relationship with the primary decision maker and have demonstrated how your offering perfectly fits their need.  The prospect starts using phrases like “When we work together…” and “You will be responsible for…” and “We really need you…”  You now consider that decision maker to be a friend.

Then suddenly your main contact starts being vague and evasive and is slow in returning calls. Two weeks later, the decision maker, your new “buddy,” sheepishly tells you they chose a different provider. It makes no sense to you that the other company was chosen, because they don’t provide the things that the prospective client originally told you were the biggest priorities.  You feel frustrated, defeated and misled. Worse yet, you were counting on that business and it vanished.  You’re incredulous and wonder, “Why did they lie to me?”

Scenario #2 

It’s never easy to attract an elite sales rep from a competing company despite your  non-stop recruiting efforts.  You need a couple more sales reps but at least the ones you have are good especially, your top producer, Jim.  It seems like there’s nothing Jim can’t do. Year after year, he breaks records. And he has such a great attitude!

Then one day without warning, Jim resigns to take a new sales position elsewhere.  He thanks you for being a good leader and for providing the resources he needed to succeed over the past 10 years but says he needs a change. His decision is final.  You never had a chance to make a case for him to stay.  The pit in your stomach feels terrible. You and the rest of the leadership team talk and act as if there was a death in the family.

*****

If you have been leading sales teams for any significant amount of time, these scenarios likely ring true.  While sales is not rocket science, it’s not easy.  One of the most important skills a sales leader can possess is the ability to bounce back when life punches you in the gut.

With all the emotional, high-risk/high-reward scenarios playing out each year and with so much riding on your ability to lead the sales process, how do you cope with disappointment?  How do you cope with the pressure?  How do you avoid burnout and stay motivated?

These ideas will help you keep it fresh and keep the completed deals flowing:

1. To cope with the inevitable rejection in a sales career, concentrate on your victories. Celebrate each one of them in your own way. Some people will tell you that if you simply expect success, you don’t need to celebrate victories.  I disagree.  Appreciate everything.

2. Keep in mind that selling is a noble profession. Without sales activity, the wheels of commerce grind to a halt.  Your work creates jobs and feeds families. Sales is the lifeblood of your company.  Without you and your team, there would be no company.

3. Remember that character is king. Focus on people – the hopes and dreams of the clients you serve and the real needs of the team members you lead.  Draw inspiration and motivation from the people who surround you.  When you remember that the things you sell have real impacts on real people, it helps you ride through the rough patches.

4. Embrace the competitive side of sales.  Do you enjoy sports?  If so, you probably love competing and watching other people compete.  Sales is game.  Try to accumulate little (and sometimes big) victories each day.  Playing to win removes the drudgery of day-to-day work.

5. Take pride in your resilience. It feels good once you have successfully persevered through difficult times.  Remember that feeling anytime you feel hopelessness and then do what it takes to feel that way again.  Great leaders are resilient. Three of my favorite quotes from former British prime minister Winston Churchill will help your bolster your resilience:

  • “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
  • “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
  • “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”

6. Make it fun for both your team and yourself.  Those who don’t find ways to enjoy their work typically don’t survive long in a brutally competitive industry. Find the joyful and positive aspects of your work and focus on them.

7. Tell the truth even when it hurts.  Integrity leads to success. You will be rewarded with high levels of client and employee retention.

8. And finally, as you sell today, imagine what your legacy will be years down the road.  Your work in leading a sales team literally shapes the future.  Isn’t that pretty important?

ATTENTION SALES LEADERS:

If you hold a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect resource to help you become even more successful!

It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group,” and it kicks off this fall.  I will personally lead and facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre.  I’m recruiting members for it right now.  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.  My mastermind group members will also have their own personal discussion forum.

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 to see an info piece about this mastermind or contact me personally at (402) 510-7468.

Important Differences Between Sales Leaders and Sales Managers

By Jeff Beals

A sales manager is the person responsible for making sure the sales staff is in place, equipped to succeed and motivated to compete. Good sales managers think quickly on their feet and take immediate, decisive actions to mitigate any threat to the organization’s ability to sell.

Sales managers facilitate the sales process and protect the organization’s ability to do deals. While the term “sales manager” is the typical, generally accepted title of the person in charge of sales, the term “sales leader” is more appropriate. A manager supervises details. He or she makes sure tactical work is accomplished in an efficient manner. A leader makes sure those tactical tasks are completed but sees the business from a broader, more global perspective.

Even if your company is a small one, with only one person in charge of the sales staff, sales leadership is more important than sales management. The sales leader empowers the sales staff to carry out their work and rewards them for deals completed. Anyone who serves as a company’s sales manager would be wise to see himself or herself as a leader and behave accordingly.

As the sales leader, you need to carefully analyze employees’ personalities and push the right buttons to help them succeed at the highest levels. Urge them to accomplish more while still setting them up for success.

“It’s putting people in stretch assignments,” said Joe Moglia, former CEO of TD Ameritrade.

Moglia believes two primary things are critically important when choosing people for a job and when assigning new goals to an existing employee: alignment and listening. You can’t succeed with one and not the other. The leader must thoroughly understand the assignment and the people being considered for it. The most talented people in the world will fail if their personalities and abilities are not in alignment with the job. When it comes to listening, the leader must ask the right questions and then focus on what employees say and what body language they exhibit. Listen to find out whether the staff member is really excited about the assignment.

Effective sales managers accept responsibility. They realize that they are in charge and accountable for what happens, but they don’t see themselves as bosses. A leader is not a foreman. As a leader, you must depend on the abilities and hard work of your staff members. A successful sales leader is one who establishes interdependence. He or she trusts and depends on the staff while the staff trusts the sales leader to guide, provide resources and create a safe, pro-selling atmosphere.

Sales leaders have so many responsibilities – recruiting reps, training them, keeping them motivated, forecasting/budgeting, working closely with marketing, etc. – but there is one area of a sales leader’s job that is crucially important but often underrated: resource acquisition.

The most effective sales leaders do what it takes to make sure their sales teams have the tools and budget they need to close deals.

Attracting new clients is so important that every organization should devote considerable resources. That said, not all do. Leaders of various organizational departments in a company jockey and position for resources. Some are better at it than others. If the sales leader isn’t good at playing corporate politics, the sales staff might be at a resource disadvantage against the competition.

If you’re a sales leader, do not let this happen. One of your most important duties is to provide your sales team with everything it needs to succeed. You don’t ever want to give your salespersons an excuse for not performing. Lack of resources is a convenient excuse for a sales person but should not be an excuse for a sales leader.

One of the best ways to ensure abundant sales resources is to establish your personal clout inside your organization. This is accomplished by doing good work and practicing good internal politics.

Clout is affected by timing. Make a pitch for greater sales resources right after you score a high-profile victory. Make the pitch when the higher-ups most value you and believe they could least afford to lose you.

ATTENTION SALES LEADERS:

If you hold a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect resource to help you become even more successful!

It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group,” and it kicks off this fall.  I will personally lead and facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre.  I’m recruiting members for it right now.  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.  My mastermind group members will also have their own personal discussion forum.

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 to see an info piece about this mastermind or contact me personally at (402) 510-7468.

7 Reasons Why You Should Join a Mastermind Group This Year

thinkgrowrich-napoleonhill

By Jeff Beals
 
Napoleon Hill wrote one of the most popular business books of all time back in 1937. It was called Think and Grow Rich, and in the 80 years since it was published, more than 100 million copies have been sold.

Though it was released during the Great Depression Think and Grow Rich remains shockingly relevant for professionals working in the 21st Century.  The book was the result of Hill’s 20-year study of highly successful individuals who had amassed great personal wealth.

After studying the habits of exceptional people, Hill developed 13 achievement philosophies that lead to success.  One of those philosophies was called, “The Power of Master Mind.”

That’s right…Napoleon Hill invited the mastermind group.

In 2017, sales professionals are joining mastermind groups like crazy. They have become super popular over the past five to 10 years even though Hill wrote about them eight decades ago.

What’s a mastermind group?

It’s a group of professionals, usually about eight to 15 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.

“The Mastermind principle consists of an alliance of two or more minds working in perfect harmony for the attainment of a common definite objective,” Hill wrote. “Success does not come without the cooperation of others.”

I benefit from membership in a mastermind group. I’m part of a mastermind group of 52 sales speakers/consultants located around the world.  We’re ostensibly competitors, but we help each other be successful.  We view the world from an abundance mentality, which means we work together to increase the size of the pie rather than fighting for pieces of a smaller pie.  Just today, one member of our mastermind group sent a message on our private discussion forum seeking advice as to how she could better serve one of her clients.  Several mastermind members chimed in with ideas.

If you are asked to join a well-structured mastermind group consisting of high-quality people, consider yourself lucky.  You should probably jump at the opportunity.  Actively and enthusiastically participating in a mastermind group is hand-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.  The legendary businessman Henry Ford visited a beef packing plant in Chicago many years ago. Ford took great interest in the way workers processed the beef from whole carcasses into small cuts of ready-to-sell meat. As he observed, it occurred to Ford that if the process was reversed, all the cuts would go back together to form a whole steer carcass again. The metaphorical light bulb switched on in Ford’s head. “I can build automobiles this way,” he thought. Ford returned home to Detroit and promptly created the famous assembly line.

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 incredibly powerful 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.

While mastermind groups are indeed powerful, don’t join one unless you are ready to give it your full commitment. It does require time and effort.  If you can’t find one that suits your needs, you might just start one yourself!

Hey, if you have a leadership position in sales, I have the perfect mastermind group for you!  It’s called the “Sales Leader Mastermind Group,” and it kicks off this fall.  I will personally lead and facilitate this group along with my partner Beth Mastre.  I’m recruiting members for it right now.  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.  My mastermind group members will also have their own personal discussion forum.

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 to see an info piece about this mastermind or contact me personally at (402) 510-7468.

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