Overlooked Sales Tips for More Business Success in 2018

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Four Sales Tips to Make You More Successful in 2018

Tip #1: Stop working smart and get back to working hard.
Most salespeople use “working smart” as an excuse to avoid hard work, especially the traditional methods of prospecting such as cold calling. They think work smart means work easy. As a result, they look for shortcuts and safe alternatives to prospecting on the phone and in-person. They try to prospect via social media and e-mail and kill so much time looking up information on prospects, that they don’t have time to make the number of calls necessary for success. While there are times you want to look up information on a prospect, use e-mail, and be on social media, the average salesperson takes it way too far because all of these are easier than talking to a live human being and facing possible rejection. In one case a new insurance agent was spending two hours looking up information before he made his initial call on a prospect. Instead of making the necessary 25 calls a day, he was making 2. Ouch!

Stop looking for the easy button: the half-the-work, ten-times-the-leads scheme, or the next break-through prospecting method, and stick to the tried-and-true: lots of calls in-person and on the phone. Hard work. The most successful salespeople work the hardest and spend the business day talking to people who can buy from them, not working on a sales letter, their phone script, social media, cleaning their desk, or doing research. Again, there are times for social media and technology. Just don’t get in the habit of using them at the expense of talking to the number of people you need to talk to in order to make the number of sales you need to make. Also, don’t do it during prime calling hours.

Tip #2: Get your daily dosage of fear, pain, and discomfort.
Every single day you need to be stepping out of your comfort zone, doing things that scare you, and growing personally and professionally. The good news is that many of these things overlap so usually one or two activities will fit the bill when it comes to this tip. Again, for salespeople it is typically cold calling, or making that particular call that for some reason they’re afraid to make, that is the most fearful and uncomfortable. The better you get at handling fear, discomfort, and mental pain, the better and stronger you and your business will be.

Tip #2a: Cold call every day.
Okay, you saw this one coming, right? This is tip 2a because again, for most people following this tip will give you your daily dose of tip #2.

As a salesperson cold calling is more than likely the thing you dread most and the most difficult thing you do. If you get great at cold calling, most other things in you sales career will be a breeze. Also, while you may be great at getting referrals, using LinkedIn for leads, and have more business than you can handle, you should never stop cold calling. Why? Nothing keeps you as sharp as cold calling, nothing builds your intestinal fortitude like cold calling, and nothing will give you more confidence and success than being able to cold call and get the interest and attention of a complete stranger. Also, no matter how many people you know, there may be a time in life in which you can’t rely on your LinkedIn Network, Facebook friends, a center of influence, or your uncle. Like my friend who had to talk his way into a secure area reserved for executives during a mass shooting, there will be a time in life when you have to sell a stranger. Or as my first manager Don Roche Jr. used to say, a true salesperson can sell the stranger on the street first and foremost.

Tip #3: Stop wishing it was easier.
The person you become over the span of your life will pretty much be determined by the obstacles you’ve had to overcome and whether or not you overcame them. Believe me, if you want to do anything significant with your life, you don’t want the easy road. There are no challenges or growth on the easy road. The easy road does not build persistence and resilience, which you when need when life gets tough, and which you need if you’re going to be successful in business and life over the long haul. This doesn’t mean you hope for tragedy to befall you, it means that when you run into plane delays, personal issues, professional obstacles, and anything else that life throws at you, that you accept them as part of life on planet Earth. No amount of wishing will make them go away. Rise above any negative feelings, move on, and realize that you’ll probably grow and learn something in the process. What stops most people from reaching their dreams is their inability to mentally overcome everyday roadblocks and problems they encounter along the way. They simply get beaten down until they give up.

Tip #4: Get back to the basics.

  • Put people first and always do what’s best for them.
  • Have annual, monthly, and weekly goals, break that down to daily activity, and get those daily activities done no matter what.
  • Spend 80% of prime-calling time prospecting, presenting, and closing.
  • Get great at selling, knowing your product, and your solutions.
  • Build relationships and your network.
  • Work hard… okay, and smart, but make sure it’s intelligent work that builds your business, not easy work that has you looking for the sales version of a unicorn or Bigfoot.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com

Four Sales Tips to Make You More Successful in 2018 Tip #1: Stop working smart and get back to working hard. Most salespeople use “working smart” as an excuse to avoid hard work, especially the traditional methods of prospecting such as cold calling. They think work smart means work easy. As a result, they look […]

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Is your Sales Team Fat, Dumb, and Happy?

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On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, and 10 is a perfect description, how does your sales organization rate according to the following definitions?

Fat: Enough clients and business to sustain you for the short term coupled with no consistent effort at chasing new business. Everyone is simply living off of current accounts and otherwise killing time during the workweek.
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

Dumb: Mediocre to poor sales skills with no interest in developing good to great sales skills. No training initiatives for professional or personal development.       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

Happy: Comfortable because everyone can pay their bills and they’re not missing any meals.
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

A 6 or higher on any one of these is a big problem. A 6 or higher on two of these is a major problem. And a 6 or higher on all three is an extremely urgent problem and a recipe for disaster. Sales organizations that have problems in the above areas usually also exhibit one or more of the following traits:

  • Top producers are supporting bottom producers
  • No accountability
  • Allowing negativity and slackers in the workplace
  • Very little or no actual sales training
  • More than content with 1 to 3% organic growth in the largest economy ever created on planet Earth

So how did your organization rate? If you have a problem, is it something you want to address, or are you “happy” with mediocrity and simple survival? Usually at this point I’m hit with something like: “We should improve BUT,…” one of the following excuses: “It’ll be too much work”, “I’m wearing too many hats and I have no time”, and/or “My people won’t change and I can’t force them to.”

First, none of those are true. It doesn’t take a Herculean effort or take a ton of time and your people will change if they see a benefit to changing. That said, step one is to make the decision. If you’re considering staying poor or average, let me give you some food for thought. For starters, we all know it’s better to be at the top, winning. Just ask any of the top sports teams or top organizations in any industry. You might also want to ask the ones at the bottom what it’s like to lose. It sucks. But if you’re fat, dumb, and happy you’re already experiencing anywhere from a little to a lot of suck. Next, do you feel like you have an obligation and a duty to the organization you take money from? What about your obligation to the people affected by how well or badly your organization runs? If your organization is sub-standard, the client is being hurt. You also have the people who work at the company and their families. Finally, what about you and the people who are important to you? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? The college educations, the weddings, perhaps taking care of your parents, or being able to absorb a catastrophic health issue for you or a loved one? How about the dream home, the vacations, retirement, or maybe a lasting legacy that lives on long after you’re gone? Mere survival doesn’t allow any of those. Finally, is your time on Earth going to be defined as “mediocre”, and is that going to be your legacy once you’re gone? Just some things to consider. If, on the other hand, you’ve decided to change, here are three steps that can go a long way:

Step 1) Set the vision and ask everyone for their help.
Ask people what kind of organization they want to be part of. Highlight the fact that we spend more waking hours at work than at home and ask if it might be better to enjoy the process a little bit more. Ask if we (the whole team) have an obligation to clients, our families, and ourselves to do the best job possible and have the best lives possible. Ask what example we want to set for our kids and the other important people in our lives. We want our kids to give their best in school and other activities, should we be doing the same at work? I mean, if the job’s worth doing, is it worth doing well, or do we want to be average? Do we want to be the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers (insert favorite, great team here), or the Cleveland Browns (or other losing team)? Let them choose to get on board and be part of, or not be part of, a new positive, growing organization.

Step 2) Set expectations and hold people accountable to those expectations.
When you set the expectations, you have to let people know that sales is not a 9 to 5 job. If they’re going to make it, it’s going to take a ton of work, resilience, and persistence. Especially in the beginning they’re going to need to learn the product, your procedures, and maybe even the industry if they’re new to it. Depending upon their sales skills, they may also need to spend a lot of time developing those. You should have set those parameters in the beginning, but if you didn’t, some veterans may have to get to work too. Also, in the new atmosphere, we’re now going to hold people accountable to their quotas. You know who can sell and who can’t. You’ve known since the first week based upon attitude and motivation level. You’re going to have to get tough here. If you’d like, you can delegate this by hiring a great sales coach who can take on the responsibilities of training, monitoring results, and holding people accountable. The key here is to require the slackers to step up or step out.

Step 3) Provide training, tools, and resources.
Put the support people and systems in place and provide sales training. You want your producers spending their day on sales activities, not paperwork and administrative details. Also, when they are selling you want them as effective as possible. This is an upfront investment that will return tenfold and make you one of the top organizations around.

The choice is yours. You know you need to change. If not now, when? The year 2000 was 18 years ago. Seems like yesterday. Tomorrow is 2036. Change before it’s too late. It simply takes a commitment to raise your standards, reset expectations, and ask others to raise their game… If for nothing else, for themselves and their families. To prove to themselves and others what they’re capable of. To ensure that at their end of their lives, they’re not on their deathbed with regrets, wondering “what if”, and neither are you.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, and 10 is a perfect description, how does your sales organization rate according to the following definitions? Fat: Enough clients and business to sustain you for the short term coupled with no consistent effort at chasing new business. Everyone is simply living […]

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How to Build Relationships in Your Organization and with Vendors

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We all know relationships are important with clients. If you own the relationship with a client account, you most likely own the business. Just as important as client relationships are the relationships within your organization and with vendors who help your business run smoothly. Problems in these relationships usually lead to problems in client accounts, which could result in lost business. You also spend a good amount of time with vendors and co-workers, so the better your relationships with them, the more pleasant your work life will be. All of that said, how do you ensure good, solid relationships within your organization and with vendors?

3 Steps to building strong relationships

Step 1: Follow Steven Covey’s Habit #5: Seek first to understand.
In order to build a relationship with someone you have to get into their world. Here are some ways to do that with vendors and people you work with.

a) Ask them: What can I do to make your job easier? During my first week at Diebold Banking Equipment, I approached each individual in installation and service and asked this question. When they realized I was willing to work with and help them, they in turn were willing to work with me and help me.

Ask vendors this question too. You want to make their lives as easy as possible. An example of this is with insurance agencies I work with. They ask their carriers what a perfect submission looks like and then do their best to achieve that. Also keep in mind that your objective is to be a great customer for your vendors. Be easy to work with, make sure your interactions with them are good ones, and thank them when possible.

b) Talk about their favorite subject. In other words, talk about them, their family, kids, pets, and related subjects. Try to keep the conversation positive and upbeat. While you may have to talk about someone’s cancer treatment or illness, you want to keep most conversations focused on good things going on in the person’s life. Also, be careful not to one-up people. If someone is talking about their daughter playing soccer, you can mention that you daughter plays soccer too, letting them know you have something in common with them. Just don’t talk about your daughter being a superstar or shift the conversation from their daughter to yours. Ask about activities they’re involved in such as bowling leagues, softball, golf, etc. Make sure to listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them at least in that proportion. Drop in some of your own personal information so they have something they can connect with you on but again, make sure they are talking most of the time and be careful not to out-shine them. Remember everyone’s favorite radio station: WIIFM: what’s in it for me. Focus on that when you talk to people. What do they want and what are they interested in?

c) Let others be right, let them go first, and make them feel important. Everyone’s number one need, provided they have food, shelter and the basics, is to be recognized and to feel important. Most people are mirrors. When you let other people be right and let them be first, they’ll do the same for you. They’ll also be much more willing to work with you.

d) Use Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule is of course: Treat other’s the way you want to be treated. It’s effective more than 90% of the time. To get closer to 100%, use the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. Ask for preferences regarding communication and other business protocols. Don’t assume that your preference is everyone else’s preference.

 

Step 2: What gets rewarded, gets repeated.
When I worked for Diebold, I used to give $5 and $10 gift cards to people in the installation and service departments. I also gave them baseball tickets and other gifts. On special occasions, during the holidays, or when they really went above and beyond, I used to give more expensive gifts such as jewelry or their favorite alcohol. Based upon rules and regulations you may or may not be able to do some of these. Either way, you must acknowledge and thank them for helping you and doing a good job. Stop by their office, thank them for what they just did for you, give them a small token of your appreciation, and ask about their favorite subject.

Here are some other ideas for rewarding people that don’t cost anything:

  • Send an e-mail telling the boss what an asset they are to the company. Make sure you copy them in.
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Call them on the phone and thank them or stop by in-person.
  • Build them up with sincere compliments.
  • Praise them in front of their peers or higher-ups.

 

Step 3: Treat co-workers and vendors like one of your top accounts.
A great way to build relationships internally and with vendors is to give them the same extra-special treatment that you give your top accounts.

Here are some ideas:

  • Send them birthday cards and holiday cards.
  • Give them holiday and birthday gifts.
  • Study their areas of interest so you can have intelligent conversations with them.
  • Give them books, articles, and other items related to their areas of interest.
  • Pass on articles and other information about their high school, college, and hometown.
  • Pass on good articles and information you come across about their kids, spouse, relatives, or their related interests.
  • Find articles and other stories written about your vendors’ companies and industries, and occasionally discuss some of this information with them.
  • Pass on items of religious and political interest.
  • Give gift certificates to restaurants and stores.
  • Give tickets to sporting events, shows, dinner events.
  • Contribute to one of their favorite charities.
  • Make a small investment in their business or something else they are involved in.
  • Give vacations or trips to trade shows and other industry events.
  • Get creative and come up with other great ideas to turn co-workers and vendors into loyal partners and great friends.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com

We all know relationships are important with clients. If you own the relationship with a client account, you most likely own the business. Just as important as client relationships are the relationships within your organization and with vendors who help your business run smoothly. Problems in these relationships usually lead to problems in client accounts, […]

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How to Communicate Effectively during the Sales Process

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In theory sales is pretty simple: communicate the right way with the right people, and you’ll make sales. It’s in practice that most people complicate the issue. So how do you keep it simple?

Assuming you’re selling something where someone has to deal with you for any length of time, in other words, you’re not selling batteries at Walmart, you need to get several points across, one: you care, two: you’re trustworthy, three: you understand their problem, and four: you’re competent and can solve their problem.

That said, effective communication begins with mindset. First, you must be completely sold on and have confidence in your product, your company, and you. Next, you have to have empathy for the people you’re selling to and you must put them first, before your company, your product, the sale, and even before you. If you enter the sales conversation with confidence, caring, and compassion, putting the other person’s needs first, you’re off to a good start.

Next is preparation. You need to know your product, the competition, how to identify the needs, wants, and desires of the prospect, how to present your product solutions, answers to objections, and you must be able to close.

Once you have the proper mindset and are prepared to sell, here are the other communication rules to follow:

Rule 1: Be honest and authentic. 

Rule 2: Agree with people. Never argue or debate. Rarely will you get anywhere by beginning a conversation by disagreeing with someone. When you push back, most people dig their heels in even further. Start by agreeing, let them be right, build some rapport, and then start to shift the conversation.

Rule 3: Listen well. The better you listen, the more people will like you because most of us are not listened to during the day. While we are speaking, the other person is thinking about what they’re going to say. Especially on initial calls, you want to be listening far more than you speak, about 70 to 80% of the time. Take notes if necessary and make sure you actually hear what is being said. Read between the lines and wait five seconds after someone is done talking before you speak.

Rule 4: The most important part of communication is the mindset of the audience. What is going through their brain? What are they thinking? If they think it’s green and you think it’s red, you’d better figure out why they think it’s green and how you may be able to educate them as to why it’s actually red. If you’re going to connect and communicate effectively, you need to be able to see things from their viewpoint.

Rule 5: People listen via their favorite radio station: WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Focus on the other person and what they are interested in. Why should they be listening to you? Why should they care about what you’re saying? Use “you” versus “I” language and ask good questions to find out what’s important to them.

Rule 6: Always speak in benefits. Never give a feature without the resulting benefit. Again, what does the feature mean to them? How does it save them time, money, effort, energy, headaches, or make their life better? 

Rule 7: Be extremely responsive and answer client/prospect communications as quickly as possible. Also answer calls and e-mails at night and on the weekends.

Rule 8: Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. Then go one more step and go above and beyond, doing more than you promise.

Rule 9: Everything affects your communication and how people hear you. You will be judged what you wear, how you speak, the car you drive, the pen you use, and everything else that the senses can pick up. 

Rule 10: Make sure your body language, facial expressions, eye movements, tone of voice, and words match the point you’re trying to get across. Most of communication is non-verbal.

Rule 11: Don’t use industry-speak, jargon, acronyms, or words the other person is not familiar with.

Rule 12: Speak intelligently about your product or service. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest, and then follow up with an answer as quickly as possible.

Rule 13: Deliver important communication in person and don’t delegate it.

Rule 14: Document communication when necessary.

Rule 15: Be scripted and know exactly what to say in each and every prospect and client situation. Role play and practice your scripts constantly with others and yourself.

Rule 16: In most cases too much communication is better than not enough.

Rule 17: Don’t wait to communicate. When there is a potential issue, the more time passes, the worse the situation usually gets.

Rule 18: Always follow an e-mail with a phone call or text message (whichever medium the person prefers) and sometimes a physical mailing. You can’t assume they saw your e-mail.

Rule 19: Communicate based upon facts, not assumptions. Clear up assumptions by asking questions. An e-mail in all capital letters may mean it’s easier to proof-read e-mails before they go out, not that the person is mad at you.

Rule 20: Communicate based upon facts, not opinions. “It’s cold in the room”, is an opinion. “It’s 65 degrees”, is a fact in that it can be proven to be either true or false. When people start to argue opinions such as religion and politics as facts, that’s when we end up in wars. When someone says, “I can’t sell in my territory because of our pricing structure.” The first question to ask is, “Is that a fact or an opinion?”

Rule 21: No negative talk. Prospects don’t want to hear about bad traffic or the latest bad news on the radio. Keep prospect and customer interactions positive and upbeat. People like to do business with positive people.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com.

In theory sales is pretty simple: communicate the right way with the right people, and you’ll make sales. It’s in practice that most people complicate the issue. So how do you keep it simple? Assuming you’re selling something where someone has to deal with you for any length of time, in other words, you’re not […]

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The Next Economic Crisis will Eliminate 85% of Salespeople

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I have a prediction, and I’m pretty good at predictions, from American Pharoah to the Cubs, so here’s my latest: only the top 15% of salespeople will survive the next economic upheaval. Whether it’s a significant stock market correction, a tragic world event, or another financial crisis similar to that of 2008, the next calamity that shakes the economy and causes U.S. companies to tighten their belts once again, will leave 85% of salespeople in its wake. If you’re in the 15%, that’s great news, if you’re in the 85%, it’s a warning and hopefully a wake-up call.

Here’s the logic behind the prediction: The biggest issue I see in the workplace is a lack of accountability. This has been true for decades when it comes to sales teams, Realtors, financial planners, insurance agents, and anyone else whose primary role is to bring dollars into an organization. Many organizations let mediocre and poor salespeople continue to stay on the payroll and take more money out than they bring in while also causing negativity, problems, headaches, and morale issues across the organization. The next economic correction will leave companies unable to continue to support this dead weight. The correction will force them to be hyper sensitive to where they are spending money along with the ROI on that money and, just as with a ship about to go down in a storm, anything not vital to operating or keeping it afloat, will be jettisoned overboard. Couple this with the fact that technology is already rendering mediocre and poor salespeople obsolete and you have a perfect storm which will eliminate most salespeople.

The point of this article is not to be negative, it’s to address reality. We all know the economy, the stock market, real estate, and pretty much everything else, including your waistline, go in cycles and we’ve been riding a pretty good wave for quite a while. We also know that each hiccup in the economy causes further scrutiny of expenses and the bottom line. But whether the next economic storm comes in a week, or five years from now, you want to make sure you fall on the right side of the numbers. In other words, make sure you find yourself in the 15%. After all, even if I’m wrong, the top 15% is the place to be. The 15% is where the money is, it’s where job security is, and it’s where peace of mind is along with all your hopes and dreams. If you’re at the top, you no longer have to dread Monday and sit with a knot in your stomach on Sunday.

So if you’re leading a team of salespeople and you want to protect them, the best way to do it is to make sure they have the one attribute of the top 15%: they earn their keep. They can validate their existence based upon the amount of good business they are bringing in. As a sales leader you need to hire attitude and work ethic and watch activity. Set expectations and hold people accountable to those expectations. Provide sales skills and product training and know how to motivate each individual. Finally, provide a positive environment and give them the tools and support to do their job.

If you’re a salesperson… producer, financial planner, Realtor, or whatever title you hide behind, begin by taking complete responsibility for success or failure. It isn’t the market, your boss, or your pricing structure that determines success, it’s you, specifically your activity, sales skills, and ability to influence others. Also realize that while your employer should train you, most fall short… way short, especially when it comes to sales skills training. Ultimately it’s up to you to develop yourself personally and professionally. The best way to do this is to set personal and professional goals and then get busy achieving them. Start with your income goal for the year and then calculate your daily activity. How many sales do you need to make to hit your goal? How many proposals, how many prospects, and how many calls do you need to make? Next, make that many calls and more. Also, make sure you are sufficiently motivated and educated. You’ve got to use whatever external, intrinsic, and peer motivation you need to in order to do the activities necessary for success. From an education standpoint, you have to be educated on your product, the industry you’re selling to, sales skills, people, and effective communication.

From a personal development standpoint, understand that the better you feel mentally and physically, the better you’ll perform. If you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating right, abusing alcohol or drugs, have physical or mental issues you’re not addressing, hanging out in the wrong places with the wrong people, focusing on the negatives, or otherwise not taking care of yourself, it’s going to affect your sales results, probably significantly.

The message of this article is: be ready for the next correction because it’s coming… sometime. When it happens, organizations will have to run lean. They will no longer be able to afford to carry that a salespeople who are simply along for the ride. There will be a massive thinning of the herd, a survival of the fittest. The salespeople who survive will be the ones who first: are clearly assets versus liabilities and second: able to show that they are far more valuable than the information that is now readily available to prospects and customers via the internet and other sources. Yes, salespeople will still be needed, but only the experts who are out selling. Only those that can separate the valid information from the misinformation, decipher what’s left, and get in front of people and solve their problems.

Yes, this is still the land of opportunity where anyone, regardless of race, gender, or religion, can make it. Whatever issues you have, someone’s had it worse and overcome it. So if you’re in the 15%, keep getting better, and if you’re not, get out of your way and get to work while there’s still time.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com.

I have a prediction, and I’m pretty good at predictions, from American Pharoah to the Cubs, so here’s my latest: only the top 15% of salespeople will survive the next economic upheaval. Whether it’s a significant stock market correction, a tragic world event, or another financial crisis similar to that of 2008, the next calamity […]

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Building Your Sales Machine

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The “how-to” behind building a highly-effective, competition-dominating, sales juggernaut is actually fairly simple. What isn’t simple is executing the steps and sticking to the plan. The dedication and resolve necessary to start and complete the process is where the majority of people fail. That said, if you’re ready to skyrocket sales in your organization, here are the steps to get it done.

Step 1: Super-intense Sales Training
The most important tool a salesperson can have in their arsenal is great sales skills. Yet, while most organizations spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new producer, send them to product training, and load them up on technical skills, most balk at investing a fraction of that on the most important training: sales training. Poor sales skills is a key reason why most salespeople end up with mediocre or bad sales results.

When considering how to train your people, let’s start with the gold standard. In the best case your training would look like what my dad got from I.B.M. The first six months were spent at I.B.M.’s main office where new salespeople trained half the time on product and half the time on sales. Everyone was given a sales play book that included all scripts for what to say and how to handle all sales situations. Next, that play book was memorized, practiced, and drilled until they had every single sales situation embedded in their brains. When my dad finally returned from training, he was with his manager and one of the top sales reps out in the field for three more months. They practiced, drilled, and rehearsed everything before, during, and after live calls. Finally, after nine months he was allowed to go on calls by himself.

If you’re like most people reading this, you don’t have the resources of an I.B.M. and you probably can’t invest nine months doing the training mentioned above. In that case, you want to do something similar to what I do when training brand new agents in the insurance industry. The first thing they do is spend two days in one of the top insurance producer schools. When they get back, I give them a play book with reinforcement CDs, all the scripts, and everything else necessary to handle all sales situations and scenarios they’re going to encounter when they’re out prospecting and chasing new business. They memorize these and we practice and role-play. After a very short period of time, once they have the basics down, they start calling on live prospects. They learn most of what they learn by getting their nose bloodied out calling on small accounts.

After weeks of internalizing everything they learned in the first school and from me, I send them to a second school. We follow the same reinforcement process as we did above. Next, I send them to a third school and once again, the process is repeated.

By the time they’ve completed the above process, their sales skills are better than about 97% of the people they are competing against. As a result, because sales skills are the most important skills by far, they are doing a significant amount of business at this point.

Step 2: Activity
Although activity is actually more important than sales skills, it is second in chronological order. Before I send someone out to make calls, I want them to have a general idea of what they’re saying so we train on sales skills first.

Step 2 is all about massive activity and tracking that activity. The insurance agents have a quota for new people they have to attempt to contact every week. At the end of the week I want: the number of new people called on, spoken to, prospects, appointments, follow-up calls on prospects not reached, sales, and several other items.

While the most important tool a salesperson can have is great sales skills, the most important attributes a salesperson can have are: hard-working, persistent, and an ability to persevere. This is all about making a ton of calls and staying after it no matter how badly they get beat up.

Step 3: Continuous practice and reinforcement of sales skills.
Your people have to constantly be reading the scripts, listening to sales CDs in the car, role-playing, and otherwise practicing, drilling and rehearsing everything they’ve learned. As a leader you want to test them by throwing objections and different situations at them along with going on some calls. It’s also important to work on sales skills in sales meetings. 

This also means resending your people to training. An insurance agent will go to each of the producer schools three times the first three years they are working with me. Each time they learn something they missed the first time and the ideas they do remember get further reinforced and improved. Every time they come back there is an instant bump in sales.

Step 4: Continue to improve and innovate.
Once you find what works, don’t rest on your laurels. Continue to look for ways to improve and get better. Look for better ways to compete, better answers to objections, better ways to communicate and build relationships, and in short, more effective and efficient ways to operate.

Step 5: Remove obstacles from the sales process.
Obstacles come in several forms. It can be support people not doing their jobs, inefficient systems or processes, tedious, unnecessary, extra items that you ask your people to do or even having salespeople doing items that support people should be doing. Keep an eye out for anything that seems to be taking your salespeople away from “new business” activities.

Step 6: Remove negativity and slackers from the environment.

The key to all of the above is to develop and follow a proven system that trains and reinforces sales skills and ensures your people are doing tons of the right activities the right way.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com.

 

The “how-to” behind building a highly-effective, competition-dominating, sales juggernaut is actually fairly simple. What isn’t simple is executing the steps and sticking to the plan. The dedication and resolve necessary to start and complete the process is where the majority of people fail. That said, if you’re ready to skyrocket sales in your organization, here […]

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Clients for Life: From First Sale to Long-term Relationship

Sales & Motivation No Comments

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about client retention because it’s something I’ve been very successful at over the years. On that note, here’s how I did it from the initial sale all the way through the entire long-term relationship.

Steps to take with the initial sale:

Step 1: Verbally thank the client for his business when you close the sale.

Step 2: Review expectations and what will happen next.
Whatever your particular steps are, go over these steps with the client and let him know how and when he will be kept up to date.

Step 3: Ask the client if he has any final questions, thank him once again for his business, and reiterate when he will next hear from you or someone from your company.

Step 4: Send a handwritten thank-you note the day you get the order. *
Sign the thank-you note in blue ink and include your business card.

Step 5: Introduce other team members they might be working with.

Step 6: Follow up and deliver what you say you’ll deliver.
At a minimum you must deliver what you say you will, when you say you will. Ideally you’ll deliver more than you say you will. Always try to give something extra.

Step 7: Call or stop by in-person before, during, and after initial delivery of the product or service.
It’s particularly important in the beginning of the relationship to communicate often. This may feel like micro-managing and it is. You have to ensure everyone does what they’re supposed to do and everything goes smoothly on this initial sale. It’s best to follow a check-list.

Step 8: Survey the client on how you did.
Do this step in-person or on the phone. What did you do well and what could have been done better?

 

* – Note: Depending upon the size and significance of an order, it may be appropriate to thank a client with more than a thank-you note. You may also do this for more than just the initial order. Here are some various ways to do that:

  • Small gifts: golf balls, nice pens, cups, etc.
  • Gift certificates
  • A gift to one of his favorite charities
  • An investment in client’s business or something else they are involved in
  • Vacations or trips to trade shows and other industry events

 

Next, shift your focus to building a life-long relationship.

 

Step 9: Reach out 18 to 26 times per year.

Reach out in a variety of ways: phone calls, e-mails, regular mail, in-person visits, Fed-Ex, etc.

a) Three contacts: Send out a holiday, birthday, and anniversary card.

In addition to sending out holiday cards, you can send gift baskets, bottles of wine, champagne, and other items to your best clients. Also, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Cards (potential fourth and fifth contacts) stand out because few people send them, but I’d still send a December Holiday Card.

b) Here are some other ways to reach out to clients 18-26 times.

  • Send cards for promotions, new babies, and other celebratory events.
  • Send Get-well cards.
  • Visit clients in the hospital.
  • Send items pertaining to their interests and hobbies such as books and t-shirts.
  • Act on personal information about your clients’ family members and send out notes to acknowledge graduations and similar events.
  • Get your clients on the mailing list for company publications.
  • Develop your own newsletter or monthly article and send it out to your clients.
  • Attend events sponsored by clients.
  • Do business with your client and send them business if possible.
  • Send copies of industry articles that may affect their business or simply be of interest.
  • A good business book or resource
    Note: You are an expert. You are expected to be learning, reading, and passing applicable and valuable information on to your clients and prospects.
  • Send information out on new products.
  • Send promotional items.
  • Donate money to their favorite charities or events they sponsor.
  • Drop by with baseball tickets.
  • Take clients to lunch, dinner, other sporting events, shows, or out to play golf or some other activity.
  • Connect them with other companies, other people they’d like to meet, and other professionals such as lawyers, CPAs, insurance agents, and Realtors, and vendors.
  • Send them potential new employees.
  • Connect on social media. (Use discretion and your best judgment here)

Step 10: Practice these overall client rules:

  • Always make the client your number one priority.
  • Keep communicating. Focus on good, solid communication.
  • Personalize the relationship and always seek to build and strengthen it.
  • Let clients know you appreciate their business and that you don’t take them for granted.
  • Focus completely on the client and how you can help. Always do what’s best for them.
  • Stay on your toes and do what you say you’ll do.
  • Go above and beyond. Deliver more than you say you will.

Note: You don’t need to follow this plan with all your accounts, only with the clients you want to keep. Most likely your largest clients. If you follow the 80/20 Rule, you will be doing this with your top 20% of accounts that give you 80% of your business.

If you care about your clients, treat them right, build strong relationships, and keep them happy, you will rarely have to worry about having enough business. Not only will they stay with you, they will also refer business associates, friends, and family. In addition, if you’re working with happy, life-long customers all day, your work and life will be much more enjoyable.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about client retention because it’s something I’ve been very successful at over the years. On that note, here’s how I did it from the initial sale all the way through the entire long-term relationship. Steps to take with the initial sale: Step 1: Verbally thank the client […]

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The Biggest Mistakes that Salespeople Make

Sales & Motivation No Comments

Mistake #1: Thinking that servicing accounts is more important than selling new ones
I once had a coaching client show me a stack of folders and say, “This is why I can’t be out calling on new clients.” When I asked what had to be done, she picked up the first folder and said, “I’m waiting for a number from the State of Maine on this one.” To which I responded, “Really? A salesperson is sitting in the office waiting for a number from the State of Maine? No one else can handle that?” That is akin to a pilot saying they don’t have time to fly the plane because they are back serving customers drinks.

I’ve heard every excuse for servicing accounts from “they’ll only deal with me”, to “I want to make sure it’s done right.” These are simply excuses to avoid the hard work of going out and making calls. Salespeople are hunters, service people are gathers. Outside of renewals, scheduled service calls, and emergencies, clients should be dealing with CSRs and other support people. Not only are the support people more readily available than the salesperson, who should be out chasing new business, they also handle the day-to-day service items more efficiently and effectively than a salesperson. As an salesperson your job is to sell, not service. If you are hiding behind the excuse that your clients will only deal with you, that’s because you’ve trained them to do that. Time for retraining. If you think you are the only one who can do it, you’re wrong, get over yourself. Any time you are servicing, outside of renewals, scheduled calls, and major issues, you are doing yourself, your company, your client, and your future clients a disservice. It’s what we call a lose/lose/lose/lose. Go sell and stop hiding behind service.

 

Mistake #2: Majoring in minor things and finding other time wasters
I once had a sales manager remark to me, “During the major snow storm last week, when people were confined to their houses, my top salesperson was calling people at home because he had a captive audience. My other salespeople were baking cookies and posting pictures on Facebook.”

This along with chatting with friends and colleagues, checking e-mail more than four times a day, taking ten coffee breaks, and, in general, finding things to do other than calling on prospects and customers, are examples of time wasters. Spending two hours looking up prospect information before you call, servicing clients on routine items as in Mistake #1 above, and spending time practicing your call 400 times before the call, are all examples of majoring in minor things. Your highest priority is to spend time with prospects and “sometimes” your top 20% of customers (again, renewals, scheduled calls, and emergencies). You should be talking to, or on your way to talk to, prospects and customers 80% of the time during prime calling hours.

 

Mistake #3: Focusing on reactive versus proactive marketing
The fastest and best way to build business is by making phone calls and knocking on doors. It is the most effective and only one in which you have almost complete control over. Going to a Chamber of Commerce Event, BNI, or some similar networking event, hoping to get a lead is reactive. In those situations you are relying on others, whose first priority is to get business for themselves, to give you business. Worse yet, hanging out on social media or sending blind, unsolicited e-mails in hopes of getting business.

 

Mistake #4: Not being prepared for and not practicing sales situations
If you are in leadership, I dare you to walk up to one of your salespeople who has been with you a while and say, “What do you say when someone says…” and then give them a common, every-day objection they get like, “they’re not interested?” I promise you that 9 times out of 10 the first verbal sound out of their mouth will be “Ahhhh”. It happens to me all the time. Just last week at a sales meeting at an insurance agency, I turned to an agent who’s been there 17 years and said, “Joe (name changed to protect the guilty), what do you say when someone says I can get my insurance cheaper down the street?” The response? You guessed it, “Ahhhh.” Game over.

You have to be prepared for every sales situation you’re going to encounter and you have to practice ahead of time. Ideally with another human, but if not, with yourself. Each and every answer has to be scripted and committed to memory so that you know it verbatim and can respond immediately in a real-life sales situation.

 

Mistake #5: No goals, no plan, and no clue how much activity has been done, or needs to be done, in order to be successful
Whenever I begin working with someone one of the first questions I ask them is, “How many calls did you make last week on brand-new prospects?” As with the objection above, I am usually met with “Ahhhh.” Usually followed by a guess, like, “Um, I think about 4.” “You think four? Is that number too big to count?” The truth is: they didn’t keep track and it wasn’t four. It may have been two, or even zero. In order to be successful, you have to have annual, monthly, and weekly goals, along with knowing the daily activity necessary to make those goals a reality. Then you have to make the calls.

 

Mistake #6: Giving up too soon
81% of sales are made after the four contact. Roughly 20% of salespeople make it past the fourth contact. Enough said.

 

Mistake #7: Not doing the work necessary
99% of the time a salesperson fails it’s due to a lack of activity. Not making enough calls, to talk to enough people, in order to make enough sales. The other 1% of the time, the salesperson got hit by a bus. Since activity is the primary reason for success or failure, I could have led off with it, but it’s so obvious you probably would have stopped reading.

 

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: johnchapin@completeselling.com.

Mistake #1: Thinking that servicing accounts is more important than selling new ones I once had a coaching client show me a stack of folders and say, “This is why I can’t be out calling on new clients.” When I asked what had to be done, she picked up the first folder and said, “I’m […]

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