Sales Blog – Tips for sales and business owners

What is your sales process?

I bring this up because I just got done working with a client. They didn’t have an official sales process. We put one in and it decreased their sales cycle 8-10 months, simplified their sales message and added 33% to the customer base within 4 months. Whether you are a solo-prenuer, head of a small business, or run a sales division of a Fortune 10,000 company, do you know your sale process? Is it optimized? When was the last time you reviewed it? When you have an optimized sales process, you’ll love the results!

#salesprocess sales businessowners

Business Owners/Leaders:

When was the last time you did a Sales Audit?

When did you review your sales process and all of the pieces of it?

How do all of the pieces fit together?

Does any part need to be updated because of changes in the market? In technology? In the size of your business?

When was the last time you had fresh eyes, from outside your company evaluate your sales?

Has it been over a year? Has it ever been done? You’ll be happy after you do it, so don’t hesitate. 

#salesprocess #salesaudit #businessowners

 

Hiring to High Level too Early

This is a big mistake that a lot of small businesses do. I see a lot of times businesses have a national manager or VP of Sales before they have enough people for them to coach or business to manage. Granted, sometimes they give a person a title without them really doing the job that they are titled. 

Hire the entry level people first. Build a team. When you need help managing, bring in fractional management.

Do you have a full time lawyer on payroll? No, you use them in a fractional capacity.

Did you start with a full time CPA? Probably not. You used them in a fractional capacity.

You can do the same with every executive position, including sales. If you want to understand more about how fractional executives work, please let me know.

#fractionalexecutives #fractionalsalesmanagement

A Sales Book for Business Owners

I wrote a sales book for business owners. Why?

I did a webinar for business owners. I showed how a sales process gets them more money, more often and faster. 

When I opened up the seminar for questions, they asked about when they made time for their business development, their customer enhancement. I stopped them and said, “You mean sales?” You could hear them groan.

I asked them what they thought sales was. They said “controlling the conversation”, it’s “Influencing”. I stopped them again. No!

Those techniques were good back in the day and can be used in proper situations. But today, sales is simply starting a conversation! Is there more to it than that, yes, but all you need to do is start a conversation to get the process started. 

The book will be coming out in the at the end of this month. It covers all basic area of sales that a business owner, or someone running a small business needs to know. 

#sales #salesmaterials #businessowners #growingbusinesses #salesprocess #bedellmediaconsulting 

 

I Took My Own Advice, Do you?

I took my own advice and it worked!  I looked at MY sales process, tweaked it and it got better results! Do you take your own advice?

As a sales professional and consultant, I work with a lot of businesses telling them how to improve their sales process, what to look for to optimize it. I took my own advice.

I tell my clients, that the sales process needs to be reviewed regularly because a lot changes. The market conditions, new technology, trends all change, so you may need to adjust your process along with it. I took my own advice.

I advise my clients to do lead scoring and stop paying for, or pursuing, leads that don’t convert, only use the ones that do. I took my own advice.

As a person in the business world, especially in sales, we all tend to advise other people and businesses how to improve their business, but my one big question is: Do you take your own advise?

#sales #consulting #salesprocess #growingbusinesses #advice #bedellmediaconsulting 

Business owners/sales leaders:

What are you measuring?

I have this conversation regularly with business owners and sales leaders. I first ask if they have a sales process. They usually don’t know or don’t have one.

Next I ask, what do they measure. They usually will say a number of calls or meetings. I then ask, if they make the number of calls or meetings with no sales, are they happy. Of course they say no.

Then why are you measuring that? I always measure results. If you ask for a number of calls or meetings, that’s what you’ll get. But if you ask for results, then good salespeople will get you that. They will make the calls needed and get the meetings.

I set this up with one of my clients and now they are getting the results they wanted. sales results mindset businessowners bedellmediaconsulting

Is Your Best Salesperson a Sales Manager?

Did you just promote your best salesperson to sales manager? Big mistake!

You just took your best person off the sales floor and put them in a position they don’t have skills to do.

They may not have the skills to manage the sales process and coach the sales team.

They now have friends that they need to lead.

Did you train them how to lead or did you just expect them to know how to lead?

Just because someone is good at sales, doesn’t mean they know how to lead a sales team. 

#salesteam #salesmanagement #leadership #bedellmediaconsulting

 

 

Manage the Process, But Coach the People

To all sales leaders, i.e.people that run a sales team. Manage the numbers and process, but coach the people. I’m not a big fan of the term “sales manager”. Granted, you do manage the budget and the process to ensure everything is in line. But when it comes to the sales team, you coach them.

I know it’s semantics. But when you say sales leader or sales coach verses sales manager, doesn’t a different image pop into your head? Plus, I have found that when you coach the people you will get the most out of them and you learn how to coach each person.

#sales #salesmanagement #salescoaching #bedellmediaconsulting

 

Cold Calling is not DEAD!

Granted, cold calling may not be the easiest way to get a conversation started with a prospect. For those of us that did it religiously at the beginning of our career, it doesn’t frighten us as much. For a lot of salespeople the words “COLD CALLING” scares the bejesus out of them. That’s because they don’t know how to do it. If you have to cold call, I’ll give you one thing to think about which should make it easier. All you are doing is starting a conversation. Now scary now, huh? You do that all of the time. Now let me tell you why it isn’t dead.

I got a call from a number in a local area code, so I answered. It was a robo-call. You know the ones you get where it instantly starts to tell you what a great thing they have for you. And this one was programed. I laughed when it started and said, “oh, a robo-call”. It stopped because I said something. and  it said, excuse me. It was offering insurance. I said I had great, almost free insurance, so no thank you. It hung up. It recognized a few words. Technology can be scary, right?

So with all of the robo-calls going out. What do you think would happen when you call, say Hi, this is Rob Bedell. How are you doing today? They may just be thrilled that they are actually talking to a live person. Will they want want you have? You don’t know and neither do they until you start the conversation. They may have a conversation with a person, but won’t with a robo-call. Take advantage of the technology and don’t be afraid of good ole, cold calls.

 

Sales Metrics –  What do you measure?

Here’s another area that most business owners, managers and executives completely miss and get wrong. What do you measure? Did you make 40 calls today? Did you do 10 presentations this week? Did you contact 50 people this week? How much time did you spend on each call? How long was each meeting? What was covered on each call, in each  meeting? What are you asking your sales team to do? Here’s another area that most business owners, managers and executives completely miss and get wrong. What do you measure?

My sales teams always knew I only checked one thing. How much did you bring in, today, this week, this month, this quarter? When I talk with business owners that start asking how many calls do I expect or meetings they should have, I stop them immediately. I ask them what they want. What matters to you?

I then ask, if everyone makes 40 calls every day for the whole month, yet no new sales come in, are you going to be happy? Of course they say no. Well then, why are you focusing on that? If they are able to do 80 presentations every month and no new sales come in, are you good? Again, no. Well then, what does it matter if they do 80 presentations or 1? What is it that you want? “I want sales.” Then that’s what we’ll ask your sales team for, sales! You can coach them on how to get there, i.e. you need to make more calls, etc, but the expectation should be on the end result, SALES!

 

First Step in Sales

One thing I see too much when salespeople start a sales call is they don’t engage the people they talk to. They try to bulldoze past the gatekeeper. They immediately start to pitch the prospect. That’s a mistake.

First question to ask on the phone or in person is “how are you doing today?” Then don’t talk until they answer. It sounds simple doesn’t it. Why ask that? It does a few things. First, it makes the person on the other end of the phone focus on you. They may have 5 things in front of them.They may have just got of a call with someone complaining or their sick kid at home. But now, they have to refocus on right now and how they are doing.

The second thing it does is let you know how they are. Are they excited about a vacation? Are they pissed off at someone? Are they busy? Whatever they say will let you know what state of mind they are in and you can adjust what you say next to match their mindset.

Do this with the gatekeeper who answers the phone instead of bulldozing past them. Do this with the person they transfer you to. Do this with every person you talk to on the phone and you’ll be surprised at how my further you go and how much better your conversations are.

 

Do Other Businesses, People Like You?

A lot of business owners think that as long as they have a good offering, i.e. product or service, then people will buy what they have. Having a quality offer is important, but in today’s business environment, it’s even more important that businesses and people like your company and your front line people.

When you’re front line salespeople are out talking to your prospects, how are they presenting? Are the personable or are they strictly business? Granted, you may want to take a different approach depending on what part of the country you are talking with. For instance, people on the east coast tend to be a bit more direct. They want to take care of the business first. Then if the have a spare minute or two, they may chat with you. On the west coast, there tends to be more of a social interaction that takes place before you start talking business.

These are generalizations about people in these areas, so what you need to do is figure out what type of person your speaking with in the first 20 seconds of talking with them and adjust your message accordingly. But regardless of the type of person your speaking with, are you likeable?

Some people may say that it doesn’t matter. As long as you have a good offer and can explain how it helps your client. That is true, but if they don’t like your salespeople, you are leaving a lot of business on the table. If it’s between you and your competition and they like the person selling your competition, they will buy from them. People do business with people and businesses they like first, then they buy what they need.

I can’t tell you how many times in my sales career that I had people say to me, “Rob, you always call when you say you’re going to call. You are professional every time we talk and you know what, I like you. So we’re going to give this a shot.” I’m persistent. I’m professional. And just as important, I’m personable.

I have had colleagues come up to me after a sales call that we closed and say they don’t know how I do that so well. I tell them it’s not hard at all. We’re not talking rocket science here. Then I tell them the one thing that I do, that a lot of salespeople don’t. I make it about them, not me.

What do they need? How can I make their job, their day, their life a little bit easier? I’m sure you may be aware that people buy for one of two reasons, pain or pleasure. A majority of salespeople and organizations focus on the pain. If you work with us, your business won’t suffer. You won’t be fired. And this tactic has worked for a long time.

But the days of Glengarry Glen Ross type of business, i.e. “coffee is for closers”, isn’t as successful. Back in the day where you save the “good leads” for people who were closers. In those days, closers closed business at any cost. The thought process was all about the sale. Today, it’s all about the relationship. I’m not saying that close it at any cost won’t still work, but at what cost to your company? Your reputation!

Since the internet is such a powerful tool that people use multiple times a day, you have to understand that people today know much more about what you have, how you compare to your competition and even what your customers think of working with you, before they even talk to you. Your reputation is very important.

So what makes your company stand out compared to your competition? Your front line people! Are they approachable? Are they professional? Are they likeable? Do they think about the client and what is best for them? Are they about the relationship? Or are they still just all about the sale?

 

Conversation with a manufacturing prospect.

Me: After I do a sales audit, but before we put the process in place. I do what is called lead scoring. This is where we see which leads you are following are working and which are not.

Prospect: No, you don’t need to worry about leads. We have plenty of leads.

Me: Do you know if they are converting?

Prospect: Well, if they are not, it’s the sales teams fault.

Me: But what if they are bad leads?

Prospect: There are no bad leads.

Me: Yes, there are. And if you continue to give bad leads to your sales team, you will burn them out and have high turn-over.

Prospect: No, we just need better salespeople. Can you help with that?

Me. Yes, I can, but no, first we need to fix the quality of leads.

Prospect: Any lead is a good lead.

Me: That’s wrong and let me explain it in a way you’ll understand. You produce your product. (Not giving away what they produce to protect possible figuring who they are.) Do you use any random material to create it? Anything will do right?

Prospect: No, we have specific materials that we use.

Me: Why? I would be cheaper and easier to use anything you want.

Prospect: No, if you use poor materials it produces a poor product that doesn’t compete in our industry.

Me: So, garbage in, garbage out?

Prospect: Yes, exactly.

Me; Just staring at them.

After a minute or two

Prospect: Oh, I get it now. If I give better leads to my team, I’ll get a better result.

In my mind: Lights and fireworks going off!!!!!!

It’s wonderful when a business owner finally gets a small part of sales. Not a lot of them do. Sales is not their background. But if I can’t teach them part of it, I can’t work with them.

 

Great article about fractional executives. This is how small business gets the high level help they need without paying a six figure salary.

Fractional Executives

 

Do You Do Post-Call Sales Meetings?

I’ve had a long, successful career in sales. A lot of people would think that since I’ve been around so long that I know it all, or most of it. Nope!!! One of the reasons that I feel I have been able to be successful is because I always knew, and still do, that I don’t know it all. There is always something new to learn. A new approach, a new way to market, and what I learned recently, a new way to manage/lead a sales team.

Most teams have pre-call sales meetings. You go over what you are going to propose and make sure that you have all of the marketing you need to go with it. You go over talking points and possible objections. You cover as much as you can to prep them and then send them on their way. That’s when a lot of sales leaders stop.

They may ask how it went and if was a close, pop the bottle. If not, oh well, you’ll get them next time. I learned that is the wrong way to handle the back end. Instead of just saying, “better luck next time”, have a post-call sales meeting. Then ask one question.

A lot of sales leaders may say that you ask, “what would you do different next time?” That is the wrong question. When you ask this question, almost every salesperson will say nothing. They did everything you covered in the pre-sales call meeting. If that’s the case, you’re stuck now.

Instead, ask, “if you had to change one thing, what would you change?” Great salespeople will already do this, whether they know it or now. Average salespeople will try to say they wouldn’t change anything. That’s when you need to hold your ground and say that they have to change one thing. What would it be?

Doing this creates an interesting outcome. It makes the salespeople start asking that question after every call. “What can I do different next time?” If they know you are going to ask it, they will start asking it after every call. This creates a self-auditing mindset for your sales team. You will see that they have an answer for the question even before you ask it.

When I learned this, it made complete sense and reminded me of a saying I learned when I first started in sales leadership/management. “People do what’s inspected, not what’s expected!” Being a person that always expects the best of people, it was hard for me to believe that people wouldn’t do what is expected and more. But the human nature of things, made me realize that it is true with a lot of people. A good portion of people are at a job to collect a check and that is fine, as long as you hold them accountable. When they know they are being held accountable, they will do what is needed.

When your sales team knows that you will ask what happened and how they will make it better next time, they will start asking themselves before you do and if not, they are not the person you need. So, if you had to change one thing in your sales leadership, would you have post-call sale meetings?

 

How to Recession Proof Your Business

I know that no one wants to hear it. I know economists are afraid to say it. I know that the government will say it’s not true. But all signs show that we are on the edge of a recession. I’ve had many people say that unemployment is not bad. I tell them to look at Uber and Lyft. If it wasn’t for them, unemployment would be in the double digits. Don’t believe me? Next time you use one of the ride services, ask the driver.

Retail prices are rising. Small businesses are cutting back on their marketing. Listen and watch who is advertising. There is a lot of non-profit companies advertising. That is space fillers. I started my career in advertising and know the industry and have seen the signs before.

Whether you agree with my assessment or not, you might to have this in your back pocket when another recession happens. If not today, it will happen at some point. That is the standard cycle that our economy goes through. So, how do you recession proof your business?

First, you need to know if what you offer is a must have or nice to have product or service. Can your clients not do business without what you offer? If so, you have a must have offer. If not, you have a nice to have offer.

If you have a must have offer, then you have to make sure that your competition doesn’t have too many advantages over you. Do they have more features that give them an advantage? Are they cheaper? Do they have better customer service? That last point is one of the most important. If they have a better or cheaper product, it may take a while to improve what you have. But you can improve your customer service immediately. When a recession comes, great customer service will help keep you afloat. So if you’ve been ignoring your customers or not giving your clients enough attention, now is the time to change that.

If you have a product that is a nice to have but not needed, you have more of a challenge. You have to over-deliver on what you give them. If you have not read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, I highly recommend it. It is about how they were able to thrive in a very competitive marketplace.

Zappos was late coming into the online game, 1999. Amazon, 1994 and EBay, 1995 were establish brands the ruled online sales. Zappos started by just selling shoes, but they were more about selling shoes. When a person would call and had a question, any question, they would find an answer. One person called and asked who delivered pizza to their neighborhood late at night. They found the answer.

Now I’m not saying you have to go that far, but you need to have that mindset. What can you do to make your company the go to company for your industry and that goes above and beyond what you are suppose to do? Do this now and it will help recession-proof your business.

 

Don’t Wait for Your Doors to be Closing

Before You Ask for Help

A friend of mine asked me to help with his Mom and Step-Dad’s business. He said that he’s been wanting me to help out for a long time, but it wasn’t until their partnering company was going to audit their books that his Step-Dad was open to someone coming in and helping. That may sound odd to some people. Why wouldn’t a business ask for help when it was needed? Because even though it’s a business, to a lot of business owners, it’s very personal.

A lot of times when people need help personally, they don’t ask for help. Everyone feels like they know how to handle their own business, personally and professionally. No one wants to feel that they can’t handle things around them. No one wants to appear incapable or weak. But successful people, and businesses, know that they don’t know everything. They understand that it is rare that a person can handle everything themselves, personally and more so professionally.

When I first started my business, I tried to do everything for all of my clients. It wasn’t until a colleague asked me what I did, that it was clear, I was trying to do too much. While I am capable, there are areas that I am not the strongest, Other people have more of the skill set to do it. So I built a network of professionals around me that filled in the areas that I was not the best, both for my business and my clients.

I went into my friend’s family business and I found that the company was profitable. There were a few issues that needed to be fixed and I brought in the help for those areas. In a short time, those issues were fixed. I found that they had the wrong people helping them in certain areas. Their son was doing the accounting. He had a background in finance, but not accounting. The bank statements weren’t reconciled. They had a guy running the warehouse that never worked in a warehouse. Yes, starting out in business, you take help from anyone that is willing to help, but after you are making money, you bring in people that have the right skills for the tasks they are doing.

Going over the business plan and agreement with their partner, I found that while getting more money from the partner for growth, they gave away controlling interest of their company. When I asked about their legal counsel, they said they had a very good friend that helped out. I asked more about him and found he was not a business lawyer, he was a litigator. He was very good at what he did, but not what they needed.

I know this sounds bad, but they got lucky. While going through their business, we found a specialty area that was a separate part of their business that they could break off into another company. Then they found a third party to buy out both sides of the main business. They took their money and worked on the new company.

Again, they got lucky, very lucky. I would not advise business owners to wait to get independent help reviewing their business. Don’t wait for the doors to be closing before asking for help. You should have an independent person come in once a year to look at what you are doing, how you are doing it and seeing if there is a better way to do it. Or you can wait until your doors are about to close and see if you can get as lucky as my friend’s parent. When was the last time you had your business reviewed?

 

Sales Didn’t End Where You Wanted Last Year?

This is the time of year that a lot of small businesses review their sales numbers. If the numbers were good, they don’t give it another thought. This is a big mistake, but I’ll get to that later. If the numbers were short of where expected, then changes need to be made.

A lot of times when the sales numbers are not where expected, business owners or people that run the business, blame the salespeople. While this makes sense, it may not be because of them, but because of the lack of a sales process that everyone follows. Do you know the sales process?

My favorite question to ask all business owners I work with is this. “If I came into your business and wanted to blow the door off of sales, I mean just kill it, what do I need to do?” A majority of times, the business owner, or leader, doesn’t know. They wear many hats, so what the sales process is something they may not have even heard of before. That’s understandable, but is a problem.

What is a sales process? A lot of business owners/leaders think you just go out and sell. They don’t think of the steps that should be followed to guarantee a higher rate of success. If you are cooking a meal, you have step by step instructions. Sales should be the same.

Where do the leads come from? Are they good leads? Do you score them? What is done at the first contact? What needs to be sent? Who needs to be involved? What is the next step? What happens to know that you are ready to make the next step? How does your sales process correspond  to the the prospect’s buying process? Are you talking to them at a place they can understand you and they feel you understand them? This covers just the start of setting up your process.

That may seem like a lot to cover. Small business owners/leaders may say that they do not have the time to do it. Some may say they don’t have the knowledge to do it. Both is understandable, but doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be done.

If you don’t have time to do it, then who? You can start with your best salesperson. If you have someone that leads the sales team and has a hire success rate, they may have a process they follow, even if they don’t’ know they do. Have them write step by step what they do. I will be honest with you, a lot of top salespeople will not want to do this. They will not see how it benefits them. Plus, they are so close to the process, they may not see it.

Can you outsource this to a fractional sales manager, i.e. someone that comes in once a week and works with your sales team? Yes, you can do this, but make sure you qualify them. Have they built successful sales processes before? But even if you do this, you will still need to be involved. It can cut the time you need to be involved dramatically, but you will still need to understand it as it gets developed.

What if your numbers were good? Why would you need a sales process then? Why go through all of the trouble? Studies have shown that when you have a successful sales process, businesses close more business, more often and at a faster rate. That usually opens a lot of small business leaders/owners eyes. When I say, “Would you like more money, more often and at a faster rate?” businesses listen. Wouldn’t you?

Regardless of what way you develop a sales process, you will need to understand it and monitor it. A sales process is a living thing. It will evolve and change as time goes by. It will need to be tweaked and altered to ensure it optimizes sales. Once you have it in place, it will be easier for you to see where the hick-ups are in the process and be able to change them. It will make sure that your sales are optimized. Do you have a sales process and if so, how is it working?

 

The Screaming Sales Manager!!!

If you’ve been in sales for a while, you may have experiences, or at least heard of, the Screaming Sales Manager!!! Yes, this is the sales manager that for some reason thinks that the way to motives, encourage and advance a sales team is to scream at them. These rants can go on for a while, but usually always ends with “JUST GET OUT THERE AND SELL!!!”

Ah, yeah. If this is your sales manager, I am sorry for you. Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do. But I want to start by pulling back the curtain and take a look at the person behind it. Because a lot of times, these are not bad people. They just were never trained or if they were, they were trained wrong.

A lot of the time, people in sales manager position got there not because they were the most qualified, but because of other reason. They are the most senior salesperson or they were the best salesperson, so they got promoted. This happens a lot in small businesses. Why does this happen? Because upper management/owners don’t take time to find the best QUALIFIED person. I will use the term upper management now because owners get upset when you yell at them. So, BAD UPPER MANAGEMENT, BAD UPPER MANAGEMENT! I’m not going to go into what upper management should do here, but rather explain how a salesperson should handle this situation.

I’ve been in this position before early in my career. I worked with the Screaming Sales Manager. I tried to talk with the head of our department. I explained how they were coming across to the team and it wasn’t motivating the team, but rather having the opposite effect on the team. I asked if they read any books or materials on motivating teams. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears and they didn’t want to hear any of it. They thought it was not their problem, but the team’s if they didn’t understand.

This person had a good relationship with upper management, so I was worried if I said anything, it would be dismissed and I would get in trouble. But it was hurting the team, so I felt something needed to be done. And I I knew it would continue, so I knew it had to be documented. After a few more incidents, that were documented, it was taken to upper management. They spoke with the people that were involved and at that time this Screaming Sales Manager was let go. It wasn’t the ended that I really wanted, but when you have someone that is not in it for the best of the team, sometimes it can’t be prevented.

So, if you’re a business owner or in senior management, how is your sales manager? Or if you are a sales manager, do you find yourself screaming at your team? If screaming is involved, what is the end result of it?

#sales #salesmanagement #bedellmediaconsulting

 

One of the Best Sales I Ever Got Was When I Said NO!

            It seems like most salespeople are fearful of the word “NO”. It’s a daunting word isn’t it? NO? I don’t think it is. I don’t fear it and sometimes, a no can lead to great things. That is the mindset I have. And that makes a big difference in sales.

I started my career selling classified advertising in a weekly newspaper. We had a legal section and some lawyers would advertise on the “Back Page”. I thought we had a great market for lawyers. We reach a large portion of the community in which we operated. Our readers were young, active, and affluent. Sometimes, these people needed legal help.

I was calling from a list of lawyers that I created. I left a lot of messages. You can imagine that most lawyers don’t answer their main phone line and getting to them required some creative conversations. After many calls, I finally got a gentleman on the phone. I was excited. I told him a little about what we could do, but then stopped and asked him who needed his type of service. As you have seen in anything that I write, sales is a conversation and needs to be two sided. He gave a little chuckle and then described the people that used his services. It was people we didn’t reach, more business law than personal.

After he was done, I paused for a little. Then I said that I really valued his time, but I wasn’t sure we reached the audience that he needed. Now he paused. He finally said, “so, you’re not going to sell me?” with a heavy emphasis on the word “sell”.

I laughed and said that I was a salesperson, so I will take his money if he feels it would benefit him, but I am also very honest and I didn’t think we had who he normally represents. So I told him no. He again paused and then said, he appreciated my honesty. I explained that if it didn’t work for him, then it wouldn’t work for us. And if it didn’t work, he would probably not have a good opinion of us.

Then I asked something that most salespeople do not ask when they are told no. I said that while we didn’t reach his audience, I am sure there are a lot of lawyers that would like to reach our audience. If he know of anyone that would benefit from our audience to let me know and I can reach out to them.

Again he paused, then he said, “You know what? I like your approach and I do have friends that need to reach people who read your publication.” He then gave me two names to call and said I could say that he passed their name to me. I closed both. They were easier because they were referred to me and I used his name to get to them. Once I got to them, they believed me because he passed their information along to me. One ended up being one of  my largest accounts.

So what do you do when you hear no?

 

Oh No, The Dreaded Gatekeeper

            Most salespeople run into the same “obstacle” the dreaded Gatekeeper. This may be a receptionist or an assistant. It’s the person you speak with before you get to the decision maker. I’ve seen many articles and strategies on “how to get around the gatekeeper.” I never understood why salespeople were so quick to get by them. I always took time to get to know them.

I don’t mean I sit down and ask them their life stories. I don’t know how many people are in their families or what their favorite hobby is, but I always take time to see how they are doing. Every time I call or walk in the first thing I always do is introduce myself, how I’m with and then ask how they are doing today. You’d be surprised at how munch that little statement helps out.

They are use to people trying to blow by them. They have seen every trick that has been tried. Their guards are up. So when I ask them how they are doing, it surprises them. And the key to it is when I ask the question, I shut up until they say something. What ever they say, I address it.

They may say, “I’m doing well” and I’d reply, “Good to hear”. They may say, “I’m really busy”, and I’d reply, “Ok, then I’ll be quick”. If they say, “It’s been rough” I’d say “Well, hang in there, things will get better.”  Then I ask if the person I wanted was in. Notice, I did not say, “I want to talk to Doug.” I ask if they are in. Again, a little difference on my side, makes for a big difference on their side. If they say yes, then usually connect me. A lot of times, they will say they will check. When they come back, they may connect me, say they are busy or they are not in. Either way, I get more. It may take a while to reach the decision maker, but each time I address the gatekeeper the same and ask how they are.

Why is this important? Now when I call, they remember me. When I walk into the office, they recognize me or at least my name. It puts a positive spin on who I am. I can’t tell you how much that has gotten me. There have been times, that the gatekeeper would give me information on what they were doing, what problems they were having or extra information that helps me. Taking that extra minute to address them instead of getting around them, has made a big difference.

How do you feel when someone tries to get around you? How do you feel about people that always address you and ask how you’re doing?

 

Mindset is Critical in Sales

A lot of people think that motivational speakers are just hype guys. They just try to get you to “drink the Kool-Aide” and if you do, then you fell for it. I guess that’s one way to look at it, but usually the people that think this way aren’t too happy. They may not be where they want to be in business and life. They complain about a lot of things not going right. They are not the type of people I get my advice from because if they aren’t where they want to be, how can they tell me how to get to a better place?

I tend to try to learn from people that are at the place I want to get to or have been successful in what I want to do. Now I’m not saying that after you work with a motivational speaker, your life will automatically get better. They will even tell you that they don’t have magical pill that you take and instantly life gets better. You have to do the work.

I have worked with Dean Grazosi and Brendon Burchard, two great guys. They are not strictly motivational speakers. Dean teaches real estate and Brendon teaches marketing and how to be a thought leader. But they have motivation built into what they do. The one thing that really stuck with me was mindset and how you start your day. This is especially critical in sales.

Dean challenged me to do something that I didn’t think was anything that mattered. He challenged me to not watch the morning news for 30 days. He said if when you get up you instantly hear about all of the death and destruction going on around you, you start your day with negativity built into it. I didn’t believe him.

I come from a newspaper background. I worked at many newspapers, so I was tied into the news media. I didn’t think it was that bad. It couldn’t affect me poorly. No way. Then, while traveling for a week, I didn’t have access to the morning news. I didn’t really think about it. Until the following week when I was home and watched the morning news. Then it hit me.

The week I was traveling, I was in a good mood. My meetings all went well. I didn’t get frustrated when something went wrong, I just dealt with hit and moved on. But the following week, when something went wrong, I got frustrated and even when I dealt with it, I keep it in the back of my mind. I thought of all of the things I HAD to do, rather that what I GET to do. It’s a simple little adjustment, but it made a difference. So I took the challenge and stopped watching the morning news for a month.

It was hard at first, but got easier. And it did make a difference. I was starting some new projects which is always challenging, but I got to do it and it went well. I was able to get more done and actually got it done faster, because I wasn’t distracted by other negative things. By the end of the thirty days, I was in a much better place. When I went on sales calls, they went better because my mindset was better.

Did I get every sale? No, but I didn’t take it as hard when I didn’t get a sale and I was able to move on to the next one, with a positive mindset which paid off. So, start your day with positive thoughts.

Do I watch the morning news now? Yes, I do. But not if I have an important meeting that day or if I was in a bad mood. I start the day with what is working and looking at what I get to do. If you’re in sales, start your day with good thoughts and see how it helps you. You may just be surprised.

 

Don’t Wait for Your Doors to be Closing

Before You Ask for Help

A friend of mine asked me to help with his Mom and Step-Dad’s business. He said that he’s been wanting me to help out for a long time, but it wasn’t until their partnering company was wanting to audit their books that his Step-Dad was open to someone coming in and helping. That may sound odd to some people. Why wouldn’t a business ask for help when it was needed? Because even though it’s a business, to a lot of business owners, it’s very personal.

A lot of times when people need help personally, they don’t ask for help. Everyone feels like they know how to handle their own business, personally and professionally. No one wants to feel that they can’t handle things around them. No one wants to appear incapable or weak. But successful people, and businesses, know that they don’t know everything. They understand that it is rare that a person can handle everything themselves, personally and more so professionally.

When I first started my business, I tried to do everything for all of my clients. It wasn’t until a colleague asked me what I did, that it was clear, I was trying to do too much. While I am capable, there are areas that I am not the strongest, Other people have more of the skill set to do it. So I built a network of professionals around me that filled in the areas that I was not the best, both for my business and my clients.

I went into my friend’s family business and I found that the company was profitable. There were a few issues that needed to be fixed and I brought in the help for those areas. In a short time, those issues were fixed. I found that they had the wrong people helping them in certain areas. Their son was doing the accounting. He had a background in finance, but not accounting. The bank statements weren’t reconciled. They had a guy running the warehouse that never worked in a warehouse. Yes, starting out in business, you take help from anyone that is willing to help, but after you are making money, you bring in people that have the right skills for the tasks they are doing.

Going over the business plan and agreement with their partner, I found that while getting more money from the partner for growth, they gave away controlling interest of their company. When I asked about their legal counsel, they said they had a very good friend that helped out. I asked more about him and found he was not a business lawyer, he was a litigator. He was very good at what he did, but not what they needed.

I know this sounds bad, but they got lucky. While going through their business, we found a specialty area that was a separate part of their business that they could break off into another company. Then they found a third party to buy out both sides of the main business. They took their money and worked on the new company.

Again, they got lucky, very lucky. I would not advise business owners to wait to get independent help reviewing their business. Don’t wait for the doors to be closing before asking for help. You should have an independent person come in once a year to look at what you are doing, how you are doing it and seeing if there is a better way to do it. When was the last time you had your business reviewed?

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What is Sales?

The definition of Sales is: operations and activities involved in promoting and transferring good and services. Granted, there are many different variations of this definition, but this is the base of it. Just as there are many different ways to define what “Sales” is, there seem to be as many, if not more, ideas of how to sell.

A lot depends on what kind of sales it is, direct, distribution, outside, inside, etc. But before we try to dive into all of the different types and ways to sell, I want to define the 10,000 foot level of, what is Sales?

Some may ask why I would want to do that? Anyone in sales should already understand what you are explaining after the first sentence. But sales effects many more people and departments that are not directly involved with the sale and sales process. A lot of times, ownership or the management/executive team, may not truly understand what sales is. They may guess and think it’s talking about what we have and why they client needs it. And to a degree, that is true. But there is more. And it’s not that complicated, as long as you don’t make it complicated.

My definition of what Sales is: Starting a conversation to determine if there is a common need. Sounds pretty simple huh? Sales is starting a conversation. But keep in mind the different aspects of starting a conversation.

When you start a conversation, are you planning on just telling the other person everything you have to say and then walk away? That’s not a conversation. When you start a conversation, do you just want to tell them how good you are and how great things are for you? Again, not a conversation. When you start a conversation, do you already have in mind everything that you want to talk about regardless of what they have to say. One more time, that’s not a conversation.

The definition of a “Conversation” is: the informal exchange of ideas by spoken word. The key word in that sentence is “exchange”. It is not one party dictating to the other party their ideas. It’s an exchange. And within that exchange, your message will change based on the information from the other party. If it doesn’t, you’re just trying to impose your message regardless of the feedback or needs from the other party. Not a conversation!

So the 10,000 foot level definition of sales is you are “trying to start a conversation.” Now that doesn’t seem so hard or daunting now, does it? Yes, there is a lot more that is involved in sales, sales types, changing the tone or message per market, and much, much more.

This should give you the most basic of understanding of sales, but if you don’t know this, than trying to add to it becomes much harder. And if you’re in another department, not directly involved in sales and the sales process, this will help you understand what they are doing. So do you feel like you understand “What is Sales?”

LinkedIn Link: Bedell Media & Consulting

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