Nov. 13, 2018
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?
Oct. 30, 2018
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.
Oct. 11, 2018
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?”
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