Monthly Archives: March 2012

What Sales Pros Can Learn From Olympic Athletes: Seven Characteristics of a Winner

What are the characteristics of a winner whether in sales or in swimming? Read on to learn from Olympic kayaker and retired Olympic swimming coach, Bill Jewell as he shares his insights from working with top swimmers and how seven characteristics of these winners parallels the seven characteristics of top sales professionals.

Good Life Style

Olympic winners always choose a good life style that focuses on their health, well being, and positive mental attitude. They avoid any behavior that can limit their success, including poor food choices, poor attitudes, and negative influences.

Sales winners understand that a good life style supports their sharp thinking and physical endurance to be a tough competitor. The choose healthy meals, positive attitudes, and forward-looking influences.

What adjustments do you need to make to your lifestyle to be a consistent winner?

Competitive

Olympic champions are born competitors. They hate to lose and will do anything within their power to win the game. They are always sizing up the competition and making adjustments to their approach to stay on top.

Sales champions step into the competition with excitement and enthusiasm. They act like born competitors. They know the competitors strengths and weakness so that they can minimize the strengths and take advantage of the weaknesses.

What do you need to do to become more competitive?

Not Intimidated

Olympic athletes are never intimidated by their competitors. They expect for their opponents to be aggressive and challenge them; it’s part of the game. They often play their own mind games with their competitors. Remember six-time gold medalist, Amy Van Dyken spitting in her competitor’s lane before the sprints in Sydney? Harmless, but intimidating.

Sales professionals aren’t intimidated by their competitors. In sales, the competition can be quite fierce and sometimes quite vicious; it’s part of the sales game.

What do you need to do to not ever be intimidated by your competitors?

Train, Train, Train

Olympic superstars continuously train. In the world of the Olympics, the difference between a gold medal and no medal can be hundredths of a second. Any physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual edge can make the winning difference. So training never stops.

Sales superstars always train and practice. They rehearse their sales presentations until they are flawless. They practice managing objections until they become second nature. They practice executive conversations until they can talk like a peer.

What do you need to practice to improve your ability to be a sales superstar?

Consistent Performance

Olympic medalists perform consistently. They don’t have bad days. Now, some days are better than others, yet they show up for every meet, every practice, and every competition prepared, ready to go, with no excuses. They always race at their best and it shows.

Sales winners consistently perform. Like the winning Olympians, they never have a bad day. They always do what’s necessary to meet their quotas month after month. They are always at their best and their customers count on it, refusing to do business with any body else.

What do you need to do to increase your sales consistency? (Hint: check out other articles for ideas.)

Masters of Strategy

Top Olympians have mastered the strategy of their sport. They know exactly how to plan and then use technique and tactics to bring home the gold. As the game develops, they continue to adapt and adopt to stay the leader of the pack.

Top sales professionals have mastered sales strategies. They know that the average sales person has a bag of tricks but few strategies. Pros adapt and adopt as market conditions change and as competitors try new things.

What do you need to do to improve your strategic mastery?

Never-ending Quest for Knowledge

Olympic winners continuously seek knowledge in their game. They read about their competitors. They study videos. They seek out research that can enhance their performance. They never stop looking for every way possible to be the best in the world.

Sales winners continuously seek sales and competitive knowledge to be at the top of their industry. They study the competition. They study sales training. They study their products. They look for every way possible to be the best in their business.

What do you need to do to continuously learn?

And so take the next step in your career development. Get immediately free access to a one-hour telecast playback on supercharging your sales career at SalesSuperCharger.com. You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide with more resources. Go there now to access free ideas you can use immediately.

Thanks to Bill Jewell for the inspiration.

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The On-Time Rule of Sales Calls: Early Is On Time and On Time Is Late

As a sales professional who makes calls on prospects and customers, you know you’ve got to be on time. Yet being on time isn’t enough. Read on to learn about the on-time rule of sales calls because running late doesn’t count as exercise.

Early is On Time, On Time is Late

Your prospect watches your behavior to decide if they can trust you with their business. Your punctuality for appointments is part of what they look for.

They’ll make the assumption that if you’re late to a sales appointment, you’ll probably slip your delivery. They’ll assume that if you make excuses for your tardiness, that you’ll make excuses for missing other deadlines.

So you better be early to be on time because if you’re on time, you’ll be late. There are always unforeseen circumstances beyond your control that can make you late. It could be an accident, a problem with your car, need to get gasoline, a delayed train, a missed exit, or unexpected traffic.

Never Blame the Traffic

I’m always amazed when a sales professional arrives late and blames the traffic. Is this the first time that they’ve driven in this town? Don’t they know the traffic patterns? Are they such a rookie that they can’t give themselves enough time to account for traffic snarls? Does this mean they can’t negotiate the challenges of orders and delivery snafus?

If you must make excuses, blame anything but the traffic or you’ll look lame. “My last customer appointment went long because they had an emergency. I’ll do the same for you.” I don’t encourage lying, yet you need better excuses.

Better yet, just plan to arrive early.

Let Your Prospect Know You’ve Arrived Early

If you arrive early, let your prospect know to get extra points. Call and say, “I’m running 10 minutes early. Where’s the best place to park? And where will you meet me?”

While most sales people call to let their customer know that they’re running late, this running-early call gets you ahead in four ways.

First, you let your prospect know that you are better than on time.

Second, you might get a prime parking spot.

Third, you’ll likely find them waiting for you as you arrive while the rest of the sales people in the waiting area are cooling their heels looking like their about to get a root canal.

And fourth, you might get an extra ten minutes of face time; always a bonus.

When you can be better than on-time, you’ll always improve your sales success, putting you ahead of your competitors.

And you can learn other ways to position yourself ahead of other sales people. Get immediately free access to a one-hour telecast playback on supercharging your sales career at SalesSuperCharger.com. You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide with more resources. Go there now to access free ideas you can use immediately.

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Borrow My Bike: How To Get More Sales By Making It Personal

How can you make your sales calls more impactful? What can you do to make your customer conversation more meaningful and create a strong relationship? Read on to learn how Robert Ciglar uses the concept of “Borrow My Bike” to increase sales at his business.

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Robert Ciglar, Entrepreneur and Master of CompetitionProof

Robert is a computer engineer who has worked for Microsoft, HP, Cisco, and other major companies. He recently decided that he’d rather pursue his passion for the outdoors and joined forces with friends to open a series of bicycle shops called Cult.

There are lots of competitors in bicycle retailing, so a new shop must have a different twist to create demand and attract customers. Robert uses everything he knows about sales and marketing and applies it to his shops. Here are a few of his unique sales methods.

Borrow My Bike

All shop employees have bicycles that they got to purchase at a deep discount. In exchange for that discount, they loan their personal bicycle to prospects.

When a prospect is looking at a bike, Robert will say, “This is very much like mine. Would you like to borrow my bike and try it out? I’ll make a few simple adjustments and you can take it for a ride.”

Of course prospects are impressed and flattered that he lets them use his bicycle, creating a better relationship.

What can you personally loan to your customers that will increase your relationship?

Open the Package

When a prospect asks about an accessory or product, Robert immediately opens the package and hands it to them so that they can inspect it. Since Robert knows that demos sell, he’s confident that customers will buy once they feel comfortable with the quality and functionality. And if they don’t, most products can easily go back in the package or can be sold outside of the package.

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Robert and Employee Discussing Customer Needs

This is much like sampling, where a customer gets a taste of a product before they buy it. Savvy sales pros know that sampling sells.

How can you “open the package” or “do a demo” or use sampling to increase your sales?

Personalize Everything

Robert has special equipment to measure the body dimensions of his prospects. With this information, he can quickly select the correct bicycle and adjust it to fit their unique requirements. This instantly makes the bicycle more comfortable, more functional, and easier to ride.

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Measurement Tools to Personalize a Cult Bicycle

In the process, it becomes very difficult for a prospect to go to another bicycle shop that can’t do this level of customization, eliminating much of his competition.

How can you bring a new level of personalization to your sales, eliminating competition and increasing your sales success?

Inspired by Robert Ciglar, check out his custom bicycles at Cult.si.

And take the next step in your sales career development. Get immediately free access to a one-hour telecast playback on supercharging your sales career at SalesSuperCharger.com. You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide with more resources. Go there now to access free ideas you can use immediately.

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Three Common Barriers to Top Sales: The Difference Between Sales Duds and Sales Superstars

Struggling sales people put a lot of time and effort into their territory yet seem to have real problems meeting their sales goals. Read on to learn about the three common barriers they face that sales pros do to avoid them.

They Don’t Know Their Products

Unbelievably, there are sales people who don’t know their products inside and out, forwards and backwards. I’m always shocked when I ask a sales person about product a detail that I think would be important and they don’t know the answer. It’s even more unbelievable when they don’t know how to get me the answer. I’ll just buy somewhere else, thank you.

You may have had the same experience at a restaurant when you asked the server about a dish and they’ve never tasted it and can’t tell you about it.

Sales superstars know their product. It’s easy to do! Get every bit of sales literature about your products and read them over and over again. It takes an average of four passes through the literature for you to remember what you need to know. So stick with it.

Learn who in your company is the expert on your products. Ask them lots and lots of questions. Learn why the product developers designed the features the way that they did.

The more you know about your products, the more of them you can sell.

They Don’t Know Their Competitor’s Products

Have you ever asked a sales person, “So how does this stack up against your competition?” and they reply with, “You’ll have to ask them.” That’s not a sales person, that’s an anti-sales person. They are pushing deals to the competition.

Sales superstars learn about competitors’ products. In fact, they know as much about competing products as they do their own product. It’s easy. Go to their website. Ask them to send you sales information. Play with the products every time you can.

The real professional’s secret is to initially look at competitive product like you were genuinely interested in buying them. You’ll learn why customers choose competitive products. Later look for flaws to better find ways to present your products in a more favorable way.

They Don’t Know How to Match Their Customer’s Motivation

Each customer is motivated by slightly different things. Sales people who struggle believe that the same thing motivates all customers so they use the same approach to each customer. They begin by discussing their product. Do that and you’ll always struggle.

It’s probably because they’ve been taught that all customers want to know WIIFM-what’s in it for me. While that is partially true, there is way more to connecting with customer motivation than that.

Sales professionals lead with the need and motivators. They first find out why each customer makes the decisions that they do. For some people, they are driven by politics, so they will pick what their boss recommends. Others will choose to minimize risk. Leaders will choose to create new business outcomes and advance their competitive advantage. Financial analysts will select based on return on investment or cash flow improvements.

You can figure out what motivates your customer by asking them questions such as, “How will you know which is the best choice?” Or “What is the most important thing that you’re going to consider as you make your choice?” Or “What are your success criteria for this project?” Or “What do you need to accomplish your mission?”

With this information, sales professionals can adjust how they present product capabilities to align with customer motivations and win almost every time.

And now take the next step in your career development. Get immediately free access to a one-hour telecast playback on supercharging your IT sales career at SalesSuperCharger.com. You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide with more resources. Go there now to access free ideas you can use immediately.

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How to Become a Trusted Advisor: Capitalizing on a Critical Trust Event

Every sales professional wants to become a trusted advisor, someone who customers call when they need help. A trusted advisor delivers solid, valuable advice that shortcuts finding a solution so that the customer can focus on what they do best by letting the sales pro deliver the services they do best. Read on to learn about the Critical Trust Event, the situation that transforms an ordinary sales person into a trusted advisor.

What creates trust in your customers? Is it your promises? Is it your guarantee? Is it your customer list? Is it your market share? If you are counting on any of these to create trust, you are sadly mistaken.

Customers don’t really trust what you’ve done for others. They only really trust what you’ve done for them in challenging situations.

Trust Comes From Performance

It takes eleven positive events to overcome a single negative event. This means you must build up many positive situations to create trust. Your customers can only trust you after they see personal evidence of trustworthy behavior. This means you have to perform to gain trust. Show up on time: get a trust point. Deliver your proposal on time: gain a trust point. Keep your word: gain a trust point. Be viewed as having integrity: gain a trust point. When you perform to the expectations you set with your customer, you get a trust point. Miss that expectation and you lose eleven points.

When The Chips are Down, Amplify Trust

You can gain many, many points if you can deliver in an emergency. This is a Critical Trust Event. Your customer has to get a new product on line in the next 24 hours. With your help, you can get them back on line. You have tickets to see your favorite band in concert this evening. What do you do? You get to choose.

If you forgo the show (give the tickets to another customer and you get double points) and get your customer on line, you’ve just generated 100 trust points. And if you play your cards right, you might get the boss to hire your favorite band to play at Presidents Club. (It’s happened!)

Guard Trust Like it’s Solid Gold

Do everything you can to keep all the trust points you can. This means you can’t take your eye off the ball. A few moments of inattention and you can destroy all that work you’ve done. This is why sales professionals don’t like to take like to take vacations. (Although if you create your backup systems, you can. That’s another post.)

When you create lots of trust in your customers, you become CompetitionProof.

 

Your Key Sales Resource: How to Develop Your Resourceful Sales Attitude

As a sales professional, you may be concerned about limited resources provided by your company. You might feel that you need more leads, more prospects, and more sales. 

Yet your job is to find more customers with the resources you have right now. Read on to learn how to develop your key sales resource.

Your Resourceful Attitude

Companies value a sales professional with a resourceful attitude. This means that you are going to use everything within your power to find business, take business away from your competition, and create value with every customer.

A slight shift in attitude can take you a long way. Instead of thinking, “I don’t have anything to work with,” make a list of the resources you do have right now. Brainstorming a list of resources can help you get unstuck and out of a sales rut.

To get you started here are a few resources to consider.

Who Can You Call Today?

One of your resources is who you know. I’ll bet that you have at least ten people that you haven’t talked with in the past month that you can check in with. It’s time to do that.

One seasoned sales pro told me that his cell phone contact list is his goldmine. While waiting in line, waiting for appointments, waiting for anything, he reviews his list to recall people who he hasn’t talked with for a while. He calls them and says, “I was just thinking about you! I’ve got some great news. But first, what are you up to these days?”

His great news is always about the current special, promotion, or new product introduction. He adjusts his message to his customers response so that it’s relevant to what they’re paying attention to right now.

What News Can You Share?

One of your resources is industry insight. I’ll bet that you could write an article about trends in your industry that your contacts would enjoy reading. You can you take thirty minutes to crank out 300 words about what’s happening in the next six months that your customers need to pay attention to or may miss something important. Make it a white paper. Turn it into a e-newsletter. Put it on your blog.

You may wish to review some of my articles to get inspiration on how to do this. Just remember, the first draft won’t be perfect, just get it out of your brain so that you have something to work with.

For example, if you’re expecting product shortages (such as disk drives in winter of 2011) let your customers know so that they can plan. If there is an upcoming trade show that customers need to know about, let them know. Perhaps you can offer them free admission to the event. If there are upcoming price increases on products, supplies, or accessories, let your customers know so that they can stock up at the lower price.

Put this on your to-do list and let me know what you write about.

Who is Happy With You Right Now?

One of your resources is satisfied customers. They will remind you of how good you are and can give you a better ego boost than your boss. If you don’t have any customers, call your mother.

If they compliment you, say, “Thank you! Who can you think of that can benefit from working with us?” With a bit of luck, you’ll get a referral on the spot. Instant resources!

Discover more of your personal resources. Get free immediately access to a telecast playback on supercharging your sales career at SalesSuperCharger.com. You can download the telecast to listen on your mp3 player or listen on line. You also get a downloadable PDF sales action guide. Go there now to access ideas you can use immediately.

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Five Minutes a Day to Better Sales: How to Advance Your Career in Five Minutes A Day

Successful sales professionals always work on their skills to keep their career alive. They know that they’ll slip into sales oblivion if they don’t stay fresh and always improving. In this article, you’ll discover how to invest just five minutes a day to intentionally grow your sales skills and stay on top of your sales game. And with this, you’ll be CompetitionProof.

Recognize the Importance of Skills Improvement

Why would you personally want to improve your sales skills? Working on your sales skills makes every sales call more effective, increases the number of deals you do, and helps you keep more margin thus increasing your income.

When you use the same old sales approaches or employ the same old tactics when facing a problem, you get the same old results. As customers become savvy about products and solutions, your value as a sales professional decreases over time. This means you must improve your business skills, sales skills, and technical skills if you’re going to increase your value.

Author Stephen Covey calls this sharpening your saw. President Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, “If given 30 minutes to chop down a tree, I’ll take the first 15 minutes to sharpen my ax.”

Schedule Sales Skills Improvement

Until you create a Continuously Active Sales Habit (CASH), schedule time to stop and build your sales skills. This means putting it on your calendar every day for a month, as you build your sales improvement habit.

You may want to make this part of your morning routine even before you check email or log into Facebook. Or you may want to make this part of your end of the day routine before you head home or turn on the TV. Choose a time that you can regularly take five minutes and dedicate it to your personal improvement. This could be the most valuable five minutes of the day.

Choose One of These Skills Improvement Methods

There are may things you can do to improve your sales skills in five minutes. Consider the following list and take action right now to improve you skills.

Search the Web

Think of a sales challenge that you’re having and search the web for solutions. There are hundreds of thousands of articles about sales skills improvement. Search using the key words of your challenge, such as “keeping more margin” or “overcoming price objections” or “effective cold calling.” You’ll be surprised at the quality of suggestions you will find. Select one or two tactics and immediately try them out.

Search YouTube

Go to YouTube for example sales scenarios. More and more sales trainers and authors now post video examples of their training and content on YouTube. You can get lots of free ideas from this source. One caveat: make sure that the tactic matches your personality. Some of the more aggressive tactics may not work for you. Some of them don’t work for anybody.

Buy a New Book

Next lunch hour, pull into a book store and buy new sales strategy book. Thumb through the book and make sure that it looks interesting and can address some of your sales challenges. Don’t read the book cover to cover, instead flip around until you find a chapter or paragraph heading that catches your attention. Read that, and if it seems attractive to you, put it into action immediately. This $20 investment could pay off this afternoon.

Read an Old Book

You can also review your existing library of sales books to refresh and renew material you’ve covered in the past. If you’re a seasoned sales professional, odds are good that you’ve forgotten some of the really great ideas that worked for you in the past. All it takes is five minutes to remember a great tactic that can solve an immediate problem.

 

More Profits Makes You CompetitionProof: This Video Shows How

If you want lots of CompetitionProof tips, check out the video series, “How to Make More Profits” on the OCE YouTube channel.

I highly recommend that you take the time to check this out. I discuss profit elements that few have considered, especially the impact of discounting on profits.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeF36nHen_M?wmode=transparent]

See the rest of the series at http://www.youtube.com/OutsourceChannelExec

I’d love to hear your opinion on this series.

 

The Three Biggest Mistakes Sales Pros Make and How to Avoid Those Sales Mistakes (Is this you?)

Most sales professionals make career-limiting mistakes everyday. There’s no need to do this. Read on to find out what they are and how to do it differently.

Mistake 1: Pitching products instead of finding out what customers need. If customers really knew what they needed, they’d buy it without a sales person being involved. 

For example, a sales person calls and says, “I’ve got a great new computer program for voice dictation that I know you’re going to love! It has all the features that you’ve been looking for. Would you like to try it out?” You don’t have time to try out something new.

What to do differently:  Have a conversation to discover what they need. Lead with the need and you’ll discover deals. Your questions can guide the conversation direction and the answers will guide what you ask next. Information plus implications creates interest.

For example, ask, “Are you finding that you are overwhelmed with answering emails, creating new reports, and trying to stay on top of all your paper work? If so, I have a tool that can cut by a third the amount of time you spend on these tasks. What would you do with your new found time?

Mistake 2: Cutting price instead of adding value. Slashing price trains customers to expect lower prices and devalues your product.

For example, a sales person offers, “If you buy today, I’ll knock 20 percent off the price.” You know that you can get that deal any time you ask for it.

What to do differently: Add value. For example, offer to increase the quantity for the same price. Or offer training with purchase. Or offer a $10 credit for accessories for each $100 spent. The powerful outcome of adding value is that you can make it a limited time offer to increase urgency. And you’ll protect the list price of your product.

For example, you offer, “If you’re on the fence about this, I’ll include a complementary training session to help you get started right away and so that you’ll be successful fast. We normally charge $99 for this session, but I’ll include it today if that would bump you off the fence.”

Mistake 3: Giving up too soon. Most customers need to think about new ideas before committing, unless the offering solves an immediate need.

For example, a sales person just doesn’t follow up.

What to do differently: Ask permission to stay in contact. Offer to update them with new ideas that you believe that they can use. Check in with them with a new offer, a new idea, a new bit of news that they can use.

For example, you say, “I know you’re interested but the timing just isn’t quite right. May I stay in touch with you to keep you updated and to remind you of what we can do when you’re ready?”

Do these things differently and you’ll be CompetitionProof.