How to Sell A Pencil – Or Any Product or Service

NOTE: While this article talks about using this technique as an interview question to determine what kind of sales rep you’re about to hire, it’s also a great technique for managers to use to diagnose what is wrong with reps who may not be hitting quote consistently. Call them in, one by one, and see how they do…

If I gave you a pencil and asked you to sell it, how would you go about it?

This is one of the most basic of interview questions I use for prospective sales reps, and the answer reveals so much about their previous training, their understanding of the sales process, and ultimately about what kind of sales rep they are going to be.

So, what is the most effective way to sell a pencil?

Let’s first look at how most sales reps go about doing it. When I’m interviewing sales reps this is my favorite question. After letting a rep tell me how good of a closer they are, I pull out a pencil, hand it to them, and tell them to sell it to me. And off they go!

80% of sales reps start the same way – they start pitching. “This pencil is brand new, never used. It has grade “2” lead and a bright yellow color so it’s easy to find. It comes with a built in eraser,” etc.

Some reps can (and do!) talk about it for 5 minutes or more before they ask a question or ask for an order (more rare). As the sales rep rambles on, I begin to yawn, roll my eyes, etc. Amazingly, this just makes them talk even more! “What’s wrong with these people?” I think.

Now let’s look at how the Top 20% go about selling a pencil. As soon as I give a top rep the pencil, they pause, and then they begin asking me questions:

“So how often do you use pencils?”
“How many do you go through in a month?”
“What other locations does your company have that use pencils, and how often do they order them?”
“What quantity do you usually order them in?”
“Where are you getting them from now?”
“Besides yourself, who’s involved in the buying decision?”

Quite a difference, isn’t it? I’ll tell you right now, I listen to hundreds of sales reps in a month and they can easily be separated into these two groups: Those who pitch, pitch, pitch, and those who take the time to understand their prospect’s buying motives and properly qualify to understand the entire selling process.

Now let’s see which category you fit in. When you speak with a prospect for the first time, how much of your script is focused on describing and pitching your product or service as opposed to questioning and uncovering buying motives?

If yours is like most scripts I review, then it’s filled with descriptions of what you do and how your product or service helps people. Most scripts attack the prospect with a barrage of “value statements” that turn people off and make them want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.

Want a better way? Then take a tip from some of the best “pencil sales reps,” and change your script and your opening so it focuses more on questioning and qualifying. Seek to discover whether or not you are actually speaking with someone who is a good fit for what you offer.

Without knowing this, you will just end up with a lot of frustration and a lot of unsold pencils at the end of the month.

My Favorite (Brian Tracy) Goal Setting Technique

Happy New Year!

How is the goal setting going?

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with setting goals in each area of your life, or if you are overwhelmed now that you have set goals in every area of your life and you are already wondering where you’re going to get the time to do it all, then you’re not alone.

I’ve been goal setting for years, and while I (and the rest of the world) may get pumped up by all the wonderful things I’m going to accomplish and all the changes I’m going to make, what I’ve learned is that there is only so much time.

It’s an old story, but if you want to know how much of the goal setting (and accomplishing) really goes, just drive by your local gym’s parking lot during the first week of January and compare it to the first week in March.

I once heard Brian Tracy talk about setting goals, and he recommended a technique that not only made a lot of sense, but that turns out to be so powerful, it is life changing…

He said what you do is make a list of your top ten goals for the year. Think about what’s most important to you in the different areas of your life, and write down ten things.

Next, prioritize that list so that the most important goal is number one. The way to determine which goal is number one is to ask yourself which of the ten would have the most impact on your life if you actually reached it.

Once you have your list prioritized, throw away the other nine goals and make a commitment to making that number one goal a reality in the coming twelve months.

And once you’ve made that commitment, ask yourself what one action you can take today, right now, to begin reaching that goal. And once you have identified that, do it.

Before you go to sleep tonight, identify the one action you’re going to take tomorrow, and then commit to taking it.

And then do this each and every day until you have accomplished that one most important goal.

When I heard this, my first thought was, “Yeah, but what about the other nine goals? What about balance and all that?”

And that’s when he explained that despite our best intentions, most goal setting starts strong, but by March we’ve given up on half of them, and by the summer most – if not all – have been abandoned.

That’s why identifying one goal, the most important and most impactful goal, is a better way to go.

Think about how much your life will change (and the lives of your family members) if you reach your number one, most important goal.

If your goal is to become a top producer in your industry and double or triple your income, think about the impact that will have on your family! Think about buying that new home, or providing for your parents, or allowing your wife or spouse to stay home.

If your goal is to finally write that novel, think about how your life will change when you finally accomplish that this year! Think about the weight off your shoulders now that it is a reality rather than just another dream.

If your goal is to lose weight, get in shape, and get off your medication and live a longer, healthier life for yourself and your family, think about the long term rewards achieving that goal will bring you! (And think of the consequence if you don’t.)

Whether or not you agree with Brian, I’m here to tell you that it’s more impactful for you to hit the most important goal in your life than it is to set ten and not hit any of them…

And, hey, if you reach your number one goal by July, you can get to number two!

If you’ve set goals for years and not been very successful at following through, then why not take the pressure off yourself and try Brian’s method?

How bad would it be if you actually reached your most important goal in 2017?

Most Popular Article of 2016

If you are a subscriber to my weekly ezine, then you know I publish a new article every week. That’s fifty-two new tips, scripts, strategies, and current techniques to help you succeed selling over the phone.

It’s not surprise, then, that the most popular article I wrote in 2016 is one that gives you, the front line sales rep, a proven way to overcome some of the resistance you face each and every time you pick up the phone to make a cold call.

If you happened to miss this, then you have another opportunity today to learn and begin using a proven way to deal with the common brush off: “We are all set.”

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Most Popular Article of 2016:

I receive emails from my readers all the time asking me how to handle various objections and resistance statements. A common request I get is how to handle the initial resistance statement “We are all set.” A variation of this is anything along the lines of:

“We are okay with our present system.”

OR

“We’ve already got a company that handles that.”

OR

“We’re fine for right now.”

As you can see, these are all basically the same, and, more importantly, they aren’t objections – rather, they are initial resistance statements or blow offs. Essentially they are saying something along the lines of: “I’m not interested in being pitched right now, please go away.”

Now here’s the thing: Because this is simply resistance and not an objection (it’s not an objection because you haven’t pitched your product or service yet. It’s like when you walk into a department store and the sales rep asks if they can help you and you blow them off with, “I’m just looking.”) Again, “We’re all set” is not an objection, just sales resistance.

And the key to handling resistance is NOT to try to overcome it (remember it’s not an objection), but rather you simply want to bypass it and engage and qualify.

So, with that in mind, here’s how you handle the “We’re all set” blow off or/and any of its variations:

“We’re all set”

Response One:

“That’s great, and I’d just like to see if we could get on your vendor list for the next time you’re in the market. Let me ask you…”

Now get into your qualifying questions…

Response Two:

“Most companies I speak with are ‘all set’ and that’s why I’m reaching out to you now – I want to give you an option for the next time you’re in need of this. Let me ask you…”

Back to qualifying…

Response Three:

“No problem. Let me ask you: the next time you’re in need of this, what’s number one on your wish list?”

Response Four:

“I understand – I didn’t expect to catch you in the market right now. Instead, let me get an idea of your perfect profile, and then I’ll send you some information you can keep on file next time you need this…”

Now re-engage by asking a qualifying question.

Response Five:

“Got it. Let me ask you: the next time you are in need of this, are you the right person to speak to about it?”

If yes, then qualify them for that next time – especially asking about timeframe, budget, etc.

Response Six:

“Understand, and let me ask you: When is your next buying season for this?”

Then keep the conversation going by asking additional qualifying questions.

Response Seven:

“That’s fine; I totally understand. And let me ask you – the next time you are in the market for this, how many companies are you going to reach out to?”

And then ask how you can become one of them, what their budget is, who the decision makers are, etc.

Response Eight:

“No problem. What you might find helpful is to know about our special pricing and the additional services we provide. Did you know that….”

Then pitch one or two things you do that others don’t – and use a tie down!

Response Nine:

“I’m glad you said that. What I’ve found is that those companies who are already using a vendor for this are surprised to learn that….”

Give them a shocking statement about how you’ve just been rated number one, or that you give free delivery, etc. Something that will peak their interest…

Response Ten:

“No problem. Could I be the “next in line” company you call the next time you’re in the market for this?”

If yes,

“Great, let me get your email and send you my info…”

Then:

“And just out of curiosity, what would have to change for you to even begin looking at someone else?”

Look for an in here…

So there you have it – ten new ways of handling this age old blow off. Just remember, your goal isn’t to try to overcome this – rather, it’s to sidestep this resistance statement and get information you can use to create value and continue the conversation.

5 Book Recommendations to Have a Great 2017

As you run around doing your final Christmas shopping this week, have you remembered your favorite person? (You!)

I know you do a lot for others in your life – your family and extended family, your co-workers or employees, those people who serve you in your favorite restaurants, cleaners, mail delivery people, etc. – but what about yourself?

As we stare down New Year’s Eve and a whole new year of dreams and goals, why not give yourself a couple of books (or audiobooks) that can motivate and support you in achieving those dreams?

Here are my top five favorite motivational and inspiration books. If you haven’t read them, then you’re in for a treat…

#1. “The Advanced Formula for Total Success,” by Dr. Robert Anthony. This is a classic and one that I read every year. It is packed with the truth about what is holding you back from achieving your dreams, AND it tells you how to release the breaks.

It is out of print, but luckily Amazon.com has many sellers still offering copies from a few bucks to over $40. Search for it today and get ready for a powerful, life changing book that you will enjoy for years to come.

#2. “Find and Use Your Inner Power,” by Emmet Fox. I read sections from this book almost every day. It is a book of essays, each only a page to a page and a half long. The essays are about the law of attraction from a spiritual perspective. Simply one of the best books out there to be reminded of the truth.

I recommend you start every day by reading a page or two.

#3. “The Secret,” by Rhonda Bryne. One of the most accessible books on the law of attraction. If you’re not familiar with this concept, then this is a great introductory book.

Bonus book: Another great introductory book on the law of attraction is: “As a Man Thinketh,” by James Allen. This book is probably available for free as an ebook. Great, quick read that will change the way you think.

#4. “The Success Principles,” by Jack Canfield. If you’re looking for a more complete, step by step, guide to setting and achieving goals, this book will get you there. Make sure you have a notebook handy as Jack will have you doing exercises as you plan the rest of your life.

If you’re ready, Jack is, too.

#5. “The Complete Book of Phone Scripts,” by Mike Brooks. How could I not put the bestselling book of phone scripts on this list of books to help you have a killer 2017?

If you are in sales, then this is a must have. Let’s face it: 80 – 90% of the objections and stalls you get are the same, day in and day out. You will be 100% more effective if you just take the time to script out the best practice ways of dealing with them. It’s called being prepared.

Plus, this is the gift that keeps on giving with over $500 worth of extra bonuses including a ½ hour, one on one, consult with me personally. I can help you revise your opening script or go over your closes with you, etc. And no strings attached!

See it here: http://mrinsidesales.com/completescripts.htm

So there you have it. 5 (actually 6) books that will help you set goals and achieve them. Give yourself something that will continue giving for the rest of your life.

Avoid this “Ghost” of Christmas Future

For December, I’m reading the classic tale: “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. Oddly, I can’t remember ever reading it, though I’ve seen countless versions made for TV and movies. It’s fantastic, just like most books are that have been made into movies. Dickens is a superb writer, and there is a reason this is a “classic.”

While reading this, it reminded me of an encounter I had that was a chilling reminder of the bad “Ghost of Christmas Future” I narrowly avoided all those years ago. Here’s what happened:

I was on my way to work with a new client one day when I stopped at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. As I stood in line, I glanced out the window and saw a city bus stop and a bunch of people got off. One guy – mid 40’s, tall and lanky – started walking towards the Starbucks, and there was something about the way he was walking that was familiar to me.

When he entered the store, I recognized him from many years before when we were both struggling inside sales reps trying to sell investments over the phone. His name was Brad. After I got my coffee, and he got his, he came up to me and said, “You’re Mike Brooks, right?” “Yes” I said. “Hey, we used to work together!” he said. “I remember,” I said.

He asked me what I was up to these days, and I told him I had become a consultant in inside sales, and that I was off to work with a new client. I asked him what he was up to and this is when the chill hit me. He said he was starting a new sales job today, and then he rolled his eyes as if to say, “And this one will suck, too.”

We walked out of the store together, and said goodbye and went our separate ways. He went to wait at the next bus bench, and I got into my Mercedes and drove away.

As I sipped my coffee and listened to the tunes in my plush car, I thought about how different our lives had turned out and wondered what happened to make them so different. As I did, I knew exactly what it was.

During our time together, the owners of the company brought in a sales trainer, a guy named Stan Billue, to motivate us. Stan spoke to us for an hour about what makes the difference between the top money earners in sales versus all the other sales reps.

He said that you have a choice to either commit to learning and using proven scripts and sales techniques that would double or triple your income, or you would just keep doing what you were doing (ad-libbing), and then you’d just keep getting what you had been getting.

Stan said: “If you are willing to do what most sales reps aren’t willing to do, then soon you’ll be able to enjoy the things, the lifestyle, and the future that most sales reps will never be able to enjoy.”

I was sold. Brad wasn’t.

I invested in Stan’s cassette series, “Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone.” I committed to learning, practicing, and doing what he suggested. My sales and income soared.

Brad thought what Stan taught was just a bunch of old sales techniques that wouldn’t work for him.

Brad thought he knew better.

Brad didn’t believe in using scripts.

“I’ll sound like a telemarkerter,” he said. “I have to go with the flow because each prospect is different,” he persisted.

Brad didn’t believe in putting in the time, energy or money to get better.

So he didn’t.

Fast forward to our Starbucks encounter. Over 20 years had passed between that Stan Billue talk, and I realized, that seminar was the moment I made the decision to change my life.

When Brad showed up that day, he was the Ghost of Christmas Past that could have become my Ghost of Christmas Future.

My life has changed because of Stan’s material, my commitment to investing in other sales material, and then learning and using it diligently. My life is infinitely better because I did, and I have no doubt that had I not invested, learned and used proven selling techniques, it would have been me that was taking a bus to my next, new job.

It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

The moral here is that you, too, can avoid the Ghost of Christmas Past from becoming your future. There are a lot of great sales training books, CD’s, and courses you and your team can take advantage of to get better.

One of the best (in my humble opinion) is my “Complete Book of Phone Scripts.” Over 200 word for word phone scripts that will make you better in just about any situation you find yourself in.

Plus, you get over $500 in free bonuses by some of the leaders in the business like Jeffrey Gitomer, Tom Hopkins, Jed Blount, and more.

You also get a ½ one-on-one coaching call with me personally. I can role play with you, write scripts for you, answers your questions. You get all that for just $49.

So why not give yourself a gift this season?

Get it here: http://mrinsidesales.com/completescripts.htm

If you don’t want to invest in my material, no problem. Find someone else you respect and invest in theirs. Bottom line is any investment you make in your career will pay for itself, month in and month out.

Make this best holiday season you’ve ever had. Invest in yourself!

Goal Planning for 2017 Made Easy (Webinar: Dec 8)

It’s that time of the year again – goal planning for the New Year!

If that task seems intimidating to you, or, if you didn’t make any of your goals this year because they were either too ambitious or hard to follow, then I’ve got great news for you.

Nest Thursday, my colleague, Laura Posey, is going to give my readers a free Webinar entitled: “Goal Planning for 2017 on One Sheet of Paper.”

Now who wouldn’t want to do that?

I’ve been using Laura’s method for years and it’s fantastic! Hey, goal setting doesn’t have to be difficult if you just get focused on what’s going to get you into the Top 20% of earners at your company.

Sign Up Here

The Webinar is next Thursday, December 8th, 2016, at 3 PM Eastern. Don’t miss it.

Laura is a master of cutting through the crap and getting to the most productive, result-producing impact in the fastest time possible.

And she makes it so easy to do the things she teaches.

In this webinar, you will discover:

*  How to work less and increase your sales
*  Why goal setting is killing your results… and what to do instead
*  How to cut through the chaos and become laser-focused on the most profitable actions you can take to increase sales in 2017
*  How to tap into your “hidden creativity” to solve your biggest problems, quickly and effectively
*  How to get your entire team working at their highest levels of productivity – without micromanaging or stress
*  And much, much more

If you plan on goal setting for 2017, then you need to Join Us on Thursday, December 8th, at 3 PM Eastern.

A little bit about Laura Posey:

Laura is Chief Instigator at Simple Success Plans. She works with entrepreneurial companies to get them focused, aligned and driving higher profits with less stress.

Laura is a sought after international speaker and facilitator. She strategic planning clients range from a $27 billion multi-national IT distributor to a small, local mold testing lab and everything in between. In addition to her strategic planning work, she is called on to improve sales and marketing results for companies throughout the US and Canada.

Laura has over 20 years of experience in driving results for her clients but she has also “done the work in the trenches”. From making over 30,000 cold calls at dinnertime to sell insurance to maxing out her credit cards to launch her first business, Laura has the real-life experience to know what it takes to succeed.

She has done the work so she can show you the shortcuts.

So join us next Thursday.

You’ll be glad you did!

Mike Brooks