Avoid this “Ghost” of Christmas Future

When was the last time you read the classic book: “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens? If it’s been a while, I highly recommend it. Dickens is a superb story teller, 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 my local Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

As I stood in line, I saw a city bus stop and a bunch of people get 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 John. 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 to motivate us. He 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 could just keep doing what you were doing (ad-libbing), and then you’d just keep getting what you had been getting.

He 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. John wasn’t.

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

Soon afterwards, my sales and income soared.

John thought what the trainer taught was just a bunch of old sales techniques that wouldn’t work for him.

John thought he knew better.

John 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.

John 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 sales trainer’s talk, and I realized, that seminar was the moment I made the decision to change my life.

When John 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 other sales trainer’s material, my commitment to investing in other sales material, and then learning and using all of 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 new book “Power Phone Scripts.” Over 500 word-for-word phrases, questions, and scripts that will make you better in just about any situation you find yourself in.

So why not give yourself a gift this season?

Get it here

If you don’t want to invest in my material, no problem. Find someone else you respect and invest in theirs.

Make this best holiday season you’ve ever had, and give yourself a gift that will repay you for the rest of your career.

How to Get into the Holiday Spirit

Not feeling it this year yet?

Regardless of what’s going on, I’ve got a sure way to help you get into the holiday spirit. I call it:  “Get into Gratitude.”

This is a sure way to get into the holiday mood in just ten minutes! All you have to do is take just a few minutes to follow this suggestion, then regardless of how you feel about the holidays, a transformation will take place for you. After you complete a gratitude list, you will find yourself in the Holiday Spirit.

Here’s how it works:

Whenever you’re not feeling particularly in the holiday mood, or if you’re in fear (any kind of fear – financial, emotional, professional, etc.), all you have to do is make a list of 25 things you’re grateful for. You can use a notebook, or you can just take a walk around your office building and make the list mentally.

The point, however, is to come up with a minimum of 25 things you are grateful for today.

Your gratitude list can contain many different kinds of items. Here are some of the things you may be grateful for:

Having a loving family

Having a job

Making money today, or yesterday or last month

Having your health

Having access to fresh water

Being in a position to help others through your work

Going on a vacation or just coming back from one

Being able to spend time with your kids

Having your kids be healthy

Living in the 21st Century! – With all the cool things like cell phones, the Internet, etc.

Your ability to be able to read a good book

Working for a company that creates or sells a great product that helps so many people

Being able to walk without pain

Being able to sleep in a comfortable and warm bed

Having a home to go to

Having access to over 200 channels of entertainment

Being able to enjoy the sport of your choice

Having faith in God

Being blessed with good friends

Living in a country where you can do and become anything you want

Having options to completely change your life

Having access to great books, CD’s and other material to help you accomplish your goals

Having money in the bank today

Being able to listen to wonderful music whenever you want to

Being free to act, think and do as you please

And so many more things. I’m sure you could add some really great things to be grateful for in your life, couldn’t you?

By acknowledging all the things you DO have, rather than the things you DON’T have – or are afraid you’re not going to get – you’ll realize that you are already blessed. In fact, the biggest blessing you have is that you’re alive.

If you are healthy, alive, and able to write a gratitude list, then the sky is the limit as far as what you can accomplish. And that in itself is something to be grateful for.

And if you’re not healthy right now, or if you’re in fear about something, or if some situation isn’t to your liking, just remember that it will change. Just try and think back to something you were worried about last year, or five years ago. What does that thing mean to you now?

The quickest way to get into the Holiday Spirit, or to develop a positive attitude about anything, is to write a Gratitude List.  Start yours now and watch your attitude transform in just ten minutes…

Happy Holidays!

How to Deal with Other Quotes, Proposals, and Competition

The only thing worse than getting the competitor stall at the end of your presentation (something like, “Well, we’re looking at other quotes…” etc.) is not knowing how to handle it.

In my new book: Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, and Conversations to Open and Close More Sales, I teach you exactly what to say in the hundreds of selling situations you get into, including this competitor situation.

If you’re looking for a great holiday present to give yourself (or your team or company!), then grab your copy (or copies) here. The below questions have been taken right from this value book:

If after you’ve presented your product or service your prospect says they want or need to check on other offers/estimates/quotes, etc., then use or adapt any of the questions below to get your prospect to open up and possibly reveal what it might take for you to win the business:

Option #1:

“I understand, which way are you leaning right now?”

Option #2:

“What would it take for someone else to win your business?”

Option #3:

“What would it honestly take for you to choose us for this?”

Option #4:

“What don’t you see with our proposal that you see in others?”

Option #5:

“Are we in the running with what else you’ve seen out there?”

[If yes]

“What about us would take us out of the running?”

OR

“What would you need to see to choose us?”

AND

“What can I do right now to insure that we win your business?”

Option #6:

“Obviously you’re going to show this quote to your current vendor – if they match the price, will you just stick with them?”

[If yes]

“What can I do to prevent that?”

Option #7:

“How many times have you taken other quotes to your current vendor?”

[If they tell you]:

“And what do they usually do?”

[If they say they lower their price to keep the business]:

“How can we break that cycle and get you the right pricing from the start?”

Option #8:

“_________, let’s take your lowest bid you have right now and compare it – services to services – to what we’re offing you. If I find you’re getting a better deal, I’ll tell you so. If I can beat it, then I’ll let you know that as well. Either way – You’ll Win! Do you have that other quote nearby or should I wait while you grab it?”

Remember, competition will always exist, but you can beat it and win business if you’re prepared with proven and effective scripts like those above.  Pick your favorite ones and tailor them to your particular sale.

Best Motivational Book Recommendation

Thanksgiving is in two days, and the holidays are right around the corner. As we work to close the year strong, many of us begin thinking about our goals for 2018. And, more importantly, we begin thinking about what we can do differently next year to achieve them.

I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite books on how to achieve the right mindset for achieving just about anything. This is a book I picked up in the 80’s, and I read it at the end of just about every year as I set my new goals.

It’s called, “Advanced Formula for Total Success,” by Dr. Robert Anthony. If you haven’t read it – or haven’t read it lately – than this will be one of the most important books you’ll ever read. It’s packed with useful, no-nonsense examples that will really resonate.

It is out of print, but you can get used copies on Amazon.com for about $6.00. Believe, me, it’ll be the best $6 you’ll spend this year.

Dr. Robert Anthony updated this book a few years ago and called it: “Beyond Positive Thinking.” That book is readily available as is, or an audio version of it if you prefer to listen to your books.

Either way, though, Dr. Robert Anthony is an awesome writer who gives you the formula you need to set and achieve goals. So while you’re contemplating that second piece of pumpkin pie, make sure you eat it while you’re reading one of the most important books you’ll find in years.

Enjoy!

5 Quick Secrets to Compelling Emails

Want to get your emails returned? Who doesn’t…

Many of us would settle for just getting our emails read!

Let’s face it: prospects get hundreds of emails per week and there is a slim chance they are going to read – let alone respond to – an email from a sales rep.

Luckily, there are 5 quick secrets to help your emails stand out and give you the best chance of getting them read and returned. Here’s what they are:

Secret #1: Put the prospect’s first name in the subject line.

Everyone is drawn to their first name, so if you make your subject line something like:

“John, just left you a VM…”

Your email will stand out in their inbox and they will open it.

Secret #2: Personalize the first sentence of your email.

Draw your prospect’s attention to something that is happening now and current in their situation. This will snap your prospect out of his/her rote reading of emails. Things like:

“Hope you’re staying warm on this winter day!”

OR

“I’m sure you’re buried in your new project, so I’ll keep this brief…”

By taking the time to personalize your first sentence, you’ll draw your reader in and that will give you the best chance to get your email read.

Secret #3: Break your paragraphs up into sentences.

Nothing will turn your prospect off more than long, information packed paragraphs.

Their eyes will glaze over!

Break up your sentences into paragraphs if possible to make them easy to read and accessible.

I say no more than 2 sentences per paragraph.

Just like this example is written – easy to read, isn’t it?!

Secret #4: Ask for a return response – whether they are interested or not.

Give your prospect a chance to “op out” of further communication with you.

Thank them in advance for their consideration and ask them to let you know if they’re interested – or not.

And let them know you’ll remove their name if they aren’t.

Special Hint: Also give them the option of referring you to the right department or another person who might be more appropriate. This also gives them an out – and you an in.

Secret #5: Promise to follow up by phone if they don’t respond.

Let them know that you understand they are busy, and that out of consideration if you don’t hear from them you’ll follow up with a call in a day or two.

This really increases your response rate, and don’t be unhappy if they ask to “op-out.” Those prospects who do have just disqualified themselves and saved you a ton of time.

And for those you don’t hear from – start calling! Suddenly, when they do pick up, they’ll be a warm call 🙂

Try implementing these 5 secrets today and watch as your emails suddenly become relevant again.

And if you’d like more current and effective tips, check out 500 more questions, phrases, and word-for-word scripts that will help you open and close more sales by picking up a copy of my new book: Power Phone Scripts.

See it here.

“Can You Email That to Me?”

What’s the number one blow off prospects use these days? “Can you email that to me?” If you think about it, that’s the perfect stall. They aren’t saying no, and it implies that you will need to talk to them later… Unfortunately, later becomes never as chasing down busy professionals – especially people who now don’t want to be followed up with – becomes nearly impossible.

The solution? Be prepared with a good script and a good strategy. The one I like most is to prepare an initial email in advance (it can be generic or it can include an initial quote of services) and have it ready to send at a moment’s notice.

And then when a prospect blows you off with, “Can you email that to me?” use the following script from my new book: Power Phone Scripts:

“I’d be more than happy to do that – where would you like me to email that?”

[Take their email down and then email them your information right now.]

“O.K., it’s on the way to you. What I’d like to do right now is take just two minutes to get an idea of what’s important to you, and then I can direct you to that part of the information when you get around to it.  Let me ask you:

“How do you get involved in ordering/handling/working with the XYZ?”

OR

“From a needs standpoint, how motivated is (your company/department/are you) to change/fix/replace/buy XYZ right now?”

OR

“What would you need to see in the information I just sent you for you to become seriously interested in making a change in how you’re handling XYZ now?”

If you follow this strategy, then you’ll be ready to side step the email stall and get right back into qualifying! How great will that be? Try this technique yourself and watch as you begin qualifying real buyers, or disqualifying those who just want to get you off the phone…

And if you’d like more scripted rebuttals to this and many other objections and selling situations, then pick up a copy of my new, best-selling book on phone scripts. You’ll get over 500 word-for-word scripts, questions, and phrases to help you open and close more sales starting today!

How to Handle: “I want to speak to some references.”

How do you deal with the “I need to speak to some references” objection? Do you cave in and happily send your prospect two or three clients who are satisfied with your product or service? And if you do, have you ever found that some of those prospects never call you back?

As you already know, when someone asks for references there is usually something they are not sold on. They are either not convinced that your product or service will work in their environment, or they might feel they don’t need everything you’re offering, or the price may just be too high. Or this stall could just be a smokescreen hiding the real reason which is they just don’t want to tell you “no.”

Either way, just handing over references without digging a little deeper and finding out what is hiding behind this smokescreen is almost always the wrong thing to do. What you need are different approaches that get your prospect to open up and tell you what their real concerns are. And the way you do that is by using a best practice script.

In my new book, Power Phone Scripts, 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, and Conversations To Open and Close More Sales, I give you a ton of new responses for the objections, stalls and other situations you get into, and in today’s blog, I’m going to take a page out of that book and give you four scripts that will help you deal with the references stall.

These four responses will range from the stronger approach of “Do you think I’d give you a bad reference?” to the softer approach of, “Let me know what areas of concern you have so I can match you up with the right client to speak to.” Like all the scripts and techniques I teach, it is up to you to choose the approach you feel most comfortable with, and then personalize it so you don’t sound like a robot.

But the bottom line is that once you have scripted out a best practice approach to handling the objections, stalls, and resistance statements you get – day in and day out –  the better your results will be (meaning you’ll make more money.)

Give these responses a try the next time you get, “I want to speak to some references”:

Stall: “Do you have some references I could call?”

Response One:

“Absolutely.  As you can imagine, I have a folder filled with happy and satisfied clients.  But _________, let me ask you – do you think I would give you a bad reference?”

[Let them respond]

“Of course not.  I’m only going to give you clients who love us and what we do for them.  So what that tells me is that there is something you’re either not convinced will work for you yet, or that you don’t think this is quite the fit you’re looking for.  So, while you have me on the phone, please, level with me – what’s the real issue that’s holding you back?”

Response Two:

“I’d be happy to provide you with a reference or two, and let me ask you: if after you speak with them you hear what you need to hear, are you going to move forward with us and put us to work for you?”

[If yes]

“Great!  Then hang on just a moment and let me get a client on the phone, and I’ll conference you in.  After you’re done with your conversation, we can get you signed up…”

Response Three:

“_________, when someone asks you for a reference for your company or service, have you ever found that some people never even call the references?”

[Let them respond]

“And don’t you get the feeling that there is just something that’s holding them back and they just aren’t quite sold on your company yet?”

[Let them respond]

“Well, since you’ve got me on the phone right now, why don’t you tell me what’s holding you back or what you’re concerned with, and I’ll see if I can answer it for you.”

Response Four:

“I’d be happy to.  Now ________, as you might imagine, I’ve got all different kinds of clients using this, so do me a favor: let me know the things that are concerning you, and I’ll then match you up with the right reference who can address those things for you.”

As you can see – when someone asks you for a reference, the most important thing you can do is isolate this stall and get your prospect to reveal what the real concern is. Unless you find out what that is, not only will your prospect not call your reference, but they may never call you back again either.

Lessons from the NFL on How to Close More Business

Ahhhhh…..  The NFL football season is underway. We are a few weeks in, and there is still hope for all teams! Players and coaches are watching game and practice film to find ways to help players get better.

I read a piece by Peter King from SI.com about his conversation with Ellis Hobbs – former cornerback with the New England Patriots. He was talking about how much respect he had for head coach Bill Belichick.

He said, “Early in my career, Bill called me into his office, and we sat there – for a long time – studying film. He taught me to look for the simple things, and not to make football so complicated. I got better. I was with one of the best coaches of all time, and he helped me become a better player.”

In sales, too, you can become a better producer if you concentrate on the simple things and doing them better. Here are two things you can do starting today to increase your closing ratio and make more money:

1. Keep a record of the reasons your prospects don’t close and then concentrate on qualifying for these issues up front with all future prospects. This was one of the simplest and most effective habits I developed to get better.

I kept a notebook with all my prospects in it and every time they didn’t buy, I’d put in red ink the reason why not. I even broke it down to three codes: NI, for No Interest; NM for No Money; and NC for Not Controllable. And then throughout the weeks and months that followed, I’d go back through my notebook and look for patterns and ask myself, “What do I need to focus on during the qualification stage?”

If too many prospects were not buying because they simply weren’t ready or interested, then “No Interest” needed to be addressed on the front call. I’d start by asking more questions like:  “Prospect, if you find that this would work for you, what is your time frame for moving ahead with it?”

And so on. Bottom line – if you don’t get it right on the front end then you’ll never increase your closing ratio on the back end.

2. Ask for bigger orders on every close. Oh I know, you’ve heard this before, right? But how often do you actually do it? So many sales reps are afraid to ask for too much and are just happy to get a minimum order. I know because I used to be that way.

But my career turned around when I began asking for big orders on every single call. And what I learned is that you never know how much a person or company can handle. You can always go down (in price, quantity, etc.), but it’s much harder to go up.

The truth is, it’s all the same amount of work anyway, so why not ask for two times, or three times the minimum order and see what you get! If only one in ten of your prospects buy the increased amount, how much more money would that mean to you?

The fun part about consistently asking for more is that you’ll end up getting more – and every time you do, you’ll reinforce the habit to do it. And as soon as you get a taste of closing bigger deals, you begin looking for and expecting them. Try it and you’ll see for yourself – it’s one of the simplest things you can do to make a lot more money.

So there you have it – two simple ways of closing more business and making more money. Just remember, as you’re reading this article, NFL players and coaches are working on the simple things to improve. You should be doing so, too!

Doctor or Salesperson – Which Would You Rather Be?

Saw these average salaries quoted in USA Today last week:

Physicians are the highest paid salaried employees in the U.S.: $187,876 a year.

Pharmacy managers are second at $149,064 per year.

Third are patent attorneys at $139,272.

Fourth are medical science liaisons at $132,842.

When I was growing up, my parents wanted me to be a doctor – or a lawyer. They argued that I’d make lots of money, have job security, and would have a highly respectable career.

When I was in college, I was working towards my doctorate in psychology. After I received my B.A., however, something happened – I took a summer job in sales. I intended to go back to school, because I thought “sales” was beneath me. I still wanted to be a doctor like my parents wanted me to be.

But something else happened that summer: I made almost $47,000 in commissions (it was a commission only position), and suddenly the thought of going back to school for six more years, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, and then working 80 hours+ as an intern wasn’t so appealing.

In fact, as I looked around at the top sales reps in the company I worked for (a financial services firm with 25, full time, commission only sales reps), I saw that the top performers were driving Porsches, owned beautiful homes, and were already saving for retirement. And they were in their twenties….

And here’s another thing: most of them had never even been to college.

To be clear – at the time, I wasn’t a top producer, and like most of the other sales reps at the company I soon became stuck in just getting by. It was at this point that I had to make a decision:

I could put in three to six months of studiously learning and perfecting the craft of sales – and this included working harder than I ever had, rigorously follow my scripts (rewrite and personalize them when and where needed), record and listen to myself daily, and commit to doing everything I could, each day (weekends included!) to get better – or I could quit, apply for loans, and hope I got into graduate school.

One path would lead me to top production in sales where I could make literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, take vacations whenever and wherever I wanted, and give me complete job security (I could work for whomever I chose once I became a top producer), and the other path, well, consider:

If I chose to become a doctor, I would be looking at years of rigorous and demanding school work. More years as an intern and then resident (at a city that might need new doctors), and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, before I made a dime.

In addition, If I became a surgeon, I would work crazy hours most of my career, be on call at all hours of the night and weekends, be completely responsible to my patients and those working in my office, and I likely wouldn’t be getting my Porsche for many years.

For me, that choice was easy to make. I choose a career in sales. But not just an average career, I made a commitment to becoming a top selling professional.

And because I was willing to commit the time, energy, and money needed to excel, I became a top producer in that company in 90 days. Nine months later, I was the top rep out of five branch offices, and 16 months later I was promoted to sales manager.

And please don’t mistake this story as me trying to impress you. Instead, I’m trying to impress upon you that if I could do it, you can do it, too.

Sales have been a great choice, and I’m forever thankful I made it. But the decision that allowed me to be so successful was to commit to learning the craft of sales. It’s something I teach every week when training, and I write about it in my new book, “Power Phone Scripts.” It’s in the first chapter on the “Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers.”

If you have decided that you’re probably not going to become a doctor, but you’d like to live like one (with less stress, by the way), then make a commitment to your craft. Start by investing in my new book and then do what I recommend.

Believe me, if you do, this will become one of the wisest decision you’ve ever made.

Should You Use: “Is this a good time” – Yes or No?

The debate of whether to open your calls asking, “Did I catch you at a good time?” or “Is this time still good for you?” (for presentation call backs), is alive and well – unfortunately.

Just last week, I received this email question from a reader:

“Hi Mike, question – after I send out information to these guys and I come back to them with an idea do I ask them if they have a minute before going into my pitch?”

Have you ever wondered the same thing? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this question for the last 30+ years, and I’ve also heard arguments for both sides. Some people think it’s respectful to ask if the prospect has time, and others feel they are setting themselves up for a stall.

So what should you do?

I’ve been making calls – both prospecting calls and closing calls – for a long, long time. In fact, I still make them today. And in my experience (note I said experience, not “theory”), the answer is clear. What you should do is this:

Never ask if it’s a good time to pitch or qualify or have a conversation with a prospect or client. Instead, follow this approach to the letter:

Always greet your prospect: “Hi {first name}, hope your day is going well….” (or other opening you like).

And then listen carefully not only to what they say, but, more importantly, to how they say it. Ask yourself:

“Is this person happy to hear from me?”

“Does this person sound rushed?”

“Do they sound upset that I’ve interrupted them?”

“Are they unhappy they picked up the phone now have to talk to me?”

Or,

“Do they sound relaxed?”

“Are they willing to engage – did they ask me how I’m doing?”

“Is there a smile in their voice?” (Or a frown?)

In other words, rather than ask if you caught them at a good time, listen to their voice and to how they answer the phone to see what their mood is. If you actually listen, you can always tell…

Then, regardless of what they say, acknowledge what you know to be true: they are busy! So let them know you respect their time and open your call this way:

“I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll be brief….”

And then engage quickly and, if you’re prospecting or qualifying, ask them a question as soon as possible so you can give them an opportunity to tell you whether they have the time to speak to you or not.

And that’s how you handle prospecting calls.

For pitches where you have an appointment, don’t ask if this is still a good time for them! You’ve made an appointment in advance, and if you’ve truly qualified them they are expecting your call and should be ready for it.

For these calls, you open this way:

“Hi {first name}, how’s your (Tuesday, etc.) going?”

[Listen here and respond accordingly.]

“Good to hear. Well, {first name}, I’m excited to speak with you today and I know you’re going to love…”

And then get into your pitch…

And, as always, don’t take my 30+ years of experience for it, try it yourself! Your own experience will verify what I’m telling you. Happy selling!

And if you’d like over 500 more phrases, questions, and word for word proven scripts (all current and effective), then invest $28 in your career and get my new bestselling book: Power Phone Scripts.