The Missing Ingredient to Top Performance in Sales

Have you ever wondered why some people excel in sales, while others don’t?

Have you ever questioned – if most other things are equal, like if you all have access to the same leads, the same sales training, the same number of hours in the day, etc. – why are there always top producers who hit or exceed their goals, while the rest of the team members struggle to varying degrees?

How about yourself? Are you a top producer at your company?

If you aren’t, then have you ever wondered what is keeping you from being in that elite group? (And if you are, have you ever asked yourself what is keeping you from earning even more?) And if you’ve struggled with consistency – perhaps one month you do well, then a couple of months you fall off, wouldn’t it be great to have the key to consistent performance?

I used to have all those thoughts. I watched with amazement the top sales producers win the bonuses and the trips over and over again. I used to think that I just didn’t have “it” and that I was probably better suited for a different career. Then something happened for me…

Years ago, I was introduced to a way of thinking that helped me understand how my current levels of belief, and my consistent ways of thinking and feeling were limiting my results – not only in sales – but in every other area of my life as well. At first I was highly skeptical, but I was also pretty fed up with how things were going for me. So I was willing to use these new tools to see if it could make a difference in my life.

Some of you who know my story know that after 90 days of following this new way of thinking, affirming and imaging, I literally doubled my income. And nine months later, I was the number one sales rep out of five branch offices.

What you may not know, though, is that I changed other areas of my life as well. I lost a tremendous amount of weight and took my fitness level to a place I had never achieved before. I used this program to achieve a deep level of happiness and purpose in my life. And I was able to do it all easily, without struggling.

And that was huge. I didn’t have to resist eating “yummy” but unhealthy foods or force myself to go to the gym, etc. Suddenly, with the use of this program, these and other things came to me naturally and became a “want to,” rather than a “have to.” I had found a remarkably effective way to easily make changes in my life.

I have been using and teaching this program for living for over 30 years, and it is still the most important ingredient to my success today. Today, when I set goals for achievement, and implement this proven approach, things automatically “happen” for me. Resources appear, opportunities show up, and it’s as if the entire Universe has conspired to help me achieve my goals.

And you know? I believe it has…

What I have decided to do is to share this program with all of you over the coming months through my blog. Each week, I am going to explain, little by little, how this approach works, why it works, and I’m going to give you specific, actionable steps you can take each week to begin implementing this into your life.

I know it works because it’s not only worked for me, but it’s worked for the thousands of business leaders, professional sales reps, and personal friends I’ve coached and shared it with as well. And it will work for you, too.

I’m excited, and you should be, too. So stay tuned and be on the lookout for the first installment here next week.

Your life is about to get a whole lot better.

From Hero to Zero

Being in sales is kind of like being a professional football player…

In football, each result can either be celebrated (or not) for a very short time. If you win the game, you get about a day to enjoy the victory, and then it’s on to the next game where you need to win and prove yourself all over again.

Same in sales. Each month you shoot for a victory (making your numbers), and, if you hit them – great….for about a day. Because suddenly it’s a new month, and you have a new quota. What you did last month (or last game, if it’s football), doesn’t matter this month (or this week).

You may have been the top producer last month, a hero, but now you’re at zero again.

Years ago when I was struggling, this used to wear me out. Each month I’d barely do enough to keep my job – like a team going 8-8 – and then I’d be at zero again and have to climb back up the hill.

What happened for me – and what I wish for everyone that I work with – is that I made a commitment one day to get out of this constant struggle and learn how to perform like the top producers in my company.

Each month, the same three reps would win all the awards for being the top producers, and each time the new month would begin, they would already have deals on the board. Everyone in the company expected them to win, and win they did.

Kind of like the New England Patriots…

So if you are sick and tired of acting like Sisyphus (look it up if you don’t remember your Greek mythology), then make a commitment this year to do the things that other top producers do.

And that is really what it starts with: A commitment. The question you have to ask yourself this January is: Are you ready to do what it takes to finally change your career and your life?

I love what Bear Bryant (football coach) once said: “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

If you are willing to do the prep work it takes to succeed, then you can change your career.

If you’re not sure what (“prep work”) means, then pick up a copy of my book: Power Phone Scripts. In it, I list the “Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Performers.” Read that first section and commit to doing that work.

If you do, then soon you’ll find the fastest way to go from Zero back to Hero again – month after month!

And wouldn’t that make your 2018 better?

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.

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.

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.

The 5 Secrets of Motivating Your Sales Team

Having trouble motivating your team? You’re not alone.

Every member of your team has different skill levels, interest levels, and different ways of learning. Because of this, not everyone will respond the same way to your methods of managing and motivating, and that means you need different ways of motivating, mentoring, counseling, or even some babysitting.  Sound familiar?

Let’s face it: true motivation comes from within. In some way, each member of your team is already motivated. The secret (or five secrets) is to build on each team member’s internal motivation and learn to maximize it.

Here are five things you can do today to get the most out of your team —

#1) Make your monthly revenue goal, and each rep’s part of that goal, crystal clear. I’m sure you have a monthly revenue goal, but does each member of your sales team know what their specific part of that goal is? (Hint — it’s not all equal). Recognize that some reps will produce much more of the overall goal than others, but also make sure each person is clear on what their part of that overall goal is. And then coach to that.

#2) Make bonuses or prizes specific to each team member. The problem with most bonus programs is that as soon as they are released, over half of the sales team knows they can’t win so they are more discouraged than encouraged to produce. Instead, spend some time learning what each person would really want, and then customize each rep’s bonus and tie it to their individual production goal.

If a rep hits their goal, then they win something that is meaningful to them. This also makes each rep responsible for hitting their own goal.

#3) Get out of your own comfort zone and close some deals. Most managers are way too busy in meetings, or reporting, or just plain hiding out to be really effective. Remember one thing — as the manager, you are the leader. And leaders lead by example.

Want to motivate your team, make your numbers, and create real value for yourself? Go onto the floor and close business for some of your sales reps and help them make their revenue goals. This is the most important thing you can do not only for your bottom line, but for your team’s motivation as well.

#4) Invest $100 in a couple of trophies. This will be the best money you’ll ever spend — make one a “Week’s most improved,” or “Best effort,” and hand it out each Monday morning.

Each winner gets to keep it on their desk that week. The other trophy can be either “Most deals,” or “Most new clients.” or whatever other category everyone has a chance to win (as long as it is revenue related). Again, hand it out in your Monday morning sales meeting and each week the winner gets to keep it on their desk.

Remember rule #1 in motivating: recognition among peers is almost always more important than money.

#5) Have some fun! Go to a toy store and buy one of those beanbag tosses, and after lunch on Friday make some teams and have some fun playing as a team. Tack on $50 for good measure and watch the competition and fun build your team and dissolve stress.  This works – try it!

So there you have it. Inexpensive, proven techniques to build morale, motivate and make more money.

Want a bonus? Invest in and give each member of your team a copy of my new book: Power Phone Scripts.” See it here. In it, they’ll find scripts, techniques, email templates, voice mail scripts, and so much more that they can use to help motivate themselves.

Invest in them to help them invest in themselves. Now there’s a proven way to motivate your sales team!

How to Increase Your Closing Percentage

Let me ask you a question: Do all of your leads end up buying?

Of course not.

Next question: Out of ten leads that you set up to pitch a demo to, how many of those ten end up buying?

If you said “two” then you are at the industry average. Now consider what that really means: It means that out of ten closes you attempt, eight are not going to buy!

Now think about all the time and energy you spend trying to close a lead that is never going to buy anyway. Think about all the time and effort you spend following up, chasing, sending emails and leaving voice mails. It’s no wonder most sales people go home exhausted at the end of the week and are discouraged when they come into work on Monday and look at their list of prospects to call back…

I used to be one of those discouraged sales reps until I learned about disqualifying prospects rather than qualifying them.

This was a crucial attitude shift that changed my career. Think about it: 80% of sales reps are desperate to “fill their pipelines,” and will send out just about anybody with the pulse just so they have someone to pitch later on. Companies and sales managers train them in this way (“It’s a numbers game,” they claim.), and then sales reps spend their time chasing unqualified leads, getting rejected, practicing poor sales skills, and becoming discouraged.

It’s sad, but that’s how 80% of your competition spend their sales careers. This leads to poor morale, upset managers, and a lot of turn over.

Top sales reps, however, would never think of sending out unqualified leads, and instead eliminate prospects who don’t fit their strict criteria of a buyer.  Top sales reps would rather disqualify a lead than put barely qualified leads into their pipeline just so they have someone to pitch.

And because of this, top sales reps send out (or set up) the fewest leads (appointments, demos, presentations, etc.) in the office. But the important thing is they have the highest closing rates and their paychecks tend to be higher.

So what does “disqualifying” prospects really mean? It means pausing and questioning the “red flags” they get, rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away. It means having and following a “qualifying checklist,” and asking the tough questions about budget, buying motives, competition, timelines, decision makers and decision processes.

When a top rep is done generating a lead, they can tell you why the prospect will buy, what potential objections may come up, and in many cases they’ve already asked trial closes and can tell you when the prospect will buy and what the process will entail.

If you’re sitting at your desk right now, staring at a list of prospects you have to call back, then you know the difference between just setting appointments to pitch and disqualifying out the non-buyers and setting up truly qualified leads and demos.

And now you have a choice to make. You can either keep creating and chasing unqualified leads, or you can step up to the plate and start asking the tough questions and truly disqualify out leads that are just going to waste your time and not buy at the end of your demo.

The sooner you do that, the sooner your closing percentage will go up, your energy level and attitude will go up, and your income will go up. And that pretty much describes top sales producers.

Sorry, Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

Practice doesn’t make perfect,

only practice of perfection makes perfect.

–Anonymous

This is one of my favorite sayings, and I love to use it during training or during a speaking event. I ask the audience how many people think that practice makes perfect, and you should see the hands shoot up! Everyone has heard this saying since they were kids, and most people believe it is true. And you should see the look on their faces when I tell them it’s not.

As they slowly put their hands down, I tell them that practice only makes permanent. If you practice something wrong – a golf swing, a sales rebuttal, etc. – you’re going to get really good at doing it wrong. In fact, it will be easy for you to be bad at something automatically, you won’t even have to think about it!

Unfortunately, whenever I go into a company and listen to their pitch, or the way they handle objections, or open their calls, I hear it. Many sales teams, and sales reps, are practicing poor selling techniques over and over again. And because they get into the same situations over and over again, they just keep saying and practicing the poor techniques.

And this is why they don’t see the consistent results they want. Think about it: If your prospect tells you at the end of your demo that they need to talk to their partner or spouse before they can make a decision, the right response isn’t, “Okay, when do you think I can call you back?” That is practicing a poor selling skill, and the result is a lot of calls backs and chasing unqualified leads.

The proper response – and the way to practice perfection in this instance – is to isolate this stall by saying, “I understand and you should speak with them. And if, after you do, they tell you to do what you think is best, then based on what we’ve just gone over, what would you tend to do?”

By isolating this stall – rather than buying into it – you’ll soon learn that any answer other than, “I’d do it,” means that asking their so-called partner or spouse isn’t the real objection. There is something else holding them back, and until you uncover and deal with that first, then you are just going to get stalled by this objection over and over again.

Practicing poor selling skills has another danger as well. It also ingrains poor techniques and turns them into habits. And habits are very hard to break. In fact, when teaching a team new and better selling techniques, one of the biggest challenges is getting them to first “un-learn” their old, ineffective habits. While they may do well in the first week or two with the new approach I teach, soon, if they’re not diligent, they can drift back to their old habits and poor skills.

That’s why constant, ongoing work and commitment is required in the first 90 days to make sure they learn and adopt the new habit of a best practice technique.

The good news is that by concentrating on practicing perfection, you’ll not only get better results – and what better reinforcement is there? – but you’ll also develop better habits. Soon, if you really stay focused and keep practicing your new techniques, it will be easy for you to succeed in the selling situations and objections you get into over and over again. And then soon, it will be like you to do things well and become a top producer.

And that’s when selling become easy, and your career becomes much more rewarding.