Monthly Archives: November 2012

Getting into Gratitude to Improve Your Sales

Let’s face it, sales can be a hard profession. If you’re on a commission only basis, then you know how easy it is to go from hero to zero at the beginning of each month as your quota starts over. You are constantly under pressure to make all kinds of numbers and metrics – number of calls, appointments, closes and revenues. If you’re in management, then you are also responsible for each team member and the goals of the whole department. If you’re an owner, then you often have the pressure of the board or the share holders to make your quarterly numbers or grow your market share.

What can make this profession especially hard is that it seems as if the battle to make all these numbers is fought one sale at a time, and each no you get takes a little bit from you and many no’s in a row can really bring your confidence down. So how can you stay positive and keep your attitude where it needs to be to keep picking up the phone, calling on those prospects and persevering to make a sale?

After years of struggling with these same challenges, I’ve found a reliable and consistent way to keep myself focused and smiling and dialing and contacting one prospect after the next. The great thing about it is that it costs no money, takes very little time, and I can do it anywhere and at anytime. It’s a method I never grow tire of, and, best of all, it always works to restore my attitude, my hope and my perspective. It’s called writing a gratitude list.

I was taught long ago that when things didn’t seem to be going my way, or if I felt like I wasn’t “getting mine” or if I began feeling sorry for myself, then it was time for me to stop and make a list of all the things I already had and to focus on how grateful I was to have them. I was told that many times we’re so focused on what we have to have next that we often forget to acknowledge and truly appreciate the things we already have and how fortunate we already are. Writing a gratitude list restores that appreciation and helps me to focus on the things that are truly important.

Writing a gratitude list is easy. You simply get a piece of paper, or make a list in a notes section of your smart phone or computer, and start with a number of things you’re going to list that you’re grateful for in your life. I’ve found that 25 items is a perfect amount for one sitting as it gets filled easily up to about 16, then I have to search deeper to find the other treasures in my life. If you think that you’d be hard pressed to find even 10 or 15 things you’re grateful for, don’t worry – once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how rich you truly are. Here’s a sample list to help remind you and get you started:

Often times I will break things down into categories to help prompt me. I always start with the most important thing of all, health. It’s interesting how I’m immediately grateful for the ability to walk, to see, or to do anything physical whenever I’m in public and I see someone in a wheel chair or disabled in some way. Instantly I’m reminded of how fortunate I am and of how I take such important things for granted. Spending a few minutes to really cherish my health has amazing positive benefits. I often list things like this:

1. I’m grateful for my total health today, and I’m reminded that as long as I have my health, I have hope. And hope is the start of everything.

2. I’m grateful I’m healthy enough to go to the gym, and that I can run, box, lift weights and get my endorphins going.

3. I’m grateful I can sleep at night and wake up without pain; that I am not enduring the challenges that a disease or diagnosis would impose on me and my loved ones.

4. I’m grateful that I can choose to eat a healthy meal; that I have food choices and abundant fresh water available to me and nearby whenever I want or need it.

5. I’m grateful for my Starbucks card :–)

As you can see, this can go on and on and sometimes does. Here are other categories in no particular order. Again, I use them as needed, and I expand and add to them regularly. Here is just a sample – by no means a complete list – of the things that might be included in each category. I’m sure that with just a little bit of thought you can add many of your items in each.

Work and opportunity:

6. I’m grateful that I have a job (or business) that gives me the opportunity to be of service and to make a living. If I’m in sales, then I have a company that provides me everything I need to succeed. They pay for the building, the rent, the products, the phones, the back office support, the training, the leads, etc.

7. I get paid to find people to be of service to! Wow, what an honor! My day always goes better when I remember that I’m here to find ways to help people rather than to get something.

8. Because I’m in commission sales, I can make as much money as I want! How fortunate am I? If I want a raise, all I have to do is find more companies or people who could benefit from my product or service and then meet them. Next year I could buy another home or car or move closer to retirement. Wow, I’m so blessed to have so much opportunity…

9. If I don’t have a job right now, then I have nothing but opportunity and I can do virtually anything I choose – the training, the colleges, the jobs, the opportunities are there for me to do anything I decide I want to do.

Family is always at the top of the list:

10. I’m grateful for my family and their health. I’m grateful for their love and support and the privilege I have to be in their life and the opportunity I have to add to their lives.

11. I’m truly grateful for the unconditional love I feel from my family.

12. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide for them the life I’ve had or didn’t have and for the opportunity to share in their lives as their futures unfold.

13. I’m grateful for the family get together this Thanksgiving and over the holidays. Though I may not always like them all on the same day, I do love and appreciate them for who they are and for what they add to my life.

This category and the ones before it can be a list of 25 items by themselves as you can see. We truly have so much to be grateful for. Here are 12 other random items that can also be expanded. As you read them, you might want to make a list of others that you think of as you go through them:

14. I’m grateful for my love of photography and for the wonderful cameras, books, and programs available to me.

15. I’m grateful to be alive in the beginning of the 21st century! I love technology and all the wonderful things it affords me.

16. I love my new iPhone 5!

17. I’m grateful for God and for my understanding of and relationship with Him.

18. I’m grateful for having my own business and for the freedom I have to take an occasionally half day on Friday and sneak off to the movies to see the new James Bond film on opening day!

19. I’m grateful I have a roof over my head and that my family didn’t have to endure days and nights without electricity or suffer the loss of life and home as many others did during hurricane Sandy.

20. I’m grateful I can contribute to the relief effort simply by picking up my phone and texting to the Red Cross or by visiting their website: https://www.redcross.org/

21. I’m grateful for my goals and plans for 2013 and for the opportunities to achieve them.

22. I’m grateful for the wealth of great books, CD’s, and other programs that keep my attitude focused on what’s possible.

23. I’m grateful for the NFL! I can’t wait to be at our local sports bar cheering on my surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

24. I’m grateful for the unconditional love from the pets in my life.

25. I’m eternally grateful that I have the awareness and ability to stop and write a gratitude list like this…

Now I don’t know about you, but I already feel So Much Better. And I felt pretty good before I wrote this list! For me, the real magic of writing a gratitude list is that it takes the focus off of “what’s in it for me” and “where’s mine?” and puts it back where it should be – on what I can do for you. You see, when I take just a few minutes to acknowledge how truly rich and blessed I am right now, it’s so much easier to want to share this attitude with others. It’s so much easier to truly want to help others rather than to get something by closing a sale. And developing an attitude of giving rather than getting is what makes everything I do so much more rewarding.

Your 4-Step Plan for Prospects Who Aren’t Calling You Back

We’ve all got a pipeline full of them: prospects who sounded good in the beginning, but now there’s no news from them. Are they still interested? Have they found another solution? Was it something we said or is the price too high or have they changed their mind? Who knows – they simply aren’t responsive. So what should you do?

The first thing you should do is relax. Take a deep breath. Just because they haven’t gotten back to you doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t still interested, nor does it mean they aren’t going to still be a deal. Some won’t, but some still will. It’s frustrating, I know, but there are a couple of things to understand and to do so let’s take it from the top:

#1: The first thing you need to remember is that prospects buy according to their schedule – not yours. As a sales rep, I know you want, no, you need the deal today. We all do. But your prospect usually isn’t under the same urgency as you are to get the deal done. There are many other initiatives, activities, people, processes, etc, they are dealing with and your product or service is just one of many things they have on their plate. So again, don’t take it personally, just relax and plan your next move.

#2: Your next move should be the one you both agreed on during your last conversation. You did make a firm appointment for your next conversation, didn’t you? This is rule of engagement number one, so if you’re not in the habit of doing that, please begin today. If you did make a firm appointment and they missed it, then send a gentle email acknowledging that they must be as busy as you are and you understand. Do not be accusatory, don’t assign blame and don’t under any circumstance sound hurt or make them feel guilty. Instead, be professional and use something like the following:

Subject Line: Our meeting

John,

So sorry we missed each other today – I know how time can get by us. When you have a moment, please shoot me an email back suggesting some better times later this week or next that would be better for us to connect.

You can either respond to this email or leave me a quick message here (your number).

Looking forward to hearing back,

Mike Brooks

#3: Talk to secretaries, assistants or others in their department. If possible, always form a relationship with anyone else answering the phone or working in the same department as your prospect. When you next attempt to reach them, ask that other person what your prospect’s schedule is like and what’s going on with the department or company. Using this method, I’ve found out that some of my prospects were travelling for two weeks, or they were at company conferences, or on vacation, etc. Once I learn this, I reference this in my next email attempts to reach them.

The best rule of thumb is to acknowledge what your prospect is going through and to never pressure them. Always let them set the best time/days to reconnect. If you are persistent and respectful in this way, real prospects will always get back with you and let you know.

#4: If you have been patient in the ways described above and a month or so has gone by and you’ve still not heard from your prospect, then it is time to use the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” email I’ve written about before. Remember, the power of this email is that you are giving your prospect a way out with option number two and this will almost always get them to respond to you. It may not be the response you want, but believe me, if your prospect has found another solution or won’t be a deal, it’s always better to know it and move on. Here’s the email for you in case you missed it:

Subject line is: “Should I stay or should I go?”
“_________ I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1) You’ve already chosen another company for this and if that’s the case please let me know so can I stop bothering you,

2) You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.

3) You’ve fallen and can’t get up and in that case please let me know and I’ll call 911 for you…

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry… Thanks in advance, and I look forward to hearing back from you.”

Following these four steps should restore you to sanity in regards to your sales cycle. Remember, closing a sale is a process and you must let it unfold in the way that best suits the buying habits of your prospect or client. Don’t be desperate, don’t pressure, and don’t let your prospect see you sweat. Instead, use the four steps above to deal with the process professionally and confidently. That attitude will come across to your buyer and they will respond accordingly.

How to Improve a Bad Script

If you missed my workshop on writing a killer prospecting script last week, then you missed a golden opportunity to take an ineffective script and turn it into a script that engages your prospects and helps you build the rapport you need to determine whether or not you’re dealing with a true buyer for your product or service. (The good news is that you can purchase a replay of the workshop by clicking here).

One of the things we did in the workshop is we began with a typically bad scripted opening, and we changed it into an opening that creates interest and allows you to interact with your prospect. Here is the example we used for a bad opening (by the way, this is a real example of how bad some company’s scripts actually are – I hope yours isn’t like this!):

“Hi my name is _______ _______ with ABC Merchant Solutions and we work with local business owners such as yourself and we help you process your credit cards more efficiently while also offering a host of value added services such as gift cards, reward cards and other services that can help you operate more profitably.

The reason for the call is that I would like to schedule an appointment to find out who you are using now and to show you the kinds of services that we can help you with. Would you have time later in the week or is there a day next week that may work better for you?”

Whew! This script is terrible because (among others things) it doesn’t make any connection with the decision maker – in fact it alienates them; it pitches at the prospect giving them no opportunity to respond or engage; and you can just feel the prospect waiting for the sales rep to take a break so they can blow them off.

Again, this is how many prospecting scripts are structured. In the workshop, we changed this opening to this:

“Hi __________ this is ________ ________ with ABC Merchant Solutions, how is your Thursday morning going so far?

[Listen and respond appropriately!]

Briefly __________, we specialize in working with local businesses like yours helping them process credit cards more cost effectively. Let me ask you a quick question…”

This new opening is much improved for many reasons. To start with, the sales rep is engaging in a conversation and is actually speaking with someone instead of ‘at’ someone. They are also allowing time for the prospect to interact which allows them to gage the level of interest of the prospect. The value statement is short – just one sentence – and it ends with a qualifying question which once again allows the prospect a chance to speak and the rep a chance to listen to what and how the prospect responds.

We followed this up with a list of four sample questions (of course there are many others and many different kinds of questions depending on how receptive the prospect is and what your product or service is). Here is a list of sample questions:

“Besides accepting credit cards at your business, do you offer any kind of a rewards cards or gift cards to your customers?”

OR

“You do accept credit cards there at your business, don’t you?”

OR

“If I could show you a way to increase your revenue right now and offer you better service and support, would you be willing to invest 5 minutes to find out how?”

OR

“How do you currently process the majority of your credit cards – there in the store or do you also do business online?”

By asking questions like this early in the process, the sales rep can develop a consultative sales approach, build rapport with the prospect, determine their level of interest, get valuable information on what direction to go in next and a lot of other information that most reps never get. This approach also sets up the next part of the script which involves handling any initial resistance or objections that may come up.

In addition to this first part of the script, we then moved on to other qualifying, exploratory questions, additional objection handling, and then we moved into the importance of qualifying for the “big four” areas of identifying a qualified lead. We then completed the call defining a commitment and recap and then proceeded to get buy in on the next steps.

These (and other areas) make up the definition of a qualified lead. It’s still amazing to me that many sales reps use ineffective scripts that are almost devoid of any true qualifying questions, but they do. In fact, we also had a discussion on how most sales companies have the philosophy of stuffing as many leads into their pipeline as possible and seeing how many come out the other end. This is why the national closing percentage is roughly 2 out of 10 leads (and that’s of leads that have supposedly been qualified and sent information!).

I know this is all sounding like a shameless endorsement of you purchasing the replay of this invaluable webinar, and, well, OK, it is! The bottom line is this: If you’re not using proven and effective methods and processes to earn the right to speak with decision makers and you don’t know how to build rapport and qualify them when you do, then you’re simply not going to make many sales in your business. In fact, you’ll struggle and end up hating your job (or wonder why your company isn’t succeeding). And that can easily be changed by investing a little bit of money and time in learning better techniques.
Eighty percent of sales reps will never do this, but 20% will. And it’s that 20% that end up making all the money and living the life that others only dream about. I’m here to tell you that you can get better and move into that elite group, too, if you really want it.

If you do, you can start here.