Category Archives: Sales Tips

General Patton on Singleness of Focus

“You must be single-minded. Drive
for the one thing on which you have decided.”

–George S. Patton Jr.
U.S. Army General

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big multi-tasker. This is especially true at work. When I get in each morning, I look at my calendar of to do’s, and as soon as I get started on one task, my email beeps, and I take on something else. Next, my assistant reminds me of an article or email I need to write, so I start that as well. Then a client asks for something, and before long, I’m doing five things at once. The next thing I know, it’s 5 P.M., and I haven’t done any of my follow up calls, let alone prospecting. If you’re like many other professionals I know, you can probably relate.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking multi-tasking. In some applications, like straightening up my office or gardening, it’s great. But I learned a long time ago that in business – or any other major endeavor – having singleness of focus is crucial to being ultra-successful and accomplishing the goal that is going to give my life the most impact. And anytime I forget this, I pay for it. For example:

In my business as a consultant, I get approached by other companies and people all the time to resell or become a side vendor for their product or service. Years ago, I would divert my attention lots of times and plunge in, thinking I could develop another source of revenue for my consulting practice. Instead, what almost always happened is the moment I took my absolute focus off my core business – consulting and training – my income and the growth of my practice suffered.

A specific example of this is a company and service I love and still use called Send Out Cards. Some of you may know that it’s a direct marketing company (multi-level marketing), that creates and sends out customized greeting cards and gifts. When I was introduced to SOC, I knew at once what a great asset it would be for my business. It allowed me to create a customized campaign of cards that keeps me top of mind for prospects of my business. I signed up and started using it immediately (and still do).

When I signed up though, I also signed up as a distributor. Because I had a list of thousands of other business people who would benefit from using cards to keep them top of mind as well, it was a no-brainer that I become a reseller. So I plunged in. I spent time giving webinars every month, answered countless emails, had phone conferences and training sessions. My goal was to build a substantial downline and then sit back as thousands of dollars rolled in in residual income.

What happened was very different. As I took my attention and energy off my consulting business, my prospects dried up and my income went down. Soon, I was pulled in two different directions, and I wasn’t making much money from either of them! I realized that I needed to get back to my core business, and that I needed to put my sole focus on it. I did that, and after a few months, my prospect list was full, and I was booking lots of business again. What I learned is what General Patton is talking about in this quote: Pick one thing and focus and drive towards it. If you do, you’ll be successful at it.

I can point to countless examples of how important singleness of focus is: concentrating on school full time; committing to being a top producer when I was in sales; becoming a world class consultant/trainer in inside sales. Whenever I focus on just one thing – full time – I succeed quickly at it. Whenever I try to multi-task, however, or do two or three things at once, they all suffer, and I don’t make much progress.

I’ll end with Brian Tracy’s advice on goal setting: Make a list of ten super important goals for the next 12 months. After you have, look at that list and identify the one that, if you were to accomplish it, would have the greatest impact on your life and your future. Once you have identified it, throw the other nine away and concentrate, 100%, on the one goal that will mean the most for your life.

Just remember, multi-tasking is great for somethings, but for the big things, the life changing things, singleness of focus is the key to success.

Hard Work Pays Off: I’m So Annoyed My Father Was Right

“Hard work pays off. I am so
annoyed at my father for being
right about that.”

–Lena Dunham, actress

This quote sure struck a chord with me. I can still hear my own father telling me how important hard work was. He used to say, “There’s no substitute for hard work, Michael.” And he used to practice what he preached. He was always the first one up in the morning, around 5am, and he wouldn’t return until after 7:30pm. He would spend an hour or so chatting with my mom after dinner, and then it was time for bed.

As a young teenager, I followed his lead. I used to work the summer doing odd jobs for people, for $1.10 an hour, and when I was 16 years old, I got my first job at Jack in the Box. I saved my own money for my first car, and when I was 17 years old, I had three jobs after school and even moved into my own apartment. I worked my way through UCLA, but when I graduated and started my first inside sales job, something changed.

When I watched some of the top brokers at my new company make big money and saw them wearing nice suits and driving nice cars, I thought that after a few months on the phone, I had paid my dues and that I should have that, too. In fact, after making hundreds of cold calls, I felt I deserved it….

But that didn’t happen. After three months, I was struggling, and then resenting my lack of success. “Don’t you know who I am?” I thought to myself. “I’m a college graduate” (more than I could say about many of the reps there), and after three more months, I was secretly thinking that I could probably run the company.

Did they acknowledge me? Nope. So what did I do? I copped more resentments and started hanging out at the break room grumbling with the other bottom performers. As I was sneaking out early one Friday, my manager confronted me and read me the riot act. He told me I was never going to succeed if I wasn’t willing to work for it.

That weekend, after I got over my new resentment at him, I began thinking about what my father had always said. I began thinking about how hard he worked. I asked myself how hard I was working and how much time and effort I had been putting in. My honest answer was not very much.

When I got back to the office that Monday, I found that the top producers were already there and they had even written some deals already. When I was about to go home at 4:30pm, they were still there, in full swing. And that’s when it hit me: If I want to succeed, I’m going to have to work hard – a lot harder than I thought I already was.

Fast forward nine months later. After making a commitment, putting in the time, and putting in the effort, I became a top producer at that company. I was the first one in the office and the last to leave. And as I put my first deals on the board in the morning, I watched the bottom producers straggle in and head to the coffee and donuts. I watched them grumble that they hadn’t been promoted yet, that the good leads went to other people, and how hard the competition was.

After they had long left the office, I turned out the lights in the office, locked the door behind me, and got into my Mercedes. I was dog tired. Suddenly, I realized how my father must have felt each evening. I smiled to myself when I realized that he had been right all along….

A Kick in the Teeth May be Good for You

“You may not realize it when it happens,
but a kick in the teeth may be the best
thing in the world for you.”
– Walt Disney

When I read this quote, I immediately resonated with it. The kick in the teeth came for me when I lost one of the most important sales in my young sales career. While we never like losing a sale, sometimes when we do there can be some good that comes from it. There sure was the case for me. Here’s what happened.

I had been working as an investment broker for about two years, and I wasn’t very good at it. Sometimes I’d have a good month, and most other months were pretty bad. I was living paycheck to paycheck, and in between, I was living on my credit cards. In fact, my cards were maxed out then this occurred. I desperately needed a sale to pay my rent, and if I could close one that day, I could ask the boss for an advance so I had some spending money for the weekend.

Luckily, I had sent a prospectus to a solid client who purchased a share in every deal I sent him. And luckily again, we had a new deal that had just been released, so I Federal Expressed it to him and was anxiously looking forward to closing him. If he did his normal one unit in the new deal, I would earn $1,000 – just enough for rent money and $200 left over for the weekend.

It was a Friday, a hot day in late May, and I came into the office with a bit of a lightness in my step. I was feeling a mixture of hope, mild enthusiasm, and just a little bit of fear. Mostly, though, I was pretty sure my client would buy and that I would skate through another month of existence.

The appointed time came, and I dialed my client’s phone number and he picked right up. I told him I had been looking forward to speaking with him and asked if he had received the new program. What he said next was the kick in the teeth I hadn’t expected…

He said, “I did get it Mike, and after looking at it, I think we’re going to pass on this one. Give me a call on the next one.” Then he hung up on me.

Devastated, shocked, overwhelmed with dread, these and many other horrible emotions flooded me. I stood holding the receiver to my ear until the fast beeping came on. Slowly I hung the phone up, and my thoughts shifted to how I was going to pay the rent, put gas in my car for the weekend, etc. I was basically ruined.

I went for a long walk in the heat of the San Fernando Valley, and many things went through my mind like how did I ever get into sales to begin with; what I was going to do after I quit the job that day; what was going to be different for me at my next job; what was going to become of me….

And then another thought occurred to me. I thought that if I quit this job as a loser, then I’d just quit again if and when the going got tough at my next job. Then I started thinking of the top three producers at my present company, and thought of the nice cars they drove, the nice suits they wore, and about the houses they owned. And I realized that if they could be successful there, then I could too.

In fact, I made a commitment right then and there. I committed that I would learn and begin doing everything they were doing, and that I wouldn’t give up until I, too, had become a top producer. My mantra became: If they can do it, I can do it better. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I committed to working harder, investing time and energy (and money) in myself, and that I was going to do any and everything I could to succeed before I gave up.

Over the course of the next 90 days, I went from last place in sales production, to first place. I literally transformed my sales performance and my life. I did it with dedication and hard work. I was the first person in the office and the last to leave. I worked nights and weekends listening to my recorded calls and made adjustments to my scripts. I copied the techniques of the top producers and visualized phenomenal results. I was driven; I was willing.

I had experienced the kick in the teeth that is good for you, as Walt said. While it felt horrible to have that client not buy from me that day, I now know that if that if he had, I would have gone on living hand to mouth. I didn’t know it then, but when he said no, it was the beginning of a new commitment and a new life.

Today, when something doesn’t go as planned, I ask myself what I can learn, and how this can be good for me.

Apps for Recording Your Phone Calls

Years ago, Stan Billue – the top inside sales trainer at the time – made a claim that every sales rep could double their income in 90 days by doing one thing. Intrigued (and highly skeptical), I listened to what he said next, and then challenged myself to do it. His advice was:

Record and listen to your calls, every day, for 90 days.

So I did. And 90 days later, I had indeed doubled my sales, and my commission. I was sold on the technique, and have since made it the cornerstone of my training and consulting practice. Why? Because it works! Nothing will make you more aware of all the areas you need improvement in (or of exactly how to improve), more than listening to yourself in action with a prospect.

With many people using cell phones these days for at least a portion of the calls they make, I get many requests of the best way to record calls using a cell phone. I was reading The Week magazine the other day, and they listed the following “Best apps” for cell phone recording. I thought you’d want to know about them:

Automatic Call Recorder Pro really is “automatic. The app records either every call or those from specific contacts. “You simply set it and forget it while it records your calls in the background.” ($7 Android only)

TapeACall Pro is a recording app that provides “just about every feature you could want,” including savable MP3 files. The setup for each call takes a moment, and the app costs $10, plus $8 a year for unlimited recording. “But if you do a lot of recording, it’s well worth it.”

Call Recording by NoNotes is a free app that offers most standard features plus built-in voice transcription, making it handy for recording interviews.

Call Record might annoy you with its ads, but for a free app, it’s “about as good as you’re going to get,” and can record every call automatically. As with all recording apps, be alert to state laws restricting recording.

Source: Gizmomo.com

What Stan said all those years ago is still true today: If you want to double your income in 90 days, then make a commitment to recording and reviewing your calls every day. And now, with these apps, you no longer have any excuse not to.

Why the ‘will to win’ isn’t enough…

“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”  –Paul “Bear” Bryant, football coach

It took a long time for me, as a struggling sales rep, to understand the difference in attitude and action this quote speaks to. But once I did, my sales results (and my life) changed.

I used to be an inside sales rep, a financial broker selling LLC partnerships, in a company with 25 other reps. The company had the top 20% reps doing 80% of the sales. I wasn’t in that group, rather, I was bringing up the rear. Sales were hard to get, and as a result, my life as a sales rep was hard as well.

I wanted to do better; I had the will to win, but what I lacked was the will to prepare to win. I was one of the reps who came in right before my shift began, and I went for the coffee and donuts first. I hung around there talking about the latest sports scores with the other bottom producers. I couldn’t wait for lunch time, and by Friday, I didn’t work too hard.

After a series of events, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I made a commitment to give my profession as a broker all I could. I decided to do what was necessary for me to move into the top 20% of the producers at the company. And that’s when I learned what the ‘will to prepare to win’ meant.

To start with, I started showing up an hour before work began, and I headed straight to my desk to begin making calls. This began to pay off as some days I’d have a deal on the board before other reps headed for their coffee and donuts.

I spent my lunch hours listening to my calls and critiquing them. Yes, I was horrible in the beginning, but I was committed to finding ways to make them better. And I did.

At night before I went home, I took an extra half hour to lay out all my leads and call backs for the next day so I could hit the ground running when I got in. And then I’d listen to my calls in the car on the way home and make adjustments to the scripts during the evening.

Before I went to sleep, I focused my subconscious on closing the leads I had laid out, and I dreamt of ways to close them. I visualized how I would feel once I became a top closer, what I’d do with my first bonus check and how good that would feel as well.

After 90 days of doing this, I became the top producer in the company. Suddenly I knew the difference between the will to win and the will to prepare to win. I also found that I wasn’t alone. There with me in the mornings and in the evenings were the other top producers.

Today, I find that I can do just about anything if I’m willing to put in the time to prepare to win. You can too – if you’re willing to put in the time.

The question is, are you?

The Five Second Rule

Thoughts are things. As true as the law of gravity, this is one of the fundamental laws in the universe. Whatever you believe with feeling, you bring into your life.

And like gravity, you don’t have to believe in it for it to always be working in your life. Take gravity for example. If you were to step off a ten-story building, the law of gravity would take over and you would fall ten stories to the ground. Again, whether you believed in gravity or not.

And it is the same with the law of thought. Take your sales career, for example. Isn’t it true that what you think about your company, about the leads, about the market, and especially about your income is exactly how you find it to be in your life? Now you may say that you think about everything the way it is because, well, that’s the way it is at your job.

But what if it was that way because that’s the way you think about it?

My experience has been (and thousands of others I have worked with over the years), that when I decided to make more money, and was committed to putting in the time and effort required for me to achieve that goal, then I started thinking about things (and seeing them) entirely differently.

And as soon as I started thinking and believing differently, my results automatically changed to reflect my new way of thinking.

Suddenly the leads weren’t as bad as I thought they were; instead, I just worked them smarter and qualified better. Suddenly the market wasn’t the problem (there were still top producers outperforming all others in our company, after all), it actually was the way I had been closing. And once I visualized myself earning a higher income, I achieved it.

The key to my success and to using my thoughts to bring something new into my life, was to stay focused on the feeling of having already achieved it. The more I could consistently do this, the faster I manifested it in my life.

And that’s when I learned about the five second rule. I found that it was natural for me to fall back on my old thought patterns. But when I did, I gave myself five seconds to refocus on my new income goal. I kept returning, time and again, to my new goal and my new thoughts and feelings of having already achieved my goal.

By doing this, I was (and still am) able to bring new results into my life. And it’s because thoughts are things. Whatever you believe with feeling, you bring into your life.

If you want to change any result or circumstance in your life, then first decide how you want it to be different (get a specific goal), and then surround yourself with all the thoughts and feelings of what it will be like to achieve it. The moment you find yourself thinking of something negative or not in alignment with your goal, get back to that image within five seconds.

It will take some practice, but the more consistently you can change your thoughts, the sooner you will turn those thoughts into the things in your life.

We Can Do It!

Once you realize that you CAN do nearly anything anyone else is doing, and that you can succeed at a very high level doing it if you choose to make it a priority and decide to invest the time and effort to do so, your world of possibility opens up for you.

When I committed to becoming the number one sales producer in my company of 25 other sales reps, I achieved it in 90 days. Within 9 months, I was the number one producer out of five branch offices. And you CAN do it, too, if you choose to…

The exciting thing, though, is that a “can do” attitude is contagious. When you infect a whole team, a whole company, a whole family with a “can do” attitude, a lot of exciting things begin to happen. I always think of the impact one runner had on the world’s performance once he changed everyone’s attitude with his own accomplishment.

Many of you may have heard of Roger Bannister. He was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. This may not seem so remarkable now, but before May 6th, 1954, it was an acknowledged and accepted fact that the human body was physically incapable of running a mile in under four minutes. Everyone knew it was impossible to even try. But Roger didn’t believe it.

He knew he could do it, and he was determined to keep trying until he did. He failed at the 1952 Olympics (he came in fourth), but he didn’t give up trying. A few years later, on an unlikely day and track (poor weather conditions, cold day and a wet track), Roger shattered the world record, and the world belief, as he flew down the last straight and finished the course with the incredible time of 3:59.4.

He had done the impossible and broke through the 4 minute mile.

As amazing as this was, what was even more amazing for the world of running was that just 46 days later, a runner named John Landy beat his time. And over the next few years, even more people broke through the four-minute mark. Suddenly, people realized that it could be done and they believed they, they did it as well.

The world is filled with stories like this, and in business, it is also true. I remember when our team of inside sales reps were given new customized scripts and offered a huge monthly bonus for the rep who used them to capture the most new clients. The previous record was seven in a month. Marty, an average rep before the new scripts and contest, rigorously adhered to them, worked hard, and by the end of the month, he hit 21 new clients! We were all floored.

But once that new record was set, we began believing that perhaps we could do it, too. And some of us did.

If you are a leader of a sales team, athletic team or head of a family or cause, start believing that you can. Then transfer that belief to your team. If you do, then soon you will amazed by what your team can and will accomplish.

You Can Do It

Can you become a top sales producer?

We all know who the top sales producers are. Every company has them. If you look at all the producers in your company, I’m sure they are ranked in production from top to bottom. If your company is like most, there are probably even monthly or quarterly bonuses for the top revenue earners. Sales reps often ask me if I think they have what it takes to become a top sales producer, and I always answer that question with another question.

I’ll ask you that same question right now: Can you run a marathon? You know, a 26 mile marathon race? Just listen to what your mental answer was: yes or no. Some of you may be very athletic and some of you may even be runners, so that answer may be clear. But what about you? Can you run a marathon?

When I ask that question at a sales conference, the majority say no, they can’t. They think about the effort and endurance it takes; they think about the last time they tried to run; they consider their current physical shape and often their lack of an exercise routine. Once they consider all these things, it is easy for them to admit they just can’t do it.

After I ask this question, I then surprise everyone by telling them that they absolutely CAN run a marathon if they choose to. I tell them that they all have the ability to run a marathon and that the word “can” refers to the ability to do something. And you who are reading this right now can run a marathon, in other words, you have the ability to run one if you choose to.

The reason I know you can is because of the amazing people who are competing and finishing marathons right now. There is Fauja Singh who, at 100 years old, completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It took him more than eight hours, but he did it. Then there is Patrick Finney’s accomplishment. In 1998, this Texas software engineer woke up with numbness in his legs. Doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis. In 2004, he couldn’t walk any longer.

But Patrick didn’t give up. He committed to getting better, and with the help of medications and physical therapy, he learned to balance again, and after two years he entered and completed a marathon. He went on to finish 50 marathons in 50 different states – the first person with multiple sclerosis to do so. These are just two of thousands of other inspiring stories.

Now let me ask you a different way: If I told you that I would give you 1 million dollars to complete my favorite marathon – the December Honolulu, HI Marathon – and I’m talking 1 million dollars cash, after taxes, do you think you could do it? I’ll bet you’d start practicing tonight, wouldn’t you!

You see, the important thing is that can is an ability. You have the ability to run a marathon, even though you may choose not to right now. But you CAN. And you can do a lot of other things as well – like become a top sales producer at your company and in your industry. But you first have to believe that you can first.

Many people limit themselves, in every area of their lives, with a “can’t do” attitude. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested or not, what is important is that you can. Once your potential and ability is properly reframed in this way, your life becomes a choice. It is okay if you choose not to do something – I am not into playing cards, but I know I “can” play championship bridge; I just haven’t learned how yet because I’m not interested in cards. But I can!

Once you recognize and acknowledge your ability – and we all have a lot more ability and potential than we are using – that’s when your life becomes an awesome opportunity. You can achieve superstar performance in sales – others have, and you have the ability to as well.

You just have to decide if you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes.

But you can do it.

Tom Brady and Lessons for Sales

Whether you’re a fan of Tom Brady or not, you’ve got to agree he’s a winner. In fact, if he and the Patriots win this week’s Super Bowl, he will break the tie with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana of winning four Super Bowls. Tom Brady will have five, and he will be the best of the best.

There are lots of articles written about both Tom and coach Belichick, and the Patriots, and I read one last week that, yet again, provides a big lesson for all of us in sales.

The article talks about how, after a good practice, coach Belichick came down hard on Tom and admonished him to stop throwing so many times to his best receiver. Tom didn’t agree and pointed out that he was simply polishing his timing, but Belichick was adamant.

“Throw the ball to somebody else!” he said, in not so polite terms.

Just when Tom was about to object and let his ego take over, he stopped and took it in. “I’m the player and he is the coach,” was his attitude. And this is what makes Tom so great: He is willing to keep learning and keep growing.

The article said it best: “The Patriots’ best player likes to be coached the hardest.”

The reason this is such a good lesson for sales is that I coach and work with “players” – sales reps – all the time. And what I find is that the ones who make the most growth (and the most money) are the ones who are open to being coaching.

This contrasts sharply with those who insist on doing it their own way; those who remain stubborn and think they have it all figured out. While many of these sales reps are talented, smart, intuitive, and even motivated, what they lack is a willingness to take a step back and consider possibly better way.

Unfortunately, many professional football teams and elite athletes are resistant to coaching as well. In the article, coach Eric Mangini points this out by saying: “There is almost this stigma to being coached.” And:

“The head coach of another AFC club tried a similar tactic with his team this season, showing the entire team clips of mistakes by a handful of his best players. One recently paid veteran responded by standing up in front of the room and screaming at the coach.”

I used to be resistant to coaching as well. Years ago, I thought I knew it all and was resentful when my manager – who wasn’t on the phones and didn’t have to make the calls – tried to teach me a better way. It wasn’t until I became committed to performing better that I became willing to be coached.

But when I did, my sales and my career took off.

The lesson I hope you all take from this is that you can and will benefit from advice, suggestions, and coaching from other people who have been there and done that. It’s when you think you know it all that you stop growing.

Just like when Tony Robbins was starting out, he read and listened to and absorbed everyone else’s ideas in his field. He said that if he got just one good idea from them (and he got a lot more), that would help make his motivational training and career better.

And it worked out for Tony. And for Tom. And for me and countless other top professionals.

So my suggestion for you is: Who can you learn from today? What piece of advice or which technique, or which suggestion can you try to make yourself better? How open are you to being coached?

The moment you become willing, that is the moment you will begin improving.

(See the full article here.)

Sales Advice from Pablo Picasso

I read a great quote from Picasso (yes, the famous painter) the other day, and it really resonated with my sales philosophy. Here it is:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

You’re probably wondering what that has to do with sales, and it’s simple: Most sales rep’s instincts are to adlib when they get an objection or when they get into a sales situation that isn’t going their way.

The problem with this is they haven’t first learned the rules of proper objection handling – like questioning an objection first, or isolating an objection, etc. – so instead they just wing it. And if you are doing this now, then you know how that turns out.

For years, I’ve been preaching, teaching, and training sales teams to put in the time and effort to learn the proper sales techniques first, and then after they understand and have mastered the fundamentals, then they can “adapt” them to each particular prospect or situation.

Here is a quick example:

A common objection in sales is the, “I have to show this to my (boss, manager, partner, etc.).” How does your sales team handle this?

The “rule” a pro follows is to isolate this objection to make sure it isn’t a smokescreen hiding other objections like, “It’s too much money,” or “I can get a better deal elsewhere,” etc.

Because pros know the rule above, they can then “break it like an artist,” by adapting their rebuttal to each prospect. This can include:

“I understand, just out of curiosity, what is your take on this now?”

OR

“I’m with you, let me ask you this, though: If your partner says ‘do whatever you think is best’, what would you tend to do?”

OR

“If your partner could go either way, which way are you leaning now?”

OR

“That’s fine and we talked about this earlier. But given what we’ve just gone over, what is your opinion on this?”

OR

“And if your partner asked you what you thought he should do, what would your answer be?”

This is the “art” of handling objections. Unfortunately, most sales reps and sales teams have never been taught the rules or fundamentals of proper selling, so they adlib, lose sales, and get discouraged. And your company misses its revenue numbers.

It’s also the reason my business grows each year.

The solution to this is to invest the time, money, and effort to learn and master core inside sales techniques.

One easy and fast way to do this is to check out a brand new video training course called, “Essential Cold Calling Skills for Confidence and Success,” I created for Viddler Online Sales Acadamy.

You can see it here.

This course is made up of five video modules (about 5 minutes each), and each module teaches an essential prospecting skill which builds on the one before it.

Each module also comes with specific, scripted sales materials you can download to help you, and your inside sales team, master the essential cold calling skills they need for success.

So if you are ready to master the rules so you can work like an artist and attain top sales performance, then start here.

Remember, each and every investment you make in your sales team, pays for itself each and every month.