Artificial Intelligence AI & Sales Automation Software Tools Platforms

AI and Inside Sales: 3 Things You Need to Know Now
By Mike Brooks, http://mrinsidesales.com/

How emerging artificial intelligence is affecting business, marketing by assisting the inside and outbound sales process via automation tools and leads software for Salesforce from the People AI platform

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sales Automation Software Tools Platforms are Affecting Inside and Outbound Sales

Quick: Can you tell me, in three sentences or less, exactly what AI is and how it is going to impact your sales career or company?

If not, then don’t feel bad. It’s kind of like when the word “cloud” started being used to describe cloud-based computing. No one really understood it, and even fewer people trusted what they heard about it.

Welcome to that moment again, only different. Today, technology is much more accepted, and technology and sales are inseparable. I mean, can you imagine doing your job without a CRM system? How about access to social media? If you’re a manager, can you do your reporting and metrics measurement without the host of intelligence tools measuring call times, funnel stage reviews, etc.? Probably not…

And so welcome to the future, I mean, present! If your head is still in the clouds (sorry, I just couldn’t help the pun) when you hear the mention of AI then this article is for you.

Here are three things you need to know about AI:

#1: What is AI?

A.I. (artificial intelligence) as applied to the sales environment means that many of the tasks you currently do as sales reps (and managers), can now be further automated and expanded to explode your effectiveness and even predict your sales results. This means improving on (and eliminating even) tasks like putting emails and communication notes into your CRM, or prioritizing leads, or combing through notes and deciding who the “hottest” leads are.

AI can now do all this—and a lot more. AI (as the name suggests), can even tell you which of the leads (in your entire database) are likely to be a deal. Here’s a quote from Lynne Zaledonis – SVP, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce:

“When you sell into a company, you have to go back and read through all of the past deals that were lost or won — and there are typically a lot of them. AI helps you to have any or all of that information at your fingertips — and to analyze it. For instance, AI can automatically synchronize — and natural language processing can review — all of the calendar entries and emails as part of the millions of data points it uses to make potential recommendations. All those data points are what you use to find the right lead to call or to close a current deal. Imagine not having to do the dirty work because AI surfaces the predictions that you just can’t do yourself. Now that you’re armed with all this information, you can approach the deal differently and with greater likelihood or success.” (See full article here.)

Bottom line, it is in your best interest to learn more about the capabilities of this amazing confluence of sales automation and smart technologies and find the best way to use it to crush your competition—before they crush you.

#2: Who are the leading companies in the AI environment and how are they different?

Okay, so you’re sold that there may be some application to your own company or sales environment, what now? Now you need to know who some of the leading companies are that have already harnessed AI and determine which one does what best.

For example, some companies, like Nudge, leverage AI to source news and social updates and filter/deliver this huge amount of information directly to you so you can quickly and efficiently use it to make more strategic sales calls.

Others, like People.ai help improve the visibility and effort of the sales team by identifying where they spend their time. It uses this info to then identify stagnant deals, and gives warning alerts about deals that are slowing down, etc. Useful to know, wouldn’t you say?

For a list of other leading AI companies, and what they specialize in, click here.

#3: Will AI finally eliminate cold calling?

Short answer? No.

Remember when “Sales 2.0” came out and all the pundits claimed, “Cold Calling is Dead!” Remember what happened next? Your manager told you to spend 5 minutes on LinkedIn and then pick up the phone and make a cold call….

Same thing will happen here. Will you have more data on your leads? Sure. Will you have reached out to them through more channels like email, voice mail, text, social media, video emails, etc.? Sure. Will you not have to pick up the phone and qualify and sell? Nope.

So, guess what? You are sill going to have to get really good at the profession of sales (better even), and if you want to get ahead of the AI curve, you’d better start today. A great start is having 500+ current, effective, and proven word-for-word scripts, questions, and phrases to open and close more sales.

If you think that sounds like a good idea, then click here. Get a copy for your entire sales team. This the best resource to use while you’re getting ready for the AI sales revolution to transform your company—once again.

How to Work Anywhere in the World

Lately, I’ve received quite a few emails and phone calls from people asking me if I can help them find a phone sales job they can work anywhere in the world. I spoke with a woman last week who, apparently, has a lot of experience in inside sales, is used to working on a short-term contract basis, and wanted to know if I had any contacts with companies who could use her services. She wants to work from Paris.

Just today, my assistant forwarded me an email from a guy who asked this same question: did I know of any companies who were looking for remote inside sales reps. More and more people are wanting the flexibility to work from wherever, and, presumably, whenever they want, and why not? A couple of years ago, my wife and I took a condo on Waikiki Beach, HI, for two months. I worked in the mornings and by noon I was at the beach. It was pretty sweet.

So, is it possible to earn a living selling over the phone while enjoying the flexibility of working from where ever you want to? And, perhaps as importantly, is it possible to work less than 40 hours a week (or on a schedule that works for you) and still make enough money to enjoy the lifestyle you want?

I’d say, yes…but.

In order to pull this off the way you might want it, you have to get really, really good at selling over the phone first. And you need to have the self-discipline to maintain an independent, structured work day. Let’s break this down quickly:

First, there are only a few really good, top producers in any company. These reps can literally write their own ticket because their employers value what they produce so much. If they want to do what they do from home or from Paris, with today’s technology, most of them can. Moreover, they usually don’t have to look for an industry or company to work for, because they are already successful doing what they do.

Unfortunately, not all sales reps are that good (or haven’t put in the time to get that good yet). For the majority of sales reps like these, they could still conceivably work remotely, but it will be closely controlled, and they will make just an hourly wage (if they can find it). Not quite the freedom to explore Paris that we’d all imagine…

The solution is to first dedicate yourself to becoming the one of the best producers in your company or industry. If you can’t do that, then your options will be limited. But once you’ve attained that level, then you’ll have your pick of industries to work in.

Here’s a big suggestion for you: Pick an industry that has recurring income. Three industries I can think of are debt collection, credit card processing, and financial services. In these (and other) industries, once you develop a book of business, you spend a lot of your time maintaining that book (and enjoying the flow of consistent income) and working referrals.

Next, you need to be self-motivated and very disciplined. Only you can determine if you can do that. I’ve found that very few people can (mostly the 80% of sales reps who are selling to pay their bills), but that the top 20% producers can.

Again, this is something you’ll need to answer for yourself. If you can develop the structure and maintain the discipline it takes to work from a home office, then go for it—after you’ve become a top producer.

So, can you work remotely? Absolutely! You’ll just have to pay your dues first by following the advice above. After that, well, enjoy Paris (or surfing Waikiki)!

Objections: 5 Things You Need to Do Now

I was on the “Sell or Die” podcast with Jeffrey Gitomer a couple of weeks ago, and he asked me a good question. He said this question would cause me to think a bit and then he asked, “Mike, how many objections are there?”

That did cause me to think. After a moment, I told him that while there are a lot of variations of objections, in truth there are really only a few. And he agreed. Jeffrey said that once he was training onsite and he asked the manager that same question, and the manager replied, “There are a hundred different objections!”

Jeffrey then challenged him with, “I’ll bet my entire fee there are no more than 15, and if there are less than 10, you double my fee.” After going through them with this manager, there turned out to be just 12.

And that’s been my experience as well. Whenever I’m onsite with a company, I brainstorm with the team to identify all the objections they get. They rarely can come up with more than 5-7 for prospecting and about the same amount for the close.

So given this truth (and I’m sure once you think about your own situation you’ll agree), I can give you 5 things you need to know how to do to anticipate, prevent, deal with, and overcome them. Here they are:

1) As I write about in Power Phone Scripts, the key to dealing effectively with objections is to recognize that there are a finite number of them (about 5-10). And you’re going to get these same ones over and over again. So you need to anticipate them.

Be prepared for them with an effective, best practice approach or script. In fact, write out three or four responses to the most frequent objections you get, learn them, and use them over and over again.

Sounds easy, I know, but you would be amazed by how many sales people still won’t take the time to do this. If you will, however, you’ll increase your success rate and your confidence exponentially.

2) Prevent them. At the end of your presentation, two of the biggest objections and stalls are, “The price is too high,” and “I need to talk it over with…”

These two objections should have been uncovered and dealt with during your prospecting call. These should have been qualified for and you should know in advance what the decision process is like, and if this fits within their budget.

If you don’t, then weave these kinds of qualifying questions into your prospecting script and never encounter them again.

3) Know when to deal with objections. My mentor taught told me there were three times to deal with objections: When they come up, later in the presentation, or never.

You need to decide which time is best for you. If you deal with them when they come up, you’re likely to lose momentum and give control over to your prospect. If you delay them until the end, (“I’ll cover that in just a few minutes”) then you can buy yourself some time and the objection might even go away. And if you don’t answer it at all, sometimes you’ll find that the prospect doesn’t bring it up again.

When you decide to handle an objection depends on many things, and you can probably tell when the right time is. Just know you have options.

4) Know how to deal with an objection. One of the biggest mistakes people make is they rush to answer an objection. That shouldn’t be your first approach. Instead, always get into the habit of questioning an objection and make your prospect work to answer and clarify it.

Doing so often allows you to get more information about what the real objection is, and often times your prospect—in explaining it—will give you the seeds to answer it. Simple statements could be, “Really? Why is that?” or “What do you mean by that?” or “Why is that important to you?” or my favorite, “Oh?”

5) Be ready to go to work when you get an objection. The final thing I want to share from my podcast with Jeffrey is when we both talked about how the sale starts when you get an objection. In fact, I shared that I was taught that the sale doesn’t start until you’ve received 5 objections!

Compare that to how you handle objections today. Do you tend to give up after one objection? How about after two? Bottom line is that if you’re not prepared with a best practice approach (a script!) of what to say when you get objections, then you’re probably not ready to stay the course and keep closing until you win the sale.

Think about the 5 points above, and compare your own methodology to handling objections. If you need to change something to fit these 5 points then do it. You’ll close more business as a result.

And finally, check out the upcoming Sell or Die podcast to hear the interview in near future (August 8th). You’ll enjoy it and learn a lot.

Cold Calling Sucks—But Only if You Suck at It

There is a lot of talk these days about how cold calling sucks. And I agree—it can be brutal. When I started my career in the financial industry, I had to make more than 150 cold calls every day. Sometimes, I’d be so beaten up by 11 am that I just wanted to go to lunch and never come back!

I knew that if I continued like that, I wouldn’t make it in sales, and I knew that something needed to change. What I finally figured out was that the top reps in the company didn’t mind cold calling. In fact, they actually “smiled and dialed.” I soon learned that cold calling sucked because I sucked at it. And I became determined to change that…

What I learned, and part of what I teach now, is that to get good at cold calling—or prospecting, or whatever you want to call it—you have to invest some time and energy and, yes, even some money. Here are three things you can begin doing now to get better at prospecting:

Number One: Invest in some sales material to help you instantly get better. Face it: you’re not alone in having to prospect for a living, and many others have been there and done that. Why not leverage what they have discovered to make calling easier?

There are plenty of good books on theory out there, but if you want to actually get better on your next phone call, you’re going to need actual word-for-word scripts. Best place to start?

Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-For-Word Questions, Phrases, And Conversations To Open And Close More Sales. Get it here.

Number Two: Start thinking about helping people rather than selling them. I learned years ago that the people I was calling were actually just people—just like me. Once I took a genuine interest in building rapport with them, learning about them, listening to them, and making a connection, I did much, much better. And I enjoyed my work more.

Take a hint I’ve given people over and over again and record yourself. When you listen to yourself, ask: how well do you actually listen to people? If you’re like many sales reps, you may be talking over people, or just waiting for them to take a pause so you can start pitching. Nothing will turn someone off quicker than that. People can tell when it’s all about you or if you’re truly interested in them.

Learn to use your MUTE button when someone is talking, and force yourself to pause after you think they are done talking. Use the “1,2,3 alligator” pause after they finish talking before you begin.

Listening is the most important thing you can do to get better—start practicing this today.

Number Three: Put a smile on your face. Get a mirror and look into it before you pick up the phone. People can tell if you’re smiling, and you’ll transfer that energy to your prospect. People can also tell if you are tense, angry, or in a hurry to pitch.

I know it sounds corny, but trust me: the $4 you’ll spend on a mirror will go a long way to improving your phone presence while prospecting…

Don’t underestimate the impact these three tips will have in improving your cold calling. If you think prospecting sucks, then I’ll wager that you kind of suck at it. That can change if you’re committed to getting better. If you’re in sales, then I hope you are, because you’re going to be making a ton of prospecting calls over the life of your career.

So what are you waiting for? Get busy. Order a book of phone scripts, get a mirror at CVS at lunch, and listen to a phone call on your afternoon break. If you do these things, you’ll be better at cold calling by tomorrow.

Sales Management: The One Metric That Matters Most

Greetings from Chicago! I’m here this week presenting at the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Leadership Summit. If you’re attending the Summit, then make sure and say hello to me.

And if you’re in the city, then stop by and join the breakout session I’m giving tomorrow, Wednesday, at 4:15 pm in the Mayfair room, entitled: The Sales Manager: Seven Crucial Skills Every Inside Sales Leaders Needs Now.

If you’re in sales leadership or in a direct sales management role, you’ll learn a ton of useful strategies and tools to help your team produce more and be more confident. I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

One of the “Seven Crucial Skills” I’ll be speaking on has to do with metrics. And the one metric I’ll be speaking about is the one that is the most important one for driving sales and making revenues. I wonder if you can guess what it is?

If you’re in management, then there are lots of metrics to choose from. Companies measure all kinds of things these days—number of phone calls, connect rates, presentations set, leads in the funnel, etc. With technology the way it is, there is no shortage of ways to break processes down and measure them.

But are you measuring the most important one? As you’ll learn today (and I’ll go into more detail tomorrow in my presentation), if you’re not measuring exactly how your reps are performing on the phones during their calls with prospects and clients, then you’re missing out on the most important metric of all.

When I say measuring how your reps are performing, I mean, of course, grading each part of both their prospecting call and/or their presentation calls. You do this by listening to their recordings and literally grading adherence to your best practice, scripted approach. For example, on the prospecting or cold call, did your rep:

  • Handle the gatekeeper professionally and get put through to the decision maker?
  • Make a connection with the decision maker and build instant rapport?
  • Deal with any resistance blow off statements with a best practice approach?
  • Give a quick value statement and give the prospect a chance to interact?
  • Engage the prospect so they didn’t feel pitched at?
  • Qualify the prospect thoroughly, discovering things like buying motive, decision process, timeline, etc.?
  • Set a specific follow up call and a follow up action?
  • Fill out a qualifying checklist?

As you can see, many of the regular metrics (listed previously) don’t drill down to this level of detail, but it is preciously this level of detail that determines how successful a rep will be in making a sale.

If you’d like to know more about how to get this information, and how to measure it, then either attend my breakout tomorrow, or reach out to me for coaching.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow!

Building Rapport – It’s the Little Things That Matter Most

We’ve all been there: you’re in the middle of something and your phone rings and it’s a sales person calling. You know instantly how the call is going to go just based on the first few sentences the sales rep utters. And if you listen for just 2 minutes longer, your hunch is confirmed – it’s either a “good” call or a “used car salesman” call. And unfortunately, many calls these days sound like the latter.

So what can you do to instantly make your calls better? It all starts with focusing on building rapport. Rapport is simply defined as making a true connection with the person you are speaking with, rather than treating them as a prospect you can sell your product or services to. Ultimately, it’s about treating your prospect with respect, you know, the way you would like to be treated.

So how do you do it? It’s easier than you think if you concentrate on the little things. Below you’ll find a quick list of things that may not seem that important, but that make a giant difference in the way you are perceived as a caller. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these things you do regularly, and what you can begin doing better on your next call.

Working with the gatekeeper: The most important thing you can do when speaking with the gatekeeper or receptionist, is to be pleasant and courteous. I always recommend that you keep a mirror on your desk, and when the receptionist answers the phone, you look into it and check your facial expression. Are you smiling? Are you frowning? Are you wincing? Your attitude will be written on your face, and that attitude will be conveyed across the phone.

And the gatekeeper feeds off your attitude. If you’re bright and cheerful, it will pick him/her up, too. If you’re not – well, you probably already know how that goes. So concentrate this week on making sure that your attitude is contagious – because it is. And by the way, this goes for when you reach the decision maker as well.

Next, be courteous. I’ve written about this before, so just a quick reminder: Use please and thank you, and if you ask how their day is going, make sure and comment on it before you rush into what you’re calling about. Don’t just ask as a formality – that’s phony and the receptionist can tell. And, as always, use an instructional statement rather than a closed ended question at the end.

Working with the decision maker: All of the tips above apply here, too, but here’s something specific: If you ask the DM how they are doing, or how their afternoon is, or if it’s still raining (or hot) there, then if they ask how you are, always reply with, “Thanks for asking, I’m…” In other words, answer them back and engage them a bit. You don’t have to rush into your pitch—in fact, it’s much better if you don’t. Building this little bit of rapport will get you much further. So take a few seconds to interact, respond, and be polite.

Next, before you give your value statement or reason for the call, preface what you’re about to say with a softening statement. So many reps just barge right in and that’s an immediate turn off. It’s much better to say something like, “I know you’re busy so I’ll be brief,” or “We haven’t spoken yet, so I’ll respect your time today,” or “I just have a quick question for you…” and then ask it. Again, build rapport by softening your pitch, and then give your prospect a chance to engage with you.

And here’s the last little tip today: keep your value statement short. I’m talking no longer than two sentences. After you do, get to a question immediately! Doing so will allow your prospect to engage and start talking, and when they are talking, you are learning. Plus, if it’s not a good time—or if they want to blow you off—this will give them an opportunity to say so. If it’s not a good time, you can qualify quickly and set a better time, and if they try to blow you off, you can use a good rebuttal.

Either way, giving your prospect a chance to interact with you builds rapport and lets them know you’re not going to be a used car salesperson, rather, you’re there to interact, make a connection, and truly listen to what they have to say. And isn’t that the kind of person you’d like to speak to?

Try these little tips this week and see how many more people you get to have meaningful conversations with. There will be more than you might think.

I Doubled My Income in 90 Days Using This Technique

Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? I mean, who can double their income in just 90 days?!

Those were my thoughts when I first heard the top inside sales trainer at the time, Stan Billue, claim that if you followed this one technique, you would do just that. I was struggling at the time, and out of 25 sales reps in my company, I was 23. Life wasn’t very good back then. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, so when I heard Stan make this claim, I was all in.

He also said something else: He said that even though this was a simple and proven technique, 90% of sales rep would not follow through and do it. I thought that was just crazy. Who wouldn’t want to double their income in 90 days? And secretly, I thought, if I increase my sales by just 50% it would be worth it. What I’ve come to find out in my long sales career is that he was right—most sales people don’t follow this powerful technique.

Here’s what it is: Make a commitment today to record your calls each and every day for 90 days, and listen to some of them, analyze them, and make a commitment to improving each and every day in the areas you hear need improvement in.

When I first started doing this, it was pretty painful listening to myself, and listening to all the things I was doing wrong. Here is a brief list of what I learned:

  • I talked over prospects.
  • I sounded like a salesman.
  • I didn’t build any real rapport.
  • I completely mishandled the gatekeeper (it was no wonder I rarely got through).
  • I didn’t listen to my prospect’s tone or to whether they were open or annoyed—I just barreled on.
  • I wasn’t following any kind of script; I was adlibbing it big time and it sounded like it.
  • I didn’t sound professional at all – too many ums, and uhs, etc.!
  • I didn’t qualify my prospects and instead just set unqualified appointments, and I wondered later why they didn’t close.
  • I didn’t set a scheduled appointment for the next call, nor did I set an expectation for that call on the rare occasions when I did set one.

And these were just some of the things I found wrong! What I also realized was that if I kept performing this way, I would never improve my results. And what I’ve found in 30 years in sales leadership and consulting is that the majority of sales reps and sales teams are making these same fundamental errors over and over again, and that’s why they continue to struggle.

To illustrate this, just last week I was asked to be a guest coach with a company called ExecVision (a call recording software company) on a webinar called, “Call Camp.” During this webinar, I listened to and critiqued sales rep’s actual calls. I highly suggest you listen to the recording of this webinar. Listen to the Call Camp recording here.

As you’ll see, the sales reps are making many of the errors I used to make. As you listen to the program, ask yourself: How many of these errors are you or your team making?

So, what to do about it? Take Stan’s advice above. Start recording and critiquing your calls today. If you need help recording your calls, for instance, if your phone system doesn’t allow you to record calls, or if you’re making calls using a cell phone, then here is a great solution to help you record all your calls easily: See the recording program here.

If you have questions about the legality of recording calls for your state, then check this article out by Steve Richard of ExecVision. You’ll learn everything you need to know.

Bottom line, you now have no reason not to record your calls. And if you do, you’ll put yourself in a position to double your income within 90 days. The only question now is whether or not you’re in the 10% group of motivated, committed closers who will do this.

If you are, get ready to earn more money – a lot more.

Why Motivation Isn’t Enough

As the next week rolled around, I was very motivated to meet with my boss and find out what the missing ingredient to performance was. I had spent a few weeks identifying all the things I could do – that I had the ability and potential to do – if I choose to. And during the last week, I explored many areas where I had a lot more knowledge, and even training, than my results in those areas showed. I now had a strong desire to learn what was holding me back, and, as I said, I was motivated to finally learn how to use more of what I had.

This led me to think I knew what was missing: motivation. I obviously had lacked the proper motivation or a strong enough desire to put my ability and knowledge to use. I couldn’t wait to meet with him again, and that meeting took place on the following Monday. As usual, he asked me how my week’s experiment had gone. I told him I’d found that I knew a lot more about things than I was using. He smiled that smile again, and this time I smiled back. He asked me what I was thinking and I told him:

“What’s missing,” I announced proudly, “Was motivation! Obviously I just don’t want it badly enough, and so I lack the necessary desire to make it happen.” I rested my case and waited for his response. As usual, he started by asking me a question.

He asked, “Mike, do you now believe that you have the ability, the potential, that if you wanted to, you could get into good enough shape whereby you could complete a marathon?”

“Absolutely!” I said.

“And do you believe you know more about good fitness and proper diet than what your current weight, exercise, and eating habits would show?”

“Unfortunately, yes again,” I answered.

“Okay. Now let me ask you this. Have you ever joined a gym with the desire to get into top physical shape before?”

“Ah, yeah. I belong to a gym right now,” I said.

“And why do you belong to a gym?” he asked.

“Because I want to be in good shape and take care of myself,” I said.

“So in other words, you already have a desire to be fit?”

“Well sure. I think about eating better each time I order a meal, and I’m always thinking about getting back to the gym and starting working out again. In fact, each time my belt feels tighter, I’m really motivated to start working out again,” I said.

“And last question. Are you at your peak physical fitness level right now?” he asked me.

“Far from it, I’m afraid,” came my sorry answer.

“So, here we are,” he continued. “You have the ability, you have the knowledge, in other words you know what to do and even belong to a gym, and you have the desire to be in good physical shape. Am I right?”

He had me there. “Right,” I agreed.

“So the real question, Mike, is where is the follow through, the effectiveness? Why aren’t the results there in your life if you seem to have everything you need? What’s stopping you from achieving the performance and the result you truly want?”

We then went over a few other areas in my life where I seemed to have everything I needed as well. The biggest area was my performance in sales. I had to admit that, again, I had the ability, and I certainly had the training and I knew more than I was using. On top of that, each month I set a goal with my sales manager to achieve my numbers. We laid out how many calls I needed to make, and how many leads and presentations I needed to schedule.

Next, my sales manager laid out the compensation plan and we went over what achieving each additional level would mean to me. My manager even went so far as to show me what I could buy with the extra commission money I would make. After each goal planning session, I was pumped! But then the month began, and the calls got tough, and soon I was back where I secretly knew I would end up: in the bottom 25% of the sales team.

At this point, I threw up my hands and surrendered. I actually felt pretty down because I was convinced that I had everything I needed to perform better in my life, but for some unknown reason, I seemed destined to mediocrity. I started thinking about my family and wondered if underperformance was genetic…

My boss, sensing my despair, came to my rescue. He told me, “Mike, what I’m going to teach you over the next few weeks is not only why you haven’t reached more of your potential, training, and desire, but I’m going to show you exactly what you can start doing to change that. I’m going to give you proven methods and techniques for releasing more of what you have, more of what you know, and more of what you want.

“In fact,” he continued, “What you are going to learn is that it is actually easy to increase your effectiveness in any area of your life if you just understand the laws governing behavior and performance. And I guarantee that once you get in alignment with these laws of performance, you will be able to set and achieve any goal that has meaning to you. And you’ll be able to achieve it easily and enjoyably.”

Well, that sounded too good to be true. I had set goals before – especially at the beginning of each year (New Year’s resolutions). And while I continued them for a month or so, I soon gave up and went back to the old me. I even brought this up in terms of setting goals around getting into physical shape. I told him my willpower would last for a few weeks, but then I would falter, stop going to the gym, and then I would beat myself up each time I slipped and had a donut at the office.

He raised his eyebrows and said, “That’s actually a good example. In fact, did you ever notice that in January and February the parking lots of gyms around the city are full?” I agreed they were. “But by March and April, they go back to where were in November and December, and they stay that way the rest of year.” It was true, I had to agree.

He asked me how that dieting process was for me in the beginning of the year. I told him I had to gather all my willpower and determination and that for the first couple of weeks it worked. But after a while, I felt denied the tasty foods, and that despite how much I wanted to stay on my diet, soon I was back in the break room in the morning gorging on bagels and cream cheese. Soon I wondered where all my good intentions and willpower had gone to.

He said, “Mike, you’re not alone. Making changes by using lots and lots of willpower is how most people do it, but it rarely works for long. In fact, willpower is essentially useless for making long term changes. Trying hard never works for long. It just exhausts you, and it usually makes those around you annoyed.

“What you are going to learn is that trying hard to overcome your abiding, subconscious picture will never work for long term changes. There is a better way to make easier, life-long changes that are in alignment with the potential and ability you already have.”

He paused and let that sink in. He could see the many questions I was thinking and he continued, “Here’s the thing. Think of your subconscious mind, and all of your ability and potential, as an iceberg. Your current performance and results are simply the tip of the iceberg, but your potential, of course, is immense.

“I like to compare the human mind to a computer. A computer has lots and lots of programs and potential, but we use only a very small portion of them. Even the word processing program, Microsoft Word, has thousands of features, but most of us just know how to open a new document, type some copy, and then save it. But there are endless editing features, amazing templates and document options, even language translation features we don’t use or know much about. The totality of the program is the iceberg, and what we use is just the tip.

“So how do we expose more of that iceberg? How do we use more of what we already have in abundance? The answer is that we must find out what is holding us back, what is limiting our natural ability and potential. What are the limiting attitudes, and habits and blocks that keep much of that iceberg underwater?

“And, more importantly, how can we release more of our potential? How can we do it in a natural, easy, and empowering way? A way that doesn’t cause stress, and doesn’t require constant willpower and energy? In other words, how can we creatively, enjoyably, and consistently produce the results we’ve already acknowledged we are capable of? How do we achieve performance we see others enjoying regularly, easily, naturally?

“And, most importantly, how can we make these changes permanent?”

He paused and let that sink in. I said, ‘I don’t know, how do we?”

“That’s what I’m going to teach you. And once you learn it, it will change your life, just as it has mine and countless others. And we’re going to start next week by exploring the concept of awareness. We’re going to begin looking at your habits, your unconscious ways of thinking and feeling, and the default actions you take as a result. We’re going to look at where you have unconsciously placed limits on yourself, and, through your awareness, we’re going to begin challenging and changing them.

“What you’ll soon learn is that although you have immense potential, you’ll never be able to use all of it. Instead, you’ll only be able raise or lower the limits – that are self-imposed – on your potential and ability. And that’s why athletes and top producers realize that they are never competing against anyone else except their own, current, best versions of themselves.”

He paused briefly and continued, “Mike, you’re about to go on a journey of self-discovery, one that will forever change how you think about yourself, the world, and what’s possible for you and others. And if you follow the truth I’m about to lay out for you, you will achieve things you never imagined possible for yourself. Your life will keep changing, evolving, and expanding. You’ll begin achieving more and more, and as you do, you’ll keep raising the bar for your performance and exposing more of that iceberg of potential.

“Your life will become a self-fulfilling prophesy – as it always was – but the dreams you will begin to dream will go far beyond what you’ve ever imagined possible.”

Needless to say, I was inspired and excited to learn more. I hope you are, too.

Until next week….

Knowledge is Power – Or Is It?

The week after my first session with my boss was very interesting. I took his advice and began asking myself if I could do a variety of things. Could I actually become the top producer at the company? Could I go back to school and get my PhD? Could I write a bestselling book? Could I get into ideal physical shape and run that marathon one day, and many other things. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this exercise was listening to my self-talk as my initial answers came.

For example, when I asked myself if I could write a bestselling book, my automatic self-talk was, NO! I was amazed by the flurry of supporting thoughts – and by how quickly they came – as to why I couldn’t. Things like I had never written a book before; It was really who you know, not how well you can write; And I even thought that there are many, many other writers better than I was who never wrote a bestselling book.

After this initial onslaught of negativity, I then decided to do some research on authors whose first books did become bestsellers. The obvious example was John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, published in 1988. It took him four years to write that book, and not only did it become a bestseller, but he is one of only three authors to sell 2 million copies of a first printing. As I continued to look, there were others whose first books became bestsellers as well.

So suddenly, I had to grudgingly admit that I had the ability and potential to write a bestselling book, but what I obviously lacked was the knowledge and training (writing experience) to do so. As I thought more about this, I was pretty certain that my next meeting with my mentor would be about learning what I was sure was the missing link to unleashing more of my ability and potential: knowledge and training.

When we next got together, we reviewed my experience with asking myself the “can I?” questions, and he pointed out how important my initial internal reactions were and especially my self-talk. He said we would be getting back to that in an upcoming session. When I told him my ‘aha’ moment about knowledge and training, he smiled again and asked me another question:

“Mike, what do you know about the importance of eating a lot of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet?”

Well, that was easy! I told him all about the studies I’d heard and read about emphasizing the importance of fruits and vegetables. I told him about the essential vitamins and minerals found in green leafy vegetables, about the disease-fighting phytochemicals found only in these foods. I then told him about the importance of dietary fiber which was crucial to maintaining a healthy intestinal track and, of course, and to preventing constipation and even reducing the risk of bowel cancer. I was prepared to go on even more until he stopped me and asked me another question:

“Mike, how many servings of fruits and vegetables did you have yesterday?”

I hesitated as I reviewed my eating that day. For breakfast I had bacon and eggs over easy with hash browns and white toast (lots of butter of course). I went out for Chinese food for lunch and had the lunch special of chicken fried rice. For dinner I had a steak sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes. Oh, and there was some broccoli as a side that I pushed around with my fork but ultimately ignored.

He then said, “So Mike, is it a fair assessment to say that you already have more knowledge about good eating habits than you’re using?” He had me there. He then went down the list. He asked me if I knew more about physical exercise than my daily workout routine (what daily workout routine?) would indicate? Yes. Did I know more about good organization habits than my garage at home or my closet might indicate? Yes. He asked about when I was in college if I knew more about good study habits and homework habits than I had practiced? Yes again!

And that’s when he lowered the boom on me. He said, “Mike, just like it isn’t about how much ability you have that determines your results, it’s also not about how much you know that determines your results either. Just like with potential, people have a lot more knowledge than their actions and results would indicate.”

So I brought up training. I told him that maybe if I had more training – essentially more knowledge – than maybe I’d use more of it. He immediately reminded me of the sales training I went through when I was first hired. He reminded me of all the phone scripts and proven techniques I had been given. He asked me how many of them I used on a daily basis. (Not many – I was still winging it.) He asked me where my script playbook was at that moment? Was it on my desk, opened up to the rebuttals I would need for my next call? No, I had to admit, it was in the middle drawer of my desk, under a pile of other neglected paperwork.

He asked me another question: He said, “Mike, do you know more about the importance of good qualifying techniques and skills than your last few sales lead calls might indicate?” Gee, this was getting annoying. YES! “Do you know more about closing skills and proper objection handling than your last few closes might indicate?” Okay, I surrender. I admitted right then that, yes, I knew more about most things than I my actions, behavior, and my results showed.

He told me that while knowledge and training were important, they were not drivers of actions nor of results. They were not what made someone more successful than someone else. He told me that knowledge was crucial, and that we could always use more training, but by themselves, they were not going to cause me to use more of the potential and ability that I already agreed I had. He told me that it’s not what I know, rather, it’s what I do with what I know that makes the difference.

All right, so how do I get motivated to use more of that I already know and to use more of my potential and ability? I was suddenly convinced the missing piece was motivation, right? When he heard me say this, that same little smile, now a smirk, I was sure, crept across his face. He told me we’d dive into that subject next week.

In the meantime, he challenged me again – and I’m going to challenge you – to come up with areas in my life where I wanted to achieve more, and then he asked me to begin making a list of the things I already knew in those areas and whether or not I was using my knowledge and training to maximize results in those areas. Whether or not that knowledge was influencing my behavior or allowing me to use more of my ability and potential.

It was the start of an interesting exercise, and I highly recommend you try it for yourself this week. Pick an area – as many areas as you choose – and ask yourself if you know more than you use. If fact, ask yourself how much, or how little, of the current knowledge you have in that area that you’re using. The answers for me were revealing, and I think they will be for you, too.

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.