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The Cost of an Undertrained Sales Person

Consider for a moment the cost to your organization that an untrained (or undertrained) sales force can create.  Right now, as you read this, there are thousands of salespeople calling on prospects, customers, and clients with little-to-no idea as to what they can (and need to) do to identify opportunity, qualify buyers, manage common objections, identify buyer’s motivations, position themselves and the company as value-add resources, or ask the right questions to discover needs and to earn the business.  Instead, they have been taught how to pitch, present, and price!

I have the opportunity to work with several salespeople in a coaching capacity each year.  One particular day I was working with a salesperson in the industrial power battery industry.  A customer had set up a meeting with him to come in and explore options on the replacement of batteries on approximately 30 of their 50 fork-lifts.  This was the first visit by the salesman and the meeting was a result of dozens of cold-calls each day to set such an appointment.  The gentleman that we were meeting with was the operations manager and he had expressed a desire to get a quote.  After the obligatory “passing of the cards” and brief introduction of my salesman and his company, the “march towards commoditization” began.

The salesman that I was working with then proceeded to ask to see the equipment.  After a brief tour of the warehouse, we came upon a fleet of fork-lifts.  There were several makes and models as well as many varying sizes.  From a tactical standpoint, the salesperson asked which ones in particular would be in need of new batteries.  Once a thorough inventory (and subsequent notes) had been taken of existing equipment, the salesman proceeded to thank the operations manager for his time and said that he would get back to him with comprehensive quote within the next 48 hours.  At that point, the ops manager replied (pay attention here) with, “No hurry.”   This statement certainly struck me as important but seemed to make no impact on the salesman.

When we got back into the car, I turned to the salesman and proceeded (as I am know to do) with a series of questions that seemed to temper the “price quote” enthusiasm of the salesman.  I am sure that you have thought of some of these as my story unfolded above:

-Qualification of the “buyer”

  • How long have you been in this role of operations manager?
  • Do you make all of the equipment purchasing decisions for this operation?
  • Do you make these decisions for any other company operations?
  • When it comes down to deciding who to award the business to, in addition to yourself, who else might be involved in that process?
  • I see that you currently use ___________ batteries, why are you entertaining a change?
  • In addition to a competitive price, what other elements of value do you consider when purchasing new batteries for your equipment?

-Qualification of the opportunity

  • How many of these fork-lifts have you played a role in acquiring?
  • Why do you have so many different makes and models?
  • Will you be replacing/upgrading any of these in the near future?
  • How often do you typically replace these batteries?
  • What are your expectations of battery life for these units?
  • How are the forklifts currently used?
  • What is your current recharge protocol for your forklifts?
  • How are the forklifts currently maintained?  Who does that?
  • What is the timeframe that you desire to get these batteries replaced?
  • If I were to get you a quote today, when would we need to make sure that we have these batteries in stock for you?

Would you be open to look into a quote not only on the batteries themselves, but on a comprehensive maintenance program designed to extend battery life by up to 30%?

(By the way, here is a valuable exercise for you and your sales team.  Take each of the questions above and see if you can come up valuable reasons why I would ask each question.  If you or your people cannot come up with real-world valid reasons why I would ask these questions—regardless of YOUR industry—you need to pay some attention!)

I can think of dozens more questions depending on how some of the above are answered.  The problem here, however, is that NONE of these questions were asked.

Instead, feeling as if he were doing his job, the salesman simply went about gathering basic information about the “supposed order” and then proceeded to move on to the “proposal of price stage.”  The unfortunate part is that this type of thing is happening every day in every industry.  Our salespeople have been severely undertrained when it comes to uncovering and discovering where, why, who, how, and WHEN!  It seems that they are simply focused on the WHAT!

What do you want to buy and what it will cost you!

In the story above, the operations manager stated that there was “no hurry” to get him a proposal or quote.  At the very least, don’t you think that this should raise a question in the mind of the salesman?  It certainly raised a few for me?

–How was this appointment set and who set it?

–Could urgency and timelines have been established before the proposal stage?

–Did the salesman help to create any additional urgency in the customer?

–Is the operations manager the final decision maker?

–Does he need the quote or is he acquiring it for someone else?

–Is the salesman being measured on quotes or sales?

–Did the salesman provoke thoughts in the ops manager that he was not aware of?

It seems to me that there are an overwhelming amount of salespeople out there that don’t have a strategic bone in their body.  The only thought that seems to enter their mind is based upon making a sale.  Although that is the obvious goal for most situations, the approach that most salespeople take works counterintuitive to that goal!  AND that is costing companies sales, revenues, profits, and relationships every day!

Think about our example story above; The salesperson, left to his own, would have gone back to his office and spent several hours researching and preparing a proposal for an opportunity that was not urgent or pending and quite possibly may have not even been real!  The hours spent on this activity cost you money!   Now, let’s take into account that while he is back at the office working on this quote (that most likely will not produce any near-term revenue) he is not generating new opportunities for the company. I don’t necessarily blame him.  In his mind, he IS pursuing a real sale of 100-200 new batteries.  He has not been trained to qualify or quantify opportunity!  This kind of thing is costing the company money every day but management typically does not see it.  What they see is a quote opportunity instead of a mishandled opportunity and a potential client that will most likely not be earned!

This example only illustrates the need for more training in the areas of opportunity identification and qualification.  Although I center most of our training in this area on questions that need to be asked, the exercise is also based upon knowledge of what each answer could mean in the strategic approach to the sale.  Taking just that one area (discovery) in the sales process, imagine how many times per day, per week, per month, per salesperson that this type of thing occurs (or does not occur.)  The costs to your business could be much more staggering that you might imagine.

Now, think about how many other areas of sales dysfunction exist in your sales team’s day-to-day efforts.  What’s going on in their prospecting efforts, their presentation approach, their objection management efforts, their negotiation steps, and in their attempts to close?  In addition, what are they doing at those trade shows?  What does their pre-call preparation process look like?  How do their follow-up efforts stack up?  How much training has gone into any of these areas for your people?

It is abundantly clear that an uneducated or under-trained sales force is considerably expensive to your organization.  In this economy where many companies are seeing fewer sales opportunities and much greater hesitance and fear in the marketplace into which they sell, any mediocrity in the sales force becomes extremely costly!

In this example, the worst part was that the salesman just didn’t know any better. Why?  Nobody taught him how to do his job as a professional.  Instead they simply said to get out and sell something!  At this point, he is left to learn on his own how to do a better job and uncover true opportunity.

The investment you make in training your people will bare substantial returns if it is consistent, strategic, up-to-date, and actionable!  On the other hand, the cost of not consistently training your salespeople can be invisible but nonetheless, extreme!

It’s TIME!!!

Image result for evaluateOK….June is almost in the books and we will officially done with the first half of 2018!  It’s time to take a look at your progress thus far and to make some adjustments where necessary.  It’s time to evaluate your half-time performance and to plan your second half approach.

If you are not tracking on your goals or close to where you need to be on your progress, you are going to have to step up and make some changes.  Why?

“If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting!”

The things that you have done thus far have produced results that YOU deem to be unworthy of the effort.  So, I guess it stands to reason that the efforts need to be increased or refocused!  If you choose not to, there is a fair certainty that you will be considerably further from your annual goal come this December.

Now, you may be saying (in fact, I can almost hear it) “But Gerry…I am already working my butt off!  How much more can I do?”  I did not specifically suggest that you had to do MORE, but you definitely need to reassess if what it is that you are doing (and how you are doing it) is effective to meet your desired results—the lack of which would already indicate they are NOT.

Remember, simply doing more of what it is that you are doing today will not always get you better results, but it may.  Remember, doing what you do differently than you do it today may not get you better results, but it may.  Doing what you do BETTER will always get you better results—guaranteed.  The trick is to “crack the code” on what BETTER means!

Keep in mind that the results that you get are often due in part to how it is that you think and what you believe to be true about yourself.  Your attitude plays a major role in the results that you get because it drives your belief.

Cast Your Vote for 2013 Growth

So…Election Day has past. Did you vote? Did you cast your ballot for what it is that you believe in? Did you put in the effort to understand the issues, the politics, and the possible outcomes of your vote? Did you go out of your way and stand in line to exercise one of the biggest honors and responsibilities that you have as an American? Do you understand that we have people fighting every day in foreign lands so that you can exercise this right? And now that the votes are all in and the results are all in place, are you happy with the outcome? Will you now take a stand to facilitate change that is necessary or will you complain about circumstances that are present?
As an entrepreneur, a leader/manager, or a sales professional you get up each and every day to cast your ballot. You make a choice every day (many times a day) to ELECT to do what is necessary to get the results that you desire. There are many people that every day follow the lead of others and ELECT to be told what they are due in this world…but not you! YOU decide the vote you will cast to make those extra calls. YOU decide the ballot spot you will mark in your preparation efforts before every meeting, sales call, or decision you make. YOU decide your strategy, your approach, and your follow through. Therefore, this election season, I offer to you, regardless of your party or politician of choice, a FIVE POINT PLAN for your the growth of your company, your team, and/or your personal book of business for the future:

1-Define it-Design it!
Right now, I ELECT to decide what my 2013 will look like. I will set my company, team, and personal goals by defining my VISION for results this year. My VISION will determine my mission and thus, the changes that I must make to accomplish that VISION. No longer will I suffer the dysfunction of the masses by letting things and circumstances decide my results. I will decide

2-Preparation Before Execution

Today I begin to start down the path of strategic thought before committed action.  I will spend at least 5 minutes prior to each sales call or each meeting deciding, in advance, what I have in mind for an ideal outcome of the meeting.  I will declare (and write-down) targeted take-aways prior to the meeting, forcing me to THINK from all perspectives and take into account all those involved in the sales call or the meeting.  I will always have a plan before I get into the battle.

3-Growth
I realize I cannot accomplish more than I have without becoming more than I am.  I commit to my professional growth this year by increasing my exposure to new ideas, new strategies, and new actions.  I must learn more than I know today and I must take paths that I have previously not taken.  The marketplace demands more from every sales professional.  Every sales team can grow sales and profits on the wisdom, guidance, and coaching of their leader.  And the marketplace certainly demands more from every sales professional.  This year, I will rise to meet those demands. I will read more, write more, speak more, seek more coaching, more mentorship, and never cease.

4-Visibility

In order for my organization, my team and/or my marketplace to engage more with me and thus, do more business with and/or for me, I must become more visible.  If I am not visible to those with whom I choose to grow, I am, in fact, IN-visible.  I will learn ways to network better and more often.  I will schedule specific visibility both physically and online every week.  I will add value though all of these efforts.  I will connect, engage, and offer assistance everywhere.  I will become known for these things and create a brand of excellence that is known to the masses.  I will become more than I am currently to all of those who know me and many that do not as of yet know me.  And I will define my brand.

5-Action

The greatest secret all accomplishment is ACTION.  With the focus of the Four points above, ACTION is the secret to ignite them all.  I realize that I do not have to be great to start, but in order to be great, I must START!  Every day, I will take a bit more action.  I will make 5 more sales calls, meet with 1 more employee (and listen to them), or offer a bit more coaching to my people.  I will not only plan my work but I will put more effort into working my plan!  I will get up earlier, stay a little later and truly be present as I morph myself and my team/organization into World-Class results.

As a professional today, you need to ELECT to follow a plan for a better future, if only for the upcoming year.  Cast your vote now to unseat the complacent, comfortable incumbent that resides in your office!  GO—BE—DO!

Give Yourself a Sales Pro Tune-Up Today!

Our work habits, over time, determine our levels of success. Use the following checklist to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses as a salesperson. Be honest with yourself, and score realistically to get an accurate picture of your professional strengths.

1. Do I take responsibility for my own success?  Do I blame someone else if things aren’t going well? If I am, I am misleading myself.  No one ever has the best price, product or service all of the time. Superstars succeed despite periodic shortcomings of the company, or swings in the economy.

2. Am I truly knowledgeable? Am I doing my homework? Do I understand today’s environment, my products and my direct competition? Prospects are more concerned with knowledge and service than they are with product and price.

3. What am I doing that my competition is not?. Am I continuing my education? Do I have a reading program? Am I continually self-renewing and sharpening my skills? A professional who ceases getting better ceases being good!

4. Am I really sensitive to the needs of those with whom I interact? Do I truly understand their social styles? Am I versatile? People do things for their reasons, not mine. My future success depends on my people skills.

5. Do I understand that I can’t just sell anything to anyone? People buy only what they want. Do I work to learn their most important needs, and how I can help meet them? Am I mastering the sales process and do I know why it works? Do I really understand that selling is the transfer of trust?

6. Am I of good cheer? Is an interaction with me a positive experience? Do I maintain a positive attitude? Do I take myself too seriously?

7. Do I create a good professional image? Do I project whatever my message does and with whomever I meet? Am I visible, available, professional in my presentation, and am I businesslike? Do I exhibit self-esteem and competence? Am I known for resolving the problem – now?

8. Am I a good manager of business relationships? In my career, have I built loyal clients or just occasional customers? Clients give me 50 percent or more of their business while customers give me business sporadically.

9. Am I living on my own fat? Do I add a trusting client at least every quarter? Do I continually prospect for new client possibilities? Have I been a career salesperson for three years, or have I had a one-year career three times? Do I do my marketplace research and pre-market myself before I approach a prospect?

10. Do I make only quality calls? Do I avoid comfort calls with those who don’t produce? Do I understand that I should never make a call without a clearly defined purpose? Do I target my prospects and develop business opportunities, or do I do business with whoever will do business with me?

11. Do I conduct meaningful customer interviews? Do I determine my prospect’s or client’s highest value needs? Do I ask meaningful questions to focus on my prospect’s or client’s urgencies? Do I really listen and elicit what he or she is communicating? When on sales calls do I listen twice as much as I talk?

12. Do I provide quality solutions? Do I remember that the client’s needs come before mine? Do I know that no worthwhile effort is ever lost? If I do what’s right for my clients, I’ll be rewarded, and soon! Do I strive for win-win outcomes?

13. Do I exceed the expectations of those with whom I work-both inside and outside the office? Do I do exactly what I say I will, when I say I will, in the way that I say I will do it? Exemplary service builds customer loyalty and rich dividends.

14. Am I really goal oriented? Are my goals and objectives in writing? Have I defined a strategy to reach each goal? Do I know how much each hour of my time is worth? What motivates me? Am I controlling my time so as to be ruthlessly effective with it?

15. Do I make non-negotiable commitments to my family, my company associates, my clients, my friends, my industry, and myself? At times each of these must come first, and deserves my undivided attention. An absolutely balanced life is probably impossible; but we must continually try for it.

16. Do I express my sincere congratulations to those who have achieved greatness? Do I sit at the feet of the masters, sublimating my ego, and model them? Do I praise good deeds in my family members and support staff every day? Do I always remember to say “Thank you”?

17. Do I understand and practice the Japanese concept of Kaizen? (Constant—if only minimal—improvement) My future will be determined by my success in getting a little bit better every day!

Go ahead, run through all of these questions and give yourself that sales pro tune-up that you know you need.  If you’re willing to be honest with yourself and make the adjustments necessary, the exercise can pay huge dividends.  Or….you can just make some more cold calls!  Your choice.

What if they Answer?

In today’s high-tech, high-touch world where you can communicate with people in a variety of ways, it consistently amazes me how communication over the telephone is becoming less and less frequent.  A quick phone conversation has been replaced with a quick text or an email.  A simple TWEET or Facebook posting often is the way that people are choosing to express updates and information.  Last week, while doing a few leadership meetings with CEOs in Ohio, we got onto this topic.  Many of the leaders were expressing concern over a lack of courtesy and increase in perceived indifference that are seeming to become the byproduct of NOT having to have a conversation.  (It’s easier to blow something/someone off via email or text than to actually have to call them to face the music.)  Why, just this morning as I write this, I received news of a local client “bailing” on attending/sending people to a Sales workshop that I actually organized due to his interest/requests of a few months ago.  On the other side of that coin, last week I let a job applicant know (via email) that they were “no longer being considered for the position.”

I don’t know if this is going to change.  Tomorrow’s buyers have communicated this way for years and the skill sets of using the phone and “in-person” communication/connection/persuasion are fading.  I have teenage daughters that have conversations that go on for hours (even days) with their boyfriends via text.  I’m sorry…to me…that’s difficult to understand and hard to grasp.  Nonetheless, as always, we must prepare to “play cards” with the hands that we are dealt.

On that note, when you are making sales calls outbound today, are you prepared to deal with everything that you may run into?  I have had many discussions and training sessions with salespeople getting them prepared to deal with voicemail on the efforts.  We highly suggest a very prepared (yes, even scripted) approach to make a significant IMPACT via voicemail.  In addition, I have built specific training modules for salespeople teaching them some tips on properly dealing with/working with LIVE gatekeepers.  All of this is in your control and needs to be practiced regularly if that is what you have to deal with daily on your outbound calls.

But what if your prospect or customer actually answers?  Are you ready for that?  Because it is becoming so rare today that someone actually does answer the phone, I find that salespeople get caught off guard and thus, fumble to make that verbal connection.  The result is typically a default to 30 seconds of small talk and purposeless drivel that leads to frustration and non-interest on the part of the prospect or customer—NOT YOUR GOAL!!

So, when making outbound calls today, we need to be prepared for anything and everything that could occur.  Here is a brief checklist that you need to potentially print out and post by the phone.

1-Gatekeeper (Live person between you and your target) Be prepared to make a connection with person and ask for their assistance.  Acknowledge them, ask their name, and thank them for their help.  Too many sellers look at the gatekeeper as the enemy when in fact, they often hold the keys to your access to the decision maker.  Think about how you can put them on your team.  Be memorable vs. sneaky and devious.  Think about how many people (salespeople and others) that want access to the same target that you do.  The gatekeeper’s job is to screen out the losers, weed through the hacks, and keep the “takers” away.  If you sound like them and/or treat the gatekeeper like they do, you will suffer their fate….NO ACCESS.  Write down FIVE ways to stand out, add value, ask for assistance, differentiate, and endear yourself to the gatekeeper.  Before you can connect beyond the gatekeeper, you need to connect WITH the gatekeeper!

2-Voicemail.  It has been estimated today that up to 7.3 out of 10 calls made outbound to customers in a B2B world end up in some sort of voicemail.  We MUST learn to deal with voicemail in a more unique and prepared way.  Again, this starts with thought and continues with preparation.  First off, you need to be clear about the purpose of leaving your voicemail.  What is it that you are trying to accomplish by doing so?  For most people, the answer is this:  “I am trying to get them to call me back!”

If that is the case with you, be prepared to leave a quick, compelling, benefit focused message that is ALL about them and what they get with a clear call to action that you wish for them to contact you back.  I also believe that every voicemail should be followed up with an equally quick email that leads with “I just left you a voicemail at your office.”

3-LIVE customer contact.  It is a shame of you ever get caught off guard by someone answering the telephone live.  If you are fortunate enough (or good enough) to get your prospect to answer the telephone on your attempts to reach them, you need to be extremely prepared to make a quick connection and to set next steps.  Any overt small talk or fumbling for words will lead to a quick and painful death.  It’s not hard to “brush you off” if you sound like all the others or worse yet, as someone with whom I would choose NOT to do business.

So for any of these circumstances think about:

  • The purpose of the call
  • The initial “attention grabbing” statement
  • The clear call-to-action (next step) that you desire and will suggest
  • The memorable impression that you will leave.

Although we may live in a world where our buyers are increasingly communicating with us via the “e-world” we still need to have a plan to connect and make an impact over the phone.

Preparation + Practice = Profit

I was watching some golf on TV this past weekend and happened to notice Vijay Singh’s name near the top of the leaderboard for the first time in (what seemed like) a long time.  I did a little research and discovered that he has won over $65 million dollars in his career and over $2 million of that was last year.  Not bad for a guy that I thought was washed up.

For those of you that do not know, Vijay Singh is one of professional golf’s most ardent “practicers.”  He is well known for spending hour upon hour on the range honing his swing, polishing his skills, and trying to perfect a game that cannot be perfected.  Vijay Singh is not the most naturally gifted.  He is not the longest hitter nor the best putter.  He simply works harder than most and practices his skill daily for hours.

I recently also read an article on Peyton Manning, one of the NFLs all-time greatest quarterbacks.  As many of you know, Manning did not play in 2011-2012 due to a series of 4 neck surgeries.  By the way, his team, the Indianapolis Colts, went from being a perennial playoff team to last place in his absence.  (How’s that for valuable?)   Last year alone, Peyton Manning earned a salary of over $11 million dollars and next month is up for a $28 million dollar payday if the owner of the Colts does not trade him to another team due to his injuries.

The interesting part of the article that I read was in regards to where he may go if he does get “let go” by the Colts.  The article referred to his current home in Indianapolis where he has a basement called “the cave” where he spends hours upon hours per week studying and analyzing game film to truly understand the defenses that he is up against each week.  Peyton Manning is not fast.  He is not mobile.  He is, however, one of the most prepared quarterbacks to ever strap on a helmet and lead a team.

If you were to look at the majority of professional sports teams and professional athletes in general along with the schedules that they keep, you would see that the overwhelming majority of their time (even though they are the TOP of their games) is spent in strategy, preparation, and practice.  In fact, I would bet that percentage is close to 90% just in rehearsal for the “game.”  That leaves only 10% of their time left for the actual game itself.  So, they are earning 90% of what their pay doing the things necessary to win! (to practice)

Imagine if salespeople understood that the money that they earn comes 90% during the time that they were preparing for and practicing their “stuff” that they need to execute on during the sales cycle.  Imagine if they scheduled the time to practice.  In the world of sales, we find the exact opposite.  If ever we see training, strategy, preparation, or practice as a part of the salesperson’s time, it is most likely about 10% of their time.  That means that 90% of the time, salespeople are “in the game” and trying out their moves on the customer!

So here is my suggestion for all of you salespeople and sales managers reading this post.  (BTW, just reading this puts you in the minority because most salespeople/leaders don’t engage in their profession enough to want to read, learn, and think.)  Let’s make a pact to schedule 45 minutes a day, three days a week, for the next 3 months to do NOTHING but work on the skills that are necessary to GROW your business…not to MAINTAIN it.  Let’s figure out the things on which we need to improve. Let’s NOT just keep repeating and rehearsing our pitch.  Here are a few things that you can do during your “training time.”

  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice THREE voicemail messages to get you call returned.
  • Think of, plan, write down and practice 6-10 provocative questions you will ask to better diagnose the customer’s current situation and desired business outcomes.
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice appropriate responses to manage the most consistent customer concerns or objections that you run into each day.
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice 5 comfortable CLOSING questions that you will ask each and every time that you have earned the right to do so. (“So….what’s our next step?”)
  • Have role PRACTICE (not role play) sessions with two other colleagues in which you not only practice your message, questions, and objection responses but in which you also listen to someone else give theirs.  (What may sound right to you, coming out of your mouth, may sound odd to you, coming from someone else.)
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice what the first 3 minutes of a sales call will sound like to better “set the stage” for your success.
  • Define and practice a “trade show approach” to a prospective customer.
  • Define and practice a “30 second networking event approach” for your next networking event.

These are just a few ideas to get you started but there needs to be many on your calendar.  It seems that we have two considerable challenges as human beings:

#1—The areas in which we have some skill and thus some success, we do not regularly try to improve.

#2—The areas in which we have difficulty and challenge, we avoid and thus, never work to get better.

Let’s change that…..NOW!  This week, start your practice routine and build it into your schedule every week for the next 3 months.  I’ll bet you start to win more often and earn the results and the PAYCHECK you deserve.

Personal Branding…What are YOU Known For?

TOP Salespeople use Personal Branding as a very special way to stand out in the minds of the market.  Most of them don’t even know that they are doing it!  Why do they do it?

  • Personal Branding gets your phone to ring.
  • Personal Branding separates you from all of the competition.
  • Personal Branding puts VALUE ahead of COST.
  • Personal Branding elevates you and thus your company/product/service in the minds of your customer.
  • Personal Branding, quite simply, creates more sales for you!

Companies spend millions of dollars every year to burn their brand into the hearts and minds of their potential customers.  This is done with advertising, jingles, and repetition of their messages.  Nike built a brand around that “swoosh” logo such that its worldwide proliferation is staggering.  You cannot go anywhere in the world of sports without seeing the “swoosh.”  In fact, the “swoosh” has become synonymous with excellence in sports.  The result?  An empire of shoes, clothing and sports gear that commands top dollar in the marketplace.

Starbucks did it with coffee in a different way.   They chose to create a customer “experience” that is consistent throughout the world.  They created a brand and invested their millions into teaching us (through their employees) a different way to order and drink coffee.  They train their people (The Barista’s “Green Apron Book”) and invest in the customer experience that we receive in any Starbucks.  The result?  We will go out of our way AND pay a premium to “find a Starbucks shop.

What is it that YOU can do as a sales professional to position yourself and your company as THE CHOICE rather than simply A CHOICE?  Through the appropriate Personal Branding tactics, you can:

  •  Establish yourself as an expert (Don’t just be “in” your field…be perceived as the “best” in your field.)
  • Be known as a resource (Don’t be a “taker” of orders….be a “maker” of profits and success for your customers)
  • Create a demand for your product or service  (Customer’s will call you…instead of the other way around)
  • Build prospective customer’s trust in you and your company (People do business with whom they trust and know….get KNOWN to gain their trust!)
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition (If you don’t stand out, you don’t stand out!)

How can you create a brand for yourself as a sales professional?  Let’s look at some of the first steps that you must take:

  1. Clearly define the “brand” that your desire to create and communicate to your marketplace.  How do you want to be known?  What words or phrases will your customer’s use to describe you?  How will you choose to differ yourself from the competition?
  2. Establish  a “special sauce statement” that states what it is that you bring to the table in a way that nobody else does.  This should be from the customer’s viewpoint (benefit driven) not from yours (feature driven.)
  3. Create a list of no less than 10 ways to communicate this BRAND every day in every way to your prospects, customers, and clients.  You must walk the walk that you wish to be “known for.”  Consistency is absolutely the key.  Every move that you make needs to be preceded with the following questions: “Is what I am about to do consistent with the brand that I have created?”

Personal Branding is the key to greater sales.  It is often the difference between you getting the contract or the other guy.  More importantly, it is most often the main difference between you having to sell your product or service and people wanting to buy your product or service!

It has been said that in the profession of selling, it’s not who you know, but rather who knows you that counts.  Call our office today at 866-979-LAYO (5296)—yes, the phone number is part of my brand—and get enrolled for any of our upcoming events.  You can also go to www.GerryLayo.com and enroll  for any of these events online.

Remember, if you can’t name 2-3 things that you are KNOWN-FOR, how can you expect your customers to list ONE?

Don’t Make Every Day YOUR Groundhog’s Day!

Well…what if there wasn’t a tomorrow?  There wasn’t one today!”  Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray)

In the movie 1993 “Groundhog’s Day,” a weatherman, played by  Bill Murray, gets stranded in Gobbler’s Knob (home of the famous groundhog, Punxatawney Phil) and has to re-live the same day over and over and over again.  Every day, he sees the same people, saying and doing the same thing, living the same lives.  For a while, he is confused.  Then, he gets scared and tries to change it—even END it by killing himself and the groundhog!  Eventually, as the movie continues, he learns that the day will continue to be the same unless he changes.  So he increases his awareness of his surroundings, learns from his mistakes of days gone by, starts to adapt, makes adjustments to his behavior, and gets out of the nightmare that his life has become in Gobbler’s Knob!

I think that this movie storyline is an interesting metaphor for BAD salespeople.  Day after day, most of them head into the marketplace re-living their Groundhogs Day.  They knock on the same doors, start conversations the same way, do presentations just like they did yesterday, try the same old tired negotiation tactics and closing lines and all too often, get the same results.  What a life!  Don’t they learn?  Can’t they adapt?  Why don’t they make adjustments?

What about their Sales Managers/Leaders?  Why do they continue to observe the same behavior day in and day out, week in and week out, year after year with no suggestions or coaching to a new approach?   Instead they PUSH you to “do it more,” do it faster,” “do it to MORE people!” STOP IT!  Many times, we need to step back and reassess what it is that we are doing and make proper adjustments.  Salespeople and Sales Managers need to THINK!

  • If that did not work the last 6 times we did it, should we make a change?
  • If that salesperson hasn’t grown his/her business in the last 6 months, should we make a change?
  • If my sales meetings are making no IMPACT on my people, should I make a change?
  • If my prospecting efforts have been getting little to no results, should I make a change?
  • If my conversion rates have dropped over the past 6 months, what do I need to change?
  • If I do the same things this year that I did last year, what can I expect to change?
  • WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE?
  • What do I need to START doing that I may have never done?
  • What do I need to ACCELERATE (do more of) that I have stalled or slowed down doing?
  • What do I need to KEEP my focus on and never lose sight of?
  • What do I need to STOP doing that is keeping me in this nightmare?

This morning, the groundhog saw his shadow.  This means, apparently, that there will be six more weeks of the same old stuff you have been experiencing for the past several months.  What if that applied to all areas of your life, just as it did in the movie?  What if that extended over the past few years?  What if YOU did not adapt to your surroundings, your environment, and your opportunities?

One thing that differs in this life from the movies; the marketplace offers a new twist every day.  Your competition tries new approaches and desperate moves at every turn.  Prospects and customers are bombarded with new information, more data, and higher output expectations each hour!  Political environments change.  Buying decisions change.  Everything changes and there is very little you can do about most of it unless….you DO something!

The only thing that you can control is how you adapt, how you change, and how you work to get out of your nightmare and get into your dream situation and your dream results daily. So…what do you need to do today to make Punxatawney Phil a liar?  What will you do today to take control and get the hell out of Gobbler’s Knob?

Have an outstanding Groundhog’s Day!