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The Little Things Really DO Matter!

The Little Things Blog

There is a popular series of books that have been out a couple of years called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.  When it comes to sales, I do not believe the teachings apply as well.  In fact, it is the small stuff the separates the winners from the average players.

So much is taught in sales about the “big parts of the game” such as the cold call, the pitch or presentation, the sales cycle, working a pipeline, overcoming objections, and closing.  And yet, with all of this knowledge and training, the majority of salespeople still have difficulty managing the entire process through to the finish line.

At the same time, you will find there is a small group of salespeople that focus on, what most would consider to be the small stuff.  What types of things are these?  Here are a list of a few of the little things that matter in the profession of sales:

1-They schedule prospecting time every day!  They realize that, no matter how hot and heavy everything happens to be in their pipeline today, it is the plowing (prospecting) at the top of the pipeline that opens it up for continued results.

2-They build and consistently use a referral generation process.  They know that the best source of new business comes from existing clients and that by leveraging their existing relationships, they actually create a small sales force of their own that “keeps the leads flowing in.”  They also realize that they need to 1) Ask for the referrals, 2) Earn the right to ask, 3) Make it easy to refer, 4)and say Thank You.

3-They use target and personal marketing campaigns.  They realize that, in business, it is not who you know, but rather who knows you that counts.  They create a systemized “touch campaign” that not only reaches out to identified key prospects before they call upon them, but also continues to “whisper in their customer’s ears” regularly.  The true pro realizes that value-add relationships develop loyalty from their customer base so they make sure that all of their touches are unique and value-add.

4-They Say Thank You—A Lot!  Top producers sometimes go back and revisit the tactics used years ago and “dust them off” for use today.  One such tactic is the use of Thank You Notes in the sales process. Too many salespeople rely on brief email notes and voice mail messages to express their gratitude for a sales appointment, a referral, a sale, or anything else.  Although Thank You Notes were very common years ago, they are only in the arsenals of those who wish to stand out today!  By the way, can you say Thank You too much to your customers?

5-They do what they say they are going to do.  Although this seems like a very logical, natural thing for all to follow, the sad truth is that we live in a world where the broken promise is the norm and the “under-whelmed” customer is most common.  True sales pros focus on “managing the expectations” of their customers and adding value in the customer’s eyes by OVER PERFORMING on expectations.

In the marketplace, I suggest that, as sales professionals, we need to make sure that we are focused on ALL of the things that are necessary for our success.  The little things are what separates us from the crowd.  The good news is that, with a little work, you will build the confidence in your “scoring zone” to consistently achieve greater sales results.  So…Sweat the Small Stuff!

 

Is it OK to use the “F” word?

failure2

When It Is Okay To Fail

It is okay to fail when you have given it your very best effort, when you have played the game to win. It is okay to fail when you have given it all you’ve got, leaving nothing in reserve. It is okay to fail when you have spent yourself in the effort.  It is okay to fail when you have gone way beyond what is expected of you.  It is okay to fail when you take the long shot gamble.  It is okay to fail when you try something new, something for which you have no experience or background. It is okay to fail after you have gone the extra mile.  It is okay to fail when failing doesn’t mean quitting, when it doesn’t mean you stop trying.

When It Is NOT Okay to Fail

It is not okay to fail when you haven’t given your best effort. You may fail here, but this is not an honorable failure.  It is not okay to fail when you have something left to give, when you keep something in reserve, when you save yourself. You may fail here, but this failure is not acceptable when spending yourself may have meant a different outcome.  It isn’t okay to fail when you haven’t prepared yourself for the game, when you haven’t done your homework. You may fail here, but lack of preparedness is not an acceptable reason to fail. It isn’t okay to fail when you have only done what is expected. Conformity is sure path to failure and to mediocrity. It isn’t okay to fail because you were focused on some big idea and you have ignored the details that make up the execution of that idea. Success is in the idea and in its execution.  It isn’t okay to fail when you haven’t used every resource to win. It isn’t okay to fail because you didn’t ask others for the help that would have made the difference.  It isn’t okay to fail if you don’t learn something from the failure.  It isn’t okay to fail because you quit trying. It isn’t okay to fail because you quit when the road got rough and the effort seemed too much. It is never okay to fail to get back up.

-Gerry Layo, CEO Sales Coach International

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!

A Call to ACTION!

There is something very refreshing about those who take action. People make investments daily in lots of “things” designed to make themselves and their companies better. Whether it is a gym membership, a training course, a book, a new piece of technology or something else, we make purchases regularly designed to increase our output or improve us in some way. And yet, it becomes more and more evident to me that people often do not invest the primary ingredient needed to get the true benefit from their investment. That ingredient is Committed, Focused ACTION!

I just recently ran of my Sales Manager Boot Camps in Omaha, Nebraska. It was a terrific event with attendees from several different industries. Not unlike many of my training programs, each person in attendance had wonderful and very enthusiastic things to say about the Boot Camp, my delivery style, and the content. But one company in particular has since then (a mere two weeks ago) taken massive action on the introduced strategies and ideas and has also put into immediate use many the tools that were offered.

Wade Mayfield and his team Thermal Services in Omaha, NE have immediately put the Sales Coach International Seller Rating/Ranking Grid that was introduced at Boot Camp into to immediate use. They have (in two short weeks) had every leader on their team in every division of their organization (sales and non-sales) break down the important factors of Attitudes, Skills, and Activities necessary to perform and to thrive in his organization. Subsequent to this analysis, each leader has assessed and rated each player on his/her team in each of these dimensions, identifying strengths and opportunities for growth. These manager/leaders now have a road map to coach and improve their people’s performances daily through focused field training and coaching, one to one meetings, Individual Development Plans (IDPs), and other coaching initiatives….and they are being held accountable to doing just that.

In addition to the above, one division of the company through one manager (Phillip) is in the midst of developing a series of key Pay Attention! points” and key questions (specifically introduced in the Boot Camp) for what would typically be considered a non-selling position (plumbers) to identify additional opportunities in every call. Also, one manager in particular has taken to heart many of the strategies that were introduced at Boot Camp regarding the creation of more powerfully focused Sales Meetings. He (Lucas) has, since Boot Camp, invited a vendor to be a guest speaker at one of his sales meetings and, in advance of the meeting, actually inspected what he expected with that vendor. He made the vendor lay out a specific plan of action and agenda to his meeting (vs. the “shoot the BS” meetings of the past) and rolled in the vendor’s information with his specific application and execution training. How do I know this? I received a detailed Thank You card from that manager yesterday outlining his successes. Action, action, action!

There are many more examples of massive action from Wade and his team of rock stars that I can cite from just the past two weeks. The tip of the spear (acting as the catalyst) for this action has been Wade himself. Wade attended the Boot Camp along with all of his managers while in the middle of a major physical move of his office. In fact, after seeing me speak at a Vistage meeting, Wade was the catalyst that was instrumental in getting the actual event put together in the first place, securing the training venue and sparking a group of CEOs to take part by enrolling their leader/managers.

I just spent an hour on the phone with Wade and his partner, Barry going over each of the action steps that they have taken in the past two weeks and identifying the plans for each of his leaders based upon the Boot Camp. His entire organization now has a clearer vision and set of marching orders based upon the action of the leaders—not the training alone. Wade and his team invested thousands of dollars and two days of their lives to be exposed to new leadership initiatives at my Boot Camp. Since then, they are ensuring a climb to $20 million in sales this year through committed, focused action on what it is that they learned. I would place my bets on Thermal Services growth this year and beyond.

So, what is it that you are missing in your expectations of results thus far this year? Where have you made an investment that is not paying off yet? Where can you apply some committed and focused ACTION in your life to spark your results?

  • That gym membership will not help your fitness and weight loss without you investing your efforts and action.
  • That training course you and your team attended means nothing without your investment in the changes and action identified.
  • The books and Cd’s on your desk will do nothing for you without you actually reading/listening to them and taking action on the ideas they offer.
  • Wanting, intending, thinking, wishing, and hoping are truly not ACTION WORDS and rarely, if ever, produce any change or positive results.

So….pick one area of your life (business or personal) and be “just dumb enough to believe” that taking ACTION will produce what you desire. Dive in! Get busy! Don’t over-think anything. Commit to spending at least 90 days on the change and the growth you desire and watch the results start to pile up. Be awesome, be courageous, and win on purpose!

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?

Are you Just DUMB ENUFF to Believe?

Well, here we go!  I was recently asked if I would like to join a group of Sacramento business leaders in a quest to train for and ride in “America’s Most Beautiful Bike-Ride” which is a 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.  The event is on June 3rd and my first training ride EVER with a group is this morning and will be about 35 miles.  Actually, it will close to 45 by the time we ride to the starting point.  Now, this may sound fairly logical to you as we are shooting for 100 in a few short months.  But here is what you need to know:  I have NEVER ridden more than 20 miles!  Nonetheless, I have no doubt that I will be able to do this, and keep up with the majority of the group. Call it blind faith or dumb stubbornness but I see this belief in many entrepreneurs every day…just like this group!

What does it take to have the blind faith to begin a sales career?  There rarely is a curriculum that one gets exposed to extensively until they are “up to their necks in it.”  There is often very little training for the new salesperson outside of product knowledge.  And rarely does someone working their way through high school or college ever state, “I cannot wait to pass this final exam so I can get out into the marketplace and SELL SOMETHING!”  Often times, a sales career is stumbled upon…as are (unfortunautely) many of the skills necessary to excel.  Most times, it is the blind faith and enthusiasm of the new salesperson that gets them started and carries them through the initial period until they woirk their way into a few opportunities or a few sales, thus justifying or validating their decision.  I like to say that often new sellers are “just dumb enuff to believe they can do it”…so they do it!

Think about it:  When you started your career or your company, did you do so with a clearly laid out plan and a strong confidence that you knew exactly what you needed to do and where this thing was headed?  Or did you follow the “leap and the net will appear” philosophy?  Sometimes a decision needs to be made FIRST before anything of value can be craeted.  I have seen many people of considerable talent that wait and wait, pause and ponder, stall and analyze before they even make a move.  They face the curse of the Perfection Trap!  Sometimes, you just need to dive in!

I am a huge fan of preparation and strategy in business and most things.  In fact, I spent 3 hours (and a small fortune) at the bike shop yesterday asking questions about nutrition, hydration, equipment, and other topics.  I have purchased and read 3 books on cycling in the past two weeks.  And I have joined a team (Team In Training) that has massive coaching and support as well as a very thorough training plan.  All that said, I have to DIVE IN for what will be a 45 mile ride this morning!  Am I scared?  A little, yes.  And that is exactly the motivation that I need to get this program under way and hit this goal.  In then end (and I will keep you updated here on this blog) I am positive that this 100 mile ride through the mountains and around one of the country’s most beautiful lakes will “go down” and I will have a wonderful set of memories and a few awesome pictures.  I am just DUMB ENUFF to believe that and thus I will accomplish that!  But for now…..I gotta go get started.

**Post blog post…Although I am posting this today (Monday) I wrote this blog post yesterday morning (pre-Super Bowl) and accomplished the ride yesterday in a much better time and condition than I (or any of the other riders) expected.  Although I was a sore unit last night (and a bit still this morning), I feel awesome.  And…..I am still just “dumb enuff to believe” that I can make to 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe!  Have an awesome week!

Show your best clients that they are special

Think about how the airlines treat you a little bit special if you fly with them all the time. It’s good for business, right?

So how do you show your best customers that you’d like to move them into the client bucket? How can you show them that they deserve a little special treatment?

Not that all the rest of your customers, the ones that aren’t in your client basket, should be treated like crap. It just means we move that up a notch. When they’re better customers, they move to clients.

So identify your top-tier clients. Identify them by profitability, or frequency of purchase, or after-sales service required, revenue, whatever it might be. And do some things to spend a little bit more time with them. Support some advisory councils, offer some incentive programs. Show some additional incentives, love trips or dinners or events.

Don’t worry about dropping prices for these people. If they buy more it tends to mean they’re getting more value from you.  Keep the margins where they are. Don’t drop price, add value instead.

Have some value-add training events. Go in and work with their staff, their people. Spend a few additional days with no strings attached. Have a client appreciation dinner. Give them a feeling of importance. That feeling of importance breeds a feeling of loyalty. The best way to get loyalty is to give it.

We’re looking to move people from customer to client so that our relationship with them is stronger, based on the value that we provide. And it really is about the way that they look at us in the end. But it starts with two things. It starts with the way that we look at ourselves and the moves we make.

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What does Valentine’s Day have to do with selling?

What’s the difference between a customer and a client? It’s all about the relationship.

Think about Valentine’s Day: Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, even little kids at school are making an effort to let that significant other know that they are special. So what if you looked to one of your customers in the next few days, next few weeks, next few months and, in effect, said: “Be my Valentine? I want a better relationship with you.”

Why? Because the best sales people don’t necessarily find more customers all the time. They look to penetrate existing relationships. They look to go deeper and wider into the accounts where people are already “raising their hands.”

They look for instances when their customers are saying or indicating things like:

•    Yes, I like you.
•    I like your products.
•    I like your services.
•    I like your prices.
•    I like your process.
•    I like who you are.
•    I trust you.
•    I value you.

When your customers are saying these things, you can leverage that relationship to go deeper and provide more value. And to get new introductions to other people inside or outside of that organization who also value what you deliver. So you get more referrals —  and more ideal prospects.

Photo: Dave Parker, via Creative Commons 2.0

How to excel at your number-one sales skill — listening

When you have a long-term focus, passing on transaction-oriented business for now doesn’t mean forever.

If you’re going to refer someone to another company – or otherwise decline to engage with a client — does that mean you stop reaching out, calling on them, sending them newsletters? No. You keep tapping on their shoulder. But you have a long-term focus on the possibility of eventually doing some business.

Recently we lost an opportunity to conduct some sales training for a company in Toronto. And we didn’t lose it forever. We just lost it for now because their sister company in the United States had already engaged another sales training company. But this particular branch in Canada is a big fan of Sales Coach International’s stuff. So, my sales person was a little bit upset.

I said, “The timing wasn’t there, but we have a long-term focus, we’ll continue to add value.”

We actually hope that our customer grows the business based upon the sales training they are engaging in. We will continue to reach out, tap them on the shoulder and add value through our newsletter, through articles that we send them and so forth because we have a long-term focus that this customer will become a client.

Long-term focus necessitates discovery. We need to uncover what is about them that we need so we can deliver a real impact. The key is in differentiation – standing out, so that we create desire. Long-term focus is about opening them today so that eventually we will be in a relationship down the road.

When trying to move a potential customer to a client it’s also essential to listen more and talk less. We need to listen our way into their heart. If we are willing to listen, we learn how to ask the impactful question.

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