The last quarter of the calendar year is simply unbelievable. Whether unbelievably good or bad is yet to be seen. Every year, however, every sales team seems to repeat the same challenge.
Many salespeople try to explain this phenomenon with a bit of bravado and “bro-tastic” revelations, but it’s actually simpler than may initially appear.
Conventional wisdom often distills why customers suddenly buy as either:
they are going to lose budget for next year if they do not spend
this year’s budget, or
the salesperson’s claim that they are just “better under pressure” and drive harder to close deals at the end of the year.
While there may be some truth in either perspective, in my experience, the most consistent sales people strive to maintain a more consistent momentum, by learning to SHIFT. Just like when a cyclist approaches a hill, there is some degree of art of knowing just when to shift into a gear more compatable with the incline of a hill, while simultaneously maximizing the effects of momentum gained on the lead-in to the hill. Let’s break it down:
S – Stop. Just stop. Stop all the garbage bravado, trash talking and stop virtually pedaling for a moment. In other words, coast for a moment and catch your breath. Validate your momentum. Assess where you really are in the sales process. With experience, this step is often fairly quick. For less experienced, this may prove more challenging.
H – Hear out all sides. Pick up the phone. Go visit your prospect. Talk with your team. Check in with your colleagues. Most importantly, get a complete, unbiased set of intel. Ask, “what’s happening in the marketplace?”; “are similar deals moving forward?”; “what is your own internal team experiencing?”.
I- Interact to understand. This step is perhaps the most critical. I have observed many salespeople overestimate their own ability to decipher the details they gathered in the step above on their own, overlooking the importance of confirming what you are seeing with your actual prospect. Adopting phrases like “from what I’m seeing from my perspective is ______” and “I want to make sure we are meeting your expectations by staying on track to close this deal by _______. Is that still your plan?” are incredibly valuable. LISTEN and ASK QUESTIONS TO VERIFY what you think you are hearing. The absolute worst action you can take is being overconfident about what you think your prospect is communicating.
F- Find agreement for what’s next. By gaining a full understanding about where the deal REALLY is in the sales cycle, next is to come to an agreement about what you both need and how you can get there together. If they are holding out for a price or other negotiable aspect of the deal, one technique is to agree on a closing timeline that guarantees or incents them to get the deal done. Create win-win opportunities. You want to close the deal. They want to feel good about the deal they strike with your company.
T-Timetable for follow-up. No matter what agreement is struck, drill down more specifically than “we have a deal” by calendaring the follow up. Identifying the next step is much less powerful than sending over a timeline of the next several steps to ensure delivery of the solution you are providing them by a specific date. Both sides should always know when they will take the next steps and/or communicate to maintain momentum.
And there you have it. They key to easily pushing the deal over the top so you can coast back downhill, is to simply SHIFT at the right time.
What proven techniques do you use to maintain momentum of a sale? Share your go-to tactic below!
In 1983’s classic role-reversal comedy, Mr. Mom, Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) struggles to adapt to the world of a stay-at-home parent. For the uninitiated, here’s a clip of one of my favorite scenes where the Jack’s “know-how”, gets the better of him:
Much has changed since 1983, not the least of which is the impact the Internet and social media have changed the landscape of how salespeople can build connections and actually sell across platforms like LinkedIn.
Are You Doing It Wrong?
In earlier posts, I’ve shared my lack of understanding why some people call themselves LOINs (LinkedIn Open Networker) and what possible benefit that could deliver, beyond simply “fancying-up” the long-fabled “spray and pray” prospecting method.
For many years, I kept my LinkedIn network exclusive to people I had met off-line at least once. In more recent years, I have maintained a high degree of what I call “connection integrity”, while allowing an occasional connection when it’s requested by someone with whom I can logically understand why they’d like to connect.
Most often, these connections are typically:
industry recruiters (though I’m somewhat selective),
industry colleagues (sales leaders, professional speakers, consultants, and other talent development professionals),
people affiliated with groups for which I have recently spoken or published an article to their membership, or
sometimes those with a shared outside interest (alumni groups, shared hobbies, common political interests/issues).
As a sales leader, I have watched as our Sales Development Representatives (SDRs), through trial and error, have actually found remarkable opportunities via social media connections-notably using Twitter AND LinkedIn Sales Navigator platforms. As a team, we are constantly sharing ideas to help each other succeed and exceed the expectations set by our executive leadership team.
…add value with every interaction, demonstrate thought leadership, and THEN politely ask for an opportunity to learn more about THEIR business prior to actually pitching [the prospect] anything.
The Premature LinkedIn Pitch
Just this week, I received an invitation to connect from a gentleman in the middle category above. We appeared to share approximately 40+ connections in the professional speaking/consulting world, so I decided there was likely little harm in connecting. When I accept virtual unknowns to my network, I often send a quick “thanks for connecting” note which may or may not include a link to schedule an introductory call with me. Typically, the response is either “thanks, let’s stay in touch” or “I just scheduled a call!”. Then…this actually happened:
On Tuesday, Scott Cooksey said the following:
Hello, Bob! Thanks for connecting. I see we have MANY common connections. I look forward to your thought-leadership! Scott
[Five hours later], Bob D*********, M.Ed., DCH said the following:
My latest book (#44), “************* ******* ********** : How to Prevent, Preempt, and Respond to Every Sales Objection You Get” is now available from booksellers around the world.
If in your travels you encounter sales consultants, trainers, and coaches interested in helping salespeople prevent, preempt, and respond to real objections in real-time, please ask them to contact me.
Our company will provide the support documents FREE (facilitator’s guide, flashcard learning contest guide, sales manager’s guide, company rollout plan, etc.), and they can buy the books wholesale direct from our distributor. Sample facilitator’s guide and more information on www.ObjectionFree********.***.
Here’s the background.
Research with thousands of salespeople confirms:
• Objections that stop most sales are common and repetitive.
• Specific Buyer Beliefs when missing or weak cause these objections.
• There are many ways to establish these beliefs.
• Before you buy something, this book for example, what’s just one thing must you believe about it?
• If you don’t believe that, what objection comes to mind?
• But, if you did believe that, what happens to the objection?
• You just demonstrated that a missing Buyer Belief caused the objection and that when the belief is in place, the objection goes away.
• Probability has it that right now you know salespeople who are facing sales stopping or stalling objections, the answers to which are in this book.
• Could these potentially stalled or lost sales be enough to cost-justify the $9.95 for the eBook or the $19.95 for the paperback? Buy the paperback and get the ebook for $2.99 on Amazon.
Action plan for managers, trainers, and coaches:
[**redacted for content**More bullet points listing related items for use…]
A preview of the book content is available on ********* and a lot more information is available on www.ObjectionFree*******.***.
Yesterday, my reseller in Finnland contacted three CEOs with this information and made three sales for hundreds of books and multiple days of coaching and facilitating for each one.
I’ve got access to a lot of resources so let me know how I can support your goals in 2017.
Needless to say, I was quite disappointed that my acceptance of his request to connect was taken as an invitation to be drowned in an unsolicited pitch from someone I do not really know anything about.
The Critical (Snarky?) Reply
Feeling a little spirited, I crafted this reply [which, by the way, my wife said was kind of crappy. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are.
Was I out of line? Leave a note below or message me!]
Bob- Let’s try this again.
I accepted your invitation to connect based on our many mutual connections. Your immediate response was a very lengthy, impersonal pitch to me. Typically, that type of occurrence will immediately have me dis-connect you from my network. To me, it fails to truly build any type of professional interaction salesman to salesman, prior to me really knowing you you are, what you are about, or whether there is an opportunity for our connection to be mutually beneficial. But…. I am curious.
Your claim infers perhaps this particular book is your 44th, which either means you author a lot of shorter (perhaps insightful) ebooks (likely in an effort to draw me deeper into your buying funnel) OR, I am a total baffoon for not actually knowing who you are.
In my role as a Sr Sales Enablement Manager for a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup, I am always looking for ways my SDRs can improve their results when connecting with prospects over LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
Typically, I encourage them to add value with every interaction, demonstrate thought leadership, and THEN politely ask for an opportunity to learn more about THEIR business prior to actually pitching them anything.
Does the strategy you used in our connection often result in a) fruitful dialogue? b) book sales or c) frustration for your efforts? Perhaps we are going about it all wrong.
P.S. In a much shorter request today from someone in my network with whom I DO have a relationship, I actually helped him out by purchasing one of his books- without even finishing his pitch. His book went to #1 today at Amazon. [True Story!]
As I was about to publish this article, I checked my LinkedIn mailbox one last time, and found this [excerpted] from Bob
(Additional commentary from me below is in red):
I’m sorry about the impersonal email. Since I completed this book and started being active on LinkedIn last September, I’ve added 2,280 connections. It was getting away from me, but that’s really no excuse. Lesson learned. Thank you. And no, you’re not going about it wrong. I let time constraints interfere with good research to determine how I can help you before asking for your help. See one of my books on the topic (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AHHJIEK). LOL.[Humor is always good to restore good faith!]
On the reaction, it’s overall been positive. Probably at the lower end of around 10% response to this and similar response emails I’ve sent. But, we’re seeing book sales steadfastly increasing both domestic and international and I’ve had about a dozen trainer/coaches contact me about using our coaching and facilitating materials…. [Great context for the ask…]
[In the past we] charged $10,000 per trainer for Value Selling Strategies. Some charge upwards of $35,000. With our new “publisher” business model, we’re not charging for the support materials (facilitator’s guide, etc.), we’re not requiring certification (the process is exceptionally easy), and I’m personally providing any additional support needed (at no charge). [Value statement interesting…]
I’m really scrambling. Our big ad just came out in a catalog used by 65K salespeople who sell books as premiums to their corporate clients. We’re doing a full PR campaign with Smith Publicity (specialize in book PR). Our focus is on bulk corporate sales (rather than on sales to the general public) and by encouraging our resellers to set up accounts directly with our distributor (Ingram), we’re just counting backend sales. Yea! [More context]
Number of books: There really are that many books. I started in the business 30 years ago and have written over 70 training courses of which 50 have been converted to web-based training….Back when we were a bricks and mortar company, we had our own printing press. We now outsource that to IngramSpark. [Directly addressing my challenge from my reply- good thing I left some “room” for my assumption to be incorrect – it was!]
Again, I apologize for the impersonal response and will follow yours and my own teachings. My overall goal is to build a global network of independent trainers, consultants, and coaches. One of our resellers in Finnland is going to bring on several of his contacts to help build the business in the Scandinavian countries and Spain (he’s buying another home there). Another reseller in Brazil may do the same. We’re also going after the community college market – huge! [Owned the misstep and reinforced his global effort.]
I’ve got a lot of resources available so let me know how I can help your achieve your goals for 2017.
By being quick to respond to a message like the one I sent him, much repair was done for our connection. In fact, I have decided to keep Bob as a LinkedIn connection. Futher, I extended an invitation to him for an interview as we prepare for season two of the Success Charger Podcast later this year!
In what seems like the holy grail of business performance, organizations are constantly looking for ways to leverage available resources without sacrificing the quality of services provided to their clients. In this interview with Doug Devitre, who literally wrote the book on Screen-To-Screen Selling, we unpack how EVERY type of business can leverage currently available technology solutions to solidify customer/client relationships FASTER to generate profits today!
GET IN THE CONVERSATION!
Leave a comment at the bottom of this post on how YOU could be using screen-to-screen technology to enhance your business today? Already doing it? Tell us HOW!
Advantages to Screen-to-Screen Selling Concepts Covered in this Interview:
Reduce/Eliminate Travel Expenses in your company
Increase effectiveness of leadership development efforts
Accelerate Team Performance
Make better decisions (at ALL levels of your organization) FASTER
Here’s A Video Introduction to Screen-to-Screen Selling!
Scott Cooksey (Host) is a motivational, keynote speaker & leadership development expert who works with organizations to build lasting, profitable client relationships and high-performing teams FASTER.
For information about working with Scott or having him speak at your event, please visit www.IdeaCharger.com
As always, your comments, thoughts, and guest interview suggestions, please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pick up a copy of Doug’s book, Screen-to-Screen Selling HERE (Full disclosure, this is an Amazon affiliate link, but hey, it doesn’t cost YOU any more to buy it…just sends us a little something for making it available to you!)
Companies today are facing a serious issue. While gathering research for an upcoming conference presentation, Scott stumbled into some fascinating research that made him pause about how to address the knowledge gap present in companies today.
According to Pew Research Center, members of the Baby Boomer generation represent less than 35% of the total U.S. workforce.
Of late, there has been a LOT of talk about the Millennials who now hold the title of the “largest percentage of the U.S. workforce”.
The problem is…this current downturn in large areas of the economy (read: energy sector, manufacturing, and more) is leading to an increasing number of early retirement and voluntary layoff packages being issued, further shrinking the number of vastly experienced people from some very complicated industries.
A quick look at the media offers much attention for the ballyhooed Millennials, but are they ready to take the helm in YOUR company?
There is a better solution already present in your companies, and it’s the ranks within Generation X.
In this episode, host Scott Cooksey shares his insight gained from his experience working closely with the front-line leaders within these companies and shares some easy to implement tips EVERY COMPANY should be utilizing to help bridge the pending knowledge gap before it’s too late.
Leave a comment below and let us know what YOUR company is doing to bridge the knowledge gap!
Scott Cooksey is a speaker and leadership consultant based in Houston, TX. To learn more about having him present at your industry conference or work with your company, visit www.IdeaCharger.com
Over 100 years ago, a company was known as a distributor of industrial pumps. Sexy, huh? Today, that little company, DXP Enterprises, is known for that and much, much more by taking serious their relationshipsconnections seriously…creating $1.2 BILLION in sales during FY 2015. Not too bad.
This week, we flip the script by listening in while Success Charger Podcast host Scott Cooksey gets interviewed by Curt Tueffert, Vice President of Sales Development for an internal podcast known as “DXP Sales Radio“.
With a sales force spread out across a broad geographic area, getting everyone who needs to hear an important message is tough to coordinate. With their internal show, DXP Sales Radio, Tueffert is able to get a consistent message to his force of consulting sales professionals, no matter what.
Often interviewing outside experts, Curt was curious how DXP’s sales force could benefit in sales AND leadership by applying an emphasis of connection, each and every day.
We had so much fun recording the interview, I asked (and was granted) special permission to share our recording with you, the Success Charger listener. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
If you like this, please share it with your management, sales leader, and colleagues. Connection is a skill that can and will benefit EVERY organization. I have seen it impact companies of all sizes in remarkable ways!
Simply stated, I get a kick out of helping people connect their potential with deliberate action that allows them to enjoy success at a level they previously thought impossible. The good news is that it is relatively easy…if you develop the habit of making connections about other people, instead of you.
“There is no substitute for a true, off-line connection.”
Without a doubt, social media has changed the way people connect. Or has it? Certainly, technologies like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have shifted the definitions of a “friend”, “follower”, or “connection” to meanings significantly different than we once thought of them. And while this technology’s popularity makes it easier than ever to “stay in touch” even with the fringes of our networks, there is no substitute for a true, off-line connection.
Are You A Connector or A Collector?
Networking is a word which often brings back memories of hundreds of shallow, self-promoting people swarming around at some random event sponsored by your local chamber of commerce. You probably have someone specific in your mind right now who claims to be a great networker….a claim backed up by the huge stack of recently collected business cards on their desk. Only, if you look a little deeper, it doesn’t take long to realize those “connections” aren’t really connections at all. In fact, that self-proclaimed networker is nothing but a business card collector – evidenced by the number of cards with their name on them, which they have given you over the years -each with a different company logo on it. (Get my drift?)
In recent weeks, I have given closer inspection to just which of the habits I have observed of people I admire as great connectors (as described in Malcom Gladwell’s instant classic, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference). The rules listed below will provide a roadmap for you in becoming a sought after person in the network of others. Each demonstrates just how simply you can integrate subtle changes into your own routine to achieve the status of Connector:
It can never be about you. – I once went to an interview for a job I knew I did not really want, just to get an offer I could turn down. Shortly after passing the “screener’s interview” at the door, I was asked to stay and visit with the insurance agency’s owner. Sure enough, he offered me the job. I immediately turned him down– then sat in his office for nearly an hour listening to him telling me how wonderful and successful he seemed to be. Presuming for a minute he was half as successful as his puffed up autobiographical interview suggested, I knew my instincts were correct. Working for him would never be about the development of my own career. It would only be about him. Successful, perhaps. Did I ever follow up? Let’s just say the materials he gave me on the way out the door never made it out of his office building.
Connections should be authentic. I enjoy a great spy/action novel. In between the great number of business & personal development oriented books I read each year, I find it relaxing to just get lost in a great fiction book once in a while. When I learned a friend of mine had written a novel set in my former hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I downloaded the free sample from his website and sent him a note. Prior to the release of his book, he kindly forwarded me the final version of the first two chapters. On the day it was available for purchase from Amazon, I immediately downloaded the book to my Kindle….and posted everywhere I could online how great it was a friend of mine had just released his first in a series of novels. And let me tell you, the book is a thriller! [Here is a link to the book: The Perfect Candidate. If you download it, please come back to this blog post and let me know what you thought of it!] A few days later, I asked him to preview a new video project of mine ahead of it’s release, and he gladly responded. Offering his feedback, he then (without my asking) mentioned he would forward the link to a few of his own contacts whose organizations often hired speakers. That’s a referral I didn’t even have to ask for! [Oh, and he has since released two more volumes with the same main character…they are ALL great reads!]
Focus on giving. – A close personal friend of mine once said, “Don’t just be a face on a roster.” What great advice. I have learned time and again that connecting people with their best interests at heart will gain you more than trying to shoehorn yourself into being the right solution when you (or the products or services you offer) are simply not a good fit. People remember and the return is much greater in the long-run when you keep this principle in mind. In the past year, he took the courageous step of opening a car repair franchise…and MANY of the people he’d selflessly helped over the years became his first customers!
If at first you don’t connect, try again. – Several years back, I “lost” the opportunity of a new client to another department of the bank I worked for at the time. Eleven months later, I had not only wooed that business into my department, but increased it from $400,000 to a $3,500,000 relationship! Some of my best connections have developed from people I just didn’t “click” with at first. If your approach didn’t connect with them, it is up to you to show the value of what you can bring to their network. (See Rule #1)
Always maintain your integrity. It is flattering to be asked to help someone out. I’m sure that your reputation (out of a cast of thousands) has brought forth many efforts to help an obscure Nigerian prince ex-patriate some funds from his country, if only you would email this thoughtful and promising stranger all of your financial details so they can deposit the promised millions into your account for “your trouble”, right?
Have you ever had a client walk out of my office, with a smile on his face, having lost nearly 95% of the value of his account, carrying only a new coffee mug? Perhaps earned your single largest commission on a one-time sale with a gross payout to you of $17,000? I have. In both cases, the clients had acted foolishly and completely against my advice. That’s right. By advising them against their respective investments (instead of slobbering over the commissions thus making a complete fool of myself), I earned their trust and respect while demonstrating my own integrity. And I won their business (and some handsome commission income) while still finding myself able to sleep at night because I had simply told them the truth.
These five rules are the absolute keys to building solid connections with those to whom you do business. Avoid them at your own peril! The most successful people I have ever studied all possessed the ability think past the short-term, and enjoyed success for the long-term. Which path will you take?
Business landscapes can change in a heartbeat. Momentum shifts. Your business plan is worthless if you cannot implement it!
Is it time to execute your “reboot plan”?
In this quick, hard-hitting episode, I share a valuable lesson passed along to me from a colleague who used this very idea to fuel his business for over two decades.
To field test it, I gave this a shot for one week…with such amazing results, I am doing it again….FROM NOW ON!
In under 15 minutes, learn two specific tactics you can implement right away to (re)boot your business and move the needle forward RIGHT NOWtoward that big, ol’ audacious goal you set for this year/quarter/month/week….
This might just be the most profitable episode of the year….and it’s only February!
Leave your thoughts below. Test it out and let us know how it worked and what you learned about your business!
If you have been in business for very long, then you most certainly have experienced the typical “next year, our goal is to do more!” Or, “this year, our goal will be $X million dollars in sales!” [A number seemingly pulled out of thin air, or worse…a number simply a percentage greater than last year’s total.] This is precisely the reason you should never set goals. Let me explain.
“More” is not a strategy!
There is no creativity in goal setting today. Too often, what often gets construed as strategic planning, is not much more than wishful thinking. In short, people are lazy.
insanity- Taking the same action over-and-over again, each time expecting a different result.
Unhappy with the fact that the company’s sales results were essentially flat for a number of years, a company president shared with me once that “he wanted more”. Isn’t that exactly what conventional wisdom says a company president should say? In fact, it is exactly what that same company president had said in each of the previous five or six years…each time with the same result- roughly the same amount of sales as the year(s) before. Are you surprised?
Activity Alleviates Anxiety
Filled with desire to achieve a new result, do you ever feel paralyzed & uncertain what to do? Research indicates that learning occurs in four stages (Read: Unconscious Competence- A Lesson From Sesame Street). To first learn a new skill, or achieve a new result, one must first take a new action to discover that you likely don’t know what you don’t know- and you need awareness to turn that newly discovered knowledge into action from which you can learn. Once you took that first step, did the outcome bring you closer to or farther from your desired result? Adjust. Try again. It certainly beats the analysis paralysis which prevents so many people from experiencing a change in the outcome of their efforts. Do something, even if it is wrong!
Where SHOULD You Focus?
To achieve big results, you must have a vision. To have a vision, you must allow yourself to detach from your past failures and engage with an image of what your new success looks or feels like. Go ahead. Get a vivid picture of success. What would be different if you achieved success? How would it look? Feel? Smell? What would people notice most about you?
Now, before you get overwhelmed with the natural feelings of “but I don’t know how to get there”, simply bask in that vision for a few minutes. Hey, take an hour!
Welcome back! Feels good, doesn’t it? Now, write down a list of new actions (short term) that would lead you closer to that vision becoming your reality. Want a new job? Apply for a new one every day for a month. Want to lose those extra pounds you gained over the holidays…four years ago? Decide to go for a walk for 30 minutes every day.
Recent, widely-quoted research seems to suggest that mastery of a skill occurs once you have exercised that skill for 10,000 hours. Becoming an “expert” is a lofty goal. [For those counting at home that is spending 12 hours a day, every day, for 27 months; or by spending 30 minutes a day for nearly 55 years-if you have that kind of time.] No matter your level of commitment each day, proficiency in any skill only comes from experience. There are no shortcuts!
Focus on building new behaviors. Experiment with new behaviors and identify the correlation with your vision. As you take more and more deliberate action in the correct direction, that vision will begin to come into focus. Celebrate the small victories. Track your progress toward the greater desired result. Just don’t gauge how well you are doing with a pass/fail mentality. Focus on moving yourself in the right direction. The big, satisfying goal will just seem to “happen”.
ACTION: Share a big goal publicly with others as a motivator to keep yourself accountable. Take a minute and describe your big vision below. Even if nobody reaches out to you to check your progress, YOU will remember it was posted here and the discomfort of complacency will encourage you to take action each day.
Eliminate Missed Sales Opportunities with this One Simple Concept
“The biggest rookie mistake in sales is working hard to finally get to a point where you can ask for the sale…only to blow it with a one-dimensional pitch!” – Scott Cooksey
When the pressure to create income is high, it is easy to let emotion take over…only to sabotage your success with a one-dimensional pitch. In this episode, Host Scott Cooksey shares techniques you can apply immediately to shift the conversation with prospects and clients from “Do you want to buy this product/service from me today?” to “Here are some options for how we could best work together as we move forward.”