I came across this poem many years and I still enjoy reading it from time-to-time.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the roads you’re trudging seem all uphill, When the funds are low and debts are high, And you want to smile but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down quite a bit Rest if you must, but don’t quit.
For life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure runs about, When he might have won if he’d stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than, It seems to a faint and faltering man, Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor’s cup; And he learned to late when the night came down, How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is just failure turned inside out, The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit!
Many sales people are notorious for speaking too quickly and this habit can cost them money in lost sales. Here are 15 critical times sales people should slow down:
1. When opening a telephone call with a new prospect. Most people are not fully engaged when they initially answer a call. The majority or still focused on the task they were working on when the call came through so slow down until you have their full attention.
2. When speaking to someone who is calling from their cell phone. Most cell phone connections are not as clear as a landline so it is important to slow down your conversation to ensure that the other person hears everything.
3. Immediately before you ask for the sale. Many people are nervous asking for the sale. To relieve the stress associated with this, try slowing down and taking a deep breath before asking your prospect for their agreement or commitment.
4. When you begin your sales presentation. Too many sales people race through their sales presentations often due to nervousness. When you slow down before a presentation it gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts and to think about the key points you need and want to make.
5. Before you respond to a question. Instead of blurting out a quick answer, take a few moments and carefully think about your response. This will help you build credibility and gain your prospect’s respect (providing of course that your answer is appropriate).
6. Before sending an email.One of the biggest time wasters is sending an email and forgetting the attachment. Do yourself a favor and slow down before you press ‘send’. Use this time to make sure your attachment is included and that your email is properly written and free of mistakes, spelling errors (including your prospect’s name!) and grammatical errors.
7. When introducing yourself. Do people ever ask you to repeat your name when you introduce yourself for the first time? If so, you are probably speaking too quickly. Slow down when you state your name so people can hear and understand it the first time.
8. Before you respond to an objection.Avoid the impulse to react quickly to an objection. Objections are not necessarily negative and slowing down before you respond can help you position your solution more effectively.
9. When you notice that you’re speaking too quickly. I often catch myself talking too fast, especially on the telephone and during presentations so I constantly remind myself to slow down.
10. If you feel your emotions getting the better of you. Sometimes people will say something that triggers an emotional response. Slow down before you say anything and prevent your emotions from affecting what you say.
11. When you don’t understand the other person’s perspective. When a prospect or customer references something and you are unclear what they mean, slow down for a moment before forging ahead with the conversation. Ask them what they mean by saying, “Can you clarify that for me?” or “What do you mean?”
12. When writing a sensitive email.If you need to write a sensitive email slow down and carefully choose your words so your message is not misinterpreted. However, I highly suggest that instead of sending an email in these situations, that you pick up the telephone and speak directly to the other person.
13. Before returning a call from a customer or prospect. Make sure that you have all the information necessary for the call before you dial. This includes a list of questions you need to ask if it is a prospect calling about a particular product or service. A few minutes of preparation can make a big difference in your results.
14. When you’re rushed.I realize that this sounds contradictory but here’s the rationale. When you are feeling rushed, you are more apt to make a mistake. So, in these situations, make a concerted effort to slow down, check your work and prevent a mistake from occurring.
15. When you don’t know the answer to a question. Many sales people feel obligated to respond to questions even when they don’t know the answer. Instead of falling prey to this fatal mistake slow down and tell your prospect that you don’t have an answer and that you will get it for them.
Speed isn’t everything especially in sales. You can stand out from many of your competitors by slowing down at opportune times. Great sales people know that slowing down at the right time can improve their sales results. Determine which of the suggestions in this article most apply to you and begin integrating them into your sales approach.
The sales profession doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation. The industry is fraught with sales people who will say or do anything to close a deal and this includes companies who condone such behaviour. Unfortunately, you might also be guilty of some bad sales habit—habits that could be affecting your reputation.
Here are seven sales habits that might be giving you a bad reputation.
1. Pitching too soon
The vast majority of sales people pitch their product or service too soon. As a result, they end up pitching the wrong solution or they fail to effectively position their solution because they haven’t taken the time to conduct a thorough discovery to determine if the prospect actually has a need for their solution.
2. Opening your pitch by talking about your company
I’m flabbergasted by the number of sales people (and company executives) who still believe this is the best way to open a sales presentation. They use valuable time talking about their company and its achievements instead of focusing on what is important to their prospect…a solution to a problem.
3. Failing to listen
Too many salespeople don’t listen to their customers or prospects and that means they fail to address the key issues that their customer has stated as being important. It sounds simple but it is a common occurrence in the business world. One of the easiest ways to connect with a decision maker is to carefully listen to what they tell you.
4. Not understanding key business issues
In today’s highly competitive business world, sales people are expected to have a strong grasp of issues that are affecting their prospect’s business and/or industry. Bringing new insights to the table can help you stand out from your competition and improve your reputation as a sales professional.
5. Not asking enough high-value questions
It still amazes me how many salespeople think that telling is selling but your prospect or customer should be doing most of the talking in a sales conversation. The key is to ask high-value, thought-provoking questions that get your prospect thinking.
6. Delivering a generic presentation
The objective of a sales presentation is to demonstrate why your prospect should buy your product, service, solution or offering. Unfortunately, very few sales people craft a presentation that is tailored to each prospect. Instead, they use the same slides, the same information and the same approach with every prospect.
7. Failing to follow through
A prospect asks for a particular piece of information and the sales person promises to deliver it by a certain date. The deadline passes and the prospect has to call and remind the salesperson. Because the sale has not been finalized, warning signals sound in the customer’s mind. After all, if the sales person is this slow to respond BEFORE the sale is made (the courting stage), how long will it take him to respond AFTER the sale?
Selling is an honorable profession. Improve your reputation and gain your prospect’s trust and respect by avoiding these bad sales habits.
Ever hear those words from a prospect after you quoted a price or submitted a proposal? Smart business people know that these words can yield great results because they often strike fear into a sales person’s mind.
But here’s the thing…
It’s just a negotiating tactic.
The vise is a subtle—okay, maybe not quite so subtle—way of getting someone to improve their price, offer a discount or make some other type of concession. And, it’s effective because many sales people automatically go back to the drawing board to recalculate their numbers, returning with a better price, more options or other concessions.
However, there is a more effective way to respond to this tactic and it sounds like this…
“Exactly how much better do I have to do?”
The main reason you ask this is to avoid negotiating with yourself which, by the way, is a very common occurrence.
There are two key things to keep in mind when using this response. The word “exactly” and the discipline to repeat this question several times. Here’s why.
Smart buyers will seldom tell you what they want to see in that next number so they will say, “Well, better than this” or “It’s gotta be lower than your first quote” or something similar.
That means you need to repeat the phrase, “Exactly how much better do I have to do?”
Smart negotiators won’t reveal what they want after one or two attempts but many people will start to cave in after the third or fourth time. In some cases, you may need to say, “I know I need to come back with a better price but without knowing what you’re looking we could still end up miles apart. Exactly how much better do I have to do?”
Your goal is to get the other person to reveal what they are looking for which will help you determine:
- if it makes sense to continue negotiating
- whether or not their expectations are unrealistic
- what to quote next
Knowing how to respond to the vise can make a significant difference in your sales AND profitability.
In last Monday’s post, I mentioned that a sales person (I’ll refer to him as Joe—no disrespect to any readers named Joe is intended!) failed to show up for an online demo that he managed to schedule after making a very effective cold call.
However, he did call me multiple times throughout the week (call display indicated that he called at least 8 times) but I was either away from my office or unable to take his call and he did not leave a message during any of his attempts.
Finally, on Friday afternoon we connected.
Joe: “Hey Kelley, since we didn’t connect on Monday I wanted to set up another day and time to show you our product.”
Me: “What happened on Monday? I was in my office waiting for your call.”
Joe: “Uh, yeah, I was double booked.”
Me: “And you couldn’t email me or call me earlier to tell me that and reschedule?”
Joe: “Yeah, well, sorry about that. So can we set up another time so I can walk you through our demo?”
Me: “I don’t think so.”
I know stuff happens and that appointments get missed from time-to-time. Heck, I’ve made that mistake before. But it’s your recovery that makes a difference.
Joe could have recovered much more effectively by calling me the moment he saw he was double booked (if that was the case). He could have left a message the first time he called which was an hour or two after our appointment. He could have sincerely apologized BEFORE I questioned him.
I didn’t really buy his “double booked excuse. Remember, he sent me an Outlook invite which meant our appointment was on his calendar. Plus, his apology did not sound genuine—it was just words flowing from his mouth.
In today’s ultra-competitive business world, you only have one opportunity to make a positive first impression. If you fail, then your recovery must be on-point to stand a chance of making a sale with that prospect.
Take responsibility, be proactive, and be genuinely concerned and sincere.
I get lots of cold calls from sales people trying to sell me stuff for my business. In most cases, I quickly brush off the caller, usually because they are unprepared, unfocused or because they simply do a poor job during the call.
However, last week, a salesperson managed to keep me on the phone AND schedule an online demo. That doesn’t happen very often!
After our call, he sent me an Outlook invite to ensure he was on my calendar. I accepted and yesterday I ensured I was at my desk at the scheduled time.
Unfortunately, the sales person failed to show up for the demo. No email. No call. No contact.
It is unlikely I will buy his product unless he contacts me later this week with a genuinely good reason why he missed Monday’s call.
Getting the time and attention of a decision maker is one of the most difficult aspects of selling and we don’t often get second chances if we screw up that initial contact or a subsequent pre-scheduled meeting, call, or demonstration.
You can’t win the sales opportunity if you don’t show up.
During the last 17-plus years I have been part of, or watched, hundreds of sales presentations. More recently, I viewed a series of sales demonstrations and all but one of the four sales team opened their presentation the same way.
Here are three openers you need to avoid using when starting a sales presentation.
Contrary to popular belief, spending time at the beginning of a sales presentation engaging the prospect in social chit-chat to create rapport is not a good use of time. You may think it’s important but your prospect doesn’t really care. They are busy and want you to get to the point—quickly—so they can get back to work.
There are two exceptions to this rule…
1. If you are doing a presentation for multiple people and you are waiting for people to arrive, it is perfectly acceptable to engage the others in small talk. However, once everyone has shown up, get started immediately.
2. If your prospect engages you in small talk then it makes good business to participate. Otherwise, don’t waste their time–or yours.
Thanking the prospect
Most of the sales presentations I have observed start with the sales person(s) thanking the prospect for the opportunity to present their solution. This behavior diminishes your credibility and puts you in a submissive position. Plus, it doesn’t any add value to the presentation.
Talking about your company
This is perhaps the worst mistake. The vast majority of sales presentations I have seen open with the seller talking about their company.
How long they have been in business
The clients they have on their roster
The awards they have won
The list goes on
After more than 17 years of working with sales people I still don’t know why sellers think this is an effective way to open a sales presentation.
First impressions are critical. And if you make the wrong impression in the first vital moments of a sales presentation you run the risk of losing that opportunity.
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Yesterday, I wrote a post outlining the importance of displaying a confident demeanor when dealing with prospects, especially senior executives.
Afterwards, I remembered a situation when I displayed the same timid behaviour as the service advisor I mentioned.
Eight years ago I was meeting with a prospect to discuss a sales training project. We talked about their goals, objectives and outcomes and what type of program would work best. Eventually, they asked, “How much will this cost?”
I started to reply and the words got caught in my throat.
You see, until that point, all price discussions with prospects had been done via telephone or through email. To make matters worse, I had just increased my fees. The little voice in my head screamed, “You can’t charge that much!!”
I started to freak out, wondering how I could deal with the situation without looking like a wimp or worse, an idiot. So, I wrote the fee on a sheet of paper and slid it across the table to my prospects.
They looked at each other, nodded and said, “Sounds good. Let’s get going.”
At that point, I made a commitment to never allow that to happen again.
Confidence is a funny thing.
We need it to survive, especially in sales. And the most successful sales people tend to be very confident. However, even top performers lack confidence from time to time.
An effective strategy to prevent confidence from escaping you when you most need it is to preview—in your mind—the situation beforehand. If necessary, verbally rehearse what you need to say so your brain, mouth and ears all work together.
This approach can help you maintain your confidence when you need it most and prevent you from acting like a sales wimp.
I’m sitting at my car dealership waiting for my car to be serviced and the service advisor approaches me with a sheet of paper in his hand and look of trepidation on his face.
He sits down next to me and says, “Um, Mr. Robertson, uh, your rear brakes need to be replaced.” Uncomfortable and awkward pause. “Um, they’re down to 2 millimeters and when they get below 3 millimeters…” he drifts off unsure of what to say next. “But your front brakes are fine.
“Um, uh, parts and labour will be, uh, $549, um, plus , uh, tax.”
I was fascinated how timid the advisor was in his approach. Obviously, no one likes unexpected repairs but they are a fact of life as a car owner and in the eight years I have had my car serviced at this dealership I have never felt that they have suggested (or done) unnecessary repairs unlike other dealerships I have dealt with.
It’s not uncommon for sales people to be timid.
I have been approached by sales people who open their conversation by apologizing. I have witnessed sales people who stutter and stammer when faced with objections. And, I have seen sales reps become visibly nervous when the subject of price comes up.
Decision makers want to do business with sales people who are confident and the higher up the corporate food chain you go, the more important this concept becomes. Senior executives are accustomed to discussing tough topics and talking about issues such as price which means you need to be as well.
Approach these conversations with confidence. Don’t be a wimp like my dealership’s service advisor.
Several years ago I read an article by a sales expert (I don’t recall who it was) who suggested that sales people could close more deals by using the “Yes, no, yes, yes, yes” tactic.
This approach suggested that sales people ask their prospects a series of questions that will be answered with “Yes, no, yes, yes, yes.” He said that it was important that a prospect say “no” early in the sales process because everyone who is tasked with a buying decision feels compelled to say no at least once. The last question would be closing question and because the prospect would be used to saying yes he or she would automatically say yes when asked to make a buying decision.
I cringed because I thought his approach was a load of crap.
Flash forward to this past week when a participant in a sales training workshop admitted to being trained on this tactic.
He said, “…and we spent a lot of time role playing this tactic during the training.” When I asked if the approach actually worked he snorted and said, “Are you kidding me?!? My prospects aren’t that stupid.” He went on to say, “I don’t know anyone in my office who had success with it.”
Suggestions and ideas like this really burn me up.
Sales is a tough profession and it is chock-full of people who give sales a bad name and so-called sales experts who dispense this type of advice only add to the negative stereotype.
Professional selling requires hard work. There is no quick fix, magic answer or easy way to close more sales. So please…anytime anyone offers you a “sure-fire” way to close more deals, carefully consider the advice. If it sounds too good (or easy) to be true, it probably is.