Stop Spouting Off!

Aug 25

While I was having my car serviced recently at the dealership, I ended up speaking with the General Manager (we knew each other through recreational softball).

During our conversation he stressed how their company was changing their approach to selling cars by focusing more on relationships rather than “telling” people everything about the vehicles they were looking at or considering. He noted that people know all the “stuff” about cars so telling them about the technical aspects was a waste of time.

However, about 30 minutes later I watched a sales person lead a customer through the showroom. And, not surprisingly, he was telling the customer everything he knew about each vehicle.

Wake up!

Spouting off product knowledge or specs about your product is NOT going to compel someone to buy from you. People can get that information from the Internet and, in most cases, they do before they call or visit you!

As Linda Richardson once penned, “telling is not selling” so stop spouting off. You can close more sales, earn more credibility and differentiate yourself from your competition by asking deep, thought-provoking questions that get your prospects to sit up and think.

It’s much effective than spouting off.


Are You Willing to Put in the Effort?

Aug 18

Last week I was conducting a post-training call with a client’s sales team and during the call we discussed what concepts the team had implemented since the initial sales training workshop.

I was not surprised to learn that several sales people had not implemented the concepts into their sales routine. I also wasn’t shocked to learn that these individuals had not made much progress in their sales results since the initial training program.

Improving your results takes effort. You can’t expect to implement something new and get great results.

New skills take time to master. You need to practice. And you need to put in the effort.

Think about your favorite hobby, pastime or non-work activity.

Whether it’s gardening, pottery, playing a musical instrument, doing puzzles, golfing, etc., I guarantee that you went through learning curve before you started mastering that activity. I play darts in a Division 1 league but it took many hours of practise and playing to reach that level.

It’s no different with sales.

Changing your approach takes discipline, effort and hard work.

Today’s sales environment has changed and if you have not changed and improved your approach, you are going to get the same results you always have. 


Get Personal

Aug 11



Wow! Last’s week’s post about sales lessons from a Jack White generated a ton of emails! Not only from the sales ideas but mostly because readers learned that I am a fan of White’s.

That got me thinking…

We need to get personal with our customers and prospects, too.

However, not in the traditional sense of spending time trying to find common ground in hobbies or interests. That’s an old-school approach of establishing rapport that is not nearly as effective as it once was simply because busy decision makers don’t have time for social chit-chat.

Instead, we want to ask questions that get personal insight from those individuals.

Insight that help us identify their business and personal goals determine key pain points, areas of opportunity, and deeper knowledge about their business. Executives love to talk about their business providing, of course, you are not wasting their time asking basic questions that could have been gleaned from their website or front-line employee.

Senior decision makers are always looking for insights and knowledge that can help them achieve their business goals which means we can also get personal by demonstrating knowledge about their business, industry, trends and challenges.

When we help our prospects and customers accomplish their goals, me make it personal. And, that helps block out the competition.


What Jack White Taught Me About Selling

Aug 04

Jack White live at the ACC in Toronto

Last Thursday I saw Jack White perform at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Although the vocals were often difficult to hear (it was the ACC after all), White’s performance was outstanding. As I watched him perform, I couldn’t help but think of some of the sales lessons he provided during his show.

He gave it 100%

Since early June White has done 30 shows across North America and Europe but you would never know it by the energy he put into his performance. He danced, strutted, jumped and played the guitar like it was the beginning of the tour.

Sales lesson: Are you putting 100% into every sales call, meeting and presentation?

He talked very little

Many performers spent time between songs talking about the next song, how they came up with the idea, etc., to introduce it. White did very of this. After all, we weren’t there to hear him talk; we wanted to watch and hear him play.

Sales lesson: It’s common for sales people to talk too much. Limit your talking and invest more time asking questions.

He had a simple stage show

Unlike many concert acts, White did not have an elaborate stage set up or show. There were no pyrotechnics. No big screens, lasers or complex light show.

At first I was surprised but as the show progressed I realized my attention was focused on the music instead of watching other stuff that often happens during a concert.

Sales lesson: Less is more. Sales presentations don’t have to be elaborate or complex to be effective.

He got us to pay attention

I generally take dozens of pictures during a concert but last Thursday I only took a handful. There were two key reasons…

First, before White came on stage an MC came out and suggested that everyone put away their phones so we could fully appreciate the show. He went on to say that photos from the show would be posted on Whites website the following day where they could be downloaded at no charge.

As a result, I didn’t feel compelled to take a lot of photos which allowed me to focus on the show.

Sales lesson: What can you do to gain your prospect’s full attention?

He was focused

During one of the encore songs, a young guy gained access to the stage and began dancing. White didn’t even blink an eye or miss a beat when this happened or while security escorted the guy off the stage. Instead, he remained completely focused on playing and singing.

Sales lesson: How can you improve your focus during a sales call, meeting or appointment to achieve better results?


Take Off Your Watch

Jul 28

cool watch

Let’s face it. Sales people don’t always get the respect they deserve and rightfully so sometimes.

If you read last week’s newsletter, you that some salespeople deliberately mislead prospects in order to get them on the phone or schedule a face-to-face meeting.

However, assuming this is not your approach and you are meeting with a new prospect for the first time, here is sure-fire way to not only capture their attention but to instantly earn their respect.

Take off you watch and place it on the table or desk in front of you. Then say, “Mike, I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Do you still have 30 minutes allotted for this meeting?”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Look at it from a prospect’s perspective for a moment.

Most decision makers have been forced to endure long-running meetings where the salesperson droned on and on. I know I’ve been guilty of running overtime on a sales call or two and that behavior seriously affects our credibility.

I can practically guarantee that your competitors don’t do this which gives you a perfect opportunity to stand out from your competition.

BTW: if you don’t wear a watch, you can use the same approach with your smartphone.


If You Need to Leave Voice Mails Like This Maybe it’s Time for a New Career

Jul 21

Caution Head

Last Thursday I was working in my office and received a voice mail message that said, “Hi it’s Dan. I was just looking at your website and I’m interested in learning about your training.”

As you can imagine, I returned that call pretty quickly and here’s how it played out…

“Hi, Dan speaking.”

“Dan, it’s Kelley Robertson returning your call.”

“Hey, thanks for getting back to me. I was on your website and saw that you do training. I work for (a company who provides online printing services) and wondered if you have heard of us.”

“Sure have. A couple of people from your company reached out to me last fall. So, would I be correct in assuming that you’re not actually interested in training but you want to sell me your services?”

“Yeah, are you interested in booking an online demo?”

Combined with the negative experience I had last fall with both sales people from the company (one missed the scheduled online demo and the other called me Rick in her voice mail and email) AND the fact that Dan had left that voice mail simply to get a return call, the rest of the call went downhill fast.

I despise sales people who use manipulative tactics to get appointments or return calls. It is individual’s like this that give professional sales people a bad reputation.

Misleading people to get them to return calls is not an effective long-term strategy. You might get the call-back but it’s going to be tough to earn your prospect’s trust and close the deal.

Do yourself a favor…be honest, open and direct in your prospect communications.


When a Prospect Misses a Scheduled Telephone Appointment

Jul 14


Last week I wrote about how to eliminate the “I’m just following up” call. Not surprisingly, several people emailed me and asked, “What happens when my prospect misses that scheduled call?”

A tough dilemma and one that frequently happens to everyone in sales . Here’s what I do when this happens to me.

I hang up.

Wait two minutes.

Call again.

More often than not, my prospect answers the call and opens with an apology. “I’m sorry, I was on another call, my meeting ran late, I had someone in my office, I had a problem to deal with, etc.”

However, in the event I get their voice mail again, I leave a message.

“Mr. Smith, Kelley Robertson calling at 10:15 as promised (those last two words are critical and powerful).  I suspect that you’re dealing with an unexpected problem or that you’re tied up in a meeting so I will call you at 2:15 this afternoon.”

When I call back it is rare that I don’t connect with my prospect. But, if I hear their voice mail I leave another message similar to the first one with another day and time. However, I also add, “If this time doesn’t work for you, have your assistant (mention his or her name) give me a more convenient time.”

In the eight or nine years I have been using this approach I have dramatically increased my reconnection ratio with prospects. In the rare cases that I don’t, I usually find that that person isn’t interested in moving forward or that they have taken a different approach.


The Secret to Eliminating the “I’m just following up” Call

Jul 10

sad telephone

A few weeks ago I was coaching a sales team and one of the senior reps asked, “How do I get someone to respond to my calls or emails? I’ve sent him information but now I can’t get in touch with him.”

The short answer…you don’t.

You can’t force anyone to reply to an email or return your call. However, if you set it up properly, you will never have to say, “I’m just following up.”

The key is to establish a day and time for a subsequent conversation BEFORE you send your prospect any information. And, just as a FYI, if you’re sending corporate brochures, you can disregard this post because this type of information seldom entices a prospect to make a buying decision.

Here’s the approach I have used to reconnect with my prospects after an initial call or subsequent discovery meeting. Before I end the call or meeting, I say something like, “John, I will get that proposal to you by close of business on Wednesday. When is a good day and time to review it with you?”

If they tell me to call later in the week or early the following week I politely press for a specific day and time.

“Does Friday at 10:15 am work for you?”

In most situations, they say yes or give me an alternate time. Then, immediately after the call–and this is critical–I send them an Outlook invite which places me on their calendar.

I have consistently found that this approach eliminates the “I’m just following up” call because now they are expecting my call and we have a specific reason to talk.



Do This During Your Next Sales Call and Increase Your Credibility

Jun 30

Smart student writes formula

During a sales training workshop I co-facilitated last week, several participants expressed surprise when a colleague took notes during a practical application session (aka role play). During the debriefing, one of the individual’s said, “I had never thought about taking notes during my sales calls.”

I found that surprising especially since the average meeting for these sales reps ranges between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Upon further investigation and discussion, a few reps acknowledged that they thought prospects and customers might feel awkward, uncomfortable or offended if they took notes so I asked, “Would YOU be offended if someone took notes during a sales call with you?”

Not one person said yes.

During all of the sales meetings I have had with customers and prospects, I have never had a person say, “Oh, you’re not taking notes, are you?”

No one ever gets offended, in fact, I have found the opposite…taking notes actually increases your credibility.

You see, when you rely strictly on remembering everything that was said during a sales call, it’s inevitable that you will miss or forget something. Unless, of course, you have a photographic memory.

Aside from being able to review key points, here’s the real benefit for you to take notes during a sales call…

You can accurately recap the other person’s objectives, goals, outcomes, challenges as well as the next steps. This simple, but powerful step will increase your credibility and earn your prospect’s respect…providing of course you have captured the information accurately.

It’s a simple concept but an effective one.


Don’t Waste a Prospect’s Time with Stupid Questions

Jun 23

Stupid sales person

During the “Cracking the Buyers Code” webinar that was conducted last Thursday, the panelist of corporate decision makers and buyers shared some revealing insights for sellers.

They all stated that time is a precious commodity and that their schedules are jam-packed from morning until evening. In fact, one person said that he arrived at the office at 7:30 am and that he had already met with three salespeople that morning before the 11:00 am webinar.

Continuing on the “time is precious” thread, one of the panelists said, “Don’t waste my time with stupid, basic questions like; “Where are you located?” or “Are you the right person to speak with regarding…?”

The frustration in her voice as she said this clearly indicated that these types of questions were commonly asked by sales people wanting to sell her their product, service or solution.

The rest of the panel wholeheartedly agreed and unanimously said that proper preparation is critical if you want to get their attention and capture some of their valuable time.

Part of the preparation is understanding their business issues which means you MUST do some homework BEFORE you contact busy decision makers. From there you need to create thought-provoking questions that will help you stand out from your competitors.

Don’t waste a prospect’s time with basic questions that could be answered by spending five minutes on their website.

BYW: You can listen to the full webinar here. It is definitely worth your time.