Friday Faves – 3.20.15

032015NOTE:  I will be off the grid and will not be publishing for two weeks.

Providing Space for Dissatisfaction – My favorite open ended probes:   “Oh?”  “Really?”  “How’s that?”  “Tell me more.”

5 Basic Needs of Virtual Workforces – The cubicles of the future.

The Death of the Gatekeepers – An interesting perspective, though I believe they exist and will continue to.

Why All These Meetings? – After reading the 5 Basic Needs and Death of Gatekeepers, maybe Death of Meetings follows?

Don’t Wish It Was Easier – When all else fails, persistence and competence succeed.

 

 

 

Friday Faves – 3.13.15

031315

Music weekend with my band from High School.  Shake off the rust and rock.  Rock your thinking with these insightful posts from this week.

Sign Of A Healthy Sales Team Is An Empty Conference Room – CRM systems render most of the traditional sales meeting agenda moot.  Better, though, to meet to share challenges, best practices and new ideas.

[Infographic] How to Close a Sales Lead – I especially like the meet face to face piece.  Not necessary for EVERY sale, just the important ones you want to last.

How Dissatisfaction Creates Opportunities – I turn this one around.  Your prospects aren’t dissatisfied until they are.  Maintain relationships even  especially when a competitor is in place.

People Love to Be Sold – Sound logic, but I think people love to BUY and the art is selling them so they feel they are buying.

I Am Not Social Selling – True dat.  Your network is as strong as what you GIVE not what you TAKE.

The 13 Customer Laws – Memorize this and your retention will skyrocket.

 

Lessons from Alex

alexI needed to have my garage painted and Alex was referred by a realtor I know.  She texted me that Alex would call later that afternoon to set up a meet to look at the work and give me a price.  He called in about an hour and we met up later that Saturday afternoon.

We agreed on a price and I asked when he could do the work.  (I was expecting a week or so.) When he said, “How about tomorrow morning?”  Incredulously, I said “Sunday?”  He said he had a big job to start on Monday and would be tied up for several days.  I happily agreed.

Alex and his friend showed up exactly on time, moved some things out of the garage that I had forgotten to do and they set about to work.  They chatted away pretty much nonstop and finished much quicker than I expected.  They did a meticulous cleanup job and the garage looked better than I expected.

In a partially-finished basement room, we pulled up the stained carpet a long time ago, but the underpadding, which was glued to the concrete and the tackless remained.  I contacted Alex to see if he might want to remove all that, or knew someone who would.  Once again, he said he’d stop by the next day at 4pm and was right on time.  We agreed on a price and, as before, he asked if he could do the work the next morning, Sunday, at 8am.

8am came and went, but no Alex.  I was concerned, but then at exactly 9am, he arrived with a friend.  We went to the basement and the two set to work.  They carried all the padding rolled and neatly taped to the curb for trash pickup, and all the tackless was brought up in a garbage can.

I asked Alex for one more little bit of help before he left, move a heavy desktop from my office upstairs to the basement.  He gladly obliged.  As we walked out to the driveway, I paid Alex and as I was thanking him, he asked if I had any friends or neighbors that needed a reliable painter or any odd jobs done.

He said the weather is going to get better soon and he does exterior as well as interior painting.  Also, he does garage floor epoxy paint, which is very popular now.  He asked if I was happy with his work, which I certainly was, and asked me to please tell my friends if they need work.

LESSONS FROM ALEX

  1. BE PUNCTUAL – Except for one time, when Alex was exactly one hour late, he always called or arrived when he said he would.  Establish trust and credibility by honoring your commitments.  (BTW, he was an hour late because Daylight Savings Time started at 3am this morning.  Apparently, Alex’s alarm clock doesn’t change automatically.)
  2. BE EAGER – By jumping on the job the very next day, I felt Alex was motivated to do the work, which made me feel I would get quality work.  The energy you convey to prospects is received and an indicator of how you will approach their work.
  3. HAVE FUN AT WORK – While neither of these are jobs I would have enjoyed doing, Alex seemed and his friend seemed to have a good time as they worked.  If you enjoy your work, others sense it and gives them a good feeling about having you on the team.
  4. EXCEED EXPECTATIONS – My bad, forgetting to move some large items around, but Alex and his friend didn’t even ask, they just did it.  Plus they left the garage (and basement) cleaner than they were before.  When you exceed a client’s expectations, they want to do MORE business with you.
  5. GIVE A LANGNIAPPE – Moving the desktop wasn’t part of the original deal, but Alex gladly did it for me.  If you clicked on the definition, a langniappe is more than exceeding expectations, it’s like a gratuity for your client.  The first time I was in New Orleans and, after placing our order, the server brought us a langniappe of a few sauteed shrimp, I latched onto this great best practice.
  6. ASK FOR REFERRALS – After 2 successful jobs, demonstrating reliability and throwing me a langniappe, Alex earned the right to ask for referrals.  And, he’ll get some too!

Engligh, by the way, is not Alex’s native language, nor has perfected it yet.  But, between his heavily-accented 70% English and my 10-word Spanish vocabulary, we communicated just fine.  Though his English may not be very strong, his innate business sense and practices are.

Friday Faves – 3.6.15

snow thumbs upRANT WARNING:  When is this winter going to END?

OK, I feel better now.  And I read some great posts this week.  Enjoy, and THINK SPRING!

You Want to Be Standing Up When You Read This – As my PT has told me often.

Days Off and Off Days – Learn and recover.  We all have them.

Bad Advice Sounds Nice – Are there immutable process truths in sales when so much is personalized?

Top 3 Mistakes in Selling to Inbound Leads – As you company (hopefully) does more to generate inbound leads for you,  effective handling is critical to conversions.

How To Not Grow Up or Wake Up – Good advice, personally or professionally.

 

Friday Faves – 2.27.15

022715A little late, due to a birthday celebration.  Good reads nonetheless.

How To Be a Trusted Advisor – You can never read too much on perfecting this critical success skill.

3 Reasons You’ll Fail At Cold Calling – I read a lot of crapola about the death of cold calling and I think many who feel that way can’t execute it.

New School and Old School – ROCK ON!

Are You Managing This Important Resource? – You’ve heard enough of me on the time-management soapbox.  I never tire of reading about and learning new tips to improve here.

Use Chunking to Make Sense Out of LinkedIn Chaos – Not the first time I’ve heard this, but well-explained good ideas to speed your learning.

Jane, you ignorant slut!

Jane You Ignorant SlutThat great line from Saturday Night Live’s parody of Point/Counterpoint never gets old.  I’m using it here for a most unusual post.  Recently, I read a blog post with which I took objection on several points.  I felt it was just plain bad advice.  I’m sanitizing the site and author, because my intent is to foster a discussion of the ideas, and nothing but.

The post dealt with an important part of our job – follow up, and how to make it less of a chore and more productive.  A good topic, which compelled me to read it.  Below, I have posted the recommendations in that post as the “Point” and my thoughts in blue after each one as the “Counterpoint.”  Please add to the conversation with your comments.

1. Offer something instead of asking for anything.
Like many professional service providers, the process of giving advice, making connections, and sharing resources comes naturally to me. Instead of focusing on what I wanted to get from the person I was calling, I switched my emphasis to what I could give them.  What is everyone’s favorite subject to discuss?  Themselves, of course.  Directed probing should help define the prospect’s pain points and you should always understand these before emphasizing what you can “give them.”  How can you know what you would give them without knowing what they need.

2. Call with a specific, helpful purpose.
I’ve had many salespeople call me just to “stay in touch,” and it always felt like a waste of my time. Instead of calling people just to chat, I now call to invite them to a networking event, introduce them to a new contact, or let them know about a book, blog post, or workshop they might find valuable.   This is excellent advice and I would go further.  Subscribe to enewsletters and blogs that your prospects would also choose.  See the world through their eyes, be current in developing issues, regulations and trends in their markets and you can position yourself as an expert resource.

3. Have meaningful conversations about what’s going on in peoples’ lives.
Making small talk about weather, sports, or entertainment news has never been one of my favorite pastimes. But hearing what’s going on in someone’s life, career, or business fascinates me. Those are the topics I began introducing in my follow-up calls.  While I agree it’s important to have a personal connection with prospects when you can, this is a business relationship, not a personal one.  If the prospect brings it up, that’s great.  Not everybody wants to share aspects of their private lives with sellers.  I addressed this in an earlier post: Relationship? Think again.

4. Avoid rejection by staying away from selling.
Phoning someone to ask whether they’re ready to hire me feels awkward and pushy, and I’m sure my prospects often feel the same. I’d much rather help people than sell to them. Unless I am calling someone to follow up on a specific deal already in progress, I no longer ask for business. Instead I focus on having helpful, meaningful exchanges.  What is the #2 reason sellers don’t close the deal?  THEY DON’T ASK FOR THE ORDER!  You are paid to SELL and if you don’t or are dodging rejection, you are not selling.  It comes with the turf.  IMHO, this is just plain lousy advice.  Are there kinder, gentler ways to ask for the order?  Of course there are and if you are chasing an order, you should use a variety of approaches, resources and tools to avoid just running straight up the middle all the time.  BTW, the #1 reason we don’t close the deal?  NOT TALKING TO THE RIGHT PERSON.  Your contact is an influencer, not a decider, or there is a hidden decider or a financial decider.

5. Tell people how great your clients are.
While talking myself up feels uncomfortable, talking about my clients’ successes comes easily. I began describing my work by sharing my clients’ accomplishments instead of my own (honoring client confidentiality, of course). These success stories turned out to be much more effective than simply telling prospects what I could do.   Beware here, this can easily backfire on you.  If you share a client accomplishment that is a problem for this prospect, or puts them at a competitive disadvantage with the client you are praising, you may touch a nerve to cause the prospect to pull back.  Worse yet, you could be seen as aiding and abetting the enemy.  Much better to share clients’ Best Practices for using your product/service.  Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas and all accomplished leaders want to learn.

6. Let go of sales that are too hard to close.
It’s important to be persistent and to follow up multiple times with prospects who don’t respond or say they’re not ready, but calling back someone who has actually said no can be pretty confronting. I realized that if I had a long enough follow-up list, I didn’t really need to call those prospects at all. I could spend my time instead with people who were more likely to be interested.  I asked a colleague (a very successful one) what were his 3 most successful techniques.  #1 was not giving up if he felt his solution was the right one for a client.  He will use different media and approaches to keep his brand alive and said it may take a few weeks, months or even longer, but eventually his timing is perfect and he closes the deal.  Of course, you must prioritize your time and effort, but also balance that with protecting investments in time you’ve already made.  Sammy Davis, Jr., once asked about his meteoric success, was said to have answered “It took me 20 years to become an overnight sensation.”  If you let go of a sale you feel is too hard to close, you are merely handing it over to your competition.

7. Design a call that anyone would welcome.
If making a call just to push for business isn’t a good experience for me or to the person I’m calling, why make it? I’d much rather spend my time having conversations both sides can enjoy. I discovered that if I contacted people in a spirit of friendliness and generosity, instead of acting like a salesperson, plenty of sales and referrals resulted without asking for them directly. I can hear the late Joan Rivers saying “Oh, grow UP, people!”  I am a seller.  I take my job seriously and am proud of what I do.  I help clients achieve their strategic goals. Prospects are adults who know you sell and expect that you will at some point ask for their business.  Building trust in a “spirit of friendliness and generosity” IS acting like a salesperson.  (And a good one.)  Come out of the closet and be a professional, be a seller.

So, there you have a little point/counterpoint on these ideas.  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section.

Friday Faves – 2.20.15

Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant De Jesus walks around an ice-covered warehouse that caught fire Tuesday night in ChicagoWe may be in the deep freeze, but here are some hot posts loaded with great ideas.

3 Key Skills for Effective Sales Coaching – From experience, I have been burned by #3, but I believe it’s still valid.

Are You Proud of How You’re Spending Your Time? – I’m one who believes time management is a continual learning and adjusting process.

Doing Some Things Some of the Time – Routine doesn’t have to mean boring.  It can lead to excitement of closing.

Don’t Be Passive with Testimonials! – The least used tool in the seller’s toolbox.

What Ever Happened to the Can with the String? – The basics, that’s where we always mess up.

Relationships Over Transactions – Amen.

Tools Don’t Make The Carpenter – S/he who uses available tools with the best SKILL wins!