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What to say after “hello” – Prospect for Success!

A few months ago I read an article about how awful it would be if the right to use mobile phones on airplanes became a reality. The author’s reasoning was this: Only old people still use a phone as a talking device and a lot of them are hard of hearing. Could there be a worse combo on an airplane than having to listen to a conversation about convalescence? 

Good for a laugh, I think the writer got it wrong. Though I admit that I have considered the phone an interruption to my day, I also know that there is nothing like a skype call when you can hear and see the other human being. It’s like breaking bread together, almost.  And a phone call, when you can hear the other person’s tone, inflection, pauses and they hear yours, and you can catch nuances that are impossible by email or text (even with a slew of emoticons) and mitigate conflict, and efficiently and effectively collaborate, well, it’s not just old people who should be using the phone. We all can benefit from picking up the phone and yes, it may require more time than crafting an email (and maybe not!) but live-speak is a business accelerator, not an interruption.
The biggest challenge is that we’re out of practice! We don’t know what to say when we get the chance to say it.
Your LinkedIn contact emails back, “Sure, call me Tuesday afternoon.” 
Or you phone a prospect who seemed interested when you met at the trade show/sales blitz/networking event and instead of getting him, you get his voice message. Or, you get him.
Now what?
What will you say? Will you fumble around and lose the opportunity to make your best impression? Will you be prepared to enable the best business conversation? What can you say that will connect/re-connect the two of you?
Here is the thing: Prepare! This isn’t brain surgery and the same situations (with a few small twists) occur again and again and again.
SpeakerSue’s advice:
  • Talk less.
  • Listen more.
  • Be prepared with thoughtful questions that encourage conversation about what matters most to them.
  • Don’t ever plan an elevator pitch.
  • Plan a conversation starter that focuses on your prospect not your product.
  • Enable the best business conversation and your voice message just may get returned.
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5 Ways to help your prospects buy from you

The American jackal, better known as a coyote, has survived for 1.8 million years. The name “coyote” is borrowed from Mexican Spanish, meaning “trickster.”
This explains why some sales people exist even though they bring no value to the prospect. They trick them and they’re able to adapt their tricks as times change.
What has brought on this rant? A post in a LinkedIn community. The topic was listening to C-levels and gaining trust.
One person posted his response: “I listen only to prospects that are ready, willing and able to buy. I don’t have time to babysit a C-level or anyone who isn’t interested in buying.”
It’s likely that your response was as visceral as mine. Can this person be real?
The easiest way to avoid being a jackal (or jack#%^) is to stop selling and start helping the buyer buy. Selling without listening would be like my walking in to my doctor’s office, presenting myself, and having the doc diagnose “step throat”.  How can we provide a solution without listening?
Listen from their viewpoint. 
Become your customer.
Stay as neutral as possible as you listen, not quick to jump in with your solution, but quick to ask questions and learn more to offer them the best solution for them.
Listen for points of agreement. You’ll hear 25% more when you do and you’ll also be able to elevate the conversation for the buyer.
Replace always be closing with always be listening.
Coyotes trick their prey. If a dog meets a coyote, the coyote doesn’t attack it. It befriends it and calls its friends to meet the lost dog. Then, they start tricking the dog, leading it further away from its desired path home. By the time the dog realizes what is happening, the coyote pack descends on the dog…
Tricksters have been around for way too long. Our job as sales people is to ensure the success of our customers and that can only happen with a deep curiosity and a desire to help them shine.
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Are you Rough Around the Edges?

A coaching client of mine is brilliant but no one wants to hear what she has to say because she has no social graces with which to say it.

During her last review, she was refused a coveted position though she thinks it was because she wasn’t ready. She wasn’t and she isn’t. Until she is willing to consider that she is sabotaging herself and that it isn’t that others don’t get her, she will not advance.

“This is my personality,” she told me and people need to take me the way I am.

Well, no. NO, they don’t.

It’s up to us to help others want to do what we want. It isn’t a matter of saying “do this because this is the way I am and you know I don’t mean to be demanding, rude or pushy.”

It’s just my way is not an acceptable communication pattern!

Are you rough around the edges? Do you often hear yourself saying (to yourself or others), “Well,that’s just the way I am”?

Time to change yourself.

Focus on helping them feel more comfortable around you.

Be more curious.

Love and respect them more.

Simply be more courteous.

Smooth out those rough patches. It won’t change who you are but it will change the results you get.

 

 

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Sell a Sense of Place for More Sales

When I landed in New Zealand yesterday on my way to Sydney, I phoned home to say “Kia Ora” to my husband. Three hours later, I called to wish him a “G’day mate!” Last week, working with the Meet Hawaii, I was saying “Aloha” and “Mahalo” as if I was privileged to be of Hawaiian descent.

In an attempt to provide a consistent luxury product, some of the fun of being in a place is lost. Everything turns into the Stepford wives. Bring back the fun and joy. It’s not unprofessional for an email to begin with:

G’day Mate!  Hello from beautiful Sydney!

Thank you for considering our gorgeous city for your next event. You can count on a brilliant Sydney welcome when you visit …

When appealing to international visitors, start and end with an immediate sense of place. It creates immediate emotional appeal and charm and differentiates you from those who prefer consistency over authenticity.

Do you agree?

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The One Most Important Key to Being a Great Speaker

When I was just starting out as a speaker and trainer, I joined a speakers’ association to learn from the best. It was awe inspiring to be around people who genuinely wanted you to be the best you.

 

I learned a lot from them – more than I can ever pay forward. But I may have learned more from those who wanted to remake me in their image.

 

So here is the best, most important tip I can give you:

Trust yourself. Be yourself.

Run, do not walk, from people who focus on what you shouldn’t do or be.

You should be YOU. Your best you!

One “esteemed” colleague told me “you will never make it with that NY accent”. So I tried ditching it which not only wasn’t easy, it wasn’t me. Audiences hated me because they knew I was a fake. Worse though was that I hated me because I wasn’t me.

You’ll make it by being your best self. Let your uniqueness show.

It’s okay if they know you’re nervous, because then they know you care. Show your credibility by speaking to what matters to them, and as Johnny Carson said, “Once they love you, you can get away with murder.”

Be yourself and they will love you.

 

 

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What is your email style? Take this quick quiz…

For most of us our “second self” is the way people interact with us, know us and buy from us. It’s the person(a) we present  to others when we aren’t there. In some cases, it’s our second self is a figment of our imaginations – ourselves at our uber best. In other cases, not so much. It’s a sloppy, self-centered and sometimes lazy rendition.

 

Imagine this: In good faith, you write to a seller to ask for something – anything. The out-of-office reply you receive says:

“Thank you for your email. Your receiving this because I am out of the office on important biz travel. I will check my email at random times and will get back to you when I can. My colleague is also out of the office this week so no one will be there to assist. I apologize.”

 

No, I’m not kidding. That is real – spelling and all. (Want more “Email Wall of Shame” examples? Check out my FB biz page.)

 

What if it had said this:

“Thank you for your email.

The US business day has now come to an end and I will be returning to the office tomorrow Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 9am.

I will be in touch upon my return to the office however if the matter is urgent please contact the Assistant Manager on 555-555-5555

Thank you once again for your email and please count on us to provide you with an extraordinary visit to Scottsdale.”

 

You may find the second response a bit too formal for your taste, but even if you do, I’m 100% confident that you think better of the writer.

 

What type of email writer are you? Take this quick quiz:

At the end of an email to my boss, I write:

a. Your thoughts?

b. With your approval, I’ll take care of this by Friday.

 

At the beginning of an email to a prospect, you write:

a. How are you today?

b. Thank you for considering X for your Y.

 

In the middle of an email, you write:

a. I’m looking forward to talking more with you about…

b. I’ll plan to phone you Friday morning to talk more with you about…

 

How many A’s did you circle?

 

If you circled any, your email style is too tentative. Readers may also think you are being insincere. Instead, take control of the next step, eliminate the fake rapport and focus on making the next step easy and effortless for your buyer.

 

Present your best second self to get best results.

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3 Things to Do to Sell More After Sales Training

If you haven’t had sales training this year, jump ship.

 

If you’re giving it your all and your organization isn’t supporting your efforts with fresh ideas and tools to help you succeed, another company deserves you more. After all, according to 2012 research from Aberdeen Group,  “82% of best-in-class companies require sales training as compared with only 68% of laggard companies.” 

 

Here is the rub. You, if you’re the DOS, have invested in your team. You, if you’re the sales person, listened, participated, agreed and desired to implement the new ideas but nothing changed. The economy and your competitive position in your market played more into additional or fewer sales than your skill.

 

3 Things to Do to Sell More After Sales Training

 

Regardless of how smart the new sales training ideas are, they won’t work if you don’t. Okay, I know you didn’t want to hear that but it’s true. Trying them a few times, particularly when they aren’t an ingrained habit and you aren’t competent or confident applying them – and then, not getting excellent results – isn’t the method that ensures success!

1. Practice. Role Play. Work it! Get a partner and go through the parts of the training that resonated for you and practice it again and again, and yes, again. Not only does this guarantee that you grasp it, but it breaks the current pattern and habit you would have fallen back to if you didn’t take the time to become intimate with the new strategies.

 

Regardless of how smart the new sales training ideas are, they won’t work if management doesn’t support them. There are few things that drive me more nuts as a sales trainer when leadership requires the team to attend training but they are too busy to do so. They “observe” for a few minutes and then exit to do more important stuff.

If you selected the right training, the group is hearing innovative strategies, people! New stuff! Fresh ideas. And it’s likely that management (you!) haven’t had the time to learn this stuff or you would be coaching your team without paying for a trainer. (This part makes perfect sense; you’re too busy managing, selling and doing the gabillions of other things on your plate!) But how will you coach the team and support them with their new skills if you aren’t the top learner?

2. Schedule the training when leadership can participate, play and learn, too. I’m not suggesting the VP of Sales has to sit in the entire day but if she or he can, why not? DOS and DOSM, this is your time to demonstrate your commitment to learning and your commitment to your team. Don’t allow an observer’s table in the back of the room. Learn with your team; they’ll respect you more, be more comfortable learning and get the message that this is so important that even you are willing to spend the day updating and refreshing your skills.

 

Regardless of how smart the new sales training ideas are, they won’t work if they aren’t relevant to you. Think of an off-the-shelf program like an old can of green beans. If the training company has a pdf or workbook that they use for everyone (other than “branding” it with your company logo), run, don’t walk, away from the training.  You may also want to check the copyright date on that workbook. I saw one recently from 2008!

3. Start with “Why?” Why is it important to learn  new ideas? When your team can answer that, they create their own buy in to learn.

Then, build on their current success. (Trainer has to know what they’re doing well to help them grow their success.)

Finally, insist the training incorporate your examples, your situations, your challenges. Training that boosts sales tackles actual, practical, real life issues that your team struggles with every day. “Here is the way you did it” and “here are new tactics and strategies to do it” transforms thinking and drives revenue, sales and success.

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3 ways to replace the losing “I’ll call you Thursday at 4p” approach

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the presumptuous  “I’ll call you Thursday at 4″. Though I am an absolute advocate of controlling the next step in the sale, it is too aggressive to state unequivocally when you’ll do what. Today’s buyer doesn’t want to be pushed into anything; she wants to collaborate on the best options to bring the greatest amount of success into her world.

When the seller is the initiator of this next step, it’s smarter and kinder to collaborate with the buyer, while ensuring a next step will occur.
Be more tentative: 
I’ll plan to phone you Thursday
Be more customer-centric:
to discuss a few ideas that might provide a unique, exciting twist to your event.
Be more open:
If another day is more convenient, I’ll follow-up as you suggest.
“I’ll plan to phone you Thursday to discuss a few ideas that might provide a unique, exciting twist to your event.  If another day is more convenient, I’ll follow-up as you suggest.”
Now you have the right to phone and have controlled the next step but you haven’t come across as old-school annoying and pushy. Giving them a reason to want to talk to you always helps, too.
Here are some other options – some good and some aren’t. Which do you prefer?
May I phone you Friday to learn more about your upcoming event?
Is Friday afternoon convenient for you to talk about your upcoming event? I’ll plan to phone then and if another day is better for you, I’ll follow up as you suggest.
Are you available next Friday afternoon to talk about your upcoming event? 

By the way, sending an outlook calendar request is definitely off the charts bad for a seller initiated call. If the buyer asks you to call, you get to be as proactive as you’d like.

(Answer: The middle choice will  get best results.)

 

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3 Important Tips from Psychology to Write Better Emails

Want to communicate more easily, make your point more quickly and persuade another person to take action. Here are 3 tips from psychology to help you accomplish your goals more easily.

 

Appearances count. Make it look easy to read. 

Attractive people earn an average of 3% to 4% than those with average looks,  and your email will get better results too if you make it look appealing. That means:
  • Subject line is reader relevant, truthful and a to-the-point summary of the content of that specific email.
  • Messaging is concise.
  • If the message is long, it’s written as concisely as possible and bold sub-heads announce different topics.
  • Lots of paragraphs are used even if your seventh grade English teacher wouldn’t agree that the topic had changed.
  • Nothing hokey – no backgrounds, philosophies, or colors are used.
Manners count. Apply email etiquette standards.
The role of the unconscious mind cannot be underestimated. It, more than the conscious mind, determines what we do (though we all beg to differ, we can beg all we want, our unconscious mind is most powerful). We approach each other with a set of expectations including a civil greeting rather than a grunt or no greeting at all, a kind word, a fond farewell. These expectations may be interpreted differently by different gens, Hi, Good Morning, Hey, Wassup…. whatever, but like, Bye, Thanks, Later, something is expected. It’s smart business to be polite and emotionally appealing.  It takes a second  to type Hi <Name> and will set the tone for a more productive email result.
Emotions count. Focus on their well-being.
The universe centers around us. The more messaging focuses on readers and their experiences, the more appealing it will be. The more emotionally appealing and the more likely it will be that your  recipient will do what you want done. When you can authentically create a sense of well-being, you’re more likely to keep them engaged and moving forward.
On the most fundamental level – and yet, surprising how often this occurs – check your emails for the number of “I’s” used. How emotionally appealing can it be to them when it’s all about us, what we want, what makes us excited, how pleased we’ll be if they will just do something for us? Refocus your message. The more your recipient understands what is in it for him or her, the more likely you will be to get best results.
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3 Reasons Sales People Have NEVER Been More Important – Indispensable Really!

A long time ago in a galaxy far away…

sales people held all the power.

 

That not being true for 2 decades now, how do sales people contribute to the buying process, beyond providing answers that they still try to keep secret until asked (is space available? What rates will you give me? What better rates can you give ME?)

 

More than ever! Sales people contribute more than they ever have and here is why:

1. Excellent sales people collaborate with their buyers to create customized solutions that ensure the buyer’s success.

“Find the pain” is so outdated! “Diagnose the pain” is so insulting implying that the buyer needs a sales person to uncover what is really important to him. Hmmpph!

Indispensable sales people today don’t just listen to qualify; they listen to learn. They ask questions based on their insights because they manage the situation that the buyer is in day in and day out for other buyers. And based on this buyer’s unique needs and specs, the professional sales person provides new insights and opportunities for the buyer. Together – the buyer’s part is speaking her truth about what she knows she already needs to be successful and the seller’s part is speaking her truth about what might work based on her experience and insights.

 

2.  Excellent sales people save buyers time and effort increasing the buyer’s productivity.

Without doubt, anyone of us could spend the next week researching a topic and then there would be more. I JUST completed a White paper THIS MORNING and  at lunch today, I read newer research that I could have included. With the overwhelming amount of information available, the search for knowledge is the new revolution.  Sales people who can be trusted, who care about my success and can concisely curate the information for me are invaluable in the buying process.

 

3. Excellent sales people make buying effortless and risk-free.

Because of the gabillions of choices, making a decision – and feeling good about that decision – becomes more and more difficult. There was that famous pillow choice study (I can’t find it on google, but maybe you remember it) where luxury hotels provided Pillow Butlers to bring you your choice of pillow. (You could choose from lavender scented pillows, flax seed, foam, down, etc.) What happened was that  customer service scores went up while customer satisfaction scores went down. Guests loved the idea of choice but then tossed and turned all night wondering if they made the right one.

With so much possibility, we second guess our decisions – a more complex version of buyer’s remorse - questioning our decision even before we make it and blaming ourselves for foolish (yet well-researched!) choices.

And there’s more! Moving from a tried and true solution to a new one takes risk and effort usually beginning with educating the sales person about needs, expectations etc. Even if the best result isn’t the outcome, by sticking with the comfortable, the buyer saves time and effort. They want to do the very best job but there are just so many hours in a day.

Sales people that sell more than their counterparts understand the need for buyers to have confidence in their choices. They create an effortless buying experience and  help buyers feel wise – safe and smart –  making their decision. This, as they say, is priceless.

 

A well-trained sales team – a team that isn’t aggressive or schooled in old school mannerisms – holds the buyer’s hand and massages it, starting from the very first communication. Smart sales people have never been more powerful or important to buyers.