Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - L is for Learning

What worked yesterday many not work today, and all bets are off for tomorrow. Sales people have to constantly be seeking new knowledge about their products, services, clients, industries, etc...  But that is not all they must learn.  Studying the art and science of selling is also key to sustaining a long term career. 

Sales professionals must be life-long learners if they want to win more business.   

Years ago it was the sales person who controlled the conversation about their product or service.  In a sales call they were their to introduce the buyer to what they had to sell, and guide them to making the purchase.  I began selling in a day where I would bring a folder to a meeting and paper sheet by paper sheet I would expose the prospective client to the features and benefits of what I was selling. They did not have many options to learn about me, my company or my product until I came in the door.

Today, before a sales person ever sets foot in the meeting the information is available online and the understanding of the products and services people buy are much higher.  Buyers are more sophisticated and a sales person who is behaving as if the buyer is not up to speed will find themselves wasting their time. Conversations have to begin at a much higher level and being a successful sales person means honing your skills all the time.

There are many ways to learn and the most successful are always trying to get better at their craft.  Reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, and attending training classes are common activities for those who work in sales.  Most who sell turn their cars into mobile classrooms and listen to books on tape instead of music while driving to appointments.  They want to maximize their skills and do not like to waste time.

The School of Hard Knocks is also a powerful way to learn.  Those who are aware and honest of their own failings are usually able to discover the areas where they have come up short and improve for the next time. After every sales, win or lose, doing a debrief about how you handled the situation will help you get stronger for the next opportunity. If you lose a sale, don't blame or pout, use it as a learning experience.

Knowledge is power in a busy and noisy world. The sales person who wants to win more deals dedicates time to learning. They are sponges who are actively soaking up nuggets of information and new ideas that will help them be more effective.  They talk to their peers about what works, and are open to fresh ideas.  There is no place for stubborn in a fast changing and competitive environment. 

Learning never ends for those in sales, and if you have not worked on advancing your product knowledge, understanding of your market, and fine tuning sales skills in the last week, you may be falling behind your competition. 

Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success.   http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Monday, September 26, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - K is for Kind

Many who write about sales lament being "nice" as a bad thing. Some sales leaders espouse that if you are too nice you cannot close sales.  There is a whole movement to train those who sell that buyers only want efficient sales people who get right to value, as they do not have time for relationships. Is there really a demise of nice sales people or is this just a contrarian way for consultants to get more business?

While I agree that sales professionals must provide clear value and respect the time of their clients and prospects, I disagree that nice is ever a negative.  We live in a world with a lot of narcissistic jerks, and many of them certainly find success in sales. The inconsiderate still win much of the time, but I have never met anyone who prefers to do business with those who are nasty and unpleasant.

Even in our busy world, people still want to do business with those they know, like, and trust.  The problem is that with our leaning toward efficiency over everything else we now assume we "know" people because we can Google them and find their profiles on social media. Getting to know someone used to be a process and along the way came "like" and "trust" (or it didn't).  Today we jump to a superficial level of knowing each other, and rarely do people get to a deeper relationship.  But is this by choice?

Sales professionals must work hard and show value quickly. But a survey by HubSpot Research shows the top words associated with sales people are pushy, biased, and aggressive. Is this how we want to be known?  Most sales managers would cringe at their team being seen in this way, but we are supporting these behaviors and teaching actions that lead us away from "kind".

Most professionals would prefer to be known as “trustworthy” and “helpful" in their selling role. I do not believe you can have this as your reputation if you are not first "kind".  A trustworthy jerk or a helpful sleazeball are not possible and certainly not the way to a sustainable career.

Over a lifetime in sales you will have more success if you are compassionate, thoughtful and gracious.  Do not fall prey to those who think the human connection no longer matters.  The prediction of the death of nice sales people is greatly exaggerated.

Kindness never goes out of style.

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success.   http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - J is for Join

J is for Join

Getting involved with your trade association, chamber of commerce, or other industry club is a smart idea.  It is even smarter to be active in the associations where your clients participate.  Over the long run the people who invest their time in organizations will build a reputation in their business community.  Being known in a world full of noise and distractions is benefit that can never be taken away.  It can also be a key to promotions and new career opportunities. While it might sound cliché, it is true that people do business with those they know, like and trust.  Joining and being active in industry groups is one of the best ways to becoming known, liked and trusted.

Sales people dismiss the idea of joining associations for two reasons. The first one I hear far too often is that there are too many of their competitors in the group. While your own industry organization might only have competitors, your client’s trade group is made up of people to whom you can do business.  If you skip out because your competition got their first you are handing them a lifetime of relationships.  Being late to the party does not mean you cannot cultivate important connections.  It will take time, but if you are present and a contributor to the community, you will enhance your network.

The second reason people say they do not join organizations is the time commitment. To discover the value from joining business association you must do more than pay dues. To have successful return on investment you are going to have to attend the meetings, be active in online chat, and volunteer to serve on committees.  Yes, there is an investment, but most people in business waste a lot of time doing “research” (which often means surfing the internet, or doing other useless tasks.  Participation with clients, prospects, industry vendors, and even competitors can have a long term impact on your sales and your career.

Most companies will cover the costs of membership and attending monthly meetings or annual conventions. It is common for sales oriented companies to sponsor events or host booths at association events.  But to maximize this investment they are better served when someone from the company steps up and is active in the group. If you take on this role, you will also be recognized for your efforts.

If you company will not pay your dues to join groups, you may want to consider paying your own way. Joining organizations is an investment in getting to know many of the movers and shakers in an industry. While present at meetings make it a point to get face time with the people you most want to know. Remember that meeting someone once does not make them part of your network, and it can take seven to ten interactions with a person before they start to recognize you.  Thus your expectations from joining group must have a long-term focus.

All opportunities come from people and joining associations, chambers of commerce, and other business clubs will lead you to more success.  Associations are more relevant than ever, and membership has its privileges. 

Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success.   http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Monday, September 05, 2016

ABCs of Sales - I is for Intensity

I is for Intensity

Peak performers in all careers have a deep seeded intensity when it comes to achieving success. You see it in sports, business, politics, etc... If you are going to reach the top you have to always be able to excel regardless of the obstacles that appear in your path, and selling is definitely not for the faint at heart.

When we think of an intense color we imagine one that is strong and bold. When weather has intense temperatures we know there is extreme hot or extreme cold. In physics if something is intense it has a magnitude of energy or force per unit of area, volume or time. Similarly with people and their emotional intensity we know they have high levels of emotional excitement and depth of feeling.

For sales people, their intensity is paramount to their continued success. They must have a drive for continuous improvement and a never quit attitude. This is part of their daily focus.Regardless of your goals, success does not happen by accident. You need to intensely focus on the little things everyday to reach continue to discover new prospects and cultivate the relationship through what can often be a long sales process.

The ones who continue to exceed expectations in a sales career know in their hearts that they will be one of the great ones in their company and industry. They possess an intensity about success that is never indecisive. Sales professionals have a fierceness about getting the jobs done and they show it. Wading in the shallow end is not their style. They dive right in and make things happen.

Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking success.  http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Friday, September 02, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - H is for Hungry

H is for Hungry

When you are hungry for more business you will find ways to innovate.  Genuinely needing more business makes a sales person work harder, try new things, and never stop hunting. Being a "hungry" is a good thing if you have a career in sales.  Those who remain top performers month over month never lose that desire inside their souls to find more deals.  

The most successful do not sit back and wait for the phone to ring.  Top producers are not solely prospecting via social media and hoping or wishing the right customer will see their tweet.  The best are always pushing to find a new customer, and they are never passive about in their efforts.  Before going home for the day they make one or two more calls, because they know that selling is a numbers game.

If your life, or the life of your family, depended on you finding the next prospect you would do whatever it took to discover new business. Being hungry a key to ongoing sales success.  Yet humans can get comfortable and not even realize it. It is  common that once people reach a certain level of of personal income that they begin to behave differently.  They rest on their past successes and fail to keep up the same level of intensity they did when they were new and hungry.

Early in my career I worked for a sales manager who was great at praising success, but once he did that he pointed out that contract was now officially the past.  He would then want to hear what his team had in the pipeline.  What was next.  Some people did not like how quickly he dismissed a victory, but I always understood that was his way of keeping us from resting on our laurels. 

Throughout a lifetime you will have times when you are more hungry than others.  You will see the results in your bottom line.  Those who chase ever lead as if their life depended on it will have more clients over the long run.  If you are in one of those times when you are not feeling as hungry, you need to assess what is keeping you from being as aggressive as you could be.  Feeling content, or "full" is never the right mindset for anyone who is sales focused.  You have to have a little worry about what tomorrow may hold so that you will not let up in your pursuits of business development. 

Sales professionals, small business owners, solopreneurs and who are directly linked to their new business numbers should stay hungry everyday.  This is not about being paranoid, but instead being realistic that past performance will not mean you are meeting your numbers tomorrow.  A healthy concern about the future the way to keep that hunger stirring.

How hungry are you to succeed at selling?  

Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking success.  http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - G is for Goals

G is for Goals

Setting goals is important for everyone, but more so for those who make their living selling.  Often time sales managers will set monthly, quarterly and annual quotas, and tracking the progress toward achieving these benchmarks is easy.  But you need more than a sales quota.  You need goals of what you want to achieve in all aspects of your life.

If you do not know where you are going, you have no way of knowing when you arrive.  There must be a strategic plan that helps advance.  You are well served when you set clearly defined and realistic business and personal goals that help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

Without a known purpose and a way to measure success you can invest a lot of time and see few results.  Chasing a sales number by itself will not lead to getting the new business and enjoying the journey of your career.  If you know what you are trying to do, and whom you desire as clients, then your choices on how to invest your time becomes easier to understand.

Some people roll their eyes at the idea of goal setting, mistakenly thinking that the concept is "motivational fluff".  They question if the act of writing down a goal has any meaningful value.  But it is not setting the goal that has the power, it is how the goal will keep you focused on the desired outcome. The target must be something that the individual wants to achieve and it must be realistic.  Goal setting is not about random wishes, but instead it is about creating an atmosphere that makes people perform to a higher level.

When you have accepted a set of goals there is no wiggle-room skipping out on the efforts.  Goals make you accountable for your actions.  Sales people who miss quota and are not doing the work to create a pipeline of opportunities are quickly exposed. An experienced sales manager will know when someone is not focused on reaching their goal, and those people will be managed closely and or given the opportunity to explore new employment options. 

Having clearly defined goals it makes it easy to make decisions.  This allows you to ask if a particular action moves you closer to your goals, or leads you in the wrong direction.  The answer makes choices easier in how you spend time everyday.  A goal transforms your participation in marketing, networking, prospecting, client relations, and community involvement activities into something tangible.  When a sales person understand the driving purpose of what they want, they will work smarter. 

Goals take time to accomplish.  Those who dream of a quick fix to raising their profile and making more sales, without doing the work, will be disappointed.  It takes time to become successful at selling, but there will be little progress without a goal.  It is too easy to get distracted and this can limit your success.

Sales professionals who create plans and work toward their achievement of goals are more likely to succeed in building a sustainable business year over year.  You cannot leave your future to luck.  

To successfully create a list of goals that are attainable, realistic and measurable you must dedicate time to creating your plan.  Everyone must have input and buy into the vision.  There are no shortcuts to formulating a list of attainable targeted goals.  Working with co-workers, your sales manager, or an outside consultant / coach is often a great way to get this done. Others sometimes have a knack for identifying strengths and weaknesses that are important for you to understand.

Having a combination of short-term and long-term goals is also a good idea.  Achieving some early wins will get you excited and helps you understand how having goals will lead you to more success. 

Seven Tips for Goal Setting:

1. Set aside some time.  Allow yourself 1-2 hours to contemplate your past and identify what you want in the future. Make it a priority to know where you want to go in life and all that you want to achieve.

2. Set two or three attainable goals in three areas: professional, personal and spiritual. You do not want to just be focused on business, as you have more to your life than meeting a quota. Do not set too many or to few goals, as this should not be too easy, nor should it be a burden. 

3. Write your goals on paper, using a pen. Later, transfer them to you computer. Print three copies. One copy for you home, one for your desk at work, and shrink a third down so it fits in your wallet or purse.

4. Review you goals often. Daily is best, but at least once a week. Keeping them in front of you and actively thinking about them will make it easier to make the tough choices as you go through life.

5. Take action. Goals are not magic. This is not "the law of attraction" or "The Secret". To be a winner in life takes effort and action. You have to make smart choices on how to focus your time and resources so that you are moving toward your goals and not away from them. Sitting still does not work either, as stagnant never wins.

6. Celebrate victories. Anything that moves you closer to achieving a goal is worthy of treating yourself to something. A round of golf, a massage, etc... are great choices (avoid ice cream or other sweets as treats, as I did this once and gained a lot of weight when I was wildly successful on meeting my goals. This created a new goal of needing to lose the pounds).

7. Share you goals with others. When you tell people you are working toward something, you are more likely to follow through on the efforts necessary to reach your goals. When I was writing my first book, I told as many people as I could. Thus it was not as easy to abandon the project.


Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking success.  http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com