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  • “I’m Sorry” & Customer Service

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    While reading  new book that I got turned on to called “#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso, one of the things she talks about is how important it is to apologize to your customers when things go wrong. Here’s what I believe when it comes to saying, “I’m sorry,” in regards to customer service.

    I believe that you should always take responsibility when things don’t go right in your company. Many times it’s going to be your fault, and many times it’s not. Regardless, they’re still your customers.

    We’ve all heard that old adage saying, “The customer is always right.” Let’s just be honest, that’s not true. The customer is not always right. But regardless, they are still your customers.

    And here’s what I’ve noticed as a customer and a consumer of many types of things: I don’t hear “I am so sorry” or “Let us fix that for you”. In fact, most times, the person on the other line or the person standing behind the counter is trying to inform me why it was my fault, why this didn’t go right, or trying to give me some logical explanation as to why this happened.

    Here’s what I know about apologizing. The more you try to defend yourself or the more you try to reason, the more defensive the other person’s going to get. Although I don’t necessarily believe that you should be sorry for everything that your customers are unhappy about, here’s what I know:

    The quicker that you respond with a genuine empathetic, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” you’re not saying, “I am sorry we did this. I’m sorry that we failed you.” You are saying, “I am sorry that you feel this way. I am sorry that this was your experience.”

    If you can show genuine empathy quickly, all of the negative attitudes tend to diminish. It’s when we don’t apologize. It’s when we don’t take responsibility. It’s when we don’t make an effort to show our customers that we appreciate them as customers that things turn ugly.

    And let’s just be honest. In the world of social media and online feedback, no one can afford a constant barrage of unhappy customers because if you keep your customers unhappy long enough, you’re just not going to have any customers.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide. Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up


  • Learning to Strike Out and Keep Swinging

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    Baseball was one sport I actually did not play, but I’ve watched enough to know a little about it. What gets me is the striking out. Of course, I think of sales.

    baseball

    One thing that can happen in baseball: you strike out while just looking at the ball. You watch it go right by you and you do not even swing.

    For those of you who also do not play baseball, it’s whenever you’re sitting there ready to hit the ball and it comes whizzing by you. Three times and the Umpire does his thing and says you’re out of there! Are you at least swinging, or just letting it hit the glove behind you?

    Don’t be that person who never even swings at the ball or someone who never gives yourself a chance to be in the game.

    This happens with so many people. They don’t even give themselves a shot, like when an objection comes up they just let it go right by them and don’t keep trying. They are just letting their commission whiz right by them.

    It’s in every process and part of the sale. It’s in the prospecting whenever you ask somebody to meet with you, or set an appointment with them, ask them to make a decision. Make it happen! You can’t strike out by not even trying to set something up!

    There have been times on the phone I know someone is not interested, but I jump right to asking them to make a decision. Yes, or no. When can we meet? They may say something like, “This is not for us, Dave. There’s no way we could make it work.” What I say is, “OK, cool when should I come out and train your team?” I just ask when is good for them. It’s important! I don’t let the ball just go by me I will swing and try to hit and sometimes it will be a great hit. Home-run!

    One of the worst things you could do is procrastinate on asking someone to follow through with the decision of meeting with you or purchasing your product or service. Why wait? 

    Average people get “maybe” all the time. Top producers find ways to get “maybe” out-of-the-way! To make a change, and make that ‘maybe’ be confident, ask for that decision to be made.

    Whenever you ask someone to say yes or to say no, it’s a good thing. The ‘no’ will keep you moving. You know to shut those down. The yes, of course, is a great thing! “Maybe” is something you create by not asking someone to make the decision… by not swinging that bat and going after it.

    There is so much weight and emotional energy that when you don’t ask for the appointment for the business it’s like what the heck are you even doing.

    Are you truly in sales, or are you just a professional presenter?!

    Go out there and start swinging, stop striking out just watching things go by you!

    What are some of you ‘focus techniques’ – I want to hear them! Comment here, tweet me@davebrown_swc, or connect on LinkedIn. 

    Dave Brown is a senior partner and executive level coach at Southwestern Consulting and author of the upcoming book Painless Prospecting. Dave was a record breaking salesman for Southwestern Advantage, knocking on over 50,000 doors before the age of 25. He has spoken and trained over 100,000 sales professionals across the globe with Southwestern Consulting.

     


  • Activity

    Guest Post By: Brent Widman

    phone

    Activity is the root of what drives our business. Without activity in the sales world, we don’t have a business. What this truly comes down to is making phone calls. Making those dials that you don’t always want to make, but you know you have to. This isn’t busy being busy. This is being planned, prepped and prepared about who you are going to talk to.

    1. Stop calling the same people over and over again. Don’t hold onto this false sense of hope that someone might do business with you.
    2. You build your business through new people. Where do those new people come from? Referrals, Linked In, Past Clients, Current Clients, etc, etc.
    3. Set up a plan. Know the first 5, 10 or 20+ people you know you are going to call. Have it done the night before or in the morning. It will get you in the right mind set.
    4. Practice. It takes 2 minutes. Practice in the car, working out, in the morning, at night, take a walk, whatever it takes. Take that little bit of time to know what you are going to say. It will get you past the call reluctance
    5. It’s just one call, to them. To you, it’s 10, 20, 30 or 100 calls. But to them, it’s just one call. Don’t overthink it.
    6. If you are truly trying to help people you won’t think about getting rejected. They might say yes, they might say no, so what. You are helping them either way. It’s hard to be nervous when your heart is on service.
    7. Have fun. Phoning and activity does not have to be hard. Stand up, sit down, dance, laugh, say something off the wall. It doesn’t always have to be straight to the point and serious.
    8. The people on the other end of the phone are people just like you. You aren’t going to close everyone, but you can still have a conversation. That will go a long way to calling them in the future.
    9. In most cases, no means “not right now.” Set them out a year, two years or even three. That’s okay, keep them in your system and in your pipeline for the future.
    10. Get after it. When you do the activity it will breed results. When you make excuses it will not. You can’t get mad at the results if you aren’t putting in the activity.

    I hear so many people feel that they are above calling. They get away from what makes them successful. I was coaching a Managing Director the other day and he flat out said, “These are all the things I know I should be doing but I’m not, it’s like I’m a new rep again.” All that means… we can’t get away from what got us there in the first place. It doesn’t have to be the 50 dials a day, maybe for

    All that means is that we can’t get away from what got us there in the first place. It doesn’t have to be the 50 dials a day, maybe for you, it’s 10. It will get you the results you are looking for.

    Stay true to your activity. It only makes you better.

     

    Brent Widman has over 10 years experience in all aspects of sales. He is a professional sales coach at Southwestern Consulting. Brent has expertise in lead generation, prospecting, selling to top execs and the art of follow up. He has worked with numerous individuals to improve their sales processes, day to day interaction and ultimately them as a person. He is a former division director, sales director and district manager for distinguished sales teams in the recruiting, fitness and communications world.


  • The Secret of Being Enthusiastic

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    enthus

    In 6th grade I did my first ever speech competition. I did it because of Mrs. Bridges. She signed me up, without me knowing, and said, “Dave, you’re going to be phenomenal at it.”

    The speech I was doing was titled, “How The Camel Got It’s Hump.” I remember it was my first year in middle school down in Texas and I was competing with 7th and 8th graders who had already done this. I was scared! But Mrs. Bridges told me I had a “secret.” She was sure I was going to beat them with that secret.  She was going to teach me how to have enthusiasm.

    She knew that if I showed the energy and my enthusiastic nature I would catch the judges and win first place. So, that is what I will talk to you about today, because I still use that each day!

    Enthusiasm is contagious. It makes the improbable, probable. Do you think I won that speech competition?!

    WELL OF COURSE I DID!!! I took a first place win as a 6th grader, and the first one at that age level to do so!

    I used what Mrs. Bridges taught me from there and it stuck with me. I got into sports and every chance I had, I was getting my team powered up! I had better experiences and let that carry throughout my college career as an athlete. It’s so important!

    It’s also so important in the sales environment. People pick up on it! Whenever you have enthusiasm in place, you can do anything!

    Here is something I keep on me from Frank Bettger’s book, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.”

    “Force yourself to act enthusiastic, and you will become enthusiastic. Make a high and holy resolve that you will double the amount of enthusiasm you have put out in your life and in your work. If you carry out that resolve you will probably double your income and double your happiness.”

    Your prospects will catch your enthusiasm! Show it, put it out there! Tell me about your scenarios and how you’ve seen a difference in your work and life by using this secret. Tweet me @davebrown_swc, comment here, or connect on LinkedIn.

    GO OUT THERE AND BE AWESOME YA’LL … (in my most enthusiastic voice!)

    Dave Brown is a senior partner and executive level coach at Southwestern Consulting and author of the upcoming book Painless Prospecting. Dave was a record breaking salesman for Southwestern Advantage, knocking on over 50,000 doors before the age of 25. He has spoken and trained over 100,000 sales professionals across the globe with Southwestern Consulting.


  • The Two Biggest Scheduling Mistakes That Ruin Productivity – Part 1

    Guest Post By: Kitty BarrowThe-Two-Biggest-Scheduling-Mistakes-That-Ruin-Productivity-Part-1

    Today I was working with an amazing coaching client who is a 23-year veteran salesman and sales leader. This client is in the top 10 in the world when it comes to personal and team production, but lately, he hasn’t had the time to make his prospecting dials. He mentioned he has been spending a lot of time working on his leadership skills and his team and every time he does this, his sales seem to suffer. This is a common complaint of Producing Sales Managers, isn’t it?

    My client had plenty of hours of ‘dial time’ written in the schedule that he preplanned, so I was curious why ‘dial time’ wasn’t happening.

    He also admitted that as different things came across his desk he would stop what he was doing to focus on those things, letting them distract him.

    After truly analyzing his schedule, I noticed two mistakes that many coaching clients make that can throw off our schedule, cause a lot of stress, and ruin our productivity if not corrected.

    What’s crazy is these two things are SO SIMPLE to correct, yet so EASY to forget.

    The solutions for these mistakes are simple, but I can’t stress enough how easy it is to overlook them. So, I am going to give each mistake its due diligence. We will only be covering the first mistake in this blog post, and I will share the second mistake in a later post.

    The first mistake my client was making is that his schedule wasn’t ‘real’.

    This happens often with people. They plan out their week so that it looks ‘perfect’ but there is little to no room for reality. There are always unforeseeable things that will happen during the week, but some things are often just missing from schedules. Things like:

    Drive time

    Many of my clients must be Star Trek fans and have a relationship with Scottie.

    Email time

    It’s always fun to pretend that we never have to answer emails.

    Emergencies

    Unless you sell pacemakers, there aren’t too many TRUE emergencies in business that can’t wait at least 2 hours to be handled. We all like to live in a dream world where everyone else in the office always solves their own problems and never need to come to us for help, that dream world has yet to exist.

    Paperwork

    While we should be delegating as much as possible to another personality type who really loves to do paperwork, we can’t pretend that we will never need to do any paperwork yet so many of my clients never have time built in their schedule for this.

    If you are planning out your schedule every week but you find yourself consistently unable to follow it, then it is time to really analyze your schedule. Compare your actual work week to your schedule and look for things that are throwing you off-schedule. Once you have located those troublesome tasks you need to plan for it in your next week’s schedule or you need to ‘eliminate, automate or delegate’* it to someone else. (*verbiage from Rory Vaden’s book, ‘Procrastinate on Purpose’)

    See, a simple fix. You have to make sure you are accounting for those maintenance tasks that are so essential to keeping all the wheels turning, without sacrificing the crucial production time. Planning for these tasks will allow your production to be free from distractions which in turn makes for a very productive day.

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • Think Backwards: The Key to Getting What You Want

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    backward_clock

    On a coaching call, my client told me she wanted to sell ten million dollars in business. I said, “Great! How do you plan on doing that?” She replied, “I really believe in myself, I know that I can do it I just know that with confidence I can hit my goal.”

    So I asked again, “How are you going to hit your goal?” She said: “I have made a vision board, and I’ve been focusing on it. It will help me hit my goal. I’m going to work harder than I ever have!”

    Again, “How?” She knew what she wanted. Without knowing how you are going to hit your goals, you can easily set yourself up to fail.

    In order to really move your business forward, sometimes you need to do a little backwards thinking.

    In every business it takes a certain number of dials to make a certain number of contacts, to set a certain number of appointments, to have a certain number of presentations, to have a certain number of sales. Your business might be a little bit different in terminology, or the process might be slightly shorter or slightly longer. One thing we all know is that every business follows a sales cycle.

    First, we have to track our numbers.  We need this information so we are aware of how many dials it takes to get someone on the phone. That’s our dial to contact ratio.

    We have to know things like how many contacts it takes to set an appointment.

    We have to know how many of our appointments actually stick and turn into presentations.

    Out of those presentations, what’s our closing percentage?

    How many of those turn into sales, and what is our average package size?

    Once you know those numbers then you can do some backwards thinking. Start with the goal you want to hit.

    Let’s say you’re like my client and want to sell $10 million in business. In order to get there, you need to take your average package size/sale size and figure out how many sales you need to make. The next thing you do is take your closing percentage and figure out how many presentations you need to run in order to have that many customers. Then you back end it out and figure out how many appointments you need to set based on your appointments set-to kept ratio. Then figure out how many contacts you need to make, and ultimately how many dials you need to make.

    Once you know how many dials, contacts, appointments set, and appointments ran you need, that is where you put your focus, not on the results.

    So many of us focus on the results. If we focus on the results that pressure builds up and we lose focus on the activity that is going to lead to the result. Consequently, we don’t achieve the result.

    Instead, you should almost forget about the revenue, the goal, and the money, and focus on the activity. When the activity is there, the results will follow. The results are a natural by-product of the activity.

    If you want to hit your goal, you have to think backwards!

    Write down how you’ll work backwards, let me know what you come up with!

    Emmie Brown is an executive level coach and an expert in the Psychology of Scripting. Emmie started her career with The Southwestern Company as a student intern at the University of North Carolina. She continued to work with Southwestern over the next 10 years as a top producing sales manager until joining Southwestern Consulting in 2009. Emmie has spent the last 4 years traveling the country as a professional sales trainer, executive coach and business consultant with Southwestern Consulting and the Success Starts Now! conference series. She is also the author of the audio series Talk Less, Sell More and a breakout presenter at the Success Starts Now! sales training conference.


  • Facing Fear

    Guest Post By: Jay Wang

    Fear is the root of many challenges we face in life. If we really dig down, at the core of things, like worry, doubt, anxiety, depression, etc. you will find fear. Even things like rage, selfishness or apathy can be traced back to fear.

    Fear…Recently a few close friends and I went downhill mountain biking at a local ski resort, in the summer time you can take the ski lift up with a downhill mountain bike and hit some intense descents. It was really scary and admittedly most trails there were several levels higher than my current skill set. For those of you not familiar with mountain biking, the difference between cross-country or trail riding and downhill riding is exponential! We are talking huge jumps and turning corners that you can get horizontal in!

    I had gotten advice that often in an ugly situation where you are about to crash or… say hit a tree, you actually need to let off the brakes so that you can gain control, get traction, steer around the obstacle and ride out the situation. Counter-intuitive to say the least. I experienced this first hand noticing that the more afraid I felt, the more I seemed to use my brakes. The more I used my brakes the less traction I had, especially when over breaking and the more out of control I felt! I had to really face my fear and constantly focus on using my body and going with the flow of the trail vs my default fear based reaction to slam on the brakes. It ended up being an epic adventure, a good time and a victory!

    Sales, business, and life work the exact same way. Look at our fear based reactions like call reluctance, procrastination or self-sabotaging our own success. They again can all be traced back to a core element of fear.

    Here are a few steps to help you face your fears!

    1. Know the Enemy!  What are you afraid of? Name it and write it down. Acknowledge it and you may start to see how insignificant or unlikely it is. Understanding fear helps us to better react to it in the right way. Many of us have heard the old acronym that F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. Though I agree entirely I would also like to submit that many times there is something very real we fear. Going back to my downhill mountain biking trip, I forgot to mention, that day we saw two broken collarbones and one guy got carried off in an ambulance. Believe me, the danger and risk was very real. HOWEVER, fear is a multiplier! It takes that risk and it exponentially multiplies that which we are afraid of! It snowballs in our creative imagination and becomes a monstrosity. So awareness is key!

    2. Do Battle with the EnemyFear is a cunning foe, you can not fight it by attacking it directly because whatever we resist persists. You can’t fight the fear of falling on a mountain bike by saying, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall. Guess what your mind focuses on?!?  That’s right! Falling! And what usually ends up happening? You guessed it. Often times, fear causes us to do the things that will bring about exactly that which we do not want to have happen, like over breaking on a mountain bike. This applies to cornering on a motorcycle as well, FYI. So what do you do? Like a martial artist master, you must see the attack (in this case the fear), maneuver to allow the attack to pass right by you and make your move!  So what’s your move?

    a.     Focus on what you are doing and not on what it is you are afraid of.

    b.     Use Self-Talk or have a Mantra-  I got this! This is a walk in the park! This is fun! I’m crushing this!

    c.     Have a plan to focus on the right things!- do it step by step, break it down and slowly build momentum and confidence!

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    Happy Halloween! Go out and Face your Fears!

    Jay Wang started selling with The Southwestern Company while in college. He was in the top 1% of sales producers and was able to sell, recruit and manage teams in order to pay his own way though school. After graduating with a degree in Business Management, he transitioned to managing multi-million dollar commercial real estate properties, achieving record-breaking occupancies. Since 2011, Jay has been traveling the country as a professional sales trainer and Partner with Southwestern Consulting.


  • Modify: Fighter (Pt. 1)

    Guest Post By: Dustin Hillis

    Navigate: Selling the Way People Like to Buy consists of 3 sections:

    • Solidification on the behaviors of the 4 buying styles
    • Identification of the 4 buying styles
    • Modification of your natural selling style

    Modification is the most important part of how to sell the way people like to buy.  The goal is to modify and adapt one’s own natural selling style to someone else’s buying style.

    The Fighter

    How do you modify your natural selling style in your approach, presentation and close to a Fighter’s buying behavior style?

    Fighters are straight to the point, don’t-waste-my-time, “let’s go!” type of people.  When approaching a Fighter, there is a very simple technique that you can apply to help set an appointment and encourage them to like and trust you faster.

    –> Click here to continue reading.


  • Navigate Handshakes

    Guest Post By: Dustin Hillis

    When it comes to identifying people’s natural buying behavior styles, one of the best ways to identify someone’s style is by taking note of how they walk, move and shake hands.

    Fighter

    Visual: Arnold Schwarzenegger has just entered the room, straight off of the movie Terminator.  He is coming straight at you!

    Fighters pump their arms and move their feet quickly.  It almost looks like a fast-speed, militant-style walk headed toward you.

    Once they get to you, they’ll often shake your hand in one of two ways.

    1. They’ll extend their hand in a tomahawk chop motion.

    -OR-

    1. They’ll extend their hand in a javelin-jab motion.

    –> Click here to continue reading…


  • 3 Step Process to Live Your Life Instead of It Living You

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    “If I could just get half the things done on my list, I wouldn’t feel so overloaded!” If this is you, let’s take a timeout to explore some time management strategies.

    Of course, I’ve heard many clients say they don’t have time for planning. That’s a big red flag. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, take your pick – we’ve heard the warnings – let’s understand this much – You will gain by making time for Time!

    Here is a 3-step process that can help you feel like YOU are living your life – instead of life living you!

    –> Click here to continue reading…