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  • Category Archives Sales Tips
  • The More I Train

    Guest Post By: Gary Michels

    In almost everything in life, if you are going to “Turn It Up a Notch” and strive to be above average, you are going to have to train to improve yourself. Some people call it practice, others call it drilling it into your head, and even others may call it rehearsing. To me, it all boils down to the same thing- you are in TRAINING.  You are working to improve yourself and reach the pinnacle of success you are looking for. I once read that in order for one to be a true expert at something, one must spend at least 10,000 hours learning, practicing, and training on that subject. I am not sure if that number and/or fact is true or not, it certainly is a huge feat to accomplish.

    In the game of business and sales, I always suggest that everyone spends a minimum of 30 minutes a day educating themselves.  This breaks down to spending approximately 15 minutes on motivation and 15 minutes on technique. Mathematically, this works out to be a minimum of 10 hours a month and 120 hours a year of bettering yourself.  That is something we all need to be working towards.

    When I want to excel at something, I “PDR” (Practice, Drill, Rehearse) like crazy. If you are driven to be at the top of your game, or just want to improve upon where you are, you must embrace the training concept.  You need to be willing to put up with the pain it takes to train. You must be willing to “PDR” until you have your presentation or information down cold.   Otherwise, you will experience the pain of regret when you do not reach the goals you set for yourself. Training breeds confidence and preparedness- the exact opposite of fear and mediocrity. The words below speak for themselves.

    The more I train…The quicker I get

    The quicker I get…The slower they seem

    The slower they seem…The easier the game

    The easier the game…The greater my threat

    The greater my threat…The more attention I draw

    The more attention I draw…The tighter they play me

    The tighter they play me…THE MORE I TRAIN!

     

    Be excited and enthusiastic about training. Don’t look at it as if it is a burden. The benefits derived from the time and energy you invest in training far outweigh the hassles. Training will make you successful.  You must stick with it and continue to try and better yourself.  Your results will speak for themselves. What type of training can you undertake this week to make you more productive and successful?

     

    Gary Michels is a co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is a keynote speaker, sales trainer and business consultant and has motivated nearly 1,000,000 people to achieve their highest potential nationwide. Gary spent 19 successful years as a sales representative for a national fund-raising company.


  • The “Boomerang” Sales Technique

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden
    boomerang

    One of the most common objections in sales is typically one that can easily throw off your sales presentation entirely. This is because when you hear it, you’re not prepared to answer it…. Yet.

    You’ve all been through a process where you’re just getting started, you’re just asking questions about the potential client’s needs, you get to your presentation, and all of a sudden your prospect cuts you off and says, “Amanda, I’m totally with you, but it’s all going to depend on the price. So just go ahead and just tell me. I need to know what we’re working with here.”

    Before you even get to find their need, before you present value, they’re cutting you off and immediately want to know the price.

    Now that’s a tricky situation because you just can’t evade the question, right? There are people who are going to catch on to that. It’s not going to help you and it’s definitely going to not build trust with your prospective customers.

    But how do you avoid answering that when you’re not prepared to tell them yet? That’s important to remember because upfront you are not prepared to tell them that.

    Because the moment you share the price, poof! Your entire sale just went up in flames because everything they hear after that, it’s all about the money. It’s all about the price.

    You can’t tell them the price until you’ve found a problem. The problem has to be bigger than the price, which is why you can’t tell people how much it is upfront.

    How do you get around it? How do you not completely evade the question, build trust, and eventually get back to it with your customer?

    This is what we call the “boomerang” technique. It’s one of my favorite questions to ask and I love asking it because it’s a game. I use this as a game with myself in all conversations.

    The boomerang is just defined as, “answering any question that you’re not prepared to answer with a question.” If you think about it, any question in the world that you get, can be answered with another question.

    For this specific objection “How much is it,” here is what you want to say, “Hey, I completely understand this is something you want to know and I promise we’re going to get to that. But at this point, I really don’t have enough information to even give you a quote or even guess how much it is. However, if you let me ask you a couple of quick questions, I can get straight to that. Is that fair?”

    In nine out of 10 times they’re going to say, “Sure, that’s fair.”

    So let them know it’s not going to take a long time, you are going to get to it, but you have to cover just a couple of quick things first and then you’ll get right to it. So again, it’s called the boomerang question.

    Answer their questions, their objections with a question so you don’t get off-guard upfront. You want them to focus on their problems and how you can help solve them, not the price.

     

    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


  • 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 Two Biggest Scheduling Mistakes That Ruin Productivity – Part 2

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

    In my last post we talked about my client who was struggling with productivity and as a result, his sales were suffering. After analyzing his schedule I discovered that he was making two very common scheduling mistakes that were ruining his productivity. In the first blog, we covered his first mistake; his schedule wasn’t ‘real’.

    kbarrow

    In this post, we are going to talk about his second big mistake.

    He wasn’t setting aside time for ramping up or ramping down.

    Our brains like to do as little thinking as possible. When we make our brains do a lot of heavy thinking all day long, we find that we are typically EXHAUSTED at the end of every day.

    Ramp-up time is an amazing cure for exhaustion! It will also help you to come across as a well prepared professional.

    What is Ramp-up time?

    It is 30 minutes to an hour that you SCHEDULE into the beginning of your day. (I typically do my Ramp-up time beginning at 7 or 7:30 AM). During this time, you look at the appointments you have for the day and prepare for them mentally and physically.

    ♦ Prospecting time set?

    • Then you prepare the list of everyone you will call for the day (PERK if you go ahead and put them in the order that you would like to call them)

    ♦ Look at your appointments

    • Prepare any information you will need to have with you. Review your notes from the last meeting so you can plan out any information that will need to be top of mind.
    • Think of any questions you need answered and plan how you would like the end of the meeting to go.
    • Is there anyone who needs to be included or updated about this meeting?
    • Is there information that you still need from someone else in order to be prepared for this meeting?

    As a Coach, what I typically see instead are a lot of sales people and leaders who are running from event to event. They aren’t prepared because they haven’t taken the time to thoroughly think through their day. This can result in our prospects and team members thinking we don’t care about them or their business and we don’t truly know what we are doing.

    Are you wondering why your prospects/clients aren’t calling you back? Are you wondering why people are canceling meetings on you? Are you wondering why you lost a big deal that you thought was in the bag? Can you look back and know that you have been fully prepared and thus fully present for these people? Everyone wants to feel important. Are you showing your people that they are important by being completely prepared?

    What is Ramp-down time?

    It is the 30 minutes you take to clear off your ‘to-do’ list before you head out the door.

    ♦  During the day, when someone is trying to distract me, then I do 1 of 3 things:

    •  Start an email to the appropriate person and enter enough in the subject line so that I will remember what I wanted to email          them about. Hit ‘save’ and then minimize it
    • Jot down a note on my daily ‘to-do’ list
    • If it is something that I want to remember to discuss with someone who I have an appointment with on my Outlook calendar or cover/discuss at a meeting that is coming up in my Outlook calendar, then I open a calendar appointment NEXT to the appropriate appointment and make a note of what I want to remember to cover/discuss, hit save and close it. Now, when I am doing my ramp-up time, it will be easy for me to remember anything important for those meetings.

    ♦  For Ramp-down time, at the end of the day, I:

    • Open up my minimized emails one at a time, finish the email and send it
    • Handle what can be immediately handled off of my ‘to-do’ list
    • Anything that can’t be handled immediately, then I will find a place in my Outlook schedule when I will handle it, create a calendar appointment for it, save and close. (As my business Partner Sales Coach Dew likes to say, if it isn’t important enough to be in your calendar, then it isn’t important enough to do.

    Once your mind is prepared through Ramp-up time and cleared through Ramp-down time, you are equipped to handle your day and whatever it may throw at you. You are giving your brain a break because it isn’t working so hard to stay in ‘reaction’ mode all day. This means at the end of the day you are energized and ready to be present with your family and friends, thus enjoying your life a whole lot more.

    Don’t forget to go back and read about mistake number one if you haven’t already. Then try applying these two solutions to your schedule every week and let me know what kind of a difference it makes for you!

     

    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


  • 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


  • Permission to Proceed

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-10.17.31-AMThis is something that is overlooked quite a bit. It’s one that I take the time to really look at this when I’m helping other people grow in prospecting.

    You know when you’re having that rocky conversation with someone at first. You haven’t had a chance to set up that cadence. You may be talking over each other, or have long awkward pauses, it’s really just no fun at all. Are you looking for a solution for that? Here it is…

    Ask for permission to proceed!

    Literally, you ask them to grant you permission to proceed in the conversation on your phone call. Right up front, after you’ve done the names and connected, and you’re about to give the prospecting buying atmosphere, you have to have this question in there. It’s basically asking for a specified amount of time, and you get them to confirm they are able to give you that time so they are open and receptive with you.

    Example, “Hey John, this is Dave, I’ve been doing some work with Beth over at Zee Company. They’ve been doing a lot of great things, so I just wanted to run this by you. It’s a good one, do you have a few minutes?”

    Connect with the names, ask to run something by them, confirm some time, then go right in to your prospecting and buying atmosphere.

    Some more ways to ask, “Can you talk for 3 minutes? Did I catch you at a good time to run something by you? Do you have like 97 seconds for this? Are you ready for my audition?”

    Whatever it may be, get creative, just ask for that time. It may be 5 minutes, it may be 2, but let them grant you permission to proceed. Don’t look by this, and when they try to speed you up, that is when you ask to confirm a few minutes. Come up with your special way to get prospects to allow you to spend time with them.

    The more you prospect the more you realize the short term hurt turns in to the long term easy. It’s going to hurt a little each day while you are prospecting, but it will get better as you constantly do it and turn it in to a long term easy.

    Go get it today! Set some appointments and prospect your heart out!

    Comment here, tweet me, or connect with me on Linkedin and let me know!

     

    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.


  • Keys to Successful First Impressions 

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    impression

    The Harvard Study of Communications said that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being, only seven seconds. I think that study is so fascinating because of this one little thing. How many words do you really say in seven seconds?

    Do a seven-second countdown in your head right now.

    I bet you got out something like I did which was “Hi, it’s so nice to meet you. My name’s Amanda.” That took about 4 seconds

    What else could we possibly say in the next three seconds that’s going to make some overwhelmingly positive first impression?  The truth is probably not a whole lot.

    In fact, one of the parts of this study actually says that 38% of what makes up a first impression is how you sound. Only 7% of a first impression are the words you say. So all together, only 45% of a first impression has anything to do with the words coming out of your mouth.  That leaves 55% of a first impression to visual. It’s how you look, it’s how you dress. It’s how you stand, it’s how you shake a hand. It’s if you make solid eye contact. It’s your personal appearance.

    So many times, we focus on what to say to make a first impression. Well, studies show it’s not as much what you say, and again only 7% of the first impression had anything to do with the words that you say.

    Pay attention, very acutely, to how you spend those first seven seconds that will visually capture your prospect or customer.

    Do you stand up to greet them? Do you make eye contact with them? Do you immediately smile at them? How are you dressed? How are you standing? Do you stand up straight and confident? Do you remain seated? Do you shake their hand, or do you hug them? Do you light up with excitement? Or is it just an expected, “Hey, how are you?”

    You may be thinking those little things don’t make a difference, but they do. Don’t let your first impression be you texting someone else, and those first seven seconds are gone in a glimmer. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be prepared that when they come in, that they have a visual first impression of you that’s going to last.

    Make your first impression count.

     

    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.


  • Being Decisive

    Guest Post By: Dustin Hillis

    What do people like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Other than being billionaires, they all are decisive. They know what they want. They understand their priorities. They make decisions. You’d probably never hear any of them say, “let me think about it”. Billionaires don’t have time to “think about it”; it’s either a “yes” or it’s a “no”. Opportunities are lost every day from not making a decision.

    What is there to think about? Most of the time if we have to think about something, it’s because we don’t have a clear vision for what we really want. People are so focused on the day-to-day minutiae of life, that they cannot set their sights down the road on the bigger prize. It’s interesting to ask people the question “what do you want?” Most people respond with something generic like “happiness”, “make a lot of money”, “world peace”, etc. If someone asked you “what do you want?”, could you answer the question? Knowing what you want is the first step in being a decisive decision maker.

    screen-shot-2016-06-06-at-8-57-16-pm

    Considering your priorities and reorganizing priorities based on what is going to get you another step closer to your goal every day is a skill. We are all busy being busy. Nobody on the planet thinks they aren’t “busy”.

    Why do so few people exceed their goals in life? They have their priorities out of order. If your priority is to become the number one producer, become financially independent and build wealth, then why are you spending so much time checking email, reading up on current events and chit-chatting with your co-workers by the coffee machine? You should spend 90-95% of your time doing things that only you can do with your unique skills and talents. Understanding your priorities will help you to stay focused on the things that only you can do.

    All that is left now that you know what you want and you’ve got your priorities reorganized daily is to take action. Stop thinking. Pick up the phone. Book the trip. Ask the girl of your dreams out on a date.

    Stop thinking and start doing. Make decisions. Be decisive. If 90% of your decisions are right, then the 10% that are wrong will be made up from making more positive decisions.

    Dustin Hillis is the Co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is an expert in understanding buying, selling and management behavior styles and how to identify them and adapt to people the way they want to be communicated with. He also specializes in writing efficient and effective Customized Sales Scripts/Word Tracks. Mr Hillis consults companies on creating Compensation Plans, Recruiting Systems and Sales Strategies. Dustin is the author of the book Navigate: The Art of Not Thinking and co-author of Speaking of Success along with Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield


  • Control What You Can: Attitude and Effort

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    attitudeOften we get frustrated in life when we try to control things that we actually have no control over.

    We get frustrated when the traffic is bad and we are late to work.

    We get frustrated when somebody doesn’t buy from us, or they don’t show up for an appointment.

    We get frustrated all day long with little things that are happening, that we forget that we cannot actually control some of those things.

    What can we do to keep from feeling this way?

    There are only two things each day that you actually can control. Only two things!

    They are your attitude and your effort. That’s it!

    When something bad happens you control how you react to that something. You can control what attitude you choose to put on. Choose to put on a good one!

    You can also control how hard you work. How many hours you put in. You control how hard you work during those hours, how many phone calls you make, if you pick up the phone and dial again and again and again.

    There are things that you can influence, like how well you have a conversation. You can influence if somebody buys or not, but you can’t really control the outcome at all.

    You can control a lot of what you do in terms of how many appointments you set, etc. You can have a great amount of control over that. Two things we can work on controlling is how hard we work and our attitude.

    If you focus on controlling the “controllables,” controlling what you actually can control, and just surrender the rest, you will have a lot less frustration and a whole lot more peace!

    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.