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  • Activity

    Guest Post By: Brent Widman


    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.

  • 3 Natural By-Products of Staying in Touch with Your Customers  

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    The most inexpensive way for you to get more business is to sell to existing clients.

    Existing clients are more likely to give you referrals to more potential leads. And it’s easier to up-sell an existing client when you do it for the right reasons and at the right time. In fact, studies have shown that it takes three times more money and effort to find new prospects as it does to just keep the ones you have. We’re going to share with you three reasons why following-up with clients is crucial and essential to the success of selling.

    Show Gratitude:

    • It’s important to follow-up just to say, “Thank you.” It’s amazing how those two little words can incredibly change the trajectory of your client relationship. When your customers know that you are appreciative and grateful for their business, it creates loyalty.
    • Whether you do it with a handwritten card, a gift, a phone call, or an email, just make sure that you are authentic and consistent when saying thank you. Never underestimate the power of the written word or hearing something on a regular basis.

    Minimize Buyer’s Remorse

    • Make sure that you follow-up quickly because the quicker you follow-up, the less likely someone is to change their mind.
    • You want to do it immediately upfront. You want to create that sense of urgency as if to say, “I am here for you and you made a good choice.”
    • Stay constant in your follow-up so that you can help address challenges before they ever become problems. If you follow-up on a regular basis and you find out things aren’t working, whether their prices increased, their policy changed or taxes are going to be higher on something, whatever it is, if you catch it, you’re just doing them a service. But if they catch it, it’s a problem.

    Gain Word of Mouth Advertising

    • Having a good relationship with your customers isn’t just good for business; it also increases the amount of positive word of mouth. With the over-abundance of social media sites, there’s too much opportunity to spread bad news.
    • You have to make sure they are sharing good news. Unfortunately, most people are seven times more likely to share bad news than they are good news. If you follow-up consistently, you can build word of mouth prospects and generate word of mouth advertising.

    Now that you know why it’s important to follow up, you have all the more reason to begin doing it!


    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


    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    Anyone reading this would agree that referrals are a good thing. Referrals that trickle in because someone heard about you from one of your clients don’t come often enough.

    There are 3 reasons why you don’t get enough referrals:

    1. You don’t ask
    2. You ask passively
    3. You ask incorrectly

    Here is a list of common reasons given for why you didn’t ask for referrals:

    “I shouldn’t have to ask. If I do a good job, people will refer me.”

    “I don’t want to come across as pushy or salesy.”

    “I ran out of time before my next appointment.”

    “I’ll ask later. I need to earn their trust first.”

    “If I ask, I will look like I need the business. I want to look successful.”

    They are all rationalizations- rational sounding lies believed to be true. The truth is professionals make time to ask for referrals and they do it in a way that the client actually gets excited to help them.


    Some people ask but are fearful. Fear causes you to ask passively or ask with trepidation: “I really appreciate referrals. If you think of anyone who would benefit from what I do, please connect them to me.” You mention that you like referrals. You don’t ask for them directly. You don’t get them.


    Others don’t ask for referrals correctly. You ask, “Do you know of anyone who. . .” You actually set yourself up to get “I can’t think of anyone right now, but I will let you know if I do.”

    Other objections you get when they ask poorly include:

    • I need to think about it.” “Can you call me next week?” “I’ll get back to you.”
    • The “Hermit” objection: “I don’t know anyone.”
    •  “Sure you can call him, but just don’t use my name.” “Let me talk to  him first.” “I’ll have him call you.”
    • “I don’t give referrals.”



    Here are just a few tips that we teach at Southwestern Consulting:

    • Always ask “who do you know who . . . “ instead of  “do you know anyone who. . . ” or “is there anyone who. . .?”
    • Pause after you ask to allow them time to think. Break eye contact. And, look down at your paper ready to write.
    • Use memory joggers. For example, there are certain life events that trigger people to think about insurance. Anyone who is getting married, buying a new house, buying a new car, having a kid, retiring, or changing jobs is a great prospect. Ask who they know in each of these categories.

    The number one way to get referrals is to give someone any opportunity to give them to you. If you are not asking, start there. Then, work on your attitude. You must expect to collect names and numbers. Next, use the above techniques. You will be amazed by how many referrals you get!


    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.

  • How To Get 200 Referrals

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

    How exciting that you are starting your new sales career! Are you ready to have amazing results as fast as possible? GREAT!

    Stop right now and list out 100 people who you know…


    Are you like most new sales people in that you have already been trying to sell to most of the people you know when you were at other companies and/or you are worried that by calling your personal contacts that if you try to sell to them, that they may start to avoid you? If so, then you are very NORMAL!

    Would you like to learn how to make sure this will never happen to YOU?

    –> Click here to continue reading.

  • What It Takes to be #1 in Sales

    My first sales experience came while I was studying psychology at the University of Tennessee. I had to work my way through school, and I knew the best way was to work hard all summer so that I could focus on my classes the rest of the year. That meant I needed a job that would pay well for three months of hard work. That is when I found The Southwestern Company. They train college students to sell books door-to-door on straight commission. I had very little selling experience, and up until then, playing football was all that I knew. Because I have a competitive nature and a passion for learning new things, I ended up selling books door-to-door for four summers. It was an extraordinary experience. I was working more than eighty hours a week and must have knocked on some twenty-five hundred doors per summer. The training at Southwestern is unmatched. After one week of intensive training they took me, an inexperienced college football player, and turned me into a selling machine! After my first summer, I finished number one out of twenty-five hundred other first-year dealers. At the end of my second summer, I earned a commission check for $46,000—not a bad summer’s earnings for a sophomore in college. On one of the last days of that second summer, an experienced dealer shadowed me. He told me, “If you ever figure out what you are doing, you will break the company record.” That comment dumbfounded me. I was already a top producer for the company, and was essentially being told that I didn’t know what I was doing!

    That was also the first time the thought entered my mind that maybe I could break Southwestern’s 154-year-old sales record. So the following year, I studied the psychology of sales: unconditional confidence, social pressure, neurolinguistic programming, and the four different buying behavior styles. I was so intrigued by all of the topics that I started to convert the principles we were being taught at the University of Tennessee and funneling them through a sales-minded filter.

    My first mission was to figure out my behavior style. I took DISC, Myers-Briggs, and all the other personality profile tests I could find. They were all awesome tests that taught me a lot about myself and my personality, but something was still missing. In order to sell to other personalities, I needed to be able to make the transition from “who I was” to “how I was” selling.

    Then in the spring of 2004, I attended a class in Nashville, Tennessee, at Southwestern’s headquarters, called Selling Like a Chameleon, (a class offered by Southwestern that taught the importance of adapting to different personalities to maximize sales) and my sales career was changed forever. The program not only identified different buying behavior styles, but it taught me how to adapt my selling style to best match the customer’s buying behavior style.

    The next year I went out with the goal of breaking the company record. That meant more than doubling my production from the prior year. The way to reach my goal was by following the principles learned in the Selling Like a Chameleon class and the principles found in this book. My slight edge for that summer was in my initial contact, the way I approached the buyer. Unlike the previous summers, during my third summer at Southwestern, I tailored my selling style to best match the buyer’s behavior styles. During the previous two summers my sales approach had appealed only to people who were like me, so I was connecting with only one-quarter of my prospects. My first two summers, I treated everyone I approached as if he or she were an extroverted entertainer, which is my selling behavior style. I was successful those first two summers in large part because “birds of a feather flock together.” The prospects who let me in were extroverts; and they referred me to their friends, who were extroverts; and they referred me to their friends, who were extroverts. You get the picture. However, there are only so many of one type of behavior style in a city. I frequently would run into someone of a different behavior style, and, in those instances, my standard selling M.O. (modus operandi) would not work.

    When I ran into people with aggressive behavior styles and used the same words I was using with the extroverted people, they were slamming the door in my face! At first I thought it was a problem with them, but after studying the psychology of behavior styles and going through the Selling Like a Chameleon course, I came to realize it was a problem with me. After adopting the Selling Like a Chameleon approach, my production doubled! As a junior in college, I earned more than $100,000 in fourteen weeks!

    In my new book, you will learn the method and application of the Navigate system, how it has affected other people’s personal production, and how it has made a huge difference in the way they communicate and ask for business. There are four basic buying behavior styles that you need to know in order to be more effective at closing the deal. This book outlines those four buying behavior styles and shows you how to identify the buying styles in you, others, and how to adapt your selling style to best fit the buying style of your customer. Being aware of the different buying behavior styles and knowing how to identify and adapt to the different kinds of decision-makers is key to getting a person to like you and trust you. Whether you are attempting to set up an appointment, close a deal, or just want someone to hear what you have to say, the Navigate system will help you communicate better and connect with people for the rest of your life!

    Now go out and try to break YOUR record! We would love to hear about your successes, so please post comments below.

    Dustin Hillis

    Co-Founder Southwestern Consulting™



    The most successful salespeople I know get off to a fast start in the New Year.  They realize that if they start the year over plan they can build on their success throughout the year.  Otherwise you spend most of your year just trying to catch up.  Here is a recap of the 5 ways to have a fast start:

    1. Renew and Up-Sell Existing Clients:  We need to treat last year’s production as a foundation for this year’s revenue!  Ask yourself this question; who could be using more of your services? Start there. Step 1, make an active account list and identify where additional business lies. If you can identify additional services they should be doing label those on your sheet.  Step 2, schedule Re-Focus Meetings with each of these accounts so you can stay aware of potential business opportunities and get referrals!
    2. Regain Former Clients:  Identify five to ten former customers that haven’t used your services in the last 3-5 years.  Send a ‘New Year’s message’ email just touching base, updating them, re-providing them with your contact information and offering them a ‘review meeting’ to go over their current financial situation.
    3. Ask for (and receive) Referrals on a Regular Basis from active clients:  It’s important to set the stage for referrals with all of your customers.  One good way to do that is to teach your customers how to give referrals by giving them a referral.  Identify five good customers that haven’t given you a referral in the past and if possible start the referral process by giving them a referral. The 2nd thing you should do is send them a ‘New Year’s message’ email following the former client email but instead of offering a ‘review meeting’ you will be asking for referrals! The goal is to get a 5% referral return rate.
    4. Target Specific Companies/Industries for New Business Development: Profile what your “best” customer looks like and create a prospect “Hit List”. You have already done this do you are ahead of the game here!
    5. Generate Additional Referral Resources:  In order to outsmart your competition you need to create yourself a niche market within a set group of 6-10 repeat referral partners.  One way to stick out among other financial advisors is to highlight what it is that you do that your competition doesn’t do, can’t do or won’t do in this market place. The goal would be to get 1 solid referral/month from each referral partner.  The target is on accounting firms and bonding firms.


    Here is the text I generally use for obtaining referrals via email. Feel free to use and edit this as you see fit.


    Hi ______,

    First of all, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are having a great start to 2011! I am looking forward to getting this year underway which is actually why I am emailing you today. I just wanted to give you a quick update on some new things that I will be doing in my business this year that you may or may not be aware of.     (list 1-2 things that you are doing this year … i.e.; seminar classes, newsletters, etc…)


    Sample verbiage:

    In 2011 I will be proactively holding educational seminar classes for my clients on a variety of topics including; ___,___,___. I will be conducting private classes for organizations, as well as be participating in hosting public seminars available to all of my clients free of charge. I will also be incorporating a quarterly newsletter for my clients to keep you updated on market trends, industry facts, new products and services and all company updates. Lastly, I would like to invite you to join my professional network on LinkedIn so that we may continue to keep in touch on a regular basis.


    I look forward to speaking with you soon as I will be following up via telephone in the next several weeks to go over a review of your account. Please feel free to contact me in the meantime if you have any questions.


    Lastly, I was actually hoping to ask a favor of you. As you know, your business is very important to me and I look forward to continuing our business relationship for years to come. I was curious to know if you knew of anyone who is currently looking to ___,____ or ____. Or perhaps you know someone who is just looking to switch advisors and needs a good recommendation. Whatever the case may be I wanted to ask the favor of you to please let me know if you know of someone who may be looking to work with or simply talk to a financial advisor. If so, I would love the opportunity to meet them to see if I could be of assistance.  Thank you in advance for these efforts.


    Wishing you continued success in 2011!


    In the Spirit of Success,

    Amanda Johns

    Corporate Partner and Program Director

    Southwestern Consulting


    Corporate website: http://www.southwesternconsulting.com

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  • Referrals: A Key to Your Success

    Referrals are not an option!


    When you have less time, you need referrals.

    When you need more sales, you need referrals.

    When you are on a deadline, you need referrals.

    In other words, referrals should be the lifeline of your business!


    Here is a referral gathering gameplan:

    1.      Ask every time – no matter what

    2.      Treat getting referrals like getting sales

    3.      Don’t stop until you get at least 1 referral from every buyer

    4.      Use the following script: At the very end of your presentation: Do you mind if I ask you a question? What made you decide to go ahead and move forward with this today?  

    (let them talk)

    That’s great. I am really glad to hear that! You know, before I leave, I was going to ask a quick favor of you. I have found that there are really 3 groups of people that I tend to work best with and quite honestly, these people are the ones I can help most often, so I was curious do you know anyone who recently got married, had a new baby or started a new family?  (customize for your industry.   After receiving referrals find out one piece of unique information about them:

    Simply ask: Can you tell me one interesting piece of information about ___ that most people don’t know?


    This is your key to getting referrals … now, just put it to use and go kick some referral butt!


    In the Spirit of Success,

    Amanda Johns

    Corporate Partner and Program Director

    Southwestern Consulting