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  • Three Things that I Wish I Knew Before I Started Selling

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    Something that most people don’t know is that our company, Southwestern Consulting, is actually the training and consulting arm of a much larger corporation known as The Southwestern Company. In fact, The Southwestern Company is the oldest direct selling company in the entire United States.

    We’ve been around for just shy of 160 years but I’ve been in the sales profession for only 10 years and what I have realized is that I wish I had another 150 years of experience to prepare me for the daily ups and downs of being a professional salesperson. In light of that I thought I would share 3 simple, but impactful tips I wish I knew before I started in sales almost 10 years ago:

    1. It’s harder than it sounds – I really wish I knew how hard I was going to have to work. I knew that being in sales wouldn’t be easy but I wish I knew how hard it was going to be as a salesperson. I wish somebody would have sat down and told me.

    “You’re going to have to have a lot of perseverance. You’re going to have to be very persistent. You’re going to have to work when you don’t want to. You’re going to have to work longer hours than you thought. Sometimes you’re going to have to  work on weekends. Sometimes you’re going to have to miss parties, and events, and weddings, because you’re going to have to work.”

    I wish I would’ve been prepared so that when it came time to work that hard, I didn’t get upset. That I didn’t resent the fact that this was my job.

    I’ve finally learned how to really love the daily grind of working hard and today I really take pride in the fact I’m part of a job that I’m so passionate about it doesn’t feel like work.

    But many times as a salesperson, we start to feel unbalanced because we didn’t have the proper expectations of how hard we’re going to have to work.

     

    2. You have to want to be better each and every day – Being a great salesperson means it’s a never ending pursuit of learning. And again, like working hard, I really learned to love that about what I do at Southwestern Consulting. I am very blessed to be a part of an entire company who is passionate about learning and self-development.

    However, when I first started in this job one of the first things I was most excited about was, “I can’t wait ’til I know what I’m doing so I don’t have to study so hard anymore.”

    Guess what, I’m still not there. Almost 10 years later, I’m still not there.

    I wish I would’ve known that the books that I read were going to teach me more than any classes I ever attended in college. I wish somebody would’ve said, “Buy these books. Listen to these audio trainings. Go to these seminars. Find mentors. Get a coach. Find an accountability partner.  Study hard. Really be a student of the game. Listen to people. Ask for advice. Be a never ending learner.”

    work-in-progress (1)

    3. I will never arrive at being at the top of my game – For 10 yrs I have looked forward to the day when I have “finally arrived” only to realize that day does not exist and ultimately should not exist in my mind. The moment I actually think I have arrived will be the day I need a reality check.

    Every day I have to push aside what I think is right and to listen to others. I have to be coachable. Learning to be flexible is never easy, but being stubborn doesn’t help anyone. Be open to trying new things, even when you think you know everything…. Because, guess what, you don’t … but, neither does anyone else.

    Whether it’s your first day in sales or your first year or you’re a long time veteran and you’ve been selling for 50 plus years, it doesn’t matter. Those three things never change. You have to work hard, study hard, and be coachable if you’re going to succeed at anything.

     

    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


  • THREE REASONS WHY YOU DON’T GET REFERRALS AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

    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.

    YOU MUST ASK FOR REFERRALS!

    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.

    YOU MUST EXPECT TO ACTUALLY COLLECT REFERRALS WHEN YOU ASK!

    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.”

    Referral

    YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR REFERRALS THE RIGHT WAY!

    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.


  • Ice Melting Lines

    ice meltingGuest Post By: Dave Brown

    Have you ever felt a little awkward after that first five seconds of an initial sales conversation? Using those “Hey, how you doing?” mundane type of initial phrases that lead to you just talking over your prospect and not making a quick connection. I hear and see it all the time!

    Everyday initial conversations starters DO NOT work in the selling world, and DO NOT forward your sales conversation. If you’re wondering why you’re not growing, as you should be in sales, this may help you break through. Shake things up a bit. Make your lead in phrases you!

    Where do we start?

    Bring your personality into it…literally your personality!

    Examples:

    • “Hey is this John Smith? Great, do you have 79 seconds for me really quickly?”
    • “John, I’ve been trying to catch you for months I literally thought you were    kidnapped man, were you kidnapped?”
    • “Hey John, this is Dave, are you ready for this?”
    • “John, how is your office staff running over there today? (don’t let them respond) Who’s winning, you or them?”

    Shake things up then lead into what you are doing and what you’re calling about. You’re melting away the tension that could exist when you use those icebreaking lines that can immediately connect you with your prospect because you’re different. If you are a prospecting master, you are an “ice-melter” with these types of initial phrases!

    Let me leave you with your prospecting golden nugget for the week…

    When prospecting, be YOU. Nobody in this world has your design. Daily you choose to cater to the world, or make it your masterpiece. Make it your masterpiece when you are prospecting today. Get out there and melt the tension, use your ice melting lines to get in and connect with your prospect quickly.

    What are some of the ice melting lines you have used? Tweet them to me @davebrown_swc #meltingtheice #southwesternconsulting

     

    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.


  • Leadership Isn’t Logical

    Rory_Vaden

    Sometimes the things that co-workers are doing just don’t make any sense.

    It frustrates me to the point of anger to have someone on the team who has so much potential but just never seems to perform anywhere near their capabilities.

    I am sometimes baffled and confused when another person who has been a top performer on our team for years suddenly starts spending more time complaining and whining, instead of working and creating.

    And how is it that the one person who used to be the “steady-Eddie” on our team now hardly ever shows up on time, goes home early and squanders much of the day surfing online?

    It’s exhausting and disheartening to know that these people aren’t doing what they are supposed to, and none of if it ever made sense to me — until I realized something:

    Leadership isn’t logical. Leadership is emotional, because humans are emotional.

    Finish reading this article in the Tennessean here…


  • How to be a Top Producer

    The MINDSET to Top Producers:

    1.  On both good and bad days we have to remember that the results we get are from the thoughts we keep holding on to.

    • To accomplish anything in life, we have to have a dream and want it so bad we cannot live without it.

    2.  We have to see ourselves as entrepreneurs and not independent contractors or employees.

    • We have to have a love affair with the business of selling…we have to be passionate about it every day…don’t focus on the parts of the job we don’t like.

    3.  We have to remember the major reason for financial failure is working on something you don’t like for a long period of time.

    • We have to remember in life and business; it is never easy or fair.

    4.  There is not security in this business…there are only opportunities and with opportunities there is massive failure…get used to it, it is part of becoming successful and winning.

    5.  We have to develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks and failures quickly.

    • We can never let our dream out of our minds, even for a moment.  When the dream comes out of your mind it gives the negative a chance to come in.
    • Spend time with the right people…who are the right people and are you spending time with them now?

    6.  Don’t be impressed with your success and your intelligence, because there are smarter and brighter people than us in the world.

    7.  We have to quickly get out of fantasy land and get into reality to build our business.

    8.  We have to be mentally prepared for the cycles, because success is never one long upward trend.

    • Work 8 hours a day if you want to be good and you want to get paid…work a lot more if you want to be great and rich

    9.  We can find all the answers if we are willing to keep looking.  Lets become solution driven, not problem driven.

    10.  You have to become the eternal optimist

    • We have to work every day on speed and urgency.
    • Make GREAT service your obsession.

    11.  Develop the mindset that honesty is the best policy with everyone.

    12.  Work to keep your mind clear.

    • Focus on making decisions quickly instead of worrying about being right or wrong…just get it done.
    • Decide in advance you are never going to have a bad day. 
    • Do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it…whether you like it or not.

    13.  Remember emotions and drama don’t strengthen the mindset.

     

    Go make it a great day,

    Gary Michels

    www.turnitupanotch.com

     


  • FREE Sales Training TONIGHT!

    Do you have difficulty remembering customer’s names?

    Do you have the perfect answer for an objection, but can’t remember it?

    HELP IS HERE – Tips to improve your ability to remember the names of your customers, people you meet and general techniques to creating a “steel-trap” memory.

    Our ASK THE SALES EXPERTS teleseminar TONIGHT – THURSDAY, December 8th at 7:00PM CT.

    Amanda Johns – The Importance of Visual Images

    Gary Michels – The Stellar 6 Ideas to Memorize & Use the Things You’ve Learned

    Rory Vaden – The 7 “tions” of Remembering People’s Names

    Ron Marks – Super Charge Your Memory Through Proper Nutrition

    Dustin Hillis – Maximizing Technology to Help You Remember

    Emmie Young – Memorizing Scripts in Your Natural Learning Style

     

    THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8 AT 7:00PM CT

    CALL IN: 712-432-0404  access code: 555575#

    Live Chat on our Facebook Page  at 7:00pm CT – Join us for LIVE Q & A during teleseminar


  • The “Golden Ten”: How to Generate Leads and Turn Contacts into Clients!

    The “Golden Ten” – how to Generate Leads and Turn Contacts into Clients!

    One of the most important things you need to ensure sales success is a solid resource of leads…but that means you will have to get out there and generate those leads!  The good news is that lead generation doesn’t have to be intimidating and if you use the right techniques, it can actually be both productive and fun!  Because this is such a common sales question, we’ve put together the “Golden Ten” tips for generating leads.

    So, without further adieu, “The Golden Ten”:

    The Golden Ten

    The Golden Ten

    1)      Use your networking resources!  Exchange URL links with companies or business that share your target audience but do not represent a direct competitor.  When any member of that target audience visits your “partner’s” web page, he or she will have direct access to YOU!  Increasing web traffic is a MUST in lead generation; more people use the Web as a shopping forum than another other available source. For example www.southwestern.com andwww.southwesternconsulting.com shares web traffic to help increase web traffic from the Southwestern Company to Southwestern Consulting.

    2)      Give your patrons a chance to hear from you.  Put your ‘opt in’ on every page of your web site. As a patron browses your site, he or she may not be immediately inclined to provide you with contact information – but providing them with more opportunities may prove enticing.  The more opportunities you take to generate leads – the better.  This option is convenient and is not overly pushy.    For example check out the Southwestern Company seminar website at http://www.ssnseminars.com/.

    3)      Use a newsletter as a way to advertise your business.  No matter what’s going on with your company, customers will respond to a newsletter option.  Giving potential patrons an option to sign up for a monthly business update or newsletter is a great way to spark interest even over a long period of time.  Statistically, customers who don’t purchase immediately will make a purchase within the subsequent 12 months!  A newsletter will allow you to stay in view during this window.

    4)      Using a website to advertise your service is one of the best ways to stay out in front of the sales wave, especially since so much of business is virtual these days.  Using an auto responder to automate your website is great way to keep your web page current without taking up scads of time.  Auto responders can be set up to send out a periodic update or email reminding your customers of sales, new products, etc.  Check out the Southwestern Company website atwww.southwestern.com.

    5)      Be personable! Send thank you notes to let your clients know that you truly appreciate their business.  After any successful transaction, issue a thank you – either in the form of a greeting card or an e-postcard.  This thank you note will help you stand out and is very well received in client circles.  People appreciate acknowledgment.  You can use this technique in all areas of business – not just sales.

    6)      Potential customers like to hear what other customers are saying.  Ask your clients for testimonials that can be published on your web page or your sales copy, pamphlets, etc.  This is a great way to show your customers that other “real” people are truly happy with your services.  Video testimonials work great check out the Southwestern Company student testimonial videohttp://www.southwesternsummer.com/southwestern-company-students-home.aspx.

    7)      Use your social networking circles.  Social networking is the wave of the sales future!  If you haven’t yet explored the option of using social networking as part of your sales strategy, today is the day to do so!  Spend some time looking into this powerful tool and don’t let the wave of the future pass you buy!  Check out the Southwestern Company Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages&tid=1374284354847#!/Southwestern?ref=ts.

    8)      Publish press releases for new products or services.  Believe it or not, people respond to the press in a way that most other advertising falls short.  Use the power of the press release to get your services and your name out anytime a new opportunity comes up.  You’ll be surprised at the response you get.

    9)      Followup, Followup, Followup!  Did you know that most people have to see or hear a message 7 times before it is installed in the “memory bank”?  That means that a followup system that get’s your message in front of potential customers at least 7 times is ideal.  Using varying options for this followup should be easy: an email, a postcard, a letter, a phone call, a newsletter…get creative and have fun with it!

    10)   Market yourself with events!  Promote events, teleclasses, seminars, and other industry related paraphernalia.  Speak publicly as often as possible and use YOU as a resource.  Marketing yourself will be just as important as marketing your business.  Plus, getting out there and showing what you’ve got and what you can do will draw customers like moths to a flame!


  • 3 TOP LEAD GENERATION TECHNIQUES

    THE TRIPLE THREAT – THREE TOP LEAD GENERATION TECHNIQUES

     

    lead-generationIf you’ve been in sales for more than five minutes then you already know that generating leads is a mainstay and a staple for success.  Unfortunately, far too many sales people find lead generation to be intimidating.  The good news is lead generation and lead generation techniques do not have to be intimidating, scary, or even difficult.

    While there are a plethora of varying lead generation techniques, some of them stand out among peers area this week, we’ve decided to put together a triple threat of lead generation.  Three of our very favorite lead generation techniques to help you maximize your sales potential in turn your leads into customers are as follows:

    1. First of all, use your resources.  Use your social networks, newsletters, websites, question and answer forums, and any other networking opportunity that will allow you to put your name and your information out into cyberspace.  For example, check out www.dhillis.me.  Not only that, getting your name out into tangible media will also be of benefit.  For example, if you have a product that you know is persistent genre of customer will require, target that audience with newspaper advertisements, flyers, and snail mail postcards.
    2. Put yourself out there.  Basically, if you’ve had the opportunity or will have the opportunity to speak publicly, attend a seminar, or become involved in a workshop or other events, you should spend some time networking with in that realm.  Far too many speakers will allow themselves to go in my day after speaking engagement.  If you’re speaking in public, be sure and set up a short Q&A session.  A Q&A session, or simply a meet and greet, will let your potential customers (a.k.a. your leads) know that you’re accessible and available.
    3. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.  Every time a prior customer, who is happy with your service gives you a name or number of someone else who might be happy with your service also… you’ve generated a lead.  This is an area where many sales people feel intimidated are uncomfortable.  However, if you’re passionate about your industry, confident in your abilities, and you’re laid-back and your approach — your customers will be more than willing to provide you with referrals to friends and family.

     

    These are just three of many, many lead generation techniques — however, we have to reiterate the fact that these three are a triple threat and stand out among the rest.  Simply adding Beasley generation techniques to your lead repertoire will provide you with results you never before thought possible.

    For more info on working referrals go here:http://secure.ssnseminars.com/store/Navigate-How-to-Navigate-Referrals-3-disc-set-by-Dustin-Hillis-P641C10.aspx

     



  • Tips to Catch the Golden Nuggets Your Prospect is Throwing at YOU!

    Gold Bars and Golden Nuggets: by Lester Crafton

     

    Lester Crafton is an expert in “linguistic influence” from theSouthwestern Company. In a recent interview I had with Lester, we were discussing the importance of every word that comes out of someone’s mouth. Mr. Crafton says, “paying attention to every single word that comes out of someone’s mouth is as valuable as gold bars.”

    “Golden Nuggets” is the term we use at Southwestern Consulting to describe the seemingly insignificant things that people say throughout the course of conversation. A common denominator amongst most successful “influencers” of people is that they pay attention to every word that comes out of someone’s mouth.
    Earlier this year, I was following a sales rep in the field for a sales performance consulting project. I was perplexed how many things the prospect was saying that the sales rep wasn’t paying attention to. It was like gold bars flying out of the prospects mouth, and instead of taking out a net and catching the gold bars, the sales rep was dodging them and trying to get through their presentation as fast as possible.

    Flying By Gold Bars

    So what are the little things you should be listening for?
    Here is a list of “golden nuggets”:
    – hobbies and things they do for fun
    – people they know that you know as well
    – things that they are interested in
    – what they like about your product or service
    – their answer to all of your questions
    – people they say would be interested in your product or service
    – what they don’t like about the current service provider
    – why they didn’t buy from the last person they talked with
    – why they accepted the meeting with you
    – what grade their kids are in
    – where they work
    – what area of town they live in
    – where they grew up
    – what they say after you answer their objections
    – why they bought
    – why someone didn’t buy
    – what they like the best about your product or service
    – what kind of dog they have
    – what kind of car they drive
    – their favorite sport
    – how they know the referrals they gave you
    – what they did before the job they’re at now

    Take a look at this list and ask yourself “how effective am I at getting ‘golden nuggets,’ remembering them, and then using that information at the right time to answer objections, influence someone to see things my way, set an appointment, or close a sale?” I recommend creating a “Golden Nugget” note book that you write down all of the detailed information you gather about the people that you interact with daily. Then before every meeting or phone call where you’re talking with someone that you’ve got “golden nuggets” about, you pull out your “golden nugget” notebook and review the valuable information you know about them before engaging with them.

    Have fun gold digging!


  • INTEGRITY – Do you have it?

    The Thanksgiving weekend is now behind us and we’re charging forward to Christmas.  The holiday season is unique for everyone, but with the economy in a sad state of affairs, gifts to buy, and work to be done – it’s often difficult to embrace the serenity of the season.  So this week, as a way to kick off the holiday hustle and bustle, we’ve decided to talk a bit about one of the characteristics that will not only help to catapult your career, but will also keep you in the “joyful” holiday spirit all year round…

    The Southwestern Company teaches that one of the most important things you can embrace as your career unfolds isintegrity.  Salespeople, above most other things, should have an insurmountable amount of integrity.  Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for that integrity to translate when it comes to presenting the product or service that you’re backing.  So, what can you do to put your potential clients at ease in terms of purchasing a product or service from you, trusting you, and viewing you as a man or woman of integrity?

    Probably the best way to ensure that your potential clients view you as an honorable person is to have full knowledge and be completely immersed in the product line you represent.  If you’re selling a product that you truly believe in, that belief will translate to your customers.  For this reason, it’s important that you know as much as there is to know about your product, that you can answer any question your clients may have, and that you feel completely at ease discussing the goods and services you represent.

    The number one reason people consider “salesman” to be dishonest is because salesmen often get a bad rap in mainstream society.  Yes, there are a few bad apples, but those bad apples cannot spoil the bunch.

    You see, there’s a difference between being a “salesman” and an honorable salesperson.  The viewpoint mainstream society has of the typical “salesman” is that handlebar mustache wearing, oily hair, flashy grin guy in a plaid suit, donning a gaudy pinky ring and is more concerned about squeezing every penny out of his potential customers than he is about promoting high quality products and building lasting relationships.

    The key difference between this “salesman” and a sales person who’s full of integrity and honor is education and the products themselves.

    If you’re not sure how to educate yourself on your product line or, if you’re concerned about looking and feeling ill at ease in your presentation, consider coaching by someone who’s been down the path before you.

    In the meantime, spend as much time as you can learning about your product line, learning the inner workings of your company, and completely immersing yourself in the reasons that your products and your company are useful, can make a difference, and would be of benefit to any potential customer.

    Dustin Hillis

    www.DustinHillis.me