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  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • Your Forward 40

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    This is a technique you can use forever. This is how I’ve become a prospecting genius and what I have learned to master over the years. The Forward 40.

    When it gets time to make those calls, and you don’t know who to call, your momentum gets squashed. To keep things from falling apart, make sure you stay in a positive mindset and always allow yourself to continue to grow. It can be done with one 15 minute day-defining task!

    Focus on getting YOUR FORWARD 40.

    What is this? It’s the 40 people you make a note of to call the next day. At the end of the day, plan your day with those 40 people you need to contact or see the next day.  That list will be the first 40 people you will reach out to. Put it in a spreadsheet or write it down, so when you get up to start your day your mind is already aware of who you’ll be talking to and what it will be about.

    40

    Now, don’t be thinking 40 is just way too many. Say you only get to 10 of those calls and were really successful, you already have 30 for the next day on your list. There’s an upside! Say you’re even more brilliant and do get to all 40, wrap up that day by making another list of 40 people, and continue that momentum and positivity in prospecting the next day. Set yourself up for success! This is an incredible way to keep your head in the right place and get to as many people as possible.

    Your prospecting nugget for today:

    With prospecting, every day you have a choice, to either make an excuse or find a way.

    The best of us will find a way. So many excuses exist that try to keep us from finding a way. When you have your Forward 40 in gear, you will not have an excuse. Find a way, go get on that phone, get to prospecting, and go be as great as you know you can be!

    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.


  • An Easy Fix To Help You Close More Sales

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

    One of my coaching clients (we’ll call him Bob), was completely frustrated with his closing percentage. He was doing his 5-step Introduction as we had scripted it out. He was building trust and rapport a lot quicker. He was able to modify how he presented based on why they said they would buy in the Introduction.  Yet his closing percentage hadn’t increased much and he couldn’t figure out why.k1

     

    Because Bob is a great student of his game, he recorded his presentation for us to review. As we listened together, within 10 minutes we were able to figure out where he was losing the sale.

    Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever sit down with a prospect. You know they need your product/service. They say that they need your product/service. You still aren’t able to get them to move forward at the end of your conversation? Do they end it with things like, ‘let me think about it’ or ‘call me in 6 months’? When this happens, does it drive you nuts?!?

     

    Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 8.53.25 PMWhat we discovered when listening to Bob’s recording was that he was making one of the most COMMON mistakes of all sales people.

    What is that?

    When asking them about what they needed to ‘alter or change’ about their current situation, often they would speak of their pain. Then Bob responded like most sales people. He said, ‘Ok’ and moved on to the next question. ALL HE SAID was ‘Ok’ and moved on!!  Bob didn’t dig deeper into the pain of their current situation. Bob admitted that since they spoke of their pain, then he thought they understood their pain. Plus, he is a sales person and like most sales people, Bob wants people to like him.  He thought that if he got them to speak of their pain, then they wouldn’t like him.

     

    Here are 2 important rules that you MUST understand when asking your prospect about their pain:

    1. You must get them to talk more about how this pain is negatively affecting their life until they have some emotion tied to it.  They will NOT change their situation without the emotion.
    2. You did not cause their pain! You did not cause their pain so why would you think that digging into a pain that they have would cause them to not like you?!? If anything, once you help them realize how much it is costing them to stay in that situation and you offer a solution, you are going to be their savior. Think of it like being a ‘doctor of selling’. If you go in the doctor’s office and they ask, ‘where does it hurt?’, are you upset with the doctor that they want to know all about the pain and where and when and how? Of course you aren’t!

     

    The good news is that Bob was able to start digging into the pain revealed by his prospects and his closing percentage soared! Bob was making more money in LESS time. This is just one of the cool ways that we are able to help our Top Producers Edge Coaching Clients with their Time Management.

     

    k4

     

    A couple of questions that you can try the next time your prospect shares what they would like to alter/change with their current situation:

    • Mmmmmmm….. (just respond with a deep ‘mmmmmm’ letting them know that you feel their pain and they will often keep elaborating more)
    • Tell me more….
    • Is that frustrating?…..
    • Wow, what is the cost of that?….
    • How is that affecting you?….

    STAY HERE with your prospect until you are sure that they FEEL the frustration of their current situation before offering the remedy. And OF COURSE, the remedy is your product/service!

    After trying this out, please email or comment below with your results!

    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


  • How an Abundance Mentality Can Improve Your Day

    Guest Post By: Dave Brown

    Do you ever get to a place where you think you do not have enough? It could be territory, people to call on, anything, you just feel like you need more. This mentality can ruin you from the inside out. Your prospecting cannot be one with a scarcity mentality.

    cae3aacf3dd64819bfdbb7d1383ab475

    If you are wondering how to turn this around, I have something for you. Switch on over to the ABUNDANCE mentality. Think of all the people who have not heard from you. When you sit down, ready to pick up the phone, and you think you don’t have enough people to call, I guarantee there are more people you haven’t contacted than you have on that ‘to call list.’

    So many get caught up in the scraps on the table, that they forget about the feast that is before them. There is possibility, and so much more to go around. It’s important to see the potential.

    When you have the abundance mentality while prospecting, you are thinking there are so many people out there, so much opportunity, you can talk to anyone, and the world is at your finger tips. Things will start flowing, and you will have an unlimited supply of prospects and people to call.

    This limited belief that comes from scarcity cannot hold you back from helping others any longer. Allow yourself to get even farther with your business by believing in the abundance of what you’re set out to do. If you can think with everything you have, that you have plenty, or even more than you need, things will change, and you’ll do so much each day.

    Think each day how many people are out there and how many you can reach. See life in a more long term perspective and the abundance you have. Go out there and reach more people needing your service or product!

    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.


  • Making Client Meetings Matter

    Guest Post By: Emmie Brown

    Many account managers stay very busy meeting with their existing customers- so much so that they don’t make time to get in front of new business. This can be a costly mistake that prevents them from building their income. And, over time, as accounts slowly go away, can even cause them to have a dwindling income. Their income is most likely to dwindle if they are not making every one of those visits truly worthwhile. In other words, they are acting as professional visitors, rather than as consultative sales professionals.

    If you are not uncovering a new opportunity to quote at least 1 out of 4 of your visits, then it could mean 1 of 2 things:

    1. You are going to frequently.

    2. You are not effective enough with your visit.

    PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT

    You can actually do fewer visits with each customer, saving you massive amounts of time, money and energy if you plan and use your time effectively on each visit. The problem is that most salespeople underprepare for the visits. Consequently, you don’t get to meet with everyone you would like to get an audience with, you spend too much of the valuable time in unproductive conversation, you forget to follow-up on key decisions, and you don’t get the results from those visits that they could. To get the most from your customer visit, do these 3 things:

    meeting

    1. Know who you are going to see. Make sure that you are not just meeting with the same decision-makers while failing to see others while you are there. There are people who are technical users of our products, conceptual decision-makers, and financial decision-makers. Make sure that you are getting in front of all of them on every visit if possible. If there are other decision-makers who are part of the organization who oversee a different department but are not yet your customer, make sure you have a plan for how you are going to get in front of them during your visit. Arrange an introduction. Make sure you know when they are in. Have a reason to see them.

    2. Know what you are going to talk to them about. As a manager of an account you have to manage many details. You have to remember when someone last ordered something and in what quantity, when you presented a quote and when you should expect to receive the purchase order, when someone told you “not right now” and when and why you should bring it back up again. . . Forgetting to remind someone that it is time to reorder, not following-up on a purchase order, not bringing new ideas to your customers’ attention will cost you a lot of money in the long run!

    3. Give value every time. On every visit, you should plan to provide your customer with something of value. And, no, we are not talking about doughnuts or cookies! The value of that you provide should be relevant to the products you sell and the service you provide to them. Bring them an article that shares valuable education. Bring them a referral for the new employee they are looking to hire. Bring them an idea of how you can save them money. Show them a new product that will help save them time. Customers will not keep you around just because you are a nice guy and you stop by every week. People want to keep vendors around that are valuable to them. It is not your customer’s job to find a need for you, it is your job to make yourself irreplaceable.

    Don’t waste valuable time, time that you could spend going after new business, driving to meet with customers without a plan. To get the most of your visit, prepare for it. Make it count.

    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.


  • 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


  • Roller Coaster

    Guest Post By: Brent Widman

    We are sales people. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are all in this together. We all chose this profession for better or for worse. So many people succeed, and so many people fail. The hard part to figure out is, why are there so many that are right in the middle?

    Is that you? Do you wish you made more money? Do you wish you had more time? Do you wish you sold more? Are you that person that does just enough, or gets to a certain point and they get comfortable?

    I had a coaching call the other day and some of these things really resonated with me.

    We began talking about how they were down. How things just weren’t going the way they wanted them to go. How they had just lost two big sales to the competition and they thought they did everything right. They were down on themselves. They were living in that scarcity mentality. They wanted to and thought they had to close everything. This is because they weren’t doing the work they needed to get past it. You can’t get mad at the results if you aren’t putting in the work to get results.

    Do you know why this happens?

    Because we ride the roller coaster………

    rollercoaster

    I was driving to the gas station one day and I was thinking to myself, what happens when the bottom drops out? What happens when people stop buying? What happens if I stop making the money that I need/should be making? What will I do WHEN this happens, not IF. I remember sitting at the stop light, in my car asking myself these questions. So I picked up the phone and called my mentor, team leader, coach and just all around one of my best friends. And you know what she said?

    Are you doing the activity?

    Are you making the dials?

    Are you talking to people?

    Are you asking for referrals?

    Are you setting appointments?

    I answered yes to these questions. This has changed my train of thought since that day. No longer do I look at what might happen, but I go out and do what I have to to make it happen.

    You have to ask yourself, can you answer yes to these questions each and every day? If not, you will get on that roller coaster and not get off. If you are doing those things, you no longer have to ride it. It will just keep going up, as long as you continue to get better at what you do. As long as you continue to put the work in, adding to your vocation, pushing yourself out of that comfort zone. Stop taking the easy way and go out and live the life you want to live.

    Get off the Roller Coaster. Do the things you need to do to be successful.

     

    Brent Widman is 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.