Category Archives: Sales and Relationships

Cold Calling: How to Bypass the Gatekeeper

gatekeeperAn Approach that Will Guarantee You More Meetings with the Decision Makers!

It is typically in the salespersons best interest to befriend the gatekeeper and other staff in order to get to the decision maker.  But what if, as a salesperson, you need to get to the decision maker and their staff cannot know any details about your business venture? How do you access the decision maker without getting you butt kicked out the door by trying to go over the gatekeeper’s head?

The majority of sales gurus these days will tell you that cold calling is dead, especially face-to-face cold calling. If that describes your situation, be sure to read my previous article on The Do’s and Don’ts of Cold Calling.  So, although this may be the case for a variety of industries, there are some that do in fact require employing this brut methodology in order to access the decision maker.

In my current role, I have been faced with this dilemma.  I have always been accustomed to being friendly and open with all staff and best utilize those relationships in order to ultimately reach the decision maker however, now my business is of an utmost confidential matter and it is crucial that I do not share the nature of my business with anyone but the decision maker.

After getting the door slammed on my ass on the way out of a business a handful of times, I decided that I needed to revamp my approach.

Empty ClinicOne prime example that stood out in my mind was when I went into a clinic that was clearly empty.  There were no cars out front, no patients in the waiting room and clearly no patients in the treatment area.  When I asked the receptionist if I could speak with the doctor for a minute, she hemmed and hawed and asked me if I had an appointment. When I told her no, she told me that he was VERY busy but she will check. She went out back and returned to inform me that he was so busy and doesn’t have any time this week.

This experience was akin to walking to an empty restaurant and the hostess asks you if you have a reservation.  In sales, having thick skin is a MUST!

So what did I decide to do?

The Strategy:

1. Write a handwritten note card in a sealed envelope addressed to the DM

Before my next round of cold calls, I picked up some blank note-cards and envelopes.  In each card I wrote a personal note:
“Dear ______

Sorry to have missed you today.  I was hoping to catch you to talk to you about a business opportunity. I will be in town (UNTIL DATE OR WILL BE BACK AT DATE) so you can call or email me anytime.  Talk soon. Sincerely,

TSW”

On the top flap of the card, I attached my business card with an adhesive  (double-sided sticky) so that the card can be easily removed.

The card is inserted into an envelope and the DM’s name is written on the front of the envelope.

2. Conduct cold call with envelope in hand and business card in back pocket

I show up at the clinic and approach the receptionist in a friendly manner and say “Hey I’m (NAME HERE). I have something for (DM NAME HERE).  Is he/she available for a quick minute? I have something for them”

If they check and the answer is YES (wohoo!):

I put the envelope away and ask to speak to the DM privately for a minute and then give them my business card that’s in my back pocket and try to arrange a private meeting.

If they check (or don’t ) and say NO:

Give them the sealed envelope and ask that they kindly pass it on to the DM addressed on your card and mention that you will be calling the DM soon to follow-up.

Since it is addressed to the DM personally and hand written, even if the receptionist does not know you. the way you presented yourself is as though the DM does.  For this reason, the receptionist or gatekeeper is highly unlikely to open the envelope or toss it out.  Furthermore, mentioning that you will be touching base with the DM  regarding what you have enclosed in this envelope will make it even more unlikely that it will be tampered with.

So far this approach has gotten me call-backs and appointments 75% of the time. 

Surely much more effective than a phone call or random email!

If you are in this type of sales, I would love for you to try this and let me know how it works out.

Also if you have any other tips, please share!

Happy sales my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

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How and When to Effectively Leverage the Power of Guilt to Close a Sale

judge hammer

…or at least lunch!

Let’s face it, not all clients are easy to deal with.  Some can be outright d!@$’s and sometimes as a salesperson that means you’ve got to play hard ball in order to close that deal.

Like most sales reps, I have had my fair share of moments where a client completely ticked me off, however it is definitely not always appropriate to react.

In sales, rejection is part of the game.  We all need to deal with it and be able to handle it. By handling it, I mean brushing it off and persisting and hence why my motto is “Suck it up Princess!”

But what happens when your client or potential client abuses your working relationship or acts unprofessionally?

In extreme cases which I have previously discussed, it may be more appropriate to simply fire your client.

In other situations however, it may be more appropriate to bring the clients bad behavior to their attention and try to leverage that into a sale.  Below are some examples from my personal experience where I did just that. They are in no particular order.

Problem Clients and How I Managed Them: 

Problem Client #1: The “No Show”

My “Guilt Trip”: Call them and outright tell them that I don’t appreciate being stood up and that they owe me a good order, or at the very least that the next time that I’m in town, they can buy me a meal.  90% of the time, I got a really good order. The other 10% of the time I got a meal or at least a drink out of the ordeal.


Problem Client #2: The “I Want to Have My Cake and Eat it Too”.  Not giving me the majority of their business after years of effort they asked me to pull strings to get them a good Christmas gift.

My “Guilt Trip”:You’re making me look bad in front of my boss”, which I said with my boss present when we were delivering their Christmas gift.  After that visit I acquired 80% of their business.


Problem Client #3: Returning My Product in My Competitors Packaging

My “Guilt Trip”: I mailed the box back to them and included an order form and a hand written note stating that it was rude of them to do that and I think they owe me one *wink* *wink*.  They faxed in a really good order and ended up being a very loyal client. 


Problem Client #4: The User Abuser: Exploited me for my knowledge but only ever bought one product from me.

My “Guilt Trip”: I barely had to say anything since he was fully aware of what he was doing and had a good idea that this was likely our last meeting. He looked at me and blurted out, “I’m an ass*^** aren’t I?”. I nodded my head in agreement and informed him that all of the free bits of information end here and now unless he starts to buy more products from me. It worked. That move got me over 90% of their business after that and they ended up being a very loyal client.


Problem Client #5: The Stuck-In-the Habit Excuse: Competitor programmed into speed dial.

My “Guilt Trip”: I told him that it was a lousy excuse and asked him to hand me his phone. I programmed my business number in the slot where my competitor was and moved my competitors phone number to a different slot.  I did the same thing with his fax machine. 100% Effective.  I acquired all of his business after that.

In reading my examples of when I thought it was appropriate to guilt trip a client and try to leverage that into a sale, I hope that you understand that this is by no means common practice. These client behaviors and my subsequent responses are rare and I would never suggest using guilt as a primary means to close your average deal. These situations are highly specific and apply when a qualified buyer has done something to blatantly disregard and waste your time and/or disrespect you.  As I  mentioned previously, rejection is integral to the sales process and by no means should you be putting a guilt trip on every potential client who refuses your product or service.

When you are a sales rep, your time is valuable too, so if you encounter someone who is blatantly wasting your time, perhaps you should move on or call them on it.

In the meantime, happy sales my friends and I hope you don’t encounter too many difficult clients.

Cheers,

TSW

 

 

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To Email, to Call or to Text: That is the Question

Shakespeare_ComputerAre you sending emails to schedule simple phone calls? If so, you are wasting your time!

Do you often email your customers or prospects in order to set up a time to have a phone conversation? Have you sat down and calculated the efficiency of this approach?

I find myself increasingly frustrated with the number of people who instead of picking up the phone, will send an email to schedule a time for something that would be a very quick conversation. This commonly results in several back and forth email messages with alternate times and then ultimately one party may cease to respond.  Days if not entire weeks may pass and to no avail. All of this could have been avoided by simply picking up the phone and having a 1-2 minute phone conversation or the message could be relayed in the form of a text message.

Why Email is Ineffective?

study conducted by the Radicati Group in 2015, illustrated that the average business user sends and receives an average of 122 emails per day, a number that is expected to increase to 126 messages by the end of 2019.  As no surprise, the average email only has a 20% open rate and a shockingly low response rate of only 6%.  This means that for every 100 emails you send, only 20% (20 emails) are being opened and of those 20 emails, only 6% (1 email) are being replied to.  That works out to 1 email reply for every 100 emails sent, so essentially a response rate of 1.2%.

Alternatives: Phone Call or Text Message?

According to a study by eWeek, 80% of people are currently using texting for business however, studies have shown that only 2531%  of people prefer text messages to phone calls.

The most preferred business activities conducted by text messaging according to the Harris Poll are:

  1. Checking order status (38%)
  2. Scheduling or changing appointments (32%)
  3. Make or confirm reservations (31%)

It must be noted that all of the above imply that there is an existing or soon to be existing business relationship.

In the sales process, texting can lead to conversion gains in excess of 100% however texting a prospect prior to establishing contact with them can not only adversely effect contact and conversion rates, it may also be illegal depending on the state or province you reside in.

That being said, how do you know when the most effective means of communication is to call, text or send an email?

When to Send a Text Message:

  • You have an existing relationship with your client
  • Your client has directly provided you with their cell phone number
  • Your message is brief, uncomplicated and only requires 1 or 2 basic single-sentence responses (i.e. setting up, changing or confirming a meeting time, following up on an order, etc)

When to Make a Phone Call:

  • You do not have an existing relationship with a prospect
  • The prospect or client did not give you their cell phone number directly. If you received their cell phone number from a 3rd party, they likely have no idea who you are so call them and speak with them first.  If you simply do not have their cell phone number, call their office number.
  • The subject matter you would like to discuss is more involved than and exchange of 1 or 2 sentences

When to Send an Email:

  • You have had a conversation on the phone or via text message and the recipient has requested additional information and/or details in the form of an email. Although the response rate for email is still low, if the prospect or client has requested it and knows to look out for your email, your response rate will increase. Sending unsolicited email is illegal in Canada and can result in fines of up to $1M for individuals and up to $10M for corporations.

In this day and age, it is all too easy to hide behind a computer screen.  As a result we, are all constantly bombarding each other with online messages and emails and in my opinion, they have simply lost their effectiveness as a communication tool.

So let the take home message be, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make a call.  Since most people don’t do that anymore period, that act alone will make you stand out among your competition.  We are all human beings and require some sort of true human interaction and relationships whether they are personal or business in nature, require that interaction in order to grow and flourish.

Happy sales my friends and the next time you’re tempted to hide behind your computer screen and send an email, remember that there is only a 1% chance it will even be replied to, so suck it up Princess and pick up that phone!

Cheers,

TSW

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Micromanagement of Sales Representatives: Has it Gone Too Far?

EmployeeTracking

Micromanagement is the elephant in the room and it is destroying the salesperson-client relationship.

In this day and age, we rely on technology for almost all of our daily activities.  We are easily traceable and accessible to almost anyone, anytime thanks to the electronic devices that supposedly make our lives so much easier.  This can be seen as a huge advantage to an employer who wants to keep tabs on their employees, however in my opinion, Big Brother has gone too far.

BusinessmanRotaryPhoneNot very long ago, a typical salesman would have one “office day” where they used their home or office phone (since there were no cell phones) to schedule their calls for the week.  They would use paper files to keep notes and tabs on their customers and upon their return to the office they would place those orders for their clients.  Sales reports were generated as long paper printouts and filedIf a salesman didn’t meet his quota, he would simply be out of work.  That was the only form of accountability. Simple and effective.

Now, not only do salespeople have to meet their quota, be available from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep, but their every step can be now monitored by their employers.  

GPS-tracking-deviceI once met a sales representative who had been working for the same pharmaceutical company for over 10 years who informed me that her company had installed a GPS tracking device on her vehicle.  She told me that one day she had some time in-between appointments (3 hours to be precise) and had parked her car to do work on her computer. Over an hour into her “break”, she received a call from head office asking her why she was stationary for so long and not calling on nearby clients. They proceeded to advise her of whom she should call on in her downtime before her next appointment. Can you say creepy? And to the benefit of the rep, I am certain that she was catching up on paperwork that needed to be done and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  In my opinion, time can be better spent tackling your to-do list compared to wasting time cold calling on a client with whom you have minimal potential to do business with.

SignatureOniPadThink that is bad? Well some companies have gone to the next level which I learned in a recent visit to my family doctor.  He informed me that several of the pharmaceutical sales reps who call on his office are now provided with iPads that trace their locations throughout the day which are saved and uploaded to company cloud. Furthermore, the sales reps must acquire the doctors electronic signature on their iPad to prove that they physically met with the doctor!

I don’t’ know about you reading this but if I was a doctor, I would be quite put off by that.  I mean, doesn’t it seem like a ex-con checking in with his/her probation officer? I think forcing that into a sales call takes away any genuine connection or relationship between the sales rep and the doctor. All is it says to the doctor is, “I have to be here whether I like it or not. Please buy and sign here or I will get into trouble.” 

How does this help the doctor, the patient or any client for that matter? Nevermind the fact that It also puts extreme stress on the sales rep and to what avail? Why even bother sending a sales rep? Might as well just send and email or a fax!

And it doesn’t end there. Some companies have even gone as far as requiring access to their employees’ social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn and guess what? It’s completely legal.

robot-businessmanMicromanagement as far as it has come, discourages the creation of value-based selling to the client. If a company wants to treat their reps like robots so they can keep tabs on them at all times and only allow them to say scripted messages, why not just replace your reps with a team of robots?

In terms of what is to come in the future, I am certain that cameras in company vehicles will be the next “thing”.  Just over 1 year ago, Hertz installed cameras and microphones in their “NeverLost” GPS systems and now police officers will be forced to wear body cameras, so why not watch your sales reps as they drive between calls?

Why not listen to all of their sales calls as well so you can interrupt them and provide them with feedback on where they need to improve?

So to all the companies out there who are spending so much time monitoring their sales representatives, why not just hire capable sales people and have faith in them to do what they do best?

How many employees are required to monitor an entire sales force? At what pay grade? For what result? Really.

Sure one could argue that if a sales rep is doing a great job, they shouldn’t be concerned about being monitored but as I mentioned previously, if the client is aware that their rep is being monitored in their meeting, this will damage the rep-client relationship and take away value from the message the rep is supposed to relay to the client.  It is an elephant in the room and it is ruining the sales rep-client relationship. 

So my friends, keep selling and well, you just never know who might be watching you. Or perhaps you do?

If you are in a situation where you are being monitored by an employer, I would love to hear your story and how you feel it impacts your work performance and client relations.

Cheers,

TSW

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The Handwritten Note in Sales and Business: A Lost Art

Handrwitten CardYear after year, each Holiday Season less and less people are mailing out Holiday Cards.

Why? Because it’s so much easier and cheaper to just send a Holiday Greetings email or to post a Holiday Greetings picture on your website or email signature.  Sure you can send a Holiday Greeting email blast out to hundreds of clients and track who opened the email but is that really effective? What is your return on that investment?

I personally find those sorts of impersonal messages totally meaningless.  All it says is that the sender is too lazy or cheap to spend the minute or two to actually write a note in a card. I may spend 1 or 2 seconds to look at the email and think, “oh, ok” and promptly delete the email without further thought.  After receiving many of these in addition to the dozens of other emails I receive on a daily basis, it is likely that I have completely forgotten who even sent me that email greeting within a few days.

In today’s modern society it is all too easy to send a text or an email. Even if we need to “write” a formal letter, that letter is typed, never written.  The closest thing that most of us do to handwriting is signing a document or receipt. I bet most people these days don’t even remember how to do cursive handwriting! Try it!

A step-up from the impersonal mass email greeting are greeting cards that are pre-printed to include a personalized message (you can only have one of course) and your signature so it “looks” like you signed it.  This is a bit better than an email but I’d still toss that card right into the trash.

That being said, if you are in sales or run any sort of business it speaks volumes to your clients if you actually send them a card with a handwritten note.  Sure it is a total pain in the butt and is time consuming but it shows that you care about your client as an individual and are willing to put the effort into expressing your appreciation.  It is a small gesture but it can go a long way.

Furthermore, since nobody seems to actually write greeting cards anymore, you may be the only one to give your client a hand written gift card which will make you stand out in their mind.

If you have hundreds of clients, sure writing out personalized greeting cards to every single one of them is not an effective use of your time, however as a rule of thumb, you should send out personalized cards to your top 20% accounts or at minimum or your top 10% in addition to prospects which have the potential to be in your top 20%.

Not sure what to write?

Here are some tips on how to write a simple and effective note in a greeting card:

  1. Address the receiver by name (i.e. Dear John)
  2. Include your general message: If sending multiple cards, write up 2 or 3 different versions of this message so you aren’t sending everyone the exact same statement. Keep the statement brief (i.e. 1-2 sentences)
  3. Write a brief personal statement . This can be something that only applies to this particular client. It can be a reference to a joke between the two of you or something as simple as thanking them for the specific number of years they have been your client.
  4. Sign your card

A personal touch can go a long way.  Remind your clients this Holiday Season that they aren’t simply a number to you or your company but rather a valued client who you can relate to as a person. In spite of how technologically advanced our society has become, people still like to buy from actual human beings and put a face to the company they are dealing with.

So this Holiday Season, If you haven’t sent out your greeting cards just yet, there is still plenty of time to do so! But if you missed the boat this year, try to plan on doing it for next year.  In the meantime, it is also a great idea to send a hand written thank you note to a new client or one who has recently made a large purchase.

Happy writing my friends!

Cheers,

TSW

 

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Dating a Frequent Traveller: How to Make it Work

TagAlongTravelAn interview with Deborah Zanke, spouse of a frequent traveller and author of the Tag Along Travel Blog.

Being a frequent traveller, I know all too well what it is like to date someone who does not travel for work which I discussed in my previous post “ Love and Romance En Route: The Unique Challenges Frequent Travellers Face in Dating and Relationships.”

In my experience, I have always preferred to date fellow salesmen or men who are frequent travellers because they inherently understand business travel and do not have a problem with me going away for extensive periods of time for work and vice versa.  My last relationship with a non-traveller proved disastrous.  He was completely insecure and became so jealous and suspicious of my every move because he just didn’t get it.  He turned into a complete control freak.   If I didn’t respond to every text or phone call, he thought I was cheating on him which was never the case.  I was just busy, working.  I didn’t have the time or patience to deal with this type of behavior and annoying false accusations and hence why the relationship ended.  Based on my experiences, I was sure that romantic relationships where both partners travel for work was the only way it could work, but I have been proven wrong. As  it turns out, dating insecure and emotionally unstable people makes it impossible.

So I digress…

I recently met Deborah Zanke, the owner of a Marketing and Public Relations Firm and author of the Tag Along Travel BlogIn her blog, she discusses the ups and downs of being married to a frequent traveller and her experience tagging along on his business trips.  Her spouse of 20 years only recently embarked on a new career that involved a significant amount of travel and that change she says, required a significant amount of adjusting on her part.

Debora’s husband is away on business travel nearly 40% of the time.  In the past year alone, he has travelled on over 100 flights in 11 countries.

What are the biggest challenges of being the spouse of a frequent traveller?

Deborah admits that it took her time to get used to him being away.  Initially he would be away on business for up to 3 weeks at a time and logistically it wasn’t possible for him to come back home on weekends which created tension in their relationship.  He then moved to a different position where he is only away for usually 1 week at a time at most but nonetheless, still travelling for a significant amount of time.

Other challenges of being the spouse of being a frequent traveller  Deborah says are coping while they are apart, missing each other, dealing with things that go wrong while he is away (condo repairs, car troubles, etc.) and being out of synch when he returns.  When reunited, may they be adjusted to different time zones and set in different routines.

How did she overcome these challenges?

In order to adjust to her husband being away so frequently, Deborah realized that she had to be more independent.

A huge perk of Deborah’s business is that she can work remotely which means it’s possible for her to accompany her husband on business trips.   When she does this, while her husband is working she works on her own business during the same business hours as her hometown and spends the rest of her time essentially travelling solo.  She describes a recent business trip of her husband’s to London which she tagged along on. During the day while he was in meetings, she would go sight-seeing and dine alone and if he was working in the evening, she would work on her own business at night since it was still regular business hours back at home.  Occasionally she would accompany him on business dinners but that was not commonplace.

The key to their success is that there is a mutual understanding that if she tags along on one of his business trips that his business is the priority of the trip.  She has the strength and independence to essentially go on the trip as a solo traveller and not interfere with his business.  She enjoys being able to take advantage of his super elite status, hotel upgrades and the opportunity to explore new places that she otherwise never would have even thought of.

When she isn’t able to tag along on one of her husband’s business trips, they maintain their intimacy by communicating regularly by text message, skype and facetime.  They even had the great idea to do a “virtual date” whereby they watch a movie and order pizza together over Skype.  Such a great idea!

Overall, in speaking with Deborah, I have learned that although it may not be easy at first, it is possible for a non-traveller to have a healthy, loving and fulfilling relationship with a frequent traveller which she achieves by being:

  1. Self-confident and secure
  2. Not afraid to travel solo
  3. The owner of her own business and one that can be done remotely
  4. Comfortable making the best of her time alone when at home, enjoying things such as binging on Netflix
  5. Understanding that her husband’s business is a priority while he is on business travel and doesn’t try to interfere
  6. Able to find unique ways to communicate and maintain intimacy from a distance

So fellow frequent travellers, there remains hope for maintaining a romantic relationship with a significant other who does not travel frequently for work.  And for all of you who are on the other end of the spectrum and are dating a frequent traveller, be sure to read the Tag Along Travel Blog or follow Deb on Twitter  for tips on innovative ways you can best utilize your time together and apart and make it work.

Safe travels my friends and good luck in love.

Cheers,

TSW

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5 Surefire Ways To Lose Your Best Sales Representatives

iquitWant to Keep Your Best Sales Reps? Don’t Make these Costly Mistakes!

The average sales representative changes employers every 2-3 years At any given point in time, I know at least a handful of sales representatives who are looking to make a move.

Why? Because companies make the same mistakes time and time again that cost them their best reps.

What are they doing? In almost all cases, companies are trying to cut costs and increase profitability. The problem is, if you cut costs, service, quality or both will also be sacrificed to some degree.

The most common complaint from managers and business owners that I have heard is that their commissioned sales representatives are making too much money.

BusinessmanBurningMoney

What is wrong with this statement?

If your commissioned sales reps are making a lot of money, it’s a good thing! It means that their sales are good and the company as a whole is making more money. Reps on a 100% salary are another story entirely!  So, the problem is that companies of this mindset are simply being greedy and short sighted thinking that they can try to squeeze the highest level of productivity out of their sales force for a minimal investment.

Some sales managers alike may take issue with the representatives they manage who are making more money than them. Rather than taking pride in being a good manager and celebrating the success of their sales team, they see this as a bruise to their ego and then make detrimental changes to how their reps are compensated.

Whether you are a business owner, VP of Sales or a Sales Manager be sure to avoid making these hefty mistakes which will cost you your best reps and maybe even your entire sales force.

1. Cutting and/or Capping Commission

paycutLooking for a way to slowly poison your sales force and give them a prolonged, torturous death? Cut their incentives or better yet, cap them all together! Salespeople work on incentives, so if those incentives are taken away or significantly reduced, they will either work less or look for work elsewhere immediately.  Some but very few reps will persist and try to work harder to make what they were making previously but that will not last long.  They will eventually leave or burn out and then leave.

2. Territory Realignment

salesterritoryTrying to figure out a way to cheat your reps out of reaching their targets so you can save on paying out those commissions and bonuses? Shift their territories around every 6 months to 1 year.  That way nobody has been in their territory long enough to qualify for their commission or the reps who would have been entitled to a hefty commission, no longer have that account in their territory after the change so they are no longer eligible to receive it.  This strategy also makes it impossible for the sales reps to maintain any working relationships with their clients which is a substantial part of building the business.  Clients don’t want to meet a new rep every year.  It screams that the company is unstable and therefore potentially unreliable. Not only will the business as a whole suffer from this strategy, but it is also more than likely that the company will also lose their entire sales force. If a sales rep has no chance at making their commission or bonus, they will leave.

3. Unreasonable and Unachievable Sales Quotas

Dangling-CarrotFeeling a little sadistic and enjoy dangling that carrot in front of your reps and moving it further and further out of their grasp? Give them a massive increase in sales quota that none of them will be able to achieve.  I have seen well established companies that have been in business for decades implement a new sales target that is 10 to 20 times their previous target for products and services they have always sold and seen regular 3-5% annual sales increases. If a company increases a target, it must be a realistic target that can be achieved by at least 50% of the sales force.   Implementing completely unreasonable and unachievable sales quotas most often results in the resignation of the entire sales force. Afterwards,  good luck maintaining those regular sales increases!

4. Reducing Sales Support

phone off hookWant to leave your sales representatives to hang out and dry? Cut back on their support. Sales people are out there all day long pounding the pavement, pushing the company product or service on their clients and often a situation arises where the rep needs assistance from a manager or from customer service.  When companies make cutbacks in this department, the rep is left completely to their own devices and do you know what most of the good reps will start to think? “Why do I need to work for this company? I’m doing everything myself so I should just start my own business!”. Alternatively, some reps may opt to jump ship and work for another company, perhaps even one of their competitors, who offers better service and support.

5. Dramatic Change in Management Structure and/or Style

DrEvilProjectManagerWant to take your company to the next level? Do it wrong and you’ll take the company to the next level downward! There are multiple ways companies can implement changes to management structure and style.  The most common mistake I have seen are companies that have historically given their reps a fair bit of freedom (and where the reps were successful in that environment) change to a micromanagement system in order to increase accountability and profitability.  This is flawed because simply some reps thrive in a micromanaged environment and some do not. If you change your management style, you will also likely need to hire an entirely new sales force that will fit nicely in that environment rather than resist it.

So if you are reading this article looking for ways to eliminate your entire sales force of “overpaid” sales representatives (without firing them so you don’t have to pay severance) and replace them with entry-level newbies who you can pay 1/3 of their salary, you may have found this article helpful. If that is the case, I hope that neither myself or anyone I know ever works for you.

On the other hand, If you have a great sales force or even just one or two star individuals and want to keep them, avoid making these costly mistakes. It takes a significant amount of time and money to hire and train the right representative, so why put yourself through this process time and time again?

If you need to cut costs, try to look elsewhere in the business where you can implement cost cutting mesures or better yet, try to explore other means to increase your business. Thinking out of the box can be difficult but it can also be immensely rewarding.

In summary, it takes money to make money.  Same goes for people who you invest in as employees.  If your people are doing well, don’t cheat them but rather reward them accordingly. Investing in great employees is a solid investment in your business.

Happy sales my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

 

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The Worst Pitches I’ve Ever Heard…

sleazysalesman

and They Aren’t All From Salespeople!

For those of you who read my previous post, Why Salespeople Are Suckers For a Great Sales Pitch, you would know that I can be a sucker for a pretty face and if that person has a great sales pitch, I’m likely to buy whatever it is that they are selling.

On the contrary, I have zero tolerance for a lousy sales pitch regardless of whether it is coming from a real salesperson or just the average joe trying to sell me on an idea. Here are some examples.

The Worst Pitches From Salesmen:

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1. “Do you realize how much money you could be saving? A Mercedes salesman asked me when I drove into the dealership with a Honda Civic and told him I was also considering a VW TDI. He clearly didn’t have the slightest clue about how to qualify a buyer.

2. “You should buy from me because we know so many of the same people.” A chemical salesman who stalked me on LinkedIn and even contacted a former employer of mine! Can you say, overstepping boundaries???

3. “You must buy today because the sale is over tomorrow.” Volkswagen salesman standing in front of a sign that said the sale was over at the end of the following month.

4. The Robot Pitch. Where someone has clearly memorized a script and when you ask them a question that isn’t on their list, they draw a complete blank or just repeat the script.

There are many others including “This product makes you thin, healthy and cures cancer!” or “This is the only product you’ll ever need!” and the list goes on and on and on…

So, what is the worst pitch I have ever heard and yet hear time and time again?…Drum roll please!

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Men who try to “sell” me on why I should be a lesser person. 

Yes, that’s right.  It’s a sad but true reality.  As a hard-working, well established professional woman who takes care of herself, I find myself completely bewildered at the number of men who have tried to convince me to do such a crazy thing!

Below are some real life examples of what some “men” have suggested to me over the years.

Worst Pitches From “Men”:

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1. You should quit your job and become a bartender. You like people right? I think that would be a better fit for you.”-

Oh sure, sign me up to quit my six figure job and sell my house so I can rent a cheap apartment and be a bartender! F*&% retirement! Retirement is for old people.  Oh wait, does that mean I can live off of you ? That would be so romantic. I can’t wait for a man to take care of me!

2. You don’t need to make so much money. You should slow down. It will be better for your health.”

Excuse me, did you mean to say, “So you can make less than me and make me feel like a man?”

3. Why do you like to eat such good food and have nice things like your Caesar salad and red wine for dinner? You don’t have to.”

Hmm…let me think about that one. Maybe because I like nice things, want nice and I buy those nice things for myself with my own hard earned money.  Thank you for asking.

4. “Why are you dressed so nice? You shouldn’t dress so nice all of the time.”

Uuh because I like to look good? Maybe I was trying to look good for you? Can you say, jealous much?

5. Why do you have to travel so much? Are you running away from something? There is so much to enjoy at home.”

Where do I even start with this one? How about I want to explore the world? Why waste it on the couch? Do you mean to say that you can’t afford to travel and you don’t want me to travel solo so you want to talk me out of travelling period? Maybe I should consider running away…from you!

These comments may seem ridiculous but I must say that when I first met these men, the primary interaction often does not start off on this note, but rather with a bombardment of compliments and expressions of admiration for my ambition and accomplishments. The tone usually changes quite quickly.  One guy I dated had this eureka moment and told me, You treat yourself like a princess and that doesn’t leave any room for me to do anything.  I don’t know what to do.” In my mind, I think the fact that I can take care of myself should be viewed as a perk to a man but perhaps only to a select few!

Why do men think that they can “change” a strong woman into a weaker version of herself? Or rather, generally speaking, why do people think that they can change others?

The answer is simple: Because it’s easier to try and “sell” other people on changing themselves than it is to accept yourself and make yourself a better person.

Whether we realize it or not, we are “selling” to others and others are “selling” us every day of our lives.  We all try to get what we want, to make ourselves look good, funny, interesting, worthy of attention and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be, whenever you do it regardless of whether it is in a professional or personal capacity,  a good rule of thumb to live by is:

Don’t sell yourself short and don’t sell others short.

I would love to hear stories from you about the worst pitches you have heard!

Happy sales my friends and don’t get sold on a bad pitch, especially those from non-sales people!

TSW

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Why Salespeople Are Suckers For A Good Sales Pitch

Today is National Hot dog Day here in Canada.  To most of you, this may seem like quite the random statement coming from yours truly but it reminded me of a time when I got “sold” on these giant 2 feet long sausages at a pit-stop while I was en route and it got me thinking, “Am I more easily sold than a non-salesperson?”.

Last year while I was working my way between cities in Western Canada, I stopped at a roadside  café/market for a pit-stop.  My only intent was to grab a bite to eat and use the facilities. However, somehow I walked out of there with a $36 package of 2 foot long sausages.  I had no need for such a thing at all.  I couldn’t even cook them because I was away from home and flying back the following day.

So how did a seasoned saleswoman like myself get sold on such a ridiculous purchase?

Well for starters, the guy was really cute which helped get my attention in the first place.

Secondly, he had a great story about how these sausages were prepared and how amazing they are.

Lastly, he was able to overcome all of my objections, including the fact that I couldn’t even prepare them at my hotel and would have to leave them behind.  He asked me if I had ice packs in my car (which I did) and if I did, it would be easy for me to freeze them overnight and store them with the sausages in my checked bag and bring them back across the country with me on a 5.5h flight and they would be fine for me to eat once I return home (a whole day’s trip).

As ludicrous as this idea was, I did just that.  Then when I returned home, I realized that I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how I was going to prepare them. Unfortunately, they ended up going to waste which was a complete shame given their cross-country adventure.

Why did I make such a ridiculous purchase?

Because I could appreciate this man’s sales pitch.  It was bulletproof and I would have felt bad not to give him the sale because he just did such a good job!

This isn’t the first time either.  The last time I was at a gas station and got “sold” some sort of special car wax.  This was ridiculous because I NEVER wax my car!

In speaking with other sales reps, I have discovered that I am not alone.  On average, 9 out of 10 sales reps that I have discussed this with have admitted to making purchases for something that they will never need or use simply because the salesperson pitched the product so well. 

Why are salespeople suckers for a good pitch?

1. We know how to recognize a good pitch. After all, this is what we do for a living. Consider it our specialty.  Just like if a skilled writer admired another skilled writer, they would buy their books.

2. We can empathize with them.  We know if someone is trying really hard to make a sale and experience that on a daily basis. In a perfect world, an A+ for effort would equate to an A+ for achievement but that isn’t always the case. We have been there and know the struggle, so why not be nice and make their day and give them the sale?

3. We enjoy being on the other side of the table for a change. All day we are “selling” others, so it’s refreshing to be on the other side of the table for a change.  That can also be good practice for us to remember what the experience is like for the buyer. Heck, we might even learn a new sales tactic!

I must point out that this article is focused on small purchases.  When I am making a large purchase (i.e. vehicle), I will be the most difficult client on the planet, pushing the salesperson to their absolute limit and negotiate until I get what I want or I walk.  That can be quite fun too!

If you’re in sales, I would love to hear your stories about a time when you got “sold” on some ridiculous purchase.

Until then, happy sales my friends.

 

Cheers,

TSW

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Parallels Between The Sales and Dating Processes

Businessman-and-woman-LPAre you a sales representative or business owner who has dealt with a client with whom you thought was loyal to your company only to discover one day that they have suddenly been using your competitor(s) without your knowledge?

I recently had this experience where a client of mine had been using my company’s products exclusively for some time and I only recently discovered that they had started to buy some of the same products from my direct competitor.  My first gut reaction was to think, “Why did they go behind my back and do such a thing without even consulting me?” If they had a problem with my company’s product or service, why didn’t they call me and give me a chance to resolve that issue?”

That’s when it dawned on me… this was a familiar feeling.  It was as though I was being “cheated on” as one may be in a romantic relationship. Although the circumstances and the relationships (client vs romantic interest) are entirely different, that feeling was the same.   Further analyzing this odd parallel in more depth, I have come to the conclusion that there are some very unique similarities in the sales process and the dating process that do not exist in our other relationships (i.e. friendship).

Sure you might be tempted to think that yours truly is just some crazy, over analytical chick who is projecting her dating experiences on her working relationships (and you may be right), but before you judge, read the processes below and draw your own conclusion.

Stages of Relationship Development in Sales and Dating:

  1. Prospecting: “The Cold Call/ Pick-up Line”

In both sales and dating, we must seek out potential customers or potential mates.

Sales:  We seek out customers who we think would buy our product or service either from an established database, book of business or referral.  From there we may conduct a cold call to introduce ourselves and our company to ascertain if there may be potential for a business relationship.

Dating: We search for mates either from a database in the case of online dating or in person through our network of friends or daily interactions.   If we see someone that appeals to us whether it is based on initial appearance, intelligence or other factors, we may initiate contact by means of flirting (essentially cold calling) to introduce ourselves and decide if there may be a match.

In both cases, if we see potential, we proceed to step #2.

  1. Qualifying: “Probing Questions on The First Meeting/Date”

Upon establishing initial contact in a business setting or on a first date, we must decide if the other party has the potential to be a partner in business or dating respectively.  We achieve this by asking a multitude of questions and getting to know more about the other party to determine if there is a fit.

Sales: We meet with our potential client and ask them a series of “probing questions” to determine if they could or would buy our product/service.  If they appear to be a good potential customer, we might give them a product sample or demo.

Dating: We go on a first date with a person of interest and ask each other “probing” questions in order to get to learn more about each other.  If the dialogue is suitable, we may try a first kiss, which is essentially sampling.

Upon qualifying the party of interest, we either come to the conclusion that we either have the potential to work together or not.  If so, then we proceed to step #3.  If not, then back to step #1.

  1. Closing: “Closing The Sale/ Sealing The Deal”

This is quite self explanatory. If you don’t get this one, well I might suggest that you avoid getting involved in either process.

Sales: If you don’t want this to be a one-time only sale, proceed to step #4

Dating: If you’re looking for a relationship and not a one night stand, also proceed to step #4.

  1. Maintenance: “The Follow-up/Relationship Development Phase”

In order to achieve growth, relationships need work and maintenance.

Sales: After closing the sale, it is essential to do proper follow-up in order to ensure that your client is satisfied with your product or service so that they continue to do business with you.  By following up and keeping in touch regularly, you may find that your client needed additional support or training.  It also keeps your foot in the door so that you can continue to supply those products or services to your client as well as others from your portfolio.

Dating: Once you have “sealed the deal” and have decided that you may want to do that again and again and… ok well maybe all the time, it is essential to “follow-up” with your person of interest. Make arrangements to get together again to repeat steps #2 and #3, and watch the relationship flourish.

  1. The “Exclusivity” Talk

When the relationship is going exceptionally well, both parties are happy, satisfied and don’t have a need to look further to have those needs fulfilled, it’s time to have the “Exclusivity Talk”.

Sales: If you have an excellent relationship with your client and they are using almost all of your products and services except for a few which they are still using from your competitor, it may be time to ask for exclusivity.  After all, if they like everything your company has to offer so far, why should they bother to use your competitor if they can get a similar product from you? If they agree, then great, happy sales! If not, then you are perpetually trapped in Stage #4 and will be required to work hard to maintain your existing sales to ensure that you don’t lose your piece of the pie.

Dating: Presuming both of you have an excellent relationship and are both on the same page about moving forward into a relationship, then go for it and make it exclusiveIf not, then you’re in more a “Friends with Benefits zone of Stage #4 and will have to accept the continuous competition with other mates.

  1. The Future: Make it or Break it?

Is the relationship sustainable over time? Only time will tell and there are 3 most probable outcomes as follows:

A: The “Live Happily Ever After”

Ideally, we would like to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship that will last our lifetime or that of our career that requires minimal effort to maintain.

B: The “Break-Up”

Even though everything may be going perfectly well, a situation may arise which will result in the termination of the relationship.  In business, we may be forced to fire a client or our client may fire us because of poor service.  I’m not going to bother elaborating on why people break off romantic relationships.  That topic in itself is worthy of several books.

C: The “Friend Zone”

In business or in romantic relationships, we may find that although we have a good relationship, it may just not be as great as we thought it might be and worth 100% of our time and efforts.  I refer to this as “The Friend Zone” because regardless of the relationship, if it’s not headed towards the “Happily Ever After”, then we have to accept it for what it is and make the best of it and enjoy the piece of the pie that we do have.

So, do you still think I’m crazy?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic.

In the meantime, happy sales and best of luck in love!

TSW

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