Tag Archives: sales

How to Keep Your Cool During a Heated Sales Call

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Just because someone is having a bad day, it doesn’t give them the right to take it out on you!

When you walk in to meet with a client, you have absolutely no idea what kind of day they may be having.  Heck, you might be having a terrible day yourself.  Regardless, sometimes sales calls can get quite heated and escalate to the point where you could lose the business if you don’t handle yourself properly.

If you have been in sales for any length of time, you most certainly have encountered a client who is rude, belittling and/or who outright criticizes your company, product/service or even you personally.  There are a multitude of reasons why a client may act this way and it could range from anything such as problems at home, difficulties with other employees, issues with a supplier, legal troubles or they just saw your primary competitor in the hours or days prior who planted seeds of doubt in their mind.  The fact of the matter is, you won’t really know unless they feel comfortable enough sharing this with you. If they don’t, don’t ask.  If you don’t have a very well established rapport, don’t meddle in their business.  Do what you came to do, sell your product or service.

So what happens when your client gets out of hand and says or does something unacceptable?

In order to make sure you keep your cool and maintain professionalism, do the following:

1. Know Your Product/Service Inside Out

knowledgableThis should go without saying but before you go into any sales call, be sure you are an expert on whatever it is you are selling. If you can’t remember everything, be sure to contain supporting data or documentation in your detail binder and have it ready for demonstration.  Be sure to know exactly where each article is located in your binder in order to avoid fumbling around, wasting unnecessary time and looking like an unprepared fool.  Being prepared will enable you to keep calm and address your clients’ comments and concerns directly and precisely.  If they catch you off guard and say or ask you something that you don’t know how to reply to or don’t know the answer to, simply acknowledge that you don’t know and will have to get back to them.  If they get more irate by that answer, then reschedule the follow-up meeting immediately in order to diffuse the situation.

2. Do NOT React.

woman-covering-mouthThink, THEN React. It’s only human nature to snap back and lash out at someone who acts out at us in a negative way but you must control this urge.  It will get you nowhere besides kicked out the door and never welcomed back.  Think about what it is exactly that your client said that you found offensive or untrue and ask them why they said what they did.  Are they misinformed? Remembering details incorrectly? If they don’t provide you with a straight up answer, do not react or engage further. You can try to joke with them but I urge extreme caution in doing so, especially if you don’t have a well-established relationship with that particular client because you have no idea how they will react. If you are unsure, opt to redirect the conversation back to what you are selling.

3. Keep Focused on Your Product/Service

business chartAlthough it might be difficult, try to keep focused on what you are selling.  This will reduce the likelihood of any further provocation or outbursts from your client.  It also removes any emotional stimuli from the interaction.

4. Find a Reason to Follow-up (Take a Break and Reschedule)

Reschedule Word Circled Day Date Calendar Delay Cancel AppointmeIn the event that you are unable to keep the meeting focused on your product or service, you should end the meeting and reschedule for a later date.  You can directly inform your client that based on how they are acting or feeling, that perhaps it would be best if you met another day the following week to discuss.  An indirect approach would be to inform you client that you will be able to bring something of greater value to the next meeting (create an excuse to have a follow-up meeting) and would like to make arrangements to do so.

5. Smile and Try to Make a Joke

woman telling a jokeIf you do this right off the get-go, it can go 1 of 2 ways: Either it will totally piss off your client or it will make them laugh and relieve their tension.  Regardless, it’s a gamble.  If you’ve already ended the meeting and rescheduled, that would probably be the safest time to make a joke but again, only do so if you are pretty darn sure how your client will react.

Whether you are in sales or any customer service type of role, it is only inevitable that you will encounter difficult customers and how you react (or don’t react) will determine whether or not you will keep those customers.

Growing up, I worked for my father who owned his own business. He had always told me , “The customer is always right.”.

When I was 16 working as a receptionist at an animal hospital, the head receptionist told me “Just because someone is having a bad day, don’t EVER let them take it out on you! There is no excuse.  If someone is rude to you, you have my permission to kick them out. No questions asked.”

I never forgot that advice.  It was empowering to be able to stand up for myself and not have to be treated like a doormat.  Nobody should be treated that way.

That being said, you can use all of the tips in this article to try and diffuse a situation with a difficult client but that isn’t possible all of the time.  In a previous post, I discussed “When to Fire a Client”.

So, happy sales my friends and just remember, you don’t ever need to take abuse from anyone.

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.

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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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When Your Product Demo Goes Horribly Wrong:

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My Epic Failures Selling Capital Equipment

Back in the day, I used to sell medical devices and I have to admit that I hated it.   The only thing I liked about it was the hefty commission but even that was just a one time deal.

For those of you who have ever sold capital equipment, you know how exciting it is to finally get the opportunity to do a product demonstration because if your demonstration is a success, it is highly likely you will be able to close on the spot.

If you’re like me and slightly neurotic (ok maybe highly neurotic), the night before you spend countless time testing the heck out of your equipment to make sure it is working properly so that your demonstration goes smoothly the following day.  But even if you do that, there is always a chance that something can go wrong and not only ruin your potential to make that sale, but possibly to even be welcomed back down the road.

Product demonstration day is a make it or break it day.

When I was selling blood analyzers, I had to look professional and carry the following into a clinic in a single trip:

  • Analyzer #1 (50lbs) which was on wheels and 2ftx2ftx2ft in dimension. I secretly referred to this as “The Big Prick” although I never shared that with anyone of course
  • Analyzer #2 and #3 (35lbs in total) in a bag that went over my shoulder
  • A detail binder

Most of the time, nobody helped me with the door either. I tell you, it surely wasn’t easy to get all of that in the door on your own and try not to break a sweat or the equipment (if it gets jammed in the door as you enter)!.

I always envied the pharmaceutical reps who sat in the clinic waiting room beside me who held a simple piece of paper or detail binder alone.  Lucky bastards, I thought.  This was a huge reason I decided to go into pharmaceutical sales! Then at least I could go back to wearing heels. You just can’t wear high heels when you’re carrying that much gear. I digress.

After sitting in the waiting room comes the second most nerve wracking part, setting up the equipmentYou have to do it fast to make sure it doesn’t look to complicated and correctly on the first go.  This may take a lot of practice.

Then comes the most nerve wracking part, the actual demonstration!

My Epic Failures in Product Demonstration:

Epic Fail #1:

cbc analyzerOne time I had set up all 3 pieces of equipment and “The Big Prick” decided to leak all over the place!!! (Pun not intended but realized post-script) And I’m not talking about a small drip, the fluids (reagent solution) were just flowing out of the bottom of the machine as soon as I turned it on to prime it Of course this was the precise moment when my client and all of her staff walked into the room and saw everything!  I tried to explain that a small tube must have gotten loose during transport, so I opened the machine up to try and identify the location of the leak and well, my client saw how many tiny little tubes were inside this device and decided that it was all too easy for something to go wrong and regardless of what I said, they were no longer interested.  I packed up and left. Next!

Epic Fail #2

BLOOD WORK RESULTSOn another occasion where I had set up the equipment correctly, the client wanted to run some test samples on the device.  Although it was calibrated beforehand, for some reason the results on my machine were all completely out of range.  They even ran the same sample using two other testing methods (outside lab and their existing equipment) and those matched. But unfortunately, my equipment was off.  Way off. Since our main selling feature was the accuracy of the machine, I lost that sale and was not welcomed back.

 

 

Epic Fail #3

dental sprayI also used to sell dental equipment, which included electrical scalers and compression-powered polishers. At a dental seminar we were sponsoring, another rep and I set up all of the devices on a side table and while the speaker was presenting, one of the machines suddenly would not stop spraying water out of the tip!  We tried to maintain our cool (mostly trying not to burst into laughter!) and avoid attracting any attention so we had to take turns holding this leaking piece behind our backs during the presentation and during breaks when the attendees were visiting our station to view our equipment.  Fortunately nobody noticed!  Sweat, sweat, sweat!

Those are just a few examples but these types of things happened on a regular basis. Although I must say that in defense of the equipment, I’m sure I wasn’t always handling it in the most delicate manner at all times which didn’t help *ahem* *ahem* but what rep does???

I struggled with the fact that even though I may have been a good salesperson, if the equipment you are selling doesn’t do what it is supposed to and align with your sales presentation then the odds of you making the sale are slim to nil. I’m sure there is room to be creative and try to win the buyer back but if I test drove a new car that was malfunctioning, I most certainly wouldn’t buy it.

In the end, I decided that capital equipment sales were not for me, but it sure was a learning experience!

If you have sold capital equipment, I would love to hear your product demonstration failure stories and what you did to overcome it.

Happy Sales!

Cheers,

TSW

 

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6 Important Factors to Consider When Negotiating Your Next Sales Job

handshakeFinding that ‘perfect’ sales job is no easy task.  Most jobs have a straight forward description, offer a clearly defined salary and occasionally benefits.  Sales jobs on the other hand are complicated to negotiate. Even if you have an approximate dollar figure in mind that you need or want in terms of an overall dollar figure, it isn’t always so easy to calculate and get to that figure. This because in addition to base salary, there are multiple other areas of compensation and factors to consider including but not limited to:

  1. Sales Territory

LocationMapAside from monetary factors, the territory is probably the most important factor to consider and should be broken down as follows:

  • Geographic Location

You must be OK with the location of your territory.  For instance, I was fine with covering all of Canada but because my clients were not concentrated in major cities.  My job had involved a significant amount of travel by air and on country back roads and I loved that. If I had to just focus on accounts in Toronto, there is no way I’d be even remotely interested.  You have to decide where you are willing to travel to and how often and if that fits with the position you are considering.

  • Number of Accounts

This can be highly variable.  Some companies require that you manage only 30-50 accounts. I had 600 in my previous territory.  Depending on your time management skills, you may not be able to handle one or the other end of those extremes.

  • Previous Rep History***

This is SO important!! I cannot emphasize this enough.   Be sure to ask your future employer WHY the previous rep left this position and after how long.  Were they liked? Did they do a good job?  Believe it or not, the LAST thing you want to hear was how awesome that rep was and they were in the territory for over a decade! Why? Because you will have an uphill battle the entire time.  Good luck filling those shoes. Not only will your employer have much higher expectations of you, the clients will likely hate you at first because you’re not the old rep that they knew and loved forever.

On the other hand, if the previous rep did a lousy job then you have enormous potential to repair all of those relationships and grow your sales immensely.

If you have a chance, try to get in contact with the previous rep and ask them for their version of why they left.  They might give you some sort of insight into your potential future employer that may be a deal breaker!  Do your homework.

2. Commission Rate and Frequency Paid (i.e. monthly, quarterly, annually)

percent-signTypically commission rates are higher for junior sales positions and/or at start-ups and are usually offered in conjunction with a lower base salary.  The idea being that the rep is more focused on acquiring new accounts.  The more senior sales roles will offer a more hefty base salary and lower commission rate because those territories have been better established and require more nurturing of existing accounts compared to hunting down new accounts.  If you were used to receiving your commission on a monthly basis and the new company only pays it out at year end, you will have to re-do your monthly budget and determine if you will be able to live off of your base salary alone for an entire year. If not, then you can try to negotiate the frequency at which your commission is paid or try to negotiate a higher base salary with a compensatory decrease in commission.

3. Bonus

piggybankNot all companies offer bonuses for commissioned employees however some will offer a year-end bonus for teams who over achieve.  If this is an option, don’t include it in your budget because there is no guarantee that you will receive this.  Consider it icing on the cake.

4. Car Allowance or Company Vehicle

CompanyCarsEven if all of the numbers sound great in your offer, if you just bought a new vehicle and the new company only permits the use of a company vehicle you will have no choice but to sell your car or keep it and suck up the cost.  If you own your own vehicle and the company offers a car allowance, some companies have a policy which requires you to own a vehicle that is less than 2 years old. So even if you get a car allowance, you still may need to purchase a new car.  Car allowance rates are also highly variable.  I have never had one that fully covered my car payments and insurance.  This must also be factored into your monthly budget.

5. Expenses- What is Covered and How will it be Reimbursed?

credit cardsYet another highly available point.  It must be clearly defined what you will be able to expense.  Will it cover just meals? Or all travel costs including fuel?  Some companies insist their reps use a company credit card to cover all business expenses which is great because that means no expense reports! On the other hand, some companies will allow their reps to use their own personal credit cards and require the submission of monthly expense reports.  I always preferred the latter so that I could collect travel rewards and use them towards a personal vacation.  Once again, this is not usually negotiable.

6. Manager Style

badmanagerYou might say, “TSW How am I supposed to know this before I start?” The answer is quite simple and one you should remember every time you go through the job interview process:

The way your future boss treats you in the interview process is how they will treat you as an employee.

Never forget that.

So if you’re completely aggravated by the interview process, you will be just as aggravated if not more as an employee.   

If you are out there interviewing for that next sales position, don’t sell yourself short. It’s better to wait for that perfect position than to just jump into the first job offer that you get.

Happy Sales!

Cheers,

TSW

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Do Extroverts Make Better Sales Representatives?

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If you were to make a list of the best sales representatives you’ve ever met and on that list include some of their primary traits, what would those traits be?

Most certainly these top performers could be best described as highly outgoing, sociable, “people” people which are all traits of extroverts.

What we don’t see is that behind closed doors, the majority of top performing sales reps are in fact, not like this all of the time.

I recall when I started out in a new sales position and on my way home from my first business trip, my sales manager called me to follow-up and discuss how my calls went.  I filled him in and after I was done reporting, I told him “That’s all I got.”, which confused him, so I explained “I’ve been ‘on’ all day and have been talking all day and now I’m done. I have nothing further to report.  It’s time for ‘me time’ to decompress while I drive home and we can touch base next week.”.

There was a long period of silence and then he said to me, “You’re in sales, you’re supposed to like talking ALL the time!”

Not me.

Why?

Because I’m a 50/50 Introvert/Extrovert.

Sure my response may have sounded a bit cold to anyone who is a complete extrovert and couldn’t fully understand, but I can’t help it. It is what I am.

In my opinion, I firmly believe that in order to be successful in any job that requires you to spend a significant amount of time interacting with others that you need to decompress and take a rest in order to recharge your batteries.  If you are ‘on’ all the time, you’ll burn out or exhaust everyone around you.  Perhaps I am biased because I am a split introvert-extrovert but let me put it this way, for anything in life, moderation is key. Too much or too little of anything can be a bad thing.  There must be some sort of balance.  If you are too far on one side of the introversion-extroversion scale, sales likely isn’t going to be for you and here is why:

Highly Extroverted People

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1. Highly Communicative and Like to Talk. This is fine in sales as long as you know when to shut up and listen to your client. In sales it is so important to listen to your client and engage them in a conversation, not simply talk at them or talk for the sake of talking. If you do that you certainly won’t get the sale and won’t be welcome back either.

2. Enjoy Being the Center of Attention. Some of the most charming sales reps I have ever met share this quality. They love to hear their own voice and make everyone laugh but then they run into the problem of not listening or properly engaging with the client.  In sales, it’s one thing to put on a good song and dance but if you’re client just sees you as a form of entertainment, it may not translate into sales.

3. Tend to Act First Without Thinking. This is never a good thing. Highly extroverted sales reps may inadvertently say anything to get the sale simply because they acted without thinking.  If you lie or over promise and under-deliver, it will hurt you not only in your professional life but in your personal life as well.

4. Assertive and Gregarious. These traits are a must for any sales rep.  After all, if you can’t ask for that sale, you’ll never get that sale.

5. Feel Isolated by Too Much Time Spent Alone. This is probably the primary reason I see highly extroverted reps leave sales.  If you’re on the road full time, you spend a LOT of time alone in your car, at home, in hotels…much more so than face-to-face with clients.  If you’re the type of person who needs constant interaction with others, all of that alone time will take its toll on you.

Highly Introverted People

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1. Quiet and Reserved in Large Groups or Unfamiliar People. In sales you have to meet unfamiliar people all the time and often have to participate in trade shows or even speak at events. If you score too highly in this regard, you won’t last long in sales.

2. Good Listeners who Enjoy Understanding Details. These traits are integral to success in sales.  Even if you have all the best questions to ask your client, if you don’t listen to their answers  you will never qualify them properly and/or get the sale.  Understanding detail is immensely important when it comes to your grasp of not only your products and/or services but your industry as a whole and your clients’ needs.

3. Interested in Self-Knowledge and Understanding. Individuals with these traits not only understand themselves better but doing so allows them to be more thoughtful of others and more empathetic. The better you understand your client, the better relationship you will have with them and the more likely that you will be able to close deals time and time again.

4. Thoughtful. Whether you are mindful of your clients’ needs or sensitive to their situation (business or personal), this can only help you develop a long-term relationship with your client as a sales rep.

5. Need time Alone to Contemplate and “Recharge” After Social Situations. Introverts do their best thinking alone.  They will spend a significant amount of time analyzing the days goings on and in that time they may devise methods to better understand themselves and their clients and come up with ways to improve their lives and better service their clients.  With regards to recharging, as I mentioned previously, I firmly believe balance and moderation is the key to success in life. Just like our electronic devices that we use all day long, we need to recharge our batteries too.

So where do YOU stand on the introversion-extroversion scale?

Complete this Extroversion-Introversion Test to find out.

I scored 52/100. Well it’s not 50 exactly but it’s pretty darn close.

If you’re in sales or a similar position that requires a significant amount of face-time, I would love to hear your results and your thoughts.

Please share.

In the meantime, happy sales my friends!

TSW

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The Worst Pitches I’ve Ever Heard…

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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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Top 4 New Vehicles for Sales Representatives

BusinesWomanInCAr

Having a sales territory that encompasses the entire country of Canada, it’s only inevitable that I do my fair share of driving. I routinely drive quite far from my home base in my own car but I will not drive across the country.

When I fly to Western Canada for example, I always rent vehicles.  For someone who is regularly in the market for a new vehicle, this is a huge perk because not only am I exposed to so many different types of vehicles that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of but I also have the opportunity to drive them for extended periods of time.

When most of us are purchasing a vehicle, we may only spend 10 minutes giving it a test drive.  In my opinion this is not enough time considering the amount of money you will be spending nor is it sufficient for deciding whether or not the vehicle is suited to you and your needs.  If I will be spending over 1/3 of my day in a vehicle, I want to make damn sure that it is:

  1. Safe (i.e. drives well in the snow, has a sufficient number of airbags, performed well in crash tests)
  2. Comfortable
  3. Functional (i.e. has enough power outlets storage space, compartments, etc.)
  4. Affordable (both in terms of payments and fuel economy)
  5. Has Sufficient Storage Space (for literature, equipment, personal items etc.)

*Note that the above criteria are not necessarily in order of importance.

When you spend 10-20 minutes test driving a vehicle, can you be assured that that vehicle meets all of those criteria?

So, all of that being said, based on my experience driving several different types of vehicles for extended periods of time in different road conditions, this is my list of the best new cars for sales reps or other road warriors. I say ‘new’ because most companies require their sales reps to drive relatively new vehicles and therefore I will not include reliability in the criteria because new cars all come with a standard warranty.

Top 4 New Vehicles for Sales Representatives <$50,000:

***Note: I kept the figure below $50,000 because I am of the belief that if you are in sales your car should look nice, but not be too flashy and expensive. Your car is an extension of you and the company you represent.  You want to look professional, sharp, savvy but NOT flashy or cheap.

4. Toyota Rav4 AWD

Toyota-Rav4This is a solid all-round vehicle that is comfortable, affordable, roomy and drives well in the winter. The Rav4 used to be my #2 choice, however in recent years its quality and functionality has declined. Recent models performed poorly in crash tests and the handling is noticeably looser making it feel more unstable.  The other setback which applies to us road warriors is that there is only a single power outlet, so good luck if 2 of your multiple devices needs a charge!

3. Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet-Impala-2015Out of all the cars I’ve rented, I have driven these the most.  They are comfortable and very spacious which is great if you’re setting up a mobile office.  Fuel economy has improved over the years but isn’t the best in its class which can be a pain if you do a lot of driving and need to fill up every day. Although it is only a FWD, it is quite front heavy and drives very well in the snow if you have a good set of winter tires. The Impala has recently been redesigned to give it a more polished look which I find appealing. It no longer looks like you borrowed Grandpa’s car.   Overall, this is a working man’s car that functions very well and is safe.

2. Jeep Compass 4×4

2015_Jeep_CompassI never thought that I would include a Jeep on my list because of their historical poor reliability and bad reputation for being gas guzzlers, but after driving this vehicle for 3 days, I completely changed my mind.  The biggest shocker was the fuel economy.  I was pleasantly surprised to get approximately 600km on a single tank.  It was also extremely comfortable to ride in. The dash was nothing fancy, but it was functional and had multiple power sources which is essential for any mobile office!  There is a tremendous amount of storage space although the vehicle itself is quite small and handles extremely well in tight situations as well as in the snow.  The 4×4 option is a huge plus if you drive in the winter.

  1. VW Passat TDI

VWPassatTDIThis car is by far the best car for sales representatives and needless to say, that is why purchased one.  Aside from the luxury look (both interior and exterior), it is extremely comfortable, spacious and most importantly, you can’t beat the fuel economy!  As you can see in this photo below, I got 1000km (approx 621 miles) on a single tank (actually only using 54L or 14.5 gallons) without the fuel indicator warning going off.

VWDash1000km

Diesel is still cheaper than gasoline here in Canada, so that is an additional savings. The handling is far superior to any Japanese or American vehicle.  The steering is tight and solid. Although it is only a FWD, it is excellent in the snow when equipped with snow tires.

The biggest shocker about this vehicle is the price.  Even though it looks and handles like a luxury car, it is cheaper to run and maintain than a Honda Civic!

Honda Civic Sedan:  Base Price $28,500 CAD. Driving Range: I was filling up every 350km at a cost of $45-50CAD

VW Passat TDI: Base Price for Comfortline (model I have) $29,000 CAD. Driving Range: I fill up every 950km at a cost of $55-60 CAD

In a perfect world I would have a 4×4 or AWD Diesel vehicle but unfortunately, it is impossible to find one for under $55K CAD.  So in the end, I opted for the most fuel efficient “luxury-looking” vehicle that performs well enough in the winter with a good set of snow tires.

If you’re a road warrior who is in the market for a new vehicle and are looking for an unbiased opinion on different models, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help.

In the meantime, drive safe fellow road warriors!

Cheers,

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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The Price Objection: What it Really Means and How to Overcome it

Your price is too high!

In my 10 years’ experience as a B2B sales professional, I can say with confidence that any client who initially objects to your price and uses that as an excuse not to purchase your product or service simply brushing you off.

After all, saying “Your product is too expensive” is much more polite than saying “I don’t want to buy your product. Get out of my office!”

So what do you do?

For starters, do NOT be sucker and immediately drop your price.

suckers

If you simply sell based on price alone, you are an order taker. Sorry to break it to you but there is no ‘salesmanship” in giving your best price and taking an order. Any customer service agent on minimum wage answering a phone can do just that!

The most important “sales training” I have ever had is working for a company selling higher priced products at a non-negotiable price point.  Rather than focusing on price, I’m forced to focus on the quality and service that my company can deliver.  To properly relay that information and translate that into a sale, requires work and that my friends, is salesmanship.

Clients have to realize that they can’t have everything and by everything I mean the best product at the best price that is delivered with the best service.  At best, most companies can offer 2 out of the 3.

projectTriangle

 

Let’s walk through the process through a general scenario.

EXAMPLE SCENARIO:

 You’re in front of a client for the first time, introducing your company and product portfolio. You’ve established what products your client uses from your competitor and you proceed to inform them that you offer the same or a similar product/service.  Prematurely, your client interrupts you and asks you your price.  When you give them your price, they tell you what you already know, “You’re price is too high.”

There it is.  You could interpret this in one of two ways:

  1. They are right. I’m not getting this sale.  I can’t beat the price, so I better move on. 

OR

2.   Game on! Now the real selling begins!

I hope none of you sided with option 1.  If you did, you either need more training or should consider changing careers.

So, game on!

Here is What You Should Do to Overcome the Price Objection:

1. Be Firm: Don’t negotiate your price. Others pay full price, so why should this client be an exception? If you have other clients in the area that this client would happen to be competing with who happen to be using your product of focus, make that known. If those direct competitors of your client aren’t using your product yet, make it known that you will be calling on them afterwards,  All the more reason that “you” don’t really need the business as much as they think you do and therefore have no need to budge on price.  Reverse psychology can go a long way.

2. Elaborate: Focus on other features and benefits that your company can provide (i.e. better service, higher quality).

3. Be Creative. If you are in your clients’ environment, look around for clues that might give them reasons to use a product from your portfolio that they may never thought of using before. Sometimes I’ve been in a clinic and see a list of things they are looking for. Simply pointing that out and mentioning that I can offer one of those items has gotten me the sale many times.  On the other hand, if you are meeting outside of their working environment be sure to ask them more questions about their business while in the back of your mind searching for products or services you can offer them.  Once this dialogue is open, you’d be surprised at how open most people are.

4. Ask For the Sale: As you scan through all of the potential products your client could purchase and they demonstrate interest, be sure to ask for the sale.

5. Be Persistent: This is where I have the most fun. Once you’ve gotten them to order one product, why not ask for more? Laugh and have fun with it.  Your client knows that you are there to sell them something so they expect it. If they haven’t ordered anything yet, keep asking! I have no shame in asking for the sale multiple times in a single call. I think my record was asking for a sale 10 times in one call.  After striking out 9 times, when I asked the 10th time, I finally got the “Ok, you got the sale!”.  I realize full well that he may have done that to get me out of his office (another brush off, yes I know!), but regardless I did get the sale, was welcomed back and continue to get more business.

Always keep in mind that if you can get at least one of your products or services in the door, that leaves that door open for you to come back and acquire more business, so don’t give up at the slightest objection.

Experiment: If you are used to selling on price alone, for one day or one week conduct all of your sales calls as if you are not allowed to budge on price.  I would love to hear your results!

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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