Monday, July 30, 2012

CRM: What's in it for the Sales Rep?

At FrontRow we have studied the sales rep behavior
and we believe that any sales reporting tool to be successful must focus on the sales rep. The sales rep has to be willing and able to submit his sales reports. A sales rep can learn our reporting system in 10 minutes and complete reports immediately after a sales call in less than 30 seconds. (More) Sales reps appreciate that they have more time to sell and spend less time at administrative tasks. In addition the reporting system helps the sales reps become more productive and ultimately to increase commissions. To accomplish this FrontRow offers productivity tools such as:
  • Retrieval of notes, contact information and maps through the FrontRow app in real time. While waiting for the next appointment a sales rep can use his smart phone to review client information, historical notes, key contacts and maps. What a tremendous tool to get a leg up on the next sales call. Being informed and prepared for the next call is literally at your fingertips.
  • Account contact information - Sales reps can review historical territory information on all accounts: check what accounts he has not visited, which accounts he has and how many times.This information can be sorted by account type, account category, region, area code, etc. (More)
  • Mapping System access - the sales rep has the ability to geo-locate and map all his clients providing a huge advantage in locating his accounts, route planning and prospecting in regions. This is particularly helpful for the new rep or for companies that move their sales reps between different regions. (More)

Sales Rep Support System By Automatic Work Assignment:

Sales reps like to spend their time selling.Unproductive selling distractions like picking up checks, preparing quotes, dropping off samples, organizing IT, providing references, sending literature, preparing contracts, etc. are considered chores. Management wants the same thing: sales reps to be out in the field selling.FrontRow has created an automatic work assignment from the sales report. Here is how it works. A sales rep identifies in his report that a quote is required.The FrontRow system will automatically send an e-mail to the person identified as the quote coordinator requesting a quote for that account. A request for samples may go to a different person or a request for IT support to a different person again. Automated sales support work assignments from the sales report can be sent to any specified employee for follow up freeing the sales rep to spend all available time selling. In addition these work assignments are date and time stamped and an audit trail is created to ensure that the follow up activity is completed in a timely fashion.(More)

Message Centre:
Communication is often an issue for companies. FrontRow provides a message centre which will allow the sales rep to quickly and easily communicate with managers, peers and clients through text message, text blast or e-mails. ( More)

Automatic Synchronization with the Company Data Centre:

FrontRow creates a link between the sales reps mobile device and the company database. When the sales rep first selects the FrontRow app in the morning an "updating database" message appears. This updates and downloads all the new leads and activity card changes to the mobile device. The sales rep always has the most current information available eliminating the need for obtaining lead or prospecting sheets from the office. This synchronization allows reps to retrieve client information and notes to their apps just before a sales call.

Organization Tools:

Sales rep productivity can be greatly increased simply by help ingimproving organization skills. With that in mind FrontRow has created these organization advantages for the sales rep.

1. Automatic Population of Calendar: Literature claims that more than 30% of sales are lost because of improper or forgotten follow-up. FrontRow has a request for follow up built into the sales report. When a follow up date and time is selected, it is automatically populated into the FrontRow calendar. The FrontRow system can also be set to send out an e-mail or text alert identifying that a follow up commitment is approaching. The Result is a better follow up system which translates to fewer lost sales, and more money for sales rep and company.

2. Automatic population of client data base: Each time a sales rep submits a report, that information is auto populated and the client data base is updated into the client database. A sales rep can visit this data base and review all contact information, notes, historical revenue,forecast information, number of visits, contact information, products and any custom account information. Sales repswill always have access to current and vital information.Sales reps can access this information through their computer or through the FrontRow Sales Pro App.

3. Sales activity review: From the reports section the sales rep is able to access a host of valuable information. A sales rep can quickly and easily create a report around key personal activity. A few examples are: how many appointments did I have in the last 3 months, 6 months, 9 months? Who were these appointments with? How many phones callsdid I make this month? How many presentations did I do in the last month, 3 months, 6 months? What were the results……?The variety of reports is unlimited and can be converted to excel and printed if desired. (More)

4. Personal skill development: FrontRow provides the sales reps with charts that he can visit to identify strengths and weaknesses, trends, closed ratios, performance against plan or commission giving a rep visual acuity to his performance.(More).

Want to know more, visit us at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

8 Surprisingly Simple B2B Sales Tips

by Jesse Noyes on June 8, 2012 in Sales & Marketing Alignment
B2B sales is by no means easy. It requires not only skill, but panache.

But that doesn’t mean everything about sales is hard. Some tips can be shockingly simple, yet very effective.
Today, we highlight eight B2B sales tips that are easy to put into practice, but deliver results.

1. Let Leads Market to You
When it comes to B2B sales and marketing, nothing beats relevance. One way to remain relevant is to sign up for your leads’ own newsletters, email campaigns and other marketing materials. If you understand how your leads conduct their own sales and marketing, you’ll be better suited to market to them.

2. Leverage the Written Word
There are several ways to establish thought leadership including blogs, social media, newsletters, etc. But few things command trust and respect quite like a book. Has your organization’s executives crafted a book around your space? If so, make sure you get this in the hands of your prospects. It helps you stand out.

3. Set Up Google Alerts
When’s the best time to sell? Probably when your prospect is flush with cash. You can set up Google alerts around a lead’s brand. That way, next time they raise a round of funding, have a particularly good quarter or enter a new market, you’ll be ready to act fast.

4. Have a 90-Day Plan
B2B sales can stretch out for a long time. A lot of the time 90 days just covers the beginning. But having a 90-day plan will keep you focused not just on the long road, but setting up sign posts along the way. Set small goals and cross them off your list.

5. Find and Follow
If you’re working a lead for a while, follow him or her on social accounts like Twitter and LinkedIn. It will give you clues into your prospects’ thinking, the content they’re consuming and whether they’re talking to competitors. (Connecting with rival reps or liking a competing brand is a sign.)

6. Block Out Times for Prospecting
It’s easy to get caught up in daily tasks and moving leads forward. If you don’t make time to prospect, your pipeline may suffer. Set up time on your calendar for prospecting. Don’t go crazy. You want to call with relevant information so around 10 accounts a week is fine.

7.  Ask Hard Questions Early
Losing deals is tough. Working a lead that is never going to buy is worse. It’s often best to get to the nitty gritty right away. Is the company too small? Does the business have the budget to purchase from you? Knowing the answers to these questions means you won’t waste effort.

8. Scour Their Blog
A company’s blog often holds clues into the way the organization collectively moves and thinks. If the executives are on blogging, read up on their posts. Then use that info to establish early on in your conversations.

Do you have a sales tip? Share it in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Sales Tips to Recharge During the Lazy Days of Summer

Many people accept that a slowdown in sales  is a fact of business life during the lazy days of summer. Well, nothing could be further from the truth, and as a business owner you need to get out of that frame of mind.

A summer slowdown may be something many people want because they expect this to be a season for vacations when the living is easy. But you don't have to accept that. When others go to sleep, you need to wake up. If you follow these tips, you can create opportunity for your small business while others are off to the beach.

1. Make a firm decision not to participate in a slowdown. Don't allow your employees to buy into this thinking because I assure you that they will make a summer slowdown one of the first excuses if there are any issues with their job performance. Hold a daily meeting to discuss what you are going to do to prosper--not contract—this summer. Set clearly defined goals and list the activities that need to be undertaken to achieve them. Give yourself deadlines for your goals and create a no excuses, no negativity environment. You'll be surprised by what you can achieve.

2. Work your power base. Get out in front of the summer slowdown and let your best customers know you'll be available all summer. Target anyone who has bought from you in the last 90 days through direct mail, phone calls, emails or social media. Get into regular communication with these customers and figure out how to expand your business with them. For example, find out what you can do to assist as they prepare for vacation or to help fill a gap in their absence.

3. Target busy customers who can't take a long vacation. Focus some of your marketing efforts on prospective customers who plan to be around in July and August. Remember that these are clearly busy people who are pressed for time and can't afford a vacation or leisurely summer work pace. Take the initiative by distributing flyers, getting on social media and updating your website to let people know you will be around, too, and can offer something valuable to help them deal with their time constraints. For example, if you're an auto dealer, take that new convertible by the customer's office and let your prospective buyer test drive the car and sign the paperwork there. Or if you're a lunchbox delivery service, let prospects know you can provide food so they don't have to leave their comfortable, air-conditioned offices.

4. Offer a value-added proposition to avoid discounting prices. You will probably need to make even more profit from each sale to compensate for decreased summertime volume. So, figure out creative ways to repackage your products or services to provide something extra, such as a special summer-themed promotion. For example, I took two of my lectures series and packaged them into a Fourth of July special. The value-added proposition: When taken together, the lectures are both more informative and effective.

5. Service is senior to selling and needs to be top of mind. Service should be a year-around commitment, of course, but it is even more important during a summer slowdown when your competitors go into that "living is easy" mode and take their eye off the ball. Show that you are motivated to make things happen quickly and empower employees to accommodate special requests, even if it means opening your business early or letting customers enter your establishment in flip flops or beachwear. This is your chance to shine and make a lasting impression. After all, your goal is to make sure your new business keeps coming back to you long after summer is over.


Friday, July 20, 2012

[Study] Security Remains One of the Greatest Cloud Concerns

By Rachel Foster 

An Intel survey confirmed the important role that security plays when it comes to choosing both public and private cloud services. Security either formed the foundation of respondent’s decisions or played a strong role in their selection of a cloud deployment model. Here’s what the survey of over 200 IT professionals revealed.

Cloud security
An Intel survey confirmed the important role that security plays when it comes to choosing both public and private cloud services. Almost all of the respondents (99%) for the Cloud Security Insights for IT Strategic Planning report stated that security either formed the foundation of their decision or played a strong role in their selection of a cloud deployment model.
The survey of over 200 IT professionals also revealed:  
  • Respondents were more concerned with protecting their data and assets than with compliance. When asked what business or IT needs drive their cloud security plans, respondents cited protecting customer, vendor and employee data (80%) followed by protecting servers and other platform/infrastructure resources from attack (76%) and protecting financial data (72%). Complying with privacy and industry-specific regulations ranked lower on the list at 62% and 47%.  
  • Cloud poses a number of security challenges. Almost all of the respondents (95%) experienced challenges when implementing a cloud service. The top two challenges involved security, with 44% citing data protection/security and 11% citing data privacy/setting access levels as their greatest challenge.  
  • IT professionals are more likely to trust hardware-based security. Over three-quarters of the survey’s respondents (78 percent) believe that a cloud provider with hardware-based security provides a higher level of protection.
  • Private cloud is the preferred deployment model. 52% of respondents are using (or are the most likely to use) a private cloud deployment model. This is far greater than the 31% using hybrid models and the 11% using public cloud models.   
The report also provides tips from IT professionals on how to evaluate a cloud provider’s security features and protect your data in the cloud. For more information, click here to download the complete report.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Select a Sales Kickoff Meeting Keynote Speaker

Let’s assume you are in charge of planning your company’s annual sales kick-off (global sales conference, annual sales meeting, or national sales meeting), the most important sales meeting of the year. You’ve picked the best location, chosen the right hotel, and are in the process of finalizing the meeting agenda. However, one critically important task remains to be completed--you must select the perfect keynote speaker. After keynoting more than one hundred sales kickoffs, I’d like to share my sales meeting ideas with you.

There are four main types of keynote speakers to choose from; celebrity, motivational, industry mavens, and sales experts. Celebrities (entertainment stars, sports heroes, business icons, politicians, etc.) will speak mainly about their personal experiences. Conversely, industry mavens are analysts and consultants who talk about current issues and future business trends. Meanwhile, motivational speakers exuberantly try to touch listeners’ emotions. And finally, there are sales experts who share their specific sales-related wisdom and knowledge with the audience.

So, how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are five questions to ask a potential keynote speaker in order to help you determine whether or not he or she is right for your meeting.

1. What is the profile of the typical audience you present to?
There aren’t any two sales forces that are exactly alike. Every sales force is unique in three different ways; complexity of the sales process, the average level of sales experience, and the state of morale. Perhaps the biggest mistake when selecting a sales kickoff presenter is picking one whose main message doesn’t apply to the products you sell or resonate with the sophistication of the sales force. For instance, even though a keynote speaker has successfully presented to mid-western real estate agents in the past, he or she would not be a good fit to for a software company.

Ensuring that the speaker is in tune with the sales forces’ morale is another critically important consideration. Even though it is an imperfect world, you are in charge of creating the perfect experience for an audience that is in a variety of states of contentment. Many salespeople are happy, some are apathetic, and others are downright despondent. Ideally, you want a speaker who is experienced in speaking in this type of difficult circumstance. For example, if your company has been part of a recent merger you want a speaker who is familiar with the intricacies of this situation and how it affects morale.

2. How would you prepare for our meeting?
Even though you may sell the same products as several other companies, your sales force faces distinctive competitive challenges. For instance, there’s a big difference between selling for an eight-hundred-pound-gorilla-sized company than an upstart competitor.

The successful keynote presentation should include major messages that are applicable to the realities of your company’s competitive situation. Therefore, the presenter should conduct extensive pre-presentation interviews and diligent background research to ensure he or she understands your marketplace, products, and salespeople.

3. Do you customize your presentation?
Since salespeople present for a living they know when they are being fed a “canned” presentation. The most successful keynote presentation will incorporate elements of the salespeople’s daily lives into the actual presentation. This may include tangible advice to defeat your archenemies and tactics to present your products more effectively. As a result, the presentation needs to be customized so that it helps address the toughest obstacles your sales force faces.

A one size fits all presentation delivered exactly in the same way over the past five years has a high likelihood of falling flat today. Audiences appreciate a presenter who has taken the time to understand their challenges and provides them with strategies they can put to use immediately.

4. When do you typically present at sales kickoffs? At the beginning, a nightly dinner, or the meeting’s end?
You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. Similarly, the particular speaking slot you are trying to fill requires a specific type of keynote speaker. If the speaking slot is at the meeting opening, you most likely want a powerful presenter with an impactful message (because he or she is probably speaking right after your company’s chairman, CEO, or VP of sales). A keynote to be delivered during a dinner gathering should be fast-paced, up-tempo and include a healthy dose of humor. Conversely, a closing speaker needs to be able to rally the troops and reinvigorate them with a sense of purpose.

5. What takeaway materials do you provide?
A typical keynote presentation will last just an hour or two at most. Given such a short timeframe, how can it be more than just a “feel good” experience? The best way to achieve lasting impact is by providing takeaway materials that the salespeople can reference over the long-run. That’s why I’m a big fan of presenters who provide copies of their books, informational CD’s, and PowerPoint presentations to the audience.

Finally, one of the most important factors you should continually remind yourself of during the selection process is how well does the speaker dovetail with your sales kickoff theme. The best speaker will center their presentation on your theme and work his or her material around it. If you’re still not one-hundred percent certain what your theme should be, they should possess the practical experience to help brainstorm with you on an appropriate theme. Because the best speakers understand that your success and their success are intimately intertwined.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why Did We Lose the Big Deal? Five Questions Every VP of Sales Should Ask?

When we’re closing business life’s great! When we’re on the losing side of a deal, it is easy to feel like our entire world has fallen apart. Losing is a subject that most salespeople and sales managers don’t like to talk about. Therefore, the vice president of sales plays an important role in understanding why we lost the big deal because unless we truly understand why we lose, we will most assuredly lose again.
While losing to competitors is painful, losing to the dreaded “no decision” is even worse. We spent all the time, effort, and resources on an account that couldn’t even make a decision. Whether losing to competitors or “no decision,” true loss analysis starts by asking five fundamental questions that are inherent to every software sale.

Question #1 – Did we sell to the bully with the juice?
Some people are natural-born leaders. They have an aura that can motivate and instill confidence. They command respect and people naturally follow their lead. That person is called the “bully who has the juice.” In every software deal, there is only one person who is the bully with the juice and the sole decision-maker. Being a bully is not necessarily a negative term, nor is it necessarily the highest-ranking person involved in an evaluation. Instead, the bully who has the juice is the person who single-handedly makes the selection and can override the product selection made by other decision makers. People will argue that some purchases are truly made by committee. While a committee does put more “fingerprints of accountability” on the product selection, behind every committee is a bully who has the juice and the committee’s decision will reflect this.

Obviously, if the bully with the juice is backing another vendor you’ve already lost. When there isn’t a bully with the juice in an account, you should be prepared for no decision to be made. Conversely, if a bully with the juice does exist but you aren’t able to identify the person, be prepared to lose the deal because you are in a position of extreme risk.

Question #2 –Did we sell logically or psychologically?
Unfortunately, we have been trained to think of customers and ourselves solely as rational decision makers who use logic and reason exclusively. However, every software purchase decision can be traced to one of four psychological roots.
  • Survival. The will to survive is one of our strongest desires. We are wired to maintain our health physically, mentally, and emotionally. Buyers want to keep their jobs and for their companies to prosper.
  • Pain Avoidance. When something is hurting you badly, the desire to eliminate the source of pain is all consuming. Nothing else really matters. Buyers want to solve their most painful problems immediately and completely.
  • Self-preservation. We naturally seek the approval of others. While we want to be recognized for our unique talents, we still want to be part of a group. Buyers want to be respected and liked by their colleagues and peers.
  • Self-gratification. Everyone’s got a selfish ego, and we’ll go to great lengths to purchase something that makes us feel better about ourselves and superior to others. Egos drive the business world and someone’s ego is the driving force behind the major projects and the grand initiatives that result in the purchase of your software. Buyers want to make their mark on the world.

When you sell solely based upon logic you are destined to lose since the logical reasons people give for buying products are only rationalizations that mentally enable them to justify the expenditure. The successful influencer is the one who appeals to the four psychological motivators.

Question #3 – Did we know the decision maker’s fantasy?
All complex enterprise sales involve selling a fantasy. The fantasy is that somehow the software you are selling is going to make the customer’s life easier, save the customer money, or enable the customer to make more money. The feature set of your product validates the fantasy elements of your “story” and promote the customer’s fantasy. During the sales cycle, your goal is to communicate how you can turn your customers’ fantasies into a reality, but only when your product is selected.

Evaluation team members also have a “personal” fantasy. Maybe they want to master new software to enrich their resumes. Maybe they want to earn bonuses for cutting costs or increasing revenue. Maybe they want to be perceived as heroes within the company or to spend more time at home and less at work. Everyone has a personal fantasy that is associated with the procurement of a product. Heavy Hitters (truly great salespeople) understand and align their strategy with personal fantasies. They don’t just recite product features, benefits, and specifications.

Question #4 Did we have a coach or internal advocate in the account?
All successful software sales involve a salesperson being “coached” through the evaluation process. You need an internal advocate within the customer account to win the deal. This person is a constant, accurate source of information revealing the internal machinations of the customer’s selection process. The term “coach” is the popular name of a person who is the source of this privileged inside information.

Quite often, ordinary salespeople mistake someone for a coach when in fact the person isn’t a loyal compatriot. Several specific conditions must exist in order for a friendly evaluator to be considered a coach. First, coaches must have a personal reason for wanting the salesperson or his company to win. Second,
coaches need to specifically say they want the salesperson to win and be willing to fight for the salesperson’s cause. Finally, the information a coach provides must be accurate.

The ideal coach is the person with the highest authority or influence involved in the selection process. When this person becomes the coach, the salesperson will enjoy a unique advantage. However, the coach could be anybody inside the customer’s company or even outside the company, such as a consultant working on the project.

Why would someone coach one salesperson versus another? To establish a relationship with a coach, Heavy Hitters build different types of rapport with a customer. At the foundation is a special relationship, a personal rapport between two individuals. Although powerful, this personal rapport is meaningless unless technical rapport is present. Technical rapport is achieved when a product’s features satisfy the customer’s requirements. Finally, there must be a business rapport between the two companies to consummate the deal.

Heavy Hitters manage their time by qualifying people. They know before you decide to work on an account, you need to determine if you can find a coach (friend) within the customer company to help you win the deal. If you can’t develop a coach, it does not make sense to invest your time in any account.

Question #5 Did we build personal relationships with the C-Level Decision-maker?
Counter to common sense, psychologists believe the loneliest time of life is not retirement age but between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. It turns out the age group you naturally associate with schoolmates, friends, and parties actually has the one of the highest suicide rates. This raises an interesting point. Regardless of how many people surround someone, how much fortune, fame, and power you think a person has, everyone is lonely in his or her own way. Loneliness isn’t only about being alone. It is when you feel disconnected, isolated, alienated, unwanted, inadequate, self-conscious, and unloved. Every C-Level decision-maker is uniquely lonely and the deal winner is the salesperson who is best able to build a mutual friendship.

Now I admire persistent salespeople and respect the underdog who will fight with passion and battle against the odds. However, sometimes it’s impossible to win. Such is the case when your competitor holds such a tight grip on the account there is no way to break loose their relationship. In some accounts, although they may not say so directly, the customer simply doesn’t like you.

Even facing these circumstances, some salespeople believe the customer is just playing hard to get or treating every vendor in this way (which they aren’t). These salespeople mistakenly believe they can turn the situation around by sheer willpower and determination. Recognizing when to abandon an account is as important as knowing what accounts to pursue. Ultimately, you will only win deals where you are given the opportunity to build personal relationships.

Closing Thoughts
The balance of power is definitely in the hands of today’s buyer and the situation will only continue to get worse. Today’s customers are smarter at buying software and more skeptical than ever. In addition, Product differentiation is at an all time low.

Your competitors have not sat idly by either. They’ve educated themselves about your products and sales tactics, and they’re more focused on defeating you than ever. Fortunately, they usually believe in the use of brute force and think the best way to defeat the enemy is by frontal attack, when in reality, winning over the hearts and minds of customers carries the day.

I recently completed an exhaustive study for a company to help them understand where they won and why they lost. A senior level decision-maker I interviewed made these poignant comments:
In the end it came down to the people we work with. We made it clear we weren’t buying a brochure, we weren’t buying a demonstration, and in fact we weren’t even buying a product. We were buying a 10 to 20 relationship and if we weren’t going to get that then we didn’t care about their product. All products fail, all products need to be changed and in five years if we hate the people we are dealing with it is not going to work.”

Ultimately, we are selling customers something much larger—the idea that we can help change their lives for the better, enable them to be a part of something greater than themselves, and partner with them for the long-term.  


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Salesperson's Most Important Competitive Weapon

Today’s customers are smarter and more sophisticated, and technology has become a way of life for them. For example, our cars have global positioning and mapping systems based upon satellite communications. The appliances in our kitchens turn themselves on and off. Our entire music collections are carried on digital devices the size of a deck of cards. We take pictures, play games, and send text messages to friends with our cellular phones. Over Nintey-five percent of all homes in the United States have personal computers. Via the Internet, customers can research products, prices, and opinions. Collectively, this has raised the level of sophistication of the customers we must converse with and sell to.

Perhaps the most interesting change is how people receive information. According to one university study, the world’s total yearly production of media content for newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet would require roughly 1.5 billion gigabytes of storage. This is the equivalent of 250 megabytes per person for each man, woman, and child on the earth. Because of this information overload, customer attention spans are shorter than ever.

Information must now be packaged with the customers’ shortened attention spans in mind. For example, USA Today, the largest selling newspaper in the United States, was designed to stand out visually. The colorful newspaper always includes bold diagrams and numerous pictures so that time-pressed readers can pick up a story’s message with minimal effort. Even the racks used to sell the newspaper are colorful boxes with rounded edges as opposed to the black square boxes of other newspapers.
Shortened attention spans have changed the nature of information itself. USA Today distills and condenses the news into easy-to-read chunks. A paragraph is rarely longer than three short sentences. Every article is written with the reader in mind, using a “what’s in it for me?” style. USA Today’s style is best summarized by the newspaper’s tagline, “An economy of words, a wealth of information.” If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, USA Today is the most successful newspaper ever because newspapers everywhere have adopted its format.

But even USA Today has had to continue to change both their online and print editions to maintain readers… This Brings Us to The Main Point of This Article:        

Have You Changed The Way You Communicate to Connect with Today’s Customer Who is Smarter, More Sophisticated, But has a Shortened Attention Span?

Successful communication is at the foundation of all sales. “Sales Linguistics” is the revolutionary new field of study about how customers and salespeople use and interpret language during the decision making process.  The conversations you have with customers are quite complex, they consist of verbal and non-verbal communication that are sent consciously and subconsciously. Sales Linguistics will help you learn to say the “right” words at the “right” time to convince skeptical customers to buy.

You must be able to adapt your use of language to a customer’s thought process and personality. You need to understand the process of communication and how it determines the level of rapport that is established between people. Language can be directly linked to customer behavior. It can be deciphered to predict the future, determine truthfulness, and used proactively to influence a customer’s thinking and opinions.
The salesperson’s most important competitive weapon is his mouth, and the winner is the salesperson who uses words to reduce the customer’s doubts, ease his fear and fosters his fantasy. That’s why it’s critical that you learn sales linguistics before your arch-rivals learn to speak more persuasively.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Did I Lose the Sale? 6 Win-Loss Analysis Questions

Losing is always hard. Learning you are the loser in the eleventh hour of a deal is a frustrating, humbling, and embarrassing event. In this circumstance, perhaps it’s time to honestly ask yourself the following six questions.

1. Did I take the customer’s word at face value?  For a moment, let’s put ourselves in the position of the customer. As the customer, you are going to meet with multiple vendors, watch their presentations, and read their marketing collateral. Each vendor, most likely, has equally talented, friendly, and professional salespeople who come to your office. However, you will select only one product. Given that, how will you behave with each vendor? Will you tell each one the truth? Probably not. 

It is basic human nature to want to avoid confrontation. This is particularly true when you are meeting in person, face-to-face. In addition, our society has implicit guidelines of behavior. We are taught at an early age that if we have nothing nice to say, then we shouldn’t say anything at all. Therefore, it is much more comfortable for the prospect to say something they think you want to hear than the actual truth.

2. Did I have an internal Coach within the account?   In order to win every deal you need a constant, accurate source of information revealing the internal machinations of the customer’s selection process. For many years, the term “coach” has been used by all types of salespeople, selling every conceivable product, to define the person within an account who provides this privileged intelligence and confidential information.
Why would someone coach one salesperson versus another? To establish a relationship with a coach, Heavy Hitters (truly great salespeople) build a different type of rapport with the customer. At the foundation is a special relationship, a personal friendship between two individuals. True Coaches not only want you to win; they’re your friends and allies. Winning without one is next to impossible.

3. Did I recognize the turning point?   Every deal has a critical moment or turning point that determines the winner and the losers. In some cases, the turning point is easy to spot. For example, a salesperson may be presenting a solution and encounters a deal-breaking objection that he or she is unable to overcome. Even though the customer remains cordial for the rest of the meeting, a turning point has occurred and the deal is lost. In most cases, the turning point occurs when the salesperson isn’t present. It’s in casual hallway conversations or internal e-mails that selection team members share opinions that influence vendor’s futures. This proprietary information is only reveled when you have an internal spy.

4. Did I misinterpret information?  The sales cycle is a formalized information-and-activity exchange. Customers are trying to gather as much information about vendors in order to determine if they are appropriate long-term partners. Meanwhile, salespeople are trying to gather as much information about the customer in order to determine if they can win the deal. Information is communicated back and forth, and each message that is sent must also be received and interpreted correctly.

However, an obstacle is inherent in this process. Each message is subject to a person’s interpretation and filtering. Some information is ignored, some information is misinterpreted, and some information is generalized. Therefore, do you really know if your arguments were interpreted correctly? More importantly, did you interpret your customer’s messages correctly? 

5. Did I truly know the decision-maker’s motivations and values? Heavy Hitters always delve beneath the surface, the technical and business criteria, to uncover individual motivations. Customers may have their “official” reasons for purchase decisions; however, there is also an “off the record” truth. The final decision is really driven by the desire to fulfill self-centered needs on the part of a few individuals. Therefore, like a psychologist, Heavy Hitters concentrate on eliciting the deep feelings and desires from the “patient.” In this case, they are trying to determine the principles, standards, incentives, and priorities of the key decision makers. Always in the back of their minds is the question, “What is driving this person’s behavior and how will my product help achieve their needs?”

6. Did I listen to my sales intuition? Successful salespeople are continually cataloguing their successes and failures. They store patterns of individual and company behavior and link them to the sales process. From this base of intuitive knowledge they are able to decide which deals to work and create and execute account strategies. It’s your sales intuition that’s responsible for predicting the future.

While you have learned that you must be persistent and energetic to succeed, sometimes it is far more important to listen to your sales intuition so you don’t waste your time on non-winnable accounts in the first place.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are You A Closer? TAKE THE TEST

Are You A Natural Born Closer? Take the following Test to find out

Harvard Business Review is arguably the most prestigious publication for business leaders and management thinkers. Here’s one of my recent Harvard Business Review articles titled “Are You A Closer? Take the Test”

The drive to take command of a situation is instrumental to a salesperson’s success.  Salespeople with a weak dominance instinct are never quite in control of an account. They operate under the direction of customers or are at the mercy of the competition. They also find it more difficult to close the sale because they are uncomfortable exerting their will over the customer.

Dominance is gaining the willing obedience of the customer. The customer listens to your opinions and advice, internalizes your recommendations and agrees with them, and when you close the sale call follows your course of action. Your personality greatly influences the way in which you establish dominance during sales calls.

Nowhere during the sales process does dominance play a more important role than when closing. Take this short test to determine your natural tendencies to dominate group settings. Score your answer after each question with zero, one, or two points.

1. Assertiveness within groups. Let’s pretend you are having a hallway conversation with three colleagues. Do you remain silent the majority of time letting others speak (0), speak an equal share of the conversation (1), or usually find yourself talking the majority of the time (2)?
2. Conformity within situations. Using the hallway example above, if someone said something you disagreed with would you typically remain silent (0), might challenge the person to explain themselves (1), or usually confront the person directly (2)?
3. Self-consciousness around people. If a colleague said one of your important ideas was stupid would your embarrassment cause you to remain silent (0), perhaps defend yourself (1), or would you reject the person’s comments outright and criticize their arguments (2)?
4. Candor around people. When speaking with colleagues are you someone who carefully edits your words (0), tactfully speaks your mind (1), or is completely open and honest with all your thoughts (2)?
5. Humility around people. Are you someone who feels genuinely humble and respects all others (0), generally believes you are equal to others (1), or usually thinks you are better or superior in some way to people around you (2)?

Total your score for all questions. A score of six or below indicates you have a low natural tendency to establish dominance in group settings. Consequently, you may have a more difficult time closing. A score of seven or more indicates high natural tendencies. Most likely, you are a “natural” closer who is more comfortable in the uncomfortable position of asking prospective clients for their business.

There are two basic approaches to establish dominance during sales calls. The direct approach is based upon personal prowess, while the indirect approach is based upon finesse. The approach you should use depends upon attributes of your personality. If you scored a high level of dominance, you are typically well suited to use a direct approach. This approach is based upon first establishing yourself as the focal point of the purchase. In essence, the customer is buying your credibility, your personal experience, and your ability to help them accomplish their goals.

If you scored a low level of dominance, you are more likely better suited to use an indirect approach. This approach is based upon establishing your product and the capabilities of your company as the focal point of the purchase before you start selling yourself. For example, a salesperson with low dominance that transitioned his career from a technical position into sales can have an equally dominant presence as a seasoned sales veteran. However, he has to use a different approach. Instead of projecting a powerful presence in person, his deep-rooted technical understanding of his product draws customers to follow him.  

A salesperson’s goal is to gain dominance over a submissive customer. While dominance is commonly associated with brute force, this is not the case in sales. It’s simply how people judge others. People are continually sensing whether their position is superior to yours, relatively equal, or inferior in some way. In turn, this impacts what they say during the conversation and how they behave.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012



During the first four years of your life, 90 percent of your brain’s growth and development occurred. Your mind evolved as it interacted with the world around you and recorded strange and exciting new experiences.

Now, it has been accumulating these experiences for decades. I’ve written extensively about how the successful salesperson’s mind thinks and processes language in my recent books Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology and Heavy Hitter Sales Linguistics. Below, are seven fascinating facts about a salesperson’s mind.

1. Do You Never Forget a Face?   Some people can easily recognize a face they have seen only once before.  Obviously, this important social skill is beneficial for salespeople who must meet with many different customers.  However, an MIT study found that this ability is an inherited specialized trait that is not linked to a person’s IQ in general. In other words, you either have facial recognition genes and the recognition ability or you don’t.

2. Does Rejection Really Hurt?   Okay, you have just been told by the prospective customer that you lost that big deal you were counting on. Obviously, you are mentally and emotionally frustrated but you are also in physical pain according to a recent Columbia study. They studied MRI brain scans of people who experienced emotional rejection and they actually showed that the person is was in physical pain thus proving that losing really hurts!

3. Do You Like to Doodle?   What do past Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan have in common? Well, they all liked to doodle during important phone calls and meetings. Research published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests that doodling actually aids memory retention and doodlers have an average of 29% better event recall than non-doodlers.

4. Are You Optimistic? According to a study at University College London, 80% of people are optimists by nature.  Their research suggests that optimistic people selectivity receive negative news. When hearing bad news, the brain scans of optimists showed very low activity in their frontal lobes as opposed to pessimists who had higher activity levels. So, if you are an optimist your brain is actually wired that way because you don’t “hear” bad news. In addition, optimists live longer according to one study of 100,000 participants. 

5. Why Are You So Nice?   A study published in the journal Psychological Science explained that “niceness” is tied to hormone receptor genes that emit oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones in turn trigger the sensations of love and generosity within the mind. It turns out your innate nature to help people is really the result of a chemical reaction.

6. Why You Don’t Like to Read?   Most salespeople don’t like to read. You see, your brain was built to talk. It was not designed to read. While speaking comes automatically and is a natural part of the brain’s development, reading is a skill that must be learned. It requires three different areas of your brain to work together in close coordination in order to read.  All marketing departments should pay attention to this fact when creating sales training collateral!

7. Are You Humble?   Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 percent of top salespeople have medium to high scores of modesty and humility according to a personality study of 1,000 top sales performers I have conducted. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.