Archive for September, 2009

Hitting the Road to Make the Sale Part 2

Posted: September 29, 2009 in Sales

Here are some additional tips for traveling you’ll find helpful:

  1. Bring a roll of quarters
    You’ll find this EXTREMELY handy when traveling on the east coast where Toll highways are common. Also if the shirts are getting a bit gamey or dinner splattered on your shirt you can do a quick run to the laundry mat.
  2. Make a colored copy of your passport
    This is especially important if you are traveling abroad. I’ve heard horror stories of people losing their passport while in a foreign country. If you have a colored copy of your passport it will serve as proof that you had one and will expedite getting the necessary documents to come home
  3. Install SKYPE on your laptop
    Not everyone has a cell phone that usable in all countries. I’ve found SKYPE to be a great way to communicate to family or the office. All you need is an internet connection and you can make computer to computer calls for no charge. You can also get SKYPE Out Minutes that enable you to call a standard phone or cell phone.
  4. Pack a pair of clothes and toothbrush in your carry on
    There’s not much worse than getting stuck in an airport, flight canceled and no access to your luggage. If you don’t have room for the clothes at least bring a toothbrush and toothpaste. You’ll be glad you did and so will your neighbor
  5. Bring a Power Extender
    How many times have you landed at an airport with a 3 hour layover ahead of you? After grabbing a bite to eat, stretching the legs you decide to do a little work. The challenge — finding power for the laptop. It seems like everyone is racing to find a power outlet for their depleted laptop battery or cell phone. When you do find one it’s usually already taken. I recommend making a trip to your favorite hardware store and pick up a 3 prong power extension adapter. You’ll be able to share the power with others and get a little work or entertainment done yourself.

Happy Selling!


Hitting the Road to Make the Sale

Posted: September 25, 2009 in Sales

Mr. Chris Conrey’s recent blog posts got me thinking about business travel.

As you become a more seasoned sales professional the time will inevitably come when you will need to get on the road and meet customers face to face. In my experience I’ve found that the success rate for closing deals is far greater in person than over the phone. I encourage you to get on the road and and take a giant leap to success.

The following are a few travel tips I’ve learned over the years to help you be successful.

  1. Bring plenty of business cards. I’ve only forgot my business cards once on a business trip. I know have a stash of 100 in my travel bags at all times. Needless to say it’s a little embarrassing when someone ask you for a card and your only response is “I forgot”. If the do remember you the impression of you will most likely not be favorable. On a positive note, or is that a negative note, they won’t be able to call you as they won’t have your card. Bring plenty of business cards.
  2. Plan your travel wisely. The pressure is on to make the most of every minute and every travel dollar. Plan you travel so that you can hit as many customers as possible. Arrange meetings schedule to include customers in close geographical areas to limit travel between meetings. You may consider inviting customers to come to your accommodations if staying at a hotel with professional meeting room facilities. While this strategy allows you to pack more meetings in a day you’ll lose invaluable insight gained into the culture, environment and philosophy of visiting their office.
  3. Don’t Over Schedule Meetings. It becomes very easy to over schedule meetings. Make sure you consider travel time, time for traffic jams and even time to find the customer’s office. In today’s age of technology, be wise and rent or purchase a GPS. It sure beats reading a map and driving. Not to mention you’ll never have to attempt folding the map again. Oh yeah — grab a bite to you eat and use the facilities. A meeting never seems so long if you’re trying to rush a close just so you can go to the bathroom.
  4. Arrive 30 minutes early. What 30 minutes early? Are you crazy? What am I going to do for 30 minutes before a meeting? While 30 minutes may seem excessive you’ll appreciate the buffer if you get caught in traffic, lost in an unfamiliar city or just wake up late from a horrible night sleep in a sub par hotel bed.
  5. Bring a back up of all presentation materials. Nothing is more frustrating to get to a meeting and have you’re laptop monitor go out or you forget your power chord. I know both have happened to me. Fortunately I’ve made it a rule to carry a copy of any presentation materials on a USB drive or CD. Remember you can always borrow equipment from your customer but you can’t necessarily have your presentation delivered to you in time. Believe it or not your custom will understand.
  6. Consider bringing your own projector. This is more of a recommendation than a rule. Most customers you visit will have some type of projection or presentation system they use for vendors or internal use. But every once in awhile you’ll come across a customer that doesn’t. While you’ll have extra baggage to pack on the plane it sure beats crowding around a 15 inch laptop monitor to make your presentation.
  7. Allow time to relax. Honestly it’s easy to get so consumed with packing your schedule that all you see is the hotel and a conference room. Make sure you take an evening to yourself to go see a few sites, bring a swimsuit and soak in the hotel jacuzzi, take a walk through a park or just unwind. You’ll be amazed how a little down time will do wonders for the psyche and stamina.
  8. Consider your family — Number one rule don’t travel so much that you neglect the most important people in your life. I’ve made it a general rule that I only travel one week a month. Obviously there are some month’s this doesn’t happen but I work very hard to abide by this rule. You may even want to ask you wife to accompany you occasionally. I recently invited my wife to come with me to DC and she had a BLAST while I met with clients. Plus with her with me I was even more mindful of guideline 7 “Allow time to relax” – with my wife with me I made sure to plan a couple evenings with her. Besides having your spouse with you will give you something to look forward to other than returning to an empty hotel room.

Undoubtedly you’ll come up with you’re on travel guidelines the more you travel. These are just a few that have helped me.

Happy Travels and Happy Hunting!

“I believe” this is going to be a really good blog. No really “I think” you’ll gain great insight to improve. If” you’ll give me a moment,  I’m trying” to highlight phrases that don’t instill confidence in the message I’m sharing.

STOP! Can you say WEAK, BORING, Hang up the Phone Now!
The introductory phrases are non-committal. They’re weak. There is no POWER to pull me into a  conversation. Toss out the WIMPY words and create some confidence in your pitch.
Powerful phrases include:
  • “I know” this is going to…
  • “We built” our product to accomplish the following
  • “When” you decide
  • Other customers “have found”
  • Our customers “are realizing”
The words combined with the tone of your voice will engage the customer or leave them wondering if their time is better spent doing something else. Mediocre sales professional words use soft or wimpy phrases because they lack confidence in themselves and/or their product. Don’t fall into the wimpy phrase habit!
Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

One other thing, remember speaking in the past tense speaks to yesterday not today! Use present tense and future.    One of my heroes is Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a powerful, persuasive speaker. One of the things that made the late Martin Luther King so powerful is he spoke less of the past and more of his vision for today and the future. He spoke in terms of action and with power. His passion and vision lit a fire under our nation for positive change.  Are you creating that kind of passion and vision with your customers? Customers are tired of the past – that’s why they are looking for a new solution. Can you light a fire under your customer and show them how adopting your product will positively affect them not only today but into the future?

Take note of your conversations today and make the necessary corrections. I’m sure, no wait, I’m confident a few conscientious word changes will make a world of difference in your sales pitch!
Happy Selling!

Speaking with Power!

Posted: September 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

I always enjoy sitting in on sales presentations. It could be members of my team or a sales professional presenting to me. I find myself very attentive to the way they ask questions. Calling out specific words and phrases they use to present. I’ve noticed that there are essential differences that help drive or deflect a sale.

For example recently I was on a conference call where I was being being sold a service. Honestly the product had some interesting points but really wasn’t all that strong. However, I tuned into the presenter because I noted she used phrasing that lead to a close. Here are a few that I picked up from our conversation:

  • When you choose …”
  • When you come on board we do…”
  • As part of your service we first help you with …”
  • Which part of the features you’ve seen will be the most crucial to your team

Do you see the pattern?

All the phrases above assume I’m going to purchase. She used phrases that not only assumed the sale but also articulated what I could expect when I purchased. She solidified this even further by questioning which features will be most valuable to me. I’m thinking to myself “wow she’s good I need to hirer her”.

What do you think my impression would have been if she would have used phrases like:

  • If you choose..”
  • If you come on board”

Remember words like “if” provide a foundation for doubt – “When” provides a foundation for “when do I sign you up?” or “What are the next steps moving forward?” “How soon would you like to get started?”

While I’m not going to purchase the product of this company, I was sold on the sales person. Hmmm…. maybe a I need to go hirer a new sales person.

Happy Selling!

Have you ever been called into a meeting and asked to give a presentation right there on the spot? My CEO does it to me all the time. After a recent impromptu call to a customer my intern asked “How do you do that – just go into a meeting and sell any time? ” I hadn’t really thought about it but it happens quite a bit.

His question got me thinking – what is the key to jumping in at a moments notice and selling of the cuff? In a word – PREPARATION!

You may ask “but you weren’t prepared going into the meeting so how were you prepared?” It’s simple I prepare every day and that preparation enables me to step into a conversation at the drop of a hat. Here are some things I do to keep me ready all the time:

  1. Know your product
    Some salesman know only the discussions points of their product. This leads to shallow discussions and never enables you to dig in with a custom. I recommend digging into your product, understand it’s capabilities, understand its business application and most importantly understand how it will benefit your customer.Have you actually used your product? Do you know the weaknesses of your product? Do you know solutions for those weaknesses? Where are the strengths of your product and how do they create business value for the entire business chain? You need to know this. Do You?
  2. Know your industry
    Do you know who the key players in your industry? Do you know the latest trends? Are you monitoring new technologies affecting your space positively or negatively? Are you read industry blogs written by movers and shakers in the industry. I even recommend you get involved in micro-blogging, Twitter, which is an amazing immediate source of information and a great way to connect directly with people.
  3. Practice
    If you’re feeling a little rusty practice your pitch on a colleague. If you sell in the technology space practice your pitch on someone outside of your industry. This will enable you to evaluate if your presentation is too technical or if your not adequately addressing the business benefits of your product. Trust me a non-techy audience will expose hey areas you can improve. Ask my wife she’ll tell you.
  4. Be Bold
    Don’t be afraid to get in there. Customer’s are looking for not only a good product but they are looking for someone with confidence, someone they can trust, someone who has the answers for their problem. Be careful though over confidence can come of cocky and even “salesy” so find the balance.

These are 4 simple things that if incorporated I guarantee you’ll be able to walk into ANY meeting and sound like a sales pro – because you will be.

Happy Hunting!