Sales is a mental game

Top sports psychologists will tell you that 90% of results come from working on the mental game rather than the physical game. It all starts with positive visualization which is discussed in the One Minute Salesperson written by Dr. Spencer Johnson. Before each client meeting, visualize a positive exchange and a good result. Most salespeople think about all the objections that they may hear; or what may go wrong. That will simply fill your mind with negativity which will prevent you from consummating the sale. One of my salespeople came into my office one day and said that she was going to visit a client who probably would not buy our product. I stopped her immediately and said, ” either shift your mindset or do not go on the sales call “

The first exercise that we do with new salespeople is ask them to mention 10 traits that will help you succeed in sales. Usually eight out of ten are attitudinal versus skills. The purpose of the exercise is to illustrate the that sales is mostly about attitude in terms of being successful. I would select a young candidate with a positive attitude over a 25 year veteran with a mediocre attitude any day of the week. My top salespeople are energetic young guns who don’t have preconceived notions and are willing to go out there and make things happen.

A study conducted by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago was done where he split people into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make.

After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour.

The second group just visualized themselves making free throws.

The third group did nothing.

After 30 days, he tested them again.

The first group improved by 24%.

The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball!!!!

The third group did not improve which was expected.

Sales is a mental game. Period. Most of the salespeople that leave our company are not fired. They simply quit because they give up. I tell every new recruit that they will be successful if they stay positive. Unfortunately, they do not always listen. 

If you want to succeed in sales, it’s simple. 


Psychology and Sales

Does anyone really decide to go into sales while they are in school? Or do they aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, police officer or teacher? As a matter of fact, most people just get into the sales profession by accident. I wanted to be a social worker but my grades were not high enough to get into McGill so I studied psychology and sociology instead. It’s actually a shame that there are no formal sales degrees offered at higher education levels. But the synergy between psychology and sales is remarkable. And by the way, everyone is in sales; whether you are a lawyer trying to acquire new business or a dentist looking to add new patients.

Why does someone buy a product or service? Simple. To get the good feelings they want about what they bought and about themselves. This is a direct quote from the One Minute Salesperson by Dr Spencer Johnson which is the finest book ever written on the subject of sales. Does this have anything to do with sales techniques? No. People buy products or services based on emotions and feelings, not logic or reason. I certainly didn’t buy my last  car because of the gas mileage or engine specifications. I bought it because it felt good to drive and made me feel  proud to own it. 

So psychology and sales are inextricably linked. The other principle from the book is – I have more fun and enjoy more financial success when I stop trying to get what I want and start helping other people get what they want. There are people who buy based on logic and reason but the 80/20 rule applies. They are the ones that will study a consumer report before buying a car.

People are egocentric. So when selling, make sure that you focus your discussions on what’s in it for them . Too many salespeople spend too much time talking about their products or services. Ask questions, shut up and listen. Sounds harsh but that is the key to selling. I would rather hire a shy person than a big talker because I know that they will listen.

People buy for their reasons, not yours. You can’t sell something if you haven’t established a need, opportunity or want. However, people love to buy, they just don’t want to be sold. 

And finally there’s attitude. Ultimately sales is a mental game. Most salespeople fail because they convince themselves that they can’t do it anymore. We don’t usually fire salespeople, they just quit. And we tell every new sales rep that if they work hard and stay positive they will succeed. 

So the next time your are buying a magazine or reading one online, check out Psychology Today. You will probably learn more than reading a business publication. 

Work / Life Balance is Easy – if you want it to be

The topic of work / life balance is becoming one of the most talked about subjects in recent years. People are working harder and spending more hours working than ever before. The main reason that this is happening is technology which enables us to communicate after the traditional work day is over. Technology has provided the opportunity for us to work at night and on weekends and this phenomen is growing dramatically.

When someone tells me that they work 80 hours per week, I have one simple response. The response is that they are either stupid or have no organizational and time management skills. One of my colleagues often says, ” I can get more done in one day than most people can get done in a week ” And you know what? He’s right. It’s never about quantity and always about quality. 

One of the best explanations of this is Parkinson’s Law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This interesting statement was made by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the famous British historian and author in 1955. The principle means that if you give yourself a week to complete a two hour task, then psychologically speaking, the task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill that week. It may not even fill the extra time with more work, but just stress and tension about having to get it done. By assigning the right amount of time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.

Think about when you were in school and had a project to complete in two weeks. You probably started the project a couple of days before the deadline and got most of the work done the night before it was due. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you want to work 80 hours a week, knock yourself out. But at the end of the day, what suffers is family, relationships, your health, your enjoyment of nature and leisure. That’s right – the Important things in life.

Also, your productivity drops when you work too much. Some companies are waking up to this societal problem. Volkswagen has agreed to stop its Blackberry servers from sending emails to workers when they are not on duty. And they are doing it because the work and home lives were being blurred.

Other companies are jumping on board in France and it is now a legally binding agreement that company phones and emails are shut down after 6pm and includes companies like Google and Facebook.

Wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. No one lying on their deathbed ever says ” I should have spent more time at work “

It’s up to you.

Sales success is based on one thing

So what is that one thing? Let’s start with what it is not . . .

– your product or service

– the price of your product or service

– the features of your product or service 

– your product or service knowledge

– your sales experience

The one thing is your ability to connect face to face with a prospect. Your ability to gain rapport, trust, credibility, and establish a long term mutually beneficial relationship. 

The biggest challenge that most salespeople face today is the fact that technology is slowly destroying the art of sales which is based primarily on face to face contact. I often receive calls from salespeople and the best way to get rid of them is to tell them to send me an email. They are excited about the opportunity to do so and begin the busy work of creating an email. Unfortunately that email will never make a sale. Approximately half of the salespeople don’t even bother to send me an email and I ignore the other half. 

So if you are relying on email to make a sale, you are destined to fail. 

The sales that were made by my sales team this week were based on face to face contact. So go against the grain and refuse to send emails to prospects. Sales solutions are based on tailored made plans that help the prospect achieve their goals and objectives. You can’t call a car dealership and ask ” how much is a car? ” The same thing goes for any business. Discover a need, opportunity or want and then show how your product will accomplish the objective. 

And please, stop sending emails and start making appointments.

It’s Tough Out There

if you are in the world of retail sales, it’s been a tough winter. The impact that weather has on business is dramatic. And when you combine the number of bricks and mortar companies that have closed over the last three months, the outlook is not sunny. The closure of Target was the biggest news as it involved closing 133 retail stores, putting 17,600 employees out of work and losing almost 6 billion dollars. 

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train. There are
some very clever companies who are thriving in this economy by providing unique products and services and solving problems that consumer face on a daily basis. Let’s start with Apple which became the first company to hit more that 700 billion in market value. A recent article in Time magazine indicated 6 reasons why Apple is so popular.

1. For any product that Apple creates, the people who create it have to want it themselves

2. The products have to be easy to use

3. Keep things simple

4. Offer great customer service and in store experiences

5. Apple only makes a product if Apple can do it better

6. Apple stays at least two years ahead of its competitors

Another new company that is on the cusp of exploding into a huge brand is Flatbook. A Montreal based technology company with a brilliant unique selling proposition. Their slogan is ” Flatbook pays your rent. Guaranteed. ” It’s a simple yet brilliant concept – you own a condo, townhouse or home and travel regularly or go to a school out of town for extended periods of time. If you are away for a three month period, for example, Flatbook will pay your rent and rent your space out to someone who needs temporary accommodations. Whether it’s for the summer or another time period, it’s a win win proposition for both parties. Flatbook pays your rent, stores your stuff, protects your place and returns your keys when you are back. They solve a problem that many consumers face. Check it out at Flatbook.co

So what is our company doing in light of the challenging economy? First, we doubled our sales team from five to ten. Second, we built our Facebook fan base to over 500,000 which puts us in the top 75 radio stations in the world. Third, we implemented a new CRM software program called Influence.fm to better serve our customers. Fourth, we increased our sales training program for our team. And fifth, we are taking a more comprehensive approach to sales including 

1. A comprehensive marketing plan for our clients including other media if necessary

2. A focus on the creative approach which is the key to effective advertising

3. A long term strategy to build a brand as short term advertising schedules are a gamble

What is your company doing to make things happen?

The science of sales

Did you know that . . .

2% of sales are made on the First contact.
3% of sales are made on the Second contact.
5% of sales are made on the Third contact.
10% of sales are made on the Fourth contact.
80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact

However . . .
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.
12% of sales people make three contacts and stop.
Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts with a prospect

Why?

It is unbelievable that sales people give up so easily. As a matter of fact, as a buyer of media, these statistics are true. I would say that more than 90% of sales people that call me to pitch an idea only call once. And the best way to avoid them is to ask them to send me something via email. More than half will not even bother and I can simply avoid the other half by not returning the email. If you know the science behind the numbers, then why are you not taking advantage of that knowledge?

Maybe you find it easier to just give up and then go on the the next prospect. My sales manager mentioned to our two new sales people that the harder the prospect is to reach, the more potential they have. Think about that. The challenging sales are the ones that have the best long term potential. Welcome objections and you will succeed.

There are many forms of contact including a phone call, an email, a text, a snail mail letter and ultimately a face to face presentation. And if you can’t break through, then get creative. A new system that we are implementing from the Center for Sales Strategy involves sending a testimonial, a personal marketing resume and a valid business reason. It takes more of an effort but it is definitely worth it. Decide who your A level prospects are and laser focus in your attempt to reach them. You can also do some very creative approaches including sending a shoe in a box to their address with a note saying, ” now that I have one foot in the door. ” Just don’t give up.

It’s all about perseverance.

The future of cold calling

Does a telephone cold call have the same impact that it did 10 or 20 years ago? The answer is probably not. Is a telephone cold call still a valuable way to prospect? The answer is yes. Of course, the method is the key to success.

Consider the following top ten tips for effective cold calling . . .

1. Understand that the ratios have decreased dramatically from 20% according to Steven Schiffman in his classic book, ” Cold Calling Techniques ”
One of the answers to this challenge is to make more calls; our new salespeople are required to make 100 phone calls daily. If you dial 100 prospects, only one in five decision makers will answer the phone and you may make 2 appointments.
2. Business owners are busier than ever and technology enables them to avoid cold calls. In the old days, there was a good chance that they would answer the phone; now they have voice mail, email, and others ways to avoid cold calls.
3. The cold call itself must follow a five part formula. The formula is simple – who you are, where you are calling from, the reason for your call, the benefit to the prospect, and the request for an appointment. Without a script, it’s easy to get off track. You wouldn’t plan a long car trip without GPS.
4. Due to the fact that effective communication has very little to do with the worlds you are saying, your tone of voice is critical. So make certain that your tone of voice is positive, energetic and positively expectant. Eliminate any question marks in the way you speak.
5. There are two simple and effective ways to sound great on the phone. Stand up and smile. Believe it or not, you will hear the difference. Try it. Most professional radio announcers will smile while they are voicing a commercial.
6. Do your homework. Gather some basic knowledge about the prospects business so that you can have an intelligent conversation based on what you have learned. Check them out on LinkedIn, and even take the time to drop in to their place of business if the prospect has great potential.
7. Learn how to handle objections. Most business owners will tell you that they are not interested in your offering. However, that is just a normal reaction to any sales call. Use the feel, felt, found formula to handle objections. In other words, if the prospect says I have no budget, simply say ” I understand how you feel, other prospects that I have contacted felt the same way until they found out how affordable our offering is and how it can save you money, or increase your business.
8. Rejection. When cold calling, rejection is a normal part of the process. They are not rejecting you but simply rejecting your offering. If one out of every ten calls results in an appointment, then every no gets you closer to a yes.
9. The purpose of the cold call. Unless you are selling a product or service over the phone, the purpose of the cold call is to make an appointment. Once you are face to face with a prospect, your odds of making a sale increase dramatically over the phone or email. Do not get bogged down in details when prospecting, just get the appointment.
10. Attitude. Stay positive as you cold call. The process is not easy and takes patience but will pay off in the long run. The sales reps who succeeded in our company embraced the cold call and worked our formula for success. The ones that balked at the idea are no longer with our company.

So pick up the phone and make something happen.

Top ten one word keys to success in sales

During every sales interview, I ask the candidate a simple question. ” What is the key to success in one word? ”

Over the years I have heard many good answers.

Below is a list of some of the answers . . .

– perseverance
– energy
– enthusiasm
– product knowledge
– listening skills
– determination
– passion
– desire
– empathy
– resilience
– effort

And the list goes on.

There is no right or wrong answer, however, the optimal answer to the question is honesty or integrity. That is the foundation of long term selling success.

There are three other critical components . . .

– attitude
– effort
– passion

As you scroll the list at the top, you will notice that more than 80% of the words are attitudes and less than 20% are skills. Without a positive attitude, your skill set is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, I would choose a positive candidate with no experience over an experienced sales person with a less than positive attitude any day of the week. The second component is effort. You must make a commitment and work hard. Nothing comes easy, especially in sales. Effort equals results. And third, you must have a passion for what you do – a combination of energy and enthusiasm will always guarantee success.

Now get out there and make something happen.

Six steps to sales success

As we start a new year, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the fundamentals of sales. This is simple back to basics and is based on the Integrity Selling program.

There are six steps in the sales process and if you don’t follow each step, you will not close. Guaranteed.

Step # 1 Approach

The first step is the approach which is the initial few minutes as you meet a new prospect. The key to this step is to build rapport and establish trust. You do this simply by asking questions and listening. One of my favourite questions is, ” Tell me how you got started. ” Remember, 11 decisions are formed within the first seven seconds of contact and body language as well as tone of voice are critical components of effective communication.

Step # 2 Interview

This is the lengthiest and most important step in the process. You are simply asking questions in order to discover wants or needs. We call this step the customer needs analysis. Once you have ascertained their objectives as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can move forward.

Step # 3 Demonstrate

This is the step where the salesperson makes their presentation. It must be based on what was learned in the interview process and must be able to solve the challenges and goals of the prospect.

Step # 4 Validate

This Is the step that requires you to translate features into benefits and add credibility to your offering. In other words, if you are selling fitness services, the features are the facility, the equipment, the people, however, the benefits are losing weight, feeling healthier, and looking better. Also, you can offer testimonials from satisfied clients in order to add credibility to your offering.

Step # 5 Negotiation

Negotiation is simply working out the objections to a sale when both parties are satisfied with the mutual win win proposition. Negotiation is a balancing act between making the sale and not giving away the product or service.

Step # 6 Close

Believe it or not, this is the easiest part of the process as long as you have completed the first five steps properly. Closing is simply asking for the business when you are pretty sure the prospect will say yes. Don’t overcomplicate this step, simply ask to move forward in a positive and confident fashion.

So are you taking the time to go through every step in the process?