Sunday, December 28, 2008

Five Minutes With VITO - Here is How to Get Your Free Book

I have some really great news to pass along to everyone. I was recently selected to receive several free copies from the publisher of the new book from Anthony Parinello and David Mattson, Five Minutes With VITO. I've read Anthony's previous book - Selling to Vito, the Very Important Top Officer - and it was a great read. While I'm not as familiar with David, I am very aware of the company he currently heads, Sandler Systems, Inc. Sandler sales training has been around now for quite some time and certainly has made a positive impact on the sales world.

I'm still currently in the process of reading this book. While I have not finished it yet, I can tell you that I will endorse this book based on Anthony's previous work. I should have a review up on my blog by mid-January.

Alright, now let's get on to the good stuff. I will be giving away three (3) copies of this book here on my sales blog. Here is how you can qualify to be selected (no purchase of anything is necessary, of course). Leave a comment from now until the end of January on any posts from Dec 28, 2008 until Jan 31, 2009 (you must include your name & email address) and your name will be entered once (to keep this simple - you will only be entered once regardless of how many comments you post). If you sign up for an email subscription (located in the top right corner of the blog), you will also be entered once. Therefore, if you leave at least one comment (with email address & name) and also sign up for an email subscription you will be entered twice for the drawing.

Even if you don't win this drawing, please keep coming back as I have worked out more future giveaways for 2009. Good luck to everyone and the drawing will take place in the first week of February.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Price Discounting Will Force You to Have to Sell More

I was over on Karl Goldfield's Sales Evangelist Blog this weekend, and discovered a great post titled - "Sales Process - Next Year, The Best Story Wins". If you get a chance, please check his post out. He also got my wheels turning on his discussion of how we as salespeople should not offer massive price discounting for a variety of reasons.

One of my main reasons for not offering massive price discounting is because this forces us to have to sell more to make our quotas. For most of us in sales, it is when we go over our quota that the real monetary incentives take hold. For every unnecessary dollar we give up on price, we have to make it up with another sale down the line. In other words, this not only hurts our gross profit numbers but also hits us hard in the volume equation - which is the #1 area most salespeople get paid for.

My main point here is simple. Developing the necessary skills to preserve margins and to get "price" will allow you to grow sales at a faster pace. As 09' approaches, all of us need to think real hard about whether we should be giving away price unnecessarily. After all, by offering massive price discounting we end up hurting ourselves more than anyone else. "Work Less - Sell More" should be the rule and not the exception for top producing salespeople.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it Time to Change Armies and Fight For Someone Different?

Many salespeople might be wondering as 2008 comes to a close - is it time to change armies and fight for someone different?

After working in a sales capacity for a number of years, I'm confident of certain universal truths that exist in our sales world. One of these such truths is that there are more sales opportunities than there are good salespeople to fill them. In other words, there is a shortage of great salespeople in comparison to the great opportunities that exist in the marketplace. On top of that, just about every company is always willing to take a "look" at a top performing salesperson.

How do you know when it is time to switch armies? This question is always difficult to answer. I believe, however, that you must really believe in what you are selling and be happy doing it. If not, I just can't see how you can succeed long term. If you find yourself dreading the alarm clock in the morning, it might be time to start investigating a move in your career.

Before you start investigating other opportunities, you need to define what sort of sales environment you enjoy. What is more important to you - money, freedom, base salary, or fringe benefits? Do you want a company car or is a big base salary more important? Do you want more freedom in your daily work environment or are health benefits a bigger concern? You need to put these priorities in order before you start inquiring about possible sales positions.

For me, it is freedom. Several years ago, I was interviewing for a sales position with a well known company in my area. There was actually a good amount of money on the table as the offer was a good one - as far as income goes. Then came the discussion of daily working hours - in which this gentlemen stated to me, "I require an 8-5 day no matter what. I don't care when you start or how far you are above your quota." I sort of smirked, and told this guy I would be a poor fit for his company. To my disbelief, he still called me a week later to offer the position to me. This guy just could not get it through his head that it was freedom above all else that was at the top of my list - and this was more important to me than income potential.

Indeed, the reason for your unhappiness in your current position might be grounded in the fact you didn't prioritize your wants before signing up with your company. When you get interview opportunities in your career quest, I would not hesitate to discuss these areas with a potential employer. This is the only way you can truly find what you want in a sales position. If you have made a decision to change armies, good luck on your quest and don't "short" yourself on what you want. Believe me, there are plenty of great sales opportunities out there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Post on the Sales Bloggers Union Website

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have posted a new article on the Sales Bloggers Union website. Our topic for this two week period is Sales and the Internet. If you are interested in growing your sales by using the Internet, make sure to check out my article titled Ground Zero for a Salesperson Who Wants to Grow Sales Using the Internet. This article will provide you with a starting point for using the Internet to increase your selling efforts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do You Want Proof that Salespeople Are Still Needed?

The woes of Circuit City have certainly been overshadowed by other American industry failures as of late. That's too bad, because the lesson of the Circuit City failure should be business 101. The decline of Circuit City began back in 2003, when they decided to eliminate commissions from salespeople. Then in 2007, Circuit City fired 3400 of their highest paid staff in their stores to be replaced by lower skilled workers. This culminated in Circuit City filing for bankruptcy in 2008.

It is all about price and salespeople aren't needed, right? Go ahead and follow the Circuit City model - and I'll see you at the bottom of the cliff.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Cards for Customers - What You Should Send

I've been sending out Christmas cards to my customers for some years now. Even though it is always time consuming to do it, I actually enjoy sending them out when the holidays finally arrive. Last year, however, I did something a little different that brought some outstanding results that were unexpected. I also did not set out to do this as a strategy or to gain traction with anyone, I did this because I was truly grateful for everything I had achieved through my customers.

First off, I hand wrote a message to each customer that was tailored to them individually. I didn't write a book, but I did write 3-4 sentences. Yes - it did take time, but this isn't something most salespeople will take the time to do.

Second, I also included a picture of me, my wife, and my daughter. I also used the same picture that I sent to all my family and friends for Christmas. In other words, I didn't draw a distinction between my customers and my other personal relationships I have in my life when it came to Christmas cards.

Lastly, I also sent a card to multiple people within the same company. Anyone who I felt was involved in my sales success received a card. This was anyone from an administrative assistant to someone who used my product.

The results? Never before did I get so many comments on my Christmas cards! Nearly every customer that I sent a card to gave me a positive comment. I even had some customers bringing this up halfway through January! After getting all of this great fanfare, I reflected over the next several weeks why this happened.

Here are the three reasons I came up with for why this worked so well:

(1) The personalized & hand written message was a given - most salespeople simply won't take the time or effort to get this done. We have all been told to do this, but nobody ever does. After all, it is very time consuming.

(2) The family picture allowed my customers to see me as something different - a proud father and loving husband. This made me a real person, not just a salesperson. There is flesh & blood behind this guy we do business with after all!

(3) On top of that, a lot of the people within some of the companies I deal with probably received their first Christmas card at work. How often does a administrative assistant or blue collar worker receive a Christmas card from a salesperson? One guess - NEVER. Don't you think this will endear them a little more to your cause?

If you take the time to do this, you will deepen your business relationships. We are always looking as salespeople for opportunities to take relationships to a deep level. Don't allow this opportunity to pass you by.

Also, remember to do this because you are grateful and don't go into this Christmas card activity having an expectation for something in return. Having that attitude would also truly go to what Christmas is supposed to be all about...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Skip Anderson & Prospecting for Those in Business To Consumer Sales

A friend and fellow sales blogger of mine, Skip Anderson, has recently released a great podcast for those in business to consumer sales. This latest podcast covers how retail salespeople of all stripes usually don't prospect for new business themselves. Please take the time to visit his latest article and podcast, "New Sales Podcast Episode: Sales Prospecting". Additionally (and especially if you are in business to consumer sales), you should visit his blog homepage - Selling to Consumers. Skip is one of the foremost authorities in our marketplace on business to consumer selling.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Smoking Salesperson - If You Are Going to Do It - Make Sure to Do This!

We all know top salespeople usually work hard and play hard. We waste a lot of our money, have a poor diet, don't work out enough, and a bunch of our group are smokers. Hey, I'm not here to tell you what to do and what not to do on your personal time. I'm far too much of a Libertarian when it comes to what decisions you make for your own life to do that. There are also enough people out there to beat you up if you are puffing on cigarettes anyway.

What I would suggest, however, is that you don't ever do this in front of prospects or customers. This is a given and I'm sure most of you know that. If you are doing this, please stop right away!

That doesn't go far enough, however. You need to conceal the odor as much as possible, too. The last thing you want to do is offend a potential prospect because you smell like you stepped out of Studio 54 on a winter night in 1982.

Let's keep this simple. There are three things you will need to keep in your car or office (this was a recommendation given to me by a buddy of mine that he uses). Hand sanitizer, gum, and some body spray that smells good should do the trick. Wash your hands, chew the gum, and make sure to throw on a couple of sprays (please don't overdo this step). This should drown out most of the smoke smell and keep parties that might be offended from noticing.

Would it be easier to quit and not have to go through this? Probably, but let's face it - I know this isn't going to happen for a large portion of salespeople. If you are going to smoke, at least make sure not to let your habit destroy your income. Isn't it better to make a little extra effort in order to keep from losing a sale?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sales Management 2.0

Sales Management 2.0 is quickly becoming the #1 website for sales management professionals and those seeking to go into sales management in their careers. Brad Trnavsky has also done a wonderful job of creating a space where a number of voices can be heard dealing with the issues facing the sales management community. I think of Sales Management 2.0 as sort of a ground zero "think tank" for sales management strategies and ideas.

Brad has recently posted a new article, “What is Sales Management 2.0?”. For those of you who have not visited his site, I would highly encourage you to start with this recent article. Regardless of your career goals, Sales Management 2.0 should certainly be a stop on your route to sales success.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do You Really Know What is Desired in the Marketplace?

Anyone who knows me well understands that I am a huge AC/DC fan. The band just seems to keep on churning out the hits as the years go by. I was kind of surprised to read how successful their new album (Black Ice) has been, however.

It was just a couple weeks ago that I was bragging to a group of friends about how I had not purchased any new music since 2005 (yeah, that must mean I am getting old). Perhaps I was just stuck in the 80's or 90's, but I think it was something else. The marketplace wasn't producing any music that I liked enough to go out & purchase.

Nothing against Rap, Country, or R&B, it just isn't my kind of music. Hey, I'm proud of it, I'm just more of a hard rock kind of guy. AC/DC fits in very well with what I like.

That being said, I must not be alone! The Black Ice album has debuted #1 in 29 different countries, including #1 on the US Billboard 200. It is not just the over 30 crowd embracing this album, either. I have been encouraged to learn just how many generational lines AC/DC has crossed. Black Ice is well on its way to becoming the #1 selling mainstream hard rock album of all time - in an age in which rock music is supposed to be declining.

My point here is simple - don't believe for a second that your company alone knows what is desired in the marketplace. We should all be thankful of this of this fact as well. Because the big companies get it wrong so of often, the opportunities for independent minded salespeople and small business owners will always be present.

I guess I am going to have to break my own pledge as well, and move the date in which I bought new music for the last time to December of 2008.