Friday, February 27, 2009

Finding Ways to Reduce Your Stress is Important in Sales

When you work in sales, the amount of stress that comes with the career can be overwhelming. Exercise, diet, and your overall lifestyle habits are certainly important to keeping your stress in check. However, it is also important to supplement these mainstream activities with small things that take the edge off during your workday.

It could be a snack like popcorn, your favorite drink, or a picture of your family. If you are a sales road warrior, you can take a break by walking in the park or visiting a book store. Whatever it is, these small things that bring you joy really do make a difference in reducing your stress.

For me, it is Jazz. It doesn't matter whether it is Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, or a host of others - it just seems to relax me and drop my heart rate every time I put it across my speakers. I thought I would leave you today with a song titled "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck. If you are not a Jazz listener, give this song a try as it is one of the best Jazz songs ever recorded. Who knows - you might end up finding yet another way to reduce your stress...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is it Better to Cold Call in Person or on the Phone?

Probably ever since the telephone came into wide use, a debate started as to whether it is better to cold call on prospective customers on the phone or in person. This is one of these questions that will always draw many opinions and will continue to be debated for decades to come.

If you are going to cold call over the phone, there is one huge benefit that goes with it. You can obviously make a much higher volume of calls sitting at a desk and calling versus driving to each of your prospects for an in person visit. Indeed, the ratio could be as high as 10:1 in regards to how many calls you make over the phone rather than cold calling in person.

If this is the case, why would you bother to make face to face cold calls? After all, isn't the goal of many salespeople to make as many cold or sales calls as possible?

While this volume equation is true, I still think it is much harder to tell somebody "no" when they are right in front of you. Therefore, the major benefit of making an in person cold call is that it can be far more effective than cold calling over the phone. With both of these benefits of each method in mind - what is the answer as to which strategy is better?

On my last post, I published an article on how implementing your own creativity to each sales situation is the real secret to having sales success. Therefore, there is no definitive answer to this question. In fact, it mind come down to your own belief structure as to which method is more effective. If you believe or don't believe in something, it quite often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when you set out to make it happen.

I would urge you to try both methods if you currently only using on of them. You will probably find that you will lean towards being better at one of these methods versus the other. However, you will run across situations where only one of these methods might be your only option. For instance, you might have a prospect you try to call over the phone repeatedly only to be stopped by the infamous "gate keeper". On the the other hand, you could run into a situation where your in person cold call is shut down by the "gate keeper" because you don't have an appointment. Regardless of which method you prefer, it is wise to develop skill in each cold calling method.

Remember to be yourself and to use your own creativity when you approach your cold calling activities. If you repeatedly get turned away when you cold call and have no results to show for your hard work, don't be afraid to change up your approach. Cold calling will always be difficult, so don't get discouraged on your sales quest. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What is the Real Secret to Having Sales Success?

I love sales like no other profession. From the start, I always sought to discover why very few salespeople were successful while others struggled so much. It was only after having year after year of ups and downs that I finally discovered the underlying secret it takes to be successful in sales.

Why do so many salespeople fail? How can an individual come along with the same products, services, and pricing and all of sudden become successful? What truly separates the winners from the losers?

If I've said it once - I've said it a million times. The complicated answers we seek are most often coated in simplicity. Because the real secret to having sales success is creativity. That's it. Pretty simple, right?

This is not to undermine hard work, sales training, reading, or seeking out outside sales coaching or mentoring. These elements are extremely important and will enhance your ability to be creative. But if you don't have the ability to take plans or strategies and find creative ways to implement them - there is a good chance you will struggle.

To put this in the proper perspective, think about the following situation. Pretend there are two individual salespeople who are throwing balls at a target. For every strike they throw, this equals a "sale". One of these salespeople has 50 balls to throw at the target on the wall and the other salesperson only has only twenty. The "hard working" salesperson has fifty - but is wearing a blindfold. The "creative" salesperson has only twenty, but has full view of the target because he has taken the time to clearly see what is in front of him. Who do you think will hit the target more often?

The most common strategy (usually the only strategy) that is used to gain new customers for most salespeople is purely based on activity. The more calls you make, the more sales you make - right? However, this model of throwing everything you can at the wall and hoping something sticks is very inefficient. Wouldn't you rather see the target so you can hit it?

I've been fortunate enough in my career to meet lots of great salespeople along the way. Rarely is the salesperson who make the most calls the most successful in the bunch. It is rather the salesperson who takes each individual situation and creates a unique plan of attack for a prospective customer who will succeed most often. With this in mind, make sure you approach each sales situation you come across with one of your greatest weapons - your own creativity.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Interview with Ryan Vener from Written Inc.


Will Fultz: Ryan, thanks for being here. Could you please tell my readers what your company does and what types of clients you serve?

Ryan Vener: Sure, thanks for having me. Written Inc. is a personality reporting company based in Southern California. Our newest product, Salesperson Insight, was created to help individual salespeople as well as sales teams close more business. Our reports reveal to the salesperson the personality traits that are having the greatest impact to their selling success. They learn which traits may be holding them back, preventing them from building rapport or costing them sales. They also learn what they’re communicating to their prospect through their body language and what they can do specifically to change and improve.

Will Fultz: Obviously, I run a sales blog that caters to salespeople and sales management folks. How does your personality report differ from other personality assessments currently available for salespeople?

Ryan Vener: Written Inc. spent 10 years developing a proprietary technique, known as Written Body Language Analysis™, which taps into the salesperson's subconscious mind to reveal their true personality traits. Other personality assessments currently on the market ask the salesperson to answer questions about themselves. This approach only reports the perception they have of themselves, which is often very different from reality. Plus questionnaire based assessments can only reveal broad personality types such as “dominant extrovert” which has limited benefits to the salesperson. Because we’re tapping into their subconscious mind, our reports reveal traits that can’t be found from any other method. And, salespeople often learn about personality traits they weren’t aware they possessed.

Will Fultz: What are some of the desirable and undesirable aspects of the salesperson's personality that your reports reveal?

Ryan Vener: We can identify undesirable traits such as: defensive, arrogant, argumentative, critical, sarcastic, abrupt and self-doubt. A few of the desirable personality traits include: enthusiastic, flexible, tenacious, intuitive, creative, independent and logical.

Will Fultz: You mentioned arrogance as an undesirable trait. I believe some of the best salespeople have a little bit of arrogance. Can a trait that is usually perceived by most people as a negative actually be a positive for certain positions?

Ryan Vener: That’s a great question. Well I think self confidence is one of the most important attributes for sales success. Confident salespeople appear to be knowledgeable and put prospects at ease. But arrogance is different. Although confidence is the main component of arrogance, it’s the behaviors associated with the trait that most people see as negatives. Arrogant people brag about their accomplishments, act like they are above everyone else and take all of the credit for their success. It’s not the confidence that people dislike, it’s the lack of humility and the behaviors associated with the arrogant trait. Now, if the arrogant salesperson can avoid these behaviors around their prospects, they will likely be seen as confident and not conceited. The problem is most arrogant salespeople don’t think they are arrogant. They see themselves as confident. Salesperson Insight helps them see the difference between the two traits. The report shows them how they appear to others, the impact of being arrogant has on sales, how the trait is communicated through their body language and what they can do to change their behavior and thinking.

Will Fultz: Once the salesperson learns they have an undesirable trait, what can they do to change?

Ryan Vener:
The reports provide them with suggestions for changing their thinking and behavior. The easiest way to explain it is through an example. A fairly common trait we see in salespeople is idealistic. The idealistic salesperson tends to see and believe only the positive things a client or prospect tells them. Being optimistic and expecting to win in sales is an important trait for a successful salesperson to possess. But the idealistic salesperson runs into problems when they incorrectly forecast their opportunities, assume they are farther along in the sales cycle and waste time perusing dead-end deals. One of the suggestions we give to the idealistic salesperson is to run their deals by their sales managers, sales trainers or even colleagues. Doing this will provide them an objective view of their deals and help them become more realistic.

Will Fultz: If a company or individual is interested in using your services, how can you be contacted?

Ryan Vener: They can call our toll free number (888) 670-6702 or send us an e-mail at sales@writteninc.com. We also have a contact form on our website: http://www.writteninc.com

Will Fultz: Thanks for your time, Ryan. I would like to encourage my readers to check out your company's website when they get an opportunity.

Ryan Vener: My pleasure, thanks again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Lesson in Achieving Goals: The Story of the 11th U.S. President - James K. Polk

In sales, one of the problems we can run into is when we don't incorporate clearly defined goals into our overall strategy. When our goals are not clearly defined and few in their numbers, it becomes very easy for us to get off-track and not accomplish anything of value.

One of the best U.S. Presidents, in my opinion, was James K. Polk. Polk serves not only as a model for presidential greatness, but also for anyone trying to achieve success in their own life. Perhaps no other president, other than possibly Lincoln, accomplished so much in four years.

Polk campaigned and promised at the beginning of his presidency to primarily accomplish four things in his four year term (as he also promised not to seek re-election):

1) The re-establishment of the Independent Treasury System
2) The reduction of tariffs to increase trade & boost the U.S. economy
3) The acquisition of all or some of the Oregon territory
4) The acquisition of California and New Mexico (the current U.S. southwest) from Mexico

Polk ended up accomplishing every goal he set out at the beginning of his presidency and his accomplishments were many. The treasury system he created in the 1840's lasted until 1913. Before taking over as president, the US was a nation that extended just west of the Mississippi river. It was Polk that took the nation all the way to the Pacific ocean, making the United States a continental power. In a protectionist era in which high tariffs were thought to be positive for the US economy, Polk had the sense to lower them to increase trade - thereby boosting the overall US economic conditions. Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin were admitted to the Union during his term, but parts or all of nearly a dozen more states would follow due to his territorial acquisitions. While all of these accomplishments would be hard to fit into an 8 year presidency, Polk managed to accomplish all of these goals in four years. He also kept his promise, and did not run for re-election in 1848. After all, he had accomplished every goal he had laid out at the beginning of his presidency.

Because the Civil War took place 12 years after his presidency had ended, Polk's legacy was overshadowed by Lincoln for the rest of the 19th century. In the 20th century, however, historians could not help but to re-examine how the presidency of Polk had positively impacted the United States. In the 21st century, Polk is now regularly listed as one of the top 10 U.S. Presidents by historians - even though most Americans hardly know anything about him.

Indeed, the history of the United States would be much different without the presidency of Polk. But even more important than that, Polk serves as a model to everyone that you can achieve overwhelming success when you set out on your "mission" with clearly defined goals. This by itself, might be Polk's greatest legacy of all.


Winner Announcement List for the "Five Minutes with Vito" Book Giveaway

I only have a partial listing of winners for the January book giveaway as everyone who has won has not gotten back to me at this point. Here are the ones who have contacted me and verified their shipping information.

Vittorio of Albany, GA
Chris of Evansville, IN
Charles of Saratoga, CA

Congratulations to these three individuals and I hope to announce the other winners as soon as I hear from them. Thanks for everyone who participated - and keep in mind that I plan to do more book giveaways in the future. If you sign up for updates via email (located in the top right corner of Top Sales Blog), you will remain entered for future book giveaways as long as your account is active and you are not a current winner of the last book giveaway.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to Sell More by Reducing Risk | Free Sales eBook

I became a member of the Sales Bloggers Union in 2008 and am happy to be working with some of the best sales experts in the world. The SBU consists of nine sales bloggers from the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. The SBU is also very active in the online community to advance the sales profession.

The Sales Bloggers Union has recently released it's new free eBook. All nine of us have contributed articles on the subject of "Selling More by Reducing Risk." Please be sure the download the eBook as soon as you get an opportunity.

The Sales Bloggers Union members are:

Nesh Thomson, Sales System Developer at Symvolli

Tibor Shanto, Principal at Renbor Sales Solutions

Tim Rohrer, The Sales and Marketing Loudmouth

Will Fultz, Top Sales Blog

Brad Trnavsky, Sales Management20.com

Colin Wilson, Managing Director of First Border

Karl Goldfield, The Startup Sales Mentor

Skip Anderson, Founder, Selling to Consumers Sales Training

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Post on the SBU on "Sales Burnout"

I have a new post up on the Sales Bloggers Union on the subject of sales burnout, titled - "Sales Burnout is Usually the Result of an Imbalance in Your Personal Life". Please make sure to check this post out and all the other posts that have recently been provided by the SBU (Sales Bloggers Union) authors on sales burnout.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Story Telling in Sales: When it is Done Right - it Builds Great Relationships

I'm a big believer in the fact that people do business with other people for a variety of reasons. In order to take your sales numbers to the highest possible level, you need to capitalize on every possible opportunity to build "genuine" relationships with other people. One of the best ways to do this is through effective story telling.

First off, it might be difficult or come across as "fake" to start telling grand stories the first time you meet with a prospective customer. However, as more visits are made and some rapport is developed, it always helps when you are an interesting person to the customer on the other end. Let's face it, the products or services we represent will only generate so much excitement. But when you become seen as a fascinating person to converse with, people will look forward to speaking with you in the course of their working day.

When you think about it, life is primarily nothing more than a collection of stories. Every week, something happens in our personal lives that is funny, interesting, and insightful to other people. When you take the time to build the necessary skills to effectively share these experiences with your customers, you will build rapport at a much faster rate. If you haven't been telling stories from time to time to your customers - this is an activity which I would encourage you to engage in immediately. If you can effectively tell interesting and funny stories to your prospective customers, you will end up getting business that in some cases you otherwise wouldn't.