Hindsight is always 20/20 and that’s too clear a vision to waste. It is human nature to tuck away memories of extreme moments, so more often than not, our greatest lessons stem from the mistakes we make.
In business one of your most powerful, money-making assets is the lessons you learn when things don’t go right. In 1959 Ford lost $250 million on the Edsel and in 1964 it turned out the Mustang. A million of them were sold the first year. In 1977 20th Century Fox made the mistake of signing over all product merchandising rights for all Star Wars films to George Lucas for just $20,000. They lost over 3 billion. In 1975 Eastman Kodak developed the first digital camera – and then opted to sit on it and the core technology for the cell phone, and in 2013 Apple and Samsung split the profit on the 120 million smartphones sold.
Take time to reflect on the call that didn’t work; the deal that fell through and the renewal you didn’t get, and use what you realize to take your mistakes to the bank. What can you do to improve the process that you used on the ones that got away?
- Was there any pre-call research?
- Could your call script be better; your tone of voice more confident?
- Did you call the right person; someone with the authority to invite a second call?
- Did you push for a sale instead of a second call?
- Were you able to separate them from the last “no thanks” you got?
- Did you offer them something helpful?
- Did you assume you had all the answers rather than listen for their need?
- Were you respectful of their time?
- Did you leave yourself available in the event they reconsider?
- Did you leave a quality last impression?
The Renewal You Didn’t Get
- Did you give your client a reason to renew?
- Did you give them reason not to renew?
- Did your product update to stay current with the needs of the buyers?
- How was your after-purchase service?
- Did you foster a business relationship that had the ability to grow?
- Did you keep your product competitively priced?
The only bad mistake is the one you don’t learn anything from; the one you repeat. When something doesn’t work, make time to figure out why. Life is supposed to be a learning experience. Turn “no thank-you” into revenue by using it to make you better at what you do.
Linguists will tell you that there are between 6,500 and 6,800 different languages spoken in the world today, but technically it would be more accurate if you doubled that number. The first thing that I learned in college was that along with every subject that I took there was a hidden language course. The language of my master’s field, which was education, was a walk in the park for me, and the language in my business degree was comfortable, but I have to tell you the language of statistics, algebra and chemistry remained forever foreign to my ear.
Most everyone owns a copy of the basic dictionary as first conceived by Noah Webster in 1828, but if you have a career, a passion or simply a relaxing hobby you may own a dictionary with all of the terms that go with it. I’m a writer and my novels embrace history so I have a collection of dictionaries with all of the terms from the Vietnam War; 12th Century Scotland; Gaelic translated to English; slang of the Old West, The California Gold Rush; Civil War Battles; Slavery in the Deep South, and WWII, etc.
Whether you have it in a bound book, or in your head, you own the dictionary of Sales. Interestingly enough the words and phrases are not exclusive to business. Mostly likely you learned them during your growing up years.
I know this one. It’s from The Sermon on the Mount -– “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” If someone were calling you, wouldn’t you want them to be polite, considerate of your time, patient, a good listener, be respectful, and say please and thank you? Wouldn’t you want them to be able to solve a problem for you?
I learned about leadership on my 2nd grade playground. I loved “Follow the Leader.” Someone has to be at the head of the line, and they best know where they are going. It takes years of learning to be a good business leader and to gain the skills that are reflected back through your confidence. Good leaders remember what it was like to follow.
I got all of those in scouting. I didn’t know at the time that they would serve as a foundation in all successful business deals. Scouting was a sneaky way to build my character, but where would I be without it? Turn your prospects into customers by polishing these traits.
My 7th grade History teacher insisted on it. At first I fought it, and then I came to love it because I finally figured out that it opened fascinating doors. In sales it might just be the details you know that garner you a second call; that close the deal. While the common comeback on this topic is, “there just isn’t time,” know that the time you make for it, will pay you back.
When I was a kid, my family ate all winter long because in the summer my sisters, my mother and myself divided the chores of picking the vegetables, peeling and chopping them up, and packing them in jars. When the sales cycle is long, a multitude of people are involved. It takes every hand, idea and the combined energies of the team to complete the steps in the process. Success is the result of quality teamwork.
All writers know about rejection. Not everything I’ve written soared. All rejection means is to increase efforts, improve your technique, and keep trying. That is the way it is in sales too. Even when you get a “no thank you” say “thank you” and dial the next number. There are people waiting for your call.
The more comfortable you are with the language of your trade the better you will be at doing your job. The words are nouns, but you won’t make money until you turn them all into verbs. Do have thoughtful conversations; do follow your leader; practice integrity, reliability, preparedness, and trustworthiness. Do the research, play nice with teammates, and shrug off rejection so that the person waiting for your call, gets it.
“At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. The sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful.” Erin Cummings
Everything I know about work ethics I learned from my first employer. I was just 16 and I went to work for The House of Fabrics. I thought the $1.65 an hour I earned was a gold mine, so I tolerated the “warden” I worked for. Mrs. Feldon, bless her heart, was nonnegotiable when it came to the rules, and today she has my thanks because I’m never late for anything and I honestly earn my dollars.
People want to buy the best, which means you have to be better than average to make the sale. Sales is one of the most competitive fields you can be in. If you have a quality product, someone will improve it, and trump you. While it’s important to stay abreast of the advances in technology and constantly upgrade your product, the best way to hold on to the leading edge is by flaunting your good character; be known for more than your product. Follow a Moral Compass
Work Ethic; Moral Code for Success
Always strike a fair deal. Promise what you can deliver and deliver what you promise. Own up to mistakes, be quick with apologies, and make things better than right. Dishonesty will get you by in the moment – but it will come back and cost you in the long-run.
Sense of Responsibility
It isn’t the hours you work; it’s the work you put in the hours. Imagine you own the company and build the revenue like it’s your personal bank account. Be accountable.
Dedication to Quality
If you deliver less than high quality, those that trust your product will leave when the reality plays out. Know that no matter how good, everything can always be made better.
Develop an organized system that keeps you on task and leads you through the steps to get the job done. Have a clear sense of priorities and systematically follow it. It isn’t about clock-watching; it’s about delivering on your word.
If one person could do it all, there would be no need for colleagues. Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Know that it takes a team to run a company. Learn the fine art of respectfully delegating tasks, and when you have a spare moment, help a colleague if they are on overload with theirs. What goes around, comes around. Strong team; strong company.
What will all that get you?
It will get you repeat business, respect, and job security in a competitive world. Remember, you teach people who you are with your actions. When you know that your job is well done you get peace of mind that can’t be bought.
It is fact, Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times; Irving Stone’s, Lust for Life was rejected 16 times, and then went on to sell over 25 million copies, and Stephen King was told, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias They do not sell.” There is an uncounted number of authors who heard “no” tons of times before they got their foot in the door – William Faulkner; George Orwell; John Grisham; Joseph Heller, John le Carre, J.K. Rowlings; Rudyard Kipling…. Imagine the loss, had they given up.
Understanding the reasons for rejection and having a call list that is geared for success can increase your odds of garnering that second call. The bottom line is, when you work in a profession where you hear no repeatedly; you have to find your mettle and ramp up your persistence to turn the negatives into positives.
Human Factor in Rejection
Any number of a prospect’s personal issues may trigger a “no thanks.” Just thank them for their time, and call someone else.
- Discord at home
- Personal financial worries
- Discontent with their job
- In a bad mood
- Lack of confidence
While connecting with a live voice feels encouraging, if you aren’t talking to someone who can invite you into the sales cycle, your connection has no value, unless you can get them to give you a referral. Increase quality control at the lead generation level. Purpose is served if Sales talks to Marketing.
- Get selective about the job titles that are added to your data bank.
- Be aware in the subtle shift in language when you’re searching for specific types of titles. There is a fair amount of creativity at play when it comes to the exact wording of job titles. Some sound more powerful than they are: Sales Leader, Sales Representative and Sales Associate, for example.
- While it makes sense to import such titles as VP of Sales; Director of Sales and even to some degree Manager of Sales – don’t over look the terms “Sales Enablement” and “Sales Effectiveness.” They are titles less called, but they hold the power to invite the coveted second call.
Quality Control at Lead Generation Level – More Positive Calling Session
- Verify employment at LinkedIn and/or company websites before creating a lead.
- Know that software that mass imports leads – lacks quality control. It doesn’t check for employment.
- Set up a list based on date employment was last verified. By changing the date on it monthly you can re-verify employment on both your leads and contacts once a month, so no verified employment is older than a year – or whatever amount of time works for you. It sounds like a lot of extra work – but once you get it in hand and do it every month – it really only takes a brief amount of time, and the end result is that sales is more apt to connect with someone who is still actually working at the company. Save time; save money and live with a more productive call list.
When the Prospect Says No
- Know that it isn’t personal
- You haven’t reached the right person.
- You called at an inconvenient time.
- Your call script needs work.
If Your Enthusiasm is Low
- Engage in more shoptalk with your coworkers. Ask them about how they approach and handle different situations. Shared tricks of the trade are invaluable.
- Avoid the stress of stumbling. Be sure you know about all upgrades your product has under gone. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.”
- Set reasonable goals for yourself to keep you moving. Make it a game of personal challenge.
- Attend some seminars where positive energy can be recharged.
- If you haven’t taken any time off and treated yourself to a getaway – consider doing so.
While in sales “no” is heard more often than “yes” know that it doesn’t mean the end of the road. Don’t give up without exhausting all possibilities. If your product makes life easier and more productive for people, every “yes” that comes back and thanks you, will make the “no’s” pale in comparison. Persistence is the name of the game.
I can still hear my high school office practice teacher, Mr. Kimball, saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” If you knew how far back that was, you’d be impressed with my memory. There isn’t a sales person breathing that would disagree with Mr.Kimball. You pick up the phone; dial and you have about thirty seconds to make a first impression that will garner you a second conversation.
Being the professional that you are, you are prepared, you’re in the zone, and you score the coveted invite to a second conversation; that’s great. Now what? Now is the time to start thinking about what your last impression will be. The fact is, when all is said and done you will be remembered for one of two things; the problems you solve, or the problems you create. Closing a deal is one thing, but getting the yearly renewals is another.
Make or Break Practices
Deal Breaker: False promises about your product’s capability.
Renewal: Be upfront about what your product can and can’t do. Customers rarely expect all or nothing. If your product is a fit for them, they will be content with knowing that their suggestions will be considered for future updates.
Deal Breaker: Hidden costs.
Renewal: No surprises. Present a contract that puts every cost in plain view, before the deal is closed.
Deal Breaker: Failing to call when you say you will. Slow response when a message is left. Being unreachable.
Renewal: You are accessible. You promptly return calls. You follow through with your promises to call on a particular date, at a set time. If something truly unavoidable gets in the way, make amends – starting with an apology.
Deal Breaker: Giving insufficient training on the use of your product will lead to buyer’s remorse.
Renewal: Thorough, patient training in the use of your product where you invite all questions, arrange hands-on learning time, and work through the customizing of your product with the customer – until they are both satisfied and comfortable.
Deal Breaker: Once they pay the bill consider your job done.
Renewal: Regular monitoring during the trial periods, and an open line of communication that spans the years you maintain the business relationship will prove to be worth the effort.
Deal Breaker: Failure to keep your customer’s business confidential.
Renewal: Unflinchingly protect every confidence; no exceptions; no excuses.
Best Practice : Aim for more than a sale; aim for a long-term business relationship. Never forget that whether you are remembered for solving problems or creating them – your customers will spread the word. Make sure your last impression, be it at the end of a phone call, or the end of a subscription, is one that you can be proud of.
When you’re a kid the thing you want most in the world is to be a grown up, so birthdays are a big deal. Presents are fun, but the thing that I looked forward to the most was the birthday card from my grandmother. She always tucked a crisp, clean, brand new one dollar bill in it. Over the years it never changed. It was always a one dollar bill. Her rule, a dollar every birthday until year eighteen, and then that’s it, and it was. Long after my beloved grandmother passed, one day, just out of curiosity I asked my mother – why always just a dollar? My mother replied, “Your grandmother probably still has the first nickel she ever made.”
My grandmother wasn’t the first penny pincher, nor was she the last. People who watch every dime aren’t just those who struggle to make ends meet; even billionaires do it. For instance, Warren Buffet; net worth nearly 60 Billion; IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad; News Corp. Chairman, Rupert Murdoch, and Australia’s retail king Gerry Harvey are all worth billions, but they are known to take thrifty to the extreme.
We may laugh at some of the penny pincher’s antics; we may see them as eccentric and odd, but it’s a little hard not to covet their ability to manage their money better than the rest of us. Most people comparison shop for the big ticket items and feel a rush of happy when a good deal is had. The same people probably use coupons at the grocery store. The same people run businesses in less than cost effective ways because they tend to count their profit as just the dollars in the door, and ignore the dollars saved by doing things in time-saving/money-saving ways.
A Penny Saved…
- Piggyback Advertising: Advertise on everything. Put your company logo on items you can give away – pencils, Post-it notes, calendars, business cards, newsletters, and every email you send – even personal.
- Collaborative Marketing: It’s the electronic age, use the technology. Trade advertising links with other companies. Include “partner coupons codes” in email marketing or on your company website for like offers to give your partner’s customers. Share media space in print. Pick a partner and share the cost in newspaper ads.
- Testimonials: Let your happy customers tell others what you’ve done for them. Refresh the testimonials on your website every couple of months.
- Electronic Invoices: Convenient for the customer, cost effective for you.
- Online Meetings: Cut travel costs and save time with online business meetings. There are several sites on the Internet like GoToMeeting and WebEx that offer this service. Meetings can be held on desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones – anything that can connect to the Internet. That means you can squeeze meetings in no matter where you are.
- Form Partnerships: Find other companies that you can trade goods or services with at no cost. It is a financial boon for both.
Saving Time is Saving Money
Stay abreast of the different types of software being offered that automate your selling process. Over 100,000 of the world’s most innovative companies of all sizes use Salesforce to close bigger deals faster. It only stands to reason that if you can speed up what Salesforce does, that you will make more money by virtue of the time you save. ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 does just that. It is a Salesforce add-on that gathers the information that is spread across the Salesforce site and puts it all on one page. Your sales team can save a mountain of time by having everything they need to know about a prospect, scripted call prompts, emails and voicemail, as well as an active time line that easily documents every step taken, on one convenient screen. Time is saved that allows more calls to be made. Imagine the dollars you can add to your bank account.
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was our country’s first “Efficiency Expert.” He was born to a wealthy Quaker family in Germantown, Pennsylvania. His passion was “time study,” which is literally using a stopwatch and doing continuous observation of tasks, in an effort to find the shortest, most efficient method of accomplishing those tasks. For Winslow, it was a cold-hearted, dehumanizing, cut and dry numbers game that was controversial, but no one could dispute the fact that his methods worked. Over time the term “efficiency expert” became synonymous with people losing their jobs because in years past, efficiency meant more work done, with a smaller workforce.
Today’s high-tech way of doing business has already stream-lined the workforce. Now instead of efficiency translating to layoffs, it instead means driving profits higher. Consider the situation from a Sales point of view. For the salesperson, a more efficient process simply means more calls, more conversations, more new business relationships, and more closed deals.
Everyone knows you get more bang for the buck when you buy concentrated products and energy-efficient appliances. So what happens when you increase human efficiency by concentrating effort? Power Hour is born.
Hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, ignore inbound emails, and don’t answer any incoming calls. Schedule a few hours a week where you are simply unavailable. Next step – use Salesforce’s list building capabilities. Build lists based on status – remembering to add a status field to your contact’s page that is typical of the one you have for your leads. Export the lists into ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 – and because everything you need is on one page, you get to experience calling momentum at its finest. It’s next to impossible to not triple your call volume. More calls, more conversations, more sales.
It’s time to appreciate the wonders of the technological age by embracing the efficiency it naturally makes possible. Make Power Hours a new Best Practice.
Speaking strictly from a scientific point of view, when the creation of life as we know it happened, many believe that it did so with a very precise, exacting set of circumstances. There is great debate in the scientific community about whether any variation of events would have obliterated all possibility of life or if there was a little fine-tuning wiggle room in it. Scientist Stephen Hawking sees things as pretty well fixed. He has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been less by the smallest amount imaginable, that everything would have collapsed into a fiery ball, and life would not have happened.
Thankfully when it comes to humankind there seems to be purposeful wiggle-room. Religion and science may disagree on the creation of life – but they will both agree that humans aren’t perfect. By virtue of our very humanity, there is always room for improvement.
A – Allow a critical eye. Step back and look at the whole picture. Are you content with the number of calls being made, the new business relationships you’ve started, the established relationships that you’ve shored up with quality follow-up, and the dollars that have come in? Question the overall efficiency in all of your processes – and look for the weak spots. Where do you fall short – research, organization, call scripts, mailed messages, or activity documentation? How accurate are your analytics?
B – Buy into new possibilities. There is an old saying, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” Do you know how your competition operates? Do they have tools that you don’t’? Do they have any methods that nets them greater results than you’re getting? What kind of feedback are you getting from social networking/social media? Is there new software out there that can make your process stronger?
C – Congratulate yourself for having the wisdom to fine tune the process. More often than not life is about a leap of faith. If you’ve taken an introspective look at the way you do business and stepped out on the ledge of a new possibility that improved your sales efforts, congratulate yourself, and then go back to A.
There are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to products that can make your sales life easier, more efficient, and more profitable, but Incite2 offered by ShadeTree Technology is a Saleforce add-on that should be on your list of considerations. It efficiently collects the various pages in Saleforce and puts them all one page – which by itself is a time/money saving factor. Building call lists is the heart of the increased success rate that is a given with the product. Do put a view of their demo on your exploration into new possibilities.
All of us had all-knowing mothers who spouted tidbits of wisdom that we all swore we’d never say to our own kids. My mom would say, “Who did it?” I would say, “I don’t know.” She’d say, “No one named ‘I Don’t Know’ lives here.” I would roll my eyes, when I said, “I wish…” and she’d reply, “If wishes were horses we’d all go for a ride.” I was sure she was nuts every time she told me, “I walked to and from school, and it was uphill both directions.” Okay most of the funny things we remember mom saying we now look back on with a conservative fondness – and laugh when we hear ourselves repeating them to our own kids. There was one piece of wisdom that I’m happy to repeat – because mom was right. No matter the task, she’d say, “Before you get started, get all of your ducks in a row.”
Tailor your content to the leads and roles of your prospects. When your content is relevant to the prospect, it lets them know that you’ve done your homework, and that you’ve listened to what they had to say. When you can send content that gives your prospects resources they may have not uncovered themselves, it will show that you’re both on the same team, strengthen your business relationship, and shorten the sales cycle.
Finding the right person to call can be done with a systematic approach. Ideally the companies in your data base have quality leads with desirable job titles. If that is the case, you can build a call list based on status in Salesforce – by adding a “Status” field to your Contacts page with the same options that you have for Leads. If you are lacking in appropriate leads with desirable job titles, a quick search at LinkedIn using the advance search option can net you multiple fresh leads. InsideView is also a great source for new leads. Often times the right person comes your way via a referral.
Initial conversations can, and do, happen every day at random hours, but a study done a few years ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that research across the Internet still supports today, concluded that there are both days and hours that are richer for cold calling success. The study looked at six different companies over a three year period and determined that gold was struck more often on Wednesdays and Thursdays with Thursdays being the best – at 49% better than the worst day, Tuesday. The study also found that the hours with the highest rate of calling success were between 8 & 9 a.m. before business hours, and between 6 & 7 p.m. at the end of the day. The study is not meant to imply that the cited days and times are the only times to call. It is just meant as a leg up when you add the information to your own observations. Ultimately you will find your personal pattern. The Lead Response Management Study Overview
There is a multitude of ways to send your messages out. It’s important to realize that the medium that resonates with one person may not be effective with another. While your best bet is an actual conversation, you can reach prospects in many other ways. Short videos, slideshows, emails, and postcards will be effective with visual receivers. Well crafted conversations, voicemails, and videos will click with auditory receivers. Delivering your information in multiple mediums is a way to cover all bases and address the various ways that your prospects most comfortably process information.
A little organization goes a long way. If your ducks are in a row, the rate of success is driven up. Give your list building more power by using Incite2 the ultra efficient Salesforce add-on offered by ShadeTree Technology. It collects information from multiple Salesforce screens and presents it all on one efficient page.
In the United States of America we are guided by a Constitution that protects our right to be individuals in thought, deed, and beliefs as long as we don’t step on our fellowman. We thrive because we’re all different, and our differences are the threads from which our flag is woven. Lumping people and companies into groups; giving them a number, and dealing with them in a generalized mass handling method may not bode well with a nation where people value their right to be an individual.
The evolution of email marketing In 1978 Gary Thuerk, Marketing Manager for Digital Equipment Corp sent out the first mass emailing, earning him the title of “Father of Spam.” It didn’t take long for others to see his approach as a potential gold mine. In theory, it was. When the public protested, action was taken. In 2003 Spam laws were put in place, so the processors of mass emailing had to learn how to adhere to guidelines, and mailings went on. The afore mentioned article does make it look like mass mailing is the be all to end all – but there is a danger when you fail to keep your finger on the pulse of consumer attitude.
Mass Emails: The Seller’s Point of View
- Emails save money. Direct Mail is expensive.
- You save time. You can put your energies elsewhere.
- Emailing is efficient. Click the mouse and you’re done. No heavy bundles to drag to the Post Office.
- You reach an unlimited number of prospects.
- More people will know your company’s name and product.
- You can repeat the process over and over again.
If every ten emails nets you one chance to make a sale; it stands to reason that you’ll get ten chances if you send out 100 emails, and so forth. Do those statistics pan out in real practice or are consumers beginning to see the process as one that shows no respect for the hard work a business owner has put into making their business unique?
Mass Emails: The Prospect’s Point of View
- Who I am, what my company stands for doesn’t matter. I’m seen as nothing more than a random target.
- I’d rather have a meaningful conversation than a bulk sales pitch.
- Tons of time is spent cleaning out my online mailbox, when I have more important things to do.
- Opening emails from an online sender that I don’t know, puts me at risk for computer viruses.
- If I open your email and choose to discard it, I’m annoyed when you just come back at me wearing a variation of your original email address.
- I will remember your name – which may not serve you well.
The Future: Mass Conversations
The bottom line is mass marketing via emails might make a seller’s life easier, but you might be shooting yourself in the foot by forgetting that making a sale depends on you being able to make your prospect’s life easier. To do that you have to learn to adapt and stay current with changing attitudes. It might serve purpose to take Marketo’s fresh viewpoint under consideration in their article Conversations, Not Campaigns. In this whitepaper, Marketo outlines an approach that uses engaging emails that are sent based on the buyer’s interest and behavior. Since these emails are triggered by behaviors such as viewing pages on a website, clicking links in an email, and filling out forms, the content is delivered at exactly the right point in the buying process. These “conversations” become much more targeted and allow for a wide variety of content to be generated but only the relevant information is delivered to the prospect, when it is needed.
At a certain point, companies need to pick up the phone and have a meaningful conversation with a prospect. Incite2, the Salesforce add-on that is offered by ShadeTree Technology makes it easy. Paired with a Marketing Automation program like Marketo, Incite2 can help sales people pick up the marketing “conversations” without missing a step.