Friday, December 16, 2011

Looking Ahead To The New Year

We are just weeks away from the end of 2011.  I hope that it's been a productive year for you and that you've met your overall sales goal for the year.  For those of you who are avid readers of the blog, but do not subscribe to my monthly sales newsletter, Self-Taught Sales, I invite you to sign up today.  The January newsletter will focus on the number one question to ask yourself to start of 2012 right.

To sign up, visit  In the middle of the homepage there is a link to sign up.

We'll be back first thing next year with more tips to help you succeed!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10 Places to Look for Leads in 2012: Part 2

Back today with part 2 of "10 Places to Look for Leads in 2012."

6.  Check out the local business news.
7.  Read the want ads on hiring websites like and Career Builders.
8.  Purchase a list of names.
9.  When you visit customers, determine who else is located in their neighborhood.
10.  Swap leads with co-workers. Buyers who didn't click with a fellow salesperson may click with you, and vice versa.

There are plenty of leads out there, but keep this best practice in mind. Call the leads you have before you spend time collecting more. Who knows? A phone call today might be all it takes to put you in the right place at the right time for a big opportunity.
Good Selling!

Monday, December 12, 2011

10 Places to Look for Leads in 2012: Part 1

In this month's Self-Taught Sales, I shared my thoughts on "10 Places to Look for Leads in 2012."  Knowing is can never hurt to share new ways to find new leads, I thought you'd be interested in these 10 places that I suggest you look next year.

1.  Do a little digging around in the lost business graveyard. Past customers can be great prospects for future business.
2.  Take the "twin" approach. Find enterprises similar to those customers who currently buy. For example, if your best customer is a bank, find other banks to call on.
3.  Use LinkedIn. Keyword search functions allow you to locate companies and decision-makers.
4.  Business intelligence websites like Hoover's, Jigsaw, Manta, and others are excellent lead sources. Some information is free while other data is available for a fee.
5.  The Internet is a gold mine of information. Search for key attributes like "Corporate Headquarters for software companies in Atlanta" and see what pops up.

Check back Wednesday for places 6 - 10.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Avoid Deer In the Headlights Sales Calls

Imagine this. You spend weeks calling, mailing and emailing your perfect prospect. Finally, they agree to see you. You show up at the meeting. The initial pleasantries go well and you start asking questions. Quickly, you discover the prospect is genuinely interested in making a purchase.

They start asking you questions. Smart questions-ones you're not fully prepared to answer.

By the third time you've said, "I'll have to check into that," you're wearing a deer-in-the-
headlights expression. The prospect's enthusiasm is waning and their belief in your competence is gone.

The meeting ends with a whimper. As the buyer gives you a limp handshake, they tell you they'll get in touch if they need to know more. You walk out, kicking yourself for not being better prepared.

Great salespeople win more sales because they're prepared to answer all questions from potential customers. Questions like . . .
* How does this help me?
* What does it cost?
* Who else has purchased this from you?
* Why are you the right choice?
* Why do I need to buy this now?
* Are there any quality problems I should know about?
* What could go wrong?
* How long have you been doing this?
* Who are your competitors?

Knowing how to answer these questions helps you look competent in a sales call. That's important because customers prefer to buy from sales professionals who understand the products or services they're selling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Online To-Do: December 2011

Ever heard of Paper Because?  If you're in the print industry, you MUST check it out.  I first learned about it via a tweet from CANVAS Publisher Mark Potter. 

Besides all the funny and clever videos like these:

This one, which is different from the others, was really eye-opening:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for employees, co-workers, family or friends? Through the end of the year, TTBooks is offering the opportunity to purchase all three of Linda Bishop's easy-to-read sales guides to build business and increase sales goals for just $25 plus free shipping!
You'll receive:
-Selling in Tough Times
-101 Cold Call Tips
-The Sales Pro's Guide to Using LinkedIn
for only $25 plus free shipping.

Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Tips for 2012

After returning from vacation, especially one that lasts a week, it's sometimes hard to get back into "work mode." Well, this year is going to be different! To help you start off the year right, in January I will be sharing my 12 tips for 2012. These tips will aim to help you not only meet, but exceed, your sales goals in the coming year. 

Readers of Sales Is Not For Sissies are invited to sign up to recieve a FREE daily email for 12 days as part of 12 tips for 2012.  To sign up, email me at 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Final Thoughts

To build the perfect prospect list, be clear about your goal. Some prospects are good fits, but they’re happy with their current solution and unlikely to change vendors in the near future. Other prospects are unhappy. They wish someone like you would call them today so they could fix their problems. Unfortunately for all sales professionals, dissatisfied prospects are the minority, not the majority, of the people we call. Therefore, if you want immediate sales you need to make more dials to find Mr. or Ms. Unhappy Buyer.

Opportunities are infinite, but time is a finite commodity. The sad truth we all need to recognize is that it often takes just as long to sell a mediocre prospect as it does to sell a good prospect. Once the account is sold, mediocre prospect become mediocre customers with low payoffs.
If the account doesn't buy much, but are quick and easy to sell and service, go ahead and grab the low hanging fruit. When an account doesn't buy much and is difficult to sell, find a better opportunity.
Here's another point to consider. Sometimes a prospect appears to be a perfect fit, but an obstacle the size of Mount Everest stands between you and success such as:
·         Long-term contracts
·         Buyers who dislike you or your company
·         Buyers who purchase from family members or close friends
·         Buyers who are intensely loyal to current vendors
·         Decision -makers who refuse to speak to you under any condition, and there is no way to get above them or around them.
Smart salespeople acknowledge obstacles. They're realistic about their ability to overcome them and don't waste time fighting battles they can't win. Instead, they find another account with a situation where triumph is a genuine possibility.
Smart salespeople also know everyone loses business, often for reasons outside our control. Replacing lost business takes time. To sleep at night, keep the funnel full. The starting point for a full funnel is a solid list of prospects built to reflect both quality and quantity.
Is your prospect list a good one? If not, today is a good day to start fixing the problem.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Advice of the Day

If you're looking for immediate opportunities, you generally need a bigger pool of prospects.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Collecting Names Part 2

When I started putting together this idea of how to create a world class prospect list, one of the first elements I brainstormed was how someone goes about collecting names.  In addition to resources such as LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Leads411 and Hoovers, here are a few other suggestions of how to collect names:
  • Refferals
  • Walk in a building and study signage
  • Observations
  • Using the "Who is similar to the prospects I've got list?"
Use the rest of today and this weekend to brainstorm how to collect names and put your plan into action first thing Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Collecting Names

Finding decision-makers is a challenge for every salesperson in every industry. To identify who you should be talking to, start by making a list of job titles held by current customers. Armed with this information, you can take advantage of online resources including:
·         LinkedIn, a social network of professionals.

·         Jigsaw, Leads411, Hoovers and many other services with data bases containing accounts with contact information.

In the online world, some information is free and some must be purchased. Purchasing information is a smart strategy if you want to save time. However, every list of names you buy will be accompanied by a disclaimer stating there are no guarantees that information is completely accurate.

It's also important to remember people get promoted and change jobs regularly. For this reason, lists are volatile commodities, and become less accurate over time. The best time to purchase a contact list is when you are ready and willing to make calls now.
Check back Friday for more suggestions of ways to collect names.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - The Magic Number

Wondering the number of prospects you need to meet your growth goals?  Follow these steps.

Step One: Determine the average value of a new account. How many accounts did your company open last year? How much business came from those accounts? Divide the total revenues by the number of new accounts to determine the average value of a new account in the first year.

Step Two: Determine how many prospects you need to convert to meet your revenue goal. Calculate by dividing your goal by the average value of a new account to determine how many new accounts are needed.

Step Three: Make an educated guess on the percentage of prospects you will convert into customers. What are the odds of closing new deals? Do you convert prospects into customers at a rate of 1 in 10 or 1 in 3?

Using this data, you will be able to determine if your list should contain twenty accounts or two hundred accounts.

Wednesday I will share how you should go about collecting names.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Profiling

When it comes to creating a world class prospect list, big profitable accounts generally share common characteristics. To create a profile for your ideal prospect, think like a marker. Consider demographic and behavioral attributes like:

-Geographic locations
-Company size by revenues or number of employees
-Business categories as defined by SIC or NAICS Codes
-Internal buying structure—for example, if a company buys all their printing through an out-of-town advertising agency, they may not be a good prospect for you.
-Budgets and in particular, minimum purchase volume
-Quality requirements
-The types of products and services purchased
-Service expectations
-Financial stability and the ability to pay on time

Monday we'll cover how to determine the number of prospects you need to meet your growth goals.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creating a World Class Prospect List - Introduction

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing the tips and tricks to creating a world class prospect list. 

Building a strong prospect list helps build a profitable book of business. The better the prospects, the better the chance of generating new revenue. Prospects that are good fits for your company are more likely to buy more or buy quickly, or both. The wrong prospects waste valuable time and delay you from reaching goals.  Prospects don’t fit well if they only buy a small amount of the products and services you sell. When the need is small, the payoff is small for you.

Today, let's review the three “right” actions it takes to build a strong prospect list:
  1. Define the right target account.
  2. Develop the right number of accounts for your list.
  3. Identify the right decision-makers within the accounts.

Check back on Friday to learn how to create a profile for your ideal prospect.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Small Business Saturday - November 26, 2011

First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Now, there's Small Business Saturday, a day to Shop Small and support small businesses. And with November 26 approaching,  it's time to take action. Here are some things you can do to show support when you visit

-Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and supporting them is a great way to help fuel the local economy. Pledge your support by liking Small Business Saturday on Facebook. If we all take the pledge and make one purchase, Small Business Saturday can be huge.

-Get a one-time $25 statement credit when you register an eligible American Express® Card and use that Card for a purchase of $25 or more at a small business on November 26*.

-Check out our interactive map on and find businesses in your neighborhood to support Small Business Saturday.

If you own or are employed by a small business, find out how you can promote your business and prepare for Small Business Saturday by visiting this link -

Friday, November 4, 2011

Online To-Do: November 2011

Hi All - Melissa here.  While this month's online to-do isn't completely work-related, it has become my new obsession. 

Welcome to the world of Pinterest!

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

It also could be used to organize the gifts you want to purchase for the holidays as well as make a list of the things you'd love to receive.

If you sign up and feel at all lost, shoot me an email at and I will try and help you out.

As they say on Pinterest...Happy Pinning!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Trick or A Treat?

In honor of Halloween, we are handing out treats. 
Email Melissa at what you're going to be for Halloween, along with your mailing adress, and a treat will be sent your way.

You must email her by 11/2 to redeem this special treat!

Friday, October 28, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): How to plan a good murder

This is one of my favorite stories, from a veteran high school teacher, Mr. R., who was covering an ethics unit for a senior [critical thinking] class.

After covering the fine points of ethical thought and behavior, the big assignment was to get into small workgroups to plan the perfect murder.

Students who’d been disengaged lit up and got involved. Individuals who hated group projects re-engaged with enthusiasm. Kids in other classes said, “AwwwI wish I had that class.” For a couple days, even Facebook was deserted in favor of this assignment.

By deadline, these bloodthirsty students had their Powerpointed schemes all worked out. That is, until Mr. R. asked the showstopper question:

This is a unit on ethics. Did anyone at any point speak up against this?”

They stared at him the way a lab full of monkeys would stare when all the bananas are inexplicably removed.
“But you sort of gave us permission,” argued one student, “when you made it a homework assignment."
“And we all know it’s not for real,” said another. “No one really gets hurt.”

I know that in business many things can be forgiven if the right outcomes ($$$) are produced, and in recent years it’s become socially acceptable, even hip, to laugh over the “cleverness” of people who win profits by pulling off some ethical sleight-of-hand.
But here are the questions that teacher posed:

If someone in a position of authority initiates or sanctions what you know to be wrongdoing, does that make it all right?
If you’re told that it’s not for real, if you can’t see the victim, or are assured the wrongdoing is a victimless crime, does that then make it all right?

This teacher told me every once in a while he’d have a student who’d raise their hand and say, “Hey, Mr. R., I don’t get this. We’re studying ethics so why do you have us planning a murder? Isn’t that wrong?
Bingo—automatic “A” for that unit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Your Prospect Ignoring You?

It happens to everyone. You meet a prospect, have a pleasant chat and they appear interested. They may schedule a second meeting, or even a third. But then that dark day comes. You call and email and you’re ignored. Sometimes, the problem is you.

There are three questions you should ask yourself to ensure your meetings and follow-up tactics have been effective.
1. Did You Click With The Buyer? While you may click with some prospects instantly, your personality may clash with others. To earn a return invitation, focus first on rapport building and being more likable. Some buyers enjoy chit-chat about personal issues, while others want to get right down to business. To establish what the buyer desires ask, "How did you end up at this job?" Do they enthusiastically share bits and pieces of personal history such as where they grew up or went to school? Or do they limit their answer to a short unembellished recitation of career highlights? No matter what is said, the answer illuminates preferences and copying the buyer’s conversational styles helps you establish rapport and keeps the sales cycle progressing.

2. Did You Bring Enough Value? Beyond price, many prospects are looking for a vendor’s ability to meet critical requirements relating to product usage, delivery dates and material requirements. In “Selling to Anyone Over the Phone,” Renee P. Walkup categorizes benefits in five basic categories: saving time, saving money, increasing revenue, reducing stress and improving productivity. Customers desire some of the benefits you offer and don’t care about others. They don't always buy the best solution, but they buy the solution with the best value.

3. Did You Employ Inspired Selling? Inspired selling starts with a positive attitude that is visible to the buyer from the first moment you meet. In a world where buyers have many options, inspired selling creates competitive advantage because it focuses on a critical differentiator that can’t be copied—YOU! Inspired selling shows genuine concern for the buyer’s best interests, and delivers a message customers want to hear. It’s aspirational as well as personal. It doesn’t just tell customers what you can do for them; it evokes emotions and is visionary, painting a clear and compelling picture of how life will improve by making the purchase. Inspired selling will get you follow up appointments and will inspire buyers to buy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): The Waiter Rule

The word “context” is frequently used by those in the helping professions, to suggest that care be taken to understand an individual in a bigger-picture way—in the full context of his life, and not merely via a single aspect, such business identity. Western cultures tend to be “low-context,” preferring to focus in on specific aspects. In contrast, certain Asian cultures are “high-context,” believing it’s important to comprehend the character of the whole person, so it would not be impolite to ask a new business associate where she is in birth order, a bit about family history, and how or why she chose her career.

As emotional intelligence and soft skills gain importance in how we conduct business, we’re going to see a more intuitive, high-context approach to selecting candidates for jobs and suppliers for business relationships. This will require a more articulated, well-defined customer service attitude—ie, zero-tolerance for abrasive jerks.

For example, many leaders take cues from “the Waiter Rule.” Recently one of my clients took a new supplier to lunch to discuss a potential business relationship. Up until the lunch, the supplier had been genial, friendly, and alert. Things looked promising. But at the restaurant, the supplier let down his guard and was rude and condescending to a waitress who’d gotten his order wrong.

My client was startled by the change in behavior and, needless to say, the guy didn’t win the account.

Or, to quote CEO Bill Swanson of Raytheon: Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can switch the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they're interacting with. Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Did You Say??

This week The Hubspot distributed the eBook "101 Awesome Marketing Quotes." Some of my favorites include:

"No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog." - Chris Brogan, Founder, New Marketing Labs

“The next time you hear a social media myth, question it. Ask for the proof, and ask out loud." - Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist, Hubspot

"Bring the best of your authentic self to every opportunity." - John Jantsch, Author, Duct Tape Marketing

"Your culture is your brand." - Tony Hsieh, CEO,

"You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new." - Steve Jobs, Apple

To get your free Hubspot eBook visit

Monday, October 17, 2011


Did you know that for the past two years YouTube has ranked among the top 10 sites in terms of visits? Last year, the site also was the most searched phrase on the internet. For those reasons alone it was time for Thought Transformation to be a part of.

That's right, we are now on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel to watch videos full of sales tips that will help you close your next deal.

*Source: Experian Hitwise

Friday, October 14, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Customer Labels

Customer. Client. Constituent. Donor. Stakeholder. Patient.

As much as labels tell us what is, they also tell us what isn’t—and therein lies the rub, especially in customer relations.

Plenty of organizations make this mistake: they’ll allocate best resources to serve important customers, at the same time forgetting the value of each and every customer.Taking it a step further, for many organizations, their suppliers and employees are also customers. (How often have I seen on consumer complaint web sites, “I may have to work for these bozos, but I’ll never spend my money on their products or services!”)

Here’s another fact of life: organizations who habitually deceive and mistreat their employees suffer the worst customer relations—because degraded, unhappy employees will, consciously or not, spread the misery around.

So what do you do?

First, get in the habit of treating everyone as a customer. Don’t differentiate: close the gap between customer and co-worker (or supplier). Hopefully this will mean a reduction in phony cordialities, and an increase in spreading a habit of trust and respect.

Second, expect to be surprised. Unfailingly, human beings manage to do better in life, so that delivery man coming through your service door may be working his way through school and could one day become a client.

It’s a matter of trust and treatment. Nobody does business with organizations for whom every transaction requires a leap of faith. Without trust, nothing can really get done. And we may forget the things ever said to us, but we never forget the way we were treated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Online To-Do: October 2011

Ever heard of Pete Cashmore? He's the CEO of and was named one of Ad Age’s 2011 influencers, a Time Magazine 100 in 2010, and a Forbes magazine web celeb 25.

While started as a blog focused on up-to-the-minute news on social networks and digital trends, today it's the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. If you are wondering when the next iPhone is coming out or what is the newest and most effective way to use a QR Code is, this is the site that will give you the answers!

Friday, October 7, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Do Your Employees Know What to Do?

It’s easy to tell which organizations put a premium on customer service and on their employees by how the latter responds to conflict—particularly conflict with customers.

Case in point: Last week I was somewhat irked by a drive-through bank teller who interrupted my transactions to have a lengthy chat with a customer in another lane. I understood her intentions were good (be friendly), but her chat took up my time, and later I realized she’d made a large mistake in logging a deposit amount (to my disadvantage!). When I returned the next day to have the error fixed, I pointed out this behavior to the bank manager.

Today I drove through again, and the usually friendly teller was noticeably more frosty—which I found interesting.

A well-trained employee would’ve known: (1) not to personalize the complaint; and (2) said something along the lines of, “Good morning, Ms. Ke! Listen, I talked with my manager about last week’s mistake and wanted to thank you for catching it. I’m sorry you had to come back again, but I promise it won’t happen again.” “Oh puh-lease,” you might say, “she’s human, she clearly has a right to be annoyed with you for complaining to her boss about her.”

Well, sure, but think about the messages being conveyed to the customer. By being curt, she comes off as petty, self-involved, and defensive. (Can such individuals be trusted with customer deposits?) If she’d tried option 2, she’d have radiated professionalism, warmth, and concern for the customer’s time.

I don’t like spending all my time in bank lines, so this individual had become a single point of contact for me where my bank is concerned—to me, she is the bank.

It could be a bank teller, a dry cleaning clerk, a receptionist, or a parking booth attendant. When conflict comes up, do your employees know how to react so you don’t wind up alienating customers?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Loyalty List

Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. In one column, list to your satisfied customers and in the other column, list your loyal ones. Study your list and try to decipher the reasons behind why certain customers are satisfied and others are loyal. As salespeople, it's our job to find ways to convert those who are satisfied into those who are loyal.

Friday, September 30, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Right, Wrong, or Customer Service

One of the first mistakes most people make when responding to customer complaints is to get overly mired in determining right or wrong.

“Of course,” you say, “that’s a no-brainer. The customer’s always right. Everybody knows that.”

Unfortunately, not everyone does, because a great many customer grievances are not so cut and dry. How do you address a customer’s ire over your late delivery of a project when he himself was late getting essential information to you? How do you explain to her that her abrasive behaviors have been upsetting your staff?

Here’s the key: Don’t think in terms of right or wrong. First, get inside the customer’s head to comprehend how they’re perceiving the problem. Usually you’ll find it has less to do with right or wrong, more to do with other issues that have cropped up to ruin their day—the customer may be feeling new stressors at work or need help doing some incidental face-saving.

But don’t get into the trap of determining right or wrong: you’ll only earn your customer’s resentment. After all, who died and made you judge and jury?

Take the time to fully understand how your customer’s experiencing the stated problem, and you’ll be more than halfway there to solving it. Along the way, you may also gain crucial insights on your customer’s work environment.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Online To-Do: September 2011

Last month, my free monthly newsletter - Self-Taught Sales - focused on how the internet can help you increase productivity. Here are a few sites that I've found can help you do just that. - Instapaper is a simple tool that enables you to save web pages for reading later. - Evernote enables you to type a text note, clip a web page, snap a photo or grab a screenshot and gives you the option to organize everything and anything from your computer, phone or the web. - Dropbox enables you to store and save files including document and pictures for access on any computer or mobile device.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Advice from Mark Potter's "Grammie"

CANVAS Magazine Publisher Mark Potter recently shared the following in his newsletter. It strikes a real emotional chord and hope you all enjoy it.

I have always been very blessed to have some wonderful people in my life. I have been surrounded with a smart, supportive, and ambitious group. One of the people, who not only supported me, but continues to provide inspiration is my late grandmother.

Like most grandmothers, my Grammie tried to instill the best values in me. Often times, she would write me little notes or letters encouraging me and educating me about the world. She had some great perspective from her travels across the globe and her unwavering faith.

I kept her letters and recently happened to read one from when I was thirteen years old. The bulk of the letter was devoted to her pride in me, but one particular excerpt really hit home. She was encouraging me to work hard and said that "It is easy to be less than good,” She continued, "It is hard to your best."

The insight from my little Grandmother should strike chord with us all. Whether you are selling print, managing a business, or trying to make changes, there is no substitute for hard work. It is much easier to be less than good! It takes guts to be great.

Our economy and, more specifically, our industry demand the best of us. There will be no room for mediocrity and coasting. Things won't just return to a level of comfort that we became accustomed to. That isn't what life is about. We need to work feverishly to be our best and realize our potential. If you don't believe me, just take it from my Grammie.

Friday, September 23, 2011

KeFactors Friday: The Customer Is Always Right?!

Top 3 Mistakes of Complaint Handling That Will Guarantee Your Customer’s Wrath

Yes, yes, yes, you’ve worked too hard and come too far in your career to deal with some whiny customer with nothing better to do than blister your ear with complaints about your products and/or services! You’re a busy [insert your job title], and that customer is probably some ill-tempered old coot filling a bleak and empty life by picking on busy people with real jobs.
Nonetheless, here are three mistakes you ought to avoid:

You apologize—in fact, you cut off the customer’s words in your haste to do so—and you never get around to thanking the customer for making the complaint.

What the customer hears: “If I say sorry ASAP, this customer will go away.”

Since the customer’s the injured party, you don’t get to set the terms of the discussion. Your job is to listen fully, suspend reactions, and thank the customer for even bothering to complain directly to you at all. Why? Because thanking them for the complaint means you take it seriously. You regard the customer as a partner in your organization’s hopes for improvement and customer satisfaction. Customers who are frequently cut off and interrupted become increasingly “glued to the problem.”

One of your first reactions to the complaint is along the lines of, “That’s funny, no one’s ever complained about that before.” (If you really want to drive this customer away, smile or chuckle when you say that).

What the customer hears: “Your complaint is unprecedented and therefore ridiculous.”

Again, a grateful attitude helps here, because so what if this customer’s the first? How many other customers have walked away mad, without saying anything to you about it?

Explaining/justifying your company’s internal protocols doesn’t work if the result still means a problem for the customer.

What the customer hears: “This is the way we operate and we’re not going to change it just because you’ve complained.”

If someone’s voicing dissatisfaction over a negative experience, characterizing the customer as a freakish crank means you’re willfully blinding yourself to process flaws that may need to change anyway—sooner rather than later. Again, how many other customers have reacted the same way but simply chosen not to share their grievance with you? because if a customer’s unhappy with you, they’ll talk—maybe not to you, but they’ll talk.

A big thank you to Lucy Ke for providing us with wonderful content as part of KeFactor Fridays. Lucy will be taking a hiatus to work on her business, but we wish her all the best and hope she will return as our guest blogger in the future. Over the coming weeks, we will be posting "The Best of KeFactor Friday." For more information on Lucy, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @KeFactors.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Sale's Pros Guide to Using Linked In Giveaway

Would you like a free copy of my new book, "The Sale's Pros Guide to Using LinkedIn"? What about 3 additional copies for your co-workers and/or friends?

All I want to know from you is:

"How do you used LinkedIn to effectively market yourself?"

Email Melissa at with your answer!

Friday, September 16, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Getting Out of the Trap of Overthinking

Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that to the contrary, overthinking ushers in a host of adverse consequences: It sustains or worsens [anxiety], fosters negatively biased thinking, impairs a person’s ability to solve problems, saps motivation, and interferes with concentration and initiative. — Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky (Stanford University)

There’s a huge difference between giving a matter due diligence, versus overthinking it.

The problem for chronic overthinkers is that they believe the process of overthinking and second-guessing protects projects and outcomes — thus, a smart checklist to follow. Not true.

So here are a few suggestions for letting yourself and others out of this trap:

If you find yourself feeling troubled, recognize there’s a difference between exercising self-knowledge and brooding. Turning inward cannot yield more creativity but endless, circular ruminations about wouldas, couldas, shouldas. Literally: get out. Get out of your own head. Refocus elsewhere. You may yet carry it in the back of your mind, but what you find in the outside world may ultimately inform what’s troubling you, and help you to overcome it.

Call it out if you see it happening within your workgroup. Group overthink kicks up anxious variables like a careening car kicks up gravel. Without appearing dismissive of anyone’s concerns, hold up your hands and say, “Whoa, we may be overthinking this.” Instead, remind the group of intended goals and priorities. If group overthink persists, ask how those objectives will be served by answering all qualms.

Steer clear of people and situations that chronically lead to overthink. Overthinking bosses and clients lead internal lives of frantic anxiety and repeatedly lose focus and clarity about intentional goals. Many are convinced, all evidence to the contrary, that they’ve been “set up to fail.” They’re unwilling to confront that which makes them anxious, and may even believe their cautionary role adds to their value and importance. Their thinking falls into biased grooves, which means creative problem-solving is shut out in favor of formulaic solutions that have worked in the past. The most egregious overthinkers become passionate about blame assignments (because their motivations are fraught with anxiety, they seek to deflect blame). It’s your call how long you can work within this no-win situation. Personally, what frustrates me about rabid overthinkers is that they never address themselves to the problems—usually only to solutions once provided by others.

Marketing research cannot guarantee 100% of the answers 100% of the time. In business, taking calculated risks is better than doing nothing at all. Sometimes, folks, life is just a toss of the dice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why You Should Never Doubt Mark Potter

CANVAS Magazine Publisher Mark Potter recently shared the following in his newsletter. It's a great story that I hope you take the time read.

Last week, our company had the opportunity to support a local football team, Stephenson High School, and help raise money for their program. Specifically, we created a game day program for the lower income school that was playing Parkview, a perennial powerhouse from a much more affluent area. As we walked into the game, which was played in a small college stadium, it was explicitly clear which side was which.

We watched the game, with every intention of leaving at halftime so I could get my daughter to bed at a decent hour. However, I noticed that the Stephenson group was not selling the programs to the best of their ability. I even heard three cheerleaders, who were charged with selling, say something like “OMG, nobody’s going to buy a program”.

I took my salesperson over to the booster lead. I said, “Has anyone tried to sell programs on the Parkview side? Their roster is inside and I am sure they might give us a couple of bucks for that.” She looked at me quizzically and started to chuckle. She called her friends over and said something like “This fella here thinks he can sell our programs on the Parkview side?” They seemed to have difficulty catching their breath from laughing so hard. One woman said to me “Nobody will buy a program from you over there.” She was still laughing when she added, “And I’m not letting you in here when you come back with your tail between your legs!”

Game on! I took my daughter by the hand, grabbed a stack of programs and we made our way to the other side. When I got there, I received more resistance and sarcasm. However, they let me in for 10 minutes to try and sell Stephenson programs to the Parkview faithfuls. Ten minutes later, I was out of programs and my daughter was holding a wad of cash.

I had carved my way through the stands, holding the programs high in the air and enthusiastically letting everyone know that this was what they needed at this time. Their roster was in the program and they could now identify the kids by jersey number. Interestingly enough, when one fan bought a program, another one jumped on the bandwagon. The dominos fell and suddenly I was the one laughing.

When I returned to the Stephenson side, I couldn’t help but strut my way back to the booster table. With their jaws on the ground, I threw down the wad of cash and repeatedly said “Never doubt me”. They gave me and my daughter big hugs and wanted to know how I did it. I simply stated that “Enthusiasm and confidence come from a belief in your product and yourself.”

Anyone who doesn’t want to hold up their product high in the air and claim that it is the best--- will fail. The greatest salespeople and the greatest brands in the world, take the time to tell everyone about how much they believe in their offering. They are constantly selling or advertising their wares because they know you cannot be bashful about something you believe in. If you don’t scream it at the mountaintops, then you simply don’t believe in what you have to offer. That is the truth and never doubt me!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Facebook + Loyalty Programs

I recently read a great article in Ad Age about how Facebook for established brands serves as a loyalty program rather than a customer-acquisition tool.

Check it out:

Good reading and good selling!

Friday, September 9, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Overthinking

Mr. Winkle

As a creative, I’ve witnessed this in spades, both in myself and in others. So what is it?

Overthinking is taking something simple and straightforward, and beating it to death with an over-analysis of questions and “what ifs” that seek to illuminate the issue at hand, but instead leads it into more confusion. It usually occurs when the overthinker’s stressed and trying to do some “on the other hand” forecasting, to anticipate pitfalls and objections.

Overthinking occurs when:
  • There’s an anxious need to control outcomes. A direct-mail piece is going out, and someone on yours or the client’s team is worried about “how everyone will react” to a visual element or a phrase in the copy. What’s more, they ask questions like, “How do you think everyone will respond to this?” (re: a mailing list of 375,000 names)….
  • The individual doesn’t know what they’re doing. Micromanagement occurs when the individual doesn’t understand — or hasn’t been properly trained to do — their jobs, so there’s an escalating need to control, to predict, and to analyze every detail for every possible contingency. It’s a tortured way to live and work —of chasing the unknowables, of seeking pat answers to open-ended questions, of spreading anxiety around to others.
  • The overthinker was once praised for detailed analysis, but it’s become a chronic habit of diminishing returns. Not every situation requires the same level of analysis, and most professionals know that. The danger of overthinking is that you lose sight of what’s really important — eg, as staff is sent out to research answers or to confirm endless variables, deadlines are missed, opportunities forfeited, budget dollars expended. In my career, I’ve seen more money and man-hours wasted on the “due diligence” required by a single overthinker, than any dollars spent on actual production.
Next week — how to let yourself and others out of this trap called overthinking.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Smokin’ Hot Leads—How to Make the Most of Them

Hot leads are seriously interested in making a purchase.

You identify them by:
• Prospecting
• Inbound requests for information via phone or web
• Networking
• Events and tradeshows
• Referrals

To keep hot leads sizzling, react quickly. Give the lead immediate quality attention. Make them feel like they matter to you. Call or email quickly—within hours, not days. Demonstrate genuine appreciation for
their interest.

Determine where the hot lead is at in their buying cycle. It it’s early on, the hot lead is investigating options. They are on a quest to learn, and their search for information tends to be wide and shallow. As the prospect closes in on a purchase, the list of possibilities narrows and details become more important.

When talking to a hot lead, find out where they’re at. Ask them, "What stage are you at in your buying process? Are you investigating your options or ready to purchase?"

Don't be discouraged if they admit they're not ready to buy today. Remember, a hot lead is seriously interested in making a purchase. Have a plan in place to stay top of mind and be their number one choice. Continue to engage to increase the odds of closing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Workplace Incivility - So what? What can I do about it?

Stop the behavior. If you know you’re doing something that offends others—even in a small way—correct it. ASAP. If you suspect you might be doing something wrong but aren’t sure, ask! At the very least, you’ll learn what’s negotiable and what the tolerances may be.

Revitalize the basics.
Say “please.” If you take the last cup of coffee from the pot, make some more. Help someone if they appear overloaded. And I urge you to praise rather than punish, and to be very explicit in your thank-you’s, because humans have a tendency to repeat the behaviors that win praise. Don’t just toss off a “thanks” but maybe say, “You’re always so punctual and organized with your reports, I really appreciate that about you.”

Beware the rude non-verbals.
One can hear and sense non-verbals even over the phone. I’ve witnessed angry individuals flounce indignantly out of a meeting, then try to backpedal by claiming, “But I wasn’t mad” — except everyone could tell they were….

Commit to being a better listener.
Our narcissistic society has forgotten the transformative power of being heard. Listen fully. Acquire the skills and awareness to work on building trust.

Put a premium on courtesy as a mark of professionalism.
As viral as incivility can be, civility is also contagious if your group insists upon it as a community value worth upholding and protecting. It should start with leaders who can model courteous behaviors—but you know what? You don’t need a degree in rocket science to be a courteous person. Start without your leaders, especially if they’re part of the incivility problem at your workplace.

Honor your “toxin handlers.”
Toxin handlers are people who recognize the emotional pain in other people and in a situation. They know that if such pain strips others of their hope or self- confidence, those affected will lose their focus and enthusiasm and become disconnected from their workplace. As a result, these handlers step into the situation and deflect the pain or prevent or release its effects so that their people can get back to work. These people are both the
heroes and casualties of your workplace, and can exist anywhere in your organization. The often invisible work of toxin handlers is vital to the health and success of the organization.

Recognize the physical toll of incivility
and take steps to mitigate it. Get enough sleep, exercise, or even professional help if necessary. But don’t learn to live with this festering virus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Examples of Workplace Incivility

The further down this list you go, the more egregious the acts of incivility.

Frequency and noise levels of cell phone usage in office
Not returning phone calls or e-mails
Swiping someone else’s food from the breakroom fridge

“Pet peeve #1 among many is when people take someone else’s food from the fridge.”

— Dr. P. Forni, Civility Project, Johns Hopkins

Leaving shared workspaces in disarray or with supplies depleted
Leaving the fax/copier/printer jammed or depleted
Taking the last cup of coffee without making more
Using the last of any kitchen supply and not replacing it
Failing to use basic courtesies (“please,” “thank you,” etc)
Texting or checking e-mails during meetings

“Cell phones are a way of minimizing the group...[users} are telling the rest that ‘You
don’t matter and I’m very important.’”

— Dr. Joseph Miller, New School for Social Research

Using co-workers’ supplies
• Taking first without asking permission
• Not returning what was borrowed
• Returning what was borrowed in degraded condition
Interrupting conversations or disrupting meetings
Chronic tardiness
Withholding project and client info necessary to project
Using proprietary or confidential info as “social currency” for gossip
Taking credit; not sharing credit on group projects
Participating in negative speculative gossip; spreading rumors
Speaking disparagingly to a subordinate or colleague in front of others
Sending nasty, demeaning e-mails
Accusing someone of ignorance, lack of knowledge
Undermining a colleague’s work or credibility
Blaming others for actions for which they’re not culpable
Procrastinating on work that subsequently causes others to lose time or put in extra hours
Giving a co-worker the silent treatment; encouraging group to do so as well
Making unreasonable requests
Yelling and screaming at subordinates or colleagues
Name-calling, profanity, racial slurs
Hovering and badgering
Bullying behaviors: direct or indirect threats and intimidation
Shunning; “mobbing” (retaliations)
Workplace physical aggression or violence

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sales Proposals

When compiling a sales proposal for a client, do you ever wonder what you should and should not include? Australian sales guru Sue Barrett shared her top five tops on how to produce a winning sales proposal. Here are her recommendations for crafting a proposal that's top notch:

1. Ask good questions and take detailed notes in the client meeting

2. Manage expectations – verify your understanding and establish clear intentions

3. Put the client first, always

4. Demonstrate value, don’t quote a price

5. Never talk someone through a proposal

Monday, August 22, 2011

Workplace increasingly hostile, study finds

Lucy Ke's most recent KeFactors Friday was extremely timely. A recent survey on workplace civility was conducted and reported on nationwide. Below is a report from CBS which not only discusses the survey, but also provides tips on what can companies do to create a healthier work environment.