Friday, July 29, 2011

KeFactors Friday: The smartest people in the room

…are usually going to be the skilled listeners

Skilled listening is more than just respectful attentiveness. It includes observation of body language and nonverbal cues, the ability to clear one’s mind of any agenda, and a commitment to listen comprehensively until the other person has said everything that needed to be said.

Good listeners have distinct advantages. Why?

They tend to make fewer mistakes, in part because they ask better questions. If you’re listening well, you’re able to detect contradictions, gaps, and incomplete thoughts. You pick up better information, even when it’s unspoken.

Let’s say a client’s briefing you on a new project: you’re listening closely and picking up on a series of contradictory, unfinished thoughts. Tactfully, you ask questions around those, and the client admits he hasn’t had time to fully process those; but, being in conference, you now do so together. The client comes away feeling you’ve been very helpful, that you’re great with collaborative thinking.

• They form more durable bonds within their relationships. Who doesn’t like to be listened to? Emotional reactivity usually increases as relationships progress, so very often we don’t receive the quality of listening we need from those closest to us. It can be a source of frustration and disappointment. On the other hand, skilled listeners tend to form stronger relationships because others in their lives know they can be counted on for this.

• They build credibility more easily, and are more empowered to impact or transform relationships. Human beings love to dish out advice, usually on the assumption (or presumption), “Hey, this worked for me, it should work for you!” — the problem being that unless you’ve earned your right to be listened to, your advice means very little. How do you earn your right to be heard? Others will more likely heed your advice if they feel you’ve taken the time to first listen thoroughly to what they have to say. (Think about this the next time you’re talking to your teen about how he should plan his future).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Online To-Do: July 2011

With the end of the month, I thought I'd introduce a new monthly feature. I frequently come across great websites - from sites that will help you to be more productive to sites that might help you close your next sale. I hope that you will find my recommendations both helpful and useful and if you have a website you think is great, feel free to post a comment below.

This month check out - This site features the greatest salespeople of all time and celebrates history's greatest closers, including David Ogilvy, Sale Carnegie and Mary Kay Ash.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Barbara Walters Method

I recently came across an article by Kim Duke. Thought you might enjoy this excerpt...

"....When a reporter asks me who taught me how to sell - I always tell them Barbara Walters.

I had no interest in being a "cheesy salesperson" - I wanted to be a superior interviewer who just happened to sell.

The 3 Best Sales Tips You Can Learn From Barbara Walters?

1. Don't pressure.
If you're talking to someone intrusively and you make them feel pressured - they will clam-up, stone-wall, freeze you out in less than 3 seconds. Barbara rarely slipped up on this. She would make people feel comfortable, usually in an environment of their choice.

2. Don't ask stupid questions.
Barbara didn't ask the typical boring questions that other reporters would ask. She was and is known for her exceptional research skills. She would find the little piece of information that was a hot button - and then find a way to work it in.

3. Make people FEEL.
Barbara is also known as the interviewer who could make anyone cry. She would ask the hard question and yet with respect. And she always caught her subject off guard - where they showed their authentic side. (How easy do you think it is to interview professional actors who've been asked everything?)"

Friday, July 22, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Top 10 reasons why listening matters to human beings


Careful listening saves people and organizations from making mistakes,
committing embarrassments, creating needless conflict, and
becoming encumbered by destructive barriers.


The commitment to listening fosters learning.


It encourages others to listen to us.
Human beings often need to be heard before they can hear. By listening, you earn your right to be listened to. We can actually help others become better listeners by modeling the behaviors ourselves.


Listeners have more power and impact on others than most people realize.

Good listeners have advantages.


By listening, you’re not merely taking in data and info, but also bearing witness to another’s expression or interpretation.


Being listened to fortifies our sense of self, clarifies our thinking,
helps us discover how we feel, and nourishes our sense of self-worth.

(Not being heard, never being listened to, saps our vitality and enthusiasm for life.)


Becoming a good listener gives us the power to foster positive change and

to transform relationships.


Credibility is more important than slickness or glibness.
The best talkers are often not the best listeners.


The best listeners often make the best leaders/managers.

The best conversationalists are often the best listeners.

And the Number 1 Reason...

The quality of listening in our lives—how well we listen, how well we’re listened to—shapes choice and character, in both the speaker and the listener.
Ultimately, it has the power to shape our quality of life.

Next week: How do good listeners gain advantages?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Coming soon...

I'll be sharing more information on my new book, "The Sales Pro's Guide to Using LinkedIn" very soon, but until then have you picked up your copies of "Selling in Tough Times" and "101 Cold Call Tips"? They're available at TT Books.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Big One: Warning Signs

Unfortunately, there will be times when the deck is stacked against you, so watch for these warning signs.

• The customer requires complex pricing or an elaborate proposal, but refuses to engage in any
real discussion about the opportunity, either face-to-face or on the phone.
• Prospects agree to meet, but it quickly becomes obvious that they’re just going through the
motions—either so they can say they did their due diligence or to appease their boss—not because they’re honestly interested in a potential partnership with you as a vendor.
• The specifications have an obvious slant and you can tell they were written to benefit one
particular vendor.

When you have concerns about the opportunity being a waste of time, you may want to push the
matter and have a heart-to-heart talk with the prospect and ask, “Do we have a real opportunity to win this business?”

Friday, July 15, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Ah, rejection, my old friend, we meet again….

I’ve learned to embrace rejection with the Nietszche quote, “What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”
  • Rejection makes you strong, like bull. I had a friend who opted to go into a months-long retreat—“I haven’t properly grieved for my job”—the one she lost due to massive layoffs. Months of chest-beating and depression followed….I’m sorry, but….Come on! Unless you probe rejection for those hidden insights, you’re just letting it kick you while you’re down.
  • Remember: rejection won’t kill you. It can make you feel like warmed-over duck poo for the rest of the day, but that’s just a few hours. What’s left is the information. Think of hidden insight as buried treasure, ready for you to pull it out of the ground.

Was your price too high? What, then, was the client really looking for?

You were asked to bid, but never really hit it off with the client panel—why?

You worked for years with this client and now they’re opting for another vendor, one of your rivals—what’s changed? How well did you observe those changes coming?

  • Like anger, rejection has an immediate, clarifying effect. If human communications is an imperfect process, it’s partially because human beings dislike being direct or blunt about their choices. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings….I felt it best to let her down easy….I decided my point could be better made by saying nothing at all….All good intentions, often resulting in a muddled lot of wasted time.

Rejection is final and decisive, so it leaves you with clear-cut facts and circumstances.

If you get rejected, the situation compels you to rethink, to reconsider your priorities.

How important was this to me, really?

Never mind what I said…what did my actions say about my intentions?

Did my priorities mesh well with the customer’s?

What can I do differently or better, going forward?

  • Rejection reminds you to keep abundant options. The fewer options you have, the more it hurts when one of them rejects you. If your job hunt list only has five prospects, of course it’ll rankle if four of them turn you down. But if your list has 50, then it’s easier to keep going to the rest if the first four are rejections.
  • Rejections run in proportion with risk and effort: the more you attempt, the more you risk, the more rejections you’ll encounter. If you venture nothing for the next 20 years, you’ll be assured of zero rejections—but is that any way to live? The only way to live fully, to live an expansive life, is to encounter rejection and know how to read it, deal with it, and put it in its place.

Rejection always hurts—don’t plan to make it your new best friend—but over time, it can be like that abrasive, plain-spoken, but well-meaning aunt or uncle who barrels into your kitchen when you’re nursing a pounding head, and says, “OK, look, I must speak up: here’s why it went south.”

You hate them for speaking up but you always learn from what they’ve said. And after a while you don’t dread it when rejection comes through your door.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Big One: Offer a Solution

To sell a big deal, you need to find a match between the customer’s problems and your company’s products and services. Generally, bigger problems are solved with a bundled offering providing an end-to-end solution.

Selling an established solution is easier than selling a brand new concept. Prior sales offer proof of your expertise, making it easier to open doors and start conversations with potential customers.

More on "The Big One" next Monday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Big One

An opportunity for a big deal is lurking in your account base, and while finding it may not be easy, it could be very lucrative when you focus on these areas.

Know exactly what you sell.
Big deals are built by bundling products and services into a single high-value solution. To identify winning combinations, hone your expertise on all the products and services your company offers. Sell on your strengths. Understand your weaknesses and be prepared to answer related objections.

Know why customers buy.
Both Starbucks and McDonald's sell coffee. Beyond price considerations, there are many reasons why some buyers prefer Starbucks while others prefer McDonald's. McDonald's has more lunch choices on its fast food menu and caters to kids. Starbucks, with its upscale coffee shop vibe, is more likely to be the destination of choice for business people meeting for coffee.

You know why you prefer Starbucks or McDonald's. To sell big deals you need to know why customers prefer you.

Identify your customer’s big problems.
Big deals come about because smart salespeople eliminate big problems related to:
• Inefficient processes.
• Low productivity.
• Excessive costs.
• Missed opportunities for higher revenues or increased profit.

More on "The Big One" Wednesday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

KeFactors Friday: The Dignity Domino

Security expert Gavin De Becker first introduced this term in his 1997 book, The Gift of Fear, urging employers to “prop up with courtesy and understanding” that bit of personal dignity in each employee, especially ones facing termination.

Young, broke, and eager to master his writing, John Steinbeck considered his options with a teacher’s advice to live in Europe: “Over there poverty is considered a misfortune. Here in America it’s considered shameful.”

Through no fault of our own, this recession has put a great many of us into a valley of shame—lengthy unemployment, debt, collections, notice of insufficient funds, foreclosure—all the scary harbingers of personal ruin.

As this economy slowly turns around, more and more I get called to speak on matters involving workplace civility and dealing effectively with difficult customers. No surprise. As pressures mount, people are finding it harder to maintain calm, patience, and understanding; they’re knotted up with fear—fear of foreclosure, fear of collections, fear of losing their jobs.

There’s nothing revolutionary about providing superior customer service during a slow economic recovery. It’s simple.
  • Protect your customer’s dignity domino.
  • Don’t embarrass the customer in front of others.
  • No matter how sacred your policies are, don’t embarrass the customer in front of their own children (or employees). Recall the grocery scene from the old movie, “Terms of Endearment,” when a rude checkout clerk yells across the store, “She doesn’t have enough money!” — much to a young mother’s humiliation and to her children’s mortification.
  • Emphasize that you’re aiming for a long-term relationship. How would you feel about remaining loyal to someone who throws you overboard at the first sign of trouble?
  • Don’t let your competitors beat you to it, in simply being kinder and more understanding to your customers. As a recent car commercial said, “This isn’t over for any of us until it’s over for all of us.” Until it ends, we’ll need to help each other, especially if we want to count on customer loyalties when households start to experience “disposable income.” They may condemn ruined buildings but the human spirit is strong, and people always, always, always remember how they were treated.