The TWO Irrefutable Laws of Selling

I am excited to be hosting my first guest blogger to Sales, Life & Leadership!

I encountered Gerry Layo when he spoke at a Motorola Solutions Channel Partner Expo, early in 2012. I read a lot of sales blogs and books, and I have witness many keynote speakers, but Gerry’s presentation stood out above the rest. His content was fresh and extremely insightful, but it was delivered in a way that was unforgettable. In Gerry’s words, he is unlike any motivational speaker; he is more of an “Irritatational Speaker”. Gerry tells it like it is and challenges salespeople to be better, NOW!

Gerry made such an impression on the various managers from my company, we brought him to Edmonton to provide some sales training to our organization. In addition, our managers were able to attend one of Gerry’s Sales Manager’s Boot Camps the next day. Both days we intense, but infinitely valuable.

One of my favourite posts from Gerry’s blog “Smart Selling” is The TWO Irrefutable Laws of Selling and it is my pleasure to share it with you:

There are two laws about the profession of sales that all salespeople (and marketing people) need to remember.  These two laws may have  very few exceptions to them but for most, these rules need to guide you in your approach.  Here is the first law:

Law #1—NOBODY wants to BUY or OWN what you are selling!

Most salespeople are taught (too often) to go out into the marketplace and extol the many various features and benefits of their products and services and tell wonderful tales about the companies that provide them.  They work for hours on the fine points of the presentation, the cool graphics on the PowerPoint slides, and the delivery of all of those to the prospective buyer.  On top of that, the way that they describe their company, products and services are peppered with terms and phrases that make a prospective buyer go “brain-dead” such as:

Vertically Integrated—Cutting Edge—Innovative—Industry Leader—Cost Effective—Premier—Unique–Scalable–Turn-Key—Value Added–Synergy—Next Level–Customer-Centric–Strategic

What does this drivel all mean to the customer?  NOTHING!!  In fact, these words more often today begin to shut down the customer’s interest.  Why, because they are tired of YOU talking about YOU!

Here is the fact:  NOBODY really wants to buy and own your stuff!  Even those of you that sell cool consumer products such as electronics, cars, and clothing have to think beyond what it is that you sell and get the heart of “the WHY” it is that they want it.  (Think image, differentiation, status, etc.)  for the most of us out there (myself included) the customer is looking to achieve, accomplish, or attain something that our product/service helps them with.  We need to focus on THAT, understand THAT, and get them to discover and admit THAT to us in the sales process.  Is it easy?  NOPE!  Why?  Because we are not programmed or trained to dig for their motivation and work to understand their needs.  We are taught to go give information and repeat a pitch!  Is it simple?  You bet!  How?  You need to change your thinking in advance so that you can change your approach throughout!  It’s all about THEM Stupid

Law #2—Customers don’t know how to BUY!

Sounds weird doesn’t it?  Think about though!  How soon and how often does price come up in the conversation today?  If you are not selling in a typical retail environment where there is a price-tag or a menu with prices, the customer seems to be primarily interested in the price (the cost) of your offering.  Customers may not know how to buy but they certainly know to ask “How much?”  Why?  Simple; because salespeople LEAD with their wallets way too often in their approach.  They enter the conversation with things such as “We want to make sure we get you the lowest price” or “Our product/service will save you money on….” or “we are the price leader in the market…” blah, blah, blah.  In other words, the customer has been trained to go to price soon and to go there often.

Salespeople need to stop SELLING and to start helping customers buy! 

  • They need HELP making a decision!
  • They need HELP understanding their problems!
  • They need HELP assessing their current situation and their future needs.
  • They need HELP analyzing past decisions that got them there.

They don’t need a walking, talking brochure vomiting on them!  But, too often, what they GET is just that!  Thus….”How much?”

So…what to do?  First off, stop being a self-centered, product pushing braggart with commission breath!  Get into every opportunity focused on the intent of learning, engaging, and discovering your customer’s “needs to buy.”  Get them OPEN and sharing information about their favorite subjects—themselves and their situation.  The more they are talking to you, sharing with you, and open to you…..the more often that they differentiate you, value you, and will choose to do business with you!

Understand this:  Most salespeople don’t get this!  Most salespeople are not trained to diagnose before prescription.  Most salespeople are NOT tough acts to follow! Learn these two LAWS of buyers and separate yourself from that crowd!

Gerry Layo is a dynamic speaker offering keynote addresses, seminars, and workshops throughout North America. Gerry offers his audiences more than 20 years of street-tested, no-nonsense business experience.  He has co-founded and run three companies and built national sales organizations.

Today Gerry is the CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) for Sales Coach International, where he wears two hats.  In one capacity, Gerry is booked throughout North America as a speaker/trainer to work with companies, organizations, and/or associations through high-energy keynote addresses, workshops, and seminars in sales, sales leadership, and customer service.

When he is not speaking, Gerry is the Head Coach, working with companies throughout the US and Canada in an ongoing coach/consultant capacity.  By introducing and implementing a set of success philosophies and hands-on sales tools, Sales Coach International’s Coach Program is helping to increase the sales and profits of companies throughout North America.

Gerry has an ability to sense not only what the audience needs and wants. He is also extremely effective at delivering the message the way the audience needs to hear it!  His true gift is in helping the audience turn inward to take full responsibility for their own success and then JUMP START into ACTION immediately after his sessions!  Gerry uses a No Excuses-No Blame philosophy that he instills in all of his audiences so that they look to themselves for answers.  He is a master storyteller and hilarious speaker who pulls his audiences into his enthusiasm and empowers them to take on new challenges.

For more information on Gerry Layo or to follow his blog, check out the following links: Sales Coach International and Smart Selling

Tune in to WII FM!

Some background before I start my rant:

I work for a mid-size telecommunications company who specialize in two-way communications and sophisticated communication systems. If that didn’t bore you and you have an interest in what we do, check us out by going to  westcan-acs.com (shameless plug complete).

The point being, it is not difficult, nor time-consuming to find Westcan or find me online. I am willing to bet that after a Google search and no more than 10 mouse clicks, someone is able to find out a significant amount about the company and it’s people.

I received this email last week (I have altered people and company names to protect the guilty):

Hi Chris,

I’m writing in hopes of finding the appropriate person who handles Customer Success and the post-sale customer relationship. If it makes sense to talk, let me know how your calendar looks this week.

Backscratcher 5000 is an application that provides a 360-degree view of every customer. This data sheet (link removed) explains how our product works.

  • First, we collect disparate data sources (contract, sales, product usage, NPS/survey, support tickets, etc) into one central location.
  • Then, with a little big data magic, we gauge the health of your customers and reveal actionable insights.
  • Finally, we use proactive alerts and built-in workflow management to improve retention and reveal up-sell opportunities.

If you are the appropriate person to speak with, what does your calendar look like? 

If not, who do you recommend I talk to?

Thanks,
Ronald McDonald

p.s. more info on our 5 modules (link removed)

Delete

Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t delete the email immediately. I forwarded it to my sales team with the following note:

Example of a BAD prospecting email…

  • Displays no knowledge of our business
  • Talks only about them
  • Uses “industry” terms and terminology I know nothing about
  • Asks if I’m the right person
  • No defined call to action
  • But, most importantly when I read it, it fails to answer the question: What’s in it for me??? (WIIFM)

And then I proceeded to draft this post…

If Ronald McDonald had taken 5 minutes to do some background research on Westcan and on me, this email could be phrased and delivered more effectively. In fact, given the right message, I may have taken action that does not involve the delete button on my keyboard.

So please, do me a favour. Whenever you prospect, make sure your audience (reader, in this case) can clearly answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”

If your message can’t convey that; don’t bother hitting send.

“No” Can Be Good

Did I mention it has been a busy summer?

Well it has.

What was designed to be a summer of nothing, turned out to be exactly the opposite. Please don’t mistake that statement for complaining however. Although our expectations and reality didn’t quite line up this summer, I feel that I have been productive and have demonstrated to myself that I can adapt and perform well under various pressures: certainly better than I ever have before.

Additionally out of the craziness I have some stories I would like to share.

Last year, my wife and I embarked on a new venture by investing in Real Estate. The first year has been rewarding beyond our expectations, both from a personal development perspective and a business perspective. One tiny aspect had been nagging at me since soon after we took possession. A small section of concrete at the back of the house had sunk significantly. It had gotten to the point where water would pool by the foundation of the house: never a good thing. Thankfully it was not causing any issues beyond a slight puddle, but I wanted to address it sooner rather than later.

Late last summer I reached out to a well recommended contractor to provide me with a quote. He was prompt in meeting me, semi-prompt in providing me a quote (a week later), was reasonably priced and communicated a plan of attack very clearly. All good signs! However the weather did not cooperate and it soon became late September before the work could get done. We decided to hold off until the spring.

Fast forward to April when I emailed the contractor to re-connect and ensure he still planned to do the work, and if his quote was valid. I received a response saying mid-May would be the ideal time to get it done. Mid-May came, and I received no contact. I reached out to him again, only to discover he was on vacation and would contact me upon his return at the end of May. I’m still waiting for his call…

In the meantime, I contact several other contractors, received several other quotes and ultimately decided to move on. The remainder of the story can wait for another post, as it has a message of its own.

I have no doubt that the original contractor does great work: we would not have been recommended by so many if he didn’t. I also strongly believe he had the best of intentions to complete my work, but other jobs and obligations got in the way. Unfortunately for him, I have a sour taste in my mouth and I won’t be calling him again.

I can’t help but think what would have been if he had said “no”. If the contractor was up-front with me, saying something along the lines of, “Chris, I appreciate your call and I would love to provide you with a quote to do the work. At this point however, I am stretched a little thin with other work and I would really hate to damage our future relationship by not being able to deliver in a timely manner.” I would have to respect that.

I would have called others and the job would have been completed by someone else, but guess who would remain near the top of my list for the next time. Instead I’ve deleted his name and number from my phone; because I won’t be using it again.

How often do we say “yes” because it’s a job or a project or a favour or ___________________, when it is our (and other’s) best interests to say “no”?

Own Up and Do Something

Chris Goodrow:

I can’t believe it has been a year since I posted “Own Up and Do Something”, but events of late have reminded me how accountability is a rare trait. It’s easy to point the finger, but it takes a special person to own up and make a difference.

Originally posted on Sales, Life and Leadership:

In my last post I mentioned that my family and I recently returned from a brief vacation in Kelowna, BC. My wife’s friend of over 20 years got married there and as fate would have it, the couple could not have picked a more beautiful location and day to share their vows. Being that the bride is my wife’s best friend, my wife was heavily involved in discussing, planning, idea bouncing (if that’s a thing), and basically assisting in any way possible so that the time leading up to the big day went smoothly. My wife was perfect for the job: she is organized, thoughtful and has a fine attention to detail. Needless to say our family’s vacation was planned 6 months prior with consideration for travel and accommodations. For the first 4 nights we stayed at a wonderful Bed & Breakfast on a quiet golf course where we enjoyed…

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Missed Me?

I realize that it has been well over a month since my last post: I feel horrible. And oddly enough, it’s not for the reason I thought it was. I kept thinking about the time that has passed since my last post and kept feeling bad as it was ‘X’ number of days since the last one. I got used to regular schedule(ish) of blogging and when I fell off track, I was embarrassed I missed so much time.

However, here I am, one month and 18 days since my last published post and surprisingly the time doesn’t bother me. Why I regret not writing more often and what has been reinforced is that writing is therapeutic for me. Because I hadn’t planted myself down with the intent to write a post in a long time, I lost touch with one of my outlets: I felt off.

Even now, in the 5 minutes I have spent populating these thoughts, I feel a degree of inner calmness. The last months have been a whirlwind. I could list everything I’ve been doing but a) I don’t want to think about it and, b) you likely could care less. Point being, I’ve been busy: but that’s no excuse. This is for me.

I am reminded, yet again, that unless we stop and take a moment to slow down and enjoy ourselves, life can flash before our eyes. You’d think I’d learn…

It feels good to be back, thanks for waiting.

Delivering Happiness

I recently finished reading “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Simply put, it’s inspirational and enlightening. I highly recommend it for everyone in business, but it’s certainly a must read for anyone who holds a position of leadership.

The book is written by Tony, who admittedly is not a writer, and who makes mention of his reasons to forgo the use of a ghost writer. The result is an easy to read book that feels more conversational, like he’s telling you an elaborate story. His message was engaging and though provoking.

Without spoiling too much (because I KNOW you will go read it, now that I’ve recommended it) I want to share a couple of points that struck a chord with me.

1. Great company culture cannot be created by one person alone.

To the benefit of Zappos, they had exceptional leadership from the start. They had a team of individuals who believed they could change the way business was done, and be successful because they dared to be different. What served as a significant surprise was my expectation of Tony. I envisioned him to be this guy living on the edge, taking chances with different ideas that the “average” company wouldn’t dream of, or deem “risky”. To a degree, he is, but the surprising part was how often he engage all Zappos staff to make suggestions, he empowered them to be different and to think differently, and all he had to do was listen. Listen and execute. Zappos was built, and continues to thrive on the highest standard of customer service (if you don’t believe, Google some. It’s okay, I’ll wait…). As an example, their policies of free shipping and free returns likely costs Zappos a significant amount of money every year; but to them, it’s a cost of giving great customer service. The world-famous Zappos culture was built by all the people at Zappos and their common passion.

2. Ever year Zappos publishes a Culture Book.

Tony describes engaging all Zappos associates to anonymously submit a paragraph defining what Zappos culture means to them. His leadership team complies their responses (good and bad), have it professionally printed, and distributed to all staff. The Zappos Culture Book has now become a document provided to prospective Zappos employees, their current and potential vendors, and they even sell it. Tony mentioned there was some internal debate whether to include the negative comments in their first culture book: ultimately they chose to leave them in. They felt if the negative comments reflected reality, it gave them a starting point to address positive change. What a powerful resource!

3. Investing in people is the greatest investment.

This one should be a “no-brainer”, but it amazes me that there are companies and business groups that fail to recognize this. In the book, Tony details specific professional development and career paths that are offered at Zappos. Each employee has the option to learn outside of their role, to strive for promotions based on merit awards (think Boy Scouts). Once a Zappos employee has completed all the necessary courses (received their merit badges), they are deemed qualified for the next step. The next step could be a wage increase, a promotion, a new path within Zappos: whatever the employee wants. This encourages all employees to set their own goals and use company resources to help achieve them. Another example comes in the form of a Zappos library. Zappos has a library filled with books surrounding common themes: business, entrepreneurship, thought-provoking, leadership, personal growth. Every employee is encouraged to borrow the books, with the hope that inspiration strikes within those pages, and Zappos will be better for it. Imagine that; better people, better company.

Alas, I’ve rambled enough. I strongly encourage everyone to read “Delivering Happiness” if you haven’t already. If you have, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Or start a 140-character-at-a-time conversation with me on twitter @SalesLifeLeader.

Happy reading!

What It Takes To Sell (part 2)

In part 1, I discussed the challenge sales professionals face when it comes to relinquishing control during a sales cycle. The fact of the matter is, customers do a significant amount of research before engaging a sales person; and we need to be adequately prepared.

What I left out for part 2 was how we can start “getting in front” of our customers.

One avenue the sales professional needs to address is their online presence (or lack thereof). If a customer receives a stimulus and their first reaction is to immediately go online, it would stand to reason that a sales person should “hang out” there.

Search Engine Optimization is an entire industry built on the need to “be Google-able” and to show up when your target customer is looking for a solution that you can offer. From a company’s stand point, addressing SEO is critical, but we cannot expect a sales professional to be buying ad-words from search engines. Instead, a sales person needs to identify them self as unique individuals.

But how?

Social selling is generating significant buzz within the sales community and there are varying levels of connected-ness. In my estimation, you don’t have to be a computer genius to have some basic online interaction within your network. Start by building a presence in areas or circles that make sense to your customers and your business. Use social tools to listen for opportunities and make connections. More importantly however, we need to offer thoughts and insights but DO NOT SELL! Be a human being who has a desire to interact with other human beings. Be genuine and sell yourself as a resourceful and connected person.

Being social can certainly help a professional “get in front” of some of their customers, but you are not going to hit your targets strictly through social selling. In my opinion, social selling needs to be viewed as one component of a strong proactive selling system.

The best way to “get in front” of your customers is to not wait until they pick up the phone.

Studies show that once a customer experiences a stimulus they turn to the web for a potential solution. I accept that as an inevitability. But what if I could meet and discuss business objectives with a customer before they encounter the stimulus?

The most successful sales professionals never stop prospecting. They never stop looking for new opportunities. They relentlessly meet with businesses in hopes that they can engage a buyer in achieving a new result with their solution.

There are an infinite number of services, lists, web tools and vertical market materials at a sales person’s disposal to develop a list of qualified prospects. A sales professional’s job is to thoughtfully create those list; build a strong arsenal of case studies, white papers, recommendations (you get my point); and then strategically attack!

It’s simple, but too many sales people wait for the phone to ring.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there!

Selling To Bruce Lee

I subscribe to a Daily Boost of Positivity, and today’s email was too good not to share.

According to Jacob Morgan, modern-day selling has a lot in common with the late Bruce Lee. That’s right: Bruce Lee. How? One of Bruce Lee’s approaches toward martial arts was the idea of fighting without fighting, which can be adapted to the selling world as “selling without selling.” Pretend you had to sell to Bruce Lee, but if he felt like you were pitching or selling to him, he would get to kick you in the head. All of a sudden your approach toward selling would be different. Now, instead of trying to sell, you will try to connect and build a relationship. You will try to build trust.

I really like the image of trying to sell to Bruce Lee but if you pitch or sound sales-y, you could be kicked in the head. Made me laugh!

Have a great day everyone!!

*Daily Boost of Positivity is distributed by Selling Power (sellingpower.com)

Your Thoughts On Fridays

It’s the end of April, and it snowed yesterday. Fittingly all the snow had finally melted off the grass in my yard, and I even started spring yard activities over the weekend.

It likely wouldn’t be that bad if this was the first snowfall of April; but in fact it’s the third. It seems like spring will never officially come; it has shown signs of arriving, only to pull it away again, like Lucy does time and time again to Charlie Brown.

As frustrating as it may be to see thick snowflakes collecting on the ground, again; it reminds me how much a person’s attitude can affect their overall demeanor, and often their performance. This can be properly summed up by comparing two typical thoughts when it comes to Fridays.

“Is it Friday yet?” or “Is it Friday already?”

The first group of people are consumed by the wait for the end of the week; often resulting in lower productivity and potentially lower moral. While our second group is so consumed by the events of the week that Friday has arrived as a pleasant surprise. It stems to reason that the latter group was more productive and could be viewed as contributing to a higher workplace moral.

I don’t think it’s an accident that Friday often surprises some of us. If we thoughtfully plan activities that engage our interests or strengths, time flies. But if we are motivated merely by the end of the day/week, viewing daily activities as mundane and meaningless; I can see why counting down to Friday is so appealing. After all, what else is there to do, right?!

It’s not always easy to push yourself to change your behaviour or your attitude, but it sure is rewarding when you do.

What It Takes To Sell (part 1)

I would like to continue on from a previous post (found here) and there is a new ‘Moment of Truth’, as Google calls it. Previously I recommended an e-book called ZMOT, which outlined a ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ for buyers. It says that once a consumer encounters stimulus related to a product or service, their first reaction is to hit the web. From the standpoint of a buyer, that’s fantastic! An increase in readily available information simplifies what or when to buy.

But how does this impact the sales person?

Sales people are increasingly being engaged once a buyer is already a step or two in their buying cycle; resulting in two main thoughts:

  1. What challenges does this create? How, as sellers, do we react?
  2. How do we “get in front” of our customers?

Both buyers and sellers want to be in control. A sales person’s preference is to initiate a call, identify a need with a prospect, customize a solution, and then implement it with their new customer (I over-simplified this process, I am aware: work with me). This process is linear and makes sense to all sales people; it is what we do day in and day out. A wrench gets thrown in our plans when a customer already knows what their issue is and has conducted research to find a solution that suits their need the best (they control the situation). What do we do? If we “go back” and attempt to re-visit a customer’s pain points, we run the risk of wasting time. But if we launch into “Sell Mode” we may not understand the complexities of a particular buyers situation; which can result in a misaligned solution or worse.

Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Each sales person is different, each buyer and their needs are different. My take: be different. I would guess that 8 of 10 sales people would regurgitate as much as they can, upon receiving the call from a prospect who seems ready to buy. “Blah blah company. Blah blah blah me. Blah blah blah blah buy.”

Sure, there are ways to phrase our statements that sound different, but most of the time we focus on our company and ourselves. Why not start with some questions? “Sounds like you have done your research. What sites did you find useful? Where was the most valuable information from? What prompted your research? What would you like my involvement to be?” The goal is to attain as much information about the stages of the buying cycle you missed, but without having someone retrace their exact steps. And why not try to gain some insight to how a prospect could arrive at their decision: future knowledge cannot hurt. Accepting that a buyer will conduct their own research and find their own information (read: relinquish control) allows sales people to approach a sales meeting with a different mindset. This can often be a hurdle in itself.

In order to truly be different, we need to go beyond the obvious. Understanding our customer’s buying cycle is critical, but again I feel we need to be able to bring more value than that. We need to sit on their customer’s side of the table, so to speak. We need to be engaged in their business; their goals, their challenges; their processes. THEM THEM THEM. Get it?

In part 2 I’ll address how we, as sales professionals, can start to “get in front” of our customers.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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