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Coaching Tool Review: Refract

October 3rd, 2017

I’m often asked to recommend a tool managers can use to coach inside sales reps based on actual calls and demos. One such tool is Refract. After receiving a thorough demo, I recommend Refract be included on your list for exploring potential fit. In addition to the basics, here are the strong points that jumped out for me:

Transcribe Voice to Text / Jump from Text to Voice

I start here because Refract offers an impressive set of features in this area. I won’t list all of them because each user is likely to find different features valuable. That said, there are less well-known reasons why these features can be valuable and I’ve covered these near the end of the review.

Conducive for Longer Sales Calls and Demos

Though a manager can certainly listen through entire calls or demos, a number of Refract’s features allow us to essentially scan the call or demo for key words or phrases. The manager can then jump to that portion of the call to dig in a bit more. (more…)

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Fine Tunes for Benefit Statements

September 28th, 2017

Benefit statements are a staple of sales and customer service. This article focuses on some of the nuances, including tips for teaching others to create their own benefit statements.

Reminder: There are myriad ways to express benefits but they fall into just six categories: convenience, save money, increase money or value, peace of mind, appeal to image, fun/enjoyment. (See this article for more refresher.)

Features Usually Come in Sets

We tend to start with the product/service, identify its features, and build benefit statements for each feature. This is an excellent way to learn the skill; however, feature-and-benefit, feature-and-benefit… can backfire in real life. To illustrate: (more…)

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How to Add Power to Benefit Statements

August 29th, 2017

Features and benefits: a sales and service basic, right? Yes, expressing benefits is a fundamental skill but that doesn’t mean pros don’t need refreshers. Here’s a mini-lecture on why working on benefit statements is a good idea:

There are now more opportunities for expressing benefits. We’re communicating via text and chat and email and webinar and social media, as well as on the phone and in person. Repeatedly using the same benefit statements makes them flat and ineffective.

Benefits can get fuzzier as we keep up with lingo changes. “Interventions” become “solutions” and even morph into “disruption.” As we alter our language, we can forget not just how to express the actual benefit, but how to identify it in the first place. For example: We’ve provided solutions to business owners for twenty years. Okay, twenty years is the feature – easy peazy. Now tell me, what’s a benefit of all that experience?

Mini-lecture over. Here’s the refresher. (more…)

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Consultants: How to Sell Confidently and Comfortably

August 24th, 2017

Consultants often have trouble with selling. The process feels awkward, the skills seem undesirable, results are poor — this can snowball and affect consultants’ confidence in their own expertise. The good news is most consultants already have what’s needed to sell more confidently, comfortably, and successfully. This article covers four common challenges and how consultants can overcome them.

Challenge #1: Apparently, None of the Other Consultants Have to Sell

Consultants often hear peers say things like “I get all my clients through referral.” The underlying message is consultants who do not get their clients that way are failing and should work harder at getting business via referral. This, my darlings, is a load of crap. However, I want to focus on how that misinformation can create problems when we do have a referral. (more…)

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How to Fix Problems Caused by Professional Slang (With Samples)

July 27th, 2017

man holding signMisleading or confusing information is a common cause of inefficiency and errors. The same is true for professional slang — lingo that’s understood by one group but not by others. Take “disruptive” for example. A disruptive tech product is currently a good thing, yet disruptive employees are not.

Most instructional designers have examples of how they uncovered errors caused by professional slang. My own favorite focused on use of “1.2” to describe a certain aspect of lending policy. The situation and solutions are covered in the samples document attached below. I’ll use this article to add a bit more information.

Why it Often Takes an Outsider to Find the Core Issues

This particular core issue was simple: one group (commercial lending officers) was using a phrase that seemed so straightforward the other group (sales, service, and processing reps) thought they understood it — or should understand it.

A typical exchange went like this: Sales rep asks, “What’s our policy if the borrower’s credit score is below threshold?” Lender asks, “Is this on an investment property?” Rep says yes, it is. Lender then says, “We debt-service the property at 1.2. Minimum NOI is 1.2.” (more…)

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Calling Cell Numbers: Part Two

July 19th, 2017

Frustrated CallerSome people become irate over prospecting calls on their cell phone. How dare someone call this very special o-so-private number! In part one I explained why that’s kinda silly. This article covers how to handle it. But first let’s deal with the risk of calling cell numbers.

The Risk in Calling Cell Phones

Part of what inspired this article are the posts in LinkedIn sales groups asking whether it’s okay to call cell numbers. There are no regulations prohibiting you from calling cell phone numbers simply because it’s a cell phone. However…

Unless your situation meets the exceptions, you may not call consumers on a number listed on the Do Not Call list, whether that’s attached to a cell phone, landline, voIP, etc..

In addition: Some people erroneously believe calling cell numbers is prohibited, and may react badly. Some people do not understand the exceptions to Do Not Call, and may react badly. Some people don’t differentiate B2C from B2B and may react badly. Some people believe it’s rude or unprofessional to call a cell phone number, and may react badly. Some people simply do not like receiving phone calls, and may react badly. All people are sometimes illogical, moody, unreasonable, rude, dismissive, impatient…and may react badly to your call.

So the question is this: Are lots of people likely to react badly if you call their cell phone? (more…)

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On Writing and Publishing: Section Introduction

July 18th, 2017

When people discover I have written and published a book, some ask, “How long did it take you?” I’ve come to recognize this question indicates the person is thinking about writing their own book. Some wonder how to get it published. Some wonder if having a book will help their business or if they “should” write a book to help their business. Some have a strong ya-ya to share their story, advice, imagination…

I’ve gathered quite a bit of experience as an author, self-publisher, writer for hire, and even ghost-writer. I’ve learned what generally works well, what doesn’t (often learned the traditional hard way), seen how people succeed and how they fail. I’ll share that in this section, starting with this: Do not write a book because you “should.” (more…)

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Calling Cell Numbers: Part One

July 17th, 2017

(Updated June 2017) This article was originally published in 2012. The inspiration for an update is two-fold: (1) The uber-annoyed reaction my nephew and his mom have when they get sales calls on their mobile phone. (2) The angst often displayed in LinkedIn sales group posts over whether to call cell phone numbers. Part one of the update deals with why it’s silly to be annoyed at all, part two covers how to handle such reactions.

Many people are extra-irritated when they get a cold call on their cell phone. How did the caller get that oh-so-special-number!? What kind of evil conspiracy is afoot and how do you report these dastardly callers? Before you dash off an angry email to, um…somebody… you need to know a bit about the history of telephone directories.

(more…)

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The Wrong Way to Warm Calls Up

July 1st, 2017

The most common way people try to warm calls up is by mailing or emailing first. This common effort comes with common errors. This article covers the errors, how to avoid them, and how to successfully blend letters/emails with calling. (more…)

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Phone Phobia: Not Just for Old People Anymore

June 22nd, 2017

phone phobia(Article updated June 2017) Reports of phone phobia among younger people are still numerous. Is this scourge affecting ‘Millennials’ different from what ails older people? The answer is yes and no. The no part is that the end result is the same: not making calls, or being less successful with calling. However, the reasons behind fear of phone are indeed different for younger people. Resolving those concerns sometimes requires a slightly different approach, too.

Surprise: It’s Not About Attitude

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say everyone born in or after 1985 is “younger.” Everyone else, moi included, is “older.” That younger group includes Millennials, who are often described as having self-centered or entitled attitudes. Describing younger generations as having a poor attitude is a tradition that’s been around for…well, millennia. The presumptions rarely hold true and in this case are also irrelevant. What makes phone phobia different for younger people is what happened in 2003: Do Not Call laws went into effect.

(more…)

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Why B2B and B2C are (not) Different

May 17th, 2017

(Excerpt from book)

My favorite cold calling myth is this one: calling B2B is different from calling B2C. The idea behind this myth is when calling business owners, C-suite, and other executives we need to use a sophisticated approach because these guys are intelligent. We need to get right to the point because these guys are busy (and impatient). If we do not quickly meet their standards they will shut us down.

All of that is absolutely true: these prospects are busy, intelligent, and will not put up with calls that do not show respect. Now… what on earth happens to these people when they go home and become consumers? Are they suddenly less sophisticated or less intelligent? Does their time magically expand to allow for callers to impose on it?

That’s why this myth is so special — it’s just plain silly. Calls to businesses and calls to consumers are the same. The rest of this article highlights two common errors with both “types” of prospects, and how to avoid them. (The book provides details using full script examples.) (more…)

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Communicate: Are You Sending the Right Message?

March 28th, 2017

Ah, communication! We want to communicate clearly and effectively…but we can inadvertently send the wrong message. Here are common words and phrases that can trip us up. I’ll start with “just” and “actually” because using them purposely does not cause problems — using them as a verbal habit does.

“Just”

We use the word “just” to communicate emphasis, as in “I just don’t know about this deal!” We also use it to soften, as in “I’m sorry, we just don’t have any openings right now.” In both of these situations, we use the word purposely to send a specific message.

However, many of us toss “just” in often and without realizing it. If we’ve got this verbal habit and use telemarketing, that tiny word easily undermines success because it communicates a very different message on the phone. In cold calling land, prospects hear the word “just” as meaning “only.” To understand why this creates problems, take a look at this example:

“I’m just calling to thank you for your business.” (more…)

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Do You Suffer from Quarter-end Choke?

March 15th, 2017

It’s mid-March, mid-June, mid-September, or worst of all: late November. Your sales numbers are not where you want them to be. Hot prospects have cooled off. Your manager is pushing like mad. You feel like your brain and confidence are crawling through thick mud.

That, my friends, is supposedly a choke, to which I say baloney! To understand why it’s baloney, and how to avoid the situation, we have to start with the origins of a “choke.”

The Origin of “Choking Up” in Sales and Why it Matters

Like many other sales performance concepts, to “choke” comes straight from sports. The idea is you’re competing in a game. The score is close, you (or your team) are behind or ahead by just a little bit. What’s key to the concept is there’s no sense of an inevitable win or loss, instead, there’s pressure surrounding the game. To “choke” is to be so nervous under that pressure your performance suffers and you lose.

What does that have to do with selling? Good salespeople supposedly thrive under pressure. That’s true. However, there are all kinds of pressure, which leads us to why the origin of this particular pressure (sports) matters.

That there are many other sales concepts which come from sports does not overcome this singular fact: selling is not a sport. Embracing that reality is step one in handling the challenge of trouble at quarter-end. (more…)

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Metrics and the Fading Funnel (excerpt from book)

March 1st, 2017

Back when I was a sales pup, we reps and our managers used an equation to set expectations for performance (now known as “metrics”). The equation started at the top of the proverbial funnel with calling, flowed through several points—response, appointments, qualifying and closing—down to the small end of the funnel and new business. We used the same equation in reverse to set dials goals based on desired units of new business.

That equation is what gave us the expression sales is “a numbers game.” As I taught years ago, the underlying point was not that all we need do is make a bunch of calls and something good would come of it. The key point was we could use numbers (the equation) to guide prospecting efforts.

Alas, data needed to fully feed the equation has not been gathered for many years now. (more…)

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Comprehensive Marketing and Selling

September 20th, 2016

sell-the-sameOrganizations often say they want a comprehensive or consistent approach to marketing and selling. Their various business groups often say they need something unique. Here’s a look at which things should be the same—and which should not.

Use the Same Basic Definitions

An organization that speaks the same language has good communication and consistent expectations—which feed strong performance. Language involved with ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ should start with which is which. Here are definitions that fit no matter the department or how simple or complex the products and services:

  • Marketing is the stuff we do proactively to gain prospects’ attention, and regain customers’ attention. Marketing tools include advertising, email, mail, calling, social media (to name just a handful).

Marketing also includes responding to inquiries from prospects and customers. This includes responding when someone calls us, emails us, or walks in and asks for information.

  • Selling begins once the prospect or customer has agreed to discuss the fit between what they want and what we have to offer. Selling does not begin unless and until we have that agreement. This is true even when someone has approached us: just because they’ve got questions, that doesn’t mean we have that agreement.

Why Agreement is the Best Line

No matter how sophisticated or simple the products and services, an assumptive approach generates problems. Using agreement as the gate means employees need to ask for a sales conversation, which helps prevent assumption from the start. (more…)

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Recommended CRM: Nutshell

June 22nd, 2016

nutshell-logoBack in February of 2015 I reviewed a number of CRM. I recently took a fresh look at each CRM and Nutshell has an even stronger top position than before. Here’s the full review and recommendation for Nutshell CRM. (Some of these notes may not make complete sense unless you’ve read the series on how to shop for CRM.)

What is excellent:

Their target market is not enterprise-size companies—it’s everyone else—so you will not have to fight inappropriate defaults.

It is genuine CRM with sales-tracking features (instead of sales-tracking calling itself “CRM.”) (more…)

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If we can feel disgruntled, can we also feel gruntled?

March 1st, 2016

gruntledI’m lucky to be on the email list of the Grammar Diva, Arlene Miller. Her latest article is a lot of fun so I wanted to share it. The article plays with words that are negative but have no positive counterpart. For example: We use disgruntled, but is there a “gruntled”?

Bigwords101

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Shout Out for Dudley and Goodson

February 27th, 2016

I am careful about using the phrase “call reluctance” and you may need to be, too. Here’s why.

Shannon L. Goodson and George W. Dudley are the authors of The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales. This is an appreciation for Dudley in particular, who coined the phrase “call reluctance” maybe as far back as 1943. Call reluctance is a beautiful phrase. It’s also trademarked.

Some years ago, I was asked to observe their training program (delivered by someone else, not Dudley or Goodson) and was given a copy of their book. The goal was to bring me up to speed because I’d deliver my cold calling workshop to the same group the next day. As I sat quietly in the back of the room, I naturally critiqued the training and looked through the book.

I have some education in psychology (completed a BA) and love to rip apart research and its results. I thought the research portions of the book were very well-done and relevant to some concerns people sometimes have about making calls. However, I do not recommend or support the depth of the effects the authors describe, much less the methods presented in training to address the issues. But that’s not the point of this article.

We Are Warned

Not sure what current editions of the book show, but at that time there were many pages on which the authors emphasized their ownership of “call reluctance,” including stern warnings about using it. Those warnings primarily apply to people like me, who may make money using the phrase. At that time I poo-pooed the warnings because the phrase was so commonly used — surely the authors weren’t serious about keeping people from using it, right? Wrong.

Luckily, it wasn’t legal action that changed my use of the phrase. My attitude changed as more and more of my own copyrighted material and trademarks were ripped off… I wasn’t going to go as far as to sprinkle multiple warnings throughout my own books, but I understood why Dudley and Goodson did and wanted to respect that.

Since then, I’ve made efforts to avoid the phrase “call reluctance,” including removing it from articles, training materials and my own books. This has proved tough to do for one reason: it’s a perfect phrase. And that is the point of this article.

Well Done, Dudley

So here’s a shout-out to George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson. “Call reluctance” is concise, evocative, and clear without demeaning. Others may use it with no thought to the artistry that created it, but I think of that every time. The phrase is as elegant as e = mc squared, as beautiful as any of Da Vinci’s sculptures.

(And if you catch me using the phrase in other articles, please let me know.)

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Successor Trustees – Are Your Employees Ready?

October 2nd, 2015

Successor TrusteeA successor trustee walks in to one of your branches or calls your service center. Maybe they’re an existing customer. Maybe they chose your bank because that’s where their recently deceased parent has his or her accounts. Either way, this is a terrific opportunity… and chances are high your employees aren’t ready for it.

As our population ages, dealing with a deceased person’s living trust will arise more often. It’s a chance to earn new customers, deepen existing relationships—or not. My personal experience with the “not,” and a notary’s pithy summation, inspired this article.

Half of the Picture

Reasons for creating a living trust are fairly well-known, especially among baby boomers, many of whom persuaded their parents to create a living trust, too. What is not common knowledge are the prosaic details of what successor trustees must or may need to do. (more…)

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Freebies to help you help successor trustees

October 2nd, 2015

For Internal use:

This document covers some basics about living trust accounts. It’s in Word, ready for your changes:

  • Be sure to add where people can find the form, as well as the instructions for customers. Those spots are highlighted in yellow.
  • The footer shows how to contact me for customizing. You may want to delete that.

Remember: Suitable for California only. If you’d like this document branded and/or customized, drop me a line and we’ll talk about it.

Living trust accounts and certification form information for internal use

For Customers:

This document is also in Word, ready for your changes. Tells customers how to complete the form, as well as covers important basics like…the answer to “Do I really need a trust account?”

Remember: Suitable for California only. If you’d like this document branded and/or customized, drop me a line and we’ll talk about it.

Certification of trust form instructions for customers

The Form:

Designed for trustees and successor trustees of living trusts. pdf format with fields suitable for online or manual completion.

You know the caveats by now, right?

Certification of Trust form CA Only

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How Your CRM is Secretly Driving You Crazy

August 23rd, 2015

Mystified man 2I get a lot of requests for CRM recommendations, often from people who already have one. “Our CRM is driving us crazy,” they say, “Can you recommend one?”

Well, I can’t give you a surefire recommendation – no one can – because the way you want and need to use CRM is unique. But I can clue you in on the real sources of aggravation, which will help you make the right choice next time.

A brief history of CRM (and why it matters)

When these programs first popped up, “CRM” stood for “Customer Relationship Management.” That’s customer as in after the sale occurred.  At some point, CRM companies realized expanding their target market to sales-users would bring in a nice revenue stream. They adjusted what the “C” stood for, added some features, and successfully transitioned their product. However, the customer-focus legacy is one of the things that often turns a helpful tool into an annoyance. For example… (more…)

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How to Shop for a Great CRM: Overview

August 22nd, 2015

shop overviewMost of our problems with CRM begin with the way we shop for it. We get some recommendations, cruise through a few websites, sign up for a couple free trials, and choose one. I’m not suggesting this is a casual effort, most people put in a lot of time and careful consideration.

Unfortunately, looking at potential CRM puts us on a dangerous path right away because what the CRM shows us has a strong influence on what we think we’re looking for. A different sort of effort will help you choose more wisely. I wish I could tell you it will be an easier effort but I can’t. In fact, this article turned into enough pages that it’s divided into five steps/articles. (more…)

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Shopping Step 1: Forget B2B versus B2C

August 21st, 2015

Step oneMyths about what B2C and B2B mean can get in the way when looking for sales jobs, sales books or training, and when looking for good CRM—which is why this article is here.

The primary myths are that B2B is more complex, involves more sales meetings, a longer sales cycle, and higher dollars. In truth:

There are lots of products and services sold to consumers that involve complex issues, very high dollar amounts, many meetings, and more than one decision maker. Buying or selling a home is one example, investment and retirement services is another. What’s more, there are lots of inexpensive business products and services sold to a single decision maker in one meeting or transaction. As for the often unspoken conceit that selling B2B requires more skill…baloney.

Ignore B2B and B2C Labels

Despite the many things B2C and B2B have in common, many CRM identify as designed for one or the other (most choose the latter because that’s where the big bucks are). To find the right CRM you’ll have to ignore those labels and focus instead on features and functions. Clarifying a few things in advance will help you get a jump start.

  • Selling to businesses (or non-profits): Do you tend to dig deep or go broad in your approach to your market?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: When does qualifying typically occur?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: How complex is your typical sale?

The rest of this article helps you answer those questions. It also includes some general statements about CRM to help warm up your shopping skills. (more…)

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Shopping for CRM Step 2: Contact Groups

August 20th, 2015

Step twoMost of us look at CRM and think about how we’ll fit our prospecting, sales and other needs to it. This often begins with mentally sorting our contact groups as per what the CRM shows us.

But most of us have more types of contacts than we find in many CRM. If we do not recognize this in advance some of our contacts will be ignored by the CRM’s functions, making the CRM less valuable as a tool. The best way to avoid this over-arching problem is simple: Make a list of your contact groups and use it as reference as you shop. This article gives you an example list along with things to consider. Three tips for completing this step:

1: Do not create your list using the names and groups you know are in most CRM (do not use “lead,” “opportunity,” and so on).

Using those means you’re already following the CRM’s lead instead of the other way around. Instead, identify your groups using simple titles and descriptions.

2: If you want various people with various jobs to use the same CRM, create one all-inclusive list. Do not indicate who needs which contacts, and do not create separate lists.

Creating and using an inclusive list makes it more likely you’ll find one CRM that meets more needs.

3: Put your list on paper and use it as you shop.

If you try to complete the shopping process using a list in your head, what the CRMs show you will lead your thoughts…probably in the wrong direction. A paper reference helps keep your focus where it should be: your needs and wants.

Before I go into the example I want to clarify your finished list is not a file containing all of your contacts with a type or group assigned to each. Your list should only show the types or groups of contacts with any notes of detail. Now for the example list and things to start considering.

(more…)

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Step 3: Map CRM to Your Contact Groups

August 19th, 2015

Step threeHave you created the list of groups of contacts you deal with? Now it’s time to see if a CRM will map to them. First, a few reminders and tips:

  • Step one was about identifying and listing groups of contacts using a simple approach, not CRM-lingo.
  • Your list should be on paper.
  • Do not let the CRM boss you around. Your groups and needs rule. As soon as you realize you’re trying to force those into the CRM’s mold, stop. I mean that literally: stop. Step away from the CRM and take a break. When you return, call the CRM’s support to see if they can help, or take the CRM out of consideration and move on to the next one.
  • Apply a five minute rule. If you cannot figure something out in five minutes that CRM is not worthy. Move on to the next one.

Alright, now to how the mapping process works using the example list from step two.

(more…)

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Step 4: Test CRM for Marketing

August 18th, 2015

Step fourBefore we get into evaluating a CRM’s fit for marketing here is a definition and delineation:

Marketing is the stuff we do to gain our prospects’ attention and regain our clients’ attention. Marketing tools include mail, email, phone, and web-based interaction — to name the most common tools. (Prospecting is marketing, too; it’s the things we do more directly, like calling and canvassing.)

Selling begins once the prospect agrees to evaluate the fit between what we offer and what they want and need. We’re not selling unless and until we have that agreement. (more…)

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Step 5: Test CRM for Selling

August 17th, 2015

Step fiveAt last we come to the sweet spot for many CRM: management of contacts within the selling process. As you get into testing CRMs’ fit for your selling, remember these key points:

  • You probably have contacts beyond those you are selling to. If your CRM doesn’t support dealing with those contacts it will be a waste of time and money—and will probably drive you crazy.
  • Put aside the issue of B2B versus B2C (and CRM branding). It’s more about a complex sale with many steps versus a sale with less complexity and fewer steps.
  • With so many features focused on selling, it’s easy to think what you see in the CRM is how your selling should operate. This is not about “should,” it is about finding a tool that suits your selling reality.

(more…)

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Rating Prospects: Selling

August 11th, 2015

Rating SystemHow likely is this deal to close? What percentage would you attach to that? What does the pipeline look like?

Rating prospects helps you project new business and highlights where you should focus your efforts. Unfortunately, many rating systems and CRM pipeline features don’t really help you do that. Here are common approaches that don’t work well — and what to do instead. (more…)

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PowerPoint vs. Word: Choosing Well

May 20th, 2015

read mysteryPowerPoint is often the program of choice for creating any ole document — and often the wrong choice. For more about how we acquired this bad habit and why you may want to break it, see this article. This article provides tips on which program to use for what.
(more…)

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Why to Fight PowerPoint’s Power

May 20th, 2015

Nap by powerpointThis article is not meant to bring the news PowerPoint tends to induce boredom—we all know that—it’s about why that happens. The inspiration is the many organizations which use PowerPoint for almost every sort of document, even though that’s less productive and most people dislike seeing it.

So how did we get to this sad state? Here’s what I think got rolling when PPT came out:

First of all, creating and decorating decks was fun. It was suddenly easy to insert spiffy clipart, add color, make text into neato shapes–kind of a business version of playing with crayons and a coloring book. It’s still fun to create and decorate slides, so much so we often forget about meaningful and effective content.

Secondly, the deck presentations were impressive. When PPT came out back in the early 1990’s, audiences were rightfully wowed. Beautiful backgrounds, fancy charts, slides that seemed to move. Zowie. The PowerPoint habit lives on, even though most people are now unimpressed and many decks are crammed with text. Which brings us to the biggee…

PowerPoint dropped the bar for acceptable writing quality to an unprecedented low. All you needed to write was headlines and bullet points–didn’t even need full sentences. This is still true and I have a hunch it’s one of the main reasons PowerPoint is still prevalent and so often used inappropriately.

The Power of a Bad Habit

A quarter-century after PowerPoint hit our PCs, many who reluctantly use it say they do so because it is expected (it’s an organizational norm). Some say they use it because it supposedly helps them quickly produce a deliverable. Here is why that speed is a myth, and why breaking the PowerPoint habit is worth it. (more…)

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Busting the Buyers Journey Baloney

April 27th, 2015

Business fulfills each and every one of themInstead of simply busting this “buyer’s journey” silliness I’d like to honor the man who equipped me to do that, and pass a bit of what he taught on. (Myth busted below.)

About 36 years ago, after putting it off as long as possible, I entered Professor Keston’s classroom to begin a year of required statistics. A year! Tried to sit in back but those seats were already taken by other psych-major-math-phobes. With dread in my heart, I took a seat near the front. By the time I successfully passed the final I was forever changed. (more…)

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Rating Prospects: Marketing

March 22nd, 2015

Rate Marketing ProspectsMarketing and selling are related but different. Accordingly, when it comes to complex products or services, we usually need two rating systems. The rating system for marketing-prospects is simple but you may need some background to understand why it’s effective, starting with the difference between marketing and selling.

Marketing vs. Selling

Marketing is what we do to gain prospects’ attention and regain customers’ attention. Marketing tools include calling, mail, email, and web-based marketing. Selling begins after a prospect has agreed to explore the fit—we’re not selling unless and until we have that agreement.

The rating system described here focuses on marketing (see this one for selling). It can be applied to:

  • Prospects you have not yet connected with.
  • Prospects you’ve connected with and that’s about it.
  • Prospects who said they may be open to exploring the fit but not now.
  • Prospects who have agreed to have a sales conversation but that has not yet occurred.

There are four things to note before I cover the rating system itself. (more…)

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How (Not) to Raise Funds

March 4th, 2015

Waterbed storeOnce upon a time, our homes were constantly invaded by telemarketers. They were pushy, rude, assumptive and would not take “no” for an answer unless we pronounced it at least three times. This grew from an inconvenience to an invasion so significant laws were passed to quell these calls…almost.

What remains are largely calls from political groups and charities. Most use the same annoying approach that generated Do Not Call laws. If you lead one of these organizations or a fundraising firm, take heed: adapt before you go the way of the waterbed store. And if you are raising funds yourself, don’t copy those calls — apply the tips below. (more…)

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Yo! It’s a Sales Poetry Slam

February 23rd, 2015

Sales poetry slamFew people are aware that Rod Mckuen, Emily Dickinson and Theodor Geisel were in sales before they hit it big as poets. Let’s honor their hidden legacy — and have some fun — with a sales poetry slam. Be it in iambic pentameter, haiku, limerick or free verse, add your own using the comments.

Haiku

Oh, silent prospect
You beguile with nothingness
I should let go now

 

Faux-RFP Blues

These prospects like me, of that I’m sure
But not so certain their motives are pure
They’ve answered my questions
Needs, wants, interests, and more
And given full attention when I had the floor
But things became hazy when budget arose
Is this truly about change
Or showing their current what I proposed?

 

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Writing: The Joys of Bad Grammar

February 19th, 2015

grammar hound“You’re grammar is not very good.”

Someone recently wrote to say I should work on the grammar in an article. The person contacted me privately instead of posting a comment — sort of like pulling me aside to tell me I had something stuck in my teeth. They meant to be helpful so I did not snarkily reply with a correction of my own. The thing is: using bad grammar can have good effect.

In Scripting

Scripts written using proper grammar often sound overly-scripted. Using these scripts also tends to feel awkward. This means “proper” writing backfires on both ends of the phone line.

Learning to write effective, natural-sounding scripts takes practice. To help people get into the swing of it, many articles in the cold calling section are written the way people talk. This includes purposeful bad grammar and short sentences.

In Manuals and Materials that Teach

Training materials and reference manuals written using proper grammar too often utilize longer sentences which in turn require a good deal more concentration.

The above sentence is written properly, but here is a sentence people will easily absorb: Proper grammar can make training materials and reference manuals harder to understand.

That’s another good reason to toss good grammar out the window.

When it’s on the Internet

People tend to scan stuff on the internet. The same is true of stuff viewed on monitors. If sentences are too long — properly constructed or not — it’s easy to lose track of the point. This is yet another situation when it makes sense to use somewhat lax grammar.

You, too, May Want to Drop Proper Grammar

Next time you’re writing a script or something instructional, try using shorter sentences and grammar that mirrors how people talk. You’ll find the scripts sound (and feel) better, people learn more quickly, and references are easier to use.

You’ll also find there are fewer reasons to argue over correct use of semi-colons; but don’t worry, there will be other minutiae on which to spend meeting time. (See how odd that looks? Proper grammar again.)

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How to Change the Inquiry

October 28th, 2014

Tug of war A call, chat or email comes in. Prospect asks, “Do you have…?” or “How much?”

We think, it depends and we offer so much more. We think, we prefer strategic relationships or sell on price, lose on price. In other words, we want to have a different conversation than the prospect does. Here are tips for doing that, starting with some things to avoid. (more…)

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Hooray for Headsets

September 14th, 2014

Headsets.com

 

Let’s keep it simple: The people at Headsets.com are absolutely wonderful. They’ll help you find the right headset. They also provide outstanding service. (No, they don’t pay me a referral fee.)

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Mind Control: Why Some Calls to Action Work and Some Don’t

August 20th, 2014

Mind control“Register”
“Buy Now”
“If you’re interested, call me back.”

Those are examples of a marketing call to action — a term and practice that’s been around for over 100 years. The first two work, the third doesn’t. This article tells you why. (more…)

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Don’t Guess — Qualify

June 11th, 2014

Qualifying“Qualifying” is how you figure out how hot of a prospect you’ve got. Using it wisely prevents frustration and highlights your best opportunities. But it’s not all about you; qualifying also helps develop strong business rapport with prospects and paves the way for a great business relationship.

A truly hot, fully-qualified prospect is one that:

  • Has need or want for what you’re selling, and sets a high priority on meeting those needs or wants
  • The timing is right
  • They have control over existing adequate budget or the ability to create budget to buy
  • They are in control of the decision or heavily involved in the decision
  • Last but definitely not least: they are reasonable

(more…)

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How to Save the World with Post-its

May 19th, 2014

How to Save the World with Post-itsThink that’s a lofty title? Using the Post-it method, you can tap your creativity, focus effectively, plan and follow through brilliantly, and even sleep better at night. Who knows what that might lead to?

The method is perfect when you need to create a report, paper, plan, presentation or proposal. It’s a great tool to use when you want to reinvent or refocus or regroup.

It’s ideal when you need to get a handle on preparing your organization to roll out new products, comply with regulations, or handle a merger. Same goes for marketing strategy or scheduling the timing to apply the strategy.

The Post-it method is effective when you want to create a work aid, and vital for creating training programs or comprehensive curriculum.

If you need to determine what to delegate and what to do yourself, when you’re not sure which resources you have and which you need to locate – start with the Post-it method.

You can use it to figure out what should be on your vacation to-do list. If the moving parts in the move-Dad project have been keeping you up at night, the Post-it method can give you some peace.

The method helps you prepare for questions and objections. You can use it to figure out website navigation. When you have a decision to make and the good old pros and cons list isn’t cutting it, upgrade to the Post-it method.

Those are just some of the situations for which the method is the perfect tool. Here is why it works so very well: (more…)

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The Post-it Method Step-by-Step

May 19th, 2014

Materials:

You need a bunch of Post-its and something to write with.

It helps to use just one size and one color Post-it. However, that’s not vital — use what you have as long as they are large enough to write on. (But do not plan to use different colors or sizes to organize, prioritize, and so on because that will be counter-productive.) (more…)

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The Definition of Insanity is…

October 6th, 2013

EinsteinTime for a rant

It drives me crazy when people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Pun intended.

The miss-use of a quote along those lines is not just wrong, it reveals ignorance of what a colon does. (The two-vertical-dots kind of colon, not the lower intestine kind.)

Here is the quote — which Einstein said he never said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Here is how that quote is garbled: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over…”

Let’s be clear on something. The definition of insanity is the condition of being insane. The colon in Einstein’s non-quote is presenting a statement, not a definition. If you want to re-word his non-quote without a colon that should be, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insane.”

Rant over. Thank you for reading.

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Why “Just Do It” Just Won’t Work

August 24th, 2013

People who are nervous or uncomfortable when cold calling are often told to “just do it.” Call 30 or 40 times and you’ll get over it — that’s the idea. Though there is a kernel of truth in that, it’s a teeny, tiny kernel. Here are things to know before you decide to grit your teeth and just do it.

30 or 40 Calls Won’t Reach 30 or 40 People

People aren’t always at their desk or home. You’ll get lots of voicemail, which means you mostly get used to leaving voicemail. This also means nervousness about talking with humans in a cold call acquires a layer of “Whew, got their voicemail.”

So how many calls will you need to make to get over feeling nervous? That’s not how it works, so read on. (more…)

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How to Leverage Voicemail

August 24th, 2013

There are two schools of thought about voicemail and both are valid.

One school of thought says not to leave voicemails — just keep calling until you reach a person. There are positives about this approach but one common negative: frustration. If you begin to think of reaching a prospect’s voicemail as a “bad” call that frustration will snowball. So pay attention to how you’re feeling and change tactics to before it’s too late: apply the other school of thought, which says heck yes leave voicemails! Here are some tips.

RadioVoicemail: Part Radio Ad, Part Verbal Postcard

Your voicemail messages have a lot in common with two other marketing tools: Radio ads and postcards.

Voicemail messages are part radio ad because they help increase name recognition. Voicemail also makes it easy to add some style, personality and ad-worthy information.

Voicemail is part verbal postcard because of message brevity and because the response rate for voicemail is about the same as the response rate for traditional mail.

(more…)

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How to Turn Gatekeepers Into Allies

August 22nd, 2013

GatekeeperLet’s start this article by defining “gatekeeper.” It’s anyone who picks up the phone who is not your direct prospect. That includes the prospects’ co-workers, staff, operators, receptionists, administrative assistants, and secretaries. And I’m now going to tell you absolutely everything you need to turn these gatekeepers into people who help you. That’s right: everything. You ready? Here we go…

Treat them nicely. Treat them with respect. Treat them the same way you treat your direct prospects. Read on for examples of how to do this, and a brief lecture on why schmoozing, manipulation and lying are not just wrong — they’re not worth it. (more…)

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Things That Improve Calling Success: Dump the Baggage

August 16th, 2013

Ideas about what we can or “should” be able to do with cold calling impact success and how we feel about calling. It’s important to know what is truold proe and what is not true.

There’s lots of mythology floating around, including: You should customize each and every call to each and every prospect, it takes seven messages before they call you back, you need compelling solution statements, you’ll sound better if you stand up (which is sometimes true).

The most harmful myth of all: Only rookies and losers make cold calls.

In fact, successful and experienced people often pick up the phone to call total strangers. The myth lives on mostly due to semantics. These old pros tend not to describe their calls as “cold” because they don’t resemble the kind of “cold” calls they were taught to make. So what kind of calls are they making?

Here’s the scoop:

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Things That Improve Cold Calling Success: Talk The Way You Normally Talk

August 14th, 2013

female typing 2People making calls of any temperature do not want to sound “canned.” They want to sound professional, confident and relaxed. If possible, they also want to feel professional, confident and relaxed. Here’s how you do all of that:

Do not try to “sound” professional or “make” prospects feel something

You are professional — talk the way you normally talk. Use the kinds of words you normally use.  As for using words that supposedly make prospects pay attention or become interested… forget about it. We really cannot make people do stuff or feel a certain way. If you have the idea that you can or “should” be able to do that, you’re setting unrealistic expectations and frustration will mount when you’re not able to meet those expectations. (more…)

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Q: Does the cold calling program address warm calling?

August 2nd, 2013

Yes it does, but perhaps not in the way you might think. This program does not teach people how to “warm” calls up. The reasons why also bust some common myths so here’s a sneak peek.

Reason 1: The things people do to try to warm calls up rarely have a good return on investment. (more…)

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Why Making Calls in Class Does Not Work

April 11th, 2013

Someone recently asked me why Savage and Greene cold calling training does not include torturing students by forcing them to make cold calls in front of all of their peers. Well…I slightly edited their question but you get the idea.

The short answer: Making calls does not have the desired effect (not even close) and wastes a ton of time better-spent on things that will help students succeed. The longer answer is shown below, including a bit of fascinating history. (more…)

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How to Shop for Lists

February 25th, 2013

Where Lists Come From

The types of data available is absolutely mind-boggling. We’re talking anything from what kinds of soup people in Oregon buy, to web-traffic habits of male executives who buy soup, to all soup can manufacturers in Ohio with between 501 and 723 employees.

There is tons of data, but there are only a handful of organizations that gather and compile data. (Dun and Bradstreet is one compiler you might have heard of.) Compilers organize the data in lists; anything from generic lists, to lists based on very specific requests.

Some Lists Are Like Beer

You need to know that in many cases you don’t buy lists, you rent access to the data on them. Keep your ears and eyes open for the phrases “single use” and “multiple use.”  Single-use means you get to use it once. Multiple-use means you can use it as often as you want over a period of time (e.g., a year).

Marketing pros will tell you that you usually need to market more than once for best results. So single-use is cheaper but also a big gamble. Now, I can hear the wheels turning…how will they know if you use it more than once? Well, the list-compilers salt the lists so they know when you use the data more than once. Remember that the data-compilers own the data. They have the right to bill you for multiple-use and they will. (more…)

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Recording Calls in Training

February 23rd, 2013

“Instead of having participants make calls, we’re interested in having two or three calls made and recording them so they can be analyzed and discussed in training.”

That seems like a reasonable compromise but the bottom line is an even stronger “no” because recording involves the issue of consent.

(more…)

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Liability Insurance Primer

November 9th, 2012

Got any “errors and omissions” insurance? Do you really need that? (Does it actually exist?)

Whether you need or “should” have liability insurance becomes a sales issue for many consultants, in particular. Since I often provide training to commercial insurance brokers I have access to pros who can answer that question.  This Primer was created with their help — and includes sales tips related to the issue. The primer was recently updated. Feel free to pass it on.

Liability Insurance Guide

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I am not a “learning” professional

September 12th, 2011

The training, teaching, and performance development field has its fads and slang — like any other. Ages ago, training was often described as an “intervention,” prompting an image of someone running into a classroom and yelling, “Stop! Stop!” These days it’s common to see we pros described as “learning” professionals.  Now, most of us are into learning on a lifetime basis, that’s certainly true. However, calling us “learning” professionals is so, so wrong. (more…)

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Tips for Using the Rating System

August 19th, 2011

Read “Rating Prospects” first. Otherwise these tips will make no sense. (more…)

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The Consultative Sales Framework

August 16th, 2011

Today’s sales environment calls for a consultative approach. I teach people how to use this Framework to prepare for and conduct successful sales conversations. Many other articles reference this Framework.  (Please see the note below about copyright and usage.)

(more…)

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Is “social” networking networking?

March 4th, 2011

The short answer is yes, of course! As much as some may say it’s different, the new wave, will supplant in-person networking… The interactions you have on LinkedIn, specific listserves, Twitter, and even Facebook are indeed networking. Include these activities in your networking analysis, giving them their own rows. (See “Is your networking working?” for more on analysis.) (more…)

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Is Your Networking Working?

March 3rd, 2011

Networking can be an excellent marketing tool to include in the mix. Because networking is often a favorite, it’s also easy to spend more time, money, and effort than it’s worth. Here’s how to use a simple matrix to make informed decisions. (more…)

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How to Hold Great Meetings

March 1st, 2011

Meetings can be a colossal waste of time. Here are tips for avoiding that, especially for sales and service team meetings held on a regular basis. (more…)

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Prospects’ reaction, and motivation

February 25th, 2011

Tania asked:

I get motivated when I feel I am making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. I think this could hurt me because of how I perceive negative reactions on the phone. Any suggestions for people like me to remain motivated when cold calling? (more…)

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Why Do Customers Stay Mad After You Fixed the Problem?

February 25th, 2011

Service reps deal with lots of customers who are irritable, impatient, annoyed, and downright rude. It’s understood that behavior comes from frustration, worry, and the idea that the angry-squeaky wheel gets the grease. Here are the questions for this article:

Why do customers stay that way even when they got what they wanted? Why don’t more of these customers say, “Thank you” or even apologize for giving the service rep a hard time? Why are so many customers still grouchy when they hang up? The short answer: biology. (more…)

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The Incentives Trap

February 24th, 2011

Do you pay your sales or service reps “incentives”? Are you working on strengthening your sales culture? Here is some insight into how one can undermine the other. (more…)

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Myth Busted: The Elements of Communication

February 22nd, 2011

You’ve heard that the elements of communication are body language (55%), tone of voice (35%), and words (10%), right? Who hasn’t? This idea was based on a study done in 1967, and became very popular in the 1970’s. Body language ended up with star billing and its fan club unfortunately continues today. That’s unfortunate because it doesn’t particularly deserve the center stage.

Several years ago, a skeptical friend of mine dug into the original research that started this craze and found a bunch of problems with the concepts and the statistics, especially. Here’s the scoop: (more…)

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Learning Styles, Anyone?

February 21st, 2011

Audio, visual, tactile, experiential, kinesthetic…these are learning styles, right? Not quite. It’s true that adults tend to prefer one of those for receiving information. However; adults learn new skills such sales or service skills only one way: by doing. (more…)

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How to Have More Workshop Time

February 19th, 2011

When teaching skills such as telemarketing, selling, or service, you need to cover concepts and then provide lots of time for practice. Alas, workshop time is almost always at a premium. If you spend a lot of time teaching concepts, you won’t have enough time to practice applying those concepts and the results will be unsatisfactory.

To free-up workshop time, you can teach concepts and information ahead of the workshop in self-study pre-work. (more…)

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Is that Fire in Your Belly, or Lunch?

February 16th, 2011

Dear Shawn:

I didn’t get a sales job I really wanted. In the interview, my potential boss said he was looking for people with a fire in their belly. I think in my answer I blew it. How could I have shown him that I have that fire?

Shawn says: (more…)

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How and Why to Say “I Don’t Know”

February 14th, 2011

Not long ago, I had a problem with a product purchased from a small company. When I called, the phone was answered by a very nice person who told me to call so-and-so in a few hours. Since I didn’t want to wait a few hours, I asked the nice person if she could help me: Did she happen to know if…

The nice person responded with several questions of her own and I answered them. This back and forth went on for a few more minutes. I repeated some form of my original question, she responded with questions of her own… Pretty soon I was plenty irritated. Annoyed, I told her I’d call back later and slammed down the phone. (Like that would help, right?)

As I angrily planned to call the head of the company and thinking about what I’d say, it hit me: The person who took my call did not know the answer to my question but didn’t want to tell me, “I don’t know.” (more…)

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Good Reasons to Hold Meetings

January 25th, 2011

Everyone knows that holding meetings is the absolute best way to promote productivity, right? Ha! Most meetings are a waste of time.

Meetings that waste time usually falter in two areas: There’s no real objective or set of objectives, and the meetings are not conducted effectively. This article tackles potential objectives for sales meetings in particular. Tips for conducting effective meetings in general will be covered in a separate article. (more…)

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Why Do Customers Do That!?

January 10th, 2011

Many service reps, especially those in call centers, deal with customers who are irritable, impatient, annoyed, and downright rude almost all day long. We know that kind of attitude can come up when people are confused, frustrated, angry or disappointed. Here’s the question for this article: Why do so many customers call or come in with a bad attitude already in gear? Why do they start things off that way? (more…)

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Busting the 80/20 Rule

January 8th, 2011

vilfredo paretoAh, the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This is a truly seductive statistic. It has not only the power of numbers but also a lyrical name.

The idea of the 80/20 rule is that 80% of something good – like revenue – comes from just 20% of something else – like customers. Or for another example: Only 20% of your work is actually productive, as in producing 80% of whatever.

Now, Pareto was a real person who really did throw the 80/20 figure around, but things go downhill from there. Let us begin the myth-busting with clarifying who Pareto really was and where those figures came from. (more…)

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New Phone Problems for Old Pros?

January 8th, 2011

Dear Shawn:

Ever heard of anyone who has been in sales forever suddenly catching call reluctance? I used to make hundreds of cold calls each week, but that was years ago. Now I’m struggling to pick up the phone.

Shawn says:

Yes, I have heard of successful, experienced sales reps suddenly experiencing a strong desire to do anything but cold call. In fact, there are two ways that experienced reps can have even more trouble than rookies. (more…)

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Not Enough Appointments

January 8th, 2011

Dear Shawn:

After reading your book (great book, by the way), I have been cold calling every day and tracking results. I’m not getting the appointments I need. I’m calling homes during the day. My best day, I called 87 people and connected with 16 and got 2 appointments. But on the other days I made almost 150 calls and only connected with maybe 35 people, and got only one appointment. I don’t want to call during the evening. Am I doing something wrong?

Shawn says: (more…)

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Selling versus Marketing

August 10th, 2010

A Definition: Selling versus Marketing

Many people use “marketing” as a euphemism for selling but they’re really two different things. Understanding the difference helps set appropriate expectations, which helps prevent frustration. Understanding the difference also helps focus your efforts. Last but not least, understanding the difference prevents behaviors that send prospects running in the other direction. (more…)

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