Tag Archives: coach

The True Worth of a Customer – (13 Traits That Might Surprise You)

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the TRUE worth of a customer? I’m talking about the ‘bigger picture.’  I am talking about beyond the initial dollars and cents. What else is a customer worth to you?

The point is, a good customer is worth more than we might realize, more than what we see on the table.  And if we’re more aware of the total sum value of a client, then maybe we’ll do more; maybe we’ll be more conscientious; maybe we’ll try harder, respond quicker, create more value.  Maybe it will give us a whole new look at getting and keeping clients.

I recently posed these questions to a group of telephone sales reps that I trained in Florida and here’s what they came up with:

1.      A Sale

Okay, this is rather obvious – no surprise here – but certainly extremely important.  A customer means a sale. It means revenues.  It means success.  We like this.

2.      Subsequent Sales

A customer should not be seen as a one-time transaction. There could and should be subsequent sales.  Gurus will refer to it as the “life time value” of a client i.e., the total dollars the customer generates over the length of the relationship.  Look after your client well and this could be significant. Again, this should not be a big surprise to anyone in sales.

3.     A Pay Check

Someone in the class cleverly pointed this out with reference to commissions or bonuses.  A customer can be a source of income for you.

4.     Referrals and Leads

Customers could mean referrals … if you ask. Both internally in their own organization or externally with associates, friends and peers. You know this and I know this: referrals close faster and at a higher rate.  And as Martha Stewart might say, “And that’s a good thing.” But, you need to ask…

5.    Testimonials

Here’s something that is not often perceived much less leveraged by the average sales rep.  A customer could be a testimonial. Testimonials refer to a customer ‘testifying’ that your products or service helped them solve a problem and/or achieve superb results.  They tend to be more detailed and hence more credible. They’re wonderful things to have on websites, blogs, and other marketing material.  They’re worth a lot.

6.    Friendship

Here’s an interesting perspective.  Several reps surveyed pointed out they’ve developed friendships with certain clients.  Priceless.

7.      Quotes

Quotes are like testimonials but usually they are brief and often more general in their praise or remarks. Nevertheless, they build credibility in your company, your products and you.   Quotes help you sell more because they create confidence in other prospects you might be targeting.

8.      Job Security

Initially, this was quip by one of the trainees but as we discussed it, we decided it has merit. In fact, it has a lot of merit.  The more customers you have the greater your job security.  Can’t argue with that one.

9.      A Job Offer

Inevitably, after we talked about job security someone called out “a future job.”  In other words, your customer might like you and your efforts so much that he/she might offer you a position.  Of course,  your current boss may not be too pleased with that, but it’s something for you to consider.

10.      A Mentor/Coach

This is a heck of concept.  Some of your customers, if managed and groomed well, evolve into mentors or coaches.  This means they go above and beyond their typical role and help you by giving advice, directing your efforts, suggesting strategies.  There’s nothing it in for them. They are helping you for their own good reasons.  You cannot place a value or worth on a mentor or coach.

11.     “Lab Rat”

I loved this one.  A couple of the reps explained that they had clients who were willing test some products and give feedback.  They were willing to measure results and candidly share their impressions.  In effect, they were providing market intelligence that could be used in further selling efforts.  Powerful stuff.

12.     A Reference

A reference is sort of like a referral.  A reference is someone who will give you or your company or your product a rave review.  They’ll field a call for you from one of your prospects. Some will even go so far as to pick up the phone and call the prospect before the prospect calls them.  How much is that worth to you?

13.      Future Sales at a Future Company

Some customers leave their current employer. They go elsewhere. They often “take you with them.”  In other words, they liked you or your company so much that they continue the relationship.  Nice!

What is a Customer Worth to You?                                    

Okay … your turn: what is a customer worth to you?  What other values do they have to offer?  Do you have something we missed?  List them below and let’s see what we come up with.

In the meantime, start looking at your customers differently. They’re worth a lot more than you think.  So groom them. Nurture them. Don’t take them for granted. Scratch the surface and  leverage that value.

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The 3 Questions that Telephone Reps Should Ask at the End of Every Day

Do you sometimes finish your day and wonder what you accomplished, if anything?

You started off with great intentions to sell like crazy but somehow things got de-railed. You got side tracked here and there: e-mails galore; a lengthy proposal; troublesome client; a chatty friend; sales calls that got off kilter; a report that needed completion… and only a handful of client and prospect contacts. You know the drill.  Sales didn’t get done.

Hey, it’s okay: we all have days like that.

But don’t write if off either. Whether it’s a bad day – or even a good day- you can take it and learn from it. You can squeeze and extract something from every single day if you simply put seven minutes aside at the end of your work day and conduct a ‘debrief’ by asking yourself these three questions:

Question #1:  What happened today?

Take a moment and evaluate your day.  Look at what you accomplished.  What successes / victories did you have?  Bask in them for a few seconds.  Look at what you did not accomplish. Look at the stumbling blocks.  Determine what wasn’t so successful.

The answers to these questions provide perspective about your day. By assessing the highs and lows you are giving credence to your strengths and you’re acknowledging your weaknesses.  It provides a sense of balance that can help mitigate discouragement or despair.  It can also balance too much euphoria which can be equally dangerous.

Question #2:  What did I learn ?

Here’s a question I learned from a mentor a long time ago.  At the end of day ask yourself, ‘what did I learn from what happened today?’  This penetrating question gets you to drill deeper and learn the lessons of success and/or failure. Typically the answers are behavior related.  They tell you what you have to do or what you have to do more of.  Here are some quotes from reps I have worked with when I asked them what they learned about their day:

“I learned that cold calling at the end of day is not good for me. I’m tired and not at my best…”

“I realize that I should not check my e-mail so often because I get distracted…”

“I found out that spending less time socializing increased my contact rate… Kind of embarrassed by that…”

“ I learned that I did not spend enough time preparing my approach to the follow up call.”

“I learned that if I do the hard stuff first, the rest of the day isn’t so bad.”

“I worked on a lot of things but not the ‘right’ things!”

“I spend too much time and effort on composing e-mails.”

“I should have asked my manager for help on this quote a lot sooner…”

“I learned that I spent too much time pitching and not enough time questioning and listening”

“I think I learned that I focus too much on getting things perfect.’”

Question #3:  What needs communicating?

This is a new question I have added to the end of the day de-brief.  I got this from Peter Bregman’s book “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done,” and I love it.

Bregman suggests taking a few moments to think of whom you interacted with that day? Customers, vendors, prospects, co-workers, other departments?  Is there anyone you should update? What about thank? Get clarification? Ask a question? Acknowledge?

This is a brilliant and powerful question. It forces you to think about people and events in the day, and you can use it to  help you grow and develop relationships. It can create value. It can position  and brand you.  It can make you more efficient and effective.  It gives you an edge. It shows appreciation; courtesy; thoughtfulness.  Its gets you to do those little extras that most sales reps don’t do.

Implementation

You should de-brief yourself at your desk before you leave.  Don’t do it on the commute home. Do it in your work environment in case you need to take care of something (see Question #3).

You could de-brief with a co-worker.  This works well because it forces you to verbally articulate the answers and in an odd way, it holds you more accountable.

You could de-brief with your boss if he/she has time every day.  Mind you, that’s not always practical

Why 7 Minutes?

Seven minutes is an unusual time so you tend to remember it.  Take five of those minutes to reflect on the questions.  Take the last two minutes to communicate to those who matter (if required).  Send an e-mail or text.  Write a thank you card.  Go over to someone’s desk to say thank you or whatever.

Summary

Get into this simple routine. It gets you THINKING.  It’s not only effective, it’s fun.  You’ll actually enjoy the process because you’ll have a greater sense of what you must do or must do more of.  It puts you in the driver’s seat.  It eliminates victimization.  It gives your focus and direction so that the next day is a little bit better.

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #11: Find a Coach, Conscience and Cheerleader

This is the eleventh in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #11:  Find a Coach, Conscience and Cheerleader

There seems to be a tendency in sales people to ‘go-it-alone.’  Maybe it’s because we’re adults and we feel we should be able to work on our own and be independent that we resist coaching and help from others.  Maybe we feel ‘inadequate’ if we ask for help or guidance.  Maybe we fear embarrassment.  Maybe we worry about admonishments. Or perhaps we are just shy.

Whatever the case, get over it!

Reach out. Find someone who can lend perspective, sharpen your game, improve your skills, and give you an edge; someone you respect and someone who will HELP you grow professionally; someone who is honest and forthright; who doesn’t have an ‘agenda’ other than to help you succeed. It could be:

  • A manager
  • A sports coach
  • A consultant
  • An advisor
  • A role model
  • A friend
  • A parent
  • A partner

You’ll be in Good Company

Think of it: superstar athletes have coaches.  Aaron Rogers, Serena and Venus Williams, Tiger Woods, Justin Verlander, Sydney Crosby, and every Olympic athlete under the sun have coaches.  They have them because coaches make them better, provide objectivity, and ultimately hold them accountable.

Here’s the big thing: they’ll often act as your conscience: remind you of things, push you a little, admonish here and there, get you to do the things you might like to do.

Oh ya, they’ll do another thing:   they’ll also cheer for you and praise you. They’ll help build you up.  High five you.

Actions

Here are a few actions to get you started

  1. Make a list of people who can act as your coach, conscience and cheerleader.  Typically, it is your boss because they can work with you, real-time, on the job. (But not all bosses want to coach or cheerleader so you might have to go elsewhere).  Incidentally, you can have more than one coach. Different coaches can help you on different elements of your sales game: skills, attitude, knowledge etc.
  2. Formally approach your would-be conscience/coach/ cheerleader and explain what you want them to do.  Depending on your needs, their role will vary.
  3. Commit to listening.  Hey…sometimes you won’t like what you hear. Don’t defend yourself or your action.  Just listen to what they have to say.  They’re in your corner.  For you to control your sales destiny you need to have someone who points out what you might not see.
  4. Implement what you learn.  This is where the rubber hits the road.  Your coach will provide you with direction but it’s up to you to take the steps.

Don’t go it alone.  If you’re truly interested in succeeding in sales, find people who will help.  Take control of your sales destiny!

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Controlling Your Sales Destiny – Tip #7: Get Some Skin in the Game

This is the seventh in a series of posts about taking control of your sales destiny and achieving sales success.

Tip #7: Get Some Skin in the Game

“Get some skin in the game” is an old expression that you don’t hear that often.  It means invest some of your own money in a venture or task or assignment.  In the case of this post, it means investing some of your own hard-earned cash on your sales education and development.

Here are some examples:

  • Buy a book on selling (or time management or goal setting or anything that will help you improve and succeed.)
  • Purchase some CDs or DVDs.
  • Pay for a download for a sales site or subscribe to a paid newsletter.
  • Fork out a few bucks to attend a workshop or tele-seminar.
  • Invest in a coach.
  • Do something, anything … that can help improve your skill or knowledge.

Two Important things:  First, don’t expect your company to do all the heavy lifting.  Don’t expect them to invest in training for you at the drop of a hat.  If you need training, invest in yourself.  Second, and perhaps more significantly, when YOU risk YOUR money, you are more apt to want an ROI.  Typically you feel compelled to read that book or listen to that MP3 or try a new technique. You pay closer attention.   You try a little harder.

(Hey, here’s an idea: suppose you see a workshop with a larger than usual price tag.  Approach your boss and say, “Hey boss, I’ll pay for half if you pay for half.” )

Skin in the game also applies to time.  Invest the time to learn.  Schedule it. Stick to it. It’s the difference between good intention and implementation.

Action Items

Action #1:  Create a learning budget.  Put twenty bucks aside every week or every two weeks.  That’s $40 – $80 per month to spend on knowledge based items.  That’s a lot cheaper than college or university but it’s just as significant.

Action #2: Read, listen or use what you’ve bought.  Sometimes it gets easy to fork out the investment and then put it aside.  Budget 30 minutes a day to read, listen and use.

Action #3:  Try the techniques right away. Don’t wait till ‘next Monday.’  Try it right away.  And then give it a fighting chance and apply the skill or techniques twenty or thirty times.  That will help you develop a degree of mastery.

Summary

It’s up to you to shape your sales destiny.  If you invest in yourself, you are investing in your own personal development, growth and success.  Makes cents, eh?! (Forgive the clever little pun … it should be ‘sense.’)

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Are You a Quitter But Just Don’t Know it? 10 Decisive Ways How NOT to Quit

Are you a quitter but just don’t know it?

Nobody likes to think of themselves as a quitter but statistics would seem to indicate the many sales reps tend to quit far too soon and far too easily. In his article, “It’s always too soon to quit,” Lewis R. Timberlake revealed the following

–  only 10% of people actually succeed at what they set out to accomplish

– another 10% accept defeat and try to resolve these feelings by turning to various obsession

–  finally, 80% of the population simply endures their frustration and blame their lack of success on circumstances

While not referring specifically to sales reps and perhaps a bit harsh,  Timberlake’s statistics are probably not that far off the mark.  The percentage of exceptional and truly unexceptional reps is proportionately small while the vast majority of sales reps sit somewhere in the middle.

Being in the middle of the pack does not constitute failure but it does beg the question why aren’t more reps exceptional?

Timberlake’s take on the issue is that the number one reason why people do not achieve  higher levels of success is because they quit too soon.  By quitting he doesn’t necessary mean throwing in the towel. He means giving up on actions that lead to success. He means stopping short. Folding too soon. For instance,  instead of 75 dials a tele-sales rep might ‘quit’ at 60; instead of reaching 25 decision makers for the day they settle on 20;  instead of taking a half hour to read a skills newsletter they quit and watch The Simpsons.

Why do Sales Reps Quit

First, it’s easy to quit; there’s nothing complex about it. The rep simply stops the effort when all that was required was a little perseverance and elbow grease.

Second, quitting is  rewarding. Yes, rewarding. When a rep ceases an activity (such as cold calling) the frustration or rejection stops immediately.

Third, there is no immediate consequence. Quitting a task is very personal, silent and unseen, and there is no immediate reprimand.

Fourth, taking action means change and change is uncomfortable even if it is good for the rep.  Many reps take the path of least resistance and quit at this stage instead of enduring the short period of discomfort.

Finally, Timberlake points out that many people quit simply because they don’t know how to take decisive action to change their circumstance.

10 Decisive Ways To Take Action and Not Quit

If you sit in the middle of the pack and suspect you might be “quitting” on yourself, here are ten decisive ways you can take action, avoid quitting and succeed in sales.

1. Ask Yourself This Question

Ask yourself, “Is this what I want to do right now in my career?” If it isn’t, if you’re doing the sales job out of desperation and hate it, get out. This is the legitimate time to quit.  If your heart’s not into it you won’t have the motivation. But if you think you can do it, then give it your best shot and continue reading.

2.  Shut up and Take Responsibility Now

Stop being a victim. Victims give up. Stop the irresistible temptation to whine, lament and excuse your behavior. Don’t  blame your manager,  the list, prices, product and the economy for your less than stellar results. Say to yourself, “Okay, things aren’t going so well, what am I going to do about it?” This question puts the onus on YOU and no one else to take responsibility for your success.

3. Avoid the Quitters

Avoid co-workers  who drag you down with negative talk; those who look to justify their mediocre results by pointing fingers at others or at circumstances. Misery loves company. They’ll infect you with their negativity and they’ll persuade you to quit on hard work or smart work by offering reasons not to push harder.

4. Hang out with Winners

Get to know, work and hang out with the winners in the office, the top producers; the best of the best. Ask them questions. Learn. Observe. Absorb. You’ll see they do the extras here and there. Copy them. Winners don’t quit. They finish the task.

5. Find a System

 A system is a step by step way or method of doing something. It might be a good opening statement, a killer voice mail template, a technique to get past a get keeper, a way to handle smokescreen objections. Find out what the best of the best do, steal it and apply it. This will reduce frustration and discouragement and increase success. The net result is less tendency to quit.

6. Do it Now! Implement Your System Immediately and Stick to It

 Make a small poster with the words “Do It Now” printed in big letters. It’s your new motto. When you find your system or you learn a new technique, skill or process, don’t wait to implement it. Apply it immediately. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll master it and reap the benefits. Don’t wait till Monday. Do it now. Then give it your best shot by sticking to the plan. It takes a little time for results. Don’t give up if you don’t get immediate success.

7. Get Some Skin in the Game

 Here’s a heck of way not to quit: get some skin in the game. This means investing YOUR money and your time in self development.  It might mean buying a sales book, investing in a webinar, purchasing a sales DVD or downloading a MP3 recording.  Once you reach into your pocket and spend your hard earned money you’ll find you want to quit less and get an ROI more.

 8. Work a Half Hour Longer

Come in 30 minutes earlier or stay 30 minutes longer each day. An extra half hour a day amounts to only 2.5 hours per week but that means 10 hours per month or 120 hours a year. Imagine the dials, connects, visits, presentations and the sales you will make with an extra 15 days a year? Too tough? Start with 15 minutes more a day and you’ll still get incremental results.

9. Set Targets

 Everyone knows targets are important so commit to a set of goals every day.   Set meaningful  goals and then post them in front of you so you don’t quit when you are five dials short of one decision maker contact away from achieving your objective. Whether it is an activity goals (e.g., dials, contacts, visits, etc.) or a revenue goal (or both), set it and push yourself to get it. Make the extra calls. Push yourself for the extra visit. Git ‘er done.

 10. Find a Cheerleader, a Coach and a Conscience

Whether it’s your manager, a peer, a mentor, a friend or a spouse, find someone to act as a cheerleader, a coach and above all a conscience. Share with them your daily targets and report the results to them every day. They’ll give you high fives, they’ll give you advice or encouragement or they’ll give you a little frown. Whatever the case, you win.

Now you know what to do. Go out and do it. And remember the famous words of Winston Churchill, “Never, ever, ever quit.”

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10 Tips on How to Change and Change the Way You Sell

Why do sales people find it so difficult to add new skills to their selling process?

Because implementing new skills means adapting; it means change. And as a good rule of thumb, most of us hate change.  It takes us out of our comfort zone.  We resist change even if logically we know that the change will better us.  Change makes us feel awkward, self conscious, and uncomfortable.

Net result?

We do not derive the benefits that the training provided.  The great ideas, tips, techniques and strategies get diluted and sales results more or less stay the same.

Don’t be a victim to change.  By learning to adapt and become a little more flexible you’ll l embrace change and your sales will soar. Here are some thoughts on change to lend perspective and make the process of changing easier.

10  Thoughts on Change

Thought #1: Change is Intimidating

Change can be intimidating. When you are presented with a new skill, you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. You might (in fact, you probably will) fail at your first few attempts. Failure does not make anyone feel good and so we resist trying the new skill to avoid the failure.

Hey, it’s okay to be intimidated. Bur fear the change and change anyway. Know this up front: you will likely stumble and fall and momentarily fail. This is a short term and relatively painless event. It’s kind of like getting a needle from your doctor. It’s not real pleasant but after all is said and done, it’s no big deal.

Thought #2: Change Takes Thought

This is important. Often we attempt the change in skills or tactics without thinking about the process. We just dive in. That’s when things get murky. THINK about what you’re trying to attempt. Plan it out. In some cases, script it out. Draw a mind map or a call guide. Become familiar with the process. Make things easier for yourself by thinking one, two and three steps ahead.

Thought #3: Take Change Slowly

Old joke: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

When I conduct full day training sessions I see how overwhelmed many of the reps become. They seem to think that they have to implement everything on the next call. Not so. Take a technique or two and master that. Don’t worry about the rest.  Then, add another new skill or two and build on what you have learned.

Thought #4: Change Takes Time

Far too many reps give up too soon. They try a technique for an hour or two or maybe even a day or two.  It doesn’t seem to flow smoothly or work effectively so logic tells them to go back to what was comfortable. They give up. They quit. That’s sort of like going on a diet and not losing 10 pounds in two days. Losing weight takes time. So does developing a new skill.

In fact, studies show that it takes about three weeks to create a new habit. It might take you more, it might take  you less but one thing is certain: change takes time. And that’s why you need to think about what it is you are attempting every single time.  You have to be conscious that you are trying a new technique.  It will feel odd at first but given time, the new skill becomes an unconscious action.

Thought #5:  Get Help Changing

Know this: you don’t necessarily have to tackle change on your own. Go to your supervisor, manager, peer or friend and solicit their help.  Ideally, you should have a coach (usually your manager) who can give you feedback – the good kind and the ‘not so good’ kind. The objectivity of a third party can make the change process faster and easier. So raise your hand.

Thought #6:  Cheat Change

Good trainers provide sales reps with a whole host of tools -job aids- to help make the adoption of a new skill easier and faster. Such tangible job aids as pre-call planning sheets, opening statement templates, selling grids and objections charts make change a heck of a lot easier. You can, in effect, cheat change. You can peak at your notes.  See your tools as cheat sheets.  On the phone, no one can see what you have in front of you. Use them!

Thought #7: You Can Change

Guess what? You can change. Anyone can change provided they CHOOSE to change. My observation has been that many sales reps simply give up before they ever try. They defeat themselves mentally. Be positive! Choose success. Choose to change.

Thought #8:  Celebrate Change Successes

Learn to recognize and accept that a change has been positive. For some bizarre reason, some sales reps seem to deny the success. Acknowledge the improvement. Celebrate the success and don’t look back.  Shout to the heavens, “hey, it worked!” Share your success with others.  When you pat yourself on the back you are likely to repeat the effort again and again.

Thought #9:  Change Gets Easier

Here’s the neat thing about change: it gets easier. Every time you add a new skill, it gets that much easier. Part of the reason is that the intimidation factor is reduced with every new success. Another part is because you are mastering a skill or technique… you’re getting better.

Thought #10: Beware the Change Back

Here’s the last and maybe most important thing: the tendency to go back to your old ways will be very strong. Immense.  This is called homeostasis. It’s like a great big magnet that will try to draw you back to where you once were.  You see this a lot with dieters. They loose the weight and then they pack it back on.  Why? Because the reverted to their old eating habits. They got complacent. They lost their discipline.  Same thing in selling.  You’ll discover the tendency to revert to old behaviors if you’re not vigilant.  (This is where a good coach can help keep you focused)

Summary

Change usually not ‘fun.’  At times it is frustrating.  But know this: change is good because it allows you to adapt.  If you study the most successful sales reps in any company you will quickly discover that the key to their success is their ability to change when necessary.

So start changing today and watch your sales start growing tomorrow.

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