Tag Archives: selling

Motivation from Within

May 16, 2018 by

I’d like to introduce the concept of the elephant and the rider. The elephant represents the emotional self, which is powerful, massive, momentum-generating, and typically gets to where it wants to go.  The rider represents the spiritual self, which is purposeful, self-aware, and desires great things in life. Most people go through life allowing the elephant to go wherever it wants.  In other words, people behave based on how they feel in the moment. The problem here is that the elephant does not want growth, which is difficult, challenging, risky, and painful. Rather the elephant fears failure, wants instant gratification, and desires “comfort-zone” living. Without guidance from an engaged rider, the elephant won’t lead a life of success. The elephant will choose to go down a path that leads to incredible success but is filled with hunters, pits, traps, nets, and spears, instead of a path that leads to conformity and status quo but is filled with safety, laziness, easy and comfort. 

As a salesperson, do not let the elephant go where it wants to go. Steer it down the path that leads to success.  Wake up the rider so that its power will drive the elephant towards success.  

It’s a multi-step process. The first thing needed is a vision/mission statement that clarifies a purpose for living. This will ignite a passion that will trump the feeling of fear and resignation that typically keeps people from pursing success. Second, take sales one step at a time.  When the elephant looks to the summit of the mountain from the mountain’s base, it will become overwhelmed. Give the elephant manageable milestones that are achievable and well-mapped out, and the elephant starts to move up the mountain. Third, define key performance metrics that prove progress is being made, because if the elephant is to sustain the effort up the mountain, it needs to know that movement towards the summit is happening. The emotion that keeps the elephant climbing is called fulfillment. Last, condition this enormous beast with a predefined reward system that provides treats every time a milepost is reached. This causes the elephant to become your biggest ally in the pursuit of success.

Knowing true purpose is crucial to awakening the rider so that it will steer the elephant. In an effort to define this, here are six questions to ponder:

  1. What were you born to do?
  2. How do you want to be remembered?
  3. What makes you wake up and go to work?
  4. How can you become more self-aware?
  5. What gets you excited and passionate?
  6. What impact are you having on others?

The answers to these questions can help the rider steer the elephant in the right direction.


Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

The Relentless Pursuit Of Concision

March 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As an ad nerd, I love a good tagline. Think different. Just do it. But taglines (or slogans if you call pop “soda”) are tricky things. They’re easy to get wrong—easier than most everything else branding-related. They’re often too trite, too obvious, too obtuse, too clever by a turn, too forgettable, or too overstuffed with “messaging.” So, I’d like to offer some advice gleaned from two-and-a-half decades of writing more than a few taglines.

Pick one message. Unless you’re Miller Lite circa 1974, chances are you’re not going to get away with saying two things in one tagline (and I’d even argue that Miller Lite’s was a single message as neither “tastes great” nor “less filling” meant anything without the other). Yes, this forces you to define your business and its purpose in very specific terms. Remember, that one thing doesn’t have to be a product feature—it can be an emotional pull or a shared state of mind.

Keep your voice. The fewer words you use to say something, the greater chance there is of it sounding generic. That’s just how language works. But maintaining your brand voice is imperative if you want your tagline to ring true. And if your overarching brand voice is already generic (no “We’re all about…” please), now’s a good time to fix it.

Set realistic expectations. Most taglines are not destined to enter popular culture in any real way. Because it takes millions upon millions of dollars in media to accomplish this feat. Instead, understand that your tagline acts as a nice reminder of what your brand represents—both practically and attitudinally—to your customers. Better yet, a good tagline can act as a great battle cry for your employees better than any Successories-style mission statement ever could.

Don’t mess with a good thing. If you’ve managed to create a memorable, ownable tagline, don’t screw it up. Sure, times change and businesses change and consumer tastes change. But don’t change your tagline just for the sake of change. Take Lexus, for example. When they launched in 1989, their tagline was “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” Spectacular. That was the goal of their company—to never quit refining their cars regardless of the obstacles. Then, a few years later, they removed “relentless,” implying they’d get around to perfection if it weren’t too much bother. Today, it’s the hyper-generic “Experience amazing.” Which sounds like a headline from a billboard for Big Zeke’s Reptile Emporium and Gator Wrasslin’ Expo. Avoid this (both the tagline and Zeke’s).

Honestly, it is wiser to forgo having a tagline at all than to attach a mediocre one to your brand. But if you manage to craft a great one, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. As a calling card, a mantra, and a reminder of what’s important—an exceptional tagline has no equal in ad land.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

The Science of Selling

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In October 1969, Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong into space and he set foot on the moon. How did NASA, never having completed this task before, have success without disaster? By understanding the science and testing everything on Earth according to the rules of science, NASA was able to predict how things would work on the way to the moon and the result was Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong.  We can leverage that same science when it comes to selling, and, if understood, can use it to predict the outcomes of sales calls.

Most prospects have a negative perception about salespeople. “They are pushy, arrogant, self-seeking, annoying…” are just some of the adjectives given. I know, because I have asked many times. However, the science behind human behavior and communication has been understood by psychologists for decades. The method of Transactional Analysis, Dr. Eric Burne explains, states that to generate trust and bonding with other people one must behave with humility and vulnerability, which is the opposite of how the typical salesperson behaves in a sales call.

The DISC behavior assessment, developed by psychologist William Marston, defines four distinct behavior styles of people.To win favor of a prospect, behave like they do, not like you do.

Neuro-linguistic programing, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is the science of communication.

To win favor of prospects, mirror and match the way they communicate.

Sir Isaac Netwon gave us the laws of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion; every action has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws spill over into human behavior. The best chance of getting a prospect to say “yes” is to take this prospect to “no.” The action of taking a prospect to “no” will often be met by the prospect with an equal and opposite reaction of moving toward “yes.”

I can’t give any one scientist the credit for emotional motivation, but that doesn’t diminish the power behind this scientific truth: People buy for their own reasons and these reasons are driven emotionally. Most sales conversations revolve around intellectual information such as features, benefits, price, and terms and conditions, and the conversation never leaves the realm of the intellect. Take the conversation to the emotional level and then prospects start buying from you even if your price is high.

I am a scientist by education (bachelor’s degree in engineering) and I love the science of selling. However, for many years I did not know it nor did I pursue it, so I had to work much harder to win sales. Sales professionals should make it part of their personal development to learn and then own the scientific rules as they apply to the world of selling.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Get Up Off Your Knees

August 23, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

Stop begging for business. Stop running around doing everything the prospect asks you and sending thank you cards and trinkets because you think all of that extra-mile activity will get you sales. Stop sending out proposals and offering presentations to anybody and everybody. Stop cutting your prices or increasing the offering at the same price. You simply don’t have the time or the money to do all that extra work for every prospect that winks at you.

Establish for yourself a “salesperson’s bill of rights.” Come up with a list of rules that the prospect must follow—or you will get up and walk out on the sale. You heard me right. Not everybody deserves to have the privilege of buying your product or service and it is better to identify the bad prospects early in the sales dance. The salesperson’s bill of rights will help you in sorting out the prospects who are likely buyers from those who are just
window shopping.

To help you with this, I will share with you my salesperson’s bill of rights:

  1. Have trust. It is not difficult to see when there is no trust in the call. The body language and tonality of the prospect will give them away.
  2. Get qualifications. Unless prospects can prove they have a real need for what I sell, have money to pay for it, and can make a decision about buying it, I start ending the call.
  3. Don’t waste time. If the prospect won’t give me the time needed to rightfully assess the fit of my product, then what’s the point? I ask to reschedule or end it all together.
  4. No free consulting. Prospects want to know what you know because it has real value, but they don’t want to pay for it. If you are going to present your intellectual property to a prospect, make sure they commit to buying it if they like what you have and can afford it.
  5. No chasing. Prospects need to give me clear next steps at the end of the sales call if they are going to remain in my pipeline. They will agree to schedule another meeting to continue the evaluation of my service, they will tell me they want to buy it, or they will tell me they don’t want it. But they can’t tell me to “call me in a week after I have thought about it.”

I have other rules in my bill of rights, but hopefully what you have read will help you build your own bill of rights. If you make good rules that prospects must follow in order to have your product or service, and then be disciplined in adhering to those rules, you will have made a big step toward professional selling. You will be facing your prospects eye to eye, which is how professionals do business.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

Sales Insider

May 20, 2017 by

There is a list of basic rules of truth that govern the survival of businesses everywhere. While there may be debate on which rules belong on the list, one rule that all businesses owners and managers agree on is: Nothing happens in business until somebody sells something.

Thus, the high-performance salesperson is one of the most sought-after professionals in business. However, perhaps the foundational rule listed above does not apply when consulting is the product for sale. Do consultants need to be professional salespeople or can they reside safely in their core competency and grow the business from there? This is what we will examine.

Let’s say ABC Consulting provides mechanical and electrical consulting services to architects and consumers. The owner, “Dave,” employs a couple of drafters and a couple of professional engineers. He admits there is little development and/or training in the area of business development for the people that carry the “sales” responsibility. They do get training on the area of expertise in which the company consults: Seminars, webinars, ASHRAE-sponsored trainings, P.E. exams, vendor-sponsored trainings, and lots of self-study on system application, building codes, load calculations, energy, LEED, building commissioning, and on and on would accurately summarize the annual training regimen for Dave and his team. And why not? A big reason customers hire ABC is because they are experts in their field.

Dave was reflecting on how his business remained somewhat flat the previous year despite a record number of proposals going out the door. Historically, the primary source of new business came from his referral network. The owner has a vision for growth, so, in addition to the referral business, he decided that responding to as many requests for proposals (RFPs) as possible would be the way to accomplish his vision. Reflecting back, it did the opposite. The business revenue did not go down, but all the hours his employees invested in preparing RFPs (that in the end did not turn into new business) increased overhead and cut into margins. He instead got lots of late nights away from families and overtime hours from his employees, which has slightly damaged morale. Now, Dave ponders, what will be his business development strategy going forward?

Consultants are experts in their fields, and the customers want their expertise because it brings tremendous value to the customers’ business. However, customers don’t want to pay for the consultants’ expertise. So, they simply ask to have it for free, and one form of this ask is the RFP. The problem is that once the customer owns the consultant’s expertise, the customer has the power. The information can be compared to competitors who will adopt all good ideas and do the work for less or, worse yet, the customer will take the ideas and do the work in-house. Therefore, it can be said that responding to RFPs is not selling.

I would agree that professional sales should not be the leading competency for the architect, consulting engineer, or other professional service provider. But this does not diminish the importance of having a system for selling. Here are some simple steps of a selling system that the consultant or architect can begin to implement in their business.


1. Agree Upfront

Before doing any free work for a customer, get a clear understanding from them that if you do the work they are requesting to their satisfaction, you get something in return. If they don’t give you a clear path to getting their business, the wise decision would be to decline. For RFPs, if you don’t have an upfront agreement, it is too risky to pour your work into them only to have it auctioned off.


2. Why Would This Customer Hire You?

Prepare a list of great questions that will fully examine the emotional motivations this customer would have to hire a consultant. Pain is a huge motivator in people, and if your questions uncover the pains the customer is experiencing, you will have a big advantage in winning their business. If a doctor examined me and determined that I have a sickness that could be fatal without surgery, I am not going to ask the doctor for a bid and then get two more and go with the low-cost bidder.


3. Deal With Money Upfront

Ask the customer if they have money early in your conversation. Otherwise, you may do a bunch of work for a customer that, in the end, is broke. They must prove to you they have the ability to pay and a willingness to give their money to you, or else you will respectfully end the conversation.


4. Who Makes the Decisions Around Here?

Ask the customer who is involved in the selection process how the process will be handled. If you are going to present a solution, it is important that those who see it have the capacity to buy it. It is incredibly deflating to learn, after working out the solution, that the person who received it can’t make the decision to buy it.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

The Art of Selling

January 4, 2017 by

Sales is a great career option for the professional businesswoman. Through sales, women can escape gender inequalities in pay, since sales commissions are based on what is sold. The sales venue offers unlimited potential for upside growth. In sales, performance is the equalizing metric that objectively defines success for the professional man or woman equally. Nevertheless, it is true that the marketplace may not treat the professional saleswoman with absolute equality.

One important decision must be made for the saleswoman to defy the odds. That is: make a deliberate effort to master the art of selling.

Regardless of gender, almost all sales engagements start like this: The prospect (i.e., the buyer) takes the position of authority, and the salesperson takes the position of submission. I call this “selling from your knees or begging for business.” This posture is never favorable for the sales professional since this often results in salespeople providing free services and information to prospects that may not result in actual purchases.

High performing sales professionals demonstrate their expertise by tactfully establishing equal business stature between themselves and the prospect. For the female sales professional, establishing equal business stature can be more challenging, mainly because of traditional societal pressure for women (and saleswomen) to adopt a submissive role.

All professionals, men and women alike, have their own sets of challenges to overcome. Those who can overcome their challenges enter into the elite group of high performers. Sales professionals spanning all across the gender spectrum must understand the challenges in their market. Understanding any particular challenge is one step toward success, because the challenges can be overcome.

Sales is the highest compensated profession on the planet. It also can be the most challenging profession. It is the women and men of the sales profession who are the frontline soldiers in business. They take all the shots and rejection, and then they repeat the slog again the next day. If you enter the battlefield unprepared and/or undertrained, you will get blown up a lot…which can figuratively (and psychologically) tear you to pieces.

Saleswomen, you must make the decision to invest in yourself and get the same kind of rigorous training in sales as one gets from school or college when pursuing a degree. In other words, get your bachelor’s degree in sales. The self-investment will most likely have the highest ROI compared to any other investment you could make.

Now, let’s visit Marcy*. Marcy is a professional saleswoman who works in the commercial flooring business and is an expert in her field. She works very hard, puts in a lot of hours, and prepares a lot of proposals. But she earns a wage that is less than what she wants. Over and over, Marcy demonstrates her expertise by pulling together information, doing the research, bringing in the right products, and delivering a workable solution even on the most challenging of projects. Then, to her horror, she learns that her prospect has auctioned off her intellectual property to a lower priced supplier.

In such a predicament, the prospect was in control (the authority), and Marcy was the servant (the submissive). The sales engagement had begun with the prospect calling Marcy and asking, “Can you put together a proposal for this project?” For weeks, I had been instructing Marcy to demand equal business stature by responding with, “I have the highest prices in town.” But Marcy was not comfortable with such an assertive stance. For years, she had been playing the role of servant.

Finally, she got out of her comfort zone and started to push back. Something remarkable started to happen. Prospects didn’t hang up on her. They didn’t always pursue the lower priced suppliers. Instead, they wanted to know why her prices were higher, which then began a sales conversation where Marcy was in control.

The prospects that wanted low price moved on without consuming Marcy’s time in proposal preparation. Those were the same prospects that would have put her (submissive) to work, consumed her time, and still auctioned off her information to the low price provider. Her new posture funneled the price shoppers to her competitors and funneled the prospects that wanted her value into an equal business stature sales conversation (which, more often than not, resulted in business). The marketplace saw a sales professional in Marcy and made no judgment based on the fact that she is a woman. That is a real manifestation of gender neutrality in the sales profession.

It is you—not your product or your gender—that make your business great. It is here where investment should be made to grow your business. So, what is your answer? Are you a professional saleswoman?

*Marcy is a composite character inspired by real people.

Karl Schaphorst is a 27-year veteran of sales who now specializes in training other sales professionals. He is the president of Sandler Training.

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B.

Sell Softly and Carry a Big Brand

December 9, 2014 by

In that specific world where only closers get coffee and WKRP’s Herb Tarlek is spoken of in reverent tones despite being 30 years past his pop culture sell-by date, there exists a special something known as “The Ask.”

It most often occurs after a salesperson has given their spiel, answered questions, deflected objections and has still managed to keep either the proverbial or literal door from being slammed in his or her face. They ask for the sale. They ask what can be done to get you into that car today. Or that new wireless plan. Or even if you want fries with that. Done correctly, “The Ask” can push a potential customer over the edge. Done poorly, it can do the same thing—just not in a good way.

As advertising is at best one-and-a-half Kevin Bacon acquaintances away from sales, “The Ask” has become a staple of everything from TV spots to direct mail postcards to lettering on the side of plumbers’ vans. Only it goes by a different name, one you probably already know—“the call to action.” “Act now, supplies are limited.” “Julie your Time Life operator is standing by to take your order.” “Call or click to like us on Facebook.” “Follow us on Twitter.”

Here’s the thing. In most cases, the “Call to Action” is superfluous, a waste of space, unnecessary and, wait for it, redundant. Why? Thanks for asking. Because the call to action isn’t just contained within the ad, it is the ad. People know what ads are. People know why brands advertise. No one is ever confused by the motivation behind an ad. People understand what you want them to do after they’ve seen your ad. You want them to buy your stuff.

But is it really so wrong to go for “The Ask?” What harm can it do? Well, as with most things in advertising, it depends. If your brand voice would generally be considered of the Crazy Eddie variety—loud, obnoxious, in-your-face, and stuffed to the margins with as many hucksterish clichés as possible—then a sweet, gradient-filled starburst imploring people to “CALL NOW! TUESDAY IS TOO LATE!” makes perverse sense. If you’d rather keep your brand on the path to glory, it does not.

Because your brand should be the strong call to action.

Think about it. If the totality of your brand—the products or services it offers, the way it treats customers, the personality it has adopted, the experience it delivers from start to finish—isn’t enough to suffice as the foundation of an interesting piece of marketing, do you honestly believe a cry of desperation is going to get them moving in your direction? It is enough (and difficult enough) to entertain and inform without adding instructions to the mix that will duly be ignored. “The Ask” weakens. It distracts. It diminishes your brand. “But what if people haven’t heard of my company?” Then your advertising must be compelling enough to inspire them to seek more information. Not merely ask them to join your Google+ circle.

“But what if what I’m selling is a limited-time offer?” By all means, tell people there’s an expiration date on your supply of seasonal, eggnog-flavored beef jerky. That knowledge, combined with your target’s existing impressions of your brand and their rather eclectic taste in reconstituted meat snacks, acts as the call to action. Telling them to “Swing by the Jerky Joint today!” does not.

“So I shouldn’t include my phone number or website address?” Of course you should. But it’s when you tell people what to do with that information that you start rubbing them the wrong way (Again, people know what to do with a phone number. If someone can’t operate their phone, they probably can’t use your product).

So sell softly and carry a big brand. After all, any ad can have a call to action. But a great ad for a great brand is a call to arms.

Jason Fox is the Executive Creative Director at Webster, and the chin behind
@leeclowsbeard

JFox_Headshot_BW_base

Macquariums

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Capture Photography and Videography

If Jake Harms knew then what he knows now, would he still have ventured down this entrepreneurial path? Yes, he says, but “If I divided out the time I had into it [by] the money that I’ve made, I would probably cry,” he chuckles.

Harms’ stumbled onto his labor of love a few years ago when, at work, he was asked to discard an old Apple iMac computer. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to tinker with things…tear them apart and see how they work,” he says. “So, instead of throwing it in the trash can, I brought it home.” He recalls that the computer sat in his garage for a few weeks, until one day he saw a picture on the internet of a fish tank made out of the same iMac computer. “The Apple iMac had a really neat design…the transparent case…They looked really cool and they were all different colors. I decided, I can make one of those.”

For fun, Harms set out to design a tank and researched which filters and lights would best suit his project. He made a few more, each time tweaking here and there until he perfected his design. “I had a buddy who thought it was pretty cool, so I made one for him. Then I made one for another buddy. I thought, ‘Oh, I could probably sell about 50 of these in a year.’ That’s kind of how it all started.”Portraits 1 copy

Little did he know just how popular his little project would become. Since creating his first aquarium in late 2007, Harms has created a website and has sold close to 400 units. The units, which go for $299, can be ordered via his website and come built-to-order, with computer color and decorative details as options. With requests coming in from all over the world, Harms’ future looks pretty busy. “I get a lot of orders from the UK, Australia…I’ve shipped them to every corner of the world,” he says. “I don’t know how some people find out about them…I guess that’s the magic power of the internet.” Harms has even sold one of his creations to an Apple executive. “I asked him if I should be worried about building and selling these [aquariums from iMac computers]. He pretty much said no because it’s not giving Apple a bad name. But if I was making a million on them, then there might be an issue.”

With profiles in magazines and newspapers, a website, and Facebook page, this “little hobby” has become more of a side business. In fact, there’s a waiting list for his creations. In addition to working full-time in carpentry and construction, Harms and his wife also have a wedding photography and videography business.

When he does sit down, he is usually working on his aquariums, either buffing them free of scratches and signs of wear, or mass-assembling them. “I never really build one at a time,” he says. “I always take apart, like, 10 or 20 at a time and modify them assembly-line style.” He has the creation process pretty much down to a science, so the building goes relatively quickly. It’s tracking down the monitors and getting them that can be the most time-consuming part. “It can be kind of a hassle getting them,” he says.

In addition to creating aquariums, Harms offers aquarium-building kits, for those who may have an iMac of their own and are handy enough to take on their own project.

With orders coming in faster than Harms can make them, he is beginning to consider future projects. “My plan is to start making other things out of computers. I’ll start to do that as soon as I can’t find any more of the iMacs,” he shares. But for the foreseeable future, he’s happy to stay busy doing what he loves. “There’s a lot of time involved, but I enjoy it a lot.”