Role Players

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Role Players

The New England Patriots are going about it differently this year.  The players have only received Playbooks; they are not practicing.  Sure, they’ve had lots of meetings at camp discussing and talking about the plays, why they are constructed as they are and why the plays will work.  But not a single player has practiced the routes, the blocking schemes, the throws or the running plays.

Why would they bother?  It’s not real.  Heck most of the time in camp they are playing against each other on the same team!  How silly is that? Nothing counts and someone could get hurt and what’s the point of that?  Besides, they’ve studied the plays; they get it.

Not.

Of course the Patriots are practicing this year.  Of course the Patriots are learning their roles by practicing these routes, those blocking schemes, the throws and the running plays.

But we either hate doing that stuff or just don’t care about doing it.

The day I walk through a sales site and see a coach and a sales rep leaning up against some old file cabinets on a sidewall spontaneously practicing a customer scenario about objection handling; I’ll just about have my coronary and end it right there.  I have never ever seen that in real life.

The day I can go to 3 training sessions in a row (live or virtual) where the role play portion wasn’t cut off, or skipped due to time or just wasn’t part of the session – I’ll have that second coronary (well hopefully not with the medication I’m on now and the life changing behaviors I’d have adopted) but—you get the idea.

The day that sales manager from half way across the country Skypes his sales executive and forces her to go through the competitive differentiation portion of the conversation that’s going to soon happen in the C-Suite with a real customer, I’ll have that 3rd myocardial infarction (metaphorically of course).

Maybe I need to get out more often and this stuff happens all the time now.  But maybe it doesn’t.

The sad part is I have a lot of memories when people do some intense role play and apply that Playbook in sessions with their coaches or in war rooms or in “bull in the ring” sessions.   I have lots of memories where those people said, out loud, that that was the best part of working their boss or in the team meetings or in the training classes.

The Patriots aren’t fools.  They know they have roles to play.  And they know they need to play these roles and practice even when stuff ain’t real.   They know because when the time comes; they need to be ready.

And so do we.  Hut! Hut!.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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2 Little Things Driving Me Nuts about Sales Advice

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2 Little Things Driving Me Nuts about Sales Advice

I’ll pontificate with the best.   And there are a couple of things I don’t agree with regarding sales advice of late that are bothering me enough to do just that.

Difference here of course is that when I pontificate I am right.  🙂

Presentations Should Never Lead With Info About Your Own Company.   Wait, what? If I had a dollar for every post, newsletter, tweet, LinkedIn post and e-book of late that said this I would be rich and then actually I would be poor cuz’ I wouldn’t sell anything.

I get it.  Everyone says your presentations should lead with and be about your client, the result of your research, your discovery and how your company solves problems or drives revenue.  Yes, I get it.   But the reality is your company, its credibility, its experience, the friends it hangs out with and the intelligence of its people are always a concern for a prospect especially in this democratized world where a 1 person operation with a slick website and a social media presence can look like a big boy that has done nothing but looks like it has.   Buyers and prospects are more wary than ever because while a national and global marketplace is advantageous to buyers, it is no assurance that providers are inherently credible.

I’m not saying blather about your years of experience, testimonial and client lists in slide after slide in your presentations but you must at least lead with stories that build the trust and credibility of you and your company with like clients and prospects and then move into your key learnings and what your company brings to the table for the client.

The Client Should Do All (or most) of The Talking:   Really?  I’ve heard and read this like from the beginning of time – and I still see it and hear it daily.   But talk to the best sales reps out there.  It’s not true.  These sales people who are killing it are experts, challengers, loaded with insight and play a consultant role with prospects and clients.  They do a lot of talking, a lot of teaching, a lot of the story telling, and a lot of the credibility building as well as some of the listening.  They don’t just sit back 80% of the time and just take notes through the sales process.    The key here is these sales folks inspire their clients to share and talk honestly about their needs and their ambitions as a result of sharing their insights and by asking great questions.  It is far closer in effective sales to be ~ 50%/50% between client and sales rep than 80%/20% in favor of the client.

These reps know that Interrogation is Not a Sales strategy.   These reps know that what they provide has to be different and more worthy than what the client or prospect can find on the company website or brochure and that requires communicating.  These reps know the mastery of communication and conversation is not excelling at a mute Freudian analysis absorbing the soliloquies of the prospect or the client.

***

You may disagree with my take on both of these nagging feelings about sales advice.  In fact, I expect many of you do.  But you would be wrong.  (Or maybe, it is possible, remote-though possible, that I am wrong).

Either way – only good comes from thinking about these two or discussing with your teams or colleagues; They are important places to focus

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Mark’s Blog

5 Phrases You’re Not Using Enough

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5 Underrated Phrases

Words matter.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.

“Tell me more about that…”  Great at client meetings, great in customer conversations, great in coaching sessions and great at parties!  You don’t lead unnecessarily, you don’t shut someone down and you don’t force anyone down any path they don’t want to go.  You learn and they get to talk and share.  Great sales people know this.  And any of you actors out there know this is the one of the keys to great improv acting—it always keeps the conversation moving and don’t we all want that?

“We love you…”  What is wrong with us?  Do you think your customers give a flying hoot that you “value” them or “appreciate” them or “thank” them?  Blah Blah Blah.   Don’t you really love them? And if not, shouldn’t you?  (Their business puts food on your table).   Use “love“, “adore” or “cherish” in your print materials or email marketing and even those live conversations or voicemails.  There’s nothing wrong with saying “You folks are one of our absolute greatest customers”.  Make it your own—but make it different and real.  Get above the clutter and stand out.

“Let’ me figure out what I can do.”  Who knows why we humans default all the time to what we “can’t” do.  It’s maddening and so hard to break.  But you say the same thing except far better by saying “Let me think about it and come back with what can be done.” Vs “I can’t do this.”   It’s a world of difference be it at work in service, sales and even in your personal relationships.  Positive Resonates; Negative Detonates.

 “Who besides yourself…?”  Add any ending to Who besides yourself as in “has a say in the decision”, “wants to review”, “would like more info”, “would benefit from a demo”?  Too often we push our contacts away (whether we know them well or they just answered your call) instead of protecting them, their contributions and frankly their egos.  Always include, never insult unintentionally by presuming they do not play a role in the next step.

So you’re all set, this will get you (insert pursuit, dream or goal)”:  Easier than it seems but sadly at the end of most meetings, transactions or purchases we limp along and wrap up the pricing, the purchase order or the specifics of the next contact instead of inserting how what just happened is so critical to what the client or the business wants.   They don’t want the copier you’re selling; they want more time to focus on real work.  They don’t want business Facebook page built; they want to get more customers because they’ll be found more easily.  They don’t want to just list out action items for the next meeting; they want to know how what they did today is going to make a difference.  Tie off each meeting or interaction that way no matter what you do—you’ll solidify the value and strengthen the partnership.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Pardon Me While I Sell You This Chair

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Pardon Me While I Sell You This Chair

Mark’s Blog

4  essential reminders on how to really create interest and sell just about anything.  In just 139 seconds.

 

 

 

Till Next Time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Say Something Nice (& 3 Ways To Do It)

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Say Something Nice ( & 3 Ways To Do It)

 

Your mother was right about having something nice to say.  Especially if your clients are businesses.

 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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The 4 Best Sales Pick-Up Lines Ever

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The 4 Best Sales Pick Up Lines Ever

 

Want to get a date with your prospect?  Want to see if you make those sparks fly?  Or maybe you want to date your current customer and move into a deeper more satisfying relationship.

Pick up lines work great.

My favorite one in college (worked darn near every time) was when I sauntered up to an unsuspecting attractive young lady at the bar and said   “I can play Lionel Ritchie songs on the piano, you wanna hear some? ”

But I’ve grown and realized that pick-up lines aren’t just for your love life.  They’re for work too.

Here are my top 4

“I know people just like you, in fact I spent the weekend in Vegas with hundreds of them” – This one is always good; you’re smart about their business – you went to a trade show in their industry and bragged about it.  You’ll be fun and a good listener.

“You may not know this, but I’ve been watching you..”.   Creepy?  No, not at all.  You’ve been watching them on social media, maybe read their posts or blogs.  You might have even read their financial reports.  You’re the type that makes people and businesses feel special.  You’re a nice talker, not a stalker.

“I’m learning about the most entrepreneurial and successful people,  do have a minute for me to interview you?” This one is always great.  People like to help people and especially if they can talk about themselves too!  You’re sure to get some time and maybe even for way more than a minute!

“Do you believe in love at first sight or should I show you that again?”   Great line to use In your presentation when you are super proud of your stuff –  your product or your solution.  It is very contagious and attractive to be proud so be proud!  You’ll have prospects fawning all over you.

 

 

 

Till next time,

Truly Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Rethink

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Rethink

If you want to totally rethink what you are doing in business you need to get your customers to rethink what they’re doing. 

And if you really do get them to rethink what they’re doing – that’s a huge win for you. 

Apple did it.  Like for the last 10 years.

 Advanced Auto Small Engine Repair in my little town did it on Friday.

 It’s a tough world out there.  Most of us in sales and service know that even when customers love us – they are, by the time they call about that new service you’ve been pitching or your flyer or your email,  – they’ve done the research and while you’re still in the game- it’s a price war between you and your competitors or them sticking with the status quo- just doing what they’ve always done.

Disrupt the thinking upstream.  Teach. Preach.  Challenge. 

 Be that person or that company. 

Apple did it –blah blah blah we know that.  And their disruptive tech did make us rethink what we are doing but it extends elsewhere too.   Do you think they did some research and asked you and me if when you go in the store, that we wanted some 6 foot 3 bearded technical guru to greet you in the first 8 feet, get your name and ask what you are here for?  Heck no.

They just did it.  And that’s the way it is.  We have been taught.  But we had been taught before by Apple. They reshaped our thinking.  We believe. We trust.

I had a first world problem Thursday night.  My snowblower after a total of 3 feet exploded.  Well I thought it exploded: the chute shot into the air about 10 feet.   I don’t have a clue.  Next day, my wife got a recommendation from a friend about Advanced Auto and they drove up, loaded the snowblower on the truck and then plowed my driveway.  Plowed the driveway.  They didn’t ask, they didn’t check, they just did it.

3 hours later they returned with a fixed blower, an education about the machine, a conversation about what I should watch for, an invitation to learn more and not a word about plowing the driveway except humble acknowledgment of my thanks.

While Advantage Auto didn’t wholly disrupt my thinking – they did reshape my thoughts about service expectations and education in a small way.  It’s a great start for them.  I grabbed 6 of their business cards and a promise to myself about saying a few things on social media.

The perfect world for changing your business or your approach is realizing and then innovating on changing the way your customers not just think and work with you,  but changing the way they do their own business for the better. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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