Friday, June 26, 2009

Sales 101: How to Close a Deal in "Downomics"

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of salespeople singin’ the blues. The whole, “well, if the economy was better I’d sell…” C’mon guys, enough Weather Reports. From a very wise former employer…we don’t need to know it’s raining. Just sell something…capitalism might be moving out, but entrepreneurship is King these days – and SALES is at the very heart of it all!


1) Quit seeing people as dollar signs. Most prospects aren’t stupid – they are under the gun Marketing & Sales VPs who are doing more with less (people and budgets), and they get an average of 5 sales cold calls a day. When you DO get them on the phone, don’t instantly hit them with your pitch – ask them about their brand goals and how YOU can help THEM. Don’t be afraid to use humor – I once gave a guy an offer of $5 Starbucks just to listen to my elevator pitch. Why he emailed me back – he was laughing because he was 80 miles from the nearest Starbucks but loved my enthusiasm. Don’t think I didn’t find his local coffee grind and send him a custom basket.

2) At the end of the day, it’s not about YOU. Hate to bring this up, but remember “Death of a Salesman?” If you hate what you’re doing, it becomes all about you – and this is about the brand and/or company that you’re selling (ie, it’s about them). Remember to keep your phrasing and your end action point about what THEY need, not your commission or your new client win. People might not be in business to be friends, but high level VPs buy & sell with people they like…hands down.

3) Marketing Directors can smell fear – are you scared? When salespeople don’t get paid, they panic and it shows all over their face…it’s well known from the marketing side that it’s “smellable in an office.” Don’t show your poker chips, it will kill the deal every time…calm down, relax and walk into each meeting thinking you’re going to meet a new contact – not finally feed your 3 kids and husband or pay your mortgage with this deal.

4) Numero Uno rule – DO YOUR RESEARCH before picking up a phone. I used to get tons of cold calls a day, many times people mispronouncing my name (yet they wanted $50k in business). Think about how you feel when you get that dreaded 6pm telemarketing call from someone completely unrelated to your buying habits – you cringe and make up an excuse to get off the phone. Don’t be “that guy” with a Marketing Director – if you get them on the phone, you’re already past the hardest hurdle…you better know what they do, what their business stands for and how you can solve their pain with your product or service.

5) Find out how to best reach your contact – and respect that they are busy. Phone calls are the old standby for sales, but today’s generations have grown up sans phone (yes, folks, there are 30-year old marketing directors who like to text or email). It’s not about being antisocial, it’s about being busy with 3 peoples’ jobs on their plate – learn how they like to be best contacted, and you’re that much closer to getting a response. Many dread coming out of a meeting to see "22 Voicemails" on their Avaya phone - but they can shoot off email responses in meetings. Again, just be courteous and be a friend with respect!

At the end of the day, Aretha said it best. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what that means to me.” Respect your prospects and the door will open wider, not just that crack you’ve been waiting for – and when you find out what it means to them, you just might close that golden deal.

Good luck and GREAT weekend, ROCK STARS! DKC

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to Eat Crow: Lessons Learned in Staying Humble

Have you ever totally “hard charged” a meeting, knowing you were super confident & could literally own the room from start to finish…but then got completely checked when you overwhelmed everyone? Or have you ever walked into a situation thinking you know WAY more than you do, and overcompensating in order to “save face” with your peers or superiors?

Oooof (that's my kick to you in the gut). How’d that feel? Yep, I’ve been there (c'mon, every Girl Friday stumbles on her pre-meeting Sbux runs here and there). Here are five ways to learn a "keep it real" lesson in any situation – and be proactive enough to walk into that next meeting, business call or prospecting appointment, “sharp & on the ready!”

1) Never assume. If you walk into a situation overconfident (and salespeople, do not mix “amping yourself up for a situation” with overconfidence – you can get your game face on without getting cocky)…you automatically assume that everyone else cares. Hello, this is not about you – and when you assume it centers around you, it takes objectivity out of the scenario completely.

2) Listen. It’s like Mom always said, “open your ears & knowledge will flow in.” If you focus on others, it gives you a chance to not only empathize, but also help find a solution to the challenge they might face. Listen, and remember you should be an active listener.

3) Follow up to #2 – choose your responses wisely after listening. Since you’ll already be a new Empathy Expert, now it’s your true challenge – how you respond. Don’t feel pressured to have some wise solution – sometimes, silence & more time to process is just what the group needs. Hot air doesn’t power a factory – smart energy does.

4) Learn something in every meeting. Find a takeaway. I found out an amazing lesson one day, ha ha – that when I shut up, it actually opened up my ears enough to not only PROCESS what others were saying in the meeting, but actually LEARN something in the meantime. We’ve got a finite amount of time on this “business earth” as individuals – it’s worth our while to find an educational aspect about every interaction we have in business.

5) Don’t read your own press releases. A friend of mine wrote this into a contract for his employees, and I love it – meaning, stay humble. In all facets of an organization, humility garners you general respect, no matter the person you’re speaking with and nor what level of expertise. Keep it humble, REAL and honest - and your employees, vendors & peers will seek you out for regular guidance.

Remember – you can ALWAYS keep your rock star status without looking pushy, overconfident or cocky. It’s all about listening to what’s inside, rather than worrying about portraying what’s on your outside. Be YOU, every day, and be a BETTER you. That’s the challenge.

Until next time, rock stars. Go get your sales! (Oh, and if you need help with that: internal plug, drop me a line at