Sales Doughnuts

No Job, or Sale, Too Small

The old man was dressed kind of scruffy. His shoes were worn-down and heavily stained with grass. He came into the hardware store and ambled around for 10 minutes before the clerk helping me noticed no one else was helping him. He excused himself and said, “Sir, I’ll be right with you as soon as I finish helping this gentleman.” Once he directed me to the right bins and I assured him I could find what I needed he headed over to the other gentleman. As they stood there talking a few feet away, I gathered that all the man needed was an odd and apparently difficult to find, bolt and nut. He only needed a few of them and later at the checkout counter I saw his purchase, like mine, cost less than a few dollars. Yet the clerk spent a solid 10 to 20 minutes or more with both of us, ensuring that I understood how to find the right bins and parts, and that the other gentleman had the right bolts and nuts for his project as well.

Either of us could have been an eccentric millionaire, or the company CEO, or just a couple of old codgers pursuing odd jobs around the house. He didn’t know and he didn’t particularly seem to care. What mattered is that he was helpful, and that he did his job as enthusiastically and helpfully as if he were selling solid gold widgets to a billionaire. What I do know is that the attitude, demeanor and helpfulness of the clerk reflected the slogan on the sign on the door, “No job too large or too small.”

We forget that “how we practice is how we play.” I have no doubt that if that gentleman, or another, walked into that hardware store and spoke with that clerk about a thousand dollar tool he’d get the same help and care as either of the $1.47 and change guys he’d just served. I don’t know if this clerk had all he needed to be a great salesman, but he sure had all he needed to give every customer his full attention. The moral of this story is that it’s not the size of the job that determines the attention you give it. It’s the fact it is a job.

“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.” ~ Dale Carnegie

image compliments of Kotomicreation’s

Simplify It


Remember when you only had three television channels to watch? Maybe not. Maybe your world has always involved choosing from among 7,000 movies and television or cable shows. I’m dating myself, but I remember when there were only two kinds of portable cell phones to choose from and both weighed five pounds and only came in black or gray. Your third option was to find a pay phone.

Oddly enough, as our choices have expanded our stress levels about making the right choice has too. Studies show that the more choices we have, the more difficult it is to make any choice, personal or professional. Sociologists have learned what most of us already knew, that we’d rather make no choice than the wrong choice. This goes for our clients too. If your company makes 75 different widgets for 300 industries you’re expected to be the expert on all of them so they don’t have to be. Your job is not to just offer a 75-flavor selection; it’s to offer a three to five flavor selection that will best solve your customer’s problem. To be able to do this, and do this well, you need to understand what your customer’s problems and needs really are. Then you can narrow their options down to the handful of (or just one) potential solution(s) so they don’t have to.

Many, if not most, of our customers rely on us to do just that. So next time you make a presentation, take time to explore as many of the options and solutions possible among your arsenal, then narrow them down to the three “best options” for your client. Be ready to give them a solid rationale about why these options are the best, and even have your own preference for what you’d choose in their situation. Your client will thank you. And, given that they only have to choose between three items, you’re much more likely to make a sale.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” ~ Albert Einstein

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Act As Though They Said “Yes,”

I know some salespeople have a mantra of “Always be closing.” I don’t, by the way, and I think you’re making a huge mistake if you believe that’s how to sell. Think about this. What might happen if you change your mindset to “Always be helping”?

Always be helping is another way of working on behalf of the client to come up with solutions, to offer insight and suggestions, to act as though they signed the contract and you’re already working together on their project or problem. I’m sure you’ve lost a sale to someone who (1) got there before you (2) was able to define the problem succinctly and (3) to offer a solution or help the prospect design a solution that worked.

Sales people who sell well, and that can do that, are the ones who see their collaboration with the prospect as a given. I don’t mean treating the prospect casually, assuming you have access you don’t have, or being informal or unprofessionally. I mean acting as though you were awarded the contract and had more questions about what challenges they face. Instead of focusing on selling them your product, focus on finding them a solution. Now and for the future.

“The warrior’s approach is to say ‘Yes’ to life; indeed ‘Yea’ to it all.” ~ Joseph Campbell

image compliments of mark falardeau

It’s New to Them

You’ve rehearsed your presentation a hundred times. Okay, maybe two or three hundred times. You can rattle it off in your sleep. You know it cold. The thing is, your potential customer doesn’t. He or she hasn’t heard it before. They have questions. If they’re an introvert they need to process those questions in their heads, not by talking to you about them. Extroverts, on the other hand, need to hash out every detail verbally. They think things through by talking things through. Either way, you may know your presentation, but do you know who you’re presenting to? Ask yourself:

  • At what point during this presentation is the prospect likely to want more information?
  • Where can I stop and check in to make sure the prospect understands?
  • Are there samples or props I can use (maybe the actual product itself) when giving the presentation?

Go out of your way to discover the best pace for customers or clients who have never heard about you, your company or your product. You may think a 30-minute presentation isn’t enough time. They may think you could have wrapped it up in 5-minutes. So test out your presentation on friends. Ask them to tell you what they think about your pitch, your tone of voice, your presentation, and your approach. The more you give a presentation, the less likely it is to sound natural and unscripted during future presentations. Find a way to personalize every presentation you make. Tie it into the person you’re giving it to. Find ways to connect, ways to personalize it, ways to liven it up. When you and your customer both feel like you’re exploring the solution together, then you’re probably sounding more like an expert than a recording. And that’s a good thing.

“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” ~ Milton Hershey

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Positive Profiling

I have a friend who used to be a police officer, then a Private Investigator. She’s female so I think she’s naturally attuned to what people are wearing, how they move, how they act, when they’re lying. I see shoes; she sees the brand, cost and fashion sense. When OJ Simpson was on trial and the prosecutor kept talking about the importance of the $230 Bruno Magli shoes they claimed he was wearing, she knew exactly what point they were trying to make. She can look at a person’s hands and tell what kind of work they do, and I’m not just talking calluses here. She notices things like manicures (Yes, men get them too), whether a tie is silk or polyester, and if that school ring on your hand is from high school, college or a military academy or sports award. It’s called “profiling” and it tells her things about people.

It was her job to notice that stuff since she was a PI and her job depended on it. She’s retired now, but I was thinking, as a salesperson we need to notice things too—maybe not manicures and shoes, but we do need to be aware of what’s happening when we’re talking to prospects. Are they checking their watch or cell phone? Are they standing, rather than sitting when we’re in their office? Do they repeatedly clear their throats? Do they stand up and shake our hand and remain standing while we’re in their office? Do they put their hands in their pockets and jingle their change while talking? Do they touch their noses, neck or throats when talking to us about contracts, their interests or other things? On the other hand, are you doing any of those things when you talk? Taken alone any of those signs mean nothing, but all together they can signal deceit, impatience or outright annoyance or lies. Sales isn’t just about listening to words, it’s about listening to the big picture—body language, procrastination, delays—any actions your client or potential client is sending out.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

photo compliments of edmittance

When Buying is Painful

I like to spend money. Who doesn’t? But I can be a real tightwad at times too. We all can. Of course one man’s tightwad is another man’s frugal. It’s all a matter of how much you have to spend. When you’re trying to get a customer who hates to spend money, even when they’re obviously getting a great deal, you need to take a different approach. Tightwads don’t like financial pain. You have to find a way to price your product so it doesn’t hurt them and present it as practical rather than pleasurable.

If you’re selling lawnmowers for instance, you’re going to have a hard time pricing all the attachments “a la cart” and still expect the frugal gardener to look at the price of each piece and buy them. He’s going to wince at the idea of more money flying out of his wallet every time he hears you tell him the price of an attachment. Better to bundle your attachments when dealing with tightwads and the frugal. Saying, “The professional gardener’s bundle for people serious about saving money and having a healthy lawn includes six attachments and the mower for a price of _____.” It can be the same price as adding all the attachments. In the prospect’s mind they’re hearing one price. It’s less painful and they’re more likely to buy. The reverse is true. Rather than telling someone a year’s membership to something is $240, breaking it down into $20 a month with no commitment is far more likely to appeal to the frugal. $20 a month sounds much less than $240 a year.

Tight wads prefer the all-you-can-eat buffet rather than the cafeteria approach where they pay for every item ordered. If you’re a craft, fishing or hobby store offer “bundled” items that include all the tools and supplies someone would need rather than just offering each item separately. You’ll not only appeal to the tightwads, but to the person who doesn’t want to have to figure out everything they need—convenience lovers. Either way, make buying as painless as possible when possible.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery. ~Charles Dickens

photo compliments of gmeador

When Your Product Isn’t the Best Solution

I have a graphic artist named Jana who does amazing things with images, words and photographs, but she doesn’t do logos. She’s not shy about it either. For many reasons she’s determined that no matter how great she is as an artist, when it comes to logos customers are better off finding someone else. She’s not rare in this respect. There are going to be times when you suddenly realize (If you’re being honest with yourself and your customer) that your product, service or gizmo is not the best solution to their problem. That’s the point where you tell your customer that—just as Jana does when people ask for a logo.

By directing your customers to the best solution, not just the most available solution (yours) you’ll win more credibility, trust and repeat business than you would by trying to get them to fit your elliptical peg into their round hole. Close, but no cigar doesn’t work for most people. When they find out there was a better solution and you knew about it, but didn’t share that with them, you lose on so many levels. Sure, it’s hard to do, but if you believe the truth that the customer comes first, it’s what you need to do. Knowing that Jana doesn’t do logos doesn’t mean I stop using her services. It means I just get my logos done elsewhere. When a customer learns that you aren’t all things to all people and aren’t afraid to admit it, they develop a new respect for you, and very often will go out of their way to find something you can and will do best for them.

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn’t.” ~ Erica Jong

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Finding Leads

One of the things most salespeople know they should do is to ask their current customers, or new clients, “Is there anyone you know who could use this product or service?” It works sometimes, particularly right after you’ve just made a sale and the customer is feeling good about your exchange. However, some customers are always reluctant to give up a name of a colleague unless they know that person is looking for solutions or welcomes salespeople. If you encounter a hesitation, or a “Not really,” response, try a different tack. Ask the client what professional organizations they belong to and what other vendors they work with. Chances are you can find new leads by contacting the organization or attending some functions, or by contacting vendors who sell other services or goods to your customer. For instance, you may sell cleaning products but not coffee and break room items. By talking to vendors who sell coffee and break room supplies, you may find leads for companies who want to buy coffee makers. By finding companies that offer complimentary services and products from yours, you can often develop leads for hundreds of potential clients.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else just looks for work.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki

West of the Mississippi


Some of you may know the story about Coors beer—that until 1981 you couldn’t buy it east of the Mississippi. The beer was not only refrigerated after brewing, but it remained refrigerated from brewery to distributor and distributorships were few and far between and almost exclusively in the western United States. Prior to 1981 Coors beer was difficult to obtain east of the Mississippi, which made people want to buy it even more. Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski was known to load up the team plane with cases of Coors after a swing out West. When I was in the Navy in the late 60’s the guys from out West loved to tell stories about this legendary beer. Even President Gerald Ford, according to rumors, liked to smuggle the stuff back home on Air Force One.

It wasn’t the same Coors you may know now, and everyone from Paul Newman to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young loved it. The novelty, the movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” about bootlegging Coors, and the risk of being caught with more cases than the law allowed made getting cases of Coors beer across state lines quite a thrill for some people.

The fact that the Coors beer of the 70’s was considered difficult to obtain is what drove a lot of sales east of the Mississippi. However, making a product difficult to get works only if you don’t have any competition. From sales call to presentation, contract to delivery, your customer should get the feeling that buying from you is easier, less complicated and more rewarding than buying from your competitor. There aren’t many products consumers are willing to drive 1,200 miles and risk fines for today. In fact most consumers consider the ease of ordering, obtaining, and resupplying your product almost more important than the product itself. How are you making it easier for your customers to buy?

“Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” ~ Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks

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What if You Never Got a New Client?

It might be the economy. It might be a huge change in technology, or the law, the demise of the Internet due to an energy crisis beyond any thing we can imagine. It might be something unexpected, or could be something unimaginable (Hurricane Katrina, an earthquake, war). It might mean you’re promoted, asked to maintain your current clients, but not acquire new ones. No matter what the rationale what would you do if you never got another new client? How would you keep the ones you have?

What if your income depended solely on keeping the clients you have now deliriously happy? What would you do? How would you start? Then think about this. The income you have now depends largely upon your doing just that. Twenty percent of our clients typically provide 80% of our income. Knowing how to keep the clients you have is more than just an intellectual exercise.

After my spectacular failures, I could not be satisfied with an ordinary success. ~Mason Cooley

image courtesy dan taylor

Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types