What If Tomorrow Never Comes?

tomorrow

I went to a funeral this past weekend – a young man’s life cut too short. 33 years and 27 days he spent alive – living, loving and doing.

33 years and 27 days.

Seeing his family was tough, I know his dad and 2 brothers. I didn’t know him at all, but now I know all I needed to know about him.

He was a son, a brother, a friend, a baseball player, a golfer and a young man who called his parents each day and told them that he loved them. He was a doer.

33 years and 27 days.

Tomorrow is not promised to us.

Are you doing everything you can to plan personal and professional goals and work to achieve them? If tomorrow never comes for you, will you leave behind a chorus of shoulda woulda coulda’s?

Life is short – a funeral is a stark reminder of this.

What will you leave behind?

Will it be a history of waiting for things to happen to and for you? Will your story include actions you took each day to make yourself better and move one more step forward to reaching your goals or will it be filled with “I’ll do it tomorrow”?

James Altucher loves to write about improving yourself just 1% a day because by the end of the year you will have improved exponentially, created new habits and most likely changed your life.

1% doesnt seem like much, but like the power of compounding in investment returns, 1% a day compounded over a year results in significant changes in attitude, actions and outlooks on life.

For those of us in sales, the end of the month is a funeral of sorts – the month has ended, it’s over, how will it be recorded? How will you and your actions (or inactions) be remembered? The leaderboard never lies.

We are reborn each month to address how we will be remembered – are you doing everything you can to fill your pipeline, network, have positive conversations, set appointments, reach goals and add massive value to your clients and prospects?

We die a thousand deaths a day with rejection, but it will be how we responded, how we lived that matters and how we will be remembered.

Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting to die.

33 years and 27 days.

Get up, make the change, improve 1% each day, read books (I’d recommend Ryan Stewman’s “Elevator to the Top: Your Go-To Resource for All Things Sales“) , read blogs (Mike Weinberg’s – The New Sales Coach blog), help someone who can’t repay you, make your boss and co-workers look good, push, grind, tell the people you love that you love them and don’t ever give up.

When the screen fades to black in the movie of your life, make sure the credits tell the story of all the things you did and not the things you waited to do.

33 years and 27 days.

Make today count.

Use the CATAPULT Method to Break out of a Sales Slump

I liked one of the methods The Hardcore Closer had on his podcast to help you pull yourself out of a sales slump.
The guy has no problem getting in your face, but he offers this advice for free because he wants to help those of us in the sales community to get better. He puts out some solid content, so when I heard this episode, I felt the need to pass this info on – I hope it helps.
Everyone hits a sales slump – but how you respond to it determines whether or not you break out of it or let it drag you down and become the new normal.
The Hardcore Closer used the acronym – CATAPULT – to explain one way to break free from the slump.
Catapults take a tremendous amount of stress as they are drawn back until they are triggered and it uses all that stress and tension to launch forward.
The first thing you need to do is be aware that you are in a slump, and once you recognize what’s going on, apply the CATAPULT method:
C – Commit – commit to making a change after you’ve identified you’re in a slump and working through it.
A – Admit – Admit its your fault you’re in a slump in the first place – don’t blame others – that’s weak. Accept responsibility.
T – Temporary – It’s temporary – nothing lasts forever including slumps – things wont always be the way they are at this moment – work through it.
A – Act – take action – act as if you’ve already worked out of it – don’t speak negatively – tell yourself you are getting better and heading towards a sale and breaking the slump.
P – Put yourself in a Position to win – make more calls – ask for more referrals – start more conversations.
U – Utilize – utilize everything at your disposal – utilize every Ace you have – what’s gonna make your winning hand – use everything you have in your network to win.
L – Let the tension build – pull back that band of the catapult and let the tension build so you can spring forward and smash through whats holding you back.
T- Trigger – whats the ONE thing you can do to trigger a positive chain of events to take you out of the slump and level up? Trigger the momentum that sets of that series of events that blasts you out of the slump.
Keep this in mind the next time you hit a sales slump. Remember that its temporary and it doesn’t need to last long when you have strategies and a plan of action to move yourself past a slump and to the top of the leaderboard.
And don’t forget to watch out for #ThatSalesShow I’ll be starting soon. It’s gonna be awesome!

What the Hell is an Upsell?

When I first started my sales career as an overly aggressive outside salesman, where we were taught to knock down doors for business, hunt out prospects, go in for the kill and one call close them (follow ups were for losers who couldn’t close on the first date), I had never heard the word ‘upsell’. Not in any of my trainings at 2 of the most aggressive B2B long distance resellers, and not in my early years as a broker. Hunt ’em, sell ’em, and forget about ’em.

Holy shitake Batman, I left a lot of commission on the table.

What better way to add to your monthly sales then to prospect your existing customers? You know, the ones you closed because you took the time to see what their needs were and the solution you could provide? And how you kept in touch with them over time to make sure they were still shiny happy people?

If you’ve done it right, your clients will buy from you again – they will be open to new services or offerings you have because you have treated them well and been solution based. If you know your customer, you know if/when a new solution you offer would be helpful, and if you are doing your best to keep up with them (and always end the call with ‘I appreciate your business’) you may uncover new pain that you may be able to help with – and if you cant – because you are a professional at sales – you will direct them to the person who CAN solve that pain. That makes you a partner in their business, not just some sales jockey trying to score an extra few bucks off your client so you can buy the next round of drinks at Friday happy hour.

So, what’s an upsell?

1. Uncovering a new need from your client because you keep in contact with them and any news about them. You then offer them your solution.

2. A new product/service you offer that may be a fit for your client because you have taken the time to understand their business.

3. When a client calls in with a question and you ask them “why” they have that question, and how another one of your products/service may be a solution to make sure they don’t have that challenge in the future.

When you are a solutions based sales provider and a professional who knows his customer, you can dig into the treasure trove that is your hard won client base, you can offer new potential solutions to people who have trusted you before (because you did the right thing), people you have continued to keep in contact with and served well, and are 99% more likely to pick up the phone when you call than 99% of anyone you’ve just cold called.

What do you do when your firm has a new offering? Do you go out cold and see who will buy? Or do you go to your client base first?

When I was a rookie salesman, I never would have thought of this because nobody ever told me anything different. It was ‘eat what you kill’ that day and that day only. Tomorrow was another hunting day. Follow up and upsell were not part of my sales lexicon.

Old school says to close and move on.

Sales 2.0 says close, follow up, serve, and upsell (when appropriate!).

If I ever took the time to look at the additional offerings I may have been able to help those old clients with more money saving solutions but I really didn’t care about them saving money, I cared about me making money.

Now I know that the more I help clients save money and add value to their business, the money will take care of itself.

Who can you upsell today?

How Old-School Selling Got Me Banned From Richmond, Virginia

In 1992, I was working for an extremely aggressive outside sales organization that was a B2B long distance phone service reseller.

I worked out of the Washington, D.C. office and the company was thinking of opening an office in Richmond, Va. Since I had been thrown out of most of the office buildings in the Washington, D.C. area, I jumped at the chance to prospect in new territory.

I was teamed up with Craig, another young and aggressive sales recruit. He had just returned from his corporate sales training class, so he was eager to try out his new “skills.”

The cold calling started normally enough. We went into a few buildings and went to the top floor so we could work our way down. Usually, we sold floor-to-floor. But sometimes, it was a game of cat-and-mouse. After business gatekeepers called security on us, we’d start a pattern of going down two floors and going back up one to avoid being caught.

We’d enter the business, ask the gatekeeper if we could speak to the person in charge of business communication decisions and wait for the reply.

If they said, “You mean the president?”, our trained response was, “That’s exactly why we’re here!” If they said, “Do you have an appointment?”, we answered, “That’s exactly why we’re here!”

(The answer was almost always “That’s exactly why we’re here.”)

It wasn’t a complete lie. We did have a reason to be there — to sell them long distance service — but we couldn’t just say that. We were taught to mislead gatekeepers and be very vague about what we were doing there. Many of them saw through us, but sometimes we’d get lucky and have a newbie at the front desk. They’d open the gates to the kingdom, and we could just walk in the office and head straight into the president’s office and hammer them to buy our service.

After being escorted out of four buildings, we decided to hit a few storefronts. It was usually a little easier to reach the decision maker in stores, but they were more spread out and not as efficient to canvass than office buildings.

But we wanted a sale. There was no way Richmond was going to blank us that day. We were going to one-call-close somebody that day, whether they liked it or not.

Here’s where things went bad.

Craig, who was itching to get a sale, was frustrated from being thrown out of buildings, so when we entered a copy store to cold call it, he was a little on edge.

We asked the first person we saw if we could speak to the owner and he said it was him, so Craig started his pitch. The man was not happy — he must have gotten called on a lot by outside salesmen. He cut Craig off and yelled at us to get out of his shop. Craig’s frustration boiled over and he swore at and insulted the shop owner as we walked out.

When we got outside the shop, we saw a motorcycle cop who just happened to be parked outside. Since we were pretty sure the owner was going to follow us outside, we ducked into a shop two doors down to hide. It turned out to be a women’s dress boutique.

We needed to buy time, but Craig couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t stand not pitching the lady. He couldn’t stand not making a sale.

This is what overly aggressive sales training does to new recruits. He had to pitch this lady. Common sense goes out the window when you are expected to sell with immediate results.

After he made his pitch, we were asked to leave the store in about two-and-a-half seconds flat.

The motorcycle cop was waiting for us, and so was the copy store owner.

“What y’all boys up to?” the police officer asked.

“Just working, sir,” I said.

As the son of an ex-NYPD homicide detective, I learned never to mouth off to a cop. Craig obviously did not come from a law enforcement family.

“Yes, we’re working sir, and right now we have to get back to work because our time is money and right now you’re wasting our time.”

Let’s just stop for a moment, shall we? This was not one of the role plays we did over and over in training. They don’t teach you to deal with this type of encounter — it’s just common sense.

“Sir, what my colleague is trying to say is that we have limited time to work today in Richmond, so unless you need us for something may we go?” I asked.

We had to give him our IDs and Craig gave him our CEO’s name and number, telling the officer that our boss demanded that we cold call and sell. I just kept telling Craig to shut up.

Since the worst thing Craig did was insult the owner and then the officer, there wasn’t any reason to arrest us, but the man could have messed with us.

“I better never ever catch you boys in my city again, don’t you ever come back, and tell your company president to not open an office here,” the cop said after giving us a harsh talking-to.

We left, and I told Craig we were lucky that the cop didn’t arrest us for being idiots. He still didn’t get it.

We were taught to be aggressive and hammer away in order to get the sale. Sometimes it went too far. In this case it did.

Sales should benefit the client first, and the salesman second. There is no place for insulting a potential client in our business. There are always going to be long days — frustrating days, and days where you don’t hit your numbers. But if you’re going to sell professionally, you can’t take it personally.

I had times early in my career where I let it get to me too, but I learned that prospective clients are gold and should always be treated with respect. Everyone should be treated with respect. That cop walked away with a negative attitude toward our firm, and while he may have never been able to prevent an office opening in Richmond, a successful business is not built on bad PR.

Be professional. Make your calls. Be courteous. Do sales the right way.

This Sales Mistake You’re Making Is Like Throwing Away Free Money

When I first started my sales career as an overly aggressive outside salesman, we were taught to knock down doors for business, hunt out prospects, go in for the kill, and one-call close them. (Follow-ups were for losers who couldn’t close on the first date.)

In all my time on the job, I had never heard the word ‘upsell.’ Not in any of my trainings at two of the most aggressive B2B long-distance phone service reselling companies, and not in my early years as a broker. Instead, here’s how it went: Hunt them, sell them, and forget about them.

Holy shiitake, Batman. I left a lot of commission on the table.

There’s no better way to increase your monthly sales than to prospect your existing customers. You know, the ones you closed because you took the time to see what their needs were and the solution you could provide? The ones you’ve kept in touch with over time to make sure they were still shiny happy people?

If you’ve done it right, your clients will buy from you again. If you’ve treated them well and offered them solution-based recommendations, they will be open to new services or offerings because they will trust you. And if you know your customer, make an effort to keep up with them, and demonstrate your appreciation of their business, you’ll uncover new pain. You’ll either know whether a new solution you can offer would be helpful, or whether you should direct your customer to the company that can solve this pain.

If this is how you approach sales, you’ll become a partner in your clients’ businesses instead of coming off like a sales jockey trying to score an extra few bucks off your client so you can pay for the next round of drinks at happy hour. And because you’ll be trusted, you’ll actually make more money than if you simply pursued the next sale without regard for your customers’ needs.

All this is to say that upsells are not to be taken lightly.

The following scenarios are the three situations where upsells are generally appropriate:

  1. You uncover a customer’s new need because you’ve kept in contact with them, watch for news about them, and monitor their progress. You then offer them your solution.
  2. Your company releases a new product or service. Because you’ve taken the time to understand your client’s business, you know your new offering is a good fit for one of their needs you haven’t been previously solving.
  3. A client considers you a trusted advisor, and calls you with a question. When you ask them why they ran into this problem, they tell you about a challenge they’re facing, so you recommend another product your company offers to make sure they don’t have that challenge in the future.

When you are a solutions-based sales provider and a professional who knows his customer, you can dig into the treasure trove that is your hard-won client base to offer new potential solutions to people who have trusted you before. Because you’ve previously acted professionally, your customers are 99% more likely to pick up the phone when you call than 99% of the new prospects you’re trying to reach for the first time.

What do you do when your firm has a new offering? Do you go out cold and see who will buy? Or do you go to your client base first?

When I was a rookie salesman, I never would have thought of upselling, because nobody ever taught me anything different. It was “eat what you kill” that day and that day only. Tomorrow was another hunting day. “Follow-up” and “upsell” were not part of my sales lexicon.

Old-school sales teaches reps to close and move on.

But modern salespeople know that the close is just the beginning. You must deliver, follow-up, serve, and upsell (when appropriate!).

If I ever took the time to look at the additional offerings I may have been able to help my old clients implement and save some money, I would have sold them more services and made more money myself. But I didn’t understand the potential of upsells, and I only went hunting for new business — I only cared about the money going into my pocket.

Now I know that as long as I help clients save money and add value to their business, the money will take care of itself.

So who can you upsell today?

Cold Calling Dead Men: Adventures of a Young Stockbroker – 1990’s edition

It was 1994 and after a few years of trying to get a job with a brokerage firm, I landed a job at the mother of them all – Merrill Lynch.

The bull!

I was 24 years old, fresh off my stint as an overly aggressive outside salesman and now I had a ‘real’ job as a Financial Advisor – the new name for stockbroker. I couldn’t wait to make money for the good people of Washington, DC.

Becoming a broker is first and foremost a sales job, you don’t need to know much about the markets, you just need to prospect. All day, every day. This was when they still handed you a phonebook and you ‘smiled-and-dialed’ your way to becoming a million dollar producer.

I slicked my hair back like Gordon Gekko, wore suspenders (you needed to call them braces) and bowties (the real ones you had to tie). Did I mention I was just 24? Becoming a product of Mother Merrill afforded you a certain arrogance – we were the best of the best, champions of Wall St., the largest retail force around, and our CEO’s came from the ranks of the brokerage unit, which meant that maybe one day I could be king!

My days consisted of getting in the office at 7am and leaving at 9pm. Cold calling all day long, in between 3 meals at McDonalds. I kept a call sheet and would make hundreds of dials a day in order to set appointments so I could convince the prospect I was the Financial Advisor they should be working with. I tried many different scripts that focused on dividend yielding stocks (income!) government bonds (tax fee income!) and municipal bonds (TRIPLE tax free income!!). These were still the days when brokers called prospects to pitch stocks and bonds. My best script was calling in reference to the info I mailed the prospect (I never mailed it, must have gotten lost in the mail…) to see what part of the financial markets they were interested in. That opened up alot of responses which allowed me to uncover opportunities to help.

One of the worst parts of smiling and dialing is when you would call a prospect and get their recent widow/widower on the phone. The horror of learning that their loved one died 2 weeks prior was overridden by the demanding voice of your branch manager in your head to gather assets and sell sell sell, so you tried to tactfully ask what kind of plan they had moving forward with the estate and insurance money. The next sound I usually heard was the phone slamming down. 2 dirty seconds later, I was dialing another prospect. The branch manager kept a chart of my account and asset growth. He didn’t expect empathy – he expected me to hit my training goals, and cold calling would get me there.

He told me to never leave voicemails.

My biggest client came from a voicemail.

Million dollar account. He was a Japanese man who worked for a local agency and he must have liked the message I left (I called about a gold stock that was hot at the time). After what seemed like millions of cold calls I finally landed a big client. He wound up opening accounts for his parents who lived in Tokyo. They did not speak English (so much for Rule 405 – know your customer). I gave the people in our back office fits trying to transfer stock from Japanese banks.

Aimless cold calling like this day in and day out, combined with my 3 daily visits to McDonalds and my nightly visits to the local watering hole to relieve them of their stock of bourbon (what 24 year old drinks Manhattans?) eventually led to burnout, 30 additional pounds and a wicked case of gout (again, what 24 year old gets gout?). I had one colleague who used to cold call until midnight – we were only allowed to call until 9p on the East Coast so this guy had a California phonebook he would use to prospect from 9p to midnight (he is a million dollar producer to this day – way to go Gene!).

I knew this was not what I had in mind when I thought I was getting a job on Wall St. I knew there was a better way, and years later when I went back to the retail brokerage side after years on the institutional side as a trader and then literally working on Wall St at the NYSE, I really learned to market myself a lot more effectively with strategic cold-calling and networking.

It was just another step in my learning that there was a better way to sell. Not stocks, but myself. And to tell the widow how sorry I was for their loss and kindly get off the phone.

So, have you ever cold called a dead man?

 

 

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