Ask a question. Get an answer.
Real matters. Choices matter. Engagement matters. Honesty matters. Sincerity matters.
– Gill E. Wagner
At this point in the revision process on my book, I’m at 87,123 of a promised 90,000 free words on the subject of sales. So I still owe you 2,877.
If you want those words, ask me any question about “Honest Selling: How To Build The [Your Name Here] Sales System” and I’ll answer that question here.
When you place a cold-call, why do you believe you have the right to butt into someone else’s life and disturb his or her day?
I believe I have that right, because my prospect has a phone and has not
placed his or her phone number on the do-not-call list. People purchase
telephones so they can communicate with others. Assuming I am not allowed to be
one of those others would be the mistake. However, if I call a prospect and he
asks me not to call again, then I figure I no longer have that right. So I honor
the request and market to him another way.
That being said, my guess is you have this attitude because you’ve gotten
yelled at for calling people in the past. If that’s the case, it is absolutely
your fault that your prospects are yelling at you.
Change your behavior, and their behavior will change as well.
How long does it or can it take for people to start recognizing your name in an industry?
It’s not so much a factor of time as it is of energy applied, activity initiated and credibility established. For instance, if you could get an article published in The Wall Street Journal, I’d say you would get recognized fairly quickly.
On the other hand, if you only use cold-calling, some people will start to recognize your name after you take “No” for an answer a few times, but the industry as a whole may never come around.
The surest path to being recognized is through public speaking and writing, because, as a selected speaker or approved author, you have instant credibility – “The publisher chose you, so you must be good” – with a large audience.
It took me at least two years to establish Honest Selling as a recognized brand in St. Louis. By recognized, I mean that, at half the networking functions I attended, at least one person who heard my name said, “Oh, you’re that Honest Selling guy,” or “You do those breakfast workshops on sales.”
Another surefire method is to be absolutely consistent. Make sure every person in your prospect database gets something from you once a month or once a quarter, no matter what. Over time, you’ll create your personal brand.
My gut, however, tells me that, after a year of hard work, you should be getting some results, but it will take two years of concentrated effort before you look back and say, “Boy, am I glad I did all that!”
What is the best way to sell my sales abilities during a job interview?
Use the same sales call process with the interviewer that you would with a prospect, so the person across the table learns how you sell. Your goal should be to learn whether the company is a fit for you, and whether you are a fit for the company – just like selling a product or service to a buyer. Some ideas to help you get on track:
- Learn about the person with whom you’re meeting. What is his or her motivation? Is he or she the final decision-maker, or just part of the filtering process?
- If just part of the filter, what questions must you have answered before you’re willing to answer questions from him or her? How about starting with, “Before we get going, I have a few questions I’d like to ask, because I’m slightly confused on one or two points. Is that okay?” If you get a positive response, ask about the hiring process: How many steps will it take? If it looks good, what’s next? What do you need from me to make a decision today? – stuff like that.
- Create a list of questions you must have answered before you’re willing to move to the next phase of the interviewing/hiring process. I’d want to know about payment structure, advancement opportunities, and so forth. Who knows, the company may not be a fit for you.
- Figure out how to take control of the interview without having the prospect feel that he or she lost control.
- Or, how about taking control openly? “Joe, In my experience, the biggest mistake a salesperson can make in a sales situation is to do all the talking, so, instead of starting this interview with my answering all of your questions, I’d like to show you how I sell by asking my own questions. That way, you’ll be able to see how I would handle a sales call, if I was selling your [products/services]. Is that okay?”
Basically, don’t view this as somehow different from a “real” sales situation, because it is a real sales situation.
How do you walk into a room full of people you don’t know and just “network”?
Remember how I got the bird out of my fireplace? I realized we both wanted compatible things – the same thing, in fact. Well, what do people at networking functions want? They want to meet new people, and, fortunately for you, most want to talk about themselves. Become the person who asks all the questions, instead of the one who does all the talking, and you’ll never have another problem networking, because you’ll be the person with the crowd around you.
How long do you feel it takes to build new relationships, and how do you keep track of your prospects?
I believe totally in the theory that you get what you give. The faster you can help someone, the faster you’ll build a relationship that will help you.
That’s why the foundation of my selling and marketing model is to provide as much value as I can – even if I’m giving away the farm.
Back in my Y2K contingency planning days, I gave away 100 percent of the process and tools needed to create a contingency plan. Once company executives read my free “how to” guide, they realized they couldn’t or didn’t want to handle the problem internally, and that I seemed to know my stuff, so they’d hire me. My marketing budget was about $1,200 per year (for our website hosting plan and Internet access), and I was selling $40,000 to $80,000 engagements over the phone in 30 minutes.
As for keeping track of prospects, consider these three things:
- Your contact-management system must be versatile enough for you to enter and track the various interactions you have with your prospects, clients, colleagues, vendors – everyone who can impact your ability to reach your goals.
- You must design processes for proactively and reactively communicating with prospects, and methods for tracking your activities.
- You must be diligent in your implementation of your processes.
The only thing in that list you may not be able to control is your contact-management system, because you may be forced to use the company’s tools or not have the budget to purchase a feature-rich system on your own. The good news, however, is that this type of tracking can be done on index cards if that’s what it takes, so you have no excuses for not keeping track.
How do I structure and communicate my offer based on trust, when my prospects are being lied to by salespeople all the time?
By being transparent and honest at all times. It will take some prospects a
while to come around, but you will get there eventually.
What tools do you use to stay focused and on target?
I screw up as much as anyone, so don’t let the fact that I wrote this book and told you all the things I think you should be doing make you think I’m Mr. Perfect. In fact, unless I’m proactive about making things happen, my lazy streak takes over, and I never get anything done beyond strategizing and puzzle-solving. The key is to know your weaknesses, so you can build strategies to overcome them.
I keep my back against the wall as much as possible by creating systems that
fuel my fire. For example, one of the reasons I started getting paid up front for consulting work and offering full refunds a couple weeks later is because I hate giving money back. So, when I’m faced with having to give money back, I get my work done.
How can I persevere using the collaboration sales model when my company
wants me to use the qualification model?
Sell more than everyone else.
Seriously, the best way to tell a sales manager or boss to leave you alone is to outproduce everyone else. There may be some transitional pain here, because you might be getting measured on something like number of calls made using their cold-call offer, which would require you to make that number of calls the old way. So you may have to pick and choose where you use collaboration processes, until you start outselling your peers.
Start by using the collaboration process in your conversations, whether it’s setting appointments or conducting sales calls. Then, once you get that figured out, approach your manager with “an idea to improve our sales numbers” that you’d like to try. See if he or she will let you spend one month using your own cold-call offers or cold-letters, then track your results. If you can prove your collaboration system works objectively, meaning in hard numbers, odds are your sales manager will be so happy, he or she will stop looking over your shoulder.
How do I balance my love of excitement and creation with the reality of having to earn a stable living?
Leverage your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Do what you find fun.
Hire the rest.
I mostly use marketing activities that allow me to use my creativity – like cold-letter writing – but that can be implemented by others once the process has been invented.
Most of my public speaking engagements include lots of “force Gill to think on his feet” activities, because that’s when I shine the brightest.
I use the creation of my marketing plan as the documentation of my idea. That way, about the time I’m bored with the documentation part, the plan is on paper and I’m ready to create the letters, cold-call offers, articles, and so forth – which is the next step in the creative process.
877 Free Words Left.
Call me on the phone if you want a question answered. I’m done once I hit
Summing It All Up
As you create The [Your Name Here] Sales System, keep in mind that a primary reason for crafting a system based on your strengths is to have fun implementing that system throughout your career. I never enjoyed selling, until I stopped listening to people who told me to sell their way and started selling my way instead. I want that same level of enjoyment, and the success it brings, for you. So to help you in your mission to achieve success at selling, I’d like to give you some measurement criteria you can use to gauge your success at creating your own system for selling:
- If you can prove your ability to produce the positive ROI, you’ll likely close the sale.
- Prospects will often pay you more to produce the ROI than you would normally charge, provided they know what that ROI is in hard numbers.
- You will know that you’ve mastered the collaboration model of selling, when you begin to receive referrals from prospects you sent to your competition.
- You will know your system is designed well, when pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is something you enjoy, rather than dread.
- You will have perfected The [Your Name Here] Sales System, when you look forward to starting each workday and regret having to stop.
As strange as this may seem, the number of sales you close is a poor measurement of success, because, as you create your own selling system, you will, most assuredly, suffer the transitional pain of decreased sales. But once you’ve achieved the subjective measurements above, the objective measurement of success – increased sales – will happen, because you’ll be having so much fun selling that nothing else could possibly occur.
Loving what you do is the key ingredient in the recipe to achieving success at selling.