This is a Giant Problem for Salespeople

By Christine Harrington

Here’s a mind-blowing statistic: 44 percent of salespeople give up after the first “no” from a prospect!

If 44 percent of your sales team have an 80 percent probability of giving up after hearing “no,” you might be wondering if more training on sales process could fix the issue.

However, if  sales success hinged solely on sales process, then all your salespeople should be winning deals, because they all have access to the same process. Yet nearly all organizations have a slim tier of top performers – and all the rest are average or low performers.

The problem isn’t sales process training. The problem is the new frontier of selling: mindset. The proper selling mindset  has been the most overlooked and undervalued aspect that influences sales performance. Here are the two major mindset problems salespeople have:

  1. Too often the salesperson doesn’t understand how to stay in control of the sale. Frustration and discouragement set in.
  2. Many salespeople struggle with daily focus, structure, and activities that could otherwise help them produce a full prospect funnel.

The New Frontier of Selling

The new frontier of selling is, without a doubt, developing a peak performance mindset. Mindset development is commonplace in the world of sports, but it’s totally neglected in the world of selling. Why? Because, for the most part, the science on the mind has mostly been thought to be exclusively for the field of psychology. However, Olympic and professional athletes have been hiring psychologists for over a century to train on how to develop a peak performance mindset.

Why not explore this new frontier for selling too? If athletes use mindset to enhance their performance to win, shouldn’t salespeople?

You may be thinking, “What’s all the fuss? I can control my mind and thoughts.” OK. If that’s true, why do you win sales and lose sales when you follow the same sales process? The answer is found by developing the selling mindset…the key to increasing sales.

Taking the First Step

The first step to a selling mindset is awareness. Awareness has two components. Self-awareness is knowing how you think, feel, and act. Social awareness is knowing how you impact others. Self-motivation moves you toward your goals and dreams. However, to stay on the sales road to success, you need a mindset that expands in a positive direction when adversity inevitably happens. To win you need to master self-activation.

Self-activation enables you to be creative, use positive problem solving processes, and manage adversity. The result is an expanded self confidence. Since life is filled with obstacles and sales is hearing more “no” than “yes,” doesn’t it make sense to learn how to harness your mind to work for you instead of against you?   

Start with These Two Tips

Self-activation is when the cerebral cortex of the brain is stimulated into a general wakefulness or attention. And yes, you do activate this part of your brain merely by your thoughts…positive and negative. This is why monitoring your self talk is so important.

Tip #1: Positive Self Talk

Please don’t confuse this with positive affirmations. That’s another subject I don’t fully embrace. (Most positive affirmations are taught incorrectly.)

Positive self talk in the context of this article is in terms of how you’ll respond to adversity.

Scenario: Your sales team or you are behind on hitting monthly sales goals. There are 10 days left in the month to hit your goal. Which of these do you do?

  1. Cave and say, “I’ll make it up next month.”
  2. Give it the ’ol college try and say, “I’ll give it my best shot.”
  3. Harness your mindset in a positive direction by saying, “I’ve done it before. I know I can do it again. Here’s my plan over the 10 days. I WILL DO THIS.”

Remember, you cannot reach your peak performance without specific goals and the benefit of no-limit thinking.

Tip #2: Emotional Self Regulation

How do you regulate your emotions? The quick answer is to remain neutral when you feel yourself reacting to what someone said to you or you’re being drawn into drama. Easier said than done…I get it.

You have three choices:

  • React
  • Respond
  • Do and say nothing

Scenario: Your best client calls in a complaint. As you’re listening to her drone on and on about what went wrong, you may feel your emotions take over in a defensive mode because her tone and language are accusatory. In other words, she wants you to react…but in a positive manner. However, her communication style is evoking in you something much different. Your rational mind knows she’s not trying to make you angry, but your emotions get the best of you – so you react. Then she reacts…and back and forth it goes! You know how this ends. If you want to save the account, you eat some humble pie.

If you’ve done the work in emotional self regulation, the conversation and outcome are much different. As she’s complaining, you feel your emotions to defend rise. This time, you consciously shift to remain neutral so you can think clearly to defuse her anger and resolve the issue. The outcome? You’re the hero because she feels heard and understands you’ll fix the problem.

There’s much more on how to self-activate. For now, start with these tips and I’ll write more in upcoming articles about this. Let me know in the comment section below if this article is helpful. Do you have a story you can share?

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

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Three Good Habits to Practice with Your Sales Data

By Nina Huang

You’ve all seen this pitch: Imagine a world where, with the swipe of a hand (à la Minority Report), a beautiful dashboard appears in full-color glory showing exactly where the business opportunity lies. You zoom in and there are the details, with just enough – but not too many – numbers. They tell you exactly what needs to be done to win more, win bigger, and sell more frequently.

These tools and the promises that come with them are real. They are powerful and motivating, and they can be game-changers. But how often do you buy a shiny new tool, plug it into the systems you have, eager to dive in with sales managers, and begin to hear the “buts”: “But some of my team hasn’t submitted their updates for last quarter,” “But the numbers are wrong for that region; the data is wrong,” “But we don’t really know if those inputs are real,” and on and on.

It’s like bringing home a shiny new sports car only to realize the only fuel you have is the single gallon of low-octane gasoline sitting in the corner of your garage to top off your lawn mower. It’s enough to get it started, but certainly not to drive at top performance – and you know that, pretty soon, it’ll come sputtering to a stop.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to collect real information, in real time, and organize it in a useful way for the resulting analytics to be meaningful. Technology will get us part of the way – with GPS, email tracking, and call logging to passively collect data – but many important details still rely on user input. Here are some ways to take steps toward overcoming the barriers:

  1. Make sure the data you’re collecting is “real. Sure, establish an expectation for number of calls, meetings, or opportunities, but also make sure there are sufficient details or verify against calendars. Review recent information on a regular basis with managers so it doesn’t get brushed off as “bad data” at the end of a quarter.

  2. Encourage users to set a routine time for entering data. Different routines will work for different people, but choosing a regular time – like in the parking lot immediately after a meeting, during the car ride between meetings, or at the end of the work day – will help establish the right habits. Daily activity entry ensures the data is thorough and allows for real-time analysis and follow-up that can lead to insight about your sales cycle.

  3. Have a process for keeping data clean. The messier the closet, the less important and more difficult it feels to hang things up in the right places. Make it easy for salespeople to keep records up to date. This may mean creating some barriers to entering records themselves to prevent duplicates or it may mean having a vetting process that ranks third-party sources.

Even if data analytics and predictive modeling are not on your radar, get the data habits formed now so, when you are ready, the shiny new sports car will have all the fuel it needs to drive sales forward.

Nina Huang is an account manager for Dial-A-Note, a service that helps on-the-road salespeople get notes into their CRM systems just by speaking. She works with sales enablement teams to define best practices and achieve user adoption within their sales organizations.

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Which Is Better for Sales: Artificial Intelligence or Augmented Intelligence?

By Donal Daly

Many sales leaders are hearing a lot about artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence. But how do you know which technology is the right choice to invest in for the long-term success of your sales organization?

Let me provide some insight about these emerging technologies. Machines are unlikely to succeed on their own

  • If they’re being asked to solve complex (or “textured”) workflows
  • If an enormous quantity of homogenous data is not available

In these scenarios the right approach is a combination of human and machine – and augmented intelligence is a better answer than artificial intelligence.

For example, when Google anticipates what you might be searching for, corrects the spelling of your search term, or suggests other questions you might want to ask, that’s a big-data problem being solved and we are seeing machine learning at work. The machine has learned from what millions of other users before you have asked.

Let’s deconstruct this example: “How old is Stephen Tyler?” For the sake of the example, I spelled Steven Tyler’s name incorrectly, using “Stephen” instead of “Steven.” What happened was:

  • Google figured that out, because most people type “Steven Tyler,” not “Stephen Tyler.”
  • Then Google decided that, if I was interested in knowing Steven Tyler’s age, then I might also be interested in the age of Mick Jagger and Axl Rose because it has learned this is a common search path.
  • Google also figured out that Liv Tyler is Steven Tyler’s daughter, so it displayed her age as well, just in case I cared.
  • It also prompted me with other questions that “People also ask.”

There’s a lot going on here – Google has a generic ML algorithm that is answering the question: “When someone types something into the search box, what do they really mean, and what else might they be interested in?” 

Like the other Internet giants, Amazon and Facebook, Google has one very significant advantage over the rest of us. It is dealing with enormous quantities of data. Approximately five billion searches every day. That’s a lot of data. Also, the workflows involved in Google search or Amazon’s recommendation engine are simple, though sophisticated in their application.

Artificial intelligence is very good at driving efficiencies but less so in driving effectiveness in scenarios where the workflows are complex. That’s where augmented intelligence takes over. In my book, Tomorrow | Today: How AI Impacts How We Work, Live and Think, I map competitive advantage and scope of impact against application of knowledge in the context of the application of AI.

As Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint said in a recent blog post, “When Machine Learning Just Isn’t Enough”:

The challenge is always the same. How can software improve a current workflow to such an extent that a user is willing to stop their current workflow and learn a new one?…It’s the workflow that keeps the users coming back. 

This is particularly true in the context of tasks that knowledge workers like those in sales, marketing, and customer success teams in enterprise B2B face everyday. The success of a new technology is its ability to co-opt human behavior. As humans in business are trained by their experiences in consumer-land – instant access to information, always-on answers, micro-moment interactions, and too much choice – we are becoming increasingly impatient, have no tolerance of poor service, are frustrated and unforgiving of errors made by machine algorithms, and constantly interrupted by emails, texts, tweets, snaps, likes, and shares. 

The threshold for meaningful application of AI, in whichever mode artificial or augmented is high. I am betting on augmented intelligence, which has awareness of the context in which the workflow happens and responds accordingly.

For those of us focused on providing or using applications that support knowledge workers – like the exciting work going on at Altify – that’s the opportunity to leverage technologies like ML but to do so with an approach that heavily supports the technology with human-infused knowledge to augment the intelligence in the software. Operating in particular business niches as opposed to consumer domains, we can differentiate through applications that use unique training data specific to those niches, and enable business knowledge experts to pour their knowledge of the domain and the associated workflows into the application. This approach compensates for the absence of vast quantities of training data and enables much more accurate outcomes for knowledge-intensive applications and blends the best of human+machine.

Donal Daly is executive chairman of Altify, having founded the company in 2005. He is author of numerous books and ebooks, including the Amazon number one  bestsellers Account Planning in Salesforce and Tomorrow | Today: How AI Impacts How We Work, Live, and Think. Altify is Donal’s fifth global business enterprise.

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Augmented Intelligence and the Future of Selling

By Greg Kaplan

In today’s digital era, sales teams miss or beat their quotas by how they use their data. The problem with data, however, is that entering information into Salesforce has become a time drain for salespeople. As Bluewolf found in its fifth-annual The State of Salesforce report, 79 percent of salespeople regularly spend time during their work day inputting the same data into multiple systems.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, sales leaders can not only streamline data entry for salespeople, but also get more bang for their buck with the data housed in CRM.

That’s because Augmented Intelligence (AI) makes it possible for a sales team to access all kinds of data about the digital behavior of potential buyers – including habits, preferences, and purchase history – and put it to use at every stage of the sales cycle. With the combined AI capabilities of IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein, sales can instantly access actionable analytics from every channel – social, email, mobile, Web – to understand what prospects want and when they’re likely to buy.

The best part? Because of AI’s unique and far-reaching capabilities, the definition of a successful sales organization is changing. Reps no longer must spend hours entering data into Salesforce. We can think of AI as a type of digital assistant for sales that eliminates the daily tasks that burden sellers and selling organizations – searching, organizing, and interpreting data – to connect with prospects and customers.

For example, Augmented Intelligence enables salespeople to warm up cold calls with meaningful insights that personalize their conversations. IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein can work together to provide relevant insights for every individual customer or prospect. To do this, Watson analyzes all available external data, pulling out the right pieces of information to share with Einstein, which will then analyze them in the context of specific contacts to suggest the next best action and prioritize the pipeline.

As AI continues to improve how we sell, sales managers have an ever-increasing responsibility to change their sales culture. The ability to define and share best practices for analyzing customer data is a priority for 68 percent of salespeople – the highest of any function.

Integrating intelligent capabilities into your sales organization is a smart investment in your salespeople. The use of intelligent applications and better forecasting results in greater efficiency and achievement of higher revenue goals. Among companies whose core CRM applications are intelligent (able to anticipate and either take or suggest the next action), 66 percent say their forecasting accuracy has improved in the past 12 months. And that, in turn, fosters more confident salespeople, who are twice as likely to believe they’ll exceed their goals when their forecasting accuracy has improved in the past year (according to results of The State of Salesforce report).

With the recent media blitz of AI initiatives and growing news coverage of AI’s rapid adoption rates, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the next phase in cloud computing, but don’t be. IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein APIs can be customized to fit the needs of sales organizations of any size and industry. Start with Bluewolf’s AI Blueprint to build the business case and roadmap for AI in your organization.

Greg Kaplan is global chief revenue officer for Bluewolf, an IBM Company. He single-handedly built and manages Bluewolf’s global sales organization, which sells strategic services into accounts of all shapes and sizes in the Salesforce market and is on the path to becoming a multibillion-dollar business.

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Eight Sales Coaching Questions to Improve Your Reps’ Sales Calls

A quick email or phone call with the right sales coaching questions can tell you exactly where the salesperson stands on each opportunity. You won’t be able to assess every sales call, but you should check in with each team member intermittently. Here are eight sales coaching questions you could ask.

Does this sales coaching dialogue sound familiar?

Manager: “How did that sales call go?”
Salesperson: “Great!”
Manager: “Did you close the deal?”
Salesperson: “No, but they love me and they want the product.”
Manager: “When will the deal close?”
Salesperson: “Um…probably this quarter.”

What does this sales manager know about the sales call his salesperson just finished? Not much.

Coaching sales reps when they complete sales calls is important and needs to be done routinely. Salespeople will approach their sales calls differently if they know they’ll be asked for very specific information afterward.

A quick email or phone call with the right sales coaching questions can tell you exactly where the salesperson stands on each opportunity. You won’t be able to assess every sales call, but you should check in with each team member intermittently.

Here are eight sales coaching questions you could ask:

  1. What did you do to prepare for the sales call?
  2. What was your objective for the sales call?
  3. What did you do to make good use of the prospect’s time?
  4. What questions did you get answered that helped you understand where the customer is in the sales process?
  5. What action did the customer commit to take?
  6. What action did you commit to take?
  7. Did the customer tell you when they would make a decision?
  8. What are the next steps?

These questions will help both you and the salesperson understand more about the status of the deal. Far too often, salespeople get way ahead of the prospect. As in the conversation at the beginning of this article, they predict a close date based on their quota instead of on the prospect’s needs. The only way to know when a deal will close is to ask the customer. Salespeople must learn to ask for the implementation date and a time by which a decision will be made in order to know the close date. Salespeople will be more inclined to get the needed information if they know you will be inquiring about it.

Another problem this process will help address is over-commitment on the part of the salesperson. Salespeople are quick to promise to do whatever they think will move the deal  along. By asking questions 5 and 6, you can determine if the commitment of the salesperson is comparable to that of the customer. If the commitment levels are out of whack, it could be a sign the salesperson doesn’t understand where the customer is in the sales process. A change of strategy might be in order.

Managers will have fewer surprises if they make these questions a part of their daily coaching routine. Benefits include a shorter sales cycle, more effective selling, better close ratios, and more accurate forecasting.

This post was originally published on Hubspot’s Sales blog.

If you need some coaching on how to get peak performance from your sales team, I’d be delighted to help. Give me a call at 775/852-5020 or email

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. She regularly co-hosts the Sales 3.0 Conference and is a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer.

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How to Sell and Win in the Era of Cognitive Computing

By Paul D’Souza

Being able to read the market is critical to success in sales. This is a skill that will help you stay in sync with the needs of your customers and create the space for you to be active – to engage with them and help them through their challenges.

What has shifted, you ask? It’s these moving pieces…

  1. Customer behavior
    They are involved but via multiple online channels. They want to engage and they care that you see them as unique individuals with unique needs.

  2. Technology
    It is changing rapidly. The trends are leaning towards increased connectivity and cognitive computing.

  3. New Assessment of Business Value
    What this means is that customers will buy ONLY if they see value. No more fancy talk with smoke and mirrors.

I am going to break these down further for you so you can begin to plan for and take appropriate steps to get in sync with these new trends in the marketplace.

Customer Behavior

Today’s customer is an engaged customer. They are either engaged with you and sharing their good experiences OR have moved on – trumpeting their bad experience with all their friends in social media. Their level of tolerance for incompetence has all but vanished. This is true simply because today’s customer has access to many other choices because the Internet makes things findable. Do not fear, though, as this is an amazingly double-edged sword. Since there are so many choices out there, customers realize that not all choices are good – so they are constantly trying to minimize their “cost of buying” like we used to calculate the cost of a sale. Knowing how to engage with a customer and keep their cost of buying low is a requirement in today’s business climate. Here are some guidelines:

  • No two customers are the same. Every customer wants you to notice the uniqueness of who they are. They want you to understand their unique needs. They want you to solve their specific problems. Cookie-cutter solutions are no longer relevant. Welcome to hyper personalization – all the way from R&D to marketing, sales, and service delivery. Are your business practices designed to address this new “Market of One”?

  • The need for responsiveness. Paying attention to your customer needs and their requests for help is critical. When they need help, they want you there. They want you to partner with them and have business practices that are designed to react to and respond to their calls for help. Not soon, not in a few hours, not tomorrow – but now! Be responsive and take care of your customers’ needs and you will be rewarded with a long-term relationship with them. Customers want you to be a business partner of theirs. It is just too costly for them to keep looking for the cheapest vendor.


The world of technology has entered a new era of hyper growth and connectivity. The Big Data era led to revolutionary change. With ever-increasing use of technology in the marketplace, we got into the space of hyper connectivity through the Internet. Virtually every device now sends out a beacon, a report, and a data log of activity that can be useful in business. The problem here is not the lack of data, but that we have not yet learned how to leverage the insight from data to help us grow our businesses. This is changing fast.

  • Connectivity: The Internet of Things, Big Data, and The Intelligence of Things have created the ability for us to monitor all customer behavior.  Yes, forgive me for making that sweeping statement. But you must hear me out on this. The technology is available.
    • Have you developed the ability to track customer behavior?
    • Can you chart your customer journey?
    • Do you know what your customer journey even looks like?

If you do this well, you can start dancing with your customers and give them the information they need when they need it so they can make informed decisions to address their needs and wants.

  • Cognitive Computing: With all this data that is now available, the leading technology companies in the world – like Microsoft, IBM, and SAP – have already developed platforms that allow even small businesses to use machine learning technologies to solve problems and take care of customer needs. It is time you did the research to determine how you could leverage these technical capabilities with your current technology stack. Ask the questions and learn what is possible with where you are today.

New Assessment of Business Value

I was once on a deal team selling software to the largest soft drink company in the world and we went back and forth, validating their need to spend $18,000. It was not the size of the deal and the money they were worried about – they obviously were a multibillion-dollar company – but it was their business ethic.

Every decision a business makes today is grounded in proving beyond doubt the business value that will be derived from the investment. Does your sales process address this new sense of value your customers are holding? With every opportunity you present to a prospect or existing customer, take the leadership to ask them how this decision will add value to their business or their life. Ground your presentations in a real business use-case that they specify for you. If it pencils and demonstrates value to them, you will have a deal that sticks. A good deal will produce another good deal. This is life. Use the new technologies to help you be responsive to their needs and predict customer behavior.

Peak Performance Mindset

The only way all this will come together for you is if you and everyone on your team realize that it is not business as usual anymore. All of you have to have a new sense of responsiveness and sensitivity to the way the market has moved. You have to be technology driven and build new practices and language to leverage the new communication channels and business applications needed to address your customer needs effectively.  Peak performance is not possible with one or the other, but with both – the latest in technology and a winning mindset.

Founder of the D’Souza Group’s Delivering Peak Performance and author of the award-winning book, The Market Has Changed: Have You?, Paul helps business leaders take themselves and their teams to peak performance levels of activity by improving their sales strategy, sales process, and mindset.

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Four Bold Predictions about the Future of Selling and Sales 3.0

Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder of Selling Power, made four bold predictions for the future of selling this morning at the Sales 3.0 Conference.

Prediction #1: Over the next 10 years there will be more than 10,000 highly successful tech startups. They will have an innovative capacity that will far outstrip the leading companies.

Prediction #2: Half of the leading companies today will not exist 10 years from now.  The larger the company, the harder it is to be innovative. That is why startups scare many enterprise organizations. Gschwandtner quoted a study stating that 45% of execs are worried about their company’s future three-to-four years from now. Half of those executives said they have no idea where their industry is headed in the next five years. Innovation is a mandate in any company.

Prediction #3: All successful companies will be digital by 2020. This prediction is based on research from Forrester. This is the time to digitally transform, says Gschwandtner.

Prediction #4: Three million sales jobs will disappear in five years. More than half of those jobs will be due to technology, because technology can accomplish tasks better than salespeople. Many of these jobs will also be lost because sales will be outsourced to places like the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. Currently one million sales jobs have been outsourced to the Philippines.

How can sales leaders survive in an era where technology is replacing salespeople? Gschwandtner has a few key recommendations:

  • Make it a priority to achieve a 200% increase in sales in the next five years.
  • Cut headcount by 20%.
  • Learn to look at human performance through different eyes, and help people retain their humanity in a sea of advancing technological tools.

Gschwandtner tracked the origins of the Sales 3.0 movement, all the way from the Sales 1.0 era, when John Henry Patterson created the template for the way nearly all sales organizations evolved. Selling back then was about customer interactions and three-martini lunches. Then came the digital transformation and the Sales 2.0 era, which brought us cloud computing.

Now, in the Sales 3.0 era, we are not just struggling to manage technology. We are struggling to keep technology from taking over our lives. Gschwandtner quoted research showing that Internet Addiction Disorders are growing. More than 12 million Americans have an online addiction. Many employees are wasting time online (between 60-80% of their day, according to one study) instead of staying focused on work-related activities. Each year, Spam costs businesses $20 billion, and hackers cost businesses $100 billion.

As Gschwandtner said, salespeople need your leadership to understand how they can be effective and be clear about why they’re doing what they do each day. Sales 3.0 is bringing huge change to the sales profession — and sales teams are feeling those changes even more acutely than they did in the 2.0 era. The goal is to learn to balance technology with our humanity and our human selves, said Gschwandtner. As he said, the future depends on how well we integrate technology so that our world becomes more peaceful, our companies become more successful, and our lives become more meaningful.

Join us at a Sales 3.0 event in 2017! See a list of our upcoming conferences in Las Vegas and Philadelphia. 

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It’s Time to Stop Dehumanizing Customers with Our Language

By Matt Conway

Words have power. How you, as a company leader and sales leader, talk about your potential customers has a tremendous impact on your growth results and that of your new business salespeople.

Think about the words the sales profession habitually uses to describe potential customers and how many organizations still describe the sales process: Potential customers are “suspects,” “prospects,” and “targets”…to be “probed,” “qualified,” “handled,” “controlled,” and – finally – “closed.”

Dehumanizing much?

Many sales organizations I’ve visited have “war rooms” to review their deals. In strategy sessions, “beachheads” and “outflanking” to “beat” the competition are discussed.

In account planning, accounts are to be “penetrated.”

New hires – “aggressive” “hunters” and “closers.”

Now just imagine for a moment that your “must win” customers were listening in on these conversations. Do you think they would ever want to work with your salespeople or your company if they overheard how you talk about them? Or would they flee to the hills to escape your barbaric and rapacious hordes?

“Yeah, but they’re not listening in – so it’s OK. Right?”

It’s not. Here’s why you might want to reconsider how you describe potential customers and be very intentional about the words you use.

The latest research in neuroscience and linguistics shows that the words you use play an important role in regulating emotion and behavior – from communicator to recipient and back again – and, for many salespeople, this is done at an unconscious level. They’re not intentional in the words they choose.

If sales is the transfer of emotion and energy to another human being, what energy and emotion are being transferred to your potential customers when your sellers are on the phone or three feet away from them?

Is your salesperson picturing the human being opposite them as a “target” to be “hunted” and “closed?” And, if so, how do you think the “target” will feel? Defensive or open? Ready to do business, or thinking how to get your seller out of their office?

As a sales leader, this is your responsibility to change, expect, and make intentional. Like kids who model the behavior and language of their parents, your salespeople will model the words they hear from you. If you talk and describe your potential customers in the terms above, you shouldn’t be surprised that your salespeople’s customer interactions – from prospecting to discovery conversations – aren’t delivering the results you want to see and hear.

YOU need to start changing your language and being intentional about how you describe your potential customers and where they are in their buying journey, if you want your salespeople to model the same.

Awareness is the first step. STOP using the words above. START being intentional in your choice of words. Openly correct yourself in front of your salespeople when you call a potential customer a “target.” They’ll soon get the message.

You’ll be glad…and so will your new customers.

Matt Conway’s clients say that their salespeople dramatically accelerate their sales cycle and fill their pipeline with high-probability opportunities by gaining access to C-suite decision makers – in minutes…not weeks, months, or never. Matt’s executive access advisory services – consulting, copywriting, mentoring, and speaking make a significant positive impact on the companies that engage him and the individuals who come in contact with him – on professional and personal levels. Matt’s background in company leadership, go-to-market strategy, sales leadership, NLP, and Peak Performance Mindset, coupled with his ability to “lead from the front,” drive immediate and dramatic tactical results making him both a valued advisor to executives and a respected mentor to employees.

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How to Overcome the Fear of Calling on Prospects

By Jim Cathcart

This blog post is one of a series that features insights from certified Peak Performance Mindset trainers and experts. – Sales 3.0 Conference Editors

Recently I taught an entrepreneurship class at the California Lutheran University School of Management and focused on the fear of making new calls on people you don’t know.

Here are some key points from that discussion.

First, fear is not a reality; instead, it is a reaction to your perception of reality. In other words, the way you think about something is what stimulates your emotional response.

If you see making calls on prospects you don’t know as an intrusion into their day, you’ll be apprehensive. Likewise, if you see “selling” as an act of manipulation and persuasion, you’ll feel a sense of guilt about it. In both cases, you are taking something from the other person – their time or money.

So the problem arises from how you were thinking. Premise selects conclusions. If you see prospects as targets whose money you want to acquire, you’ll treat them as objects…and they will feel your attitude. People can tell when you don’t respect or care about them – even if you mask your feelings.

On the other hand, if you see prospects as people you may be able to help via your product or service, you’ll treat them with more respect.

These attitudes grow from our mindset – our beliefs and assumptions (for example, the way you think about the purpose of business). If you believe the purpose of business is “to generate revenue,” you’ll feel and behave differently than if you see it as a way “to make life better for people.” If you feel that money is bad and profit is selfish, you’ll never confidently ask for payment.

The truth is that business is simply a form of providing products and services at a profit – mutual benefit so you can continue helping others. If no profit is made, then only one party benefits and the other has to stop helping due to lack of resources. There’s too much judgment around money and we need to start seeing profit as a good thing for both parties. You deserve to make good money from the good you do for others.

Now let’s return to the original topic: making calls on people you don’t know in hopes of selling your offerings to them. When you realize that business is a good thing and profit is a good thing, you can forget your inclinations toward guilt or reluctance. You can reach out with confidence and joy as you find new people to assist and serve. If someone cannot buy or benefit from your offer, you simply consider them as a new friend and move happily onward to your next contact.

One more thing: stop making “cold” calls. It is fine to make new contacts or calls on people you’ve never met, but there is no reason for them to be “cold.” And I’m not talking about the silly idea of “warm” calls. What I mean is that a new call isn’t cold or warm or anything except simply “new.” If you don’t know someone, it is inappropriate for you to immediately start “selling” to him or her. Instead, you should greet them, find out if they can benefit from buying, and either serve them or not based upon their needs and interests. Just make “new contacts.”

This takes the pressure off of you and places the focus on thinking about and learning how you might help them. Every contact you make can be seen for what it should be: a way to find new people to help so you can earn a profit for doing so. Isn’t that what you were thinking, too?

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is the original author of Relationship Selling and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Mindset Trainer. Contact Jim at

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The Best Way to Position Your Product Benefits

By Christine Harrington

This blog post is one of a series that features insights from certified Peak Performance Mindset trainers and experts. – Sales 3.0 Conference Editors

Do you have the habit of leading with product benefits? Too often, well-meaning salespeople “product dump” during the sales conversation, thinking the product is strong enough to sell itself. Big mistake. Even if it is, that’s not the most effective way to sell.

What is “product dumping”?

During the sales presentation, you explain the product benefits…all of them! In this sales model, the prospect is forced to sit and listen. You may ask a few questions to gain acceptance or understanding, but the questions don’t lead the prospect into the sales conversation. At some point, you notice the glazed-over look on the prospect’s face. You try to recover from losing him and the sale. Too late – you’re just another typical sales rep.

Sound familiar?

Instead, lead with a question that refers to a benefit. For example, if you’re selling a group benefit insurance product, pose the questions that require the prospect’s answer to lead into an explanation of a product benefit: “Mr. Prospect, how successful is your current reference base pricing model?” (where reference base pricing is part of your benefits package).

The answer to this question will tell you if the prospect even knows about reference base pricing, if the prospect is successful using it, or may have heard of it is and not using it. Any of these answers can lead the discussion into the benefit of a reference base pricing model. Instead of product dumping, you’re leading the prospect into a conversation around a benefit you offer. Instead of you talking about a benefit – forcing the prospect to sit and listen – you are asking a question around a benefit your product offers and turning your presentation into prospect engagement.

See the difference?

Before you meet with the prospect, try these tips to reframe the sales conversations into benefit-leading discussions.

  1. Do your homework on the prospect. Ask questions on answers you already have discovered about the prospect. For example, you may already know from your research that the prospect just changed his current group benefit plan. Ask the question, “You’re using an out-of-state TPA. Did that come about as a result of a direct contact or through a broker?” You know the answer he will give – letting you then ask the prospect questions and discuss the benefit you offer: that you’re a local broker and how it will help the prospect.
  2. Be prepared with a list of questions for a lead-in discussion for each product benefit.
  3. Save your silver-bullet benefit for the last if you need to use it to close the sale.
    Too often, salespeople product-dump all their benefits and have nothing left to clinch the sale.
  4. Use a script to keep yourself on track so you’re not rambling.

You see, every question you pose during the sales meeting will lead to a discussion around a benefit. In this way, the prospect is engaged in the discussion and becomes actively involved in solving his issues – using your products. It becomes participation in the sales process instead of being talked at through a presentation.

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

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