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.

Technology

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 Cathcart.com.

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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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How to Embrace Sales 3.0 Strategies

By Paul D’Souza

On this blog, we’ll occasionally feature insights from peak performance mindset experts. Today’s expert, Paul D’Souza, believes sales teams must have 1) the right sales strategy and 2) the right sales process before salespeople can achieve a peak performance mindset. Learn more at www.DeliveringPeakPerformance.com. – Sales 3.0 Conference Editors

In today’s world of electronic communication in business, keeping track of it all might seem daunting to the digitally uninitiated.

The good news is that – because so many of our customer touch points are digital – the dots are connectable. This is where Sales 3.0 comes in. The new breed of technology solutions in business intelligence, analytics, and machine learning give sales and marketing organizations the ability to help their salespeople make the right call to the right prospects with the right offer.

Predictability vs Convenience

The fundamentals don’t change. But how customers go about educating themselves and how they reach out for help have changed tremendously. They are using digital channels like Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, email, podcasts, and blogs to name a few. Sales 3.0 solutions will help you make sense of all the touchpoints your customers are making across these channels – giving you actionable reports on whom to call and when. This improves the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team. These reports are designed to “predict” which customers you should be focusing on and why.

You cannot afford to leave the future of your company up to when a salesperson decides it’s convenient to make a call. Or the feelings a salesperson might have about who might be a good prospect to call on any given day.

Step #1: Shift Your Mindset

Sales 3.0 requires a fundamental shift to do things differently. Shift your mindset and choose to operate at peak performance. Decide that you and your entire Sales team will operate at peak performance. You need to choose to want to do things differently. Your salespeople need to be engaged in this process because – when you get these solutions up and running and access their insights – your salespeople have to be operating at peak performance to leverage the insights and information efficiently and effectively. There is nothing worse than giving a salesperson an opportunity and they waste it by doing a bad job with it or not following up in a timely manner.

Step #2: Know Where Your Data Is

So what can you do to start moving toward a more connected Sales 3.0-driven sales organization? Start by doing an audit of what data you and your extended organization are creating. By “extended organization” I am referring to all your prospects, lead sources, social media friends and contacts, customers, partners, employees, and vendors – everybody that is touching you in any way.

Partner with a team of data scientists, data modelers, and statisticians. They are easy to come by in today’s world of IT. Have them map this out for you and build you your data map.

Step #3: Decide Where Your Best Opportunities Are

Take this slowly. Start by thinking through and assessing where your best opportunities for growth might be. I like to start with your known universe. Are you maximizing your existing customer relationships? Have your data team identify all the data that links to existing customers that have transacted with you in the past 18 months.

Step #4: Design a Sales 3.0 Solution

Customers have access to your competition and are bombarded with more than 6,000 ad messages a day. This is why retaining customer loyalty is critical to preserving your revenue. Less than 10 percent of salespeople are good at following up with existing customers. They are always chasing the next new customer. The customer churn analysis solution predicts attrition and helps you build a personalized strategy to retain your customers. A solution like this will help you predict when your customers might be thinking of talking to your customers. This information will give your salespeople a short, targeted list of customers to call on before they leave you, helping you retain their business and your revenue. It uses historical data and learns customer behavioral trends to determine future customer behavior.

The result will be the production of actionable predictive reports your salespeople will get on a weekly basis. These reports will show up in your CRM application as tasks – customers on whom they must call in a timely manner to reactivate and re-engage them on your products and services. Having your sales team operating at peak performance is key to reaping the benefits of this investment.

You Are on Your Way

Congratulations – you are well on your way to embracing Sales 3.0 technologies in sales. Remember: Execution is key. If you are going to make the investments in technology to create solutions that will give your salespeople insights that will accelerate their sales activity, you must train your salespeople and have them operating at peak performance. Do both. Awaken their mindset and raise the bar on expected behavior – while you start enhancing your technical capabilities to leverage analytics, business intelligence, and machine learning. This combined holistic approach will produce wonders. Expect significant increases in revenue.

Stay tuned: I will be writing more on how you can transform your sales organization into a Sales 3.0 environment. There are several solutions and technologies you can deploy. My suggestion: Do not throw money at this transformation. Instead, go about it systematically. Pick the right solution at the right time and invest in your people along the way. Coach your people and get them in the right mindset so they can embrace your new technology-driven sales and marketing ecosystem. This is key.

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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The Real Reason Salespeople Don’t Follow the Sales Process

By Jeb Blount

Sales is a process. I’ve heard and said these words more times than I can remember. Sales is a process is the mantra of the sales trainer – the hero and main character of countless sales books and a shape-shifting chameleon who takes on different forms, labels, acronyms, and layers as the complexity and length of the sales cycle increases.

Sales outcomes are predictable based on how salespeople leverage, execute, and move deals through the sales process. Follow a well-designed sales process with qualified opportunities, that are in the buying window, and you will close more deals. It’s the truth – and it’s a guarantee.

It’s Doesn’t Make Sense to Ignore It

The burning question is why – after all the investment that companies have made teaching salespeople the sales process – do salespeople ignore it and skip steps? After all:

  • The sales process, when fully leveraged, guarantees a higher win probability. Therefore, it just doesn’t make sense to ignore it.
  • Most salespeople are familiar with the sales process, are aware that the sales process is important, and understand the consequences of skipping steps.
  • Most sales organizations have defined and perfected a simple, easy-to-execute sales process with steps that are appropriate to their sales cycle and product complexity.
  • Most companies provide sales process training for their salespeople.

Yet many talented, educated, well-trained salespeople consistently crash and burn in the sales process. This is why, if you drive around to the back of office buildings, you’ll find rows of sales managers banging their foreheads against the bricks.

But it’s not caused by a flaw in sales process training. The problem is not logical, it’s emotional – a symptom of low Sales EQ: sales-specific emotional intelligence.  

Lack of emotional self-control is the fundamental reason salespeople fail in the sales process. They are unable to regulate and manage their own disruptive emotions. These disruptive emotions – including impatience, fear, desperation, eagerness, doubt, hope, insecurity, ego, and attachment – impede situational awareness, causing salespeople to ignore, skip, or mangle steps in the sales process.

Sales EQ Unlocks Ultra-high Sales Performance

Where ultra-high performers separate themselves from the masses of average salespeople is their ability to marry intellectual understanding of the linear sales process with sales-specific emotional intelligence.

Sales EQ is the key that unlocks ultra-high performance. It’s the meta-skill of 21st-century sales. The awareness and understanding of human influence frameworks – along with the ability to manage one’s own disruptive emotions within the context of the linear, logical sales process – is the rocket fuel of sales performance.

The impact of sales-specific emotional intelligence on sales performance can no longer be ignored and is now more essential to success in sales than at any point in history. Companies that invest in developing and improving sales-specific emotional intelligence in their salespeople will gain a decisive competitive advantage in the hypercompetitive global marketplace.

Hear Jeb Blount speak at the Sales 3.0 Conference May 1-2 in San Francisco, where he will present “Sales EQ: Sales-specific Emotional Intelligence and the Five Traits of Ultra-High Performers.”

Jeb Blount is the author of eight books, including Sales EQFanatical Prospecting, and People Follow You. He is a Sales Acceleration specialist who helps sales organizations reach peak performance fast by optimizing talent, leveraging training to cultivate a high-performance sales culture, developing leadership and coaching skills, and applying a more effective organizational design. Contact: 1-888-360-2249 or  https://www.SalesGravy.com

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Five Tips to Turn Your Thoughts into Higher Sales

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

It starts out harmless enough. An occasional slip here and there. You know better and, in fact, you pride yourself on your ability to keep it under control…most of the time. However, over time, the occasional slip becomes an everyday occurrence. Now you’re fully out of control.

What you’re about to read works for all areas of your life…but, if you harness it, it will propel you in selling. You see, if selling was simply a process to learn, and nothing more, then everyone would have higher sales. However, you need only look at your sales team to realize just a quarter of them are top performers, half are mediocre, and the rest have one foot out the door. If selling is as simple as learning a process, then there wouldn’t be a shortage of sales professionals. How many on your team have already come and gone?

Insight #1

Research by the National Science Foundation discovered that, during an average day, the human brain creates 60,000 thoughts. And this will come as no surprise to learn that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative. Is there any wonder why negative thoughts sabotage your day? How many of those thoughts created cold call reluctance or presentation fears?

Please keep reading – this is not another article on positive thinking. I’ve had enough of those, too. But to change behavior, you must first recognize it and understand it. What you are about to learn is based in science – not some namby-pamby stuff. After all, aren’t you ready to harness those fears so you can get higher sales?

Insight #2

The National Science Foundation discovered that, in order to develop a flourishing well-being – both physically and emotionally – you must achieve a 3:1 ratio. That is, a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts and emotions.

Here’s the rub…with 60,000 thoughts floating around all day in your mind, the majority of those thoughts don’t see the light of day in your awareness. Have you ever woken up in the morning and didn’t “feel” quite right? All day you just seemed out of sync? Or, during the day, some small voice has nagged at you? Because of “life” bumping into your mood, you dismiss the feeling and get on with your day. Then, during a sales call, you blow it and can’t put your finger on how it happened.

Insight #3

Negative thoughts creep into your subconscious like a slow-leaking faucet. Drip, drip, drip until the leak becomes a constant stream. Only then does the negativity flood your awareness – leading you to the realization why your mood is so lousy.

I like Gerhard Gschwandtner’s description of positive thoughts: “Positive thoughts are like migrating geese that fly in a V-formation, headed towards a specific destination.”

Imagine, for a moment, that V-Formation of positive energy headed right for your prefrontal cortex! That wonderful area of the brain that captures and enhances thoughts to lift your mood and your performance! But you have to be self aware in order to send the thoughts there.

How can you do this?

Insight #4

You can catch and redirect negative thoughts by increasing your awareness. So here’s a question…how often do you let a mood linger? Do you take time during the day to go deep within to understand what’s driving the mood? My guess is you don’t – because past experience tells you the mood will pass over time. Right?

What happens if the mood lingers for days? Often you assume it may be a slight depression – so you accept it without reflection. After all, most people experience slight depression from time to time…isn’t that what you hear?

Note: I’m not referring to clinical depression. That’s a serious condition and should be treated by a mental health professional.

There are a few action steps you can take immediately to increase your awareness before the drip of negative thoughts disrupts your day or days.

  1. Practice mindfulness once a day by paying attention to your negative thoughts. Keep a notepad handy and write the negative thoughts down. This will help give clarity on your negative thought patterns.
  2. Five-minute cold showers for five days straight! Seriously. This is a challenge I give my private clients to bring awareness to all the thoughts racing through their mind during the cold showers. This challenge will shine the light on those negative thoughts and will increase your awareness.

Insight #5

“Potential” is a dangerous word. If you’re not stepping into your potential, it’s because you haven’t cleared your internal roadblocks. The result? Your sales performance suffers. Peak performers are acutely aware of their thoughts – both positive and negative. And they can redirect the negative thoughts by focusing on hopeful, optimistic, and self-enhancing thoughts. This takes practice, but, more importantly, it first takes awareness to be able to minimize the creation of negative thoughts.

Bonus Insight

It’s important that you practice self care in all areas of your life. When you’re tired, eat poorly, and associate with Negative Nellies, your defenses are compromised and the negative thoughts will start to creep back in. Peak performers have the edge because they’re dedicated to proper rest, exercise, eating clean, and surrounding themselves with like-minded people.

That’s how you protect and help flourish the one organ in your body that controls your performance in all areas of your life! Take care of your mind and your mind will serve you well.

Sales is mostly a mind game you play against yourself. The mental game of sales isn’t about finding your potential; it’s about creating your performance. And that, my sales friend, is how you turn thoughts into higher sales!

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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Four Superpowers You Need to Succeed in Sales

By Alice Heiman

The world is changing – and what it takes to succeed is changing also. Data scientists say we are now living in the “fourth industrial revolution.” This means that, by the year 2020, we’ll have become used to working in a world of

  • Advanced robotics and autonomous transport.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • Biotechnology and genomics.

According to the World Economic Forum’s report, The 10 Skills You Need to Thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, workers will need new skills to succeed (for example, critical thinking and cognitive flexibility). It’s also true that salespeople will need new skills to succeed in this era.

In fact, to be great at sales these days you need to tap into some skill sets you might not have tapped into before. I call these “Salesperson Superpowers.” Here are four that I feel are imperative.

#1: Creativity

In the past, having creativity simply wasn’t required. You had to be good at getting appointments, know your product well, and do a good pitch.

Let’s face it: Customers are 70 percent into the buying process before they even talk to a salesperson. That means you have to be creative about how you approach the sale – and you need to have creative solutions to bring to the table. Most of all, you need to be creative about how to get the prospect’s attention. People who need your products and services don’t want to be spammed. They don’t want to be cold called. So how will you get their attention? Then how are you going to keep it long enough to make the sale? The creativity superpower requires understanding your prospect, their business, and their industry better than ever before.

#2: Resourcefulness

If you come up with a creative idea, you need the resources to deploy it. It is critical to understand how to employ the resources within your own company, the resources that may be available in industry organizations, and all the resources available via the Internet. If you know what’s out there to help yourself, you can add value for the customer by sharing these resources. Resourcefulness will help you get customers and, more importantly, keep them. It’s not easy to be resourceful, but resourceful people make more sales. The resourcefulness superpower comes with staying on top of things, being a great listener, perusing social media, and reading.

#3: Connectivity

You need to build strong relationships with your connections so you can leverage them. It’s useless to have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and thousands of followers on Twitter if they aren’t real relationships. When you are well connected, you don’t need to cold call, because you can ask for an introduction. 

Connectivity also allows you to connect your customers and prospects to valuable resources they may need. Connected salespeople are worth their weight in gold. Be nice, be genuine, and be helpful – then, people will want to connect with you. Get connected and stay in touch with people using social platforms like LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook. Make a plan. Figure out how to make deeper connections with the people you already know. The connectivity superpower requires that you continually meet people and develop mutually beneficial relationships.

#4: Fearlessness

This may sound silly, but – now more than ever – fearlessness is a must. People tend to think salespeople are naturally fearless and used to rejection. The truth is salespeople are not fearless when it comes to asking hard questions and gathering information. If you don’t know how to ask without seeming pushy, then you might not ask at all. The secret to fearlessness is great preparation. When you know your stuff, have planned, and have practiced, you have the confidence to be fearless. Stop worrying about rejection. If you tell yourself you can’t get something before you even ask for it, then you won’t get it. Ask! What’s the worst that can happen? The fearlessness superpower only comes with the hard work of becoming an expert – plan, practice, and execute extraordinarily.

Which superpowers do you possess? Which do you wish you had? Make a plan to exercise the superpowers you have and acquire the ones you need.

Keep reading Selling Power, find a mentor, or form a mastermind and make your professional development a priority. Good luck developing your superpowers!


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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Why Data Is the New Currency for Sales and Marketing Organizations

By Paul D’Souza

On this blog, we’ll occasionally feature insights from peak performance mindset experts. Today’s expert, Paul D’Souza, believes sales teams must have 1) the right sales strategy and 2) the right sales process before salespeople can achieve peak performance mindset. Learn more at www.DeliveringPeakPerformance.com. – Sales 3.0 Conference Editors

Data and cognitive computing have completely altered how we sell in today’s competitive marketplace.

Courtesy: www.cappius.com

Here is an example of what I am talking about. I have been working with a client that has a database of more than 55,000 customers – and their transaction history over time. They also have 30+ sales reps who take orders from these customers on a daily basis. Currently, though, most of these salespeople are only taking inbound calls. It is the job of their marketing department to spur their existing customers to action with various outreach campaigns that get the phone to ring.

This business model produced $23,000,000 in 2016. Based on what is possible now, I have set a revenue goal of $30,000,000 for 2017. How are we going to get there? Data.  

We are going to ask data scientists to work with the data they currently have and run it through complex predictive and correlational analytic algorithms to produce actionable insights. This would give salespeople the following:

  1. The most ideal customers on whom to call (i.e., the customers most likely to make a purchase in the next month from the 55,000 in their database).
  2. Specify the “next-best” product to offer those customers.
  3. A win/loss analysis report, which will allow them to make better presentations.

Why Data Is Our New Currency

I have been talking about managing by the numbers for years, but the time has really come for us to manage by the data you can access – because, in a sense, data is our new currency.

The biggest challenge we have as sales and business leaders is designing sales practices that can leverage the information we can glean from the data we can access. In the case of my above-mentioned client, if they ran these data solutions and got actionable insights, they would have to change their business model and sales practices. Plus, they would need to retrain a subset of their sales team to be proactive: it takes a different set of skills to do outbound sales calls.

As you can appreciate, that is a true cost of business. It takes a lot of effort to restructure a sales team’s activity and the way they do business. They will have to reassess who among their existing team have the mental and emotional skills needed to be outbound salespeople. Then they will have to train them, restructure their compensation plan, and help them manage their new career path.

If they embraced all that and made the needed changes, a data scientist could help them run specific reports and give them the information they need to focus their new outbound activity and help them get to $30,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is with absolutely no additional marketing dollars spent. Yes, there will be a small investment for the data scientists, but I believe it will be much less than one might expect to spend to attract an additional $7,000,000 in revenue.

Four Hallmarks of Data-Driven Sales and Marketing Organizations

Business organizations that get it and see data as a friend are doing things like:

  1. Mobile loyalty” programs: mobile applications with predictive analytics that can make recommendations for the next-best offer for mobile users to help them make better purchase decisions.

  2. Offer management” programs. Sales teams that use predictive analytics and correlational analytics must be managed differently so customers don’t feel confused or oversold to this is a unique issue for Sales 3.0-savvy sales orgs.

  3. Personalized customer journeys” (dynamic personalized targeting in marketing and ad campaigns, so customers feel they are on a unique journey designed for them and them alone).

  4. Business intelligence-driven sales process” that uses insights from predictive analytics and business intelligence reporting to help focus sales activity, producing higher returns.

All this is possible because there is data about and from your markets, customers, partners, and other related sources that can be sliced and diced to give you insights and meaning into what is possible.

In most cases, the data that impacts each of your given market segments is just too big for us to ignore. We cannot and must not rely only on past experience any longer. When you view your data as a resource, you take advantage of it to learn more about what is going on with your clients, prospects, and the marketplace. If done right, data can show you new possibilities for revenue growth and increasing market share.

Marketing and sales do have an element of art. But knowing your data reduces the reliance on art and increases the predictability of science. Doing this right can give you useful information to make better choices and changes to your sales process – helping you design new offers your customers accept.

Happy customers = more profit. To get there, repeat after me: “Data is my friend.”

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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