Tag Archives: selling

What if Hope IS a Strategy

Merriam-Webster’s definition | https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope

They say “hope is not a strategy” but… what if it is?

Don’t get me wrong, it can’t be the only strategy; but what if it’s the beginning? What if it’s the starting point? Heck, what if it’s the main point?

Stay with me here. As I was thinking about my goals, I kept asking myself what my single, solitary main purpose in life actually was. What was the thing that was going to get me out of bed in the morning even when I didn’t want to? What was the thing that was going to help me push through when I wanted to pull back? What was my single, solitary purpose for being on this planet?

I’d been wrestling with trying to identify this for quite some time. But I was thinking of the way I coached others, the way I wanted to support my children, the thing that I wanted and craved most during my own challenging life events, it came to me: HOPE. Giving and being hungry for hope was everything. Not just a big thing, but the biggest of things.

Here’s why: when someone has hope, they set big goals because they believe though they may be challenging, they are doable. When someone has hope, they work to clarify their vision because they not only feel called to do the seemingly impossible, because they know there’s a way somehow. When someone has hope, they love better, they give more generously, they rebound more quickly when they stumble and they help others to do the same because part of hope is knowing that there’s more than enough room for everyone to thrive.

When I didn’t have hope, I didn’t want to put my goals out there because it felt like it was doomed before I even said them out loud. When I didn’t have hope, I scoffed when other people dared to dream big because it hurt too bad to see them doing the thing I couldn’t. When I didn’t have hope, I was jealous when people accomplished things I wanted because the “pie” felt fixed; if they won, then I lost.

You see, without hope we are the worst versions of ourselves, playing small, wishing others struggle, bemoaning others successes, inflating our own excuses and more.

But with hope, we are the best versions of ourselves, wanting to give generously, encourage sincerely, share our gifts, and keep plugging away even through the hard. With hope we truly shine in our own God-given way and genuinely want others to do the same.

Hope makes us better and hope produces endurance. Hope is a strategy.

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Fifty Shades of Nay

chains_wordsIn sales, we get used to getting a lot of noes, but as a trainer of sales professionals, managers, and teams it isn’t the noes that we get that concerns me.

In fact, it’s all the noes that we don’t get because prospect—whether consciously or unconsciously—decides to give us a non-answer that lies somewhere in that hazy grey area, a.k.a. Fifty Shades of Nay.

  1. “I gotta think about it”
    The no that makes us think they really are considering giving us a yes.
  2. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing”
    The no that makes us think they seriously did consider giving us a yes.
  3. “I’ll run it up the flag pole”
    The no that tricks us into thinking they are going to bat for us.
  4. “Lemme get back to you”
    The no that makes us think we are a serious contender.
  5. “The timing just isn’t right”
    The no that makes us think it’s not us, it’s them.
  6. “I’m a ways out”
    The no that makes us think we have a chance.
  7. “I’ve been too busy to take a look at that”
    The no that makes us think that we may have a chance.
  8. [crickets]
    The no that makes us wonder at what point we stopped having any chance at all.
  9. “It keeps getting put on the back burner”
    The no that makes us think that the prospect is busier than we are.
  10. “Your pitch was great, probably the best we’ve ever seen, but…”
    The no that makes us feel good about ourself.
  11. “It looks really great, but…”
    The no that makes us feel good about our product or service.
  12. “Mr. So-and-so is in a meeting”
    The no that makes us feel like we are being persistent—in a good way.
  13. “Corporate isn’t cooperating”
    The no that gives us someone else to blame.
  14. “It’s too bad you can’t beat our current pricing”
    The no that makes us mad at our company’s pricing structure.
  15. “It’s not in the budget this year”
    The no that creates more work for us by putting a useless fact in the CRM.
  16. “We haven’t set our budget yet for next year”
    The no that gives us more hope and useless information—a dangerous combo.
  17. [See #15]
    The no that frustrates us because we thought we caught them in time this year; oh well, we will try again next year.
  18. “I’m good, thanks”
    The no that convinces us they are fine because, well, we do the same thing to the door-to-door guy.
  19. “I’ll call you if I change my mind”
    The no that makes us craft really *memorable* voicemail greetings because this time they probably will call.
  20. “We’re covered”
    The no that makes us try to show them how they aren’t indeed covered as well as they would be, if we could just convince them.
  21. “Got a website I can look at?”
    The no that makes us hound IT for a snappier www; and my contact info better be on it!
  22. “Can you just send me the information?”
    The no that makes us intentionally ignore the obvious irony that we throw out so much junk mail.
  23. “You aren’t working with anyone in our industry…”
    The no that gives us tunnel vision for who we should be calling.
  24. “You are working with too many of our competitors…”
    The no that convinces us we shouldn’t serve too many competitors or our current clients will get mad.
  25. “I know where to find you if anything changes”
    The no than makes us email them our contact information 17 times.
  26. “Can you check back in a month?”
    The no that makes us jump.
  27. “Can you check back next quarter?”
    The no that makes us dance.
  28. “Can you check back next year”
    The no that makes us sing.
  29. “We are about to be going through some internal changes”
    The no that makes us blame the company for not having their sh** together.
  30. “We just went through some major changes”
    The no that makes us blame the company for really not having their sh** together.
  31. “I’m new to the department”
    The no that makes us wish he wasn’t.
  32. “The board is being difficult”
    The no that makes us hate boards of directors.
  33. “Really wish I could, but…”
    The no that makes us wish the prospect could grow a spine.
  34. “Summer is not a good time”
    The no that makes us curse the summer solstice.
  35. “Back to school is not a good time”
    The no that makes us wish the USA had year-round-school.
  36. “The holidays are just not a good time”
    The no that makes us turn into Scrooge.
  37. “Business is too slow, we are thinking of laying people off”
    The no that makes us have lots of empathy—too much empathy—for the prospect.
  38. “All of our people are wearing too many hats right now”
    The no that confuses us; wait, doesn’t that mean you have lots of money to spend with me?
  39. “I just don’t know how to make it work”
    The no that makes us want to call the prospect an idiot and shake him until he sees how easy we will make it for him.
  40. “We don’t want to make any changes right now”
    The no that makes us shake our collective heads wishing they could see how desparately they need to change.
  41. “We are definitely going to look at this again sometime in the future”
    The no that excites us thinking about our future, imaginable, mythical commission check.
  42. “I really wish I could but I can’t”
    The no that makes us wish our prospects knew how to stand up for what they believe in.
  43. “I can’t justify the expense”
    The no that makes us scream “you can afford not to, you a**hat”
  44. “If only you could meet our current vendor’s [terms, pricing, delivery, etc.] this would be perfect”
    The no that makes us dance like a monkey at the circus.
  45. “There’s just too many chefs in the kitchen”
    The clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  46. “Too many irons in the fire”
    The other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  47. “We have too many chiefs, not enough Indians”
    The other, other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  48. “You were a close second, almost tied, really”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we’ll get ‘em next time.
  49. “If it were up to me, I would have picked you”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because maybe they’ll come around.
  50. “I’ll see what I can do”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we really believe they are working on it.

Have you experienced any of these before? Have you experienced getting your hopes up, getting your dreams dashed, and getting frustrated with the prospect? When we create the environment that accepts these shades of nay as possible outcomes of a selling situation, we are setting ourselves—and the prospect—up for long drawn out selling cycles, painful prospecting, and getting into a tug-o’-war over price and terms.

If you are getting any of these shades of nay, my hope is you will understand you are really getting a no. A slow and painful no, but a no nevertheless.

This situation we find ourselves in, as sales professionals, is often one of dysfunction, and unequal stature. The prospect has us wound tightly around his finger so long as he wants information from us but as soon as it comes time to make a decision, we get a murky, evasion tactic masquerading as hope in the future.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fill out the contact form here to learn how you can break away from getting shades of nay and lock down actual yeses or noes from your prospects.

What other shades of nay have you experienced?

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Are your words magic?

81cec8bd-7b86-42d2-877b-1972f9ad939bThe other day, with a cookie up for grabs, a family friend asked my precocious, four-year-old daughter what were the magic words. My daughter’s response: “bippity, boppity, boo!”

Not only is this a sign we watch too many princess movies, but it illustrates two salient points about human communication. One, the quality of the answers we get is directly proportionate to the quality (and relevance) of the questions we ask. And two, the answers given will largely depend on the perspective of the giver.

Let me talk first about quality. Quality is a funny word. What does it really mean—I mean really mean? I had a marketing professor who would shoot students the stink-eye if one were to refer to a brand as representing “quality”. Why? Because quality means many things to many people.

Quality, as found on Google, means “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something”.

Well what things? How Similar? How many degrees?

Because we can’t know, and because those value assessments are themselves assigned arbitrary weights, quality, then is arbitrary.

So much for quality questions, right?

Wrong. Because what we do know is that questions like “what can I help you find today” don’t bring a quality response. When someone asks you that at Macy’s or on the car lot what do you respond? Let me guess…wait for it… “Nothing, just looking, thanks”.

Was I close?

Questions that are tired, like the aforementioned; questions that are self-serving like “what would it take to get you into that car today?”; questions that are pushy, insincere or too leading are all the antithesis of quality.

Now that we know what quality isn’t, what could it be? We can start with the opposite; words like unassuming, sincere, mutually beneficial, unattached to the outcome, and truth-seeking are all solid.

But quality questions also sound different. Quality questions are direct. They have no blame or judgment in them. Quality questions have a purpose. Even the tone of a quality question is nurturing (but never patronizing) in nature, especially when discussing difficult, important or sensitive topics.

In the case of the fairy-godmother-incarnate, a better question may have been “how can you ask that using your manners?” In the case of the car lot, it might be “what kind of cars would you consider test-driving this afternoon?” or “you probably aren’t interested in test-driving anything today, are you?” That last one had a little jiu-jitsu thrown in for good measure, but you can see that they are both immediately disarming and different. They ask about the truth and don’t speak in cliché.

And how about perspective? In the car example, what is the prevailing perspective of a driver pulling into a car lot? Typically, it’s one of mistrust with a chaser of “hold-my-cards-close-to-the-vest”. The perspective of the buyer is “I’ve got to get you before you get me” and that paradigm serves no one. While we can’t change how the buyers look at something, we can change what they look at.

It reminds me of this visual to the right: are you showing someone the round end or are you showing them the curved side (which actually appears square)? Are you showing them what you want to show them or what they want to see? Are you asking questions in a way that’s comfortable for you or that works for the other party?

As my daughter is concerned, her experience of “magic words” extends exclusively to Cinderella, so of course she nailed it with her response. Are your clients, coworkers, employees, etc. not giving you the answers you want because they are hearing your words differently based on their unique perspective? Presumably, if you have any friction with any person for any reason, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’.

Knowing you can’t change what they hear, you must change what you say to be relevant and resonant to them. We can debate that “communication is a two-way street” and we would technically be correct. However, I am reminded of my favorite Dr. Phil-ism: “Do you want to be right or do you want to win?”

If winning the effective communication game (i.e.: earning respect, getting what you want—ethically, having followers who follow you by choice, so on and so forth) is your goal, then the onus is really on you  to change the picture you are presenting with each and every question you ask.

You see, words really are magic. But as my daughter taught me, which words will depend on who you are asking.

*Warning: No car salesmen were harmed in the writing of this article.

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Prospect as if your life depends on it. Sell as if you couldn’t care less.

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me learn. Doing so is a tightrope walk somewhere between hustling relentlessly for sales survival and then flipping the switch in order to sit nonchalantly with a prospect and ask him the tough questions.

A minuscule lean toward detachment from the end result and I am spiraling into slacker-land. A slip toward the desperate desire to be in control and I am tippy-toeing delicately as not to offend. I surely can’t be the only one who has to negotiate the tricky art of controlling of my destiny and yet simultaneously letting go of each individual outcome.

One way to get better footing is to have a fat funnel. Having enough appointments on the books makes it so, so—SO—much easier to be relaxed. Knowing that it’s not your only chance to close a deal this week (or this month) can calm the nerves enough and allow you to stick to your system. Also, having a frequent number of appointments maintains momentum for solid technique.

In order to have a fat funnel you must identify your root leading indicators. Leading indicators are any of the activities that lead to the results that you want; not the results themselves. For me, the number of presentations I do is a leading indicator of appointments which is a leading indicator of sales. Go a layer or two back to identify your root leading indicators. Isolate the first set of crucial activities that have a direct correlation to sales results.

Finally, look for efficiencies once you have enough data to know what can be improved, increased, added or eliminated. Look for areas that might be time sucks. Look for ways in which you can improve your technique ever slightly to make big gains.

If you really do prospect this meticulously, it will be easier than you think to sell as if you don’t care—because you won’t.  You won’t care because your focus will have shifted away from what you can’t control (sales) to what you can control (your attitude, behaviors and techniques).

Sales are just a logical result of those things becoming fully aligned and refined.

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Top Ten Networking Tips

1.)    Eat and drink less, meet and greet more (keep at least one hand free for shaking).

2.)    It’s not a social event, so don’t catch up with your friends.

3.)    Talk to at least three new people an hour.

4.)    Never open by talking about yourself.

5.)    Don’t sell; set the stage for a follow-up conversation.

6.)    Talk in terms of problems you fix, not benefits you add.

7.)    Ask a hook question that turns the conversation back to your connection.

8.)    Attempt to connect others; ask “who are you trying to meet?”

9.)    Add new connections immediately on LinkedIn ap.

10.)  Follow-up within 24-hours (or less).

Ask me questions or add your own tips @MarjorieDudley

Bonus Tips:

11.) Don’t assume people want your business card; wait until they ask. It shows less desperation and you might save a tree.

12.) Use time waiting in lines to your advantage. Say ‘hi’, ask what s/he does, find out what you shouldn’t miss. But for pete’s sake don’t play Words With Friends.

networking copy

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