Tag Archives: training

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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Power Hour

ImageDo you want to do something big? Like really big? Maybe you have several things. That’s fine. We can work with that.

I’m going to introduce you to a concept called Power Hours. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or something like it. If not, that’s okay, too.

I’m going to tell you about what worked for me. You can try what I did. You can adapt it. You can try what I did then adapt it. It’ doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you do something.

And I’ll tell you why I did it so you can make an informed decision.

The concept, specifically my concept, of a Power Hour is three 20-minute segments two times per day (one in the morning and one in the evening). The reasons behind this are several:

1)      I have often said “I can do anything for 20 minutes.” This way, even the hardest of tasks have a bite-sized appeal.

2)      Having a morning Power Hour and an evening Power Hour is conducive to keeping goals at the forefront of your brain all day, and not getting cold by having a lengthy lapse.

3)      Completing two Power Hours per day actually works out to about 20 percent of your waking hours. If you are familiar with the Pareto Principle, then you understand the significance. If you are not familiar with the Pareto Principle, then stop now and read here.

4)      It’s hard to only have a single goal. This way, you can have six. Or at least several facets of a goal (for example, I did both yoga and cardio each for 20-minute segments; I read a general business book and industry specific information each for 20-minute segments).

5)      This works for professional goals, personal ones, or both.

6)      It can be adapted on days where you really are short on time. Some days I only completed one Power Hour with three segments. ImageSome days I completed all six segments but only for 10-minutes each. In my extreme resistance I would break down one 20-minute segment into four five-minute segments and splice them between the other segments. This helped me with fear, boredom, time obstacles, and other goal achieving saboteurs.

7)      But the biggest reason that this works  is because when you do a little of something daily you benefit from compound interest. Twenty minutes each day adds up to so much more than 140 minutes on only one day a week. It’s big. Especially over your lifetime.

For me, Power Hours are the answer to achieving a lot on a busy, working-mom’s chaotic schedule. I got more done and it had a profound impact on my attitude as well.

So can you do it? Is your goal worth creating a Power Hour of your own? How might you adapt what I do to fit you?

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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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The Devil’s in the Details

When I was a little girl I asked my mom to tell me about the devil. She went into the history of evil and explained to me how the devil was tempting people to do naughty things. She was thorough and accurate.

Until I started bawling hysterically.

When she asked me what was wrong I told her that I didn’t want to be evil or trick people into doing the things that they shouldn’t do. Confused she asked why I thought that was me. Sheepishly, I pulled out a t-shirt that my grandma had gotten me that coyly says “I’m a little devil”.


Then my mom, feeling terrible, had to back-peddle and explain the difference between what the shirt meant and the doctrinally sound explanation previously given. She did a decent job but we both knew the damage couldn’t be undone. That bell couldn’t be un-rung.

How often do we assume we know where someone is coming from and just answer their question from the depth and breadth of our knowledge? How often do we seek to share our expertise rather than seek to understand their position?

When we do this we dig a hole, getting out of which may be impossible.

Sandler’s solution is to ask clarifying questions any time a prospect inquires about anything that we aren’t 100 percent certain of the reason or back-story. It takes practice. Some even say it’s manipulative.

But I suggest to you that the manipulative thing to do is to assume we know what someone needs before truly understanding from where they are coming. It’s manipulative to be so concerned with selling our product or service that we push through without taking the time to listen and gather information. It’s manipulative to be more concerned with getting a deal than getting to the truth.

So the next time you are asked a question, pause briefly to determine if you are certain why they are asking such a question. And if not, ask them a question back. You’ll be surprised at the new—and helpful—information you learn.

For more information on Sandler Training Solutions visit http://www.flywheel.sandler.com

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Push-on or Move-on?

ImageAnswering the difficult question of when should you try a different tactic versus when should you keep on keepin’ on.

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great he metaphorically references the flywheel (‘a heavy revolving wheel in a machine that is used to increase the machine’s momentum’). It’s incredibly difficult to move but once it is moving it’s incredibly difficult to stop. So, too, can our actions work when striving to reach our goals. But…

There’s bad news: sometimes it can feel as if nothing is happening in those early, critical stages.

In my five steps to goal achieving (listen to audio here) the fifth step, Review, Re-evaluate, and Redesign, is critical. Doing so allows us to adjust our plan because it’s likely that the way we envisioned is not the way our goals transpire. But…

There’s bad news: we may move on to something else before the seeds we’ve sewn have had a chance to take root.

So, what’s a goal achiever to do?

That same question came out recently as I was working with a client. It can be tough to decipher but from that discussion I outlined five steps that will help you determine your ideal course of action.

  1. Track and review data
  2. Lay out your road map
  3. Make a pro-con list
  4. Consider past history
  5. Trust your gut 

1. Track and review the data. If you haven’t been tracking, you need to start—immediately—and then give it 30-90 days depending on the goal. Key metrics you may want to include are time based (how long does one activity take ), quantity based (how many X do you need to get Y, and how many Y do you need to get Z). If you know based on your collected data that it takes 10 networking meetings to get one new client (10 hours) and that it takes 150 cold-calls to get one client (five hours). It becomes easier to choose cold-calling over networking even though networking might be more fun. Thusly, if you are deciding whether to keep doing what you are doing versus try something different, if you don’t have that kind of empirical information, you will likely go with what feels better emotionally, and that may not be wisest.

2. Lay out your road map. Laying out your road map includes running through both possible scenarios and the logistics of each. It sounds silly or even redundant but it’s important. Doing so can ferret out obstacles that were glanced over previously. For example, I was considering joining a networking club on Thursday mornings. It happens to be at the same time as one of my company’s group trainings. That was fine, because I don’t teach that particular class. But sometimes I am asked to fill in. Although, not often enough to stay within the 75 percent attendance requirement. But what happens if I get a client from the group? They won’t be able to attend our company’s group training because they have the same meeting! Therefore, it wasn’t a good fit for me, even though I had been considering this group for months and nearly made the investment. It wasn’t until I mapped out my entire process-flow that I saw the serious glitch in pursuing this avenue.

3. Make a pro-con list. I have used this technique many times and it has consistently provided insights. I do a pro-con list for each option because sometimes a pro for one is not necessarily a con for the other. Then you can count the pros and subtract the cons or you can ascribe weighted values to each the pros and the cons. You can try both or do something entirely different. But the idea is to brainstorm all of the little things that maybe don’t mean much as a stand-alone item but seeing a half-dozen on the page starts to highlight a significant difference. Furthermore, qualitative aspects can be included. For example, comparing the networking event and cold-calling I might include “I hate cold-calling” in the cold-calling cons. That way, it gets represented but it’s not the be-all-to-end-all decision-making criteria. Yet, if all other things are equal, I can choose to continue networking.

4. Consider past history. While your goal may have something to do with breaking bad behaviors that aren’t serving you anymore, our history of behaviors can’t be excluded entirely. For example, suppose I am considering whether to adopt a networking strategy but I have never effectively networked and in fact I’ve started and quit a number of times. In this scenario I’m going to have a lot of baggage if I switch to this strategy solely because I don’t want to cold-call anymore. That’s not to say it can’t be done, it’s to say it is an additional obstacle to consider. Furthermore, if I have a history of “strategy hopping”, that should be considered before I forgo any accrued momentum switching what I am currently doing for the proverbial greener grass.

5. Trust your gut. This is last point for a reason—well, a few reasons. For one, you should only trust your gut infallibly if you have enough evidence that your gut has served you well before (as opposed to it having led you to “strategy hop”). Secondly, trusting your gut should be used in conjunction with reviewing the data. Very rarely does a situation go ideally when the gut-instinct completely contradicts the data. You could be the anomaly but this article is about increasing your odds, not winning the goal-achieving lottery. Lastly, your trusting gut is a muscle not unlike your biceps. As you work it, safely, you build it. You wouldn’t go to the gym and curl 150 pounds out of the blue. Train your gut by including him in the decision but not letting his emotions rule the day.

Follow these steps for more clarity on whether you need to take a new route or keep the path. If you are still confused, continue doing what you are doing. The reason being if you cannot come up with enough conviction to move on after working through this process, then it’s likely you are experiencing a bout of temporary frustration with the current path. While I can relate and empathize with that, there are more than a few anecdotes about one’s biggest breakthroughs occurring after the adrenaline rush wears off.

You only need to look at the Good to Great examples or the metaphor of the flywheel to observe this occurrence.

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