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This is the most important blog post I've ever written. It's about what happened exactly one year ago today. Please read it and share it with others.
Last week a friend told me about a recent fender bender. While driving, he'd been dictating an email on his cell phone. He wanted to get a few extra things done before he got to the office.
We all do things like that. Multitasking is a way of life. It's our strategy to keep up with our whirlwind of a job. In the car, we'll make calls, catch up on messages and text people when we’re running late.
That’s exactly what Carla Brennan was doing on the morning of March 4, 2013 – the day her life collided with mine (and others). Literally.
Here's what happened. My husband, Fred, left our house about 9 AM. Fifteen minutes later he called. His voice was weak, shaken. “I’ve been in an accident. I think people were hurt -- badly.” After assuring me he was okay, he told me where he was.
As I write this, I’m flying home (via Delta) from a speaking engagement in Orlando. I fly a lot; it’s part of my business.
When the flight attendants give their safety overview, I never pay attention. I could practically do it by heart myself. Same for the video that cover these details. Boring.
So why am I glued to the screen today paying rapt attention?
It happened again last week. I was speaking at a sales kickoff meeting, stressing a key message—that sellers, not their products or services, are the key differentiator today. I said,
"Be an idea person. Today’s crazy-busy prospects love it when you bring them ideas on how to improve their business."
That’s when the hand popped up. It always does. In a group of salespeople, there’s always someone who’s brave enough to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind.
"How can you bring them ideas when you’ve never met before and have no clue if they’d work?"
Sounds legitimate, right?
Recently I was approached by a salesperson who was facing a tough challenge. When he gets his targeted buyers on the line he frequently has to deal with these sales objections:
He wanted to know how he could break through these sales barriers. Here are the two suggestions I gave him:
If you’re like me, you dread talking about certain things with your prospects because they’ve always caused you problems. But, deep inside you know that it's just a matter of time before you get asked about it – and then you’ll stumble through a lame response that makes you sound like a total loser.
So what should you do in these situations?
If you’re not using video meetings to connect with prospects and clients, you’re wasting tons of time. There’s no reason to spend hours driving to and from sales meetings anymore.
Just open up a browser, log onto an online meeting site (ala GoToMeeting) and send the link info to who you want to talk with. Voila! You’re connected.
Using video makes it even better. You can quickly establish personal relationships with new people at a much deeper level. And, with ongoing relationships, it keeps the momentum going.
That’s the good news. But … there’s always a but … doing it well requires mastery of new skills. Believe me, I’ve made a ton of mistakes in the process. Here are a just a few:
If you're tired of calling on people who really want to work with you, but can't seem to get anything approved, listen up! Spending one more day working with these really nice individuals is a total waste of your time - even though they love you and what you're selling. You'll never close deals that way.
If you want to get the business, you need to find those individuals in the company who are making things happen. CEB, a sales research group, calls these people the Mobilizers. They're the ones who spearhead new projects in their organization. They can see into the future and know that change is imperative for the company - and for them personally.
Ever made a big whopper of a sales mistake? I sure have! Let me just share one.
When I began selling at Xerox, one of the first things we had to do was to memorize a demonstration script that included everything you needed to know about using a copier. We had to learn it perfectly before we were allowed to make sales calls.
I’m sure your answer is a resounding “no.” But in reality, it’s not what you think that counts. Only your prospect’s perceptions matter—and they can be very different from what you’d imagine.
Why? Because they’re extremely busy. Every time they talk with you, read your emails or meet with you, they’re asking, questions like:
So let’s take a look at one scenario to see how your best intentions might be totally misinterpreted.
If you really want to capture your prospect’s attention, you need a sales message that piques their curiosity and gets them to sit up and take notice. And, if you’re selling to a senior executive today, you’ve only got 30 seconds to make that happen – or you’re dismissed as not worth talking to.
But what are those attention grabbers? The best ones are industry or marketplace statistics that are relevant to your prospect – and related to what you sell.
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© 2014 Jill Konrath