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The 30 Second Sales Blog

· sales

1. Your job has changed - have you?

Selling is not the same anymore - If you are out there selling for your business or your boss you know this. The days of rocking up, taking an order and the scheduling a meeting in 4 weeks time to ‘Rewind Repeat’ are gone. If those days haven’t gone in your industry it is coming. You need new skills, new behaviours, new tactics if you are to thrive in this digital economy. When the customer can often bypass the salesperson to get what they want online - where is the role of selling moved to? What have you done differently in the past 12 months to keep up or get ahead?

2. Relationship building is a thing of the past

As your market adapts and changes the need for a customer to have a relationship with their sales person is changing. I am not saying that relationships don’t matter but they are becoming an increasingly fragile way to stay in the game. Your customer needs more from you. Sure it is great to know their kids names and what their favourite team is but that won’t hit their targets. What are you bringing to the table that will be a game changer for them?

3. Don’t research your customer - research their market

Instead of spending time trying to figure out what the customers needs are why don’t you spend time understanding the market they are in? For many companies R&D is a luxury they can’t afford and are often busy working in the business - not on it. What intel can you bring to the table that will give them a competitive advantage?

4. What lies are you telling yourself?

I was with a client yesterday and they had developed a habit of highlighting an opportunity and then creating a compelling list of reasons why the customer wouldn’t buy. At one point they even said the equivalent of “But what if they gave me an order that I couldn’t cope with!?” It is easy to find the reason for anything - less easy to find the solution - what are you spending your time doing - creating reasons for failure or solutions for success?

5. Sales starts businesses - not plans

When you are starting a business the opportunity can seem so exciting and huge that we never do anything about it. We just talk and think and talk and think! All we do is drive everyone we know mad and create a strong internal narrative of failure for ourselves for not taking the opportunity. Selling is a great way to solve this. Start to sell what you want to do. If people don’t want it then you can pivot, quit, tweak - at least you will be doing something.

6. The 80/20 rule is useless….unless you know how to use it

All the 80/20 rule tells us is something we know already. We wish we had more ‘better’ customers paying us more for less effort. But it doesn’t solve the problem. Until we make the change to really understand which customer is best for our business and then take action to get them we are perpetuating the problem. How much time every week are you spending chasing your top 20% versus reacting to your bottom 80%? Until you start to change that, nothing else will change

7. How are your presenting skills?

When a person gets into sales the reason they are there is usually because of their personality. The perception is that sales people (and by sales people I also mean business owners) are great ‘people people’ and that in itself is enough to close business. What I have seen over the years though is that these people tend to be poor presenters. They have never developed the discipline needed to deliver a message to a customer. They just coast on their natural communication skills which tend to be informal. When did you or your sales people last work on developing this important skill? What level could you be at it if you did?

8. Owners are sales people first, CEO’s second.

Having worked with thousands of startups in the past 12 years I have seen one consistent truth. If they fail it is usually because of a lack of sales. However this seems to be the one area that people never bother to train in. Yet it holds the key to their success and growth. Even marketing falls behind sales for a startup because they need sales now, not awareness. If you want your business to grow, learn how to sell first - it is the No.1 skill you need

9. Word of mouth makes you lazy

When you rely on someone else to create your income you are leaving you and your business wide open. You need to be in the driving seat, delivering sales because you know how to - not because someone sent them to you. Treat word of mouth business as the cherry on the cake. When you know how to grow sales yourself then you get to choose who, how, what, when and why. When you rely on word of mouth you just get what you get.

10. Get up early if you want the worm...work!

The best time of my day is between 5am and 7am. The house is quiet, I can focus my thoughts and get more done than I can during any other 2 hour period of the day. This is the time when you can get ahead. Everyone else is sleeping - the competition & your customers. Use the time to work on your role or business. 2 hours a day extra is 10 hours a week. A free day! What would you work on if you had 2 extra hours every day?

11. Listen, don’t read

I have been listening to books in my car now for 4 years - the benefit has been that I have listened to more books in that time than the previous 15 years added together! I find that listening to the radio and particularly the news just knocks the shine off my day. I want to try and keep the good coming in so more good can go out. If you want a list of books I have really enjoyed then message me and I will send it on

12. Those extra 5 minutes

I have noticed when I am out in the field coaching wirth business owners or sales people how often when they arrive at a customers place of business they just grab their stuff and run straight in to their meeting. They are missing one of the most important 5 minutes of their day - just taking 5 minutes to clear the mind, focus on the outcome, work out their approach can often have a huge impact on the success of the meeting. So next time you arrive at a clients - take a minute, take 5. It will make all the difference

13. The 5 minutes after you leave

I often see salespeople and owners leave after a meeting, jump in the car and then it is go go go to the next thing. You have just had a learning session with the customer - what did you do well? What should you have done differently? What negatives and push backs weren’t you prepared for? Why not? Had you heard anyone of the issues before? What work do you need to do next time to avoid the same pitfalls? Some simple questions and quiet reflection will allow you to sharpen the skills you have after every visit.

14. Practice makes perfect

One of the main reasons our sales training is so effective is how repetitious it is. I learned a long time ago that if you are to perfect something the best way is to do it over and over again. There is a trend in learning to have people hopping around so they don’t get bored but then you never learn the discipline you need to execute something to perfection. What part of your role are you repeating until perfect? What part of your role should you be?

15. Fail fast

It isn’t an attractive prospect to fail and we have all heard the cliches around why failure is so important. I prefer to look upon it as a type of persistence. Not being too attached to what you are working on but more knowing that in the long run something will pay off for you. It is better to fail fast in everything you do so you can put it in the bank and move on to the next thing. You never know when your moment will arrive

16. Find your own path

It is absolutely guaranteed that in life and business there will be a lot of people that give you advice without asking whether you want to hear it. This can become confusing and especially so when it comes to sales. A couple of guidelines then:-

  1. Have they ever delivered the results you want to see? If not ignore them
  2. What are their motives?  If not for your best interests then ignore them some more!

You have spent a lifetime developing intuition - don’t discount that when you are trying to find your path towards better selling

17. The customer is usually wrong

It can seem that we are often pushing towards treating the customer like some sort of royalty. They are not - they are fallible, unsure and often don’t know what they are doing in so many areas. They need you. They might not want to admit it but they need you. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain with your customers - their staff won’t be disagreeing with them too often so they need a peer, an expert like you to shine a light.

18. If you don’t know your target it is hard to hit it

I know this seems rather obvious but in sales more than any other discipline it is important you know what you are shooting for. At worst your conversion rate from cold will be 1 in 10. That gives you an immediate starting point for knowing how many customers you need in your pipeline. Sadly most sales people often rarely have a fraction of this. Even worse if it is your sales team then they are sailing close to failure before they start. Be sure to set targets that are 10x the result you need for your pipeline - it is the only way to guarantee your success

19. Handling the negatives

The one thing you are guaranteed to hear when you are selling is the word NO. It is one of the many things that I love about sales people is their resilience. To go about your work knowing that a chunk of your day is going to be rejection, stress or pressure and to then still still do that work with a smile on your face and a good attitude is impressive. But what about when it gets to much - you lose your motivation and you give in? It is times like this when you need perspective. Look at your entire time spent in sales and then compare the amount of time you have been struggling - remind yourself what you did last time to get out of the hole. Usually the only solution is persistence in some shape or from and looking at your strategies in the past. If that doesn’t work then hire a sales coach!

20. Time and the art of cheating it

Time management is a tricky in sales because you have to balance your time between prospecting, closing and developing. It is important to understand the difference between High Value and Low Value work. Stephen Covey described the Low Value as Not Important/Not Urgent and Very Urgent/Not Important. Have a look at what you did in the past few weeks - write it out and see what you would call High Value (Very Important/Not Urgent). Quite often there is very little.

21. What is the business you are in?

Something simple like knowing the answer to this question can give you 5% extra when you meet new people. Once you hear the opportunity to talk about what you do for your customer you need to have it scripted and ready. Using a simple formula like “I help _____ do _____ by doing _____” can make a big difference. If it is scripted and ready then you always be prepared.

22. The value of a script

Too often we are unprepared. Too often we don’t have the right line to say even though we have heard the issue before. I have found in the past few years that scripting your responses to well known issues the customers give you is a great way to ensure you don’t have any post conversation regrets (I wish I had said _______) Write down your top challenges and issues and get clear on the answers you want to give and then learn them off by heart.

23. Finding a mentor

When you hit a brick wall as we often do in sales, then it is important to have a go to person you can ring and throw your frustrations at. If you run your own business then try and avoid making that your partner - from experience you need someone objective that you can hear the truth and support from. Look for someone ahead of you in the same or similar game. They are often more than happy to help out someone that is struggling a few years behind them down the road.

24. Water the garden

Over the past 12 years of being self-employed I have realised the value of an existing repeat customer time and time again. I was listening to the radio yesterday and they were talking about the lifetime value of a customer. When I look at some of my ‘lifetime’ customers they have been worth over €100K to date. How I treat them is vital to the long term success of my business. How much are your lifetime customers worth and how are you treating them? It’s a simple exercise but well worth finding out.

25. Take a hard right

One of my favourite books recently has been the Million Dollar Consultant by Alan Weiss and I loved a point he made about taking a hard right. The advice he gives is based around chasing competition that can’t be caught. In sales you can end up chasing customers that can’t be caught and all you do is waste time, money and effort. Alan advises you take a HARD RIGHT. What markets could you get into that are new and different where you can be the leader and have others chasing you. I love this advice - how can you apply it?

26. Value the result you can generate for others

When you are selling your company, your products or your services it is important not to minimise yourself or the result you can generate. We often ‘undersell’ and then miss the chance to show what we can really do to create an impact in our customers lives. It is vital you understand the true scope of the role you can play in the development of your customers life or business. If you don’t then you will always be paid less than you deserve

27. Use your words carefully

Words clearly have power and it is useful to understand the impact your words can have if chosen well. Simply reconstructing some of the key statements you say to have more impact can be the cheapest and most dynamic change we can make. For example:

“Its is really popular” is easily changed to “all of my clients that have changed over love the result they see - want to see a case study?”

What words can you change to say the same thing yet say something completely different?

28. Making calls

One of the best habits I have is constantly making phone calls. Every time I am in the car travelling from place to place I see it as being in my office and get on the phone to people. Anytime I don’t do this I feel I have wasted an opportunity.

I am not selling, or not directly anyway! I am staying in touch - staying fresh in people's minds. You never know when you might bump into someone’s changed circumstance and find the work you want. So get dialling :0)

29. If you don’t ask you don’t get

One of the things I am surprised most about is how poor sales people and particularly business owners are at closing. Closing is just asking a question. If you don’t ask the question or worse even ask the wrong question then you have no chance in business. Simple options include:

  • When shall we start work?
  • How would you like to pay?
  • What do we need to do now to get started?
  • Sign here so we can begin your work

What are your favourite closes?

30. Case studies for selling

I have a confession here. I have only just realised the value in writing a case study. I have them of course but I haven’t marketed/sold them! I have relied on testimonials and past history and current calls - but I haven’t leveraged the work I have done into a ‘White Paper’. We are all creating content all the time - but how often do we use it? Everytime there is a meeting or a result is there something you can share with other future customers to show them what you can do? I have learned my lesson - time to start sharing the good work I have done!

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