Think Your Sales Are the Problem? Think Again

October 24, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Written by Debbie Mrazek

If you are struggling to increase sales revenue, you may think the answer is just to get more sales. Or maybe the answer is to sell more. However, as a sales consultant and coach, I can tell you that isn’t always the answer.

Sometimes when sales are the focus of declining profits, it’s helpful to work with a sales consultant with business knowledge and understanding. With both sales expertise and business know-how, we can identify when the problem really is sales — and when it isn’t.

Let me share with you a story about a client. Recently, we sat down and looked at his business. It was going well, but not great. It seemed like every time he would turn the sales corner, something would push him back. It didn’t take long to see that it wasn’t his sales efforts that were impeding his success. It was his team’s inability to deliver his company’s services. He had some employees who were very nice people, but who were just not cut out for providing his service. When we fixed that part of his business, we could more readily focus on the business of his sales. His company has grown more than 30 percent in the last year. Needless to say, he’s ecstatic.

So how do you know when you’ve got a legitimate sales problem and when your problem might be somewhere else?

There are some tell-tell signs to look for:

  • Actual sales figures are up, but profits aren’t
  • Referrals are drying up
  • Clients don’t return from one year to the next
  • New clients come but they don’t stay
  • The amount of sales is decreasing

Any or all of these can indicate that something is amiss somewhere else in the customer delivery system. Like it or not, if you are in sales, you are also in the business of customer service. After all, if your customer doesn’t come back because they aren’t happy with someone else in the company, it’s not that someone else who pays — it’s you who pays.

One way you can keep a pulse on customer satisfaction is to build into your sales system a ‘check up’ with new customers. You might check with the new customer at 30 days and again at 120 days. Don’t let too much time pass between you and your hard-earned customer. It’s you they trust so be sure to cultivate that relationship.

Entrepreneurs who wear both a sales hat and customer service hat will appreciate that there’s more than signing contracts, the signed contract is when the real work begins of keeping that client for life!

Just What the Sales Doctor Ordered

October 8, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Written By Debbie Mrazek

Okay, you’ve decided your sales are in poor health. How do you get your sales healthy again?

The first step is the sales examination. We’ll talk about where you are and whether the cause is internal (that means you are responsible for what’s going on) or external (that means someone else is impacting your efforts). Internal issues could include fear or lack of certain skills or tools needed to be successful. External forces could point to something in your business or company that affects your sales. This could be anything from poor customer service to unfulfilled customer expectations. What are your sales? How do your sales stack up against your sales goals? How do you set sales goals?

Once you’ve disclosed everything about your sales life, it’s time to move to the diagnosis. Asking someone else to walk through a sale with you can give you great insight into what’s working and what’s not. You need a safe environment to explore what’s going on and then pinpoint what’s causing the pain. Choose someone who can be both objective and honest and has a successful track record in sales. The diagnosis might include something that can be quickly addressed, or it might be something that requires longer treatment. It could be a combination of two or more things. What is important is figuring out what it is and moving past it.

What’s the prescription? During this phase, we look at what you can do today to move your sales in the direction you desire. Perhaps we need to begin with goals. Sometimes it can be as simple as that. Goal setting requires a structure that can ensure you are on the right track for you and your company.
How do you keep sales healthy? Once you have a specific diagnosis, you can develop the plan to keep you from returning to that situation. A regimen is a plan that helps you turn your sales efforts into actual, measurable results. This plan outlines what you will do, how often you will do it, what you can expect from your efforts and strategies on what to do when things just aren’t going as planned. It’s a scaffold for you to develop new habits that will make sales easier and that will not only help your sales grow, but will lock in more profitable sales. It’s not enough to grow sales if you don’t realize more profit at the same time. Who wants to work more and make less? Not me!

Ever have a doctor who sent you out the door with a shot and a prescription? Now, how many of you take every one of those pills you are prescribed. We start feeling better, we get our energy back and the prescription goes by the wayside. We behave similarly with sales. Once you have your regimen and you’ve tested it out and it’s helping you with your sales, it might feel like you are cured. A sales check-up can help you stay on track. Talking about what’s working and what’s not working will ingrain the process even more. After all, we all know we eventually will stop doing anything we don’t enjoy or that isn’t successful. The goal of a check up is to minimize the pain so it’s not necessary to get another shot three months, six months or even a year down the road.
So, let’s say, you’ve stuck with your regimen and we’ve talked about what’s working and what’s not and you feel good about where you are. How do you stay on track? That’s where a coach can make the difference between staying motivated and backsliding. Our clients call us the boss’s boss. Making yourself accountable to someone, even if that someone is yourself equates to bottom line success. In a lot of ways, maintenance is the most important part of your sales program. But how do you maintain your program?

The basics are the same for everyone. Apply the knowledge you’ve gleaned from the rest of the process and continue to expand your sales endurance. Like any good maintenance training program, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone everyday – just a little. Make one more phone call, use a different sales tool, push yourself to exceed your weekly goal. Every step you take toward growing your sales repertoire makes what you’ve just learned easier. Each skill builds upon another. You can do this!

Play Dates Pay Over and Over Again

October 1, 2014 | Leave a Comment

If you are like other entrepreneurs, according to recent statistics, you are likely to be working a lot more hours. The question is, “Are those hours working you or are you working them?”

Many books have been written on various ways to cut the hours, to increase productivity, and to do more in less time. Not as much has been written on ways to rejuvenate yourself, and reenergize after long periods of burning the candle at both ends. No matter how much we love what we do, we must still take time to let our mind, body and soul rest.

Some clients have shared they feel guilty about taking time off when there’s so much to do. Others have said they can’t relax when there’s work to do so why bother. Yet others say that playmates seem like child’s play and aren’t responsible.

Play dates pay you back in many ways. First, they give all the parts of your mind a chance to catch up to each other. This means that some of your best ideas will come when you finally stop to take a break. Edison, Einstein and other great creative geniuses knew the secret behind focusing intensely on work and following it by a break.

Second, play dates allow you to check out and detach from your business in a good way. When you let go, all of those things that you’ve been holding onto so tightly have a way of finding answers. You may feel that by working on something harder you will get the answers, but consider whether or not that is really true.

Third, by taking a break, you can be a better you. That means a better boss, a better spouse, a better parent, a better technician, a better sales person, and a better marketer. This one pays dividends upon dividends – improved relationships, improved life, and improved sales.

Last, but not least, when you take a play date to take care of yourself, you give others permission to take care of themselves. The big façade is that successful people work themselves into the ground, but really successful people have figured out that when they push away from the table, they really increase how effective they are. There’s a reason why Richard Branson does business from a tropical oasis, and why Oprah steals away to Hawaii.

Three Steps To a Great Play Date

  1. Schedule Time During the Week. Plan your break during the week, and make it a special time for yourself. Do plan your time off. You can of course take a break when an appointment cancels, but when you plan it, you can breathe easy that people aren’t looking for you. A good play date is at least two hours long, but could be several days if you like.
  2. Make it personal. Do something you’ve been putting off because you haven’t had the time. Choose something that you will really enjoy – golf, visit a museum, take in a movie, hit the spa, or just spend some time alone. If you enjoy being with a favorite friend, invite your friend to come with you and see how much the two of you can do in an afternoon!
  3. Unplug – completely.  A play date isn’t relaxing if it is interrupted by a Crackberry or a cell phone. Turn off the phone, put an auto responder on your email, and unplug so you can be fully present for your play date. Enjoy this time you’ve given yourself knowing that everything is a-okay.
  4. Take notice. When you return to the office, take notice of what happened that was unexpected. What pleasant surprises popped up? Did a sale go through? Did a problem correct itself? Consider making a note of these – mental or written – so you can remind yourself how valuable these breaks can be.
  5. Be great-full. When you return, share your rested, vibrancy with everyone. When people comment on how great you look (and they will), share your secret, and encourage them to do the same. When you are grateful, your greatness is fully available to others to see. When you give to yourself, you give to others as well.

Play dates don’t just happen. They require your attention. If you’ve been secretly feeling like you would like to steal away, pull out the calendar and schedule your play date. It’s time!

Is Networking Enough

September 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Written by Debbie Mrazek

So you’ve decided to do some networking. You attend an after-hours event, arriving early with a stack of business cards. By the end of the evening you’ve met a lot of people and exchanged a lot of business cards. On the way home, the faces are all a blur. You’re stressed out—all “networked out.”

A few days later, in a better frame of mind, you call each person you met, working your way through the stack of cards you collected. You ask each one if they need your product or service. Most say they do not. You’re exhausted again.

This could give networking a bad name.

But is this what networking is all about? Does it have to be a nerve-racking, enervating process that leaves you with an empty feeling? No, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a fun, fulfilling process.

“Fun?” you ask. “Walking into a room full of strangers is your idea of fun?” Trust me, it can be fun, but first you’ll have to make a paradigm shift, move beyond networking into what I call the “R Zone”—the “R” stands for “relationships”—to a place where you’re not really networking so much as building relationships.
Here comes the simple, unadorned truth: One of the most effective ways to build a relationship is to help the other person get what he or she wants first.
This “give first” approach will turn everything you’ve ever known about networking on its ear.

And it’s very simple: Just go into a room full of strangers telling yourself, “All I’m here to do is to help each person I meet get what they want.” Obviously, that requires that you first find out what they’re looking for, and that you actively listen and ask questions that help you understand their needs. Also, that you be resourceful when it comes to coming up with contacts and possible options for your new contact.

When you’re in the “R Zone,” you’re not talking to people about high school reunions or past jobs. You’re not searching to find names of people you know in common. You’re not discussing current movies. You’re not even being witty. You’re focused on only two things: What the other person is looking for and how you’re going to help them find it. When you come up with the name of someone they can call—even if it’s only someone who can point them in the right direction—it’s amazing how they’ll warm to you.

There’s an old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.” While the statement is true, it also oversimplifies. For, as many will tell you, simply knowing an important or powerful person is no guarantee your calls will be returned. The other person must perceive you as worth knowing. That’s what gets calls returned. And, there’s no faster way to be perceived as someone worth knowing than to give first.

Here are some other thoughts that can guide you as you develop your ability to work in the “R Zone.”

  1. Do less better. One reason so many people finding networking exhausting: They get frantic. They feel obligated to meet everyone at a given meeting. They have to “work the room.” Leave working the room to the professionals. Go into a networking event with limited objectives. Just tell yourself, “I’ll count this as a good experience if I can have five quality conversations with five quality contacts.” And after you meet five, don’t feel obligated to hang around and meet more …unless you want to. Pace yourself and do less better.
  2. Speak with confidence. Don’t be shy when it comes to telling new contacts about what you can do for them. Speak with calm conviction. Project confidence. Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe what you’re saying, no one else will.
  3. Prepare a memorable introduction. In a quiet moment, reflect on why clients or customers like to do business with you. Then, write down what you would like to say that sets you or your business apart—the benefits more than the features. The introduction should begin with your name followed by your business name. Then it should tell them, from their point of view, why they should want to do business with you—in 20 seconds or less. Practice saying your “introduction” in front of a mirror. You don’t have to repeat it word for word each time. Feel comfortable with the general concepts and phrases. Then begin saying your introduction to new contacts.
  4. Join a contact group. Whether it be an industry association, a charitable organization’s board, or a religious group, make an effort to put yourself in situations where you meet new people.
  5. Tell people what you want. Although in this article I’ve focused mainly on helping other people get what they want, when building a relationship you should be clear about what you’re looking for, as well. When you give first, it’s amazing how quickly people look for ways to help you find what you need. An effective strategy is to tell people what you’re looking for right after your introduction—something like, “And this week I’m looking for someone who can introduce me to …” or “This week I’m looking for companies who need…” naming a specific person or need.
  6. Practice putting yourself in the R Zone. When meeting new people, make an effort to really listen to what they’re saying. As much as possible, find out what they want. Put yourself “at source” to help them find it.

Networking really isn’t enough because it’s not enough just to make contacts. To be effective, we must build relationships, something that sounds easier than it is. It takes genuine caring and listening skills that make you a valuable asset in any work situation. Don’t always assume that a person you meet at a networking event is looking for a new client or a job. The person may really be looking for a golf instructor, an electrician, a PC technician, a new car … or even a friend! Be there for them. And stay in the R Zone.

The Fastest Way to Increase Sales

September 4, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Written by Debbie Mrazek

A small office building could probably be filled with all of the books available on improving sales communication. While it may be a topic that has gotten a lot of press, I can assure you that when it comes to sales professionals, there’s still a lot of room for improvement by the vast majority.

You might think that talking and listening is quite basic and elementary. But let me tell you that it isn’t. If it was, there would be more sales pros hitting those top numbers. Sadly, it isn’t.

To be successful in sales, you, as the professional salesperson must master three major components of communication:

1. Listening to customers, including watching for body language

2. Questioning and listening to find out what they want and what their concerns are

3. Establishing the connection between their needs and your products and services

Number one deals with really getting to know your customer. Are they being ‘polite’ and just listening for no reason? What are they really saying? What is their body language? Are they crossing their arms? Are they leaning in? Are they interacting? Are they not? Communication is what is spoken and also what is unspoken.

Number two is all about the customer. What do they want? What’s going on in their world? What do they really need? When you really listen and ask questions to seek first to understand your customers’ concerns and issues, then, and only then do you get the chance to sell. It’s not about muscling your way through the door and then blurting out your presentation as fast as you can. It’s about building a relationship that will pay you over and over again.

Finally, number three is about building a bridge between the customer and your company (and yourself). It’s about building upon a strong foundation of trust and earned respect. At this point, you aren’t just pitching a product and hoping it will stick, you are tying the needs to your prospective customer to what your company provides or offers. It is also about not pitching something that will not serve the prospect. Often, walking away from a sales opportunity will act like a boomerang to get another opportunity when that prospect refers you to another company that may be a better fit. Never be afraid of walking away from a deal that will not ultimately serve your prospective customer.

Sales communications begin with you, but it is not all about you. Sales communication is about hearing your customer. What is the customer’s biggest concern and fear? How can you help? You are there to begin to understand how that customer may be served by you and your company and to earn that opportunity. If you get this piece right, you will master one of the most important pieces of the sales pro puzzle.

GUIDEPOST 10: Be positive and realistic about what could happen between now and the time of the sale.

August 28, 2014 | Leave a Comment

This morning I read something from an old book (1986) Right and Wrong Thinking by Kenneth Hagin:

“People that think wrong believe wrong, and when they believe wrong, they act wrong.”

How do you operate?  The Mrazek “Pollyana” method….anything is possible!….the world is my oyster! or……. from the dark side…. fear and unbelief?

Don’t let your thoughts and words derail your great intentions and expectation and beliefs in yourself….let your thoughts lift you to all that is possible…even if you don’t know exactly how to get there….ask for help!

This week check out page 62 of The Field Guide To Sales and review the section on Your Expectations of Yourself!

See to it this week that only POSITIVE thoughts come out of your mind and your mouth….just try it for ONE week!

Report back and let me know what kind of POSITIVE results you attract in return!

Happy Selling!:)

Character – would yours be seen as a home run?

August 20, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Take a look…………..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODqjUqW3c0U  plalaksjdaljsf

 

Sales is a contact sport complete with your team and their – competitors – team.

Does your team know your “home run” dream?

Would the competitors team think enough of you to help you get it?

Often times people think the profession of sales lacks character.  I am here to tell you that is not true!

Many have asked me about the DEDICATIONS page in my book, The Field Guide To Sales….and WHY in heavens name would I dedicate my book to a COMPETITOR???????????  This video reminded me of Rick Smith -my greatest competitor EVER! – and how he was like the two young women who didn’t hardly hesitate to do what was right with no time to think about what this would do for them…..but knowing that young woman on the OTHER team could not make her dream of a home run come true by herself and her own team could not help her.  Their character is as second nature to them as breathing…is yours?

Some days it is not about the number on the scoreboard….the girls who carried their competitor over home plate so she could score a home run did not win the game……and they were not losers either.

Play ball!!!!!!!!!!

Precious Pam Pizel Party – Thank you CEO Network friends!

July 25, 2009 | Leave a Comment

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Tom Watson – Great Competitor!

July 24, 2009 | Leave a Comment

When I published The Field Guide To Sales last year one of the dedications I did in the book was to my greatest competitor ever – Rick Smith.  As you can imagine when you write a book people have opinions that don’t necessarily agree with yours and they share them.:)  Amazingly to me the one that I get the most comments about is why in the world would I dedicate the book to a COMPETITOR of all things???????????

Easy!!  Rick Smith was a GREAT COMPETITOR!

Yesterday as I watched the playoff between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink at the British Open I was reminded of Rick.  Tom Watson and Stewart Cink were both doing what they are exceptional at just as Rick and I always did when we "played" each other in the world of technology sales.

Tom and Stewart were playing great golf.alg_cink-exults

Tom and Stewart were professionals.

Tom and Stewart were loved by their customers/fans.

Tom and Stewart genuinely appreciated one another skills.

Tom and Stewart loved the game.

Tom never gave up.

Stewart did not quit early.

Stewart was standing and applauding Tom as were the fans as he made his next to last shot and when he finished his final putt Stewart was still applauding.

Tom was smiling and applauding Stewart as he took the claret jug.amd_cink-watson

On this day as with each sale there can only be one winner.

The joy of a great competitor is it makes the win even more special.

   

Is your competitor worthy of celebrating?

If not, perhaps you aren’t playing with the right players.  Up your game TODAY and find yourself a competitor that is worthy of your great skills in selling.

**There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss the fun that I had selling against Rick Smith…..so the dedication in my book will forever remain:  Rick Smith  1957-2007  My greatest competitor EVER!

FREEDOM RINGS

July 6, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Last week we had sent out a Happy 4th of July newsletter and asked you for your favorite Top 10 Freedom’s.  It was amazing and heart warming to see them and I have a couple to share below that incorporate what many others said.   One thing I wasn’t expecting was there were a couple of people on my list that I thought were Americans and they were not.  They filled out their list with the 10 freedoms they appreciated in America that they did not have in their own country and stated that these freedoms were things they were grateful for each day.  It reminded me again that we have so much that we take for granted….imagine if we did not have these freedoms…we too might take them much more seriously.

 

1. the freedom to live where I want

2. the freedom to pray to the God of my choosing

3. the freedom to marry whom I want

4. the freedom to associate with whom I want

5. the freedom to learn to read and go to school

6. the freedom to earn a living in the fields of my choice

7. the freedom to go where I want, unescorted by brother, father or husband

8. the freedom to wear what I want, no veil unless I choose so

9. the freedom to read the books, magazines, etc. I want and to see the films I’d like

10. the freedom of speech, to be able to respond to this message openly and honestly–God Bless America!!

Freedom affords me the ability to:

1.  Worship as I choose

2.  Travel as I please

3.  Speak my mind

4.  Write my ideas

5.  Express my beliefs

6.  Sell and buy in a “free” market

7.  Vote my conscience

8.  Stand up publicly for what I know to be right

9.  Participate in the legal and justice systems

10.  Choose…Choice is the cornerstone of Freedom

 

I’ll start with the first four that Franklin Roosevelt described in his State of the Union Address to the Congress, January 6, 1941:

"The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want–which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world."

And here are my six, at least for 2009. One of the joys of true freedom is that you can pick new ones any time you want.

1. The freedom to make an idiot of myself.
2. The freedom to recover successfully after making an idiot of myself.
3. The freedom to ignore social classes.
5. The freedom to invent new freedoms.
4. The freedom to give up my freedoms (Not recommended. The price of freedom is, of course, eternal vigilance.).
6. The freedom to bitch and moan about not having any freedoms (frequently used; vastly underappreciated, at least by some folks).

************************************************************************************************************************************

My Dad and brother are buried less than 100 yards apart in Arlington Cemetery.  There is not one day that the impression of that hallowed place doesn’t remind me of the blessings of living in this country.
Freedom is knowing that those that you have brought into this world have the best chance to succeed compared to anyplace on the planet.
Freedom seems to know no boundary of race or belief, we seem to always try to pull together when things are bad and enjoy our lives when things are good.
Freedom is the ability to think any thought and know that the Constitution gives you that right.
Freedom always seems to give us more chances to do the right thing.

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