Monday, September 28, 2015

Create Your "Thought Train"

Any idea what a “thought train” is? It’s the connectivity between logical next thoughts. And
actually when you work it backwards you can identify the thoughts that your prospect is going to have, in order, and work with them through that process. It’s a means of staying in control of the sales process.

Now, I love that concept. I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of the salesperson to maintain control of the sales process. Imagine if you could be ahead of your prospect; imagine if you knew what their next thought was going to be and you could address it as they were thinking it, or before! Talk about control!

This is not my idea. It is the genius of Kenneth Jennings, the mind behind Mr. Rekey Locksmith® Services. He was my guest today on Accelerate Your Business Growth radio show. Do your business a favor and listen to the whole conversation. It’s really worth it! Ken shared some great ideas that every business owner can embrace.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An interview with Mary Poul, author of Sprint to Sales Success

In this interview I asked Mary Poul what surprised her as she talked with top sales producers for her book and how she expects people to have greater sales success by following the advice in her book.

Why did you write this book?

To start off with I want to be clear. I did NOT write a book on sales skills. You and many other experts have great resources for people who want to learn how to prospect, influence, and win sales more effectively. I wrote a book on how high achievers get better at selling faster than the common approach.

In my work with Sales Mastery magazine I’ve interviewed hundreds of top sales producers, CSOs, coaches, and experts. A pattern that jumped out at me is that they were all lifelong learners – constantly pushing themselves to get better. And they all worked with great coaches in the process so they had someone with a fresh perspective to help them see what they were missing. Of course, these are the type of people who are open to coaching. Not everyone is.

What do you mean by that - not everyone is open to coaching?

Well, obviously we all believe we are life long learners and coachable. But we all have our moments when this isn’t true. In a previous career life when I was coaching a group of really talented people, I quickly learned to recognize the signs of who is coachable and who isn’t. It’s really a spectrum.

On the narcissistic end of the spectrum, these people are waiting for the world to change for them. I’m sure you’ve run into a colleague or two that found the world to blame for why they couldn’t sell more. The product sucks, the boss is an idiot, marketing isn’t doing their job. Of course there is NOTHING this person could learn or do better to be more effective. He’s just waiting for everyone else to change so he can be effective.

Progressing toward the other end of the spectrum you find people that you recognize more often. They have blind spots about what they could do better and no idea how to use a different approach. But once you point out the blind spot and work with them on ideas for change, they are on it. They want better results and are willing to do something about it.

In your work Diane, when you help people get better at closing the deal with a new customer, you observe how they are doing it now so you can find their blind spots. You only get to work with the people who aren’t totally intimidated by that. Narcissists aren’t inviting you in. The people who are want to change but need help on what and how to do it. So your fresh perspective and vast experience using and observing techniques to overcome final objections, negotiate contract terms, get decision makers into a comfort zone to say yes – all of your experience is a huge benefit to someone who only has their own personal experiences to reference. But they need to be open to changing.

The pinnacle of the coach-ability spectrum is a true lifelong learner.  I worked with a person like this once who was a great model for how a lifelong learner behaves. He outperformed the rest of my team by a long shot – he had 50% more clients than everyone else and all of his clients adored him.

After every project he would proactively solicit feedback on how he could be better on the next assignment. He would specify to me what stretch or challenge he wanted to tackle in his next assignment and asked for mentorship through it. Of course this person has done amazingly well in his career. He never waited for feedback or viewed it as a judgment of his weaknesses. He sought out feedback and considered it one piece of direction to help him continuously become better.  A coach’s dream!

So how does this relate to your book Sprint to Sales Success?

The book is meant to help people in the second and third examples who have high achieving mindsets. They want to get better. I discovered most people aren’t sure what to do when they are working with a coach or in a mastermind group to get the most out of the experience. They are just showing up. There isn’t training on how to get the most out of working with a coach. So this book does that.

In my interviews specifically for the book I was surprised to discover that top performers were already clear on their purpose. They knew WHY they wanted to keep improving, what their ultimate vision for their career and life was. They sought out coaching help to accelerate their journey toward their ideal vision. So the book helps readers find their WHY.

Others need help being proactive in what they get out of a coaching session. Especially if they are working with their manager who isn’t as experienced at coaching as a pro is. So I give them a coaching check-in process so they can prepare for the hour or so and get the most value from it.

A lot of people need help with making the change. A professional coach like you helps people build this into what they are working on improving for the week. As you know, it’s not enough to say, “Now respond this way when your prospect says this.” You have to create the environment, prepare the mindset, have some triggers that make a new behavior possible. So the book covers how to set yourself up for real change and then how to sustain it.

Sometimes it comes down to justifying to yourself or to your company why investing in a coach makes sense. So the book even helps someone determine the ROI or return on investment for coaching. Research by PriceWaterhouse Coopers found a median of 700% return on coaching investment. One fifth of people coaches get as high as a 5000% return on investment. By investment I mean the opportunity cost of their time spent learning something new as well as whatever they may pay for coaching.

A study out of the Harvard Business School found that clients who had a relationship with a professional coach were more likely to attain their goals than individuals who were not being coached, and they experienced higher levels of self-reflection and insight accompanied by lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. So the evidence is great that coaching pays off to become more successful at selling. But an individual sales pro or business owner needs to make this payoff true for herself. That’s what the book is intended to do.

What do you hope happens as a result of your book?

I hope that a lot more people recognize that there’s an easier way to reach their dream goals than trying to do it alone. I want a lot more people to achieve the kind of results this year that they would expect to get after 10 years of experience in their sales careers. That’s what getting smarter about using coaching can do for them. I say that using what I recommend in the book can make you 10% more effective at selling. In reality, you see a whole lot more improvement than that. So for someone with career ambition, I want the book to help them achieve their goals, their purpose, a whole lot faster.

Mary Poul is publisher of, which publishes a monthly magazine and interviews and hosts online events. She also founded the initiative Teach Kids 2 Sell, with the ambition of teaching one million kids the life skill of effective selling. Sprint to Sales Success is available on and comes with bonus worksheets to make sure readers do what they learn.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Essential Legal Steps to Grow A Small Business

Today Elizabeth Potts Weinstein joined me on my radio show, Accelerate Your Business Growth, to talk about the legal side of starting and running a small business. She offered some great ideas and insights. When asked for her 3 top tips Elizabeth shared:

  1. Put things in writing. Have contracts. They help you keep on track.
  2. Be picky about who you do business with. This is my personal favorite! 
  3. Keep it simple.

These may seem like basic ideas and yet they are the ones we often overlook. If you'd like to hear more from Elizabeth, please listen here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Great Read for SMBs

I just finished reading Performance Breakthrough by Mike Goldman and have to say it is one of the best books I've read lately. First of all, it is an easy read - which I prefer! And it's framed in a story about a  business and it's trials and recovery. What's really fabulous about this book is that it describes what so many businesses go through. You can really relate to any of the characters in the book.

And then it goes a step further and describes the 4 secrets of passionate organizations:

With those explanations we get case studies so we can really see how they relate to the topic and a summary. I found this tremendously useful. There are real nuggets of information we can take into our businesses to improve them, and therefore, our outcomes. 

Pick up your copy today! I'm working on getting Mike on my radio show so he can share more valuable information with all of you.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sales Systems That Matter

Mastering systems in sales can help you ensure success. When we develop and implement systems we can navigate all aspects of sales without dropping one or more of them.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Your Silence Is Deafening

It used to be common courtesy to return a phone call or respond to an email or text. Not so any more. These days people hide behind voicemail and seem to ignore emails. So, what's so tough about responding? 

In order to understand what's happening we have to broaden our view and look at the whole landscape. Think about how many times you are solicited during a day, a week, a month. How do you like it? Chances are, you don't. The 'do-not-call list' was born from people sick of solicitation calls. 'Let it go to voicemail' as become a standard thought. Unfortunately, these people can implement a blanket policy to every scenario. They treat every call, text, email as an invasion and get into the habit of not answering and not responding.

At the same time there are people who are conflict avoidant. They don't feel comfortable telling someone 'no' so they avoid the whole conversation. Maybe they feel like the person is going to try to strong arm them, bully them, into an answer they want. 

And then there are the people who are so busy they don't carve out the time to respond to a call, text, or email. While they may have every intention of responding their days get away from them and before they know it, it feels like it's too late, or they just forget all together. This behavior is rarely interpreted as well-intentioned. It is seen as disorganized and unprofessional.

Any one of these behaviors can lead to being seen as rude, discourteous, or evasive. So, what can we do about it? Let's start with how we want to be perceived. If we want to be seen as professional, approachable, and organized we need to make some clear decisions about how we are going to handle the unsolicited outreach.

The first thing is to realize that addressing a call, email, text right away actually makes things better. It prevents the person from continuing to try to get ahold of you. It eliminates any discomfort you may be feeling; that discomfort becomes temporary as opposed to long term. And it keeps you upholding your obligations in a timely manner so you are seen as responsive and professional.

The second thing to embrace is that if your issue is with salespeople, 'no' is a good answer. Believe me when I tell you that they would rather get a 'no' than have to keep trying to get in touch with you to find out where you are. And most of them aren't going to assume your answer is 'no' so they are going to keep reaching out. That doesn't feel so great, either, does it? So why not minimize the number of times someone is calling you for something you don't want?

And in the rare occasion when someone is overly persistent you can be firm with them. That's okay too! They've just given you permission to tell them in strong terms that you are not interested.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Offline vs Online Marketing

There are arguments for marketing on and off line. The thing we can't get away from is that online marketing is here to stay. So all of the folks who have resisted it hoping it would go away should probably take another look.

In an article for Recruitment Advisor I explore this idea. Take a look and then weigh in on what you think. What's your best marketing practice?