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THE Sales Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan
11 minutes | May 17, 2022
290: Work On Your Sales Not In Your Sales
We have all heard that business advice to “work on your business, not in your business”. When we are the owner of the business we can sometimes forget this, because we love doing the sales ourselves and spending time establishing relationships with our clients. I know this a problem for me, because the successful sales process is like a drug and you want more of those dopamine hits when you land the deal. Salespeople like people and they like the personal elements of dealing with buyers. To grow the business though requires scale and that usually means hiring, training and developing more salespeople. If you are out there landing deals, then you cannot scale and will be stuck right where you are now. Most small businesses are trying to bootstrap their growth, so you need deals to fund the growth. This leads to a chicken and the egg situation, where you need to be in sales mode to land deals to generate the cash to expand. If you stop selling, then the cash flow gets impacted and there isn’t the cash to hire more people. Another issue will arise if you ever decide to sell the business. If you are the key or one of the key producers, the new buyer will want to reduce the price to take into account that you won’t be there to generate the deals or they will want to lock you in as a part of an earn out over a number of years. Being the boss is one thing, but selling the business and then having to now work for someone else is entirely another thing. If you weren’t unemployable before you started the business, then after years of being your own boss, you are likely totally unemployable now. Going from a big component of the sales flow in the business to zero is a bad idea. Revenues will tank and then you have all manner of cash flow dilemmas. We have to wean ourselves off the star salesperson role. Like the successful athlete who has to move out of the limelight to being in the background as the coach, we have to make that adjustment. A lot of our ego can be tied up in the sales role and this can be hard to diminish. We can also enjoy the thrill of the chase and landing big deals and now we have to live that process osmotically through our salespeople. We have to start handing off clients to our salespeople. This is painful, because they are “our clients” and maybe they like having the boss taking care of them, because that is tied up with their ego too. Another pain point is we now have to start paying our salespeople commissions for taking care of them and that is a cost we didn’t have before. All of this thinking is small beer. We have to get our mind on the big picture. We need to be looking for ways we can add more salespeople and we need to be thinking “how can I build this business, so that it can run without me”. If you can get it to that stage, then you have something to sell, otherwise you will never get to sell the business. If you are planning to hand it all over to your kids, then keep going, but if they are not interested in being part of your dynastic ambitions, you can’t live forever and you will have to sell it one day. In this case, you need to get yourself out of the revenue engine and make sure others are doing that job for you. When we are super efficient, we find we are doing things ourselves, because we are really good at them, but actually are we really being effective? Getting freed up from our selling activity to spend that time coaching, mentoring and driving our salespeople will provide leverage. I am a hard worker and I work 12 hours a day, so bully for me. However, if I have ten salespeople working for me, they are putting in 80 hours per day, so nearly seven times more than me. That is leverage, so the key point is to decide what I should be doing with my 12 hours a day, to make their 80 hours more effective? We might think, “well they are on base and commission, so that is all the motivation they need to succeed”. I wish that were true. Invariably we all get into certain work habits and sometimes these habits are not helping us to be as productive as we should be. There may also be a sales manager between the sales team and yourself, so you might think, “I can concentrate on my sales because my sales manager is taking care of the sales team”. I wish that were true. Invariably, they could be doing a better job and they need closer supervision too. Everyone loves it when you are busy selling, because you leave them alone and there is no close scrutiny going on. That is not as effective as when we concentrate on what the sales team and the sales manager are doing. Gradually, move your clients across to the sales team and become more knowledgeable about what your salespeople are doing all day long. The results will be insightful, if not downright scary.
12 minutes | May 10, 2022
289: Blocking, Tackling And Grinding In Sales
The famous Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi often referred to the importance of the basics in the American Football game, the blocking and tackling. Being an Aussie and a Rugby fan, I sort of know what he is talking about. The brilliant plays, full length of the field returns, Hail Mary throws, the tactics and strategies are all important, but if the basics are not being done properly, it all comes crashing down and you will never win. Sales is the same. Blocking and tackling is boring, grinding, not flashy and not exciting. There are many aspects of sales which are dead boring, painful, annoying and irritating, but they have to be done. For some salespeople though, landing the whale client is a much more scintillating idea. I have had a number of salespeople, who were very talented, smart individuals, who found all that blocking and tackling was for lesser mortals. They decided to start at the top and work up from there. Their intelligence proved to be a stumbling block to success in sales. That big deal would be the game changer. This client is going to be a huge contributor to profits, once the deal is landed. Except I am still waiting years later for that deal to be landed. That revenue they trumpeted never turned up and they are gone, gone, gone. Recently a friend of mine asked me to coach someone whose business was struggling. In the course of the conversation, it became clear that the blocking and tackling of sales wasn’t exciting for him. Here is a revelation – it isn’t exciting for anyone! Nevertheless, the business needed income and he was the one designated to go out and get the deals. Our mindset can work against us, as well as for us. If we want to pursue bright shiny objects, because that is exciting and we want to avoid the slog of sales because that is boring, we will be out of a job or out of our business. We have to change our mindset and there is nothing like survival to focus your attention where it needs to be. The pandemic has not negatively affected all industries, but it has hammered most, mine included. This is the most difficult time in business I have ever experienced, due to a catalyst we haven’t seen in play since the Spanish Flu in 1918. There is no corporate memory on how to deal with this existential threat to corporate survival. Clients are now working from home. You call their office and all you get is subordinate obscurantism regarding their email address or their phone number or any other details about how to get in contact with them. The blocking and tackling of cold calling has become so irritating in Japan. Maybe it is the same everywhere, but here there is a definite mindset that anyone calling the company is an enemy and they must be thwarted at every turn. The boss’s minions who answer the phone probably imagine they are doing a good job keeping their boss away from callers, but are they really helping? The wheels of commerce need to turn and nothing happens in business until a sale is made. We need new and better services than we did pre-pandemic, but it is proving very hard to get that message out. Consequently, cold calling is in remission for most salespeople. Blocking and tackling still has to move forward and we need to think of different ways of grabbing buyer attention. In normal times, turning up to the office and trying to see the buyer would be thought to be inefficient. Tobikomi eigyo (飛び込み営業) needs to make a comeback. It is much harder to eject people from the office reception than on the phone or over email. Companies are getting back to the office at least a couple of days a week, so there is a chance the buyer will be there and guess what? They are not meeting other sellers because the guard dogs are keeping salespeople at bay and no one else is just dropping in. Naturally, many of the newer buildings have elaborate entry procedures requiring QR codes etc., but not every buyer is thus shielded from us dropping by. Is it efficient? Compared to just getting blocked all of the time, it is slightly better than nothing. At least it gives us a chance to meet the buyer and set up a formal appointment for a later stage. Is it enjoyable, just suddenly barging into the reception area and trying to meet the buyer? Not really, but you need a thick hide, if you want to be in sales, so you have harden up. By the way, if anyone ever complains to you about your tactics to see the buyer, just say, “Yes, I can completely understand your viewpoint and I am also sure that this is the type of mindset and approach you would want to see from your own sales team, when facing these tough times due to the pandemic”. Believe me they will quickly get the point and even if you are still blocked, there has been no brand damage. Sending something interesting by mail is another good idea. The guard dog will block your call but will diligently deliver the mail package to the boss’s desk. Put together some contents which will get the buyer interested. Make the package slightly lumpy, so that it doesn’t look like a bunch of boring documents. What ever you need to put in there, it better answer the buyer’s most pressing need and be able to inform the buyer of that fact in two seconds. The window of attention is only showing a sliver these days, as everyone is so busy. We have to make the most of the chance we have manufactured. Blocking, tackling and grinding drives us all crazy, but we cannot defy the truth of the importance of mastering the basics in sales. You can talk up a storm, project the arrival of the whale any moment now and make all manner of excuses, but either the deal gets done and the money gets banked or it doesn’t. Back to basics everyone, if you want to survive what the world is throwing at us all right now.
10 minutes | May 3, 2022
288: The Piranha Client
If you have ever watched one of those nature documentaries about the piranha fish, they can strip an animal of its flesh in seconds. The way they do that though is totally different to a shark. Growing up in Australia, we are all experts on sharks and we know that they can distend their lower jaw to make the size of the bite larger. They will take huge chunks of flesh off your body at a time. The piranha however only takes small bites but there are a tremendous lot of them and this is where the trouble comes from. These small bites remind me of some clients and how they attempt to strip you of your deal content, one little bite sized piece at a time. We are dealing with a large company and a new division. This is a group we haven’t worked with before, so the people are new to us. We struck a deal for a reasonable piece of business and imagined we would set some dates and get busy with the delivery. Gradually, they came back with a little larger piece of business and wanted discounts for volume, which we agreed to. And then they came back with another tranche and wanted more discounts. And then another tranche and a request for more discounts. “Hmm, I am being played here”, was the thought going through my mind. I was in a bind now because being unable to see the total deal size from the beginning, I had nicely backed myself into the corner labelled “Big Discounts” and had no wiggle room. Did they plan that approach from the outset or did they get into a feeding frenzy on the discounts and think “let’s see how far we can push this along?”. I am not sure which is which, but I do know we are working for a substantial reduction in revenues as a result. In retrospect, I should have entertained the possibility that they would want further discounts and should have arranged my numbers, so that there was a hard stop which came into play much earlier. In fact, they actually came back with a slightly different requirement and I was determined that if we had more of this scope creep, I would pull the shutters down earlier on the discount front this time. They were also taking bites on another front. There are always issues around personnel resource availability and certifications in the training business. Dale Carnegie is very strict regarding trainer development and it basically takes 18 months to get the first level of trainer certification. After that, for every other core course you want to get certified in, you have to add a week of specialist training and pass the accreditation, which isn’t a forgone conclusion by any stakes. The next level of piranha activity surfaced around trainer selection. We recognize that trainer quality is everything for a training company, which is why we spend so much time and treasure getting people certified and put them through hell to get accredited. If you don’t believe me, come on over and give it a try! There is always the question of the alignment between how many people are qualified to teach a certain piece of content and how many are actually able to meet the timetable requirements of the client. This is a tricky balance at the best of times and made even more difficult because of Covid. We have external and internal trainers and in normal times, we have good availability, but thanks to Covid destroying the training industry, a number of those external trainers are no longer available. If they cannot get regular work doing training then they gravitate more towards things like consulting and they have limited windows to do training. The upshot is when we are getting more piranha bites about wanting to see more and more trainer profiles and more and more demands about selections, we have to push back. Are we prepared to walk away from the whole deal, especially during a devastating pandemic, if the client proves to be a pain? Many service industry companies have a “no idiots” policy regarding who they will work for. Actually they use a much stronger word than idiots, but I think you get the picture. Scope creep, discount pressure, difficult to deal with individuals are a toxic cocktail. Where do you draw the line for your business? How much is too much, when trying to satisfy clients?
14 minutes | Apr 26, 2022
287: Can You Stimulate The Buyer Greed Gland In Japan?
The sales process has a number of stages we must pass through. One big one is gaining trust. We need to explain who we are, what it is we do, where we have had success before and suggest we could do the same for the buyer’s firm. Permission to ask questions is another key step. When you think about it salespeople are incredibly rude. We hardly know them and yet we start asking questions about corporate secrets around our failures, lack of progress and barriers to success. Salespeople are looking for a match between their solution and what we need. Nevertheless the process can be confronting and that can be why it is sometimes very hard to get any useful information from the buyer. Salespeople need to ask permission first “to ask a few questions” , in order to delve into the depths of corporate despair and failure and thereby learn if they have the solution this company needs. One part of that questioning process can get very personal. We start by trying to get a fix on what the firm is doing now, where they want to be and why they are not there yet. Next we ask about their self-interest. This is a sensitive subject in Japan. Sales is all about what we say and how we say it. The semantics of language is important and this is one area where it is critical we get that equation right. We need to know this self-interest information for later when we present the solution. Of course, we are looking at the interests of the firm and how what we are doing is going to help the business. We are dealing with people though and we all have our own individual motivations. We want to connect the solution we are providing with the buyer’s direct personal interests and this is the highest level of appeal we can aim toward as the seller. In Western companies, this isn’t such a big deal. If we ask, “If this solution is successful, what will it mean for you personally?”, then we will get a very straight answer. They will tell us, “I will get a big bonus”, “I will get promoted”, ”My boss won’t fire me”, etc. The Western ladder of corporate success is up to you to climb and consequently people are very focused on themselves and “what is in it for me”. So being asked a direct question about the correlation between this solution success for the firm and the link to their personal self-interest is nothing to be shy or squeamish about. Japan is quite different. When we ask, “If this solution is successful, what will it mean for you personally?”, it can be greeted by some degree of confusion. Generally, Japan has a weaker linkage between personal performance and promotion. In larger firms, it is usually a case where you move up the career ladder based on age and years of service to the firm. The summer and winter bonuses are actually deferred salary payments rather than recognition of outstanding work, so any focus on getting a big bonus is a non-starter. I have found that when I ask this question, I have to repeat it because the buyer’s brain is not thinking of any connection between their individual work and a direct reward. When they finally get my drift they demure. I don’t ever recall any Japanese buyer saying things like, “I will get a big bonus”, “I will get promoted”, “my boss won’t fire me”, etc. Instead they will say “The team will be happy”, “the company will benefit”, “everyone will feel satisfied”. Actually, it doesn’t matter what they say. We don’t care whether they are connecting at an individual level or at the group level. All we want is them to make a connection and we need to store that away in our mind for later, when we present the solution. One important thing to remember is after you have asked the question, SHUT UP. This type of question creates a certain amount of tension. You actually want that tension to be there because that is how you get the answers you seek. If you are with another person from your team, brief them beforehand to keep them their mouth shut and do not say anything which will release the tension and allow the buyer to escape from our question. The first time that happened to me, my Japanese colleague couldn’t take the tension in the room and added something after my question. It was a disaster. fixin before my eyes, I saw all the tension drain from the room, the buyer just evaded giving me the answer I was seeking and we didn’t get the deal. I vowed that would never happen again and so I am always prepared now if I have to attend a meeting together with someone else. After discovering what the buyer needs, we then present the solution. In Japan, that usually means we come back for a second meeting and take them through the proposal. We will go through specific stages of the sales process at this point. We will outline all the key features. We will then connect the benefits to those features and we will talk about the application of the benefits inside their firm. We will offer some evidence where the solution has worked before with a similar firm and which relates to their position in the firm as the executive, the financial, technical or user buyer. Here is the important part. Just before we start all of this explanation of the nitty gritty of how our solution will work, we do the summary statement. We assure them that our solution will solve the specific problem they are having and we relate back to what they told us about their personal interest in seeing this process succeed. It doesn’t matter what they said. If it was “a big bonus” or “the team will feel good”, it doesn’t matter. We can say, “you mentioned that if this project was successful, you would get a nice bonus, well this solution will deliver the outcomes you want”, or “you mentioned that if this project was successful, the team will feel good, well this solution will deliver the outcomes you want”. What we are doing is telling them that we have exactly what they need. It will deliver on the primary interest of the firm in fixing their key issues and it will satisfy the thing which they nominated was most important for them personally. The point is we are trying to link the decision to purchase with what is in their mind as something which is Important to them, as well as being in the best interests of the firm. We could just stress how this helps the company, but it is more powerful to connect our solution to their personal motivations, however they have framed them. There is no incorrect answer in this case, because whatever they say we take it at face value. Maybe they just told us something pap to satisfy us. It doesn’t matter, because we are tying the bow on the previous conversation and telling them we are listening to you, we believe you, we are here to get you want you want, we are dedicated to helping you succeed in business, however you define it.
12 minutes | Apr 19, 2022
286: Bait Your Hook In Sales
I do a lot of coaching for salespeople and there is a common theme which continuously arises, which reveals why they are not getting sales with their clients. They get very deep into the weeds of the solution for the buyer. The features of their widget monopolise their own minds and that is what they try to use to envelop the client with. It doesn't work for a simple reason. Clients buy the application of the benefits of the solution, not the features. You would think, “Greg, this is highly obvious buddy”, yet salespeople keep leaping to the features and forget about extolling the virtues of the benefits. Take a long, cold, hard look at your own sales materials. Are they a compilation of features, describing in detail how the widget works and substantially light on the benefits of employing the widget? Salespeople are often engrossed with the execution piece of the sale. They want to explain how the widget will function for the buyer, going into depth on the intricacies of the how it works. This is important because the buyer needs to know they can integrate this solution into their existing business. But this not why they will buy. I was accosted by a salesperson who battered me with the gritty detail for twenty five minutes. It was a slide driven sales presentation and it was very comprehensive and detailed in explaining how the widget worked. Now this was a totally non-customised presentation, so it had to cover off all manner of buyers, with their different situations, needs and motivations. In other words, it was shotgun spray hoping to hit a buyer or two. I noticed in that slide deck, that there were two cases where there were other companies, a little similar to my own firm. A big opportunity was missed however, because the salesman didn’t bait the hook to catch me as a buyer. He launched straight into his pitch, which doubtless was something he had been doing for the last twenty years or so, judging by his age. So he has been failing now for over two decades and still hasn’t worked it out. If talking about the benefits was so obvious, such a default position, then how could this be happening in this day and age? By failing to ask me any questions, he didn’t know where to zoom in, where to focus his remarks. By asking me where we are now and where we want to be, he could have pulled back the velvet curtain and revealed the scale of the gap between those two points. He could have hit gold, by asking me, if I know where we are now and where we want to be, then what is stopping us from getting there? That is such a wonderful, elegant question and absolutely has to be in the tacklebox of everyone in sales. If the gap is too close, then the buyer will reveal they don’t see any need for outside help, because they believe they can bridge the gap using their own internal resources. Or they may reveal they already have a supplier and they are entirely, even deliriously, happy with that provider. If we know this information, then we can move to baiting our hook to lure them to not do it themselves or keep using that existing company. If we keep bleating on about our features, we will never know why they have no interest in buying from us. Knowing they don’t believe they need us, we can start asking intelligent questions which challenge their entrenched ideas. If they want to do it themselves we can bait the hook with the opportunity cost of that route. We can ask, “Doing it yourself is a possibility and do you think that you can do it fast enough to steal a march on your competitors, who by the way, seem to be getting a lot more active recently?”. Japanese companies in particular, are usually quite paranoid about what their competitors are doing and they also know that getting things done internally is rarely ever achieved at speed. The key here is to not make this statement, such as “Doing it yourself will take too long and your rivals we eat your lunch while you are trying to DIY the process”. When we frame it as a question and they say “yes”, then the statement is true. If we as the salesperson say it, then as a statement it is just so much salesperson hot air and they can dismiss it as such. Regarding the incumbent supplier we could say, “Well we are much better than them and you should use us instead”. This won’t fly because they are happy with their current arrangements and nobody in business in Japan likes change all that much. We need to bait the hook. We should say, “I understand you have been using this current firm for a number of years. Can I guess that you made a change at some point from the much earlier suppliers to this one, because you saw a benefit of doing so and wouldn’t you want to enjoy that benefit again today, given business has changed so much over the years?”. We are asking a question which is easy to say “yes” to and difficult to disagree with. We are also trying to get them to make that idea relevant and plausible, by their saying “yes” rather than us proffering the idea. Asking questions to get more information allows us to work out the angle of approach to the clients and to find our where there may be some resistance. When we encounter that resistance, we bait our hook with questions to which the only answer can be a “yes” and in so doing, build the momentum to continue to the idea of using us as their trusted partner.
11 minutes | Apr 12, 2022
285: A Different Value Based Selling
I was contacted by an international training organisation about facilitating training for their clients here in Japan. They solemnly announced they do “value based” selling. Well I think all good salespeople do value based selling, so I checked out their website to see what they meant when throwing this type of terminology around. As I suspected, it was another one of those persistent re-inventions of something old, but cunningly repacked to appear shiny and new. Basically, they find out what the client needs and then supply it. Wow, why didn’t I think of that? It led me to think about values in selling, rather than value delivery in the sales process. When we meet salespeople, we are going to be impressed by a number of superficial elements. The way they dress and carry themselves are the first indicators we look at. It takes a while to get to know someone, but you can spot a slob very quickly and have severe doubts about any of their claims to be a quality organisation. If they drive a luxury car and are well dressed, with the watch, pen, suit and shoes all obviously expensive, we take these as visual indicators of success. They must be good at what they do, because enough other people are giving them their business, that they can afford such high quality items. It is the same psychology of the crowd waiting to get into the restaurant. It is a clue that the food must be good, because experienced, in the know people are lined up trying to get in. We follow the crowd sourced feedback when making our decisions. When we talk with these salespeople, they know their line-up of products. They can answer in depth and with accuracy. They don’t need to tell us “let me get back to you on that“, because they have the knowledge at their fingertips. They are articulate, concise and considered in what they say. They allow us to do most of the talking, rather than trying to railroad us into a buying decision or by trying to overpower us with their ambition to get the deal done. They are calm and in control and are leading us to a buying decision by asking us very well crafted questions. They turn all of their statements into questions. For example, they could just say “this comes with a twelve month guarantee”. Now that is a statement from a salesperson and as the buyer, based on our previous experiences with salespeople, we may or may not believe that statement. But if we can have the buyer say the same thing then it is true and that is what the professional salespeople would have the client doing. In this same example, they would say instead, “If you were able to have a twelve month guarantee would that give you more confidence in agreeing to the offer?”. As soon as the buyer says “yes”, then they have validated the proposition that the twelve month guarantee has legitimate value. The real “value” component however comes from a different angle and this goes to the heart of who they really are and what are the “values” they hold. I often talk about kokorogamae or true intention. What is in the heart of the salesperson about serving me as the buyer? Are their recommendations around the proffered solution to my problem in my best interests or their best interests? We can never know their entire line-up of products or services, so we depend on them to help us select the right outcome. They know what the margins and profitability tables are for each solution, so are they pushing one that we don’t need, but which earns them the bigger commission? This comes back to who are they really? Are we being snowed by their suave manner and obvious competence? Is their kokorogamae about getting the sale or about getting the re-order. There is a world of difference between those two intentions. After we have bought the solution, we will start to understand whether what we have been told is correct or not. It is too late if we have been taken for a ride, because the monies have been paid and the solution delivered, but we will become very unhappy with the treatment we have received. The possibility of an upsell or the next sales are extinguished immediately. Their real values have been exposed and our trust is destroyed. The smooth talking salesperson is the greatest fear of every buyer, because we don’t want to be revealed as idiots who fell for it. Once bitten twice shy of course and so that means for every sales interaction with buyers, we have to keep that thought uppermost in our minds. The buyer has plenty of fear already and our job is to be congruent with our values when we deal with the buyer. That would include walking away from the deal if it isn’t in the buyer’s best interests. This sounds easy, but requires a lot of integrity, because there is that constant pressure to get the revenues and meet the quotas. If you live your values and you have the right values, then that walk away decision becomes consistent with who you really are. That is the key to a long and successful career in sales.
11 minutes | Apr 5, 2022
284: Mentally Preparing For The Coming Economic Recession
A bloody war in the Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, global oil and gas prices surging, grains in short supply driving up food costs, rare metals shortages, inflation taking right off, increased spending on guns rather than butter – none of this looks good. By the way, did I mention we have a world Omicron virus variant pandemic raging still, while 25% of Americans are unvaccinated and 42% of the US population are obese. Even non-academic, totally amateur economic observers like me, can see the signs of a world about to tip into a recession. If you are in sales, this can’t be making you more sanguine about the future. For many of us in Japan, the pandemic has torn through our industries like one of those mid-western American tornedos you see on the news. They lay waste to everything in their path, yet miraculously spare some houses in the same street, while totally obliterating the others. Some industries have sailed through Covid but most others are on the ropes, looking for an end to the bout, so that the pain will cease. Buyers working remotely during the pandemic and emergency declarations have made networking almost impossible, as has been contacting them to start a business conversation. In my experience, the Japanese glass of water is always half-empty and any excuse to do nothing is seized upon, like a drowning man grabbing a life-preserver. “Doing nothing” means not buying from us. Any hint of trouble and the faucet for various areas of spending is immediately turned off. How do you sell in such a hostile environment? “With great difficulty”, I would venture and it is likely to get worse over the course of the next year or so. The impact on our salesperson mindset is going to be extremely negative, unless we take steps now to bolster ourselves and prepare for “winter is coming”. Great advice, a wonderful homily, a passionate declamation or more hot air and by the way, so what? Here are a couple of tools to use to steady our mindset before the economic recession hits us like an avalanche: Live in “day-tight compartments”.We turn off the nagging worries and horrible memories of past recessions, which can paralyse us by stealing valuable energy from today. We know bad days are coming, we have seen this movie before, but we don’t allow our fears to impinge on what we can do today. We concentrate 100% of our time and energy to make things happen today. We investigate past recessions of a similar nature and we look for industries or firms who have managed to continue buying regardless. We may even have to get out of our industry and get a job in another which looks better able to withstand the assault of economic rationalism. If we are going to lose our source of remuneration anyway, it is better to choose the timing and get a job somewhere else. Professional salespeople are always in demand. Cooperate with the inevitable.Complaining, despairing, whining are all natural reactions to a coming recession, but none of them are much help. We are better to accept that we have no control over external forces like geo-political events, wars, global economic trends and instead think about what we can control. We can begin by contacting our current clients and find out what they are thinking about the future. Are they preparing by reducing expenditures or are they thinking this is an opportunity to expand? Your recession induced meltdown is my buying opportunity, your jettisoning of staff is my hiring chance, etc. Not every company is affected the same way and we need to know who is who and we need to be doing that right now. We also know that after the banks beat up companies by calling in their loans during the Lehmann shock, Japanese companies swore “never again” and they are well cashed up. There is a buffer there that didn’t exist during past oil shocks and recessions. What is the situation for your clients at the moment? Are they well protected by cash or are they nervous and about to start hacking into their investments and expenditures to shut things down? We need to know the lie of the land here, so we know who can continue to buy from us. I hope I am totally wrong and we don’t sink into a global recession. However, rather than wait for the morning news broadcasts to tell you what is happening, let’s all seize the moment and work on our frame of mind. We can control 100% of what we put into our brain and if we decide to, we can replace negative thoughts with more positive ideas. Let’s get our mindset ready for whatever may come at us and be prepared for a possible Armageddon and let's start today.
11 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
283: Package Up The Value In The Sale
Price conversations are a bad thing. Invariably, you are dragged into the mud and blood of comparisons with someone ridiculously cheaper. We get these requests – “send me your price sheet”. My ears prick up like a Dobermann when I hear those words, because I am mentally getting ready for trouble. I know a couple of things are happening here, none of which are good for me to make this sale happen. The buyer is possibly shopping the deal to get three quotes to keep the compliance department happy, so that they can award the deal to their already selected and much preferred, favourite provider. My job is to be used by the buyer, to pony up the necessary paperwork, so my rival can get all of the money. Another reason may be so that they can play all of the providers off against each other and fill in the matrix. Along the top they place the names of the suppliers and down the left hand column, they put in the names of the solutions they need. They populate the corresponding cells with the numbers of the respective pricings. The cheapest alternatives are quickly identified, you are too high and then are tossed on the scrap heap. Sometimes, the buyer will say “just send me the pricing” and you will try to resist. You want to meet with them online or in person, to fully understand what they need. You are doing what you should be doing, but they are not playing ball. They say, “send it”. My advice – send it and then completely forget about it. The chances of this going anywhere are almost zero, not fully zero, but pretty much indistinguishable from zero. Instead, spend your time finding people who want to share their issues with you, so that you can understand if you have a solution for them or not. They will be price focused and that is natural, because they have a spreadsheet somewhere for the P&L. This document has a set of numbers therein, which specifies how much they have allotted for the solution. Now here is the wonderful thing about the P&L – the whole thing is a fiction. Those numbers in those cells can be moved around with the clicking of a mouse and the pressing of a keyboard button. Rather than offer a price, offer a packaged solution. Let me give an example. You notice your competitors are getting revenues from an accommodation business. The target client is advertising the business, but you have no action with them. You have tried contacting someone down the food chain. All they said was “send me the pricing” and they didn’t want to meet with you. You have found the boss’s name but no email address. Being creative, you guess that the person at the bottom of the decision-making hierarchy has an email address which may be standard. What if you insert the boss’s name? It might work and get you access to the real decision-maker, the maestro of the P&L spreadsheet, who has the authority and means to move those numbers around. Great, but what are you going to offer them? You have a very desirable audience for their product, so that is a key prerequisite covered off. Rather than offering exposure with a hope of some take up and some minor sales, you do better than that. Your package is to create a contest, where the winners are able to stay in the accommodation as the prize. To enter the contest, the target audience have to give up their contact details. With their receipt, now there are concrete opportunities for the client to directly market to these highly valuable potential customers, who have raised their hand. To make the offer attractive, you give away five to ten accommodation prizes, so that target individuals do the mental math and work out they have a pretty good shot of winning and are activated to hand over their contact information. Being the accommodation business, there are always cases of product which is vacant, so there is only the cost of administration and cleaning to worry about, so a relatively low cost prize can be secured. The point is the package is the offer, rather than a single solution. We come to the big boss with a well thought out strategy for getting more business. The means to get that new business is through the tools you have on offer in the package. The decision to move some numbers around that P&L spreadsheet just got a whole lot easier for the big boss. “Send me the prices” is a losing proposition. We have to do better than that by responding by navigating our way further up the food chain, to the more savvy decision-makers who can recognise a great package when they see one. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck with people who can only say “no” and who can’t re-arrange the P&L expenditures. If this is where you are now, either get to the boss or find another potential client company, where you can get in front of the boss.
13 minutes | Mar 22, 2022
282: The Big Sales Audio Landgrab
“Greg, you are everywhere!”. I am often told this by business people here in Tokyo. What they mean is that I am prolific on social media, video and audio. Well, if you are in sales today and you are not prolific in promoting yourself, then what are you doing with your time? It is an old saw in sales that “it doesn’t matter how many people you know, it is more important how many people want to know you”. Fine, but how do you get that to work? Afterall, there are only so many people we can meet in a month and naturally, we want all of them to want to know us. The democratisation of social media and the free nature of the medium has changed many things in getting our reputation in front of many more people than we could ever physically meet in a month. I was always wary of social media. I didn’t trust the platforms, so I avoided them until December 2011. That year I made my first visit to San Diego in California to attend the Dale Carnegie International Convention. One of the speakers was Jeffrey Gitomer, published author and sales training guru. He was quite a character. He was wearing a bright red shirt that from memory had his name” Jeffrey” and “Sales Dept” embroidered on it. He was dressed like some guy who would be working at a gas stand pumping petrol. Dale Carnegie is a pretty conservative organisation, so he had been told to tone down the profanity, but what he said was shocking to me. He asked the one thousand plus attendees “how many twitter followers do you have?”. At that point he had over 30,000 and I had none. On the plane back to Tokyo, I was thinking about what he said, so I made my first sceptical foray into the social media platforms. I found Twitter didn’t suit me as much as Facebook and Linkedin, so I tended to concentrate there. I don’t post any personal stuff on these platforms. It is all business and I make sure none of it is controversial or embarrassing. Around 2012 I started publishing blogs on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and I am still doing that. I was also publishing articles in the American Chamber Journal and the Acumen magazine every month. The American Chamber Journal editor Roberto de Vido suggested to me that I should do a podcast. I asked him “what is a podcast? I can’t remember how, but I discovered this other American guy, Gary Vaynerchuk, popularly known as Gary Vee. Another character and this time plenty of profanity from Gary. He was interesting because he was combining reality TV, education and motivation together and was pumping out massive amounts of content. He taught me to multi-purpose my content. I could use the content for my blogs for the magazines to become the content for my podcasts. The first blog was published as a podcast called The Japan Leadership Series on August 2nd, 2014 on the topic “Flexible Japan-Stop Dreaming”. I was covering leadership, sales and presentations content in that one podcast. I started hearing that going deeper into niches was important, so I created two more podcasts called The Presentations Japan Series and The Sales Japan Series and started publishing podcasts on those specialities from November 3, 2016. In mid-2018 I read that Google would start using audio for search in addition to text. In the text world I was competing with millions, maybe billions of blogs. The audio podcast world was a bit less competitive. I already had three podcasts by that time, but I decided to strip out the audio from two of my YouTube TVs shows, The Cutting Edge Japan Business Show and the Japan Business Mastery Show and create podcasts. The Cutting Edge Japan Business Show first episode was on “Not Meeting the Leadership Challenge Is Quietly Killing Us” on August 18, 2019. The Japan Business Mastery Show came out on October 4th, 2019 on “Five Deadly and Dastardly Leader Misperceptions”. The next year I launched a new show called Japan’s Top Business Interviews where I interview CEOs and we talk about one topic – leading in Japan. The first episode was on June 6th, 2020 with Yasuaki Mori then CEO of Infinion Technologies Japan. What has been the upshot of all this effort and time? My personal branding has skyrocketed and I have a core of true fans who regularly follow the content. Because I am posting fresh and different content Monday to Saturday on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook I get people contacting me about training in Japan. I don’t do any paid promotion and just rely on organic search to find me. Yes, I get a lot of people trying to sell me sex, dodgy investments, various products and services too, but I just ignore those. For those who are genuinely interested in business in Japan, then they can judge the quality of what I offer by accessing my oeuvre. They can try before they buy. So are you having a Jeffrey Gitomer moment like I had in 2011? By the way, Jeffrey has 67,000 followers on LinkedIn and I have 26,000, so I am only 40% as good as he is, but for my niche, how many people have more than I do? How many people are accessing audio search on Google as well as I am? I have no idea, but what I do know is if you are in sales, your biggest problem is getting found. The text blog world is competitive and that means you are competing with seven million blogs a day. Podcasts are said to be over two million in number. I publish my podcasts using LibSyn and their numbers show the biggest group of podcasts are published on Apple Podcasts and that Japan originated podcasts are only about 1% of their total. If you broke that down to English language podcasts, the numbers could get very interesting. My point is I am punching way above my weight here and it is working. If you are in sales, what are you doing about being found?
13 minutes | Mar 15, 2022
281: Handling Post Purchase Mistakes
Even the best laid plans go astray. The sale has been completed, the funds have been paid and we get busy in our sales job moving on to help other clients. Another department may be tasked with handling the next steps with the client. It doesn’t matter who is doing the delivery of the solution, because if something goes wrong, the buyer expects us to fix it and to take accountability. In Japan we are their tanto, the designated person to handle this account and there are strong expectations about how we play that role. Being busy with other clients is of no interest to this client, because they expect us to be at their beck and call 24 by 7. If there has been some problems, minor or catastrophic, we have to get busy fixing them. So what should we do? Here are seven steps to handling post purchase problems for the buyer. Listen: We have to shut down all the noise going on in our brain and just concentrate on listening to them, when they tell us what they are unhappy about. Don’t react, argue, justify or cut the buyer off when they are talking. Just shut up and listen to what they are telling us, watch their body language and think about what they are not telling us. Don’t try and escape responsibility. Nothing annoys buyers more than when sellers try to avoid responsibility by shifting the blame to someone else. The buyer doesn’t care about that. As far as they are concerned “you are the firm”. Expect that the buyer can become quite emotional and upset. We can never know what is going on in the buyer’s firm. We may have done something which is burning their precious clients. We can’t be sure of what financial and political pressures they are under, how safe is their job, what grief they are getting from their boss, what is driving their emotional reaction. What we can do is stay calm in the full frontal gale of invective that is coming our way. Question: We should try and clarify exactly what is the problem? They may be spitting out every problem under the sun, but there will be some higher echelon issues which need to be worked on immediately and we need to know what they are, rather than trying to sift through every problem they are raising with us. We need to set this up, otherwise it may come across the wrong way. We say, “Thank you, just so I can make sure of what I need to do to fix this for you, can I just clarify the precise most immediate issue you are facing, to make sure I fully understand it?”. This may not be greeted with joy when they hear it, but stay calm and don’t say a word until they give you the answer. Cushion: After they have told you their hierarchy of issues, express your empathy for their problem. We are not agreeing or disagreeing with them at this point, but we are recognising how frustrating this is for them. They want to know we understand the ramifications of our errors and mistakes for their business. We need to assure them that we have a clear picture of the problem in its entirety. This cushion is just one sentence, as it is a bridge to our answer about what we are going to do. We have to be careful that we don’t jump in and start speaking before we are fully engaging our brain about what is the best reply, given the situation. The cushion buys us valuable thinking time. Address The Issue: Make a point of telling them that you are taking personal responsibility to fix this. They expect that, but it is good to state that you understand you are 100% accountable for the next steps. Do everything you can to resolve the issue. This may mean having to get the cooperation of other divisions, it may upset other people internally, it may mean you going to your boss to get help. Regardless of all of that, do whatever it takes fix it. Remember we are always thinking of the lifetime value of the buyer. You assure the buyer again and again, that you will make sure it gets fixed for them, as fast as possible. Test Question: After the issue has been fixed, you check in again to see if they are happy with your response. We may think we have done a sterling job, but what we think doesn’t matter because the buyer is the final arbiter of a successful solution, not us. Offer Additional Help: You ask if there are any remaining problems or any remaining issues which need further work from your side? There also may have been hidden areas of unhappiness that still have not been directly addressed and we need to flush them out, so that we can deal with them. Follow-up: If the solution takes some time, we must keep in contact with the buyer and give them frequent updates on progress. After a little time has passed, we reach out to the client to check if the previous resolution had proven satisfactory or not and see if there are any residual problems. This demonstrates our sincerity and customer care and because we are aiming for a lifetime partnership between our firms this is a key step to make sure that becomes a reality. Western CFOs do a mathematical calculation and work out that the most profitable way forward is to live with a defect rate of a certain percentage and just fix the problems when they arise. No Japanese buyer is going to put up with that, because they are operating on the basis of zero defects. The attitudes towards mistakes are a universe apart, so when problems do come up, we have to be ready to fix them in a way which satisfies the buyer because our brand is at risk here. In Japan having a bad reputation for quality control is the last thing you want.
12 minutes | Mar 8, 2022
The word “closing” itself can be controversial in sales. It implies we are ending the process rather than starting the partner relationship with the buyer. In modern times the word “commitment” from the buyer is often preferred. I am okay with both and I have chosen the word “closing”, simply because this is what most people can easily understand about this latter stage of the sales cycle. Closing doesn’t have to be something scary or any big deal. In fact, the less complicated we make it the better. There is a big difference between closing in Japan and in the US. When I listen to American sales trainers, I find their closing techniques are very forceful and direct. Well that just won’t work here in Japan, so we need a different approach. Let’s look at some non-aggressive closes, which are easy for clients to accept. Direct Question: We softly ask, “Shall we go ahead?’. This sounds natural after we have gone through the questioning process, the solution presentation process and the objection handling process. This is what the client would be expecting and if the trust and professionalism have been built, they will be happy to proceed. We ask in a gentle, non-threatening manner and in a collegiate way, because we are trying to become their partner to help them solve their problems. Alternate Choice Method: We give the buyer a choice of two options and either way, if they answer in the affirmative, it signals they are buying. This is a very indirect way of asking for the order. This works well because it moves the sales conversation along and provides the buyer with different options, which doesn’t feel pushy. We might ask, “Would you want the delivery in this month or is next month preferable?”. No matter which option they choose, we know it means they are happy to move forward. Minor Point Method: We direct the buyer’s attention to a minor decision they will have to make which is tied to the purchase. The big decision is to buy or not and we don’t have to go there. We can slip off to the side and ask for the business in a tangential, low friction way. For example, we can ask, “Will you require a hard copy of the receipt?”. This is a small thing, but it is only relevant if you intend to buy and that is what we are trying to work out – are they ready to buy or is there some obstacle remaining which we have to clear. Next-Step Method: In this method we project past the sale and seek a decision from the buyer. This is a future decision they have to take after the purchase, which they probably haven’t even thought about yet. By flagging this decision now, we are projecting into the post purchase phase of the buying cycle. We could ask, “Shall we schedule the first follow-up post-installment inspection for next quarter or for the quarter after that?”. Again, if they are not interested in buying, then they will tell us because this post-purchase decision is pointless, if they are not actually going to buy. Opportunity Method: This is presenting the client with the opportunity to gain a benefit which has a time limit attached to it. They can only gain that benefit if they can move fast enough. This is the last “little black dress” close we often run into as consumers when we are out shopping for ourselves. “This is the last tie in that pattern, so you should buy it” now psychology. In business we may say something like, “Shipping costs have gone up and they will be reflected in our pricing from the end of the following month. If you can make the purchase now, you will avoid those extra charges. Are you able to make that schedule?”. We are bringing some subtle pressure on the buyer to make a decision whether they will buy or not. Weighing Method: This is a visual method of helping clients to make a decision if they are stuck and can’t move. We take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line right down the middle. On the right, we list up all of the reasons to make the purchase. We help the buyer with our suggestions. On the left, we let them list up all the reasons not to make the purchase. We leave it to them to come up with the reasons. At the end of the exercise the list on the right is much more substantial than the one on the left. So we say, “it seems obvious which is the best decision, don’t you think”, and we lead them to agree to buy from us. Some people think we shouldn’t just support the positives of the decision and that we should help with the negatives as well, in order to be perceived as objective. I get enough negativity already from buyers, so I probably wouldn’t go that route, but I mention it here as it may suit your style. So here we have six very soft techniques for finding out if we are getting anywhere with this sales conversation or not. If we get push back we should welcome it. The danger is no feedback and no agreement, because mentally they have put a line through us as a supplier and they are just waiting for the meeting to end. We need to know where we stand with this purchase and these questions will certainly get us there and do it in a context which Japanese buyers will be happy with.
10 minutes | Mar 1, 2022
279: Painting a Word Picture Of Why They Should Buy Now
The sales cycle is a simple progression to get the client to the point of purchase. We have established rapport and trust. We have asked intelligent questions to understand how we can help them. We have come up with a great solution to solve their issues. We may have pre-empted all of their objections, but that doesn’t mean they are going to give us a “yes”. Before we get to the point of asking for their agreement for the deal to go ahead, we need to set up the request. We have to remember that while the sales cycle may be important to us, as sales professionals, they are not focused on the process. They are concentrated solely on the outcomes. We can tell them the solution in very simple terms. This may satisfy some degree of their logical mind requirements, but it may not be enough. We need to be moving up into high persuasion mode and this is where word pictures can play a powerful role. We can outline a future state of supreme satisfaction, a bright future which resonates with the buyer. We want to have them see in their mind’s eye, the future situation in the company, as they begin to enjoy our solution. That word picture has to engage the emotions. Previously they had told us the main reason why they needed a solution in the first place. We need to wrap our solution up in those same terms. They also told us what it means to them personally. We have to loop back and create word picture about how happy they will be personally when the deal delivers the solution outcomes which they told us were important to them. The word picture is to paint the scene of all the benefits the solution brings. It also has to describe the emotional engagement of everyone who is going to be touched by the solution. Especially the person we are talking to. For example, “Imagine this scene. You are in the office and your boss is smiling at you and shaking your hand and your colleagues are all surrounding you patting you on the back. Everyone is smiling and they are really appreciating your contribution to securing the team goals. Times have been tough and everyone has been suffering. However, your decision to ramp up the marketing effort by using more video and in the process creating a video hit, has exploded the lead flow for the team. The product has now become top of mind for the buyers and the sales team are witnessing their job become so much easier. The offers are flowing in, the phones are ringing and the whole operation is buzzing with activity. Your boss is able to report stellar results to the senior directors in the company and she is appreciating your marketing efforts which made that possible. You mentioned to me your hope for a big bonus and now that is becoming a reality, as the company rewards your efforts to grow revenues. A promotion is in the offing”. This is not the type of construction you want to be engineering on the spot. This word picture needs to be built piece by piece, based on what you have been told to date. Before you get to the point of making the solution explanation, you need to have this whole scene in your mind. Usually, in Japan, there is a break between hearing the needs of the buyer and then coming back with your solution proposal. This gives you the time to work on crafting this word picture for when you offer the solution part of the sales cycle. The word picture explanation needs to be practiced, so that is comes it as smooth as silk with no mumbling, hesitations or stumbling over the words. That requires rehearsal and repetition. It will seem effortless to the buyer but it takes a lot of effort to polish the word picture to a point of perfection ready for the delivery. The impact of the word picture will be in direct correlation to the strength of the questioning component of the sales cycle. If you didn’t dig deep enough on what success means for the buyer, especially personally, then the word picture can fall a bit flat. We don’t want to be talking at a high level here. We want to be as granular as possible based on what we have previously heard from the buyer. If we can feed back some of their own words and means of expression, all the better. It will make it that much easier for them to relate to what they are hearing. We want them to take action and that means either stopping what they are doing now or doing something new. Neither of these items are easy to get a buyer to embrace. The better composed our word picture of their future satisfaction with our solution, the easier it is for them to say “yes” and to say “yes” right now.
12 minutes | Feb 22, 2022
278: Four Powerful Japanese Mindsets For Sales
Sales is a battle. Not a battle with the buyer, although sometimes it feels like that when they won’t purchase from us. The war is going on inside our own heads. We have imposter syndrome telling us we are not good enough to do the job, even when we have some modicum of success. We have the reverberation of negative self talk, telling us we are useless, when we fail to meet the sale’s quota. The clients are beating us up on price, the sales manager is beating us up on results. The vast majority of the time spent in sales sees us failing, being constantly rejected, losing revenues, losing clients, losing opportunities. This is the battleground for our thoughts. This year is my 51st year training in traditional karate and so let’s draw on four mindsets which are central to success in battle. Shoshin – the beginner’s mind Our mindset when learning new skills is incredibly open. We are keen, flexible, adaptable and hungry to improve. We were like this when we first started in sales or when we started selling a new range of products or services for the first time. As time progressed and our knowledge improved, our mindset shifted from how much can I learn, to how little can I do for the same result. We are now looking for corners to cut, time to be saved, energy to be conserved. We are busy people, so much of this makes sense, but as part of the package we also carry our bad habits around with us. Some of those corners should not be cut, some of that time and energy should be deployed not saved. Each financial year we start again. Let’s reinvigorate our beginner’s mind and go back to the basics of sales. Let’s purge ourselves of the barnacle like bad habits which have attached themselves over the last year. The beginner’s mind helps us to go back to zero and look at the whole picture again, in a fresh way. “Knowing what I know now, how would I do things differently?”, is a genius level question, to help us get the success we seek. Using the shoshin mindset, let’s start again and re-set our sales skills, philosophy and actions. Mushin – the mind of no mind In karate training, my instep would land on the side of my opponent’s temple, before I knew it. This was the product of thousands of repetitions of that kick, so that the neuron grooving was so well accomplished, the action took place without conscious thought. That is a state of mushin, which in the West we call “flow”. In sales, we know our process so well, we can guide the buyer to the right decision, without having to think what to say and when to say it. What comes out of our mouth is effortless, confident, intelligent and perfect for that moment. Clients have precise, internal radar for risk. Salespeople who stumble and fumble for words or are not articulate, trigger flashing red warning lights and piercing sirens to go off in the buyer’s mind. The sales conversation wanders all over the place, but the professional salesperson keeps shepherding the flow back to the next stage of the sales cycle to keep the deal on track. The outside appears calm and the inside is calm too, because the salesperson is in flow and doesn’t have to scramble for what to say next. Like those many roundhouse kicks, this is the product of thousands of repetitions in role play practice with colleagues and in actual buyer conversations, such that the words appear without conscious thought. Zanshin – the remaining mind In Karate, the blow is delivered and then we exercise supreme vigilance, with no relaxation in concentration, remaining completely focused on the opponent. In sales, we need to stay focused on the client after the sale. The temptation though is to move on to the next client. This makes sense from an efficiency point of view, but is it really effective? If we see the relationship in partnership terms, we want to stay close with that buyer. We want the reorder, the upsell, the cross sell, the referral. None of that happens by accident or good fortune. We have built the trust and we have to stay with the client, constantly keeping in touch, rather than just moving on to the next target. We all know it is much cheaper and easier to sell more to an existing client, than it is to go out and acquire a completely new client. Keeping in close contact with an existing client, after they have purchased, takes time and energy and we can be tempted to move on. Keep the zanshin mindset at the forefront of how you deal with buyers and the rewards are long term and well worth it. Fudoshin – the immovable mind One of the toughest drills in karate training is to have your back heel against a wall and then face a continuous series of attacks, one after another, from your training partners. They get a break and don’t tire, but you don’t have that luxury, as wave upon wave of lightening fast blows are rained down on you. Rejections in sales are debilitating. Five tough rejections in a row, when cold calling, sees most salespeople giving up. Your lovely client buying from your competitors hurts. People you know well, who don’t contact you when they need your product or service, buying it from somewhere else is agonisingly painful. Sales can feel ferocious at times. We need an immovable mindset, where we won’t crack, give up, wilt or surrender in sales. Harden up everyone and keep going, no matter what. Your back is against the wall and you have to keep going regardless. Mindset decides everything in sales. The good part is we get to choose the mindset. Consider these four Japanese warrior mindsets as metaphors for sales success – no matter how hard it gets.
12 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
277: The Salesperson's Time, Treasure and Talent
Sales is such a rollercoaster. You have a good month or a good quarter then you hit a wall. Clients change their mind, something happens to the supply chain beyond your control and the order get cancelled. You usually cannot control the quality of the solution being delivered and someone else in the organisation doesn’t do their job professionally enough and you suffer. We do have total control though over our time, talent and treasure. Are we making the most of this control? Time is the most expensive asset for any salesperson. Where you spend your time determines everything. I deal with many different suppliers and potential suppliers as a client. I notice that very few firms are good at follow-up. We know that finding a new client is vastly more expensive and difficult that extending the purchase profile of an existing client. We also know that most salespeople give up after three rejections when cold calling. Given we know all of this, you would think that a good portion of a salesperson’s time would be allocated to keeping in touch with buyers. Trying to stay top of mind with a buyer takes a lot of effort and time, but if your competitor isn’t doing it, then you are more likely to win. I am going to translate my book Japan Presentations Mastery into Japanese. The firm I have chosen is a good example of sustained follow-up. They met me at a networking event a couple of years ago, but have kept in touch. They are top of mind. I am busy, so it is an easy decision to use them, because I know them already and I don’t have to run around trying to drink from the firehose of all possible translation service providers. We know our clients are always time poor, so this is the type of mental equation they are applying too, so we need to make the decision as easy as possible for them. The time they have invested in me is going to mean a deal for them that others won’t get. What are we doing with our time? Do we have good systems of follow-up, can we keep track of all of our potential clients, can we automate the process so that no matter how busy we become it gets done? It is no good putting them on the weekly email blast list and imagining that you are top of mind. Your weekly email is probably sitting in their junk mail or clutter list or they may have written to your marketing department to take their name off the distribution list and no one has told you that. We need to invest our time wisely and keep in in touch with potential buyers, lapsed buyers and existing buyers has to be a top priority. Talent is time bound. If you are a master of selling via fax machines then you are not going to be selling much, because technology has moved on. Are you a master of content marketing and using social media to sell yourself? Are you laying a breadcrumb trail back you through business social media posts which highlight your knowledge and capability? Are you comfortable in front of the video camera as you create content for free which gets pushed out through all the channels to attract buyers or to build greater credibility? The flip side of all of this is getting known has never been easier. Okay, it is not easy, but it is easier than twenty years ago. We didn’t have these tools before to project ourselves globally and locally. Having the skills required for the sale is a given, although so many salespeople don’t have the basics under control as yet. In this modern deluge of free information and availability of access to the best minds on any subject, how could that possible be? Back in 1939 Dale Carnegie opened up public classes for salespeople. At that time, if your company provided sales training then you got trained or you had to work it out by yourself. By providing open public classes any salesperson could access the highest level of sales training. All they had to do was spend a microscopic part of their treasure to pay for it. Fast forward to today and the same things apply. If your own company doesn’t provide sales training or very good sales training, then invest in yourself and go access it. Do the top salespeople stop learning? Do they stop buying the videos, audio sets, podcasts and books? They are the top people because they never stop investing in themselves, so that they can stay current with whatever the market throws at them or whatever technological shifts upset the apple cart. The critical other piece of the puzzle is that they not only spend their treasure on educating themselves, they apply what they have learnt, then customise it and refine it further to suit their particular situation. Time is our greatest asset as salespeople and we must maximise its power. We have talent but the world keeps changing so we need to keep re-inventing ourselves and adding to our talent bank. We have access to an immeasurable amount of free information on selling and we have the best of the best, providing their ideas and insights, if we pony up some treasure. It has never been a better time in history than to be in sales today. Let’s seize this opportunity and go for it.
12 minutes | Feb 8, 2022
276: Becoming a Master of Handling Objections
Objections are good. That sounds a bit counterintuitive I know, because what we actually want is to land a deal and an objection seems to be an obstacle preventing that from happening. There is a process for dealing with objections and we need to be disciplined to follow it every time and not be derailed by our emotions. When we get an objection, our automatic response is to argue with the buyer and tell them why they are wrong. How has arguing with the buyer been going for you? Not too good I would reckon. Even if you win the argument, the battle, you won’t get the order and therefore can’t win the war, if I can use that metaphor. We need a better process than this. Cushion. Instead we need to go to our cushion - a statement that is neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the buyer. Placing a cushion between what they have just said and what we are going to say is critical. We are all the creatures of our habits and if our habit has been to jump right in and correct the client about how wrong they are, the chances are high we will keep doing that until the end of time. The cushion is a circuit breaker to tell our brain “hey genius, don’t argue with the client”. The cushion buys us valuable thinking time to come up with the right response to any objection and there is only one response needed, so if we can stop ourselves defending our solution for a minute, we can start to get somewhere regarding landing this deal. Why. What do I mean when I say there is only one response needed? This sounds a bit bolshie doesn't it. The first words out of our mouth after hearing the objection are critical. We should always ask ever so sweetly, “may I ask you why you say that?”. Now they have to justify the objection they came up with. Sometimes I use the metaphor of being thrown a porcupine, bristling with all of those sharp quills, when we get an objection. We have to throw that porcupine right back to the buyer by asking the question “why An objection is like the headlines in the morning newspaper. They are a very short form of conveying a much longer and complex story. We have to train ourselves not to react to the headline. Before we say anything, we want to know the full story. We want much more information, so that we know which way we should answer the objection. Clarify. Once we have received more information, we need to double check what we have heard is the main problem. We ask clarifying questions by saying, “Thank you. So, as I understand it, your chief concern is…?”. It is still not that easy to understand the real problem, so that is why we need to keep checking what is the core issue. Cross-Check. Sadly buyers don’t always share the thing that is troubling them the most. They may tell us some minor point, just to get rid of us more easily and not get into a big discussion. We want that big discussion, because we want the sale. Visualize an iceberg and the tip of the iceberg is what they tell us, but hidden under the waterline lies the real problem, which they are not sharing with us. So, we need to say, “Thank you. So in addition to “X” are there any other things which are of concern to you?”. We just keep repeating this, until they have run out of concerns. Usually we can get there in three or four attempts. We ask them, “You have mentioned X,Y and Z as areas of concern. May I ask you which of these is the highest priority for you?” We need to know which concern is the deal breaker, because if we can fix that problem for them, there is a strong possibility all the other concerns will just fall away. Reply. Now that we have established the main concern, we answer it and try and satisfy their concern. If it is an incorrect statement or fake news such as “I heard your company is going bankrupt”, then we will Deny it and offer proof that what we are saying is incorrect. If it is true, we will Agree. Don’t try and justify the unjustifiable – you are just shredding your credibility. If you have had some quality issues then admit it and tell them what you have done to fix that problem. It may be a deal breaker that we cannot overcome, so fair enough and we should zip out of there and find someone we can help, wasting no more time pushing a piece of string around. In some cases, we may Reverse the logic and use the concern as the reason to buy. For example, if we take a little longer than others to deliver the solution, we can reverse it and say that “the extra time is due to our quality control system ensuring that there is no rework needed and that this ultimately saves more time because rework is a totally disruptive pain, best avoided”. Trial Commitment. We need to check whether what we have explained gets rid of that objection or not? A trial close can be as simple as, “how does that sound so far?”. If we have answered the main objection, but there are still other major objections, then we need to repeat the process until we get to a stage where they can buy. Welcome objections because if there are no objections, questions, or hesitations it could be because they have already eliminated us as a potential solution provider and are just waiting to get to their next meeting. Better to know that early and get on our bike and go find a real buyer.
12 minutes | Feb 1, 2022
275: Listening Skills
Today, we are going to talk about the importance of listening for salespeople. That might sound ridiculous. You might be thinking, “Well, of course I listen to the buyer”. I can assure you my wife often complains that I am not listening to her, so we may be deluding ourselves as to what level of world champion listener we actually are. You might be thinking, “well listening to my partner may have a few flaws, but I am a legend when listening to people who can pay money and buy from me”. We think we are listening, but are we really listening? Are we listening for what is not being said. Are we listening with our eyes? If you have ever lived in a country where you don’t speak the language or don’t speak it well, your senses, especially your eyes, become so attuned to communication through body language and tone etc. When we are capable in the language we get lazy, especially if it is our native language. Let’s go deep on understanding if we are a good enough listener or not. There are five levels of listening. Ignore You might be saying to yourself, “wait a minute, I never ignore the client when they are speaking”. Is that true though? The client may say something that triggers a strong thought in our mind. We are now diverted from what they are saying, to what we are thinking. We are now seized on some vital point we need to make back to them, given what they have just said. In effect, we are no longer paying full attention to them because we are consumed by our own thoughts. Fundamentally, whatever they are now saying has drifted off into the mist and we are fixated on this key point we are bursting to make. 2. Pretend. In this case we are nodding our head and looking like we are concentrating, but we may not be really taking in what we are being told. I am reminded of that Robert Palmer song lyric from his hit “Addicted to Love” about “the lights were on, but you’re not home”, meaning your eyes are open, but you are not listening to me. Again, our mind may be working on what we are going to say. We may have been given an indication from the client on something that interests them and we are getting ready to tell them all about it. Or if we hear something that sounds like buyer resistance. We are now mentally getting our evidence ready to go into battle with the client. We are playing out the conversation we are about to have in our mind and have left participating in the one happening right at this moment. Come on – admit it – you have done this during a sales call. I know I have. 3. Selective Salespeople have a highly tuned ability to hear buying signals and key information. Our listening skills are directed only to hear a “yes” or a “no” and nothing else. There may be key information attached to that “yes” or “no” but we are not listening for that. We are filtering what we hear, according to our interests. Effectively we are only partially listening to the client. We do this because we have to be efficient. That is a good thing, efficiency, but are we being effective? Japanese is a good language for salespeople. It forces you to hear the client out because the verb comes right at the end of the sentence. You don’t know if it is a positive, negative, past tense, future tense or present tense statement until the very end of what they are saying. In English, the verb pops up in the middle of the sentence, so we can start blasting away with our reply manufacturing process while they are still talking. We often hear a “yes” or a “no” and we just dump everything else waiting for a break in the traffic, so we can jump in. There may be vital information coming after that indication which we are ignorant of, because we have jumped the gun on our reply formation process. 4. Attentive In this case we are giving the client our full attention. We are not filtering for buying signs or resistance. We are not interrupting the buyer. We are paraphrasing back to them what we heard. We are not thinking what we are going to say, because we are fully absorbed by what they are saying. 5. Empathetic This is the highest form of listening, where we are listening with our eyes as well as our ears. We are reading what is going on behind the words. We are conscious of what is not being said and we are listening to the tone of how we are being told the information. We are trying to “meet the buyer in the conversation going on in their mind”. So, how did you score your listening skills when talking to buyers? Could you do a better job of listening? I think I should do a lot more with my listening skills starting with my wife! It will be a good practice for listening to buyers during my sale’s calls.
12 minutes | Jan 25, 2022
274: Our Solution Provision
After having asked the buyer a lot of questions about their current situation and where they want to be, we know if we can help them or not. It isn’t a given that we can. Only we will know if we have the right solution for them. We could provide a wrong or partial solution. The client will not however get the outcomes they need. Yes, we grab the dough in the short term, but our business reputation will get slammed and our trust quotient out in the marketplace will be eclipsed. We must always keep in mind that a deal is a deal, but reputation and trust are permanent assets. If we cannot provide the right solution, then we should tell the client we cannot help them. There is a cadence for us to follow when presenting the solution for the client’s problem. We go through five phases: we cover the facts, benefits, the application of the benefits, provide concrete evidence and then do a trial close. Facts: Salespeople often never get beyond this first level, explaining the facts, data, features and the spec associated with the solution. They get bogged down in the micro detail. Now these details are important because we have to provide the buyer with confidence that what we are saying will work. These facts have to be provable and we need hard evidence to back them up. Often the buyer will pull us into the morass of the micro detail, because they are analytical personality types and love the numbers. However, we have to remember that the buyer is not buying the process. They are buying the outcome from the process. Benefits: Having explained the details of how the process works and the features of our solution, we need to describe the benefits. What does this feature provide in the way of results for the buyer? What will be different and what will be better as a result of buying our solution? A certain weight, colour, dimension, process etc., are just details. They do not do anything by themselves, until they are linked to the outcomes the buyer is seeking. If the details don’t deliver what the buyer needs, then we are having the wrong discussion. The content of our description of the solution and what it will do for the client, has to line up perfectly with what they require. Applications: We know that knowledge by itself isn’t as important as the application of the knowledge. So it is with applying the benefits of our solution. We need to go into detail of what the solution will mean for the buyer’s company. What things will it help eliminate, what things will it help expand, what will it improve? Again, having an inert benefit is meaningless. What happens inside the buyer’s business when that benefit is applied to their enterprise. This is where the “rubber meets the road”, as we say. What will be different after we have applied our solution? What can they see on a daily basis that will help them to do even better than before? This explanation process is absolutely critical. It works extremely well if we have fully understood their business, the market in which they operate and where they are in relation to their competitors. Evidence: Just because a salesperson says so, doesn’t mean the buyer believes it. This is where we need to be able to refer to where this same solution has benefited a similar company, in a similar situation, in a similar industry. The closer we can get the example we are using to the buyer’s reality, the more convincing the example becomes. This is an important stage, as it will give the buyer more confidence that we know what we are doing, have done this before and have achieved good results. Every company is specific, so there will always be differences with the comparison company. This is where storytelling comes in, as we bring the drama of the solution to life. We tell the tale of what happened in our example, through the people involved. Trial Close: Once we have gone through these stages, we test whether the client has understood what we have said. We try to flush out any hesitations or objections, so that we can deal with them. It isn’t a complex step – we just ask, “how does that sound so far?” and then shut up and wait for their answer. That question is enough to find out where we are in the Sales Cycle and whether we can ask for the order. We should never fear objections or clarifications. We should fear the opposite. If they don’t say anything, then start to worry. It may be that they don’t care, because they have already deleted our solution as a possibility. Objections, questions etc., shows interest. This allows us to add more pinpoint proof to how our solution will help them achieve their desired outcomes. These steps are all required and required in this order to convince the client to buy. The conversation is unlikely to be this neatly ordered, however we must keep the discussion on track and address each of these points in this cadence to be successful and get the business.
13 minutes | Jan 18, 2022
273: The Sales Questioning Model
Do you have a sales questioning model? Is there a journey you want the buyer to complete? Do you have questions organised which will lead them along that path? Or are you all over the place, following your “muse” instead? Surprisingly, a lot of salespeople have very little structure in their sales meetings with buyers. Why would that be the case? They may be untrained in sales. They may be constantly winging it. Or they may have a partial system, because they won’t be shackled by any system and want to be a free bird, to fly in whatever direction the sales conversation goes. This is ridiculous. We don’t have unlimited time with the buyer and we have tons of competitors offering similar solutions. We have to get to a quick understanding of the buyer’s needs and then come up with a solution that perfectly matches what they need. Having a plan around asking the required questions is the most efficient and effective methodology and we should all be doing that as close to “genius” levels as possible. The questions we need to ask have a cadence, a logical order, a flow. Usually, the process never gets completed in the order we are setting out here today, simply because buyers will pull the conversation in different directions. That is fine. We cannot predict what the buyer will say or will ask or what segues they will pursue. That is why having a questioning model is vital. We need to keep the conversation on track, that is to say, the track of our choosing and get to a purchase result. There are four questions in this model, none of which are complex or difficult. As-Is Questions. These are aimed at establishing the base line. What has the client been doing so far and how have the results been? What is the situation within the organisation at the moment? What are they doing that works and what hasn’t been working well enough? Sometimes, the client will start telling us where they want to be. That is fine, but we need to find out where they are so we can gauge the distance between these two points. Should Be Questions: Clients have goals and aims. They might be focused on strategic or financial outcomes depending on who we are talking to, but they will have them. They may be published in the annual report or they may be secret. Nevertheless we need to know what they are, so we can measure against them as to whether we can help them achieve their goals or not. At this point, we also need to ask some Implication Questions. The point of an implication question is to cast doubt in the buyer’s mind about whether they can get to their goal by themselves or get there fast enough or get there cost effectively enough. It is key to always include time factors with implication questions. They may get to where they want to be, if it takes 100 years. They usually don’t have a hundred years, so we need to draw out the downside of taking too long to get their solution working for them. In the last episode, we looked at the buyer’s gap – the difference between where they are now and where they want to be. If the buyer feels that gap is so close they can get there under their own resources, then we are not needed. Some implication questions could be , “if things stay the way they are, will you be able to reach your goals and targets fast enough?”, “What happens if you don’t meet your goals in the time frame needed?”, “How big is the downside of being beaten by the competition or not being able to contend with a shift in the market?”. The Change Questions: The client knows where they are now and where they need to be. The obvious question is to ask why they are not where they need to be? This is such a critical question. In their answer may be our rationale for being able to help them. Maybe we have the thing they cannot do by themselves or which they cannot do fast enough. The Implication Question here is whether the inability to make the necessary changes will ultimately damage the business? They know what they need to do and just delaying it is not improving the situation, because the market waits around for no one. Taking no action is not cost free. There are always opportunity costs of no action and we need to highlight these, because we want them to use us to fix their issues. Payout Questions. What is in it for this buyer personally, if the project goes well? The company expects them to get results and they need to produce outcomes. We need to know what those internal pressures are on the buyer. Once we know what is at stake, we can get to work to help them achieve their goals and we can frame what we are going to achieve for them in those terms. We can also ask the Implication Question of what happens if they are not able to produce the results the company expects? This requires high communication skills and must be done very diplomatically. We might ask, “In the worse case scenario, what would be the personal impact for you, if this issue cannot be fixed fast enough?”. The point is to get them thinking we are here to help them to be successful and that we want to help them achieve their desired outcomes. We need intelligent questions to find out if we can hep the buyer and if we can, then how should we help them. We need their private company information to do that and questions are the tool to access that key data. Without it, we are operating in the dark and have no idea what they need and what we need to do for them. The result will be “no sale” and can’t have that can we!
13 minutes | Jan 11, 2022
272: Shoshin - The Beginner's Mind
The word shoshin or beginner’s mind in Japanese is a great metaphor for the world of sales. When we start some activity there is a simplicity, a purity about what we are doing. We don’t have enough information or experience to have any particular angles on what we are looking at. We take things as they are and we have no delusions about how they should be. We have no habits yet, because the activity is too fresh and new. There are no habits to unwind either, because we are deep into trying to grasp what we are supposed to be doing. We are hungry to master this activity and we are dedicating our mental and physical efforts to do so. We are committed to getting it right. This is a great mind set to help us improve, to polish what we are doing and to tackle new things. In sales, we are always under pressure from numbers, boss expectations, threats of removal and financial doom. One year can easily morph straight into the next, with a brief cessation of hostilities over the new year holidays. We were beaten down and tired over the course of the previous year and are slightly refreshed as we enter the new year. We tend to bring all of our baggage from the previous year with us though, especially our mindset. We just pick up where we left off and we are not elevating our chances of success in this year. If we grasp the shoshin concept, we will take a close look at what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve and what needs to happen for us to be successful. We will begin to break down the various tasks required into their component parts and analyse our strengths and weaknesses. We will investigate how we can build those strengths even further and look to what we need to alter to diminish our weaknesses. Why aren’t we doing this constantly throughout the year? The answer is very simple – we are too busy running on the spot. We are constantly chasing the numbers, trying to slam square pegs into round holes and permanently stressed. The break at new year is a great time to reconsider how we are doing things and what things we should stop doing and which things we should start doing. This sounds simple enough, except that we don’t do it. Each component of the sales cycle needs to be interrogated for where we can improve. Are we asking for enough referrals or at all? Can we be more proactive this year? We know we should never ask in a dumb way such as “do you know anyone….”. This opens up the entire world to our client and they are crushed by the enormous weight of that consideration. We need to ask about a group of faces they can see in their mind’s eye. It might be members of the Chamber of Commerce they belong to or their golf group or their friends or associates. If we have given good service to them as a salesperson, we have every right to ask for a referral and we shouldn’t be shy about it. When we started in sales we had no hesitation to ask, but over the years of constant rejections and being beaten down on price by buyers, we have become constrained in our thinking. On another front, are we following up leads fast enough? Two hours is deemed as the window of opportunity to contact a client when they enter the lead funnel. Maybe they clicked on a search word and were directed to your website and then signed up for a newsletter or something where they gave up their contact details. Is the internal system able to deliver their details to you within that two hour time frame and are you sufficiently motivated to drive this lead followup to the peak of your priorities? When you got your first leads, you were a demon on speed to do the followup, you were like a rocket to get hold of that client. Over the years you may have gotten into a lope and forgotten how to sprint hard to grab the business. Go back to your beginner’s mindset and remember how you used to approach things. Are you doing enough research on the company and the buyer before you contact them? Were you an avid detective when you first started selling, trying to unearth as much information as possible on the target company before you made the call? How about now? Has complacency set in and you feel you don’t need to do that anymore, because you can wing it and you are too lazy or too busy to do the work? If you have been selling for a while you have seen the emergence of unbelievable engines of client search called social media. Even if there are no annual reports available because they are not a listed company, the chances are high they will have a company website or multiple social media accounts. Before we meet the buyer, we can know so much more about them. We are looking for connectors, commonalities to break that wall between us, so we can build the credibility and trust. What a wonderful age in which to be a salesperson. Let’s re-create that shoshin, beginner’s mind for this year and get back to doing the things we know we need to be doing, but which we have let slide. Let’s get our mindset right while our competitors drag their sorry selves into 2022 and change nothing. We can use our shoshin to get an unfair advantage over our rivals and make this the best year possible for ourselves.
13 minutes | Jan 5, 2022
271: The Smart Salesperson's Secret New Year's Resolution
In 2022, let’s all commit to asking more intelligent questions of buyers. For those who don’t ask questions, because they are too busy delving into the micro details of the solution, this will be a major change for the better. How on earth can you know if the solution you are promoting is the right fit for the client’s problems, if you haven’t clearly established what the real problems are? Rather than going through the charade of guessing what the best solution should be, we take the time to find out precisely what they need. In Japan, if the leap straight into solution provision is because you are afraid of the buyer’s reaction to questions, then we need to work on how to get around that issue. The answer is question design. Just jumping into detailed questions can be an abrupt turn of events for a buyer, who is meeting the salesperson for the first time. If some stranger started asking detailed questions about the inner workings and problems in your marriage, you would be aghast. Keep this metaphor in mind, because this is close to what we are doing in sales. We are trying to ask questions to find out what are the problems facing this buyer. Probing questions about the firm’s failings may trigger an alarm in their mind about the danger of sharing confidential information with a stranger. They may become reluctant to do so, because the trust is not there yet. Suddenly we are only getting to the tip of the iceberg issues. Even if we think we have solutions for those problems, we still are not addressing the more important hidden concerns of the buyer. The first question we need to design is how to get permission to access very sensitive insider company information. We need to set this up early in the sales conversation. The 3WBigMaybe structure works well in this stage of the conversation. The first “W” is to explain WHO we are. For example, in my case, I would say, “we are softs skills training experts specialising in deep learning sustainment techniques, so that the training sticks”. I have packed a lot into that short sentence, including a strong USP or Unique Selling Proposition, about the training not fading away after the classes are over. The next “W” is WHAT we have done for a similar company in the same business and market. We need to pick another client very similar to this one, so that they feel the success will also be relevant for them too. The third “W” is WHEN we did it. If the example was ten years ago or five years ago, this client may feel that so much has changed in that time, that the example is broken and not relevant. The BigMaybe comes immediately after the Who, What, When structure. We haven’t asked any detailed questions yet about the client’s situation, so we actually have no idea if what we are offering will fix their issues or not. So the next step is to be very strategic in what we say. After having outlined what we did for another client, very similar to them, we say, “Maybe we can do the same thing for you. I am not sure. But in order for me to know if it is possible or not, would you mind if I asked you a few questions?”. Clients are cautious about big talking, pushy salespeople. By using a very soft word like “maybe’, we are signaling we are not like those other aggressive, thrusting salespeople and instead are focused on the client’s needs. One key thing to always keep in mind though is, that once you have asked for their permission to ask questions, do not say one more word. Let it hang there forever if necessary. Don’t be tempted by the tension in the air to add more explanation or say any more about it. You have been succinct and clear, so let them answer you. This asking for permission to ask questions isn’t 100% percent guaranteed to get a “yes” and maybe the buyer forces us to go into our pitch. That is almost guaranteed to lead nowhere and we will do it knowing that the chances of a sale are much reduced. The percentage of clients who force this upon us though, will be very small in the big scheme of things, so we should always start with getting permission to ask questions. Now that we have their permission to ask questions, we can investigate where they would like to be, why they haven’t gotten there already and what would success look like for them. These are very straightforward questions, however the key is to wrap them up in the implications of not taking action right now. Having a need and doing something about it are not the same thing. This is where we have to ask questions in a very intelligent way, helping them to understand the opportunity cost of leaving things as they are now. The latter is always the easiest choice for buyers and the worst result for salespeople. Preparing for the opportunity cost discussion takes good planning and good data, in order to make the case appear overwhelming for taking action right now. Intelligent questions build trust with buyers and leads them to willingly provide the information we need, in order to be able to help them. Making no permission request to ask questions says, we are not smart. No questions at all and just moving straight in the pitch says, we are not smart. Having no well designed implication questions says, we are not smart. Buyers don’t want to deal with dumb salespeople, so we have to get busy on the basics again, as we start 2022.
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