Archives for September 2013

WHAT MY CATS TEACH ME ABOUT SELLING

Kitties mailchimpMy 8 year old orange tabby brothers, Frankie and Flynnie, show me a lot about life—and I realized recently that they also teach me a lot about selling.

PURR SELLING
Here is some of their wisdom:

1. Always purr. It makes everyone feel good—especially the person who is purring. Being good to people helps us feel good about ourselves and makes us happy. Let yourself truly enjoy people’s company, whether or not they buy. Sometimes Frankie just sits on my desk, right next to the keyboard, about 18 inches from my face, and purrs. I invite him onto my lap, but he’s quite content just to sit there, b-r-r-r-ing away.

2. Be ready with a quick leg rub or a gentle head bump. We all like a little validation and affection. Don’t wait for a good reason to give people acknowledgement or compliments. We can overdo this, just as Flynnie sometimes overdoes head bumps, but better to be a little generous than a little stingy.

3. We don’t need words to communicate, for better or for worse. People know where we are without being told, and whether or not they can articulate it. They sense how we feel about them, and also how we feel about what we’re offering and about ourselves. Frankie and Flynnie are two of the best communicators I know, and their English vocabularies are limited to “Hop!” (time to move off whatever you are on), “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” and “I love you.” (They never did learn “No”—or at least they never let on that they did.)

4. Let go of the results and just be present. Every time Frankie hops up on my lap, flops on his back, and gives me the “I’m here” look, he would like for me to spend the next hour or so gazing into his eyes, stroking his face and tummy, and telling him how wonderful he is. I do my best, but this is in the middle of work time so I rarely meet his expectations. That’s fine with him. He’s just there to give, and so he just purrs for a while, then nods off into a lap nap.

5. Be persistent, or purrsistent, in service to others. Both kitties need daily meds, and I still have to be persistent about their morning pills. This is their least favorite time of the day, but I think they know I do it for them—and that I’ll make it happen every day no matter how many times they spit the pills out. They are purrsistent as well. When I’m stressed out, I don’t always want to stop and have a love feast. They insist. Frankie will sit in the middle of the living room meowing ever more loudly until I finally come sit with him and he calms me down.

6. Make agape your home base. Agape, or universal love, is where Frankie and Flynnie live. They don’t make friends based looks, income, or even intelligence or sense of humor. They love everybody. Love is where they come from, not where they go to if the other person checks out.

I am blessed on so many levels, and two of my greatest gifts—as a person and as a seller—are these furry guys.

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5 WAYS TO CONQUER NEGATIVE MENTAL CHATTER

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES 2Everybody has heard negative mental chatter about sales:

* “It’s too hard, and I want to lie down.”
* “They don’t want to buy, and I don’t know how to make them.”
* “I don’t want to be sleazy or manipulative.”
* “My cousin doesn’t have to do this, and I shouldn’t have to do it either!”
* “There’s a secret to selling, and I don’t know it.”
* “I was made for better things! Get me out of here!”

This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg, but you get the picture.

THE MENTAL CHATTER USERS MANUAL
The first step to conquering negative mental chatter about selling is to understand it. Mental chatter works like this:

1. It is the mind’s job to generate thoughts, so mental chatter is here to stay. No matter what we do, or how much we want to get rid of it, mental chatter will never go away. The mind simply will not stop generating thoughts. Some thoughts are positive, some are neutral, and some are negative. The good news is…

2. We have choices. We don’t have to run blindly after every fear or objection that our minds toss up. We can stand back, observe these negative thoughts, and instead give our attention and energy to thoughts that serve us.

3. Mental chatter is mostly about avoiding pain. When I write down all the negative mental chatter that passes through my mind over a fifteen-minute period (and I am always amazed at how much this is), I see that most of it is fear-based. It is about defending and protecting myself from imagined physical, mental, or psychological pain.

4. Mental chatter hates change. It doesn’t want us to do anything differently from how we have done it before. After all, we’ve survived whatever has happened up to now. Any change is a risk. Mental chatter sees new ways of thinking and behaving simply as opportunities for pain, and as threats to survival. It doesn’t want us to rock the boat, and will always argue for the status quo. Mental chatter is always loudest in the face of change.

5. Mental chatter hates getting specific. Getting specific is also a risk. If we never put anything on the line by saying, for instance, “I will have two new clients by the end of the week,” then we never fail. Failure is pain, and mental chatter will do anything to avoid pain.

6. The old strategies don’t work. If we try to pretend mental chatter isn’t there, it goes underground and festers—only to reappear at the most inopportune moments. If we try to beat it into submission, we just feed it energy. It gets bigger and stronger. If we try to banish it forever, we fail and get frustrated. Even the greatest spiritual and selling masters have mental chatter. They just know how to keep it in perspective, so that it doesn’t get in their way.

7. The key to mastering mental chatter is to develop a new relationship with it. Since it isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we, we need to find some neutral ground. We need a place where we can co-exist with mental chatter and stay out of each other’s way.

THE 5 KEYS TO CONQUERING MENTAL CHATTER
These strategies are the foundation for a new relationship with mental chatter. They give you a way to contain mental chatter, so that it doesn’t cause trouble:

  1. Identify the chatter. Write it down. Name it. Get it outside of yourself so that you can observe it. Don’t let it run around loose inside your mind, where it can get its hands on the controls. When mental chatter is an object of observation, it is not you. It is no longer running the show. You can look at it, poke at it, and examine it. It can’t push you around.
  2. Check to see if what it says is true. Sometimes mental chatter has important warnings. “Stop! Don’t walk into that street without checking both ways!” “Stop! That deal sounds too good to be true. Better have somebody check it.” These warnings have an entirely different tone and energy from, “Listen, you’re just asking for trouble if you make a sales promise or pick up the phone.” When you get the mental chatter down on paper, it’s easier to tell when you need to listen and when you don’t.
  3. Recognize it for what it is—mental chatter, not reality. Most of the time, mental chatter has little or nothing to do with what is actually happening. Even when it looks and sounds like it knows what it’s talking about, mental chatter specializes in interpretations and opinions, rather than in objective analysis.
  4. Let it be, without giving it much attention. Don’t try to get rid of it or beat it into submission. Let it run around and around on its hamster wheel as long as it wants, but don’t let it dictate what you do, or don’t do. Recognize it, nod to it, and then look away.
  5. Switch channels to something more interesting. Shift your attention to something positive—your sales results, the fun you will have getting them, even positive thoughts that have nothing to do with sales.

As you work your way through the six steps of the Soul of Selling, you will see these principles and strategies in action.

Mastering mental chatter can transform not only the way we sell, but also the way we live our lives.

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THE 4 BEST WAYS TO CLEAR OBJECTIONS

yeah but“Yeah, buts,” otherwise known as objections, are all the reasons that people give for not being willing or able to buy now. As you know if you’ve been selling more than a few hours, the list is endless:

* “Yeah, but I don’t have the money.”
* “Yeah, coaching sounds great, but I’m too busy right now.”
* “Yeah, but we’re reorganizing. I’ll get back to you.”
* “Yeah, but I’m getting my nails done that day.”

“Yeah, buts” can be garden variety or exotic, true or false, about time, money, or somebody else having to make the decision—but most of them call on us to start breathing again and find a way to let them roll off our backs.

Our first task is to develop some compassion for the people voicing the objections. None of the solutions work when we have steam coming out of our ears.

THE KEYS TO COMPASSION

  • Remember that surfacing people’s objections is a good thing! Otherwise, all those “Yeah, buts” go underground and fester. They keep people stuck and prevent them from buying.
  • Don’t subject objections to the truth test. They rarely pass it, and conducting the test only makes everyone unhappy. People may or may not have “no money” right now, but it won’t help to start shouting, “Liar, liar! Pants on fire!”
  • Take a breath. Frustration and irritation are natural responses, especially when we know the objections aren’t true.
  • Don’t take the “Yeah, buts” personally. It’s almost never about us.
  • Keep in mind the many very human reasons that people say, “Yeah, but,” some of which are: They have genuine concerns and really may not have the time or money. They need to say it’s too expensive or time-consuming so that they don’t seem (to others or to themselves) like a frivolous person or a spend-thrift. They really don’t want what we’re offering and are just trying to be polite.

THE 4 KEYS TO CLEARING OBJECTIONS
Clearing an objections means that people get beyond it and buy. They go from having no money at all to, “Well, I suppose I could ask Uncle Albert for the money,” or “I do have that ‘rainy day’ account,” or “I guess I could switch some things around.”

Here are 4 good ways to support people in going beyond their objections:

1. Don’t try to argue them out of their “Yeah, but.” This only gives them something to resist and makes the objection “stick.” Imagine if somebody said to you, “Oh, come on. I know you really have the money.” I’d want to dig in my heels, and that’s what most people do.

2. Make them feel heard. The way to do this is by really hearing them. Sometimes all people need is for someone to hear that they have a concern about buying. The minute that happens, they are over it and no longer cling to the objection. If they keep repeating themselves, it is a clue that they don’t feel heard.

3. Don’t get hooked. Understand that their objection is of concern to them, but don’t jump to the conclusion that it is true, or that it will prevent them from buying. Just be a listening post, without making any decisions. Respect their concerns—but don’t go down the garden path with them without making further inquiries.

4. Give them a choice. You might say something like, “I understand that money is at a premium right now, and you have to choose carefully where you invest it. So let’s look again at whether or not this is worth it to you. You told me that you want from what I’m offering is (whatever they told you they wanted). On the other hand, it costs (whatever financial or time-based cost they mentioned). Let’s put these two things on an imaginary scale and see what you really want to do.” The person feels heard. You respect that there is a decision to be made here, and you’ve clarified what the choice is.

By taking these 4 steps, and by putting the value and the cost on the imaginary scale, we can hear and validate the “Yeah, but” without swallowing it whole. We make it a little more objective for both of us. They have the objection, and they’ll either move beyond it or not. It’s up to them, not to us, and we don’t have to take it personally if they don’t buy. We’ve given them the best chance we can to say “Yes,” and that’s all we can do.

Letting the “Yeah, buts” roll off our backs helps us continue to appreciate people—and helps them see the objection as an objection, not necessarily as a reason not to buy.

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SELLING WORDS TO LIVE BY

golden ruleDo unto others (as you would have them do unto you).

I’d like to say that this suggestion is based entirely on spiritual and ethical considerations—but it’s also strategic.

Think about your best and worse buying experiences. Chances are, your best experiences occurred when people were treating you the way they themselves would want to be treated. Even if that wasn’t exactly the way you wanted to be treated, they at least had good intentions—and they knew it. They were doing something they thought would honor and please you, and also something that made them feel good about themselves. That counts for a lot. The better people feel about themselves, the better we’re likely to feel about them.

“Do unto others” helps both sides of the sale. As buyers, we always want people to treat us as they themselves would want to be treated. As sellers, we feel great about ourselves when we treat people that way! Sellers who live by these three magic words become magnetic.

Here’s how it works. I’m replacing my kitchen counters, and it’s as if the folks who came to bid on the job had been hired by the sales blogging goddess in the sky to serve as examples for this post.

THE AGONY OF DEFEAT  
Sales Guy #1 showed up 35 minutes late, called me from his car to complain about parking and ask for suggestions, finally figured out how to get into the building, and arrived puffing, sweating, and dropping countertop samples in his wake. He launched into the saga of his difficult morning, told stories of what my neighborhood used to be like in the good old days when he lived here, spent ten minutes trying to find the right page on his computer, and never once apologized for wasting an hour of my time before we even mentioned kitchen counters.

I told him I just wanted to look at a few samples and get a ballpark figure to see if we were a match, because I’d only scheduled 15 more minutes to spend with him and had to leave. He dug around in a pile of samples as if he’d never seen them before, kept muttering about something being on sale, warned that if anybody from the company contacted me I should tell them he’d shown me the sales video, and finally promised to email me a bid as I shoved him out the door. I doubt that it ever occurred to him to see the interaction from my point of view.  If he’d presented a bid of half what anybody else charged, I wouldn’t have gone with him.

THE THRILL OF VICTORY  
Enter, Sales Gal #2. She looked me in the eye, asked for the broad perimeters of what I wanted to do and how much I wanted to spend, answered all my staggeringly uninformed questions, and measured the many surfaces of my kitchen quickly and efficiently—noting where people had skimped on quality in the original construction (“They used glue for this!”) and otherwise suggesting her concern for quality workmanship.

She could not have been more pleasant or focused my satisfaction, and was out the door in 30 minutes, promising a detailed bid by 10:00 the next morning.  I prayed her bid would be low, because I wanted to go with her. Luckily for both of us, it was. And I did!

THE REST OF THE STORY
Who knows which was really the better deal? Who cares? I correctly surmised that Sales Gal #2’s company would have schedulers, office staff, and installers who had the same “Do unto others” attitude that she did. (These things do not usually arise out of a void). I knew that I’d like having them in my home, that anything that went wrong would be fixed, and that the one thing I wouldn’t have to stress about was whether or not these were good people. That put a big gold bar in their side of the scale as I made the decision, and I have blessed that moment many times since then.

The worst thing that can happen when we “Do unto others” is that we feel great about ourselves and people feel respected and appreciated. The best outcome is that all that happens, and we also get the sale!

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