Wednesday, November 23, 2011

20 Posts I Stole from Smarter People

This is my 200th post and I've decided it's time for a break. I am taking a hiatus from this blog. I have started a business and am trying to put all of my blogging and SEO efforts into it. To read my current blog, CLICK HERE. Small Business Storyteller is a blog about running a successful small business in the age of the Internet. I include a lot of information about sales, marketing, social media, leadership, etc.--a lot of stuff that carries the same theme as this blog. I'll leave this blog open for anyone who wishes to use its resources and I'm keeping the domain name, "How Does That Make You Buy?" because, let's face it, it's awesome!

I love writing about sales and may come back to this at some point in the future. In the meantime, check out my 20 favorite posts from this blog. And this isn't tooting my own horn--it's tooting the horn of the many writers who have significantly influenced my perspective and shaped my thinking over the past few years. If there is anything good that I have to share with you, it is because they weren't kind enough to first share it with me. Yes, I admit it: I am an idea thief. So, take advantage of what I've learned and receive some stolen property. Thank you for visiting!
  1. "Your Mission is Too Important"
  2. "Salespeople and Doctors"
  3. "Stuck in the Snuggly Duckling"
  4. "Four Words That Limit Your Potential"
  5. "The Golden Rule of Sales"
  6. "Losing Interest in Self-Interest"
  7. "Why I Hate Spiders"
  8. "Are You Seeking Employment or Opportunity?"
  9. "Price as the Final Decision Variable"
  10. "The Power of Certainty"
  11. "Lessons from a Bad Therapist"
  12. "Branding in Sales"
  13. "Suggestions, Requests, and the Fear of Rejection"
  14. "What's Your Student/Teacher Ratio?"
  15. "The Anti-Guru Movement"
  16. "Don't Take it Out on the Customer"
  17. "The Philosophy of the Snooze Button"
  18. "Why Are Companies in Business?"
  19. "How to Sell Junk"
  20. "If You Really Care..."
featured image courtesy of gingerpig2000 licensed via Creative Commons

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts for the Week of November 13, 2011

Fantastic list of articles this week. Themes range from askings questions to overcoming obstacles to social media and technology. Check out these articles and learn from these amazing writers!
  1. Kelley Robertson, "23 Questions that Will Improve Your Sales" A killer list of specific, targeted questions broken down based upon the scenarios in which they are asked.
  2. Matt Heinz, "10 Best Practices for Cold Calling" A solid list of rules to go over before even picking up the phone.
  3. Brian Solis, "9 Laws of Consumer Affinity in the Digital Age" How to attract and retain customers in today's digital marketplace.
  4. Paul Castain, "10 Totally Random Thoughts about Questions" Insightful article about what good questions consist of.
  5. Neil Patel, "6 Ways to Be More Persuasive with Social Media" An application of Rober Cialdini's principles to the world of social media.
  6. Ellen Bremen, "When the Walls Go Up, How Do You Avoid Getting Down?" How to focus when life is cluttered with distractions.
  7. Daniel Newman, "Hope is Not a Strategy" Hope is a good thing but should not be used as a substitute when strategy is more applicable.
  8. Jim Keenan, "The  Best Salespeople are Critical of Their Customers" Great salespeople are not afraid to challenge their customers.
  9. Dave Brock, "Does Sales 2.0 Make You a Better Salesperson?" Technology can make salespeople more efficient, but selling skills must continue to be developed in order to make them more effective.
  10. Gini Dietrich, "9 Ways to Make Yourself Charming" A fun list of ways to make people like you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jumping through Trust Hoops

As I've started my own B2B venture, all the reading and writing I've done over the past few years has suddenly become much, much more real. I am dealing with issues in selling to businesses that weren't quite as complex as they were in selling to end users. One of the most profound struggles in selling what I do is something that I've written about before but haven't experienced in its fullness until now.  What I'm talking about is the challenge of building trust. Though I know there are exceptions, it seems the level of trust between buyer and seller is much more important in complex B2B transactions than it was in the B2C environment that I came out of. I, by the nature of the service I am providing, will be working with customers--not simply selling to them.

The Levels of Trust

To someone completely new in business, with nothing to go on but a handful of recommendations, you've got to build trust from the ground up. As I've spoken with people, the feedback I've gotten has taught me that there are two primary types of trust that buyers must have in order for salespeople to be successful with them. These are:
  • Trust in the salesperson's intentions
  • Trust in the salesperson's competencies
The cold calls I've made have been incredibly challenging. I now know that some of the terminlogy I've used in my scripts has alienated peole from even considering doing business with me. You see, they don't know me from Adam. I don't even have a recognizable company behind me so that I can say, "I'm from XYZ." I'm just me, and they--naturally--assume the worst. As soon as they caught wind that I might, possibly, maybe, potentially be asking them for money, they ended the call. Was it because they didn't think they needed what I was selling? Probably not. Was it because they didn't believe I was capable of doing what I said I could do? Maybe. But I think it's most likely because that don't know me and assume that my intentions are underhanded, selfish, and manipulative. "People don't know care how much you know until they know how much you care." And, when you people don't know you care, they assume that you don't.

The people that I've called based on recommendations have been much more trusting of my intentions. As I talked to them, the conversations swung quickly to my capabilities. They trusted my intentions--I was a friend of a friend--but they still knew nothing of my abilities to get the job done. In that respect, they still didn't trust me. They believed that I had a good heart and wasn't out to trick them, but they still didn't know if they wanted to shell out any money to pay for me. It makes perfect sense. I had not yet proved anything to them.

What are your experiences in building trust? Is it a different process now than it was from when you started? Has building trust gotten easier with experience? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

featured image courtesy of skycaptaintwo licensed via Creative Commons

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts for the Week of November 6, 2011

  1. Dan Waldschmidt, "Waiting for Someone Else to Believe in You" Sure, it's nice to have the support and encouragement of others but, if it's a necessity for you, you're doomed from the start. Everyone has their own dreams, goals, and agendas that aren't yours. You have to be the one to give yourself permission. You have to believe in you even if no one else does because, at times, no one else will.
  2. Robert Terson, "Limiting Beliefs" We are only limited by what we believe about ourselves. We tell ourselves that we can't do this or that and end up not being able to do it. We've got to transcend this kind of thinking and start knowing that we can accomplish what we set our minds to.
  3. Gary Hart, "Are You Selling to Phantom Buyers?" The Internet has created a much smaller gap between seller and customer, but the level of contact in inbound web traffic is insufficient. People can come and go as they please when they are on your site, without ever being engaged in dialogue. Sales will always have the upper hand in being able to engage the customer directly.
  4. Rosemary O'Neill, "Are Your Customers Embedded?" How are you including your customers in the development of your business and brand? What have you named after a customer? What idea have you attributed to a customer? Something to think about.
  5. Paul Castain, "Don't Get Frustrated...Get Excited" Failure is a beautiful thing. It's a learning experience. A new discovery of another thing that doesn't work. Success is in the future waiting and the more times you fail, the closer you get. Failure is a cause for celebration!
  6. Mark Babbitt, "It's NOT 'It is What It Is?'" It's what you make it. We don't have to surrender to life's circumstances. In as much as we are able, we can create change. Resigning to the 'it is what it is' way of thinking is an insult to the human spirit. We are capable of so much more.
  7. Vanessa Van Petten, "5 Ways to Make a Killer First Impression" First impressons matter. Some people might never see you again, so your first impression could also be your last one. You want to make it count.
  8. Mark Hunter, "There Is No Substitute for Solid Integrity" Character counts. In the long-run, salespeople with integrity outperform those without it. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts and use shady, manipulative tactics to get a little ahead--even if your colleagues are doing it. Integrity wins out in the end.
  9. Kelley Robertson, "The Power of Networking" Meeting people at networking events is perhaps the best way to create life-long relationships. Introduce yourself to someone. Chat for while. Give him your card. Get his. Follow up. Meet again for coffee. Networking is powerful.
  10. Trevor Stevens, "Do You Smell Desperate?" Salespeople often use terminology that make them seem desperate.  Buyers are very good at picking up on when salespeople need the sale. Don't beg. Don't grovel. Don't say, "What do I have to do to get your business now?" What you have to offer is worth more than that. Act like it is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book of the Week: The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success

Brain Tracy has quite possible written more about business than I have yet to read in my lifetime thus far. He has a long, successful history in sales, management, leadership. operations consulting, and public speaking. His 100 laws of business success are broken down into the following categories: life, success, business, leadership, money, selling, negotiating, and time management. I could easily write 10 posts on the book alone. Fantastic advice laced with personal anecdotes and practical action items. Great book for anyone in a managerial or leadership position.

Here are, in my judgement, the top 10 laws Brian Tracy discusses in this book:
  1. The Law of Expectations. Our beliefs about our successes or failures are often self-fulfilling prophecies. If we think we can, we will. If we think we can't, we won't. The most successful people in business have high expectations for themselves and their people. What do you expect?
  2. The Law of Control. Successful people have what is called an internal locus of control. External events, circumstances, and other people do not determine their attitude and orientation toward life. They listen first and foremost to the voice inside and, in doing so, are able to take charge of their lives. What controls your life?
  3. The Law of Compensation. You get what you put in. You reap what you sow. You will be compensated exactly as much as you are willing to work. In the words of Zig Ziglar, "You can get anything you want in life by helping other people get what they want." Successful people are not afraid to give excessively. They know that it pays off. How much are you contributing?
  4. The Law of Decision. Great business leaders are decisive. They are not always right, but they are always firm. They aren't wishy-washy, but are always moving forward. If they are wrong, they take feedback, self-correct, and move on. What have you decided lately?
  5. The Law of Persistence. Never give up. Probably the biggest cliche on this list, but true nonetheless. As Tracy says, success only means that you are willing to keep going longer than anyone else does. Successful people know that enduring in spite of setbacks will inevitably lead to success. You can only fail when you quit. Are you still going?
  6. The Law of Differentiation. Jack Welch is famous for saying that, if GE was not at least number 1 or number 2 in its industry, it would not compete. Being able to do what you do different and/or better than anyone else is key to success. If what you are selling is no different than anyone else, you are setting yourself up for a price war. More than that, though, you aren't contributing anything of value to your customers. Successful people aren't afraid to think outside the box and come up with a great competitive advantage. What makes you different?
  7. The Law of Integrity. Successful people have a high degree of integrity. They are truthful, honest, straightforward, reliable, and consistent. They live the life and practice what they preach. They act like people are always watching them and never try to "get away with" anything. Character is foundational. If you don't have that, then you can't be trusted with anything. How is your integrity?
  8. The Law of Abundance. There is no shortage of money to be made. The best way to understand this law is in contrast with the law of scarcity--which says that there's only so much to go around. If I make money, it means someone else is losing it. This belief is destructive and causes not to embrace their full potential due (falsely) to moral inhibitions. The reality is that, when you make money, you creaet more wealth in the economy, because what you are doing adds more value than you were paid (otherwise the person wouldn't pay you). Who can deny that we have more resources available today than we did 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. Technology attests to abundance. Don't feel guilty when you make money; rejoice that you are making the world better. Is guilt falsely holding you back?
  9. The Law of Trust. People buy from those they trust. Think about how you feel about telemarketers or salespeople. Why are you so quick to turn them down? Probably because you don't trust them--you assume selfish intentions on their part. That is why it is so important, in selling, to really get to know your customers--asking questions about their business and expressing genuine concern for their problems--before pitching your products. Successful people know that trust comes before revenue. Are you building trust?
  10. The Law of Clarity. Successful people do not think or act in generalities. They are specific and clear about the goals they seek to accomplish. Brian Tracy suggests making a list of your top 10 priorities. Then, find the most important thing on that list and move it to a separate list. For that priority, write down the specific steps you wish to take to accomplish that goal. Do the same for all other priorities. Successful people focus on getting specific things accomplished. Are you clear about your goals?

I challenge you to live for 1 month in such a way that demonstrates belief in these laws and see if your life does not change dramatically. What do you think? Can you do it?