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Question:
I know referrals in sales are golden. Do you have any suggestions or advice I could put into practice to maximize the bang I get out of referrals?
Matt Connell - Cleveland, TN

Answer:
Try this: Ask everyone you call on for five people that could possibly use your product. Create a list, and during your weekly phone block call these prospects and let them know you were referred to them by the person who gave you the referral. Your appointment rate per phone call should improve dramatically. In addition to this get testimonial letters from current customers (write them and ask your customer to sign the letter if they agree with what the letter states.) Even better get video taped, or audio taped testimonials. This takes some effort, but the payback is worth it. Work smarter, not harder. Go get um'!


Question:
"I read about the 80/20 rule in your book. What are the most important activities that a sales rep should spend 80 percent of their time doing?"

Jeremy Wood - Graysville, Georgia

Answer:
Finally,an easy question! Prospecting, Presenting, and Closing.


Question:
"I want to make an appointment with a prospect, and they won't see me. What should I do?"
Bowling Green - Kentucky

Answer:
It depends. If this is a large prospect that you feel could benefit from your service, then you may want to examine your approach. Most large accounts are complex sales. There is a great sales book called Strategic Selling that will help you determine the 4 different types of decision makers. You will want to start at the top with the "economic buyer." A great way to do this is to send them a creative seed letter. Perhaps a dvd of current customers similar to the prospect who have benefited from your service. Next, call them and ask for the appointment. If you can not reach the economic buyer, you will need to find someone within the organization who will personally benefit from your service. This person is called "the coach." Your coach will be very valuable in helping you gain the appointment. You will learn in strategic selling to identify and include "the technical buyer" and "the user buyer" throughout the sales process. Good luck, I hope this helps. If your prospect is a smaller account that is just being a "jerk", then move on.


Question:
"I am calling on a prospect who feels a loyalty to their current service rep. Can this be overcome, and if so, how?"
Tate Tidwell - Chattanooga, TN

Answer:
Good question. This is one of the more difficult objections to overcome. Start by telling the prospect how much you appreciate their loyalty. Let them know that you also value your loyal costumers. Next, gain their agreement that their first loyalty is to their employees and customers. If you can show them how your service can improve their business and make or save them money, you just might get them to make a change. Remember, your aim is to increase your chances. This may not work every time, but every sales skill and technique you learn will increase your closing ratio. This is called the "winning edge" principal, which states, "small differences in ability lead to enormous differences in results."


Question:
"I sometimes get into a situation where I find a good "coach" at a large target account who wants my program, however they either will not let me see the true decision maker or the real decision maker won't allow me to see them. What can I do to get in front of this "economic" buyer? Is it possible to sell a large target account without getting in front of them?"
Ben Thompson - Catersville, Georgia

Answer:
Another great question! The simple answer is, yes it is possible to sell a large target account without getting in front of the person at the top. However, remember we are looking for the "Winning Edge" as Brian Tracy says. The small difference in ability that will give us an enormous difference in results. The more times you get in front of the person at the top, often referred to as the "Economic Buyer", the better your closing percentage will be. I just purchased Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Red Book of Sales Answers, and he has a great technique to get in front of CEO's, President's, and VP's of companies. Call them and tell them that you are writing an article on leadership to be distributed to thousands of readers and you would like to interview them for the article. Ask them for thirty minutes and let them know you are bringing a photographer. Now the trick is to actually write this article and have a way of distributing it as you promised. After the article is published, frame the article and their picture, and send it to them. I thought this was a great idea. It is not easy, but easy doesn't usually pay as well. There are other techniques that we will discuss as more questions like yours come in. In the mean time go buy The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, it is money in the bank. By the way Ben, you are welcome to use my website to publish the article, and it may even appear in my next book!


Question:
"I am calling on a large prospect that currently does not have a program. The payroll department will not set up an employee payroll deduction. No matter how much I present the benefits of our program to all parties involved in the decision process from the Maintence Manager to the General Manager, I can not overcome this objection. What should I do?"
Dallas Holcomb - Calhoun, Georgia

Answer:
Thanks for the question Dallas! It sounds like your prospect is not convinced that your program will make or save their company money. They do not believe you. Can you believe that? Some people do not just take the salesman's word for it. The only chance you have to get this account is to pretend like you are a trial attorney and convince the prospect "beyond a reasonable doubt" that your service will make or save their company money. How can you do this? There are many ways, but one of my favorates is to make a DVD of current customers who were in the same situation as your prospect. Have them say on tape how much your program has benefited their company and have them give real examples of how their turnover is lower, or production is up. This does require effort to discover these customers, ask them for a testimonial, and get them on tape. But once you have these recordings you can use them for years and they will make your sales life lots of fun. Try this it works!


Question:
"I spend much of my time putting together proposals for prospects. What should I say when the prospect asks for a proposal?"
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Answer:
Good question! I have seen sales reps go back to their office and put together a fancy proposal when the prospect asks, "Can you put your proposal in writing?" Even worse, I have seen some sales reps go back to the office and put together a not so professional proposal. They then go back and see the prospect a second time and the prospect says, "Let me think it over." The sales rep will check back a third time to see what this prospect has decided only to hear, "I am still thinking about it, keep checking in with me." Sound familiar? I hope not. This is an example of confusing activity with achievement as the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden would say. The sales rep feels like he is so busy and yet he's not getting the results that's desired. Remember, in sales results obtained the right way are all that matter. Next time your prospect says, "Can you put it in writing?" think of this as a buying signal, or a polite no thank you. You should discover their real interest level on the spot. Try this, "Of course I will put it in writing, how many widgets do you need?" At this point begin writing the order, or filling out the service agreement. The worst thing your prospect can say is, "Wait a minute, I am not sure I want to buy yet." Now you can handle any resistance. The best thing that can happen is you will get the business now! On large accounts in competitive situations you may have to put together a professional proposal. Include in your proposal lots of reference letters from happy, loyal customers, credibility pieces saying what other business articles have said about your company, and all the evidence you can gather from outside sources saying that your company can be trusted to deliver superior service. You want your proposal to look better than any of your competitors (I don't even like the word competitor. The only competition you have is yourself.) Include fresh new product samples if possible. If you really want to blow them away include video taped testimonials from some of your best customers. Leave nothing to chance, even if the prospect has indicated that you are the leading candidate to earn their business. As my older brother John says, "Do everything to your advantage, and nothing to your disadvantage." Good Luck! Although luck really has nothing to do with success in selling.


Question:
"How do you stay positive when you get so much rejection every day. Some days there are so many rude people that it gets difficult."
Chip Perry - Ringold, Georgia

Answer:
Chip, you have touched on a great topic with this question. This reminds me of when I was in high school and I wanted a date, but the fear of the potential rejection would paralize me to the point that I couldn't get the nerve to ask a girl for a date (Look at my picture, the potential for rejection was great!)

The fear of rejection in sales is the same except remember in sales, unlike in high school, the prospect is not rejecting you. They are rejecting your offer. The best way to minimize a day full of rejection is a half day of preparation. Finish your week with 3 to 4 hours on Friday afternoon targeting accounts that you feel need your products or services, search their websites and develop a game plan. Have a consistent "seed letter" campain. The object is to get more "warm" prospects. You will always face lots of rejection in sales however do not take the rejection personal. You will find your best days are those that you have set appointments and are prepared with good questions. Don't forget to start everyday with 30 minutes of reading in a positive sales related book and listen to positive sales related CD's in your car during the work day! Good selling!


Question:
I am the director of Kids Alive Canada www.kidsalive.ca, we save orphans and abandoned kids from death and raise them to productive adulthood. My passion is fund raising. Have you ever compared sales to fund raising? Blessings,
Scott Forbes - Canada

Answer:
To answer your question, fund raising is sales. You need to identify your prospect, get an appointment (via phone, in person, or email) and get the prospect to part with his or her money, right? That being said, what a great product you have! I couldn't think of a better product to get fired up about than changing the course of a child's life. You have my respect and admiration and I encourage everyone to visit your site and help your organization grow. Keep making the sale!