It Worked So Good…

We stoped doing it!

I love technology! I love anything that is shiny, sexy, new. I love the latest and greatest ANYTHING!

Technology is great but it isn't necessarily better than the system we are already using.

So many things that show up on my Amazon suggestions call to me to just hit “Buy with 1 click!” So many information products (classes, seminars, resources, do it for you programs, etc.) sing to me.

I’ve seen a lot of marketers claiming that you no longer have to cold call. How cool! Wouldn’t it be awesome to just use social media? “Who needs to cold call,” the charlatans cry out. Just buy my course for $1,999 and I’ll show you how to leverage LinkedIn!!!

I’m not alone. As I work with sales teams all over the country, I regularly see organizations that have walked so far away from the basics of sales, they couldn’t find their way back with gps.

The reality is that we aren’t really leveraging technology. Technology is leveraging us.

Please understand that I am not a technology hater. I am more connected than I probably should be. Technology has made many aspects of our lives much easier (not necessarily any simpler.)

We get so caught up in learning the new tool that we forget to do the basics. Why? It is very safe to spend 4 hours learning how to do LinkedIn searches. Nobody can tell us no when we are watching videos.

Instead, we start spamming inviting people, we have zero connection to, to learn about our awesome opportunity. When they don’t respond or tell us they aren’t interested, at least it was so easy to ask we don’t feel the rejection the same way we would on the phone or in person.


Back To The Basics

The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, at the first practice of the new season, started by teaching his players how to put on their socks. Wait… What? Weren’t these some of the best basketball players in the country? Surely they knew how to put on their socks. The freshman players would roll their eyes but the Juniors and Seniors would let them know immediately to shut up and pay attention. Coach Wooden explained that if they didn’t put their socks on right, they would get blisters. If they got blisters, they couldn’t practice properly. If they didn’t practice properly, they wouldn’t get to play.


Tim’s Basics of Sales

Sales is very much like putting on socks properly. It’s the little things that will derail your career. The sooner you master the basics, the faster you will hit the levels of success you desire. So what are the basics?

Master These Basics First. We’ll Work On Three-pointers Later.

  • Read SOMETHING! 80% of salespeople have never read at least one book on sales. 20% of all salespeople take home 80% of the available commissions. Hmmmm. Do I have to draw you a map? Read!!!
  • Never stop prospecting. According to the late, great Zig Ziglar, the number 1 reason salespeople fail is due to a lack of prospects.
  • Pick up the phone. “But Tim, I much better in person,” I hear you say. Tough! Cold calling via phone is a skill you must master.
  • Get out of the office. “Didn’t you just say to use the phone?” Yep. You need to be good in person too. Jeb Blount explained on his recent Success Is Voluntary podcast interview, that by choosing only one way to prospect (or one day of the week, or just during the same time block) you are limiting your probability of success. LISTEN HERE
  • Use a script! You need a track to run on. I could write 5 blog articles on this point alone. Instead, I suggest that you listen to Scott Channell’s recent podcast for more on this. LISTEN HERE
  • Followup, followup, followup. I am now coaching, speaking and writing full-time. Not only have I had to relearn how to prospect, I am relearning the importance of following up. Many of my sales and engagements are happening on the 9th, 10th, 11th time I have reached out.
  • Use a CRM. If you are going to be a professional and followup at the right time, there is zero chance you can accomplish that using an excel spreadsheet or a scratch pad. I wrote a blog article in 2014 explaining a low-tech version of a CRM. (READ IT HERE) If I were to rewrite it today, I would caution using it for very long. The sooner you can get onto ACT!, Pipeline Deals, or some other inexpensive CRM the better!!!
  • Role-play prospecting and Decision Maker presentations: When I was a corporate sales trainer, I could instantly tell if someone had practiced or not while they were going through their initial training. So could the prospects…
  • Do your homework. Never ask a prospect a dumb question. I know you have been told your whole life there is no such thing as a dumb question. I hate to break it to you, you’ve been lied to. Asking a Decision Maker questions that you could have found out by just googling them is a dumb question.
  • Shut up!!! Once they buy, keep your mouth closed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen salespeople talk past the yes and lose the sale.
  • Go for no. Once you have the first commitment, keep asking for additional commitments until you finally get a no. In their best selling book Go For No  Andrea Waltz, and Richard Fenton tell the story of a suit salesman that stopped selling whey he hit his self-imposed maximum sale to one customer. The customer never said no. How much greater that sale could have been will never be known. Read the full story HERE. You can also listen to Andrea’s fantastic Success Is Voluntary Podcast Interview: LISTEN HERE
  • Show your appreciation. Send the handwritten thank you note. Refer business to your client. Create a gifting strategy. Drop by with donuts or pizza. John Ruhlin wrote a fantastic book about this very thing! Giftology should be a foundational book for every salesperson.
  • Keep your commitments! One of the reasons salespeople often get a bad rap is they promise the moon and then ghost on their clients. Don’t screw it up for the rest of us. Under-promise, over deliver instead. This can be as simple as the expectations you set on your outgoing voicemail. Read more about this HERE
  • Complete the implementation. Meet with the Decision Maker immediately after the enrollment/implementation has been completed. Find out if there is anything you missed or unmet expectations. Now is the time to get ahead of it versus trying to fix it after the problem has festered.
  • Service your accounts. Or someone else will. Enough said.
  • Get a mentor. There are people in your organization that have already gone where you want to go. Learn from their mistakes. I have found, without exception, that the people in this industry are incredibly gracious and will share with you their best practices. You could eventually learn it on your own. Why would you want to do that? For more information, listen to Success Doesn’t Leave Tracks LISTEN HERE
  • Get a coach. This may sound self-serving as I do coaching. I promise it isn’t. There are sooooo many reasons to get a coach. Instead of listing them all, I’ll ask you this question instead: What do Richard Branson, Steph Curry, Oprah Winfree, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Tony Robbins, Metallica, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Luke Skywalker (I could keep on going…) have in common? If you guessed they are incredibly successful and wealthy, you would be right… But what I was going for was they all have coaches. Seriously. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. “Yeah, but they can afford it,” some might say. Huh, I wonder why. Oh yeah, they have a coach… Get a free, 30-minute coaching session with me by CLICKING HERE. 

Your Turn

What are some of the things that worked so well you stopped doing them? Leave a comment below or email me at tim@successisvoluntary.com

Why?

There MUST be a reason.

Some days it is hard to remember why you went into sales. Some days you get your head handed to you. Some days that big client you were counting on (and had already spent the commission check in your mind) backs out of the deal.


Really, Why?

Why do you keep going? Why is it that you believe things are going to get better? Maybe like many salespeople, you are overly optimistic. But I don’t think so.

I think you have a bigger reason than just making money (at least I hope so.) The challenge is that it is easy to sometimes lose sight of what really drives us.

There was a reason you went into sales. There was a reason you chose the company you represent. There is a reason you are still there. There is a reason you don’t have your resume on CareerBuilder.com


Powerful

One of the most powerful exercises I have done with my team is

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Your Sacred Duty

Leadership is bigger than an expectation

“To whom much is given, much is required.” – Luke 12:48

Regardless of your faith system/worldview, the message of the above passage is universal. As leaders in this industry, we have been given much. I have a friend who regularly says, “If I had settled for my wildest dreams, I would have sold myself short.” I feel the exact same way. If that is true, then I am REQUIRED to pay it forward, even if I wasn’t in leadership.


REQUIRED

So what does the “REQUIRED” mean? You will have to figure that out for yourself. As for me, it means I owe it to the people that are counting on me, the people I lead, to give them my absolute, level best every single day. Regardless of my own personal circumstances. Regardless if I feel like it. Regardless if I am tired. Regardless if the last two people I tried to help didn’t listen. Regardless if people sometimes try to take advantage of me. Regardless if…


Hard Work

Being in leadership is not always puppy dogs kissing

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Why you don’t prospect

The answer might surprise you

I had Gary Hoy on the podcast a few weeks ago. Before his appearance, I had never met Gary, but he reached out to me by doing exactly what he preaches. He got on the phone and cold-called me. 

Setting Appointments

Collaboration

I quickly came to realize that Gary is the real deal and we have been bouncing ideas off each other ever since. In fact, we have spoken at least 3 times per week. I believe that we will collaborate on some projects down the road. 


Why Gary’s Program Is Different

On our last phone call, Gary told me about how his Appointment University program continues to grow and why he is excited to offer it the SIV tribe. I have been through the entire course and it is excellent. In my 22 years in professional sales, I have never seen anything like it. There are hundreds of programs designed to teach people what to say when prospecting. Gary focuses on helping people pick up the phone in the first place. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. If you won’t actually pick up the phone, you won’t last very long. As Gary likes to say, “You can’t steer a parked car.”

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The Perfect Script

The question I have been asked more than any other over the last 20+ years is, “What is the best script to use?” There are approximately 23 billion books on writing cold calling scripts. They are really just variations on a theme.

The perfect script

The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect script. In fact, sales trainer Gary Hoy and I discussed this very thing when I had him on the podcast. Telling your salespeople that the script you are giving them is “THE” best script is completely demoralizing to them if they don’t get instant results.

Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that scripts aren’t important. A true pro knows that there are certain words and language patterns that lead the prospect closer to an appointment. They also know there are things that will drive the prospect away kicking and screaming.

If your organization has scripts they want you to use, by all means, you should use them initially. Just know that any script will fail way more often than it succeeds. After you have had your teeth kicked in 100 times or so, you will slowly get better.


 The Best Script Ever

I stated above that there is no such thing as the perfect script, but can I give you the best script ever? The script that I have seen set more appointments than any other was,

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Personal Growth Plan

Are You Planning On Growing This Year?

All growth begins with personal growth. ~ Les Heinsen.

Girl Growing

I first heard Les say this from the platform at a very large sales conference.  It made an impression on me, but I didn’t realize how much it shaped my career until much later.


Helter Skelter

I have always enjoyed reading and learning, but I haven’t always had a conscious, well-formed plan. In fact, most of the books I read were chosen because of the shiny cover jacket on the shelf of the bookstore or the rack at the airport. It is amazing to me that I was able to retain as much as I did since I was bouncing all over the place.

It wasn’t until I was listening to a John Maxwell Maximum Impact Club recording that I put it all together. John was talking about how one of his early mentors asked him what his personal development plan was. John hemmed and hawed but eventually had to admit he didn’t have one. This was my story too! I didn’t have a plan either.


Wandering In The Wilderness

As I have led thousands of independent agents and leaders, I have found few of them work on self-development at all. In fact, according to Tony Robbins and Chet Helms,

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What makes you special? The remix…

You are special aren't you?

In sales, you must answer all objections, spoken or not. -Tim’s sales axiom #16

Standing Out

Whenever you are meeting with a prospect, the largest unspoken objection/question they have is, “What makes you and/or your product special? Why should I spend my time, money and attention with your company?” Most salespeople try to build their presentation around this question but use platitudes. “Our service is unparalleled.” “We have superior products.” “Our biggest competitive advantage is our people.”

The problem with these platitudes is

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Can I Vent For A Second?

Most outgoing voicemail messages SUCK!

Today’s blog post may or may not help you, but I promise it will make me feel better! And it’s a lot cheaper than an appointment with my therapist.

Annoyed man on phone

You are a sales PROFESSIONAL, right? So why do so many “professionals” have horrifically bad outgoing voicemail messages? It drives me bat $#*! crazy.

If you ask anyone who has ever worked for me,

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Later… Liar

Do you lie every day?

I didn’t coin the phrase “Later – Liar.” It was something I heard in a speech by a senior leader of a very large Voluntary Benefits insurance carrier. I will not reveal their name to protect the innocent-ish. It took me a few days for it to really sink in, but once it did it has haunted me ever since.

Later - liar woman with pinocchio nose

I don’t know about you, but I often promise something in the moment and then forget (or choose not to make it a priority) to deliver on time.  Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, once said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” I can relate.


When I Say:

“I’ll get that report to you in a bit,” it really means,

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You Are Not Going To Like This

Lack of Time vs. Lack of Priorities

I don’t know if you noticed, but as Americans, we are busier than ever. More things are competing for our time. There has been an insidious spread of bringing work home via our smartphones. Constant access to email and texting has irreversibly blurred the line between work and home life.

Dr with hour glass

The fact that we take less vacation time than any other industrialized nation on the planet has been well documented. 54% of Americans end the year sacrificing multiple days of unused vacation time. What choice do we have? To stay competitive,

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Are You Running a Deficit? By Bryan Yager

An Article I Wish I Wrote

“The way to develop the best that is in a man (woman, child, employee, any person who is important to you) is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles W. Schwab

Bryan Yager sent out the following article to his tribe as part of his Monday Morning Minute series.

I  met Bryan 14 years ago while living in Boise Idaho. We hit it off immediately as we share many of the same business philosophies and beliefs. Over the last 5 years I have twice hired Bryan to work with my leadership team. Both times he absolutely crushed it! Bryan appeared on the Success Is Voluntary podcast 4 years ago (listen here) to talk about the importance of strategic planning. The comments and feedback were incredibly positive!


Are You Running A Deficit?

Sometime today, take a brief minute to reflect on the most important people in your life, both personal and professional. It is likely, even probable, that one or more of those people are discouraged by something going on in their life, right now, as you read this short commentary. Think about it, almost all

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What Makes You So Special?

The Surprising Answer Of High Performers

“What makes you so special?” It’s a question that is asked of high performance sales people all the time.

Of course it never is actually asked like that. It usually sounds more like, “What is the secret to your success?” Sometimes it is asked with honest curiosity. More often though it is asked with an underlying current of jealousy. As in, “I’m smarter than you. More educated than you. Why are you more successful than I am? There has to be a reason…” But people can’t just come out and say that  of course, so they ask,

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