Risky Business!

Widget work is pretty risky for a lot of people.  Your product, process or service is near and dear to your heart, but how do you get others to feel the same way?

Do you get a little sweaty, maybe have a little racing heart, maybe even some nausea when bringing up your widget to a friend, acquaintance, even a family member?  Maybe I can help!

When I talk with people about their passion for their widget, I like to have them write down some notes about the widget and their passion.  So, grab a pen and paper and lets get some of that passion on paper.  (If you are of the techy era, feel free to use your computer or smart device!)

First, why or how did you come to have this widget?  This is your story.  Write down your story.

For me – it all started with The Pampered Chef.  I attended a show and saw how the stoneware would change the way I cooked for my family.  I then fell in love with the food chopper and garlic press, these items would make my canning of tomatoes much easier.  Once I successfully used the products it was easy for me to talk about them to others, that made it easy for me to decide to sell the product.  Knowing and sharing your personal story is the first step.

Next, what is the value add?  This is the benefit of your widget.  People often share the description or the features of their widget.  This is good, but it lacks passion.  The Pampered Chef food chopper is made of metal and plastic, but the jars of homemade salsa and stewed tomatoes for my spaghetti and the ease that I make them creates a picture of family gathering around a table or a celebration.  It is much more heartwarming and passionate.  Write down the benefits of your widget.

The next step is justifying your widget.  This is the dollars and sense part.  My daughter sells Arbonne.  She does it mostly for the health benefits, I do it for that too, but I have other reasons.  I have always used protein powder for my morning breakfast shake.  I would buy my powder at various places, favoring vegan protein powder.  What I discovered is for the same price I can get it delivered to my door on a regular basis, it is an exceptional product and I never run out.  Justification will be different for everyone but write down your dollars and sense reasons.

The last step is to get out there.  Go places, use social media, write a blog.  Share your story. I enjoy networking and finding others who want to enjoy a cup of coffee or a phone call and talk about our widgets.  Learning about others and what they are passionate about will help you spread the word of your widget and you will probably find other people’s widgets that will add value to your world.

When I visit with someone I never ask them to buy my widget.  I just ask if I can hear their story and in turn can I share my story?  What I discover is people are either attracted to a part of my story or they are not, but since I didn’t make an ask, no one feels uncomfortable.  The great part of this process is that it is genuine, it builds relationships and people end up referring others to me or they have a need later.

This process takes all the risk out of the sales.  The sweaty, heart thumping, nauseating silence when you think you are supposed to be making an ask turns into a pleasant story sharing and enjoyable making of friendships.

So, stop engaging in Risky Business, just share your story.

They are always watching.

It’s her new backpack for school, pre-kindergarten.  She is 4 and he is 29.  Her dad knew she would proudly walk to the car if she could don that new prize possession.  He is a good dad.

How does this happen?  And, what does it have to do with sales?

A lot.

Everyone knows a few things about sales, but we all know that there are certain things that if you do them, they always end in success:

Show up.  90% of getting the deal is all about showing up.

Same with being a good dad.

Positive attitude.  You have heard the saying “attitude determines altitude.”

Same with being a good dad.

Learn and care about your prospect.  Find something in common, find a way to add value.

Same with being a good dad.

Have fun.  It’s not all about work, but work can definitely be fun.

Same with being a good dad.

Stick with it.  How many times has a prospect said they were not interested?  But, after time and checking in with the prospect something changed, and now they have a need.

Same with being a good dad.

Follow through.  I read a statistic that said 92% of salespeople don’t follow through.  The other 8% are wildly successful salespeople.

Same with being a good dad.

And so, it goes with all of us.  They are watching.  Who is watching?  Our team, our prospects, our competitors, our boss.

Same with our children.

If you work hard, they will work hard.

If you behave ethically, they will behave ethically.

If you listen and care, they will listen and care.

They are always watching.

The precious photo is of my son and his daughter.  My son learned how to be a good dad from his dad.  And he learned from his dad.  They were watching.

Photo courtesy of Christina Ropp

Runner up!

Who remembers 2nd place?
That may not be a good question if you are asking a sports enthusiast like my husband, he remembers every NASCAR race, college football game and please don’t get him started on my son’s cross country races!!

Second place has been called the first loser, and often we discuss that no one remembers who the “runner up” was. I feel very differently about second place. In my opinion it is a perfect place to be. Let me share a typical second place scenario with you…

I place a call on a prospect, get the appointment, discuss the value we add to each other with a relationship – but I am told any one of the following reasons that a business relationship will not work out:
“My mom, sister, brother, uncle, dad… is in the same business.”
“I am really happy with my current relationship and do not want to upset my current relationship.”
“The company we use now does business with us and that means a lot to me.”
“I get really good service and I don’t want to risk changing that.”
“It is just too much trouble to make a change.”

To every one of those responses I say:
“I completely understand. Would you mind if I hang out in second place? We could build a relationship and then if anything changes, we won’t be strangers. And, if you ever want a second opinion on something, I am right here.”
Second place has served me pretty well. Life changes all the time. Second place becomes first place very quickly. One or two poor customer service problems, a family member changes jobs, companies change policies… anything can happen to move you into first place.
Let me caution you- if you ask someone for their business and they like you, and they trust you, but they don’t pick you… they will watch you very closely. You are automatically in second place in their mind. So, be very careful with that position. Nurture every prospect beyond the “ask.” It is a little bit like the “never give up” attitude.

This week I was honored to be in second place, I was probably in third place but who’s keeping track, right???
Recently, our Columbia Mo. Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Network honored an outstanding female leader and mentor in my community (Athena International Award). I was one of three finalists; the other two women were pillars in our community and I was deeply honored to even stand with them. Nope, I did not win, but being a runner up was pretty good. Athena was the Greek virgin goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature. She was a goddess of wisdom and courage. Well, I may not have all of those traits (my sisters are falling out of their seats right now!), but maybe I have one or two – and that is pretty darn cool!

Photo: Jan Grossman, Vicki Russell, Me! (Athena International Award ceremony, Vicki Russell was named 2017 Athena)

PUSHY!

Pushy.

[poo sh-ee]

Adjective – obnoxiously forward or self-assertive.

We have all experienced this behavior from someone.  We have all felt uncomfortable because someone thought they had the right to place their goals and objectives ahead of someone else’s.

 

I call this “blinded by the light.”

Think of a movie scene where the light is at the end of the tunnel and a human is attracted to it with such gravitational force that it is like a meteor plummeting to the earth with a crashing force that it will annihilate anything in its wake.

 

Just this week I experienced this energy, drive, self-fulfilling behavior with complete disregard to my needs and my feelings.  I was approached by an older gentleman who asked for 20 minutes of my time in the next hour.  I was told it was not an option for me to meet and have a discussion.

Not only was I not feeling well, my husband was not feeling well and I had a number of priority items to handle.  It was also presented to me right before I had to stand and present before a group of colleagues.  I felt a number of emotions: shock, exhaustion, fury, wonder, and even a large lack of self-confidence.

 

Incredible as it may seem, I succumbed to the pressure and made myself available.  Much to my dismay, anger, frustration – the meeting did not go well and made all the feelings I had even worse.

 

Great salespeople never push their agenda before that of their clients or prospects.

Great salespeople always ask permission for someone’s time.

Great salespeople never expect someone to drop everything for them.

Great salespeople always want what is best for the prospect or client, and believes that a consumer is intelligent enough to come to a good decision for themselves.

Great salespeople never say “well you better do it this month or else…”

 

You may be told by your trainer to create a sense of urgency.

You may be told by your trainer to be persistent, “constant contact.”

You may be told by your trainer to share with your prospect how much it will help you if they do it today.

You may be told by your trainer that the prospect doesn’t know enough or cannot make that decision without all of your information.

 

Whether you are selling or not, professionals don’t behave this way either.

 

People!  Stop being pushy!!

Let me offer you how I approach asking someone for their time.  And if you are asking enough people for their time, you will have plenty of people to talk to.

First, call, email or ask face to face if someone would welcome a conversation with you.

Ask permission to reach out to them, with the purpose of scheduling a time for that conversation.

Follow through and reach out, via the channel that has been agreed upon, and schedule an appointment for that conversation.

When you do reach out, ask if it is a good time still, (sometime circumstances change and what was planned does not work,) be generous – time is the most valuable item anyone can give to another, handle it with great care.

Thank the person for their graciousness to you.

 

Do you want to be a great salesperson?  Start with courtesy.

 

I am so incredibly courteous with others time that this week when I asked someone if they thought I was a good salesperson they answered “I don’t really think of you as a salesperson.”

Good.  I am not blinding anyone by my light.

 

It’s Arithmetic!

The photo you see in this blog was sent to us from a friend, which tells us that the probability of many others getting a look at the image was a real possibility.  The fun and confident way he wore the hat is what could have encouraged the photographer into taking the photo.  The reality is not the perception and that is the whole point.  Or maybe the point is that he showed up, he joined in, and with a little luck he was afforded an opportunity.  I believe that is one of the secrets to being a successful salesperson.

The reality is that an award was bestowed on me this year.  It was a contest for the town I live in called “Top of the Town”, a voting contest by the readership of a local business magazine – Columbia Business Times.

At the award celebration the winners were given a Top Hat, a very cool Top Hat.

It was a warm day and I was of course worried about my hair looking good for photos so I sparingly wore the hat, and attempting to be a bit humble, I laid the hat on the table we were hanging around.  That was when opportunity struck and my son in law picked it up and placed it on his head.  It looked good.  It fit well. He was meant to be a winner!

Successful sales people show up, join in and take the opportunity to put the hat on.  It is arithmetic!  Preparedness + opportunity + a dash of luck = Success.

Preparedness:  New business comes from meeting new people, so you have to show up to events, meetings and conferences.

Opportunity:  New business comes from engaging in activities (parties to volunteering)  and being open to participating in growth experiences such as trainings (maybe even role playing.)

Dash of Luck:  Should someone with a need, or someone who knows of someone with a need, present them-self to you,  and you are the person who can meet that need, that  = SUCCESS!

Bryan, my son in law, practiced a little arithmetic at the Top of the Town celebration.  He enjoyed a little success by getting his photo in the magazine’s online gallery.  And, he looked good!

 

 

Bounce Rejection!

Recently a friend shared that when contemplating asking someone for their business she physically begins to tremble, move backward away from the idea, she gets a lump in her throat and her stomach begins to roll. All of these things happen, she knows, because they might say “no.” My friend knows she is good at what she does, she is certain she has talent, she believes in her product and service and she knows her product or service would add value to the person she is asking. It isn’t any of those things. It is the silence that comes with the “no,” it is the idea of the next time they are in a social setting and how they will adjust to the “no,” it is the simple reality that they don’t find the same value in her product and service as she does.

Check out this blog on sales statistics to learn just how hard it is to be a great sales person:

10 Sales Performance Stats To Know

We can reason all of these feelings away and suggest that anyone can learn to get over these feelings and make the ask anyway. Sure, anyone can learn a skill. But can they excel at it? Can they be remarkable at it? Can they do it with such joy and glee that it seems effortless? Can anyone sell? Sure. But if it doesn’t make you feel good maybe you should find another way, maybe.

Rejection comes in all forms. Whether it is personal or a business rejection, it is never fun. Or is it?
I remember a couple of guys in high school that I really liked, I probably acted like a complete fool around them. You know the ending of the story since my husband is 6 years older than me, those guys did not like me back. It was personal. But I look back on high school with great fondness, even if those boys didn’t like me!
Rejection in the business world might be easier than in the personal world, we all know that changing jobs is not nearly as big of a deal than getting a divorce… but rejection is hard and hurtful no matter the instance.
Rejection in your business life is simply a disagreement of how a company moves forward. If you are offering your products or services to a company and they say “no thank you”, it just means they have another plan, it may not be a good time, they may have loyalties to someone else or they might not think your product and service will add enough value at this moment for the company. Very seldom is it personal – and then you don’t want to work with them anyway… people who run companies on personal whims can never be trusted.
In all situations – MOVE ON!

When someone serves me up a good dose of rejection I always leave the door open for their ultimate purchase of my product or service. They may come around, uncover a need, change the company direction. They may have a change in management, they may change to another company – we never know. I enjoy filling the silence after a “no” with “can we stay in touch?” Never has anyone rejected that question. And over the years, many, many times, they have said “yes” at another time.

Maybe YOU should not deal with rejection. Maybe YOU should do what you are good at and let the professional salesperson deal with rejection. Hire a salesperson.
Perhaps the better way for you to build your business is to build referral sources who believe in you. Perhaps trading referrals is a better way. Many people will share their friend’s greatness before they will share their own… fine, do it that way – build a referral team.
Maybe you believe you can generate business via a strong media presence. Remember people trust people not buildings and products. Make sure your message is about you and trust. It can work.

Rejection is not easy, rejection hurts. Understanding rejection and dealing with rejection allows you to wear the ultimate rubber suit and when you understand rejection then you just bounce to the next opportunity and in a very positive way!

Have you heard of Tigger? T I double “GA” ER. Well “Tiggers are wonderful fellas, Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber and their bottoms are made out of springs.” Simply put – Tiggers bounce and they are fun. Great salespeople are like Tiggers. If you don’t see yourself as a Tigger, then figure out how to add a Tigger into your world, I think you will be glad you did.

Ding Dong Avon Calling

Recently someone asked me “how do I get a friend to support my business?” Very good question. It is interesting how awkward we feel sharing something we love and are passionate about, something we know is a good product, we even are 100% confident they like the product or will like the product. But, because we will benefit from it, we pause. This conflict is so confusing to me. We have no problem sharing a product at the grocery store that we love, we have no conflict referring a service that did a great job for us and we have absolutely no problem giving the shirt off our back but we pause when it is something that involves our benefit of money.

I am going to convince you to break out of that mindset, be bold and certain of your amazing product and talent.

Her name is Gerry. Gerry was my mom’s Avon lady. Think about my mom’s life – 8 kids, Girl Scout leader, Catechism teacher, wife, gardener – that provided our food, oh and did I mention she worked at the local Post Office and later became the Postmaster! When Gerry rang that doorbell…are you kidding me, we didn’t have a doorbell, my mom was ecstatic if we closed the door…stopped by with all her “Skin So Soft fragrances and lotions, my mom and her seven (7!) daughters went into Potion heaven! We collected the elegant lady bottles of perfume (I remember my dad made a special shelf for those little ladies), we spent an hour choosing the .39 cent lip balm we each were going to get as if it were golden honey for our lips! Oh Gerry the joy you brought to our life!

Not once did I think of Gerry’s paycheck while I tested lip balm and sprayed samples of perfume all over my body! Not once.

As a Sales Director with The Pampered Chef, I had the absolute best clients in the whole wide universe! A favorite family of mine was: Jan, Becky, Darlene, Jeanie and Jeanie! One day I asked Jan, why do you keep hosting Pampered Chef parties, you have everything? She shared that she loves to cook, she loves to have friends over, she loves the product and she loved me! I was her Gerry! That was the day I ditched the worry of making money selling stuff to my friends and understood that if I was a good friend back to them, then I would give my friends the opportunity to have the great stuff I was pedaling, I understood that if I did not offer my awesome stuff to them, I wasn’t much of a true friend.

Do you know to this day the best way to keep a mosquito from biting me is to slather my body with Skin So Soft? Do you know that to this day the best way to cook a pizza or make tater tots (you know you love them) is on a Pampered Chef Stone? And how does anyone make salsa, can jarred stewed tomatoes without the Food Chopper? Seriously if you don’t use this stuff, dial me up and I will connect you with my Avon lady and my Pampered Chef lady because I am a true friend who believes in making money selling something great!

Bad Manners are Bad for Business

Growing up in a family of 10, my mom worked tirelessly to teach her brood manners and courtesy. Every evening at 5:30, my mom would call us in from the yard and serve a meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Despite bickering over who had to sit next to my left-handed sister, spilled milk at nearly every meal, and belching, I recall my mom saying, “What if the President were here with us? Would you behave that way?” My mom was teaching us how to present ourselves in all situations—something I didn’t fully appreciate until adulthood—but the lesson I ultimately came away with was to always be prepared for opportunity.  If the President does show up for dinner, the table should be properly set and your manners will be in check.

“If the house is not clean, you should not invite friends over!”

In other words, always be ready to receive an opportunity so if one comes your way, you will be ready and practiced! It’s a lesson I’ve taken with me into the world of sales.

How many times have I gone into work and someone is dressed down or not clean-shaven? Of course I’ll crack a joke, ”Is your razor broken?”  The typical response I get is “I don’t have any appointments today.”

What if an unexpected opportunity arises, and you’re unprepared. But what if the President walked in that day, and you’re wearing khakis instead of dress pants? We are not ready for the President to stop by. We have no plans to receive an opportunity.  We decided to get dressed in the morning for a ‘down day’ of no production.

Shouldn’t we be preparing for success?

We have all heard the phrase “dress for success.” Well, it matters.

And not just for appearances. It’s a mindset; it means there is a plan. When we prepare for success and it happens, we are elated.  When we don’t prepare for success and it happens, we’re blind-sided.

Preparedness + Opportunity = Success

This motto has been around for decades.  Both the Boys Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America state this basic principle in both of their mottos!

If you heed my advice and prepare for a visit from the President, that’s still only one part of the equation. One kid at my family dinner table might have been perfectly well-mannered and prepared, but if the other seven children are acting like hooligans, the household isn’t prepared.

Look around your office. Are your teammates and your environment ready to receive the President? Messy workspaces, ‘dressed down’ colleagues, people eating at their desk. There is nothing more frustrating than bringing a prospect into our ‘home’ when the team is not ready.

Remember, sales is a team sport.  Everyone needs to be ready for success. Sometimes it is about communicating to your team that opportunity may strike at any moment, but more importantly it is about everyone deciding to be ready at all times. This isn’t easy. It takes time. But it can be done, and it’s fun to work on preparing for opportunity together.

I hope you will take some time to prepare you, your team, and your workspace for a visit from the President!

Deal Making Happens Every Day

Was there a time in life that I did not need the ability to make a sale? No.

As the middle of eight children, I worked a deal every day. Two of my sisters wore the same size shoes and clothes as I did, so we were dealing. Who got to sit next to Mom at church? We were dealing. Getting the front seat of the station wagon? We were dealing.

In all these instances, getting what I wanted had more to do with my preparation—my pre-call plan—than it did with convincing my siblings to see things my way. If you weren’t the first one to get out of bed, the first one to be ready and the first one out the door, the chance of getting the front seat was very low.

So in this, I learned a key to sales. If you don’t plan to make a sale, then you will never make a sale.

If you conducted a survey, more than half of those asked would say they cannot do sales, or even that they hate sales. The other half would not only love sales, but because they love sales, they would generously add how good they are at the art of making deals.

Harvard Law School has a certificate in deal making, which they call “negotiation.” And every good negotiation starts with preparation. In this first post, I’m first going to urge you to consider all the deals you make each day.

Once you realize the deals you’re making each day, I want you to consider how the results of those deals might have turned in your favor with a bit of preparation.

For example, if I have a morning meeting with clients, I’ll figure out all the minute details the day prior—down to the coffee. You see, if I didn’t, I might be busy making coffee when the prospect arrives. So, I struck a deal with a coworker through value creation.

First and foremost, I selected the right prospect (in this case, the best person to make coffee). If they have time to talk, I start by asking for help. Any basic psychology course will talk about humans’ innate desire to help one another.

”Jack/Jill, I think I have a great prospect coming in to work tomorrow and I’m wondering if you might help me with some set up for the meeting?

Unless they’re having surgery, who will say no?

“Sure, how can I help…”

After a great meeting with delicious coffee, update Jack/Jill on how it went, and thank them in front of others. When we give compliments, others learn how to earn compliments.

Another daily example is your daily lunch break. For example, if you’d gone to see who was in the break room before taking your lunch, you might have been able to time your midday meal with a colleague that has a strength or skillset you admire. If you’d time your lunch right, you might be able to strike up a conversation.

It’s a common exchange of value. They will enjoy speaking about something they love, and you’ve made them feel good by showing them you value their art. In return, you get to learn a bit of their expertise.

Opportunities are everywhere. But you must plan to make great deals.