Coffee Is Still for Closers: Rules of Engagement for Closing the Sale

A few years ago, I answered a knock on the  door to find a young woman ready to solve a problem of mine.  We had off- white carpet that was getting dingy and I needed to bring it back to life.  It was like the voices of the carpet cleaning Gods had spoken and sent me Cindy.  Cindy was eager to help me and even offered to clean one room for free.  This was great.  I figured she would do one room and I would pay her to do the other two.  A couple of hundred bucks and I would be good, Cindy would have a  sale, and voila…  Later in the evening, Cindy showed up, ALONE.  No crew, just her and a fancy vacuum cleaner.  She was knee deep in vacuuming my couch before I figured out that I had invited the dreaded Kirby sales rep into my house. This wasn’t going to solve my carpet cleaning issues.  However, I wanted to see what this machine could do.  Although I was duped into the sales pitch, I figured it would be fun. Two hours and a lot of buckets of dirty water later, I was ready to buy the thing.  She kept the suspense by not revealing the price.  I figured it would be six or seven hundred dollars.  Maybe a bit much, but was still interested.  After a four-thousand dollar quote and a half hour of pushy sales tactics, I was ready to call the police. No need to worry, Cindy finally left, and my seventy-five dollar Walmart vacuum still works fine.

Cup of Coffee with Spices

Cup of Coffee with Spices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Kirby sales tactic is as old and dusty as that green couch Cindy cleaned for me. I recently wrote a post about risky marketing strategies and the consequences of making customers angry. Being unclear and inauthentic about intentions is not a great way to build a relationship of trust that is needed to drive a sustainable sales effort.  Today’s consumer is busy, savvy, and perhaps a bit jaded. This is great news for professional sales person who know their customer, their product, and most importantly, the rules of engagement:
Rule#1:  Be authentic
Buying customers have a need the sales rep can provide for.  Many times, this need is below the surface and not very clear.  So many times I see that the customer doesn’t know he has the need.  Through an open and honest approach, I share my purpose with the customer and contract for their valuable time. Customer’s don’t care if the pest control guy happened to have an appointment down the street that cancelled.  Customers are much more likely to listen if pest control guy uncovers a need such as a spike in the Black Widow population, or growing ant colonies in the neighborhood.  The customer will give of his time if the need is compelling, not because the Jones’ down the street no-showed for his last appointment.
Rule#2: You are not friends with 99% of your customers.
Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson have turned the relationship selling model on its head with their book The Challenger Sale.  They challenge the notion that the best sales reps are “relationship builders”.  They categorize sales reps into one of five categories (Hard worker, challenger, relationship builder, lone wolf, and reactive problem solver).  They found that the top performing reps are nearly 7 times more likely to be challengers  than relationship builders.  Successful reps teach customers how be successful while using the products they sell.  This may be as simple as Cindy teaching me how to be successful at keeping a safe and healthy home by cleaning it better using a Kirby.  Today’s sales rep doesn’t teach their message alone.  According to Dixon, the rep must tailor his message to his customer and the customer’s specific needs.  This takes effort and a good sense of the market by the sales rep.  This takes an intentional approach to preparing for the sale. Showing up with a “cookie-cutter” presentation is old and tired. The successful rep takes control of the sales process because his efforts have unlocked a solution that he has tailored to the specific customer.
Rule#3:  Coffee is still for closers!
Alec Baldwin’s ruthless character in the 1992 Glengary GlenRoss reminds the sales rep what his ultimate job is.  With a tailored message to the appropriate customer, taking control and closing the sale without Glengary Glen Ross pushy tactics is possible and much better. Ultimately it’s not about asking for the sale, but actually getting the sale that sets the awesome sales rep apart from the “ex-sales rep”.
A few simple rules of engagement to become an awesome sales rep in the new era of selling. This is not only effective, but exciting and engaging.  Rolling up your sleeves to improve your customer’s business while increasing yours is awesome and rewarding.
What is the worst sales tactic you have seen this year?  What changes would be needed to make it the BEST?
Rocco De Leo

Is Efficiency Killing You? It’s Time You Become Effective.

Intentionality is a double-edged sword.  Certainly a must have weapon on the road to awesome, however, you must not lose site of being effective.  Short sightedness can sometimes lead to a dream killing “efficiency overload”.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? Effectiveness is the completion of a project or task. The project or task may be small daily items such as cleaning the kitchen or bigger life achievements such as publishing a book or owning a business.  Efficiency adds the element of “smoothness” or “cost effectiveness” to the these projects, but often times at a cost.  I’m often so focused on getting things done in tight time windows in order to fit in more “stuff”, I stop enjoying the process. Writing and reading, two things I love to do, started to be “boxes” to check.  Since these things are not my income source, they are easily discarded if they take from my quality of life. For you these “boxes” may be yard work, cooking, or even watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

The thing about efficiency, is that it doesn’t stand on its own as a result.The ultimate goal is to be effective.

Certain projects have hard due dates.  To remain on a course toward awesome, you need to meet these timelines.  I don’t typically struggle with dates on projects, where I struggle are the “extra” things.

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume ...

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume this is for people on horseback. But then why have a gate here in the first place, I can only think it is here to keep cars off the dyke. It would be quite easy to lift a dirt bike over this wide gate, and any livestock you pass through. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are things that I believe will set each one of us apart on a road to success. Due dates are easy, they are given to us and hold us accountable.  Reading, writing, exercising, etc don’t hold us accountable.  These things need to become a way of life;  a part of who we are.  They need to fall in between “happening when they happen” and “utter obsession”. Here are a 3 important things to consider:
1.  Don’t compare yourself to people at different stages of the process.  A tenured blogger (Michael Hyatt or Chris Brogan), has the history, audience, and developed talent to manage high volumes of readers, topics, and consistency.  You’re 3 months in, don’t trap yourself into thinking you need to keep up with these guys.

2.  Regularly schedule a Check-in on yourself.  Observe your ambitious schedule for a check on priorities, results, and your happiness. As I did this, I realized my attempt at consistent blogging was taking all the fun out of it. I can afford ( as this is only a hobby), to chill out for a while and slowly jump back into the game.  You will find these opportunities to fine tune your effectiveness verses efficiency.  Backing off on writing is not efficient, but burning out and hating it isn’t very effective either.

3. Are you enjoying what you are doing?  If the answer is NO, then take a look at what it is you are doing.  Is the process stealing your joy, or is it the thing in and of itself?  Figure this out.
Remember to prioritize things in your life.  I suggest starting with a Family Mission Statement.  Read my article  on this topic and look through the resources.  The process really forces you to focus on what really matters.  Things that cause anxiety and frustration that do not lead you toward your mission…well…it’s a no brainer on what to do.
Share with me what you do when the work you do becomes a “box” to check.

Intentional Economics Lesson: do you know what you are talking about?

I few years ago I took a random IQ test and scored 126.  I’m not sure how accurate it was as it classified me as an “entry-level” genius.  While I’m not sure what the means, I feel smart but never too smart to grow and learn more. Watching the news on TV the other day, I had a vision of a countdown…126…125…124…I realized the news was stealing my IQ.  I was actually getting stupider.  My readers are smart, at least smart enough to read blogs about personal development and awesome achievement. The news depicts “average” society as moronic and self-defeating.  The Occupy Movement of a few years ago was hyped as a social movement to change the future of banking in America.  It was, however, simply a fest of dirty, unemployed hippies, bored and looking to score. No one is suggesting the Occupy People are a fair look at the “average” person.  Average people have much more influence and are much more ignorant in areas that impact society in so many more ways.

Basic economics has disappeared from the knowledge base of our youth.  The rising cost of college education in America is a direct result of ignorance and bad economic policy.
Face of the Tea Party Movement 16

Face of the Tea Party Movement 16 (Photo credit: theqspeaks)

Many years ago, a small percentage of people were able to attend College.  Partially due to intelligence and partially due to cost factors, many people were excluded.  Colleges had small staffs of professors and manageable costs.  Then, in the 1950’s, the government got into the student loan business. As more people were suddenly able to attend, the supply related to the demand sharply declined.  What happened next?  School started getting more expensive.  The response over the years from the electorate and elected officials has been to raise student loans.  Since 2/3 of all students attending have loans, the government is a major player in the college industry.  Raising the student loan amounts, thus raising the demand, does not raise the supply.  Schools can simply pocket more money and raise the cost of attendance.  This is something we may certainly see with Obama Care.
As the government becomes growingly influential in the “free market”, it essentially becomes “the market”.  Government throwing more and more money at an industry does little more than increase the cost.
Take for example my recent day care shopping.  If I call the local daycare provider as Mr. Normal suburban dad looking for daycare, I’m going to be charged a price the provider thinks is profitable, yet possible.  If I call as Mr. Government, with a  trillion-dollar budget, the provider is going to charge me a price that is profitable, yet not possible for anyone without a trillion-dollar budget.  Those numbers are vastly different based on Mr. Normal verses Mr. Government.  The government should not be in the business of dramatically dictating market prices; that was never the intention of the founding fathers and it’s a dangerous road to venture.
     This post is not an article against student loans or any government involvement at all (although we can discuss my libertarian leanings another time), it’s more about the need to develop a better understanding of economics and influence within society.  1 + 1 equals 2 whether you are black, white, asian, gay, straight, Martian, Canadian, or even a gay handicap Martian who is 2/3 American Eskimo and a descendent of slaves born of gay parents.  We can decide to redistribute money for a greater good and to help people who need it for various reasons.  As a society, we cannot accept being duped into thinking there’s only a nominal cost when that simply isn’t true.
     As your influence grows, you are responsible to educating those within your sphere of influence.  Ignorance within an organization as well as society as a whole is dangerous.  If you don’t understand the basic math of economics and are unwilling to learn, most likely you won’t gain much more influence than your one vote.  Seek understanding.  Speak with confidence, determination, and a real understand of your influence and the influence of the big players.
Recommended Reading:

2. Basic Economics: Tomas Sowell

There’s a ton more to read, listen to, and absorb.  Be intentional about the world around you and have a desire to understand.