A Step Ahead
with Skip Miller
August, 2009 Vol 3, Issue 8
If things are getting better, than why isn't my phone ringing?

Phone with Cobwebs 
Delusional.  That's what a lot of sales people are if they think things are going back to where they were.
"Finally, things seem to be getting back to normal...like they were."   I don't think so.  The bottom has fallen out, companies who should not have been in business are gone, and the smart ones are getting stronger.  What are the smart ones doing?
1.       Have a short term vision - what can we do right now, to effect the next 5 months
2.       Rewarding their top performers - the top sales people are getting more responsibility, right now, and not waiting for the annual year end territory alignments
3.       Prospecting
Attention all sales people and sales managers; you have 30-40 days to make your number for this year.  To get the pipeline full for one more sales cycle.  To make one more run at the big nut.  This newsletter is dedicated to you, to help you make that one more run.
It seems you may be able to make lemonade out of lemons if you put your head down and start the funnel.  Yes, no sales person likes to prospect, but we may have some tips for you, so stay tuned.
Managers, look at December, establish the goal, and work backwards to figure out what you need to do.  Sales people...... start doing that P-word.  It tastes bad, but will be good for you.  Hold your nose, ask some current customers for some referrals, and go for it.
Good Luck, 
Prospecting Stinks!

Selling is fun - getting the deal, working with people, being on the front lines and clued into what's really happening out in the field - that's fun. 
Prospecting...not so much!
Most salespeople hate to prospect.  They will do almost anything to avoid it.  They would rather eat dirt, break a bone, see their in-laws move across the street...you get the idea.   
I know this fear and loathing is so engrained in most salespeople that I'll never be able to persuade you to love it.  So I won't .  What I will ask you to accept is that prospecting is a necessary part of your job. 
In fact, I'll say that if you have been prospecting over the last few years when times have been good , you'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in these uncomfortable times.  If not, well....  
I know it's hard, I don't like it either. But I do know that your prospecting funnel is the lifeblood of any sales territory.  And I also know that you can get better at it!  I've seen and helped hundreds of salespeople increase their skills in this area. 
This newsletter format doesn't give me enough space to go over all the tips I want to offer you, but I'll give you a few in the ProActive Selling Tool area below and will offer you an easy one right here: 
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Leave your prospecting speech on your own voice mail message and listen to what you hear.  Have others listen to it and get their feedback.  Call my office at (408) 395-4668 and leave it on my machine.  I promise you I'll call back with advice and guidance. 
Practice is the only thing that makes us better at any skill set.  Practice this one and I guarantee you'll become a Prospecting Machine!  Now get going!
In This Issue
ProActive Selling Tool - Strike Prospecting Gold!
Skip on the Radio - Maximizing Sales in the Second Half of the Year!
Help your "A" Players finish strong! 
TASS - Team

The next Advanced Sales School with Ropes Course is planned for the fall season.  Give your top sales people, your "A" Players, the advantage they need for 2010.  They'll be challenged and will push themselves in ways they never thought possible.  
We have been doing this school for 15 years, and we're still getting letters on how the students are using the tools.  Tap into your "A" players extra resources so they, and you, can finish  Sign them up now! 
Advanced Sales School
Oct, 12-14 - Saratoga, CA
Call Teri at 408.399.9243 or go to www.m3learning.com and register now.
Special Early Registration and Group Discounts available!
TASS - Team
It's Tool Time!
Knock your Socks off prospectingLearn the hard-won, in-the-trenches prospecting
and cold-calling secrets of the most successful salespeople!. 
In the trademark, fun style of the best-selling Knock Your Socks Off series, this practical book gives sales people renewed energy for a critical (yet often dreaded) phase of the sales cycle.
Features include:
Practical, logical, and easy-to-use tools
Step-by-step skill-building exercises
A combination of research and "feet on the street" wisdom
Salespeople will gain priceless insight on improving communications, identifying prospects, maximizing their time, networking, and more. This book reveals techniques that will make any sales professional's efforts more enjoyable -- and much more profitable.
"Five stars for KYSOP.  The tools are simple to understand and execute, and will help salespeople overachieve in this vital part of the selling cycle.  This is mandatory reading for all inside and field salespeople."  
Steve Richley - Sales Manager - Apple Computer, Inc.  
The True Art of the Sale
ProActive Selling Tool 
                 Use these 4 secrets to strike Gold!  
          *** Excerpt from the Best Seller "Knock Your Socks Off Prospecting" ***
1)       Have a positive passion about them. 
Very few things are as infectious as a positive passion.  But it's not believing in your company or the strength of its products that's important.  Your passion has to be for the value your product or service can provide for the prospect. 

The difference sounds small but it is huge.  A lot of salespeople believe strongly that their companies and products are terrific.  Only a few reserve their passion for what makes a deal terrific from the prospect's point of view, not their own.  Those few are the winners .  They knock people's socks off. 

For positive passion to be contagious - it has to be all about them! 
2)      Be Prepared. 
Naturally salespeople need a thorough understanding of the features and benefits their company and their products have to offer.  But the real trick is to be prepared from the prospect's perspective. 

What's on their mind?  What worries them?  What takes most of their attention?  
Whenever possible,  great salespeople do their homework about the issues the person they are calling on faces on a daily basis. 

TIP:        If you are calling on a public company,  check out their last two or three quarterly reports on their web-site - they are usually good indicators of where time and effort are being spent.  If it is a private company, insiders like administrators marketing people,  and current salespeople are good contacts.  Outside the company, customers and competitors are always talking as well.  The big question is ARE YOU LISTENING? 

Prospectors handbook
 3)      Ask
A key element in execution is to take the offensive.  Ask. Ask questions, ask for help, ask for understanding.  If you are really passionate about them and their needs, and if you've done your homework, prospects want to talk with you. 
But don't ask questions just for the sake of asking questions. You have to earn a seat at the asking table.  That's where homework comes in. 
"Mr. Smith, based on your last quarterly report, it seems you are looking to increase your inventory turns, is that right?"
"Ms. Jones.  I talked to some of your people, and it seems that your company could really use a solution that would measure the success of new product launches.  Is that right? "  
4)      Start from the next step. 

Time and time again, salespeople begin a cold call only to have the prospect say something like, "Well that sounds good, why don't you call me back in a few weeks when I have time to talk?"  A lot of salespeople feel good about this.  They pull out their calendars and mark a date in a few weeks when they will call the prospect again.  Hey, the guy invited them to, right?  Obviously he'll take the call. 

Wrong.  What you just heard was a stall.  Stalls can go on forever.  To prevent stalls and to avoid dropping the execution ball, try to get prospects involved in a "next step" of some sort. 

Give them homework - give them something to do.  Ask them to fill out a form, send an e-mail, or gather some information.  We are NOT talking about you sending them a mountain of your literature and asking them to read it.  Give them a simple assignment.  Have them call someone or do something.  Get them involved in the start of the process. 

Get a date - Get a specific date of action.  Not "real soon" or "as soon as possible".  Set a real date, one that shows up on your calendar.  Then you'll be moving the sale along

Ask if you can call around - before the cold call ends, tell the prospect that as a next step you want to do a little more homework.  Ask who they would recommend you speak to in order to get some more information before your next conversation. 
Prospecting Gold!
These 4 steps gain involvement in a roundabout way, but give you a concrete reason to call back and give the prospect a reason to take your call. 
While there is no on "right" way to execute a cold call, if you incorporate these steps into your process, you may find, to your surprise, that cold calling is not as hard as you may have thought.  

Skip on the Radio!  

Jim Blasingame Logo
Maximizing Sales in the Second Half of the Year!
What are the best ideas for finishing a difficult year with a flourish in sales?
Skip Miller joins Jim Blasingame, the Small Business Advocate, to reveal key sales strategies that you must use to do a better job of qualifying prospects and therefore close more sales. 
                  To listen to this powerful interview, click here!
Only 5 months left to go for 2009.  The dog days of August are upon us but you've still got time to get your number if you're prospecting and filling your pipeline.  While everyone else is vacationing, end your summer with a bang! 
Remember that practice makes perfect.  Call me with your 30 second prospecting speech and I'll call you with my thoughts!  
All the best!