A Step Ahead
with Skip Miller
September, 2009 Vol 3, Issue 9
The Art of Prospecting in the Rain!  
Race car in wall 2 
"In racing they say your car goes where your eyes go.  The driver who can not tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle. 
Your car goes where your eyes go. 
Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you." 
From "The Art of Racing in the Rain"
by Garth Stein
Even though the above quote is about racing I believe we can apply it to today's business environment.  If you're letting the woes of today's economy keep you down, if you're reading, believing and most of all ACCEPTING all the negative that's out there you may feel as if your "car" is spinning out of control.  You may chalk-up and justify your loss in the race to elements out of your control. 
But it's the sales leader who keeps his eyes forward on the horizon that is going to succeed long term.  It's the ProActive sales leader that realizes they need to prospect hard during this stretch of the race.  Not only outside their existing customer base but also making sure they are going broad and deep into their current accounts.  
Do you have the right relationships? 
Are you talking to and meeting with the right people in the organization? 
Are you speaking their language? 
Do you understand, truly understand, their risks, the ROI they need, their brand strengths and weaknesses, all the leverage points available and any time concerns they have?
If not, you need to grip the wheel a little tighter and get your vehicle back on track!  You've still got time, there are a few months left in the year to make your number.  You haven't been lapped yet.  Make a pit stop, get re-energized and re-engaged.     The first step is believing you can do it.  Now get back out there and finish 2009 strong!
Good Luck! 
In This Issue
ProActive Selling Tool - Turn Strangers into Customers
It's a Dog's Life!
Art of Racing in the RainThat which we manifest
is before us.  
A different suggestion this month.  Just finished reading this book about a race car driver and his faithful companion, who also happens to be the narrator of the novel.
I enjoyed it on a few levels.  First, it's a great story, a well written work of fiction.  Second, it contains some great insight into communication, persistence and goal setting that can apply to any sales person,  manager or leader.
Some examples:  
"Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny.  Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves" 
"Here's why I will be a good person.  Because I listen.  I cannot speak, so I listen very well.  I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.  People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another's conversations constantly.  It's like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street.  Learn to listen!  I beg of you.  Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories."  
Click here and purchase this great read!

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If you missed this free webinar, you missed the future of sales organization and execution!

Skip and Lisa Fiat from Mindjet effectively show how salespeople can utilize some new technologies to achieve an even greater level of sales productivity and success. 

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Click here to easily view this 45 minute webinar from Mindjet's website.
The True Art of the Sale
Turn Strangers into Customers 
ProActive Selling Tool 
   * Excerpt from Skip's Best Seller "Knock Your Socks Off Prospecting" *
Picking up the phone to call a list of total strangers is a brutal way to make a living.  That is pure, unadulterated cold calling.  Many salespeople do it, and in some situations it really is the only option.  For most salespeople however, there are strategies available that tremendously improve the odds of success by giving you targets that are easier to hit.  We have found the three most useful strategies are: 
  • Cold to Warm
  • Shotguns and Rifles
  • Leverage

Cold to Warm
Warm calls work better than cold calls.  In a cold call, you are a perfect stranger contacting a prospect out of the blue.  In a warm call, the prospect has some sense of familiarity with you and will be more open to a discussion.  Your objective, then, is not to make as many cold calls as you can, but to turn as many cold calls as you can into warm ones, thereby increasing your chances for success before you pick up the phone or knock on the door.  Some tips: 

  • Reference someone inside or outside the prospective company
  • Reference common customers
  • Refer to a flattering story in a newspaper or magazine about your company or the prospect's company. 
  • Ask prospects to attend an event they would find interesting and worth their time

Shotguns and Rifles

Duck Hunting

A shotgun spreads a broad pattern, but even so, you still have to aim.  You don't just walk outdoors and start blasting, hoping to hit a duck.  You have to pick a lake, a field, or some other place where you think the ducks are.  Then you have to point the gun in the direction of the ducks before you pull the trigger.  The same strategy applies in prospecting.  Even when you're using a shotgun you must be both broad and specific.
If you want to hit a prospect, go where good prospects are most likely to be before you start shooting.  Use the shotgun approach to target a broad market.  Here are some examples:
  • Vertical market - automotive industry
  • Geographic market - city of Phoenix
  • Customer-oriented - "past customers who bought  X from us before" 

Rifle techniques allow you to refine your approach and become more productive.  Here are three: 

  1. Create Goals - "How many by when?" All your goals should include the specific number of contacts you will make and when you will make them.  "Soon" or "a lot" won't cut it. 
  2. Be timely - Work to the prospect's time frame, not yours.  Best times are early in the morning, in the evening, ten minutes before the hour and ten minutes before and after the lunch hour. 
  3. Create influence - Warm up your calls as specifically as you can.  Do you know someone who also knows the prospect and will let you use him as a reference?  Are you on LinkedIn?  If not, you should be.  Is there someone in your list of contacts that works or has worked at the prospect's company or has information that you can use to get through to your target? 

You can gain leverage by adopting one of the following three tactics.   

  1. The Expert - If you are an expert in your field, say so.  If there is any way you can position yourself or your company as having some special expertise, do it, do it, do it.
    "I am the leading real estate salesperson in the city"  "My company is the #1 supplier in the world for..."
  2. The Question - What are the one or two burning questions for which your top customers need answers?  What is happening in their day-to-day life that you can assist with? 
    "What are you doing to take advantage of the current interest rates?"  "Eight out of ten people in your position ask us, Why is this the time to invest in capital equipment?"
  3. The Value Statement - A value statement tells buyers that by taking action, they can get some value over and above their expectations.  But remember, to understand value, you must think like a buyer not someone who would just like to make a sale. 
    "It now offers twice as many cycles as previous models"  "Because of demand you can get this at the lowest price in the industry"  
We're in October already.  2009 is almost over and you need to continue your prospecting to finish strong and start 2010 even stronger.  Spend your time on your Red Zone accounts and make sure you're going broad and deep with your best customers!  Ask, "Who else will be involved/affected by this decision within the company?"  Listen and make contact.  Remember, broad and deep to your existing customer base is prospecting too.  Lastly, when you're in front of them, speak the right language and LISTEN!
As always, you know I'm here to help you in any way I can.  Call me, e-mail me, or text me - I'm here for you!
All the best for a great October and a fantastic finish to your year!