THE ART OF (KILLING) THE DEAL

A must read for every salesperson, Ben Stein on The Art of (Killing) the Deal. I personally found the following deal killers top of mind with me:

·         You are doing all the talking. I have done hundreds, if not thousands of presentations and to me, nothing is worse than a lack of interactivity. I will often stop and request comments, draw out discussion, get the customer speaking. Nothing is a bigger business killer than a one way conversation.

·         You think you are more important than the customer. This one kills me and I will admit, there are times when I have groaned about the inconvenience of a meeting, but in the end, the customer always comes first. Just the other day, I was unhappy because I need to travel 45 minutes to the same spot, two days in a row and tried to force it into one day. But, in the end, I could not get frustrated with my assistant because I always say ‘Everything else can move, customer first’.

·         Don’t sweat the details. This one kills me and I think that 90% of reps don’t take this seriously. The details are the thank you note, remember names, remembering details about people, birthdays, going that extra mile on holidays, etc. I will blog more on this one soon, but it is one that drives me crazy and I see very few sales reps do it well. Those who do, always have a higher chance of success. Every sales rep should adhere to the MacKay 66, or something like it.

NAVIGATE AN EVENT

Men’s Health magazine (September 2006) has a great article on the office. A sidebar article talks about navigating the office party (Titled ‘She’s hot. The boss is drunk. Make the office party work for you anyway’).

In my role, I am often put into situations where I need to ‘work a room’. A few of their office party tips are very relevant to sales people and/or sales managers, in no particular order:

1.       Hold your drink in your left hand: your right should be busy glad handing.

2.       Make sure your drink is empty before you join a new group. Use the empty vessel as an excuse to change groups. (I would also add that you should always take half drinks at the bar to ensure maximum flexibility of movement without drinking too much – see bottom)

3.       Always stay on your feet to increase social mobility, and introduce people. Be the one who is making connections. People will look at you and say “Here is someone you need to know, people will look at you as a connecting point and will return the favour”

4.       Hopping from conversation to conversation can make you look like a climber. Always looking over shoulders and you will be resented. Want to maximize face time, stand where there is lots of traffic.

Some other points from my own handbook:

  • Evaluate the crowd. If this is your event (You are the host), look for gaps. Important client alone or with the wrong people? Interject, be the connector, ensure they are comfortable. I remember a bad scenario where we had a big dinner and the rep did not control seating. The most important exec was last to sit (through the mingling) and was left sitting with a low level table. I looked on in horror as it happened (And ‘educated’ the rep afterward). As soon as I could break out, I hit his table and spent the rest of the evening at his table.
  •  Take control. When seating, take the time to think it out. Put the right people beside the right people. This applies to meetings and dinner events. For example, if in a meeting, think about breaking up tribes, of ensuring there isn’t an ‘us and them’ scenario (i.e. Where your team is on one side, they are on the other or your team is at the back, they are at the front. Intermingle).
  • Remember, always on. Want to enjoy yourself? Take your spouse out for dinner, go drinking with buddies. You are on the job. You are not allowed to sit in the corner, or stick with the ‘comfy guy/gal’ you like. You’re on, be on and control your drinking. Let someone else fall over.

CORPORATE GOLF TOURNAMENTS

I have been expanding on the benefits of golf in sales and have a point to add on the golf tournament.
Executives and clients get many offers to golf tournaments. MANY. They have to be choosy on which ones they go to.
When I was a rep, I can remember my peers struggling to fill their slots, while I hovered around – ready to take the extra slots up because I had too many people wanting to come. Invariably, the excuses would fly:
1. My customer has an event that day (You should have invited them sooner)
2. No one at my customer golfs (can’t see that being true)
3. They are not allowed to golf (can’t see that being true)
As a sales manager, I use the corporate golf tourney as a litmus test. The best reps, who have built strong relationships and positioned the company as a key partner, are the ones who fill the slots to overflowing.
A good measure of the rep.

CLIENT GOLFING: A FEW RULES

Once you have bought into the fact that golfing is important to sales, you also need to know the ground rules. Here are a few of the rules that I live by when golfing with clients:

  1.  I don’t let them win:  I have heard this time and time again, ‘let them win’. This type of false sincerity is inappropriate in my opinion. The wonderful thing about golf is that it is an individual sport so play your best.
  2. Tone down the competitiveness: While I don’t let them win, I also tone down the competitiveness. When I am out golfing with buddies, I might start some chatter to beef up the competition, which is inappropriate with clients (Unless, they open the door and enjoy this. But, be careful, they may start it but the tide can turn quickly).
  3. Be a good sport: Don’t make them put out that 1 footer, encourage them, don’t cheat (i.e. give yourself that extra inch) and whatever you do – don’t throw a temper tantrum (i.e. throw that club).
  4. Beware betting: Do you want to work with the client and take their PO or the cash out of their pocket? I don’t bet with clients and if I do, it is for fun on the course and if I win, I never take their money.
  5. Always remember you are the host: Pick up the flag, make sure everyone is having a good time, help them find a ball. Remember, you are there to ensure that THEY have a good time. Your enjoyment is secondary.
  6. Enjoy the duffer: The true test of a great salesperson is when they golf with a duffer or group of duffers. This is one of the greatest opportunities to build trust. If someone is having a really bad game or is really bad at golf, then ensure that you are a good host. Encourage (but don’t offer advice!), help out and ensure that they feel comfortable golfing with you.
  7. When you are the duffer:  Don’t apologize, but ensure that they know who they are golfing with BEFORE they arrive at the course. Make sure that you pick up, keep the pace of play and consider taking lessons (FAST) to get your game up to speed. Again, you are the host, don’t slow down the group.

Golfing is the greatest opportunity to build a relationship or ruin one. Make the most of the opportunity so they want to golf with you again. After all, they probably get hundreds of offers .. and they will golf with those that the have a good relationship with, not the jerk.

WHY I STARTED GOLFING

My brother was the kid who grew up golfing. A group of them saved their money, got golf memberships and that is all that they did in the summer: golf. He worked at the golf course with a bunch of my friends .. and loved it. He grew up a scratch or low single digit golfer, fated to be a doctor (He is a surgeon). I did not golf.

I started golfing when I was 29. I was working for Dell Computer as an Account Executive and began to quickly realize that the people I worked with (clients – specifically executives and middle management) golfed. Seemed to me that everyone golfed except me.

So, I started golfing. Candidly, it was something that I had to do and I have come to realize that in relationship selling, it is one of my top 10 ‘must haves’ for sales success.

Where else do you get 5 hours with a client? Surely not in a meeting (Although I have sat through my fair share of 5 hour meetings). It provides the opportunity for you to learn about their personal life and what they are like away from the office (serious, playful, thoughtful).

It is also a great opportunity for your clients to get to know you, what you stand for, who you are. All of these things help build understanding and that relationship bridge. It helps you build trust faster than 10 lunches or 20 meetings.

So, if you are in a sales role where relationships are important, I would suggest golf. It was one of the best investments I ever made. Plus, I love telling people that I ‘had’ to start golfing (smile). I wish I ‘had’ to more things like this ….

BODY LANGUAGE

Body language is an interesting thing. The impact of a smile, the message of a slouch or crossed arms. A simple overview:

Arms

The most obvious pointer concerns what you do with your arms. Crossing your arms over your chest indicates a defensive, almost hostile attitude. People will be afraid to approach you or think that you’re closed-off this way. Your arms form a “blockade” keeping you at a distance from others.

When people have an unfavourable impression of you, they develop a schema (a sort of script) on how to converse or interact with you before you even meet. Keep your arms at your side, or if you’re holding a drink, don’t be afraid to switch hands once in awhile to reach out and speak with people.

Legs

If you’re sitting, you may think crossing your legs is comfortable or attractive, but the truth is that you’re subconsciously sending out signals that you’re a bit closed off.

This has the same logic as crossing your arms – it’s a subconscious signal you’re sending to tell people that you’re not sociable.

Hands

This is a simple one. Don’t wring your hands – it’s a dead giveaway that you’re nervous or anxious. One trick is to hold a drink in your hand. Not only does this make you seem more sociable, it stops you from wringing them!

When shaking hands with others, make sure you have a firm grip. A sloppy handshake can do more damage to interpersonal relationships than you think.

Torso

Believe it or not, the position of your torso when speaking to people says a lot about you. Make sure your entire body faces a person when you’re talking to them. This way, you convey a feeling of friendliness and it tells others that you’re giving them your full attention.

Facial Expressions

Lastly, your facial expression is essential to the image that you project. It’s especially important because most people don’t even realize what their faces are saying to others about them since people are not looking in the mirror all the time.

A few weeks back I was at a meeting and the person called me out, stating that they found my defensive body language very interesting. In that case, they were completely right, because the topic was bugging me. Great observation.

VIA .

MEN NEED LISTS (from the archive)

I think one of the funniest scenes (Maybe the only funny scene) in the movie The Weather Man is when he is told to pick up the take-out and, WHATEVER HAPPENS, don’t forget the tartar sauce. The whole time he keeps saying to himself .. ‘tartar sauce, tartar sauce, tartar sauce’, but random things start popping up. In the end, he forgets, it is the last straw and results in their separation.

Now, I do not know about other men, but I have been upstairs helping Narda put the boys to bed and been asked me to run downstairs and get something. On many occasions, I have run downstairs, done several other things .. taken an extra 10 minutes because I walked by the TV or computer and got distracted .. And returned upstairs to that look of ‘where is the item that I asked you to get that does not appear to be in your hands?’ Yup, many times.

So, on the weekend I had to jump out and do a couple things (get to the bank, go get some hot-tub chemicals) and was asked to go into the grocery store and pick up 10 items. The grocery store is a scary place for a married man. Now, I know that for the single man, it is an exciting place. There are many articles on how to meet women, and they all suggest the supermarket late at night. Well, I can assure you, to the married man it is not that green field .. It is a mine field filled with all kinds of things that we put in the shopping cart when we are accompanied by our better half, only to have them quickly pulled out of the cart when we are not looking.

So, I enter the grocery store. My first observation is of all the other men like me. One hand on the cart, the other holding a list, with that look of ‘WHAT F$%^ING AISLE IS TARTAR SAUCE IN?’ Yes, frustrated, concentrating while still looking very lost.

My second observation, my TOTALLY amazing wife has put everything in order! HA! It works from left to right. I smile at the poor bastard beside me. What is that? Your list reads vegetable (1st aisle), condiment (8th aisle), milk (back), another veggie (1st aisle), bread (9th aisle), feminine product (3rd aisle), pie (front) .. She must be mad at you. Sucker.

I then proceed to go after the 10 or 12 items on the list. Now, this is where I get to the part where men really need supervision. Over the next hour (Yup, it was a slow process) I ran into 2 people that I knew, and well, that just threw my rhythm off … One must chat. I laughed and compared lists with my Insurance Broker … men out on a mission (To which he mentions how his daughter got him, asking him to pick her up a bottle of wine from the store as he walked out .. now he is doing his wife and his daughter’s list). I digress. So, up and down I go and … and I end up with a full cart. And I mean FULL. There were so many things that I had forgotten that I really needed for the house … And of course, this is where my wife and I have a difference of opinion. She likes buying only what we need, I am a bulk up kind of guy. I am the ‘you never know when we could get snowed in for a month, better stock up! Lets go to Costco’ kind of guy. Why buy it over 4 visits when you can do it all at once and store it? (Which is why I came home with 4 bottles of Plax, 6 Lysol, and a few other things on the list that I multiplied by a factor of 4 to 6).

I also ended up with 2 fresh lobsters, 2 jumbo milk chocolate bars (in case we want real hot chocolate), 2 boxes of Dutch cookies, 2 types of ice cream, 4 bottles of wine, light bulbs, 5 bags of bulk candy (for my office), and a host of other things .. But I forgot to get a plunger.

And you know what was amazing? Everything I put in the cart, stayed in the cart and arrived safely at the till. Amazing.

In the end, I got every item on the list. But the 10 item, $40 list turned into a full trunk and $350. Maybe I do need supervision.