WHAT? No more sales calls?

Yesterday, while I was facilitating my Applications Session, Cindy asked whether I thought it appropriate to make cold calls via email. I asked several questions before she admitted that although it was great to use email to get re-orders, exchange documents, approve proofs, after a customer was in the fold, nothing was going to happen until they met face to face.

Then I check out Dave Kurlan and he’s talking about Seth Godin and “the death of the sales call”. So I go read Seth’s post and decide that Seth might be the kind of guy that disqualifies himself right out of doing business with me. Then I read his post about Jet Blue and I ask myself, I wonder if this guy’s reading his own blog.

If you haven’t read them, go read them or you won’t get this part. On one hand, Seth is saying that buyers are much too busy and that we as salespeople should just answer the prospect’s questions, take their money, deliver our product or service and wait for the problems or repeat sales. On the other hand, Seth is saying that bad customers should be fired. (I agree with that.) However, that bad customer probably affected the satisfaction of at least his nearest neighbors. (I’m reminded of the last time that I flew Northwest, several years ago. I wrote the CEO and Chairman of Northwest and they said, “Too bad. We’re not responsible for the behavior of our passengers.” The hell they aren’t. It was the last time I flew Northwest. Northwest sucks and if you want a copy of the complaint letter, let me know. They suck.”) Sorry, I digress, but it proves the point. Northwest lost me for life. If they are the only way to fly somewhere, I’ll walk or not go. Now, if you lose a customer because you screwed up, shame on you, but if you lose a customer because another customer drove them away, you should be upset with that customer, but you should also be upset with yourself for letting them in. So, Seth, have you read Dave Kurlan’s book Baseline Selling? Did you read the part about the customer being qualified to do business with you in every way? How am I supposed to figure out if they’re qualified if we don’t have a conversation? How am I supposed to find out if this one idiot is gonna cost me 12 customers for life? Money isn’t the only qualification. What if they’re dumb enough to buy a square peg for their round hole?

I for one don’t want to be the one that’s dumb enough to sell them.

Door to Door or Telemarketing

Pete Caputa advised me to spend time regularly reading other blogs. Philippe posts about Marketing & Sales. He’s made three posts recently that you might enjoy:

Door to Door or Telemarketing – Here’s the secret! If the prospect doesn’t know that you’re knocking on their door cold or calling them cold, will they still resist?

B2B Cold Calling – I love statistics, just not when it comes to selling. I’ve always struggled with anything other than 0% closed or 100% closed. You’re either a client or your not. Having made a few B2B (as well as B2C) cold calls, I may be able to tell you that I made 200 calls so far this month and closed 2 sales and I may be able to tell you that I was 200 for 38 the month before. But, really, can I really expect to close 10 sales next month if I make another 200 calls?

Bullies and Sales – Seriously, do you appreciate it when a prospect is pressuring you to let them buy. Do they think that throwing a lot of money at you, promising you a lifetime of referrals, and promising to be the dream customer is really gonna want to make you do business with them? By now, you’re laughing, but what if this were real? What if you had such a clear understanding of what needed to be done, that your prospect knew it without you saying anything. What if you had the guts to tell a prospect that you didn’t want to do business with them because you didn’t think that they were the type that would refer other customers to you and that your pricing is dependent on one customer leading you to two others? Ask anybody who knows me. I am absolutely a bully, but I’m a bully who says that he doesn’t want your business. You’d be surprised how hard people fight back to buy when you as the salesperson say, “I’m not convinced.” Philippe gives the answer, “Ask. Listen.”. He just doesn’t do it enough. I say, “Ask. Listen.” “Ask. Listen.” “Ask. Listen.” “Ask. Listen.” until they’re asking, “Now can I buy?”

Please go tell Philippe what you think of his posts.

Prize Corn

As you already know, I was lucky enough to attend MIT’s commencement exercises yesterday. Kimberley Wu addressed the crowd as the President of the Class of 2006. She was great and she related a story that I would like to share with you.

There was a farmer who grew corn. Every year his county held a contest to determine which farmer grew the best corn. Every year he won. Year after year this farmer grew the best corn in the county and he won the award. One day, a visitor noticed that this farmer gave some of his best seed to one of his neighbors. The visitor asked why he was sharing his best seed with his neighbor. Wasn’t he concerned that their corn would be better than his? Wasn’t he concerned that they would eventually win the contest for having the best corn in the county? The farmer explained that the winds in the county pick up the corn pollen from all of the neighboring farms and deposit it to all of the other neighbors, so some of his corn pollen ends up on his neighbors’ farm and some of his neighbors’ corn pollen ends up on his farm. If his neighbors’ corn was very inferior and it was deposited on his award winning corn, wouldn’t his own corn become less superior. By sharing his best seed with his neighbors, the pollen that was deposited on his farm was better than it would have been had he not shared and his corn wasn’t degraded by the blown in pollen.

What a great story to share with the best of the best! I had never heard anyone express this sentiment so well, but it’s one of the reasons that I blog. I’m hoping that you will get something from what I share, get better than you are and raise the bar for me. I never want to win because my competition failed or had a bad day. I want to win against the best on their best day. If I lose, no problem. I’ll keep coming. If I win, I hope my competition keeps coming. If I’m better and you’re better, then the world has to be better.

Thank you Kimberley!

MIT Sloan School of Management

As you may know, I was at MIT today to attend commencement and watch my son, Mark, receive his MBA. What a couple of days. Thursday night reception on the Skywalk at the Prudential Center. A reception today immediately following commencement and another smaller (hand-picked) reception hosted by Ken Morse, the “Entrepreneurship Guru” at MIT, Sloan School of Management. You can’t imagine how in awe I am at the talent, drive, confidence and creativity that I saw in these new graduates.

I met a surgeon (that’s right, a surgeon) who now has an MBA and wants to ease off being a surgeon to chase his dream of being an entrepreneur.

I met and attorney who now has an MBA and is weighing her options.

I met a new graduate who’s interested in energy. He held a conference that attracted industry leaders and raised over $80,000. His new company is based in Boston.

One of these graduates turned down an offer from Johnson & Johnson.

Getting to interact with these new graduates on their special day is going to go down as being one of my special days, but the coup de gras was a high five from Ken Morse. In talking with his students, I learned that his philosophy and mine ran parallel. He teaches his entrepreneurs that it’s all about the customer. The way I’ve been saying that to you is that it’s not about the features and benefits of what you have but your customer’s compelling need and urgency to fix a problem that they have. He was easy to talk to and that combined with the total alignment in basic philosophy left me understanding why his students were so impressive.

Thank you, Ken Morse, for what you do at MIT and especially with my son, Mark.

What an event!

CORRIDOR NINE DOES IT AGAIN!!

If you weren’t there, you missed it! 100’s of people meeting, talking business, making connections. Neil Anastas (New Look Auto Detail never knew that so many people with dirty cars could be in one place. His wife, Lisa, watched and probably started planning for a bigger house. Congratulations and Kudos to Barbara, Karen, Chris (the closer) and Joelle. You guys (and Larry) know how to throw a party!

OK, now for the crowd. Have you guys watched Linda Cohan lately? Her metamorphosis from not wanting to go to these events to the master networker that she is today has been fun to watch. I’ve known Marshall Katz for over 30 years. I’ve always invited him, he’s always been busy. I think he’ll be back. I think he had fun. We were joined again by Bob Johnson. You can’t imagine how easy it is to introduce him. He can find something in common with anybody. He talked motorcycles with Marshall, Paul LaFlamme, and Mike Brady. He bragged about his 2 daughters and 2 sons, I bragged about my 2 sons and maybe we found a job for Marshall’s son Joel. But, I am most pleased with the conversation between Bob and Deborah Penta. They are gonna do great things together! Mary Moynihan is an interesting case. She’s been a nurse for a long time. She’s well respected, good at what she does and at the top of her game. She develops a passion for her friend’s business and now, in addition to working full time as a nurse, she’s attending sales seminars, learning about the industry, and networking at Corridor Nine. Keep your eye on this one!

There were many other conversations and introductions and I’m glad for whatever part I was able to play in them. But, the most rewarding event happened after I was there for three hours. Pete Caputa brings Paul over and says something like, Paul’s thinking about coming to Dave Kurlan’s seminar. So, I ask Paul a question, and another, and a third and I watch Doug Foster move behind Paul over near Pete and he says to Paul, “Just pretend we’re not here. We want to hear Rick sell.” I asked a couple of more questions and told Paul that I’d see him at the seminar and we could talk (privately) after that if he wanted. Pete, Doug and Eric (who wasn’t there tonight) are THE three guys that I want in Dave Kurlan’s program. These guys are very smart. Very technical. Very driven and the reason that they relate to me is that they see themselves in me. They know that deep down I’m a geek, a techie, and shy. Like them, I have an organized mind. I understand and appreciate systems. Like them, I know how to mirror. Like them, I’m hungry. Eventually, they will say, “Rick, I don’t know how to pay for this, but let’s find a way.” Thank you Pete and Doug. Most people watch me work and assume that it’s magic, luck, art, or the right hair tonic. You guys watch and you see the systematic process. When you commit, you’re gonna be great!

Incidentally, I heard some buzz tonight about the CORRIDOR NINE SUMMER SIZZLE! A word to the wise….Put it on your schedule NOW!

The First Step

I subscribe to a service from www.justsell.com that sends a quote to my inbox every weekday. This was today’s.


 


“The distance isn’t important; it is only the first step that is difficult.”


Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, the Marquise du Deffand (1697-1780)
French woman of letters, patron of the arts


 


It took me almost 45 minutes of “getting ready” this morning before I made my first sales call. Once I made the first one, I kept going, one after the other, and before I knew it, I had 15 calls behind me and I was cooking.


 


Unfortunately, I have to deal with this every day. Just like you.


 


I remember once, years ago, walking into an after hours networking event, paying the admission fee, scanned the room, decided that there was no one worth talking to,…………..and left the event without ever talking to one person.


 


I’m going to an after hours networking event tomorrow. How do I know that I won’t leave without talking to anybody?  Because I’ve arranged for about 20 people to be there, expecting to work with me. If they weren’t gonna be there, I might try to convince myself that there’s nobody worth talking to, but with them there, I’ll have to work.


 


I almost never visit a BNI group, but I substitute for members often. I’m just not excited about getting up and getting going to a 7 am meeting unless somebody other than me asks me to do it. Once there, I usually do OK.


 


This evening, after dinner, I sat for 25 minutes trying to convince myself to go for a brisk walk for a little exercise. After 25 minutes, I put my sneakers on and went fo a 30 minute walk. I feel better, physically and due to the fact that I did it.


 


Don’t worry about how much you have to do, do whatever it takes to take the first step. The rest will take care of itself.

The New and Improved Steve

I’ve known Steve for 15+ years. He’s always been trying new stuff. $500 here for marketing. $1,000/year for a networking membership. Occasionally he had a collection issue, so we’ve kept in touch. He was very loyal. Thank you, Steve.


 


So, lately we’ve been talking about his current salesman, a past salesman, his customers, his best year, his goals, his business plans. Long story short, Steve signed on with David Kurlan & Associates last week and in doing so, has agreed to invest more money into the development of his business than he’s ever done before.


 


Here’s the rub. He’s worried that I’m gonna be a pain in the ___. He’s worried that I’m not gonna cut him any slack. He’s worried that I’m gonna drag him outside his comfort zone. He’s worried that I’m gonna insist on excellence in everything. He’s worried that he’s gonna work harder and care more than he ever has before. He’s worried that I’m not gonna be happy until he starts setting new records every month and he’s worried that I’m gonna want it to happen faster than he’s gonna want it to happen. He’s worried that he’s right…………………….He is!


 


I’m blogging about him for three reasons. I want him to know that he’s right. I want him to know that I believe that finally, he’s doing the right thing. I want him to know that he might give up, but I won’t.

Suggestions for a busy prospect

On May 18th, one of my clients told me that one of his clients was having a problem collecting some money from some of her customers and asked if I would try to help her. He introduced us in a mutual email that day. I called shortly thereafter, caught her at a bad time and we scheduled a 45 minute phone call. I called at the appointed time, she apologized and asked if she could call back in 10 minutes. She called back 45 minutes later and was put out that I wouldn’t talk to her then.


 


Here it is two weeks later and she still hasn’t called.


 


Somebody should suggest that she read about Low Hanging Fruit.


 


Somebody should also suggest that she read Baseline Selling. If she read the book, she’d realize that she doesn’t appear to have any compelling reason to talk to me nor exhibit any urgency to make it happen.


 


She’s probably hoping that I’ll chase her. She’s probably hoping that I need her business. I’m hoping that her problem isn’t serious. I’m hoping that it gets to be a priority before it gets serious. But, I only hope tangentially because I don’t know her personally and therefore don’t really care. Until she says, “Rick please help me.” and I reply, “OK, I will.” We have no deal, no relationship, no responsibility.


 


I wish her well as a friend of a friend.