Who’s really the beneficiary of a good referral?

I had the opportunity to talk at the HYPE9 Lunchbox last Wednesday. Professional Development and Networking with a group of high powered young professionals looking to make their mark on the world. My topic was “Focused Follow Up to Nail the Sale!” They were easy to talk to. Engaged from the first word. At one point, I needed a guinea pig to show how I go from the handshake to giving and getting a referral in less than five minutes. I volunteered Mike Sachleben of BlitzTime to role play with me.

So, we shook hands, I asked him what he did. He told me all about how awesome Blitztime was. We went down two paths and found a ‘class’ of customer that we both liked working with and found two specific introductions that we could make to each other. It went the way it should have.

The next day I got a basket of chocolates with a note that started with, “Rick, Thanks again for the great free publicity you gave us at yesterday’s HYPE 9 event.”

Let’s restate the question. Who’s really the beneficiary here? Who’s gonna benefit the most?

Sure, Mike’s got a few new members. That’s a benefit. And he got some exposure. That’s a benefit.

But, more importantly, the new members have filled a need that they have. That’s a benefit to EACH new member! And, I’m willing to bet that a lot of people in that room have that same need and that they will eventually become members. That’s a benefit to A LOT OF PEOPLE.

The salesperson or provider usually benefits from a referral that becomes a customer because they make a little money. BUT THE PERSON BEING REFERRED BECOMES A CUSTOMER BECAUSE THEY’RE FILLING A NEED! They’re benefiting way more than the salesperson. So, Mike, thanks for the chocolates, but it wasn’t really about you, it was about all those people’s needs.

One more thing! All you HYPE9-ers that become members of BlitzTime can send an email to thank me for the introduction, but please….No More Chocolates!

March 18th

I was trying to decide how to mention that I’ve been blogging for two years. Since March 18, 2006 at 5:46 AM. This was my first post. https://therainmakermaker.com/2006/03/18/firstwhat-is-a-rainmaker.aspx

I think that my focus changed. I’m not so sure that we’ve been talking about ‘making rain’, but I think that we have shared experiences, challenges, failures and successes. I find it interesting how many examples, both good and bad, that we can see every day if we just watch. The ‘Big Clients’ post came from a conversation with a client during my first month of blogging. As did the post about buying my car and the post about the lesson learned at the Red Sox game………………All in the first month.

Prize Corn and ABL happened a few months later.

More recently, you may remember intimidating women? American Idol? or the school bus lesson?

These posts, comments and blogversations have led to some pretty interesting off-line conversations and I want to thank everyone that encouraged me, answered my questions, read, commented and otherwise got involved.

At various times, I’ve gotten distracted by trying to link to other bloggers, growing readership, plugging events, or products. That’s not where I want to be.

I read other blogs. Occasionally, I bring a post to your attention, but mostly, I read to enjoy and grow. Occasionally you’ll bring something to my attention and I’ve posted it. Sometimes not.

So many other things that I could mention. Guest bloggers. Personal events. It’s interesting to me, how many people have started a blog since March, 2006 and stopped after one or two posts. I plan on continuing on and if you are so moved, I hope that you’ll keep reading.

In closing, I was talking with one of my favorite readers last Thursday and he told me that he really enjoys reading, but he gets really turned around when I put a lot of links in the post and sometimes winds up with twenty windows open thinking, “Huh?”

Dan, this ones for you!

Baseline Selling Boot Camp

You are one of the first to know about this. Please feel free to forward this post and/or info to anyone that you think should know about it.

“It’s official – according to the latest poll of Economists, the US Economy is in a recession. Consumers and businesses will be watching their spending much more closely and salespeople will find it more difficult to close sales than at any time in the past 15 years. While great salespeople will struggle, salespeople who live off of repeat business and existing accounts will suffer tremendously. This issue makes the timing of Dave Kurlan’s upcoming Baseline Selling Boot Camp just perfect.

If you need to bring in more business, find new accounts, close opportunities that are languishing in the pipeline, win against price-cutting competition, retain accounts, close deals, reposition your company, differentiate more effectively, sell more consultatively, sign up new clients or simply uphold slipping margins, or you have people who need to do that for you, the Baseline Selling Boot Camp is sure to help. Under the expert guidance of Dave Kurlan and his dynamic team of top sales experts, you and/or your people will be assessed and trained hard over two days to develop the strengths and skills needed to close more business despite an uncertain economic environment.”

Dave Kurlan

You can get details on the Boot Camp here.

You can register for the Boot Camp here. (Be sure to change the drop down at the bottom of the page from “Invited by Baseline Selling Tips” to “Invited by Rick Roberge”.

If you have any questions, call me or email me directly.

Emotional Involvement

You may remember this post. Tom picked up the fact that neither I nor my reader exhibited any need for approval and that is correct. But, today, Rob gave up on behalf of all of you, so I’ll give you the answer.

Neither of us was emotionally involved in the conversation. I didn’t get upset that my reader wanted to pitch their stuff on my blog. If I were emotionally involved, I might have replied, “What are you crazy? A blog’s not for selling stuff. Especially, ….” Instead, I teased her by asking, “Is it ever not about you?” Now, were she emotionally involved, she might have come back with, “I was just trying to help your client. You didn’t have to make it about me.” Instead, she replied, “What are you my husband?”

Two professionals. In the moment. Having fun with each other.

Now, here’s another real live story about how emotional involvement can hold you back.

About a two weeks ago, a client agreed to provide a display for their customer. The customer was going to use the display to sell my clients stuff at a profit. The average sale was going to be about $1,500 and the display was going to cost my client’s customer $1,100. Everybody was ready to go, but then my client’s customer asked for a break on the cost of the display. My client immediately started thinking…Why couldn’t this just go smooth? I wonder how many sales their gonna make for me? If it’s only one, I need to be paid for the display. If it’s 20, they can have the display for free. What should I do? I need to call Rick. So, she told her customer that she’d get back to him.

As soon as my client was faced with a situation that they didn’t expect and didn’t know how to handle, they lost control. They started talking to themself. They stopped listening to the prospect.

My client got to a phone and called me. Told me the story and asked me what to do. My client was totally willing to give the display for free if she was going to get enough business, but wanted to be paid for the display if there was no or little future business. I asked why doesn’t she just tell the client that she’ll charge $1,100 for the display, but give $100 credit on the first eleven sales? “Brilliant!” my client said.

Now, my guess is, that most of you figured out that solution before you read it. Either we are all brilliant, or none of us are emotionally involved in my client’s sale. We don’t care.

Fast forward to today. I asked my client how it went, and they said, “My customer loved it. Why couldn’t I do that?” So, I explained about emotional involvement and told her how I might have handled it.

First, don’t stop listening to the prospect. Not only that, listen actively. When they say, that they want a break on the cost of the display, look up and go, “HMMM.” Then ask, “How would I do that? They might say, “Just do it.” I might ask, “Why would I do it? The display costs me regular price.” They might say, “We’re gonna sell a lot of your stuff.” “Really? How much do you think you’ll sell?” Them: “Probably a minimum of 10. Maybe 20!” Me: “20? That would be worth it. Let me think for a second….” “Hey, how about this? If you sell 1 or 2, I need to be paid for the display, but if you sell 20, I’d give it to you. How about if you pay me for the display, but I’ll give a $50-$100 credit on the first orders you place until the credits total $1,100?”

Emotional involvement kept my client from asking that first question, from listening to the prospect, from having the customer give them the solution. Stay in the moment. Listen. Ask.

Song Selection

I’ve been watching American Idol. It’s very common for the judges to comment on song selection being a factor in the overall performance and frankly, I agree with them. Song selection can affect the performer’s passion if it has a particular personal meaning. The type of song may also fit or not fit the performer’s ability. A hard rock performer’s voice may not easily adapt to a ballad that needs a gentle croon.

Don’t similar circumstances exist in salespeople?

Are you passionate about what you sell? Do you feel like you’re changing the world?

Does your process have the right amount of challenge? Detail? Do you get the right amount of gratification? Is it interesting? Are you the type of salesperson that needs to make 2,3,4 sales a day like a furniture salesperson? Or can you work all year long to negotiate and design a custom engineered solution like a salesperson who sells world-wide computer networks. Is a $500 sale exciting, or do you have to be selling a $500,000 house before you feel like it’s worth talking about.

Are you passionate? Does it fit? Does it show in your performance?

Laura’s Lesson

Elaine has a cousin, Nancy. Nancy has a daughter, Kris. Kris has a daughter, Laura. Laura’s cool.

Laura’s a participant in Model UN at her high school. A couple of weeks ago, she was at our house having dinner and we somehow got onto the subject of American politics. I don’t remember the specific topic, but knowing the political makeup of most of the adults at the table, I made some extreme comment like ship them all back, or shoot him, or some other comment just to take the conversation to a new level. After the adults went back and forth trying to decide how to ‘fix me’, someone said, “Laura, you’re up on these kind of things, how should we deal with Rick?” Laura replied, “The North Koreans would agree with Rick’s approach.”

That got the table going again, but let me tell you why Laura’s cool. Laura left for Italy the next day for a multiple day summit where several countries were going to be presenting their position on some current situation on which a decision must be made by the UN. She was going to be presenting her case as a delegate from North Korea. NORTH KOREA! Get it? She has to put her own beliefs aside and fully understand the North Korean point of view. WHAT SHE THINKS OR BELIEVES DOESN’T MATTER. Isn’t that great? She’s getting sales coaching in high school. She’s learning how to put what she believes aside long enough to get the job done. If she argues what she personally believes, she loses.

Isn’t that what salespeople need to do? Put themselves aside? Understand their prospect? Remember this post?

Now, I admit that it’s a bit of a stretch comparing Laura understanding North Korea’s beliefs and positions to a salesperson understanding a prospect’s beliefs and positions because, in this case, Laura’s not trying to change North Korea’s mind to get them to accept a new position. But, can you see that by understanding their beliefs and positions, she’s much better equipped to explain why they might want to change their mind?

So, the lesson from Laura is,

If you understand your prospect’s position enough so that you could argue their side, you’ll find yourself able to look at your offering through your prospect’s eyes and maybe discover why they might buy.

What is lacking here?

Read this email exchange and when you figure out what neither I nor my loyal reader have, make a comment.

From: A Loyal Reader
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:24 AM
To: ‘Rick Roberge’

Rick, read your post  this morning. Interesting as always!! Just as an fyi, we offer a service that …….. It is called the…….. I have attached a short presentation in case you are interested in learning more. Wanted to post a comment that talks about the service but figured it would be rude to pitch my services on your blog. I may be aggressive but not rude. Anyway, hope all is well.
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
From: Rick Roberge
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:39 AM
To: A Loyal Reader

Is it ever not about you?
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
From: A Loyal Reader
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:53 AM
To: ‘Rick Roberge’

What are you my husband??
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
If you need a clue, look here .

How much do your mistakes cost you?

One of the great things about having a wide network is that sometimes lessons come from far away.

Scenario: $120K opportunity to a repeat customer. Compelling Reasons identified. Urgency established. SOB proven. Excellent! Second base. CEO, EVP and CFO agree that the timing’s right, the money’s right, and that it’s a go. Great! Third base. Only thing necessary: Do a $20K pilot. Pilot works? Do it all.

I don’t know how you set up pilots, but the way I do is to review all possible outcomes with the prospect and determine what my prospect will do in each case. In this scenario, the salesperson assumed that because this was a repeat customer, it was a slam dunk. As you might imagine, the pilot did not go perfectly and although the outcome could have been anticipated and handled on the front side, it was a surprise to the customer because it had never happened to them before (It had to the provider.). It wasn’t explained as a possibility before the pilot, so the prospect could decide how to handle it before it happened. Nobody knew what ‘works’ meant.

Bottom line: The salesperson really screwed up. He didn’t set up the pilot properly. He not only blew a $120K deal, but he ended the relationship with a repeat customer.

The rest of the story: When the salesperson was debriefed, his supervisor decided to try to save the day. The supervisor, top sales guy and the original culprit spent several hours strategizing internally, trying to explain to the customer what went wrong, how they screwed up. what they should’ve done, and how the ‘failure’ was no big deal.

Bottom-Bottom line: They saved half the deal, $60,000 and they have a second chance to have a satisfied customer again. The cost: 40 high level man-hours at $500/hour trying to save the deal.

Done right – this is $120,000 at normal margin. In reality, it’s a $40,000 ($60K – 40 x $500) low margin project with a customer that’s gonna scrutinize everything he does, not trust and be very (if not impossible) to please.

Now, my friend didn’t tell me if the culprit was a million dollar producer or this $120K was his whole year. He also didn’t tell me if the culprit worked for a $100 million company or if this incident will severely impact the bottom line.

OK, so forget my friend’s client and his $120K opportunity. What about you?

How many people do you start into your sales process every year? How many of them buy? Of the ones that don’t buy, how many of them should have? How much time do you spend with non-buyers? Why didn’t they buy? How much should they have bought? What would you have done with that extra income? How long have you been doing this? How much….never mind. You know where this is going. How much do your mistakes cost you? How about the mistakes that you don’t know you’re making?

Let’s have a Recession!

As you know, I heard Scott Latham speak last week.

This is an excerpt from one of his slides.

  • Creative Destruction is the Flushing Process

    • Joseph Schympeter, Harvard Economist

    • Recessions Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

So, I poked around. I found this article where I read:

“…recession are painful: unemployment, lower wages and profits, and bankruptcy.”

I also read: “…recessions are a process of creative destruction in which inefficient firms are weeded out. Only by allowing the “winds of creative destruction” to blow freely could capital be released from dying firms to new industries.”

And: “Another “benefit” of a recession is that it purges the excesses of the previous boom, leaving the economy in a healthier state. “

I also found ‘Seventeen Reasons That America Needs A Recession

And Time and CNN ask the question, “Is the American economy in need of a good cold shower?

Elaine and I can add that we bought our first house in 1981 when many were suffering due to high oil prices caused by the Iranian Revolution and a tight monetary policy. We bought our vacation home in Maine during the recession in 1991. So, we say, “Bring it on! Let’s have a recession! I want a condo down south!”

My questions for you.

Are you the wheat or the chaff?

Are you efficient or inefficient?

Is your capital about to be released for someone else to use?

Will you do what it takes to sell your way through what’s coming?

Can you do what it takes to sell your way through what’s coming?