What Free Throws and Sales Have in Common

Wally LongYou might wonder what free throws and sales have in common. According to basketball expert, Brian McCormick, Tim Duncan has a problem – a consistency problem. While you don’t hear much about it, Duncan only shoots 60 to 70% from the free throw line, despite being one of the NBA’s best players. What’s really interesting, however, is WHY Duncan struggles from the line.

According to McCormick, it’s because Duncan added movements to his shot that actually over-complicate his shot making. McCormick says Duncan “comes to the line and takes a deep breath with the ball near his waist and his hands on the side of the ball. To shoot, he rotates the ball DURING his shooting motion. His shot, therefore, has a natural flaw; he incorporates inconsistency into his shot. Instead of simplifying, he adds a greater degree of variance which results in his poor (below 70% career) free throw shooting.”

The solution to better performance for Duncan is the same solution for us in sales and business development: Simplify the process and leverage the Power of Consistency.

Oftentimes in sales and business we overcomplicate the process and fail to do the little things on a consistent basis. Instead of focusing on doing just one or two things exceptionally, we become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. The result is frustration and lackluster sales performance. The key to success in sales is to identify one or two small things we can do well and do them consistently.

As the incomparable Jim Rohn once said, “Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

I once grew a small company from $0 to $20,000,000 in 60 months by focusing on doing one simple thing extraordinarily well – one simple thing done on a consistent basis. That one thing was using the Tom Hopkins’ “intent statement” on every sales opportunity. I focused on using this technique on EVERY call. I didn’t use it occasionally. I didn’t use it when I felt up to it. I used it consistently on EVERY CALL.

Because the intent statement sets the ground rules for the sales call with the prospect and because it creates the expectation that the call will come to a completion at a specified point, I didn’t waste time chasing down deals that were never going to happen. I didn’t get strung out by prospects who didn’t have the courtesy to “just say no.”

As a result, I moved from sales opportunity to sales opportunity without the brain damage of looking over my shoulder hoping that older calls were going to magically turn into sales commissions. I stayed focused. I kept my attention ahead of me instead of being distracted by the past.

The key was using this technique on every call. The key was consistently doing one small thing exceptionally well and doing it every time. The key was focusing on one thing and doing it well on a consistent basis.

Far be it from me to give NBA great Tim Duncan advice; but if he asked (which I seriously doubt he will) I would tell him to focus on two things: simplicity and consistency. Keep it simple and do the little things on a consistent basis. It works in sports and it works in sales and business development.

Copyright Weldon Long.

Weldon Long is a New York Times Best-Selling Author, successful entrepreneur, and powerful speaker who inspires and teaches others how to prosper in the face of adversity. Mr. Long has developed his success philosophies in the real world, having overcome a life of poverty and desperation and building his own company from $0 to $20,000,000 in sales in just 60 months. In 2009, his company was selected as one of Inc. 5000 Magazine’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America.

The Dead Sale Autopsy

Dead Sale AutopsyTop sales champions, when ending a meeting with no sale, aren’t in a big hurry to forget it and move on. They have learned the value of conducting the dead sale autopsy. It’s a time to examine what went wrong and develop solutions to prevent it from happening again.

When the sale dies, you need to determine the cause and prevent it from spreading into other sales presentations like a disease. The results of dead sales autopsies are healthier future selling opportunities. [Read more…]

Assumptive Selling

If you aren’t already familiar with the term “assumptive selling,” make a quick study of it. It will change how you think about every sales call. With assumptive selling, you assume that every qualified buyer will own the benefits of your product. You are certain of it. You know in your heart that it’s your obligation to help them to see how much better their lives, or companies will be once they’re “happily involved with” your offering. That mindset could drastically alter your attitude, which would help you then focus all of your thoughts and efforts on that single goal.

Note that the key to success with assumptive selling is that your buyer is truly qualified. That means several things:

  • They have a need and/or want to satisfy.
  • Their needs and requirements match up quite nicely with the benefits and services you provide.
  • The person or people you are speaking with are truly qualified to make the buying decision.
  • And they have access to the funds required. [Read more…]

Listen Up! Nancy Friedman, Guest Post

Do you know what the number one skill in sales and service is?

I gave you a hint in the title. Right – listening skills.

Do we really LISTEN? Most of us ‘hear,’ but do we really listen to what people are saying? Are there any methods, tricks, ideas, tips or techniques to make us better listeners? Yes, there are. Listed below are some of the often used skills of better listeners.

What do you think the difference is between listening and hearing?

Bottom line: Hearing is physical. Listening is mental.

[Read more…]

Overcome Buyers’ Remorse

Fear in Real EstateIf you plan on making a career out of selling, you will need to understand and learn how to overcome buyers’ remorse. It’s as natural a part of selling as nearly any other objection or concern.

In some cases, it’s helpful to bring up the potential for an after-the-sale concern early in your presentation. Then, as you give your presentation, you can disable that concern. You may think that’s a risky way of selling, but for some people and some products it’s quite effective.

What causes buyers’ remorse?

  1. Fear that the money spent on your product or service is gone (the fear of loss is stronger than the happiness of gaining the benefits of ownership).
  2. Receiving negative feedback from others when telling of the new purchase such as from friends or relatives.
  3. Logically analyzing the decision — when we all know that purchases are ultimately emotional decisions.

It’s your job to make the new product more valuable to the buyer than keeping the money they invest in it. Actually, that’s your primary job in this wonderful world of selling.

When buyers aren’t confident enough in their decision to stand up to the criticism of others, you may have to re-sell them on the product and the fact that they have different needs and desires than others. As much as people say they want to be individuals, we are all deeply influenced by the opinions of others and want to fit in–somewhere.

When logic is the culprit in the development of buyers’ remorse, you will need to work on strengthening their emotional commitment to the benefits of your product or service–what they get from it; how it makes them feel; how it makes their lives better, easier or safer.

Here are some words to help you understand how you might address a potential case of buyers’ remorse:

You: I can tell that you are excited about your decision to  own this new 72″ TV. It seems that you’re both excited and somewhat relieved to have finally made the decision to receive hours of enjoyment from it.

Them: Oh, yeah. I’m especially looking forward to having friends over to watch the playoffs.

You: That’s great! (pause) You know, from time to time I’ve known people just like you who were so positive about the decision they made until they shared it with a friend or relative. The well-meaning friends or relatives, not understanding all the facts and maybe even being a little envious, responded negatively to the decision. I hope that won’t happen to you and that you’ll be prepared for people who might be jealous of you. Obviously, you’ve done your homework about this and are confident in your decision.

This little bit of preparation and reinforcement about the decision can go a long way to keeping the sale closed and any second-guessing to a minimum.

Note – If there really is a valid potential reason for your buyer to change his or her mind, such as a roommate or spouse who might be very unhappy with the new purchase (even though they assured you during qualification that there was no one else to consult about the decision), you want to learn about it before they take delivery of the product. That way you might be able to help the buyer come up with a reasonable alternative and still make a sale.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Decision-Making in Sales

Puzzle PeopleDecision-making in sales situations is not drastically unlike making decisions in life in general. Before you can help a potential client make a decision about owning your product or service, you must have certain knowledge. That knowledge will give you power in the selling situation because knowledge is power but only when properly applied.

So, what knowledge is it that you need?

  1. You need knowledge about your product or service. How strong is your product knowledge? Can you answer any question that pops up during a client contact? Granted 80% of your clients will likely ask you the same questions about your product but what about that other 20%? Don’t you want to serve their needs as well? Get your product knowledge down. Never wing it with answers about your product or service.
  2. You need knowledge of your current inventory. You never know when a chance encounter will find you facing someone with a desire and the means to purchase multiple quantities of your product. How embarrassing would it be to make the sale, then have to tell them your product is on back order or that you don’t have enough in stock to fulfill their entire order?
  3. If your product is one that requires some folks to finance it over time, what type of financing is available? How many ways do you know of for them to afford and own your product today?
  4. Do you know if this person you’re investing your valuable time with is qualified to own your product? If not, here’s how to ask about it, in a polite, and non-threatening way: “John, who other than yourself might be involved in making a final decision?” “Mary, what’s the procedure for making purchasing decisions?”
  5. Is this person ready, able and willing to make a decision today? Too many salespeople waste time presenting to people who have no intention of owning their products or at the very least no intention of owning today. They are just “researching” the product or “interested” in it. Consider working this question into your conversation, “If this product is right for your needs, how soon do you expect to make a buying decision?”  Or, “How urgent is your need to get this product on your shelves?” Get the answer to this question early in your client meetings and you’ll have the knowledge you need to maximize your efforts with them.

If you don’t have this knowledge, you don’t have what’s necessary to close a sale. This knowledge will indicate to you how to work with each and every potential client.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Auto Sales – It’s not what you say

How you say itIt’s not what you say in auto sales, but how you say it that counts, right? I’m certain you’ve heard that cliché hundreds of times.

In business, what you say is just as important as how you say it. In selling vehicles, you must learn to paint mental pictures in the minds of your potential clients. Those pictures show them being, happier, having more fun, less stressed, being sexier, safer, better looking, economically- or environmentally-minded, or well-to-do because of their ownership of one of your vehicles. You must strike each person’s buying nerve in a positive way by paying attention to the pictures your words are creating.

While most of what you say is specific to the particular vehicles you represent, there are many words that are commonly used in selling situations that you need to pay attention to. Some bring about positive images. Others don’t.

Here are a few to get you started on the road to more closed sales. [Read more…]

The 30-second Elevator Presentation


Prepare an Elevator Presentation, Not an Elevator Pitch

A short while ago, I ran a contest on Facebook for the best Elevator Presentation. In more common terms, it’s often call “the elevator pitch,” but those of you who are already familiar with my training, know that “pitch” is one of the nasty words I teach sales pros to never say.

The idea behind the Elevator Presentation is that you should be able to describe what you do for a living in a clear and concise manner. Usually the drill for this starts with “Let’s say you step into an elevator with one other person and will be traveling 10 or more stories together. Since you’re in sales, you are always on the lookout for new leads. What would you say to this person to build their curiosity and earn the right to contact them after the elevator ride is over?”

We had dozens of entries to the contest. Many were very good. Some made me realize that I need to teach this concept in greater depth. All were interesting to read and analyze.

The first key to a successful elevator presentation is to be able to give the other person a mental picture of the benefits you provide. This means you use great descriptive words. What you don’t do is say, “I’m a real estate agent.” “I sell insurance.” “I do taxes.” Saying those things allows the listener to mentally picture whatever their pre-conceived notion is about those fields of endeavor. You want to engage them, not turn them off.

Many of the contest submissions began with “I help people…” or “I help companies…” which can be a good start. Think about how you would finish that sentence for the industry or product you represent.

Another key element in a good elevator presentation is to end it with a question. It could be as simple as “Isn’t that great?” which is a request for agreement from the other party. Or, it could be an involvement question related to one of your benefits such as, “How would something like that impact your business?”

To give you some real-life examples, I’ll post the three winning presentations here along with my comments.

3rd Place Winner – Claudio Ingleton, Century 21 King Realtor®

“I help homeowners professionally market and sell their homes. I also help first time buyers invest in the ownership of a home.  We have an exciting way to ensure people get what they want in the time that they want. Isn’t that great?!”

Note that Claudio does not start the conversation with “I’m in real estate.” Remember the purpose of the 30-second elevator presentation is to explain benefits and build curiosity. Ending his description with a question encourages the listener to respond and engage.

2nd Place Winner – Steve Cohen

“I help companies generate more income by getting them found online and make sure they have the right marketing message so their phone rings and people walk in the door.”

The benefit of generating more income will almost always be of interest to anyone in business. Online marketing is a very hot topic these days with most businesses. Most people in business after hearing this statement will say, “How do you do that?” That opens the door for Steve to either continue the discussion or get permission to contact them after the elevator ride is over. Remember, you aren’t trying to sell your product in 30 seconds. You are selling yourself just enough to capture a new lead.

1st Place Winner – Eddie Allen

“For nearly a decade, as an independent broker, I have specialized in identifying and providing solutions, by utilizing an efficient consultation and an effective educational approach with successful measures. My quality services are designed to help people with their personal, business, and financial goals, in regard to their risk management, retirement planning, and wealth preservation needs, by making available economical, value-added, timely protection options. Is protecting the people you love, along with your future,and the things you value the most, important to you?”

Even though this entry is a little longer than the others, Eddie has built in credibility by mentioning his longevity in the field and that he specializes (great word). The adjectives used help build positive mental pictures in the mind of the listeners. And, Eddie ends with a question that’s difficult to say “no” to. Few people will ever say that protecting the people they love is NOT important. Once they agree with him, Eddie has earned the right to ask for their contact information and the opportunity to serve their needs.

Invest 10 to 20 minutes as soon as possible to write your own elevator presentation. It will help you be prepared the next time you have a brief encounter with someone who might either need your service or know others who do.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Closing the Sale Doesn’t Have to Create Conflict by Weldon Long

Zig Ziglar once wrote that if you can’t close, you are just a brilliant conversationalist. I would add to that if you can’t close, you are just an unpaid consultant.

Closing does not have to include conflict, stress or beating your prospect into submission. If you have extended yourself emotionally and professionally to your prospect and laid all the appropriate groundwork in the early stages of the sales process, closing will be a natural part of the conversation.

It’s just like the dynamic of a man and a woman dating, which we discussed in a previous chapter. If you rush things at the beginning you’ll scare off your date. But if you take your time, show genuine interest and focus on building the relationship there will come a time when there is an expectation of a commitment.

If you have made the investment to serve your prospect, there will come a time when there is an expectation that you will ask for a commitment – you will close the deal. That does not mean the answer will always be yes, it just means there will come a point when it seems natural to bring the conversation to a conclusion – one way or the other. And remember, yes is best but no is a perfectly acceptable answer.

In the old days of selling, it was about the “ABC’s” – Always Be Closing (Think Glengarry Glen Ross. How can we forget “coffee is for…CLOSERS!”). The basic strategy was to spend 10% of your time acting like you were interested in your prospect, and then 90% of your time closing, closing, closing.

I prefer to do just the opposite. I recommend investing 90% of your time and energy into serving and you’ll find yourself spending only 10% of your time and energy closing.

This does not mean you can ask for the order one time and give up.

Remember human nature dictates that when given the choice of spending money today or spending it next Tuesday, we will choose next Tuesday. It is critical to know that even if your prospect likes you; even if your prospect loves your company; even if your prospect wants and needs your product and service; even if your prospect thinks the price is fair and that your offer has tremendous value, he would still prefer to postpone spending his money. It’s in our DNA.

So even though closing is less conflicted if you have done your job up front, you will still need to ask for the order several times.

Listen, most of us have learned everything we need to know about closing from our children. When children want something from you it is, indeed, a lesson in persistence and closing to behold. It’s a thing of beauty when you can step back and analyze it without wanting to strangle your child. They are relentless. They are focused. And they are often successful.

It’s not that you don’t want your child to have Lucky Charms. It’s not that you don’t love your children. And it’s not that you can’t afford Lucky Charms. It is simply a matter of not wanting someone else telling you how and when to spend your money.

So it goes with your prospect. They can love you and your company, want and need your product and service, have the money to afford it and believe it’s a great value, yet they will have a tendency to say “no” just because it’s there money and they will spend it how and when they darn well please.

So, you may have to ask a few times before your prospect says “yes”. If you ask several times and they say “no”, that’s okay too. The only answer that will destroy your income and sales career is “I don’t know. Call me on Tuesday.” No is a perfectly acceptable answer. Tuesday never comes.

Selling is Serving

Are you serving?

Are you selling or serving?

As a true sales professional, what you do provides genuine, specific, and highly personalized service to people who have the need and ability to own your product or service. Selling is service.

As an individual or as an organization, you may face incredible pressure to put your product or service, your monthly quota, your company, or even your own personal goals ahead of the needs of your client. That, my friend, is the road to tragedy, not to achievement.

Clients are becoming more sophisticated in their knowledge of products and services, and in the new technologies that continually spring onto the market. More than that, customer needs are continually shifting with changes in demographics, economies (local, regional, national, and global), politics, and technology.

The winners in the future will be those individuals and organizations who take on these multifaceted challenges and turn them into opportunities to build strong and long lasting relationships with individual clients.

That, my friend, takes selling.

I’ve put together a presentation to visually share some key principles from my real-world, in-the-trenches experience, adapted from steps outlined in my book Selling in Tough Times. 

Click here to get the presentation and sales tips now.


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