The Gold Call Blog

Thank You U.S. Soldier!

I guess it's human nature to be focused upon one's self. We carry on each day with our normal daily lives, getting up, having a cup of coffee, driving, taking the train, or bus to work, and go through our regular daily routines, and return home safely each evening to enjoy family, have dinner, and watch TV. We have it so easy as Americans, and we tend to take it for granted. That's human nature...

As citizens of this great land, and for those of us who earn our living in a free enterprise society, we have someone to thank each and very day for the liberties and freedoms we enjoy, and so often take for granted. That person is a U.S. soldier.

If not for our military personnel we'd all be speaking German, Russian, or Japanese, or some other language, and be forced into working government controlled jobs that limit wages, and prevent us from following a career path of our own choosing. Every time you pick up that phone to make a cold call, or take public transportation to attend a sales meeting, I'd like you to pause and have a thought of gratitude for the men and women in our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives so that we can come and go as we please, and enjoy our lives in a free society.

Since 2001, 2,114 U.S. soldiers have paid for our freedom with their lives in Afghanistan. This month our nation lost three more proud U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and I'd like to take a moment to honor their memory.

The latest identifications reported by the military:

_Spc. Anthony R. Maddox, 22, of Port Arthur, Texas, died July 22, in Landstuhl, Germany, of a noncombat-related incident that occurred in Andar, Afghanistan; assigned to the 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

_Staff Sgt. Sonny C. Zimmerman, 25, of Waynesfield, Ohio, died July 16, in Mushaka, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort Campbell, Ky.

_ Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Tuttle, 19, of Gentry, Ark., died July 14 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center following a medical evacuation from the aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during a scheduled port visit in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility; assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Our sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those who galantly served our nation and laid down their lives in defense of our own. Thank you U.S. soldier and God Bless America!

The Horror With Product Demos

I will never forget the time about 23 years ago when I showed up for a sales meeting, and was planning to give a demonstration of the software I was selling to the CIO of Daiwa Securities of America in the World Financial Center, downtown New York City. It took me weeks to finally set up the meeting, and on the day of the meeting everything seemed so perfect. The sun was out. It was warm. I had rehearsed the demo with my SE to the point that I had it memorized word for word. What could possibly go wrong?                    Plenty, I found out!
Way back around the time of dinosaurs, PCs used floppy disks to transport data. Software demos were loaded onto floppy disks, and once we were on sight at a customers office, all we had to do was pop in the floppy disk, and the demo program would start. Seems easy doesn’t it?
Well it was easy until I found that the prospect’s PCs all had old 5 1/4″ floppy drives in their PCs, and not the newer 3.5″ floppy drives. Fortunately someone had both the 5 1/4″ and 3.5″ floppy drives on their new PC, so we went over to that PC, and popped in the media to begin the demo.
But nooooooo – The program was incompatible, and we had all we could do to get the program to run on the PC at all. To add insult to injury, whenever I pressed the button to print out the image, the document came back from the printer in the size of a postage stamp. The font was so small you needed an electron microscope to read it. End of show…

The Bigger Problem: Technology companies place a great deal of reliance on demos to showcase their products and services. While a demo is a great way to show off your product, often it is not being properly utilized to close business. Salespeople arrive, anxious to show how their product will improve the prospect’s situation. They demo every feature and discuss every benefit. Typically when the demo is finished, the prospect expresses their interest and says they need some time to think it over and invite the salesperson to follow up in a week or two. Whatever the final result, too little business seems to be closed as a result of the demo.

Final Analysis: It’s yet another case of the buyer using his system successfully. They get the salesperson to cough up his information (the product demo) early in the sales cycle, carefully avoid making a commitment when the demo is concluded, and force the salesperson to invest considerable time following up. Unfortunately, companies believe that if the prospect would just take the time to see how the product works, they’d recognize the benefits and buy. Too bad that doesn’t happen as often as it should. The real problem lies not with the demo itself, but with the way the salesperson deals with the opportunity.

Solution: Any prospect that asks for, or agrees to a demo is not necessarily a qualified prospect. Take the time to find out not only what the issues are, but also their budget and decision making process. And when you do agree to do a demo, make sure you’ve asked these three questions beforehand:

•    ”What issues do you want the demo to address?”
•    ”How will you determine if they were addressed successfully?”
•    ”Assuming we are able to address your issues successfully, what would happen at the end of the demo?”

By getting answers to these questions you’ll be able to accomplish several very important things. First, you can focus the demo on the prospect’s ‘pain’, and avoid showing other features that may not be relevant. Second, you’ll get an understanding of how your demo will be measured and you’ll have the right to ask whether or not you were successful. Finally, you’ll know what the next step should be after the demo and avoid the ubiquitous “I need to think it over.” In fact, you may even get an order…

You've Been Robbed! Time Bandits Strike Again!

Your time is being stolen each and every day, and you don't even know it until you call it quits at the end of the day. Where does the time go? Chances are good that some time bandit stole it…
What's a time bandit? Any distraction that gets in the way of your goals, and takes up your time without providing any benefit.
On any given day we all get pulled in different directions by something, or someone. Some days it feels like you've been pulled apart in four directions. There's the sales meetings, the written proposals, cold calls, travel, and of course the occasional visit from a co-worker who happens to drop by to bend your ear.
The problem with time bandits is that they are quite difficult to defend against unless you build a Great Wall of China around your desk, and have a Beware of Dog sign posted conspicuously on your door. Fact is, the only defense you have against the time bandit is to make sure that your time is secured, and hidden away from the time bandits so they can't steal it in the first place. For example, having a check list of action items, and the discipline it takes to complete them within a specific amount of time will help you safeguard your time from the time bandit. You also have to list your action items in order of priority. Some action items are more valuable than others. This requires you to safeguard your valuable time before you begin your day. A daily action item list serves this purpose.

May I suggest that you start thinking about your time as if it were money. Like money, you spend time. If you look at every moment of your day as costing you something, then you are more likely to safe guard against having your time stolen as you would with money. After all, you don't carelessly leave an open purse in a conference room, and you don't throw your wallet to the floor for all to see. Try camouflaging your time, and taking great care to have a daily plan, and a set of rules as to how you will spend your time. Remember, it's up to you as to how you spend your time, so spend it wisely, and understand that lurking somewhere in the shadows is a thief with nothing better to do than steal your valuable time.
On a final note, I think sales prospects have caught on to the threat of the time bandit. They are quite aware of the threats coming from time bandits (some salespeople). That's probably the reason why many prospects are not bothering to answer their phones anymore. To them, voice mail jail is the best place to confine any perceived threat to stealing their time. Your thoughts?

Nobody's Perfect...

Whenever I think of failure, or imperfection, I can't help but think about golf. As Sam Clemens once put it, "Golf is a long walk ruined…" Anything that can go wrong with golf will go wrong with golf. With so many hazards it's a wonder that anybody can play the game well. The wind, the water, grass height, and those stupid clubs that can't hit straight, all add up to a perfect recipe for failure. But we still play on…
The same goes for cold calling. There are plenty of hazards on the other end of the phone that can ruin a good score. For example, your prospect may hate their job, or detest salespeople. Your prospect may also be looking for a job, and could care less about how much money you'd save for his company. Your prospect may have had a fight with his wife before leaving for work, or could be worn out from a tough commute to the office. The mindset of your prospect is a complete mystery until you call them. My advice is to be prepared to hit the 'bad shots' wherever they may land. With golf and with cold calling, you've got to be prepared to address the worse case scenario in case things go wrong. In other words, when your call lands in the 'rough', or is met with aggression, or resistance, what do you do? Don't get mad - get even!
As I watched the Masters tournament this past weekend I saw several bad shots find their way into the water, the sand traps, and into the crowd. Sometimes cold calls suffer the same fate. You made your best effort to aim straight, and land well, but your prospect wasn't very receptive. When things go wrong for you the bottom line is that you can't panic and fall apart. Like the Masters golfers, whenever they hit a bad shot they took it in stride, and concentrated on making the next golf shot better. That's how it should be with cold calling. A bad cold call is NOT the end of the world!
Be assured there are  going to be some 'bad shots' on the phone with your prospects. Some calls may even wind up in the 'water hazard' when prospects hang up on you. Knowing this beforehand helps you manage your expectations, and keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Emotional involvement, like throwing down the phone and quitting only gives your prospect the satisfaction. No matter what happens, no matter where your call may land, you've got to stay focused, and have a positive attitude, otherwise you are guaranteed to hit your next call into the 'water'. So, lighten up, and play on!

Get to the Point...

Salespeople struggle in their dealings with prospects because they 'beat around the bush' with the point they are trying to make. Getting to the point is elusive for so many, and it causes needless frustration for salespeople. While getting to the point may make you worry, or even scare you death, cutting to the chase can do wonders for building your confidence, and helping you to close more sales. If you are hesitating with prospects, it's costing you money, and that should make you worry.

Case in point…

Whenever the question of cost comes up in conversation, salespeople tend to 'run for the hills' in search of something else to say. Instead, they will divert the conversation over to value, features, and benefits, hoping that the question will go away, and price won't matter. Why?

When you 'beat around the bush' you sound just like a salesman, and a cheap salesman at that. To become a competent negotiator it makes perfect sense to get to the point, and for better, or worse, stand ready to address the response coming back from the prospect. If you are afraid of what the prospect will say, then you need to ask yourself why. Only by facing your fears head on will you be able to conquer them, and move on towards victory.

You will find that getting to the point will give you a brand new refreshing outlook on things. Getting to the point quickly should come as some relief. The truth shall set you free! When you can face the facts, and get to the point without any fear of retribution, you will find yourself to become a clearer thinking individual with a firm grasp of the reality with any sales situation you may be involved with. Take the high road. Be forthright in your dealings with prospects. Get to the point - That's the making of a winner.

I'm Going to Sue You!

If you are in business, then it's highly likely that you will work with contracts, agreements, purchase orders and the like. On some occasions these contracts will be broken by your customer, and thoughts of filing a lawsuit come to mind.

Long ago I learned the hard way that any contract that is uncertain in its terms, like how much something costs, or the required deadline for delivery, can open a 'can of worms', and bring a host of unexpected problems later on.
When dealing with contracts its all about the details, details, and more details. That's why any contract you enter into with clients needs to be in WRITING. Can I make myself any clearer?

However, just because you have something in writing doesn't necessarily mean that you will prevail in the event you have to sue your customer to collect monies owed to you. Having a written contract only gives you a greater legal standing in making your case to a judge, or an opposing attorney. Oral agreements are binding as well, but it's always better to have something in writing.

OK, suppose you have a written contract, and your client decides to breach that contract for whatever reason. What's next?
For starters, I would advise that you do all that you can to pursue a mutual and reasonable agreement with your customer, and leave contacting a lawyer about filing a lawsuit as a last resort. Don't threaten your customer with a lawsuit either. Let me tell you why...
The number one problem you'll have with any breach of contract is your emotions. Emotions can get in the way of sound judgement, and that can cost you plenty. Lawyers feed off your emotions, and that makes it easier for them to tack on more fees for their services. (No, I am not going to crack any cheap lawyer jokes here)
Also, threatening your customer with a lawsuit is only going to make them angry, and cause them to dig in and mount a defense to your claim. When two people hate each other, how can there be any resolution?

Let's face it, when someone screws you out of your money you are angry, and that's putting it mildly. Thoughts of rage, and directing visceral in your customers direction is all you think about, all the time. You want revenge - You want justice! So... you go looking for a lawyer thinking that having an ally on your side will increase your chances of getting justice. Well, that's a BIG maybe!

Justice costs money. Contract lawyers don't work for free arguing breach of contract matters. Don't be confused by personal injury cases where lawyers tend to work on a contingency basis where lawyers getting paid is contingent upon your collecting a judgement award.

Contract lawyers work it the opposite way, they want thousands of dollars up front, and an hourly rate ongoing for any additional faxing & copying they have to do. If your lawyer cannot settle out of court, then there are more legal fees required to litigate the case in court. In other words, suing someone to collect past due invoices, or outright breach of contract can be very expensive for you. This is why you need to make sure, as best you can, that ALL of the terms and conditions are outlined explicitly in your contracts so that there is NO DOUBT to your customer as to what they are agreeing to, and what you can expect to receive under the terms of that contract.
As sure as the sun rises every day, any ambiguity or loose wording you include in your contracts is going to come back to haunt you later on. You can count on it!

My advice to you is to do everything you possibly can to create clear and concise agreements with your customers up front. While there's no guarantee that they won't default on the agreement, I've found that when two parties have an up front understanding as to what the contract requires of both parties, that there is less of a possibility that either party will default.

In closing, don't create half-baked contracts with your customers, and think that some lawyer is going to bail you out, and collect for you later on. Take care of all the business parameters in your contract up front, and you'll spare yourself the run away legal expenses and aggravation later on.

They Don't Want You To Succeed...

Believe it or not there are people that you work with, live next door to, or are related to, that don't want you to become a success. It may sound rather odd, but the fact is that if you become a success you'll make them look bad. Instead, they will overly criticize you. Some may even downright insult you! They DO NOT want you to become a success in anything because then they will have to explain why they aren't doing as well as you.
Constructive criticism is a good thing, and you have to know how to take advice from others. There's a difference between maligning critique, and rendering friendly advice. You just have to know how to recognize it and process it, and by all means DO NOT get defensive about being overly criticized. Let other's venomous critique pass right through you like an X-Ray. Getting caught up in the stupidity of others is no way to live, and a sales career is tough enough without you making it even more difficult on yourself.
The attached photo describes the initial failures of some of the leading people in our history. These people at one point in their life were told they weren't good enough by people who thought they knew it all. The next time someone overly criticizes you, don't get mad, and don't get emotional about it. Just give it a another try, and set a personal goal to prove them wrong. There's no better feeling than when you can tell someone, "I told you so".

GlenGarry Glen Ross - Redeux

Last week I went to see GlenGarry Glen Ross on Broadway. Seen the movie, read the book, but I just had to go and see Al Pacino take a crack at playing the role of Shelly 'The Machine' Levene'. Al was great, as were the other notable cast members. Bobby Cannavale in particular (That loony gangster, Gyp Rosetti from Boardwalk Empire). Bobby was impeccable as Ricky Roma - top salesman.
What I missed was the "Put that coffee down"! scene with Alec Baldwin on his mission of mercy from Mitch and Murray from downtown. "You're fired"! How could they leave that part out? No ABCs of closing. No A.I.D.A., Attention-Interest-Decision-Action. I was really looking forward to that part, but for some reason they left it out. Probably because Alec Baldwin did such a great job in the movie, that it would be a sin to cast anyone else in that role. Who knows?
GlenGarry Glen Ross portrays the depressing life of a once successful salesperson, Shelly Levene, and who has now lost his 'Mo-Jo'. Fast forward to the scene where Al Pacino a.k.a. Shelly Levene closes an order and he wants his name put on the board for the 1st prize cadillac. Shelly wants the world to know he 'closed' 8 parcels to Bruce and Harriet Nyborg. Then his 'crowing' takes things to a higher level of indignation by rubbing the sales manager's nose in it. That was his biggest mistake. There's a sales lesson here...
No matter what, the deal isn't closed until the check clears. How many times have you closed a sales, and told the wife, or the sales manager about it, and have had the deal pulled out from underneath you? Ugh! That is the worst feeling ever. I'd be lying if I sad that never happened to me. I learned my lesson the hard way when the check didn't clear, or the prospect backed out of the deal. Can you say "embarrassing"? Awkward! Stupid?
The best thing for any salesperson who closes a sale, but no cleared check in the bank, is to stay 'even-keeled'. No highs - no lows. Take it in stride. It's a pending order awaiting the check to clear, and nothing more. Only when the check clears is it an actual closed sale. Everything up to that point is just effort.
However, when the check clears be happy for the moment. Be happy, but don't get 'cocky'. Don't let your pride get in the way of rational thinking. In sales anything that can go wrong will go wrong. No sense in getting yourself all worked up, and making an ass of yourself to others when the check doesn't clear. The embarrassment you suffer is worse than no order at all.

Remembering Zig Ziglar

Greetings Gold Callers! If you haven't already heard, Zig Ziglar passed away yesterday at 86. If you don't know who Zig Ziglar is let me say this - Zig Ziglar was a folksy Texan that 'owned' the stage whenever he gave a motivational speech to salespeople. His baritone Texan voice delivered a message that was easy to connect with, and an absolute pleasure to listen to. The one thing that surprised me was that Zig didn't write his first book until he was 49. You see, it's never to late to start. All you need is the 'get up and go'!
Now I don't know what your hopes and dreams are in the current world we live in. Things are uncertain on many fronts. But let me tell you this, defining success in life and business has never been easier. Sure, it's much easy to look at all the bad there is around you, and feel despondent about your chances of success. However, you are luckier than you think! You don't know it because you are just not looking at things the way you should. This quick video from ol' Zig explains.
If there is such a thing as 'sales heaven', I'm sure ol' Zig is looking down on us wishing us all the best in his world, and offering up his words of encouragement to help us find it.

Living With Voice Mail 'Jail'

When you hear that 'Double Clicking' sound on the phone you're going to voice mail...

Do you hate voice mail greetings? Me too! Problem is, voice mail is here to stay. It ain't going anywhere, so we might as well learn to live with it, even if we hate it. To that end, here are a couple of quick tips with regards to voice mail 'jail' that may help you save time and aggravation. 

For starters... There's something I've noticed about voice mail after dialing the phone, and right after the first ring of the phone number I'm calling, I hear a distinct clicking sound, and then another ring of the telephone. This means my cold call has been dumped into a voice mail system, or that my call is about to be transferred to a Gatekeeper. Immediately following the 'double click' sound you have 2 choices: either you wait an eternity for the phone to ring 4-5 times to get to your prospect's voice mail greeting, or simply hang up and call back later. If you prefer, you can also leave a message for your prospect that will probably go unreturned. It's your call...

My suggestion? May I suggest that when you hear that 'Double Click' sound connecting your call to voice mail that you let it ring once, or maybe twice, and then hang up, and call the next prospect on your list. By doing this you'll find that you are able to increase your outbound phone dials by 30% or more, and not go out of your mind listening to dozens of voice mail greetings each day.

If they don't answer by the third ring you're going to voice mail...

Over the years I've also noticed that most people answer their phone by the third ring, and the majority of people will answer on the second ring. To learn more about human behavior with answering the phone I did some research on phone answering etiquette from some industry 'experts' I found on the Internet. I found that proper protocol requires customer service people and receptionists to answer all inbound calls by the third ring, and every attempt is made to answer the phone by the second ring. A recent poll I found mentions that most people answer the phone by the third ring on their home phones. I suspect they take this practice to the office and do the same thing on their office phone. It's a fact - phone calls are answered within 3 rings. So... why do salespeople let the phone ring for 8-10 times? I think they are holding out for hope that someone will eventually answer. But why? I believe waiting 30-seconds for someone to answer their phone is a crazy waste of time. I understand that persistence is a trait of a successful salesperson, but persistence at the expense of missing out on making another call to someone who may answer? I dunno, but that doesn't sound like a good judgement call to me.

My suggestion? If the prospect doesn't answer their office phone by the 3rd ring they aren't going to answer. Hang up the phone and call somebody else! Cold calling is tough enough without putting yourself through the added pain of having to listen to non-stop voice mail greetings all day long. Your thoughts?

Music That Motivates

Everyone falls into a funk at one time or another. So, here's a quick fix whenever you're feeling drab and can't find the handle. Before I start the day I listen to music that boosts my adrenaline, and drives the power I need to make those dreaded sales calls. Whatever music you listen to is fine just so long as it moves you, and gets you up on your feet. So... Here are my selections for the top 10 songs that motivate.

* Immigrant Song ~ Led Zeppelin
* Communication Breakdown ~ Led Zeppelin
* Paranoid ~ Black Sabbath
* Rock You Like a Hurricane ~ The Scorpions
* Bark at the Moon ~ Ozzy Osbourne
* Shoot to Thrill ~ AC/DC
* Panama ~ Van Halen
* Got Me Under Pressure ~ ZZ Top
* Peace of Mind ~ Boston
* Kickstart My Heart ~ Motley Crue

If these tunes don't get your motor running check your pulse...

Where Are All Those Pay Phones?

 When I broke into sales back in the 1800's (just kidding), I would cold call door-to-door in NYC office buildings. I remember walking up to the sliding glass window, and behind the window was a receptionist wearing a headset ,and sitting in front of switchboard with cables, plugs, and wires all over the place. Every time the phone rang the receptionist would speak through the headset, and shortly thereafter insert a cable plug into an opening on the switchboard to connect the call. You can imagine how difficult it was for me as a cold caller to try and get a word in edge wise and ask to speak with the office manager. I would just get to the end of my pitch when the phone would ring again, the receptionist would connect the call, and then turn to me and say, "Who are you again"? And then I'd have to start all over. When I finally saw an opening and asked for the office manager, the receptionist would proclaim, "she doesn't see anyone without an appointment". Ah... the good old days.
Just to let you 'new-bees' in on something, 30 years ago prospecting for new business was a lot harder than it is today. You had no Internet database, no cell phones, and no email. Just shoe leather, and your undying ambitions for going door-to-door pedaling your wares.
Did someone call in an order for you while you were out 'pounding' the pavement, and 'beating' the bushes'? You'd never know unless you found your way to a pay phone somewhere, deposited a dime, and called the office receptionist to see whether there were any messages for you. I hated when I had no messages...
Back in the day pay phones were everywhere. I recall the nice bank of pay phones they had on the mezzanine level of the Metlife building - 200 Park Avenue, and the accordion  doors that would seal you into a quiet 'cone of silence', and that sense of seclusion.
Because I was so dependent upon pay phones to connect to my business in general, I literally mapped out the locations of pay phones in and around Manhattan where I could speak on the pay phone in silence. The wall of pay phones in the Grand Central Station concourse were only for personal calls. Way too noisy there for business calls.
I also remember the pay phone I am standing at in the above photo. It was the pay phone right outside 2 World Trade Center on Monday morning, September 10th, 2001. My sales call with Delloitte Touche on the 96th floor was scheduled for Tuesday, September 11th @ 0900, but my prospect called me on Friday the 7th, and asked that if I could come Monday the 10th instead of Tuesday the 11th. My sales engineer took the photo as a joke to prove to my boss that I was hard at work in the field. Little did I know at the time this photo was taken that because my meeting was moved up to the 10th instead of the 11th that I escaped death. My prospect was among the 2,700 people that perished that dreadful day on 9/11. I try not to think about what would have happened if I had gone to the Deloitte Touche meeting on Tuesday 9/11 @ 0900 as planned. Still freaks me out to this day...
Today, there are virtually no pay phones to be found anywhere. They have gone the way of the milkman, ice man, and the buggy whip. Looking back at the dominance of pay phones in our business world, I could never imagine at the time that the pay phone would become obsolete, but it has. Smart phones are all the rage today! No more hassles trying to find change of a dollar to make a call, or having to dial 30 digits off an AT&T calling card to make a call. Today it's as easy as 1,2,3.
So I have decided to proclaim 10/25 'National Pay Phone Remembrance Day'. May all sales veterans with more than 20 years direct sales experience take a moment to reflect on how it used to be with pay phones, and how much we owe them for our early success in business.  
Did you have a favorite pay phone in your territory? Tell me where...

No Solicitors!!

This past Sunday I took a bike ride, a really long bike ride. Ordinarily, I ride around the neighborhood just to try and work off a few pounds before the holidays. But for some reason this past weekend I got on the bike and I couldn't stop pedaling. There was a cold snap in the air, and the sun was shining brightly. Perfect conditions for a longer than usual bike ride across Long island.
About 15 miles north of where I started out is an office park in Plainview hosting a wide array of businesses. As I rode my bike through the development I saw something very interesting that each and every business had posted on their door. I saw NO SOLICITORS signs everywhere. I wondered why...
My guess is that roaming salespeople from all sorts of businesses like to converge on office parks to cold call door-to-door, and sell all sorts of stuff like business phone systems, communications services, advertising, office supplies, office space. You name it - there's somebody out there 'hawking' it....
After having been set upon by a myriad of salesmen and salesladies, it must have become an annoyance for the companies in this office park, and the best way to deal with it was to put up a STOP sign that told the salesman up front not even to bother coming in to pitch a product. In other words, "Don't Even Think About Trying to Sell Anything Here"!
Then I got to wondering about how many salespeople went in anyway.
When I first broke into sales as a profession, my sales manager told me to disregard the No Solicitors sign and walk in anyway. That was back in the early eighties, and people were a bit nicer. Today, I bet salespeople are met with more disdain because of the No Solicitors sign. Receptionists bark, "Can't you read"???? The sign says No Solicitors!
People have changed. There's much less tolerance for the poor ol' door-to-door salesperson these days.
Today, seeing a No Solicitors sign today gives me pause. The only valid reason I can think of for disregarding the No Soliciting sign, and going in anyway is to find out why they have a No Soliciting sign in the first place. I'm more curious than your average cat so given the chance I'd ask the receptionist why the need for the sign, and then chat it up about the flock of salespeople that still come in anyway. I'd ask whether I was the only one that is courageous enough to walk in anyway despite the No Solicitors sign, or do others feel bold like myself, and walk in anyway. After schmoozing the receptionist for a bit I would then smoothly segue into asking to meet with the decision-maker. I wonder whether my schmoozing would get me in the door in spite of the sign. Then I got to thinking along the lines of something else. Maybe the sign is posted there for good reason - To keep out the amateurs!

If You Feel It - Say it!

 Off the cuff remarks are getting plenty of attention in the media today. Most captured 'off the cuff' remarks come with bad repercussions, and that makes headlines and sells newspapers. No one in their right mind wants to be known for a bad 'off the cuff' remark so they tend not to speak their mind at all. Today, people are very conscious about speaking their mind because of the potential harm they feel it could do to their reputation. For the average person, saying what's really on your mind can be dangerous thing. I read somewhere that it's better to be thought a fool than to speak up, and confirm it. No wonder people hesitate to say what they feel.
On the other hand, not speaking your mind can be a dangerous thing as well, especially when it comes to business negotiations. For example, not asking for the order, asking for direction, or remaining silent about he pertinent details of a contract can evaporate trust, and do permanent damage your business dealings.
For some reason, some people in business will keep their comments and questions to themselves, and not say, or ask what they want to because they think it's safer to remain silent. According to them, sometimes speaking out can do more harm than good, and some things are better off left unsaid. In other words they don't want to lose the deal by saying something that could damage their negotiating position. However, leaving something important out of any business transaction can, and will, come back to haunt you later on. Be sure that anything important left unsaid, or unasked, has the potential to develop a misunderstanding, and then it's just a matter of time before it comes to the surface, and causes your sales negotiation to collapse. Perhaps you've experienced this yourself when a prospective customer said something to you along the lines of, "I thought you meant...". I thought you said..." "You didn't tell me I had to...". Awkward!!
When one party in any negotiation is unclear about what is going on, and what happens next, the whole negotiation collapses. Your job as a salesperson, or business owner is to manage the expectations of your prospective customers, and make crystal clear all of the particulars  surrounding what it is that you are negotiating for. That means you've got to speak up and face the music! For God's sake, don't hide! If you are afraid to ask, or afraid to say what you mean, you are making a costly mistake. Keep in mind that you cannot close a deal unless both parties understand and agree. What you are negotiating for must be clear and certain in its terms. Ipso Facto!
In business, uncomfortable subject matter has to be placed out on the table in full view of your prospective customer in advance. Full disclosure is the only way to go, and of course there may be repercussions. The prospective customer may not like your terms and conditions. So what? The issue is whether you are able to handle the repercussions in a professional and effective manner? You see, it's not the repercussions that matter so much as it's the way in which you handle the repercussions. The question is whether you are brave enough, and up to the task to deal with rejection.
In any business honesty is the best policy. If your words are taken out of context you can always apologize, and restate your position. Don't hold back what needs to be said, and let it go at that. Being candid and forthright in your business dealings with customers, even if it may cost you the sale, is a long term strategy towards establishing yourself as a trusted advisor, and a valued supplier.

Why You Need a Backup 'Plan B'...

It is so easy to get 'screwed' in business. Unbeknownst to you, right now, somewhere, somebody is making a decision that has the potential to screw up your business, your career, or your life. I don't mean to sound paranoid, but every decision somebody makes is a cause set in motion, and the policy decisions made by others can impact your future plans in a negative way. In this economy of uncertainty you've got to watch your back...
If you are 'sitting pretty', thinking things are going to be OK, think again. You need a a 'Plan-B' backup plan! And the best time to build your backup 'Plan B' is when things are going well. It also pays to keep in mind that if you don't have a plan of your own, you are liable to become part of somebody else's plan.
Several years ago I made the mistake of getting too comfortable, and too trusting of my situation. At the time I earned a six-figure income selling technology, and the company I worked for was in a 'growth mode'. Everything seemed so positive, and all indications pointed to long term stability. The Sales VP was quite optimistic, and he wouldn't shut up about the long term career benefits of working for XYZ Corporation. My thoughts naturally were about staying put, and getting a gold watch in 30 years. However, six months later my world caved in...
I remember being called into the office of the Sales VP early one Friday morning, and as I entered the office he asked me to close the door and have a seat. The blood ran from my head, and I recall having that queasy feeling that something bad was about to happen, and it sure did. I got fired!
I sat there stunned. Fortunately, there was a pittance of a severance package, and health insurance under COBRA, and a promise to pay me on any sales that closed over the next 4 months. How nice...
On the day I was fired I learned the hard way the penalties of not having a 'Plan-B'.  Being content with my situation made me apathetic about planning my future, and I got caught by surprise. If I only knew then what I know now...
Here's my suggestion to you, and I hope you get to work on it right away! A good way to build a 'Plan-B' for yourself is to take a look at your address book, or LinkedIn contacts, and reach out and touch somebody. Make a call, drop a note, and stay in touch with people you know, and keep the lines of communications open. Don't wait until you get fired to start building the network, and calling people up. It makes you look desperate. Market yourself daily, and constantly be on the lookout for new opportunity. That way you are in CONTROL YOUR DESTINY, and that's the best way to get back on your feet. Controlling your destiny also helps you avoid in advance that queasy feeling that comes over you when you're asked to come on in, close the door, and have a seat...