Category Archives: Sales | Management | Leadership

The home of the Un-Sales Manager and the articles I wrote as part of Sales Management 2.0. In this section I let my inner social scientist and sales geek loose in an effort to make the world a better place free of bad sales experiences! I also have a strong management and leadership background so I write my thoughts about faith based servant leadership and management techniques that will help you grow personally and professionally.

10 Things a Good Salesperson Should Never Say and Why.

Attention all salespeople stop saying that!Let’s face it, as salespeople, we know there are some things we should never say. However, It seems like no matter how often sales managers say it there are some phrases salespeople will simply NOT stop

using. I am going to break my usual professional tone and share some insight as to what I (and your clients) hear when you use these lame cliché lines.  

(Updated) I originally wrote this post in July of 2007 and am updating it 10 years later. The reason I did this is because this is still one of my highest traffic blog posts of all time. I didn’t change much, but some of my thoughts have changed and developed over time. Additionally, the post was just a bit dated and needed a bit of freshening up to remain relevant. I hope you enjoy this new updated version. 

The Ultimate List of What a Salesmen Should Not Say

1.     I was just in the area and thought I’d drop by. 

Are you serious! The professional I am trusting to help me with my important issue has nothing better in the world to do right now than just “drop by” to see me for no reason?  I’m busy, my calendar is packed and I do not have time for unscheduled visits that do not have a clear agenda. If you are not doing business with me already I am probably thinking who is this guy? Why is he here and how do I get rid of him as quickly and politely as possible. Unless we really are buddies, don’t just drop by unless you are only planning to leave something (like delicious doughnuts) with my secretary. Trust me; she already knows to tell you I am in a meeting and that I will call you back later. If I really am expecting something from you, she knows that too. Don’t try to fool her. She is smart, deals with several other people just like you every day, and she hates people trying to trick her!

Unless you are bringing me something delicious don't just ''drop by'' my office. #sales Click To Tweet

2.      Have you got a minute to talk?

No, I don’t! I am busy, and I have 100 other things I could be doing right now. As soon as I say no, where are you in this conversation? In my opinion, I think you are better off trying to engage me quickly than to give me the easy out and slit your own throat. If I am too busy to talk believe me I WILL let you know.

Never start a sales call with ''Do you have a minute to talk?'' Click To Tweet

3.      I’ll try.

I really hate this one. I only want to know what you can or will do not what you will TRY to do. If you are not confident enough to say you can do it, do not mention it to me yet. I would rather hear, give me X hours to do some research on that and I’ll get back to you with what I can do. I’ll respect your honesty and willingness to do research. I’ll try is a cop-out, not a commitment.

''Do or do not. There is no try.'' -Yoda Commit fully don't be wishy-washy. #sales Click To Tweet

4.      I’m really not sure.

The uncommitted salespersonSee the picture here? That is what you look like to me when you say I’m not sure, might, or maybe. Again, your default answer is “give me X hours or days to do some research and I’ll get back to you. This answer tells me you do not know the answer, but you are taking my concern or issue seriously and want to help. I am really not sure is not the answer of the confident professional.

5.      It’s not my fault.

Never say it's not my faultLike it or not you are most likely my only contact in your company outside of accounting or billing. That means everything that goes wrong is your fault to some degree. Even if it isn’t, it is still your issue to fix if you are planning to keep my business. The best way to deal with this is to sincerely apologize and take the serious and immediate corrective action as soon as possible. More importantly, let me know what it is you are doing to fix it, and how you will prevent future issues of this nature.

6.      What would I have to do to get you started today?

Ever seen the movie Tin Men? Unless you want to sound like those guys avoid this phrase at all costs. This phrase screams “I am a slimy salesman!” and any rapport you have built with this client is eroding quickly from this point forward. If you were trying to act as a consultant and a problem solver up to this point you just u-turned and waved a red flag in front of me. Instead, use something softer like this. You: Are there any other issues or concerns we have not covered sufficiently? Client: No everything looks good. You: Great! Then the next step is to…Not only do you get a good trial close where you can uncover any last-minute hidden concerns, but you end up at the same place in two steps without using a cliché closing statement. 

Do not use over used cliché closing statements. Your clients have heard them before and they erode… Click To Tweet

7.      We are the lowest price in town.

You very well may be. However, I doubt this really how you want to try to compete. It does not take much effort to come up with a better value proposition than that. Additionally, it only takes a little effort for me as a competing salesperson who sells value to explain to your customer why paying a bit more for my product is worth it. Moreover, if I DO find a lower price, you are a liar now, and any trust you built is gone. My dad once told me when picking a service you had three choices; good, fast, or cheap. Pick any two, but recognize you will always sacrifice the third. Your job is to help your clients to understand this. Be sure to take a look at this article on why selling on price is never a good idea.  

Stop selling on price. Build value in your pitch. If low-cost is your exclusive value statement find… Click To Tweet

8.      Always and Never

Always and never are just plain bad. There is almost always an exception to every rule and my experience is whenever I use an absolute like always or never that exception pops up and embarrasses me. My general rule is to avoid absolute statements wherever possible. Use these sparingly if ever.

9.      What you need is…

Unless you are my Dad or a trusted friend, I think this phrase should be avoided. I don’t even use it during a proposal. If I call you with a problem, and we have been doing business for years, and you are intimately familiar with my issues it may be ok, otherwise, present me with options and let me pick. Even better is to layer questions in a way that I pick without you even directly asking me. Remember, I am the only one who knows what it is I need. A final thought on this: As a salesman, my favourite deals are the ones where I have layered questions in a way that the client tells me what they want to buy and I just say: Great, let’s get that started. 

10.  Trust me.

Trust me? I promise you I do not!If you feel the need to tell me this, I am starting to wonder why and will usually assume I shouldn’t. Trust is like love. It’s built over time and the only way to gain it is to earn it.  If you want me to trust you, be professional, follow-up on your commitments, and be real with me. Let me get to know you. Use small talk, chat me up about common interests, but never say: “Trust me”

Trust is like love. It’s built over time and the only way to gain it is to earn it Click To Tweet

Closing thoughts

I hope this list is useful to you. Selling is tough, it’s a world full of daily highs and lows. Beyond that, your paycheck is tied directly to your ability to sell. I know everyone has a list of things they hate to hear in a selling situation. I would love to see you share some of those thoughts and your experiences with some of these statements by leaving comments below.  

Further Study

I am a HUGE Brian Tracy fan and I highly recommend reading his book The Psychology of Selling. In this book, he is going to give you a series of ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that you can use immediately to make more sales, faster and easier than ever before.

Discussion

Tell me about a time a salesperson said one of the things on this list and how it made you feel. How could they have done better?

Alternatively, share with me a time you said something you know you shouldn’t have. How did it work out and how did you fix it?

Leadership. It’s all the Time!

Let's Discuss LeadershipYou are a leader in everything you do. Not just the moments you have positional authority over others. Every second of the day presents the opportunity to lead. This is true whether you are a CEO, receptionist, father, child, coach, or athlete. I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot because it is popping up in my personal life with my wife and kids, at church,  and at work. I’ve also recently transitioned into project management and for the first time in my career, I am managing processes almost exclusively and not directly supervising people. I still deal with a lot of people and I still use essentially the same skill set. However, nobody does anything for me now because of any true authority it’s 100% relationship oriented. I’ve always lead in a way that was dependent on developing relationships. However, it’s still a small adjustment and it started me thinking about leadership in general and how it’s a bit different.

Being a Leader With Your Family:

I was talking to my wife Shawna the other night and she reminded me of something I do consistently that comes straight out of one of my favourite leadership books of all time: The 360 Degree Leader. It was about doing something trivial that everyone knows I do not want or like to do, but I do anyway because I know it is important to set the right example.

“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me”.  – John C. Maxwell

I’m going to be honest here and say I HATE green beans. I don’t just dislike them, I detest them. However, I am aware they are good for me and I have some picky eaters in my family so I eat them without complaint. Part of it is so they will eat something healthy and see me do it too. Another part of it is so nobody can say: “Dad doesn’t eat green beans so I’m not either!” I was smart enough to know that asking them to eat something they don’t like when I would not, was hypocritical at best and a poor display of leadership. Knowing this, I suck it up and eat them anyway. My wife was using this as an example to one of the kids about doing things you don’t want to do because it is the right thing. Whats funny is this kid knew I did that and acknowledged it. I’ve never mentioned that I do this and I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know I don’t like them, that I eat them anyway. Honestly I was a bit surprised, but it reinforced the idea that your kids watch and listen to everything you do.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

Another example that is a bit more serious is related to dealing with my Adult ADHD. I had gone 42 years and never been on any sort of ADHD medicine. I didn’t want it and honestly, didn’t think I needed it. Both my ex and current wife encouraged me to try something for years and I just refused for a number of reasons. If I’m being honest, I was aware I had some annoying issues,  but I had learned to live with them and I had what was in my mind a reasonable expectation everyone else would as well. 

I have 3 kids with ADHD all three of whom benefit tremendously from taking their medication. I’m not sure what sparked it but two of them were occasionally resistant to taking it and saying it didn’t help. Everybody knows this is simply not true and I had told them how important it was for months but gaining little ground. I had spent a lot of time thinking of ways to show them how important this was and was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one day I woke up and said: “self, you need to take the same stuff they do.” I had finally realized what a hypocrite I was being. Nobody had to tell me, I just reflected one day and realized I was a huge jerk if I insisted they do something I refused to do. That same day I told Shawna: “I think I need to start taking Intuniv too.” Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so much happier now and I am able to relax in a way I have never been able to in my entire life. I wish I had done it years ago. Besides feeling better, by taking it myself I was able to show that I was 100% bought into the process of dealing with not only their ADHD but my own as well. My entire family is happier because of it. If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are watching everything you do. Because of this one decision all three of my kids are now happily taking their medication and we have a calmer happier home because of it.

“If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are always watching what you do. And just as children watch their parents and emulate their behavior, so do employees who are watching their bosses.” – John C. Maxwell

Being a Leader at Work

One of the most fun things I use to do as a sales manager was to jump on the phone Saturday morning during our phone-a-thons and set some appointments. It was fun for several reasons. First, I’m a great salesperson and it’s fun to do things you are good at especially if it’s out of your norm. Second, I’m competitive and I wanted to set more appointments than anyone because it’s fun to talk a little smack with my top performers and work hard. More importantly, my mid and low performers saw me demonstrating skills I had taught in training and it reinforced that training because I could prove I not only talked the talk but could walk the walk. Finally, I dialed because they LOVED it. Seriously, everyone likes to see their boss do their job and it’s good leadership to join in on Saturday morning when nobody wants to be there.

Opportunities to lead are everywhere if you are looking for them. in everything, you do someone is watching and learning. My goal every day is to make sure they learn something positive.

For Further Study:

If you are looking to improve yourself and be a better leader in every situation I recommend you buy John C Maxwell’s The 360 Degree leader. 

For Discussion:

Tell me about a hidden leadership opportunity you found in the comments!

John C Maxwell Leadership Quote

Like a Boss Photo. Feet on desk. leadershipLeadership isn’t just telling people what to do. In fact, it’s hardly every that. Real leadership comes from example and establishing a track record of truth, knowledge, and fairness. 

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

Remember wherever you are or whatever you are doing you are likely leading someone even if you do not realize it.

 

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013!

happy new yearWell 2013 is officially here. To be honest, I’m pretty excited. I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad) in 2012 and I am 100% committed to bettering myself this year. So… what do I have in mind? I lost 30 pounds in 2012, but I think I can do better I’m shooting for 50 more pounds gone by year-end! I’m also really focused on finishing my Ed Doctorate… It NEEDS to get done. As for my career, I am committing to being a more focused coach and trainer. I have been active but not to the degree I feel I could be. If I want to move my career forward I need to not only finish school I need to take production to the next level. I’m also placing a big priority on my family this year. Not that it wasn’t a priority in the first place, but I want to make sure I spend the quality time with them that they deserve. So here is my bullet pointed list of priorities for 2013 in no particular order:

  • Eat Palio 90% of the time
  • Drop another 50 pounds
  • Complete the 100 push-up, 100 sit-up and 150 squat challenge.
  • Start racing again
  • Complete and defend my dissertation
  • Spend more quality time with my wife, children, and friends.
  • More games less TV
  • Read for 1 hour every day
  • Write for 1 hour every day
  • When I’m at work be 100% focused on work and when I’m home be 100% focused on home life.
  • Learn to relax!

So that’s it in a nut shell I have a loose plan to be healthier and more successful with both my career and family. The theme of this year is gong to be about balance and that’s tough for me because I tend to be a person who goes to extremes and I’m sure we will be talking about that in the next few weeks.

Whats YOUR plan for 2013 and why?

Do you have a selling system?

sales systemSales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training session, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do that, but what separates great sales managers form the average is the ability to help sales people build good habits, learn discipline and follow a system.

I know we want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time to help us develop an ideal solution for each client. And I also know that most sales people will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of system, but I am here to tell you this could not be further from the truth. systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.

So ask yourself: Have I helped my staff to develop a solid selling system that works? 

This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Are they inflexible and unable to customize when playing from the playbook? No, but they do have a set of pre-set strategies they can implement. My goal for my staff is to provide them a strategy in the form of a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays to run based on what they find that way they feel free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:

Rapport

Motivation

Qualification

Payment

Start Date 

Referral

I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going…

So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?

Pursue REAL happiness!

It's important to achieve balance in lifeHave you ever realized that what you want is right in front of you and what you think you want is a load of crap? I have been pretty reflective lately and it’s led to some great conversations between my wife and I about where we are in life, careers, and whatnot and we have come to some realizations about some things we were chasing.  Maybe some of those things weren’t so important and that we wanted to focus energy on some new things going forward. I love my girls and I love my wife… but I have given a lot to my career and I sometimes wonder to what end? I make good money, we have a stable life, cool stuff, and I am upwardly mobile; but are we happier than we were 10 years ago? Have our problems and stresses been reduced? Not really. I make literally 3x what I made 10 years ago and none of those things are measurably better so whats it all for? Krisy and I have really been talking about this and it’s kind of awesome… I’m excited because we are trying to get the ball rolling on some BIG life changes that we feel would simplify things, reduce stress and bring us closer together as a family. I’m not ready to spill the beans yet, but it’s HUGE and exciting.

So what got me thinking about this? It’s another edition of Songs That Get Stuck In My Head! This is one I found on YouTube Thanksgiving day while playing with the girls… They loved the song and I have to admit it’s a catchy tune, but the story spoke to me as well… Give it a listen and let me know if it talks to you.

The Duck Song! 

PS: When we DO make those changes you will know because it’s HUGE! 🙂

If you are considering rethinking things in your life I highly recommend: ONO, Options Not Obligations: Enrich Your Personal Life by Rethinking Your Financial Life by Mark Warnke. This book has helped me reshape how I think about things and is a book for people who like the idea of family first entrepreneurship.

Selling is Caring… Really!

Helping Others Gives Success True MeaningPeople are going to think I’m crazy for saying this but it’s true. Great selling is 100% about caring…Think about the best buying experiences you have ever had. Did it feel manipulative? Could you see the crazy awesome closing techniques they used? or did it feel very natural and “good”? We think we are helping people by sharing all the awesome features and benefits we know and showing off our expertise and product knowledge  but I feel like Theodore Roosevelt nailed it when he said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

For me the absolute best buying experiences have been with salespeople who really got to know me. They were not technique laden “hunters”, “killers”, or “closers” (believe me I’ve done this long enough that I can spot them!). They were genuine people who took an interest in me, my problems and goals and set out to present me with well thought out solutions.  All of them had good habits and techniques, but they were not relying on those skills they were building relationship.

A great example of this is the real estate agent who sold me my house. When we met for the first time he sat down and talked to my wife and I, but also took the time to talk to my kids and really try to understand what all of us were looking for. He then laid out his plan. First time out 5 houses absolutely no offers. Next time out 3 houses no offers, but we will really like these houses. Then on the third time out 2-3 houses and a solid offer on the house we would buy. To be honest at this point I was like NO freaking way! How does he know this?

So the first time out we looked at 5 houses and he did not sell one bit. He was in the background watching everything. He watched my kids, listened to my wife an I talk about what we liked and when we left he would ask questions. What really blew me away was when I’d say things like: “I really loved that deck!” and he would say yes it was very nice but did you see Sophia trying to get up and down those steps? Me… Ya I guess I did. They were really steep and there was no rail. We looked a a lot of nice houses all very different and we had things we liked about all of them though it felt like a productive day.

The next time out 3 houses and we loved them all… same story. Lots of questions and interaction paired with great feedback. Third trip out 2 houses and an offer.

Now he did a lot of things right and there was good technique, but he built trust and we sent referrals later. He did a good job not just because of his skill but because he was a good guy, a professional, and was sincerely interested in helping us get a home we would love.

I do not care what you sell… your customers have goals, dreams, and desires and if you focus your sales strategy on these things you will close more sales. If you are looking for a good read on how to master building relationships and hone your technique I highly recommend Joe Girard’s How To Sell Anything to Anybody. This book has had a very powerful influence on my selling style and helped me mature from a skillful sales person to a true professional.

I’d love to hear about your GREAT sales experiences or tragic failures and how you think caring played a role in that experience… As always I promise to replay back and keep the conversation going!

-Brad

Do you make real connections?

Are you real? In this social media enriched world we are more connected than ever before, but are we REALLY connected? Are your Facebook “Friends” really your friends? If they are, do you ever show them the REAL you? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In a private Facebook group I share with other bloggers/web entrepreneurs I shared a rant today about the word gratitude… I’ll spare you the details, but my point was that the word was getting thrown around like a buzzword when no real gratitude was being shown, and I was irritated because I had done nothing to deserve thanks or gratitude. Anyways… I’m rambling, but my point is we all go through the grocery checkout line and ask the checker “How’s your day going?” And they always say “Good and you?” and you always say “Good”… but is it REALLY good?  I’m thinking about Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher… How many people ask him this question and what was his answer? I don’t know where I am going here, but I feel like we need to make more of a connection with the people we interact with daily. So many people are out there surrounded by “friends”, but feeling so alone. we need to make an effort to be real with each other. To share our thoughts and feelings. To say what’s on our mind. If you do this you may irritate some people, but I also feel like people will get you… They will know you care, and if you are willing to ask sincere questions and give real answers when you need your friends your REAL friends will be there. You may also luck out and get a chance to help a friend in need. This may sound like personal advice, but it’s also good leadership advice too. Think about your staff… what do you know about them? Do they trust you? Are you real with them? or are you putting up a front?

What can you do to help build REAL solid connections with others that you are not doing now?

Why Gamification Fails!

Why Gamification Fails

Why Gamification fails… Just a few quick thought on this topic before I go to bed tonight. I think about this a lot because as a sales manager I see “games” put out by senior management all the time that are not well thought out and poorly implemented. They push these to the field and then no one engages with the “game” because it’s neither interesting or fun, then one of two things happens. Scenario 1: Mid management pretends it was successful inspiring additional time wasted on something no one cares about. Scenario 2: There is tremendous bellyaching from the field and the idea is chalked up as a loss and never done again.

So the question is: Why does gamification fail and what can we do about it? I think I can sum up the problem in one word. Engagement! The number one problem I see with “games” put out by management is there is a LOT of thought as to how to manage and measure the metrics the game is designed to improve. There is also a lot of thought and effort put into the collection of data and additional work placed on lower level managers to track and report results, but very little thought is given to why anyone would want to play the game in the first place. Herein lies the problem… games like this may inspire a few people but most employees will ignore them.

Why? Because we failed to engage them. When designing these games there are two key things that need to be thought about. First, what key metrics am I trying to improve (The more there are the harder this is to do), and second how can I ensure that the maximum number of people are actively engaged? Our problem is we talk a lot about the first issue and very little about the second.

I’ll talk about how to do this tomorrow, but for now I’d like to hear about your experience with games managers have made and what your experience is with them as a developer or player. Were you engaged? Why or why not?

-Brad

PS: If you are looking for a GREAT book on gamification and how to make it work I recommend Reality is Broken. It is truly fantastic and will change the way you think about gamification and what it can do for you and your business.

Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? Why do I blog? Why does anyone blog?  Well they are both good questions, but I can only share with you the answer to the first question… The real answer to the next one is hard to nail down because everyone has their own reasons. What I can do is give you some insight into mine.

When I started blogging back in 2006 on my first WordPress.com blog it was because I wanted to share my thoughts on sales and management with the goal of networking with some like minded people, sorting out my thoughts, helping other people and maybe picking up the occasional consulting gig.  To be honest, it worked fabulously! I met some great people, secured several consulting jobs, and even launched a social network and podcast called Sales Management 2.0!

My next blog was a health and fitness blog called Running For 365 Days. On this blog I shared my experiences as a runner. When I started this blog I was just starting my doctoral program, so it fell apart after a few months because I was simply too busy to write as much as I wanted to (daily). At the same time I was also trying to launch an education blog to share my experience in my doctoral program, but again it was all just too much.

That brings us to this blog: Just My Life in Words or The Uber Geek! This is the place where I am pulling it all into one place. It lets me blog about all the things I care about, but if it takes a few weeks to come up with something on one topic it’s no biggie because I have probably written something on at least one of the 15 topics I am covering.

Now that tells you what I have blogged, but not really why… Well it sounds silly, but in part to change the world. I think about a lot of stuff and I am a pretty smart guy so I like the idea of using the internet to leverage my voice and spread ideas. I also do it to help and inspire others. I hope that people will read about my thoughts on leadership, sales, and sales management and learn that the industry is about helping people and not making a quick buck off someone. I also hope they will learn that you don’t have to be a pushy jerk to be successful as a sales manager. I hope people will see how I lost over 30 pounds so far eating paleo and running and give it a go! I’m a geek and I like to share cool things and share games I think are fun! I’m also in the dissertation phase of my doctorate of education where I am studying gamification so this lets me flush out thoughts and network with others interested in my topic. Finally I have 2 beautiful girls who I love very much and I hope long after I am gone they will be able to read my thoughts and take a little something from it that will help them out some day, or maybe gain some insight into who I am as a man and not just as their father.

As you can see I am just one person and I have a LOT of reasons why I blog and I can promise you this is not an exhaustive list. So the real question is why do YOU blog? If you don’t why SHOULD you blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to talk to you about it!

-Brad

PS: If your looking for a GREAT book on how to get started blogging I highly suggest you check out Pro Blogger by Darren Rowse! It’s truly fantastic and will help you with all aspects of blogging whether its as a career or hobby!