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A Mishandled $8000 Pizza Order Call »

I’m a self-taught cook, and probably own as many cookbooks as sales books. I watch the Food Network every chance I get. For a few years my barbeque cooking team traveled all over to competitions, and we even won a few championships. It’s tough to order at many restaurants, since I sometimes struggle to find something I couldn’t make better myself.

However, there’s still nothing better for my palate than a great slice of pizza. I particularly like thin crust, New York style. Could eat it every day. Normally I don’t go more than a few days without a pizza-fix.

When I was living in Omaha I was a bit limited in my choices of places to get exceptional pizza. One day, lusting for a slice and wanted to try something different, so I went online and was reminded of a place not far from my home. I had tried it a couple of years ago, was not impressed, so they fell off my radar.

However, I read some of the recent favorable reviews and thought I’d give them another shot. After all, right down the street…if they’ve improved, this could become a spot I’d be dropping lots of cash in the future.

So I called, intending to order a pie. After about eight rings, the out-of-breath voice answered–with chaos in the background–and greeted me with, "Can you hold?" Read the rest

To Be a Better Salesperson, Don’t SOUND Like One »

Just wondering …… why in the world do some salespeople feel like they must sound like a salesperson when they get someone on the phone?

What is it about presenting … whether it be selling by phone or speaking before a group that causes some people to cinch up and sound like the synthesized voice that gives the phone number on directory assistance?

I spend a lot of time on airplanes, and can’t tell you the last time I actually listened to the flight attendant giving the speech about the flat end going into the buckle. Oh yes I can, I flew Southwest a couple of weeks ago and, as many of their attendants do, this one delivered the announcement like they were actually talking to a person, and with humor and enthusiasm. That got my attention. Read the rest

A Horrible Prospecting Email–This is Selling? »

For those salespeople and managers out there who whine about how hard it is to actually talk to people, and that they are contacting so many more people by email because its more effective, here’s something to chew on.

Here’s an example of what likely is being sent by “salespeople” perhaps hundreds of thousands of times daily, who believe that this is selling.

I actually received this. Since I didn’t ask for permission to use it, I am taking out the name and company info.


Hello  Art

This is (name) with (company) and I just wanted to touch base with you regarding your interest  in (company).  
I know you guys had expressed interest a while back and I wanted to make sure I can answer any questions for you or get you up to a trial account.
Let me know if you need any help with these steps and I’d be happy to assist you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
(contact info)

A bit of background: Again, this was an email I personally received, meaning that the guy had to go through a couple of steps with my spam system to get it through to me, meaning it came from a individual, not an email blast.

Also, I have never done business with this company, nor to my recollection have I spoken with them. If I did, it was a very brief call where I told them I was not a prospect for their email lists of IT professionals.

Let’s break it down and see just how bad it is.


-“This is (name) with (company) and I wanted to touch base with you…”

Ahh, the old Baseball Opening… “touching base.” Wow, there’s some value. Also, he used “just,” which as I discuss in “Smart Calling” is a word that minimizes you and your message.


- “…regarding your interest  in (company).”

This is actually insulting, since I never had any interest in that company.   


- “I know you guys had expressed interest a while back…”

Again, see my previous point. No, I never expressed any interest. So, they either have their information wrong (most likely) or they are flat out lying in an attempt to lead people to believe there had been some contact and interest. If you feel my thinking on this is out there, I can tell you from experience that there are companies and reps that use this as part of their approach.  And please, enough of the “you guys.” That might be OK for social conversation or texting with friends, but not in business correspondence or conversation.


-… and I wanted to make sure I can answer any questions for you or get you up to a trial account.”

If someone had questions, that would presume interest, which of course there was none. Then he is attempting to close on a decision, a trial account. He’s asking me to commit to do something, when zero value has been discussed so far.


-“ Let me know if you need any help with these steps and I’d be happy to assist you.  I look forward to hearing from you.”

You just can’t make this stuff up. He’s looking forward to hearing from me? Oh yeah, I was so compelled by this note that I couldn’t wait to jump on the phone, contact him, and get that trial account going.

Ok, so I haven’t offered a tip this week, I’m just ripping on something I suggest you avoid at all costs. Let’s make this interactive. I’d like to get your comments on it, and also any suggestions or best practices you employ successfully using email as part of your sales process.

The Easy Way to Get Bigger Sales »

A newer sales rep came into a company, in an industry he had never sold to before. Within two months he was kicking major butt and became the Number One rep. By a lot.

One disgruntled and jealous rep, in another region, who had been there for a few years, asked the manager what the new rep was doing that got such great results.

"He’s going to the top level of the companies we’re selling to, and selling bigger deals."

The rep responded, "How does he sell to those people? I always get stalled at the mid-management level?"

The manager replied, "He doesn’t know that it is even possible to talk to mid-managers and sell our product. We told him that the only people he can talk to are those at the highest level, and that bigger deals are all that we sell."

Hmmm. Pretty simple point I have for you, but one that is time-tested:

All that limits us is ourselves, and thinking and acting BIG gets BIG results

Here are some thoughts along those lines: Read the rest

You Can Fool Your Attitude Into Being Positive and Confident »

Debt crisis, stock market roller coastering, riots, wars… there’s lots of fodder for negative people to grab ahold of and wallow in. Add to that the fact that using the phone in sales can be one of the most morale-crushing tasks that anyone can perform–if you allow it to take you to that place.

We can’t control those other outside influences, any more than we can control the weather. We just need to adjust. But the phone part, well, there’s something we can be proactive about.

Let’s face it, most people are not wired to consistently take the beating that many folks on the phone face, day after day. Most normal humans quit doing something after it hurts. We make the next call.

To deal with this, I have always suggested two remedies:

1. Continually working on your selling skills to minimize the source of our negative feelings, which is resistance and a lack of accomplishment.

2. Continually working on keeping your attitude at a peak level. I maintain that 80% of your success is due to how you feel. Let’s look at this one today.

Just about a year ago at this time, I ran our Funniest/Most Embarrassing Phone Experiences Contest (worth reading if you’d like a laugh, or many), in which I received a number of great submissions. One that did not make the cut, according to the judges, actually had the most value as a learning experience.

It was submitted by "Bryan H." Here it is. Read the rest

The Ridiculousness of the “Numbers Game” Mentality »

The NFL lockout is over, and camps are opening up, practices are in full swing.. I can almost guarantee not one coach is saying this to his quarterback.

Coach: "OK I need you to go out there and throw the long bomb on every play. Every time you take a snap, just toss it as far as you can. I don’t care where, put it up."

Player: "Uh, coach, shouldn’t we mix it up, try to move the ball downfield, be selective, read the defense, run strategic plays?"

Coach: "Nope. It’s a numbers game. I want passes. Put up the numbers."

Another Player: "Coach, we have a better chance of scoring when we run good quality plays."
"The more passes you throw, the more chances you have of scoring. Long bomb, pass, pass, I tell you!"

Baseball season is just past the midway point.. I’ve played and coached baseball, and still try to arrange my travel around when a Major League game is going on in a city where I’m doing training. I can say with confidence the following isn’t happening in any team’s dugout: Read the rest

When is the Best Time to Prospect? »

Lots has been written over the years about the best time to prospect, which days, hours, etc. As I say in so many words in Smart Calling, much of that I look at as crap, since I believe there is no way you can generalize the best times to reach decision makers, since there are so many variables involved. What I do know, is that if you aren’t calling, you have zero chance of reaching someone.

Here’s a video interview with Tibor Shanto, with Renbor, on his Pipeline blog. He has some interesting points about doing your prospecting in a methodical and systematic way so that it actually gets done. Well worth the view.

The Wall Street Journal Printed This On Getting to Decision Makers? Really? »

First, let me go on the record with this: I love the Wall Street Journal. I’ve been a subscriber for years to both the print and online versions, and when I don’t get to them daily I stack them up and do a marathon reading session when I have time. It’s the best paper being published, not only for business news, but lifestyle, entertainment, and their sports are great.

OK, enough of a lovefest. They aren’t perfect. Case in point is this article: "How to Get Face Time With Sales Prospects."

The article is by Mike Michalowicz, author of "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur," and also as I found out, has a very informative and entertaining small business blog,

But, he’s out of his league on this one. The gist of his advice on how to get time with a sales prospect is, ask for their advice. That’s right, don’t come across as sounding like a salesperson (which of course is correct), and just tell them you’re looking to improve your product and/or service and would like 15 minutes of their time and buy them a coffee.

Huh? Oh yeah, busy decision makers who don’t have time for all of their own work that is piling up by the second will be happy to travel to a coffee shop and dispense free advice. 

He’s right in the beginning of his article, in that decision makers don’t like cold calls. And that if you can get a referral, do so. But, the best way to get a decision maker to agree to even spend time with you beyond the first 10 seconds, if they did not contact you and don’t know you, is through a Smart Call.

I do applaud Mr. Michalowicz though… he was able to get an article in the Wall Street Journal, and get other people talking about it. That’s probably in his section on PR and Marketing.

Your thoughts on this article and technique? Please comment below.


How to Avoid Sounding Like a Babbling Fool »

I was on a sales call, talking with a sales manager at a high-tech firm that sold a highly specialized, niched product. Things were progressing smoothly, I seemed to have exactly what he was looking for regarding a telephone prospecting training workshop that he wanted, then he asked,

"Now, who else have you worked with that sells a similar product?"

I’ve done over 1200 training programs over the past 28 years, and have worked in virtually every industry and sales model there is, but not in this one. I doubted if there WAS a company that sold a similar product.

I could have begun babbling some half-baked answer about companies I have worked with, trying to force a comparison, but certainly would have failed, and likely would not have sounded like a suave, polished professional. More like a bumbling fool.

So instead, I paused, and realized that question might, or might not have been important to him. Before I answered, I really needed to know for sure. So I asked,

"Are you asking if I’ve worked with a similar prospecting model, selling to similar decision makers? And, how much of an issue is that for you?"

He replied, "Oh, I know there aren’t many companies like ours. I was just curious. You seem to have what we want."

Here’s the sales point: Read the rest

Listen for the “Problem-Trigger” Words »

Quiz time. Here’s a situation. Think of the very next thing to leave your mouth in response:

On a call with a prospect, someone who has contacted you after visiting your website says, "Our issue is that we need to_____."

And then let’s assume she mentions a problem that your product or service helps solve.

Ok. Did you respond with something like, "Oh, well let me tell you how we can fix that."?

If you did, BZZZZZ, wrong! Read the rest