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Our blog gives you the best sales advice—gleaned from our thousands of deals a year and collaboration with the world's premiere businesses.

Do you have the RR factor? RR is short for Rubber Rear. The higher your RR factor, the quicker you rebound from setbacks. It is one of the most important traits of a salesmaster. We all lose deals. The question is, what do you do when that happens? Do you analyze the results and do a fishbone of the entire pursuit to determine what went wrong, so that you can learn from it? Does it make you want to try harder the next time and anxious to get out there as soon as possible to implement your new found knowledge? If you do, then you are a salesmaster.

However, if you feel like you lost a member of the family and shutdown for weeks, then work at developing your RR factor. How do you do it? Like so many things in life, it is simple, but difficult, to achieve. All you have to do is follow the above process of the salesmaster. Use the outcome as a learning experience. Get angry! Get moving!Get motivated! Celebrate losses because they mean you are closer to a sale. If your closing average is 25%, then you lose three out of four times. That means you need three “no’s” to get to a “yes.” Instead of mourning the loss, think of it as a step closer to a sale. Remember failure is an outcome, not a person.

Resting on your laurels is not an option in sales. In many professions, one big idea can carry someone for a career. In entertainment, a single hit record can make you famous. But in sales you must prove yourself every day, every week, every year. That is what makes you special. Most people can‘t take the pressure of having to continually perform at a high level.

If you had a great year, you must improve your skills to repeat it because your competition is upgrading their skills. If you had a less than stellar year, then you have to identify the reasons why your performance was not what you wanted and lay out a game plan to improve your performance.

There is no magic bullet. If you want to earn $200,000 in 2010 and your average commission is $5,000 then you must close 40 deals. If your closing average last year was 20% and you earned $100,000 then you must see twice as many prospects or increase your closing average to 40% or some combination of the two.

What is your plan? And as the book says, “Hope Is Not A Strategy.”

Let’s refer to our Italian friend, the great Pareto. You know, the guy who came up with the 80/20 rule. If you want a different result, you must replace activities that bring you pleasure with activities that bring results. Rarely are they the same activities. For instance, if you enjoy playing golf you may have to play fewer rounds and spend that time prospecting or practicing your presentation. Analyze all of your ratios (leads to appointments, appointments to presentations, presentations to sales, referral sales to non-referral sales, average contract size of wins versus average contract size of losses) and then target the ratio that will give you the most dramatic improvement in results. Decide today how much time you are going to devote to improving your performance. Then do it!

Most sales pros, including yours truly, are constantly telling salespeople to try to initiate contact with the economic buyer. However, sometimes it is better to initiate contact with someone at a lower level. The person that owns the problem, that your product or service impacts, is often a more receptive audience.

Example: If I am the maintenance engineer at a manufacturing plant and responsible for keeping the production line running, then any product or service that helps me do that would be of interest to me. The plant manager, who would be my boss and the economic buyer in this example, may not care because the line never goes down. He doesn’t know all the stress I am under and long hours that I have to put in to maintain the line. Therefore, he would be less interested in speaking with you than I would.If you can get to me and convince me that your product will make my life easier, then I will be motivated to get my boss to listen to you. Sometimes it is better to light a fire low so that the flames creep up.

A real life example occurred when I was trying to sell my services to a university. The president of the university was the economic buyer, and as most economic buyers, had gatekeepers that kept me from personally contacting him. I am sure this has never happened to you.The service that I would render would increase donations from alumni and would directly benefit the athletic department.So I met with the athletic director who needed increased donations to fund his expansion plans for the athletic department. Once I convinced him of the value of my proposal, he had the university president meet with me. And you know the rest of the story…

If you have been trying to penetrate an account and have not been able to get past the gatekeepers, maybe it is time for a new strategy. Identify the owner of the problem and target them instead of the economic buyer, and your results may improve.

The majority of my time is not speaking in front of an audience. It is working on strategies to help my clients win business. I probably work on a hundred pursuits a year. That number of deals provides me with unique opportunities to spot patterns. One of those patterns I’ve noticed recently, is what I call “ignoring the elephant in the room.” What I mean is that many times there is an obvious problem or issue that must be resolved and it is ignored or hidden. For example:

  • You are working on a deal and the economic buyer is the same one that was with another company when someone in your company went over his head to secure the deal and alienated him.
  • There is an enemy on the committee that wants to buy from a competitor.
  • It is an outsourcing project and one of the people making the decision will probably be outsourced.
  • The economic buyer belongs to the same country club as the president of the competitor’s company.
  • The economic buyer drops by the presentation and makes the comment, “It looks good, but every company brings a solution that looks good. At the end of the day they are all the same.”
  • The competitor has a lot of business in the same industry as the prospect, and you have none. I have actually heard salespeople say, “I hope that does not come up.”

I have had these elephants and more in pursuits where the strategy to win the deal did not factor in any of these issues or challenges.

Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. Make sure your strategy kills the elephant.

Please indulge me. This Ray’s Rule is going to be very different than any other.

I had an incredible experience Saturday on my way home from London. I was able to catch an early flight so I was not supposed to be on the plane and I was lucky enough to get an aisle seat and not be stuck in the middle seat.

A man sat next to me, but before we took off, the flight attendant asked the man to move so that a 16 year old young lady on crutches could sit next to me. We were on the bulkhead. They then asked me if I would move to a window seat (we were on the side of
the plane with 2 seats) so she could sit on the aisle. Why didn’t they just ask me to move to another row and not the man sitting on the aisle? The answer became clear as I chatted with this young lady.

Divine intervention was at work. This young lady was destined to sit next to me. Here is the story.

I asked her if she had torn an ACL in her knee. She told me that her leg was an artificial leg. She told me that she had been riding with a drunk driver and was thrown from the car and the car landed on her leg. She then told me that her leg was infected in the hospital and it had to be amputated above the knee. I asked her if she were going home and she said that she lived with her father that was an alcoholic and she was visiting her mother. She further told me that her mom’s husband was a pervert and that is
why she was not living with her mother whom she dearly loved. She also told me that kids at school made fun of her because of her leg.

She then said “I don’t know why I am telling you all this.” I will not share with you everything I said to her, but suffice it to say that it was one of the most memorable, meaningful conversations I have ever had. I will tell you that I did tell her that bad things happen to good people and that sometimes you cannot control what happens to you. However, you can control how you respond to what happens to you.

Count your blessings. This lovely young lady has a mountain to climb and has more to deal with than anyone should at such an early age. I hope and pray that she makes it.

Don Shula, Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins, the undefeated Super bowl football team, says that to consistently win you must be Audible Ready. What he means is that you must be prepared for every eventuality. In football, it means being able to recognize what your opponents are planning to do on defense and being able call an audible, (a different play than the one you were prepared to use). In sales, it means being able to change strategy based upon changes in the situation. Here are a few examples you’re likely to encounter:

  • You prepared for a presentation against competitor A and found out at the last minute that competitor A had already been eliminated and now you were up against competitor B.
  • You thought that you had been dealing with the economic buyer only to find that the economic buyer was someone else that you had never met.
  • The buying criteria changes during the presentation. Yikes!
  • The economic buyer was fired and there is a new economic buyer that has a totally different personality than the person he replaced. Double yikes!!

You get the idea. How audible ready are you for your next presentation? How do you become audible ready? You play the “what if” game. Try to think of every “what if” that can occur then prepare and practice for all of them. What if you ask a question and get an answer other than the one you want? Are you ready for the answer you do not want? The team that wins most of the games is the one that prepares for all the “what ifs” during the Murder Board session.

Most salespeople make presentations extolling all the reasons why their product is better than their competitor’s products. Then they ask the prospect to buy. Sometimes it works and sometimes the prospect does not agree with one of the reasons to buy and that sinks the whole deal.

There is a better way. My way. Wouldn’t you have been disappointed if I didn’t say that? My way is called stacking. Visualize stacking pancakes. Each point that you make about your product should stand alone as a reason to buy. Then when you stack one upon the other, the argument becomes compelling.

For example, let’s say you offer a lifetime warranty. That should be reason enough to separate you from the field. You offer exceptional payment terms. That should be reason enough to buy from you. You have a local service department. That should be reason enough to buy from you. You have the best financial offer. That should be reason enough to buy from you. Then if the customer says that they think a competitor does one of those things as well as you do, you are still an overwhelming choice.

Make each point stand on its own by stacking and watch you sales start stacking money in your bank account.

Would your closing average go up if you only presented to those that agree to buy before you presented? Of course! So why don’t you do it? Sound crazy? It wont once you understand the Sales Funnel® process. In the research phase of the sales process we ask clients what are their buying criteria. We then ask if we bring back a solution that satisfies those criteria will we be their provider? There are only 3 answers. Yes, No, and Maybe. If they say yes we already have the sale! If they say no, we have saved an incredible amount of time because we do not present a solution. However, the most common answer is maybe. And what follows the maybe is the objection they were going to save until after you presented to delay the decision. As a salesmaster I am sure that you can eliminate the objection during your presentation. The problem is that in traditional selling we do not find out the objection until after we have presented.

Ask for the order before you present to smoke out the objection and watch your sales soar.

What is the primary motivator for most buyers in today’s economy? Is it getting the best solution for their company? Is it getting the lowest price?

No, it is least risk to their career! Their primary thought is, “Will this decision help or hurt my career?” If there is any risk to their career in choosing your product, they will not buy from you. The only exception to this rule is if you are talking to the owner or the president of the company. Far too many years ago, when I was working in the computer industry, there was a saying, “No one was ever fired for buying from IBM.” Which simply meant that buying from the market leader would not get you into trouble. It seems that is even truer today.

If you are not making the sales you think you should or if you find that your prospect keeps delaying the decision, maybe it is out of fear. Instead of telling them all the good things that will happen when they buy, tell them all the bad things they will avoid and how this decision will help solidify their job.

Many attendees of my training classes are amazed at how I come up with such quick responses to problems they throw at me. There is a secret. It is formulas. I have a number of formulas I use to solve problems. Plug the variables into the formula and the correct answer pops out. Many of Ray’s Rules are formulas.

For example, take your perceived weakness and make it the reason to buy your product. The only variable in above formula is perceived weakness.

Possible variables:

  • You have no experience in this industry.
  • You have no business in this area.
  • You are too big.
  • You are too small.
  • You are a brand new company.

Here is how it works. Let’s say your prospect is a school district and they say that are concerned because you have no schools as clients. You say, “That is exactly why you should buy from me! We will be totally focused on your satisfaction and we have customized this solution specifically for you.”

I developed this formula 30 years ago and have used it countless times to win business. Plug in any of the variables and the answer is the same. Another formula is linking your solution to the critical business issue (CBI) of the prospect and place a dollar amount on the value of your solution. In this formula there are three variables but the process does not change. Prospect CBI’s could be account retention, increasing share price, organic growth, employee turnover. Your solution will vary but the process does not.

For example, assume the customer CBI is account retention. Assume your solution will increase account retention by 10%. Each 1% increase in retention will be worth $1 million to your prospect, Therefore, the dollar value of your solution is $10 million!

Start thinking in terms of formulas and watch your sales soar.