2. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
The difference between wanting and buying – The ROI in sales 4
The 26 sales meeting mistakes to avoid 5
If you trash your competitor, you are likely to trash yourself 9
All sales bonus systems will fail due to change 9
As the traveling salesman says: All hotel ceilings are white 10
Go climb a mountain and conquer it for your confidence ! 12
Selling common products to a dull market isn’t sexy but challenging 12
Your CRM is crap when marketing …. 14
What if your competitor releases a Sales Cowboy 14
When the Master of the Universe gets into the Spiral of Negativity 16
Do you have the handshake of a salesman ? 17
How to win from the market leader 18
What is the most important in the B2B buying process ? 20
The 25 conference requirements for salesmen 21
You Are Eliminated ! is common in the complex B2B sale 22
The 7 great pretenders on trade shows wasting your time 23
Why should a new client get a discount? 25
Why Google has become your main competitor in Sales ! 26
Unbearable silences during meeting potential customer 28
The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand your customer 29
Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling 31
Should you take ‘No’ as final in Sales? 32
Don’t despair if The Stig in Sales is your Competitor 33
Point break customers 33
Should you sell if there’s no fit? 34
Death of the Salesman as BtoB Sales goes online? 35
Overcoming objections by turning them into the fuel for selling 36
When your buyer is living in the past 38
The grass is always greener on the other side: not in sales 39
Desperate housewives are better off than desperate salesmen 40
Customers get attention like crying babies do 41
The B2B complex sale is a marathon – don’t sprint 42
People you avoid at parties can be in your sales meeting 42
The 14 virtues of the salesman 44
Do you have a Bachelor or Master Sales Degree? 46
How to become successful by applying 2 easy steps 47
How good are you at voicemails during the sales process? 48
Why cars do matter in the sales process 49
Your B2B customers are The Transformers – Are you G.I Joe? 51
The quarterly closing puts any sales closing under pressure 52
Selling is removing the risks due to change that buying brings 53
Don’t sell your market leadership – bring them solutions 54
Emotional Stages of a Salesman during the Sales Process 55
Are you in Sales? What’s on your business card? 56
The reasons why you sell and close deals in B2B 57
8 Reasons for selling fear of missing opportunity instead of discounting 59
How to sell more to a customer? Use the endowment effect 60
The Jar of Luck and The Jar of Experience of the Salesman 61
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3. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
What is the best for you: selling the cornerstone or an emerging product? 62
Engage into a conversation instead of questioning before the sales pitch 63
Increase sales by just following-up on emails and calls 64
The hardest thing to say to a customer is: “No” 66
When the deal is lost, only then the real selling starts 66
The Raiders of the Lost Deal – the selling starts when the deal is lost (2) 68
The 14 facts the callee wants to know from the cold caller 69
You talk too much: shut up and listen to your prospect 70
Customer Relation Management or Control Reps Manager? 71
Every benefit has a downside too 72
Reaching your potential customers through their trusted party 73
Improve your sales success by preparing your cold call 74
What to do when most attendees on a conference are vendors? 75
The top 24 facts for selling more in B2B 76
The Origin of Salesmen Species – not by Darwin 79
Stop wasting time by blind Cold Calling – Call interested parties 80
Who do you cold call? The Manager or the CEO? 82
What to ask on a trade show in order to start a conversation 83
Most important in complex B2B sales: Branding or Salesman? 85
Top 25 warning signs of losing a sales deal in B2B 86
Killing your sales with a Product Overview Comparison Chart 87
Just closing is for losers, keeping the doors open is for winners 89
Matching your style to the buyer for building a relationship 89
Concerning LEADSExplorer 90
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4. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
The Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales represents the experiences of several
salesmen over many years in different markets.
If you are in sales you will recognize situations and learn about certain tactics and
The difference between wanting and buying – The ROI in sales
People and people in companies want many different things.
People and companies only buy a limited number of things.
We all want many things that could make life better or to have a better feeling about life.
Managers want or aim for getting many things or solutions for different reasons:
- Productivity increase
- Convenience for their employees or workers
- Social status – enterprise status
- Expressing of their power
- Spending lots of money or running an expensive department can help a career.
- Clearing out the budget at the end of year
Decision takers who are employees of a company mainly think or consider themselves
first and the company comes in second position.
- They want a lot of things.
- They get little.
Decision takers who are founders of the company are entrepreneurs who will take risks
in order to grow the company faster.
- They want a few things.
- They get almost all.
Both want different things for different reasons giving salesmen different chances to
actually sell to them.
The ROI in sales: the expertise of the salesman
However when it comes to the actual purchase the gap between wanting and buying
becomes clear and evident: a budget or an economic reason needs to be present. The
power of a decision maker is a big parameter.
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5. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
All capacities in a company are limited. Also the capacity required for selling is limited.
Hence a Return On Investment (ROI) needs to be made based upon estimated chances.
The salesman, using his expertise acquired over many years, needs to differentiate
between the wanting or the needing demand of the lead.
This is where the salesman plays an important role by evaluating, qualifying and
deciding whether a suspect or lead is a prospect or not.
His experience and expertise are is required to estimate the chances for success (=
sales) with a suspect or lead as he (or the VP Sales) decides to invest more or less time
in a potential customer.
However he needs to take the power of the decision maker into the calculation as his
ego, his social status, his enterprise status or his need for expressing his power can
overrule any rational or economic reason.
How many times have you mistakenly took wanting instead of needing?
The 26 sales meeting mistakes to avoid
This is a list of mistakes made before, during and after sales meetings and conference
call which are to avoid.
Although most seem obvious, many of them occur frequently:
- Giving a bad impression
- Feeling of being less important customer
- Losing trust
Before the meeting
1. Ignoring small customers
You don’t want to waste time by meeting small customers that don’t increase your sales
significantly. Ignoring those companies saves a lot of time.
- Smaller companies can grow bigger. Management of small companies can refer you to
friends and relations in bigger companies. References help selling.
2. Travel more than meet
You spend more time traveling than meeting face to face with the customer.
- Plan your travel better in order to have more time available to meet and to prepare your
3. Always rescheduling meetings
Rescheduling meeting or conference calls for whatever reason gives a bad and
- When the appointment has been made to meet or to call just make the call on time.
Stick to it as your customer needs to be available too.
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6. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
4. Arriving too late
You know you will be late for a meeting is a sign of lack of respect for the time of your
- If you know in advance you will be late, so warn him by giving him a call.
5. Getting lost
Getting lost is no excuse anymore as GPS systems are available at fair prices. Driving
without a GPS is like taking an additional gamble to miss a sales deal.
- Get a GPS system.
6. Key content missing
When having planned a meeting or call but missing an important piece or key person the
event will have less value. Why meet when the information is not available or the
specialist is not able to participate?
- Once the meeting is scheduled make sure the valuable time with the customer is spend
wisely and your opportunity keeps in existence. If key content is missing then cancel the
- If the specialist cannot be present physically, getting him to call in by phone or video
conferencing can be a feasible alternative.
7. Basic customer investigation
Not knowing anything of the customer business or news seems a lack of interest in this
era of the Internet.
- Before you have a meeting make sure you visit their website during 5 minutes allowing
you to prepare some questions showing your interest in their business and awareness.
8. Meeting with somebody
When addressing the reception desk without knowing who you will be meeting gives a
very bad impression and indicates being a less valuable customer or person. As
receptionists speak with most employees and managers of the company the word will
travel fast in the company.
- Make sure you know exactly who will be in the meeting.
During the meeting
9. Not knowing your customer personally
Your meetings and telephone conversations are limited to the business.
Still you miss out the human part and possible relationships.
As relationships matter in sales you miss a very important part.
- In order to be able to understand the problems to be solved and their decision process
you need to know the customer better by using the small talk before each business
10. Smart phone playing
Playing with your smart phone during the conversation gives the impression of being
uninterested as your toy is more important or interesting.
- Just keep your phone in your jacket and put it in meeting mode or even turn it off.
11. Cell phone answering
You just answer any phone call on your mobile that you receive during the meeting or
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7. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
even a conference call.
Your customer will feel unimportant and not respected.
- Set your telephone to quiet mode or even turn it off as during a meeting or conference
call your customer is the most important (at that moment).
12. Too long presentations
Your presentations just take too long wasting the precious time of your customer.
- Be to the point with your presentations. Moreover the attention span of all people is
13. Time flies
Your meetings and telephone calls always demand more time than average.
- Stay on topic and be brief with your information concentrating on the possible business
opportunities. Effectiveness counts while not wasting the time of the customer.
14. You always talk
You just keep on talking and pitching and forget about their problems.
- Make sure the customer talks the most and explains you about their problems,
situations and limitations.
Ask open ended questions.
15. Wild guesses
Pretending to know what you’re talking about while you really haven’t got a clue. As the
customer probably knows more than you, he will spot this immediately and your trust is
- Be honest and admit you don’t know, write down the question while promising to get
the information as soon as possible which gives you a cliffhanger for having a subject
during a follow-up conversation.
16. The big pretender
You pretend to know all in order to make a big impression.
- A meeting is not to impress, but to co-operate and find solutions together.
17. No added value
Your information is what can be found on the company website or internet: there is no
added value from your visit.
- Bring your expertise or experience in order to make a meeting or telephone call
interesting and beneficial for the customer as you help to solve their problem.
18. The co-operation lie
Your co-operation proposition comes down to selling stuff to them or through their
channels. You have raised expectations that wasn’t your plan thus distrusting your
customer.There has to be a benefit for both in a co-operation.
- If you want to sell to them, then make it clear upfront.
19. Trashing the competitor
In the heat of the discussion you could trash your competitor.
- Never ever trash your competitor as it will likely trash you too. Your customer considers
the company as your competitor due to a certain merit or impression created.
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8. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
20. The questioner gets all the attention
During the meeting you mainly pay attention to the person asking the most questions.
However it is likely this person is not the decision taker but merely an influencer He is
probably a geek who can ask more questions than you ever can answer.
- Make sure you pay enough attention to the decision taker and involve him into the
conversation in order to find out what he really wants. Geeks don’t buy.
21. Yes man
Promising to do everything or being capable of delivering everything the customer asks
won’t fly long.
- You need to say no to your customer.
Limit your offering in order to stay credible and being capable to supply what has been
promised within the agreed delay time.
22. Granting additional discounts
In order to win a customer, you give additional discounts.
- Once you have started this discount game, customers will continue to ask for more
discounts for the next purchases.
23. The soon promises
Your production or shipments are delayed still you keep the customer believing the
goods or services will be delivered soon.
- Be honest and set the exact new delivery dates you can keep instead of lying. Breaking
the trust will be reflected in your future sales.
After the meeting
24. Dropping slow customers
If a customer or lead requires too long to decide, you forget about them.
- Slow moving customers can become big customers as these bigger companies have a
longer decision process.
25. The invoice
After all the negotiations on delivery terms and pricing, a minor item gets added to the
invoice. Why did you have all those meetings for?
- Make sure there are no surprises (even minor ones) on the invoice as the price has
been agreed upon as you need to have new meetings with them.
26. Neglecting to contact afterward
Once the deal has been closed and the invoice paid, you forget about your customer as
you don’t find it anymore challenging or you see no obvious additional sales.
- Acquiring customer cost many times more than keeping a customer.
A customer who has decided in your favor, you need to keep as they have taken the risk
Any of these mistakes apply to you?
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9. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
If you trash your competitor, you are likely to trash yourself
During any conversation with potential customers or customers you need to avoid to
trash your competitor as this is likely to have a negative effect on your image and
Often during meetings and telephone calls your competitors become one of the items
discussed. Then you have to avoid to say anything really negative about them.
The worst thing you can do is presenting bogus reasons why their solutions are less
good or your solutions are better than the ones of the competitor. People know more
than they say they know and by using the Internet they have access to a vast amount of
information and knowledge.
When you start trashing the competitor it is often perceived as being on a losing strike.
Any negative statement will reflect negatively on you too.
However you can state the main differences in function, features, market segment or
even years of experience.
Try to steer the conversation away from your competitor to another subject like:
- Your references or successes
- Back to the problem that your customer needs to get solved
Your competitor has its’ merits and benefits too, else he wouldn’t be perceived as your
competitor by the customer.
All sales bonus systems will fail due to change
Sales bonus plans for continuous growth
If sales bonus systems would be the perfect motivator, then market leading companies
would only grow bigger as the sales bonus system would continue to fuel the
However this seems not to be the case.
Could it be that sales bonus systems are not really stimulating and motivating?
Or stimulating the wrong or less effective sales actions and efforts? Not optimal ?
Even the most complex commission plans (that are hard to understand) can miss their
initial beneficial goal for the company.
Salesmen will optimize their benefit
As with any mathematical system based on rules and conditions, salesmen will optimize
for their own benefit.
Thus the smallest mistake in any of the assumptions made during the design and
development of the bonus plan will generate less optimal sales efforts as the salesmen
will optimize their bonus – not the benefit or bottom line of the company.
Their bonus is the most important.
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10. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Salesmen have no full control
On the other hand the salesman is not completely in control of the products or solutions
he can propose to his potential buyers: R&D, development, quality control or production
can be late in delivering the new product, version or the specific adapted solution for a
market segment. Delayed delivery means fewer bonuses for the salesman.
The assumptions are wrong due to constant change
All bonus system are based upon assumptions and starting from a given fact or
However during the course of just one year the market changes, new products are
introduced by the company and the competition. Hence the assumptions or starting point
are no longer reflecting the reality of the market and the level of competition.
Sales bonus systems are locked-up systems that reward sales efforts in a changing
Commission systems will always fail as the market is constantly changing.
As sales people are driven by their commissions much effort is wasted to achieve the
As the salesmen of the bigger or leading companies have the wrong focus or goal, it
creates opportunities for the competitors or smaller companies to step in or start-ups to
have a window of opportunity. the larger the company the slower it will react to the ever
What if there would be a bonus system for R&D or development dept.?
– A bonus system for delivering products on time
– A bonus plan for delivering products with a minimal number of bugs
Or should salesmen have no commissions a constantly changing commission
plan is not manageable?
As the traveling salesman says: All hotel ceilings are white
At first it seems interesting and challenging:
To be a international traveling salesman voyaging from customer to customer visiting
many cities in a continent or even the world.
It seems the journey opportunity of your life.
The chance of your life-time to see and meet many different people and cultures.
Seems like holiday forever all paid by the company.
However the reality is:
- You leave home in the early morning or even in the weekends
- You spend many hours waiting for the next connecting flight
- You need to commute from the airport to the customer with a taxi driver that you have
- You need to verify every spending to make sure they don’t cheat upon you
- You need to collect and keep all the bills for your expenses report
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11. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
- You take your lunch alone on the way to the customer
- You have meetings with people that seemingly have no time pressure, unlike yourself
- At the end of the day you have dinner again alone
- You prepare the meetings for the next day or reply your emails alone in your room
- In the hotel room you zap the TV-channels – mainly viewing the news as you can’t
- Maybe have brought some movies DVD’s to watch on your portable
- You might read a book, but these consume space and weigh a lot to carry
- When trying to go asleep you stare at the ceiling which is remarkably similar to all
other white hotel ceilings
- In the middle of the night you wake up due to the jet-lag and stare at the white ceiling
- You have your breakfast again alone
- You pack your luggage, hoping to leave nothing behind (stress)
- You pay the hotel bill – hopefully at the agreed rate – else you need to discuss and
- Leave for meeting the next customer
- The stress you get from waiting lines in the airport, queuing in the taxi line, missing or
- You go through many climate changes in a short amount of time (one week)
- In the air plane you are with many other people who can have diseases and viruses:
more chance to become ill
- You get ill over the weekend at home
- The air miles earned are harder to spend than you ever could imagine. You hardly can
use them: mainly for an upgrade to business class.
The life of the traveling salesman becomes boring rather soon as you start missing your
family, your social contacts at home, your spare time activities and your free time.
In the end you come to the conclusion that:
- All hotel rooms have white ceilings
- The excitement of travel becomes the stress of travel
- You hardly meet up with local people
- You hardly see any foreign cultures as all major cities have become rather
- You may know many people that you don’t know really
You are locked up between travel, waiting in the airport lobby’s, commuting, meetings,
lonely meals, your emails and the hotel rooms with the white ceilings.
The apparently challenging and exciting life of the traveling salesman is asocial and
becomes boring too soon as all the hotel ceilings are white.
What was your expectation as a traveling salesman ?
How fast did you get cut off from your family, friends and social life – and got
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12. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Go climb a mountain and conquer it for your confidence !
If you are in sales you need to be confident.
Potential customers from the influencer, decision marker to the purchasing manager will
all notice when you are lacking confidence. This can lead to the spiral of negativity
making you loose one of the virtues of the salesman.
Your jar of luck can become empty before your jar of experience has become full.
In order to keep or regain your confidence you need to climb a mountain.
It doesn’t need to be a physical mountain: it can be anything from a physical effort, to a
travel, a journey.
It doesn’t even need to be a physical challenge as it can be something you achieve in
your social life that you have considered as a challenge. The goal is that the conquering
of the challenge only has to make you feel good and give you the confidence to be able
to achieve something special. You are special.
The climbing and the conquering of your of challenge, the achievement to reach the top
or your goal will:
- Give you your confidence back
- Increase your confidence
You so necessarily need for achieving in sales by being confident in sales.
Find your mountain.
Selling common products to a dull market isn’t sexy but
Some markets are considered as sexy: information technology, mobile systems,
aviation, fashion, … and even cars.
However most businesses and markets seem to be dull with dull products: not at all sexy
at all as they have:
- No new technology breakthroughs
- No market changing new entries
- No gamer changer
- No innovation in products or solutions
- No real surprises and instant changes in leadership – just slow evolutions.
This is what makes them challenging to sell as the products are not remarkable.
Avoid competing on price
Still the challenge to sell remains in this market with fierce price competition as this
together with high service remains the main reasons to sell.
People know your product or solutions and have the same level of knowledge about your
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13. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
The problem for your sales meetings is there is not much to tell or news to bring as
business has become recurrent business with known competitors, known products and
known service levels.
All that remains is to discuss the pricing and quantities to be delivered over the next
In all circumstances this pricing discussion should be avoided at first as your need to
bring the benefits and advantages of your solution. Price discussions will only lower your
Continue or break the mold
You have 2 choices:
- Break the mold
Continue to do business the way it always has been.
Nothing will happen as long as your competitors don’t move or change.
The problem with this is that in business nothing is constant.
The only constant is change.
Thus just continuing like before can turn out badly sooner or later.
Break the mold:
Start making your meetings interesting with presenting additional free information
concerning the business you are in, concerning your customers’ business.
This information can be:
- Viewpoints from respected industry or economic leaders related to the business of your
- Case studies: people always like to know how competitors are doing
- Related university research findings
- Results of surveys your company has done
- Look for solutions beyond your solution by offering a complete solution concept
In every business or market there are interesting stories, events or related interesting
stories or findings.
Additional related information will expose your content to others.
The interesting content challenge
The goal is to make your visits more interesting in order to get more attention and be
Alternatively or additionally you can publish this information on line.
The challenge is in creating and providing sufficient interesting content for your
customers or potential customers in order to stay ahead or to differentiate of your
The goal is to engage your customers or future customer by content and information
allowing you to surpass the competition.
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14. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Will you break the mold or just continue like always was?
Your CRM is crap when marketing ….
Your CRM is crap when your marketing dept. issues a procedure on how to upload
contacts using a spreadsheet as this indicates:
- Too many useless fields are required to be entered
- Contacts can’t be entered without a project set-up
- Spreadsheets are already in use as CRM by sales people instead of the CRM
- The CRM sole purpose is marketing not sales
- Sales are using a different system to keep track of their contacts and customers / leads
- The CRM has no significance for the salesman
The result is that the CRM is not supported by the employees, especially not the sales
They find the CRM crap as it sucks.
The main danger and cost is the existence of spreadsheets in use as a CRM by the
sales people: there are at least 2 sets of data exist within your company (data
redundancy – data duplication). This increases the cost of maintaining the data: in the
spreadsheets and in the CRM.
Instead of issuing a procedure for uploading data using a spreadsheet into the CRM,
marketing should investigate how to make:
- The input into the CRM convenient and effective
- The CRM useful for sales people
One of the main objectives should be that the CRM should become a source of
information instead a data entry system for marketing and management purposes. There
is enough data available in the company and on the Internet to make a CRM an
interesting source of information to sales and marketing.
This will allow having the CRM supported by the entire company.
How crappy is your CRM?
Where did it fail?
What if your competitor releases a Sales Cowboy
You have been selling several years; you know your business and your competitors.
Your world is steady and controlled as every party knew the other. You all trusted and
respected each other. The business is under control.
The change of the controlled world
One day one of your competitors replaces the sales rep. with a rather young sales guy.
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15. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Although he is inexperienced in the business, he manages to set-up meetings with most
of your customers in a very short amount of time and seems to move ahead with
negotiations at a speed you are not used to.
Nothing wrong you think until you start finding out he is making propositions you cannot
compete with – propositions and offers he cannot realize without making a loss:
- Breakneck prices
- Full services at entry level pricing
- Incredible or not feasible promises
Then it comes clear to you: you are facing a “Sales Cowboy”.
This type of salesmen will do whatever it takes to win a customer. Their goal is to win
any customer and gain market share and even try to face you out.
Disaster has struck for you!
Competing with the Sales Cowboy
Now you have to overcome the objections and the pricing the Sales Cowboy has
communicated with your customers.
Counter the inexperienced Sales Cowboy
As the Sales Cowboy is new to the business he will not know the business of the
customers. You will have to build trust using your knowledge and experience of the
business. Provide your knowledge and assets to the customer for free.
Counter with facts and benefits
Previously your products or solutions had good facts and benefits that sold. As the
market and business hasn’t changed overnight you should use these facts and benefits
over and over gain.
The price war
Don’t compete on the price war.
You need to survive.
The Sales Cowboy is aiming to eliminate you in order to control the market afterwards.
Let him do so as he will have to report to his VP Sales and explain.
The unfeasible promises
You know the Sales Cowboy cannot realize the promises he has made.
Let him fail.
The customers will return to you.
The growth problem
As the Sales Cowboy has made many promises and can have acquired many customers
he and his company need to deliver what has been promised.
All companies come under stress, strain and run into operational problems when the
sales increase significantly over a short period of time.
This will happen and cause problems with the customers.
Soon these customers will come back to you and never return.
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16. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Internal envy and competition
As the Sales Cowboy is successful as a newbie in the company, he will not be loved and
liked by all of his colleagues.
They will take care of him too or avoid supporting him.
Sales cowboys don’t last long, but in the meantime they will hurt the business.
When and where did you encounter your Sales Cowboy?
Or are you a Sales Cowboy ?
When the Master of the Universe gets into the Spiral of
When you close sales on a regular basis and have customers signing contracts, you feel
great – almost invincible. It feels like you are the part of the ‘Masters of the Universe’.
The spiral of negativity
However when you have a series of missing sales and deals, you start to doubt about
If you start doubting about your capacities and skills, you will start to show too much
negativity in your conversations and in your attitude: your body language will show signs
of negativity. This will reflect in your sales: even less deals.
The switch from ‘Master of the Universe’ to ‘Failure’ (or ‘Looser’) can happen relatively
fast. You just need a series of lost deals and you will feel as you have lost the magic
You will start doubting about every step you take in the sales process. About every call,
every email, and every bit of information you send. You are getting scared about the
next mistake you will make.
The spiral of negativity has taken possession over you. This whirlpool of negativity will
take over your entire life: both professional and private.
Unwind the spiral of negativity with success
If you don’t have any achievements, nothing to be proud of in your business life then you
urgently need success in your private life. Just to reassure yourself.
The success in your private life can be anything and it doesn’t need to be big or
Just some small successes in your private life will help.
You can build on these successes to overcome the negativity in you business life.
- Show confidence again
- Be proud of yourself
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17. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Yes you can do it!
Being the Master of the Universe is just a belief in yourself.
Do you have the handshake of a salesman ?
In sales a firm handshake can make the difference as it brings trust.
A good handshake can create a favorable impression.
A bad handshake can give the wrong first impression.
How is the firm handshake done ?
When offering your hand and during the handshake look into the eyes of the other.
- Then put the thumb to the thumb.
- Smile while saying a greeting.
- Shake one, two, three, and out.
Make sure the grip is firm but don’t crush the other as it really can hurt which will give a
The bad handshakes
The trained too firm grip:
The typical firm grip is sometimes so firm you don’t trust him any more as you feel it has
Not honest – not from his hart.
The Sandwich handshake:
The free hand sandwiches the other person’s hand.
Then one can get really scared, as this method is certainly trained – over trained.
The salesman wants to make a too good impression he is too smooth.
The Over-The-Top handshake
Touching or tapping on your shoulder with his free hand during the handshake.
This gives you the feeling you are being cheated or lied upon.
The salesman is not to be trusted at all as he is coming too near to you.
A sweaty wet hand gives a really bad feel.
If people have sweaty hands, they should swipe their hand(s) before they shake.
Why is the salesman sweating? Is he so unsure? Is he hiding something?
No clean hand:
People should make sure their hand is clean – including their finger nails.
The bad impression having dirty hands – or you are not important enough to take care of
his dirty hands.
The too brief shake:
If the hands just touch and the handshake is just down and the person opens his hand
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again, then apparently he doesn’t want to have anything to do with you.
He doesn’t want your business.
The soft hand:
Some people just can’t give a firm hand and you can feel the weak hand tissue.
Apparently you are not important enough to close his hand firmly for you. If you as a
customer are not important then how will he be or treat you after you have signed the
The hesitating handshake
The salesman hesitates for pressing firmly. He is clearly thinking about something else.
You are not his focus or on his mind.
Then why do business with him?
The eternal shake
The salesman keeps on shaking your hand and greeting and smiling.
This can be embarrassing, but also could express the hopelessness of the salesman as
he hopes to be closer to you.
The salesman clearly has problems reaching his budget.
The fingers only handshake
Apparently the salesman finds you not interesting enough to give you his whole hand in
order to keep the contact brief.
Clearly not having the need for your business or he is convinced you will buy in any
Not all fingers
Instead of reaching out with all fingers, one or two finger are bent back.
Not clear what the purpose of this is, but this game is not to be trusted.
People have their fingers crossed as it is a symbol of breach of contract.
Don’t do business with them.
Do you have a firm handshake of a salesman?
Any bad handshake types?
How to win from the market leader
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from
within.” Quote of Will Durant.
It is always hard to win from the market leader.
People in companies will buy the products or solutions of the market leader just because
- The brand name
- The references
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- The fact of not risking to get fired by choosing the leader
- The wide spread availability
The great civilization of the market leader
Your market leading competitor is the great civilization with all its’ directors, managers,
employees, products, solutions, marketing, branding, distributors, resellers and world
You cannot conquer or win from the leader or overtake the leader as long as their
operations and internal working are fine as these are operating smoothly.
They have the best salesmen, the best presentations, the best sales engineers, the best
The market leader seems invincible.
The decline of the market leader
However as with any larger company, the internal affairs, the internal politics, the ego-
trippers and the financial engineering become more and more important than the actual
As a market leader it is likely the company acquires smaller competitors or companies in
other markets in order to expand ad grow business.
The effects and problems of a larger company are:
- Managers start to aim for more power or prestige.
- Employees start to aim for higher positions.
- Internal differences in status and functions give friction.
- Identification with the company is lost.
- The wrong people get promoted over the people that really should get rewarded.
- People are promoted for all the wrong reasons.
- Managers get promoted above their capabilities: Peter Principle.
- Politics become more important than the individual performances.
- Tax evasion schemes and financial investments can bring in more money than the
The leading competitor starts losing focus on its’ main operations, marketing, sales and
The leading company is destroying itself from within.
Look for signs of decline
In case you are competing with a big market leader then start looking for signs of self-
destruction from within.
Then it is time to attack and win their customers focusing on the newly emerged weak
This time you have the advantage of being small: it will take the great civilization very
long before they will react upon their new weaknesses and your attacks.
In the meantime you will have gained customers and market share.
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20. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Do not attack them earlier as you will be wasting your time.
A great corporation is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.
How is your market leader evolving ? Have you spotted the first cracks ?
What is the most important in the B2B buying process ?
During the purchase process when people need to decide on buying, they not only focus
and evaluate on functions, features and benefits, but their main concern is about limiting
the risks related to this decision.
Risk indicators in B2B purchase process
How does a potential client decide if it’s risky to do business with a vendor or supplier?
- Established company or a sole trader?
- Company registration number?
- Where are the offices located?
- Is the company address on the website?
- Telephone number available?
- Can the company really be called?
- The time it takes to reply an email?
- Possible to set-up a face-to-face meeting?
- Are the names of the C-level available? On the Internet (LinkedIn?)
Buying risk avoidance
- References and referrals
- Their personal experience with the vendors from previous project or purchase
- The approved vendor list of the company: the creator of the list takes the risk
- The brand importance of the vendor: the more a household name the less risk
- Their personal risk: How big is my own risk? What can I loose?
Maybe the last one is even more important as people don’t want to expose their career
(or even life) to any risk.
If they take a daring decision that turns out into negative result or bad experience then
they can be at risk themselves: end of career, end of job.
Therefore strong brands and companies with good referrals will score better in B2B.
Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM or Microsoft. Google on the other hand has still
problems entering the BtoB market: Google is great for a free service like search and
maps, but when it comes to real business or business processes then decision makers
tend to avoid Google.
Recession vs prosperity
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During recession or limited growth economy companies having well-known brand names
and long referral lists will receive the highest amount of inbound leads. They will be the
most successful as people will address to these companies in order to avoid risks.
On the other hand during prosperous times when:
- Companies need to innovate in order to keep ahead of their competitors
- Time is (more) money
- Better efficiency is most important
The importance of the risk factor decreases as opportunity knocks instead. People are
eager to take risks in order to:
- Move ahead in their career
Then lesser known companies will see an increase of inbound leads as the challenge is
to innovative or have cost reducing solutions in order to compete the competition.
How do you perceive the risk avoidance of your buyers?
The 25 conference requirements for salesmen
Initially the main goals of conferences are to learn about new methods and techniques
from colleagues and vendors and allowing you to reach out the experts in the matters in
However for anyone in sales the content of the conference can be of a lesser importance
as the main purpose of any salesman is selling.
What are the ideal characteristics of a conference for a salesman?
1. Networking possibilities: the more the better
2. Enough professional attendees
3. Not too much people as you will have problems selecting and meeting with all of
4. Big tags in order to read company and name allowing selecting people and
addressing with appropriate question.
5. Walking lunch and dinner: sitting at a table is a waste of time as you can only
address 3 to 4 people around you.
6. Enjoyable environment: dark rooms and lobbies will sell less good
7. Boring speakers can be a benefit as you could have more people to grab in the
8. Too boring speakers and they all go elsewhere (shopping?)
9. No Wifi as else people on their portable will not be approachable for a conversation
10. No Internet access booth in order to have people open for a conversation instead of
waiting silently in lines
11. Things to complain about making it is easier to open a conversation
12. Reasonably priced else only a very select number of people will show up
13. Not near by a shopping centre in order to have people stay
14. Rain or freezing cold in order to have the attendance stay
15. Limited number of Vendors – if the number of vendors out number the others there is
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no lead generation possible.
16. Just long enough coffee breaks (15min) in order to have people stay on the
conference or lobby (not hotel room)
17. Frequent coffee breaks (2 in the morning – 1 in the afternoon)
18. No heavy lunch: else people fall asleep in the conference room
19. Limited wine supply during lunch: if tipsy or drunk they don’t remember you or what
you were trying to sell
20. Capability of stealing the attendee list before your competitor steals the list.
21. The dinner is a special environment in order to have the complete venue joining this
22. The less people know each other the better: as salesmen you can talk to all
23. No adjacent trade show as it draws the attention to the trade show boots
24. No major sports event happening as people will watch the sports on TV-sets instead.
25. No major world crisis as it affects everybody and draws the attention to: TV, Internet,
Do you have any other suggestions or requirements on your conference whish list?
You Are Eliminated ! is common in the complex B2B sale
Reality TV series are hard
The horrifying phrase contestants of reality television series like Big Brother, Americas’
Next Top Model, Idol, The Apprentice, Runaway Project,… don’t want to hear is: “You
As the build-up to the elimination is painstaking slow, the contestants are all nervous
which leads to the eliminated person to show his emotions and express very openly
preferably with tears.
Or even warn for a future revenge.
It is even better if one or two of the survivors also burst out in tears for their lost friend or
The more sadness, aggression or anger the better for the TV Reality Show.
The B2B complex sale is harder
Every complex B2B sale is a similar elimination game with several rounds in the sales
The big differences with the reality TV-shows are:
- The salesmen can guess their competitors but don’t face them
- The salesmen never meet in front of the jury side by side
- The incomplete jury: the CEO decides but doesn’t participate in the meetings
- The elimination decision isn’t communicated that easily – salesmen need to inquire
- There is no drama involved
- The salesman has no place to show emotion or think of revenge
- The competition in reality TV shows takes a short time span (hours – sometimes days),
whereas the sales cycle can take months and even years
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Still “You are Eliminated” is a common happening in everyday life of the salesman and
he will not express his anger or aggression towards the missed client.
Instead he will try to keep doors open and hoping for a next chance with this company.
How about your emotions when you loose a deal?
The 7 great pretenders on trade shows wasting your time
All kinds of people come to tradeshows – even to business trade shows:
- The real decision makers
- The influencers
- The R&D
- The employees
- The salesmen of your competitors
- The head hunters
- The pretenders
The pretenders are maybe the worst kind as they consume your time and no business
will ever be generated:
1. The former decision maker
People with a certain maturity or even notoriety that used to be in the driving seat of a
company, but have been promoted to the ‘Director of the Garage or Printing dept.’ or
Still on the trade show they will pretend to still be important and will ask questions of all
kinds that are quite related to the past and not the present.
Avoid them if possible if you can recognize them.
Due to their previous experience they are hard to recognize.
2. The geek as non-influencer
Some geeks pretend to be influencers and will fire many questions to your sales people
on your booth. Questions they can’t answer due to the highly technical matters. Hence
the need for the presence of a sales engineer or people with a technical background in
order to answer adequately the questions posed.
Still they are probably a waste of time.
The problem is how to segregate the real influencers from the fake?
- Asking their business card in order to see their title or position in the company.
- Asking about the relation with the decision makers in the company.
- Asking about the amount and timing of budgets available for such projects or products.
3. The sole trader with big plans
Typically they have wild or disruptive ideas that they are testing or looking for
confirmation by asking questions to your sales people.
By asking simple questions about their company or just reading their business card can
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24. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
reveal the smallness of the company they are presenting.
Maybe this can be interesting for your product managers to catch new ideas or concepts
but for your sales people and the purpose of the trade show they are a waste of time.
4. The businessman in need for a business
They pretend to be in charge of a big important company with many relations to the large
corporations or even government in their company. They hope to start an additional
business with your products and solutions as their current business is no longer
By pretending to have the keys to the foreign market they try to get a new deal or even
exclusive deal with your company.
Not only the time of the salesman is wasted, but also the VP Sales will get involved and
waste his time listening to the stories the pretender will server to state his status and
As this is a bout the market in a foreign country with mostly unknown players in the
market, it is very difficult to know if the person is a pretender or not. Still the more
important he presents himself the less likely he is really successful as successful
business men aren’t looking for new opportunities on a trade show: they get new
products and solutions presented to them due to their importance in their market.
5. The dreaming entrepreneur
These people have defined or created a concept solution for which they see a market
opportunity, but need the technical and practical matters to be solved.
In order to do so they hope to find answers and solutions on the trade show.
However chances are the market is virtually non-existent, the technical issues will make
the solution to expensive and the legal or certification requirements are hard to
A good salesman should see the warning signs in the vague business plan or concept
the entrepreneur is trying to present.
6. The failed entrepreneur
They used to have a thriving business but as technology has changed or the market
opportunity has passed, they now hope to make a comeback.
They will pretend all is fine and under control and having many relations with possible
customers in the market based upon their previous success.
They hope to get a distribution or reseller contract for your products.
As they are running out of funds, they cannot invest enough capital to be a distributor or
However the lacking of funding, employees and the relations with companies have long
gone, this is not the right partner to start with as distributor or reseller.
It will be difficult to spot the failed entrepreneur as he can rely upon his experience of the
past. Only by asking direct, precise and specific questions about people at companies
you will be able to scratch the surface of what he pretends to be.
7. The consultant
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They will start with pretending interest in your products or solutions.
Instead of inquiring for a possible purchase, they will turn the conversation into selling
their services to you.
The longer it takes that they need to start their sales pitch, the more time is wasted for
In most cases these consultants are very well dressed, speak clearly and are
knowledgeable about your market.
The fastest way to reveal their identity is by analyzing their business card:
- Company name: Whatsoever & Partners
- Title: unclear function
- Email: web based
- Website: no domain name
- Address: located in a residential area
Trade show pretenders are costly
As a trade show is very costly and a lead will cost above $1,500 or even $2,500, it is
utmost important that the qualification of anyone presenting on the booth is handled
The more time a salesman wastes on a pretender the less chance to obtain a real lead.
Even worse is when a bad or missing qualification has happened and the contact
information of the pretender gets registered with a write-up into the leads file. Then it
gets processed into the CRM system: more worthless costs like follow-up emails and
As in The Platters’ song:
Pretending that I’m doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
Adrift in a world of my own
I play the game but to my real shame
Why should a new client get a discount?
Customers expect discounts
It is always a joy and a thrill to acquire a new customer, due to the excitement for the
potential new sales.
During the negotiations for the first order, salesmen are tempted to give a discount. Just
in order to avoid that the new customer should walk away from the deal as people
expect to get discounts.
However should a new customer be given a discount for his first order?
The customer hasn’t proved anything as he just is making promises about the first and
future orders. He hasn’t even proved to be able to pay on time.
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26. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Thus if they want a discount, it is probably better you let him walk away from the deal. If
you start giving a discount on the initial order, where are you going to end up on all the
If the customer really wants a discount, then you still can propose:
- A rebate for the next order in order to retain him as a customer.
- A free additional service that has a marginal higher cost price for you.
Stick to the pricelist
If there is a pricelist, then you should stick with the pricelist for a start.
Typically the price list contains volume discounts allowing granting these if he buys
sufficient large quantity. If not there is no reason for giving him a discount.
If you start giving away a discount on the first order then you only can grant a bigger
discount on the subsequent orders.
Only in case when there is a special offer on hand then the new customer can get this
exceptional discount. These types of discounts are clearly defined and limited in time for
not creating a precedent. Thus the next time he shouldn’t expect to obtain the same
The same applies to coupons which are one time events too.
Discounts have 2 functions:
- To attract new customers with a bargain or special deal pricing
- To retain the customer as loyal customer
A new customer doesn’t deserve a discount as he only has made promises and
suggestions about his future purchases and payments.
Moreover as he has gone through his B2B purchase cycle, a discount is not at the order
as he had already decided upon the pricing without the additional discount.
Do you give a discount at the first purchase order?
Do you give rebates for the next order?
Why Google has become your main competitor in Sales !
The purpose of emails, calls, webinars and meetings
Do you bring more value to the table than Google?
If so then you can send an email or have a call, a web seminar or a meeting!
If you as a salesman can’t bring more information to your probable customer then why
should they take time for:
- Reading your email
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- Talking to you over a call
- Participate in a web seminar
- Have a meeting?
Reading an email is less costly than having a call, which is less costly than participating
in a web seminar. The costliest is having a meeting with several people at your office
Of course the time required to search on the Internet has a cost too but that is often
The sole reason people take time to have a call or a meeting with you is because you
bring additional or structured information that they can’t find on the Internet or is difficult
to aggregate from the Internet information.
It is your expertise and your (free) consulting that is required and makes the difference
as in most case all information is available on the Internet: On-Demand information
without the hassle of making an appointment.
Google, Bing and Yahoo are your competitors
The issue is about the time you consume from executives, managers and mid-level
decision makers as their time is limited.
If they grant you time to have a call or a meeting or even reading your emails, they have
to decide what their best investment is:
- The Internet information using Google, Yahoo or Bing: apparently free
- The email, call, webinar or meeting with you
- The email, call, web seminar or meeting with your competitor
What is the most beneficial for their company and themselves?
Why waste time with you or your competitor?
If they are capable of getting the same information directly from the Internet, your next
request for a call, web seminar, meeting or opening your email will be ignored.
Thus you need to bring value with every communication you make.
You need to bring a scoop – a first – a new point of interest – an additional benefit.
Your information, expertise and consulting should make the difference
Google & Co have raised the bar for your sales efforts and no longer is your first
competitor the salesman of the typical competitor: it has become Google, Yahoo and
The problem is: Google, Yahoo and Bing are open 24 x 7 from anywhere
Your prospects can search on the Internet from anywhere and anytime: while you are
asleep, during the weekend, while you are on holiday, …
While you will only be available a certain business hours at at certain places.
The Internet search is not solely used during the initial selection process, but also during
the entire buying process.
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You have to compete with Google as your main sales competitor and bring more
adequate, problem-matching or problem-solving information than what is available on
the Internet for free.
In order to compete with Google, you have to bring the art of understanding people, their
business problems, internal politics and pains in an organization, your consulting and
convert or translate all the issues or problems into solutions (preferably fitting your
solutions) and define goals for results.
How well do you compete with Google?
How much information can your customers find on your solutions on the Internet?
How competitive are you compared with Google?
What do you bring additionally to the table?
Unbearable silences during meeting potential customer
During any conversation a moment of silence can happen.
Even during a meeting with a potential customer or a client.
There is nothing wrong with the silence itself if the conversation picks up afterwards
It is probably not that bad to have a short silence in any meeting or discussion.
However it could be an indication of disconnection between the 2 parties involved.
In some case it can become unbearable and give discomfort for both parties. You all will
feel the pain.
However it can also be used as advantage for your sales process if you keep your
Some people feel the need to jump in and fill the silence immediately.
This can be:
- You the Salesman.
- Your Support engineer.
- The Influencer.
- The Decision maker.
Not breaking the silence
You as the Salesman
As the salesman, you should be able to keep the uncomfortable silence for a while and if
nobody speaks then re-launch the conversation that engages both the decision maker
and the influencer.
If you can pose an adequate open question the discussion will start again. Still it is not
easy to ask such a question.
In any case avoid starting a sales pitch!
Your Support engineer
The worst case is when your support engineer tries to open the discussion again:
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especially with technical matters.
Technical matters as he probably is mainly interested in the more technical or features
aspects of the solution or the problem and not the business itself.
Thus just hope he keeps silent or in the best case poses an open ended question.
The customer should break the silence
If the Influencer starts talking, let him talk. Make sure you engage in a conversation that
the Decision maker finds interesting.
However chances are the Decision maker is not interested in the specific items or
matters the Influencer finds interesting.
If the Decision maker is not interested, you need to change the subject as soon as
possible by asking an open question to the Decision maker.
Else you will loose attention of the Decision maker or he will start a second conversation
with the Support engineer which will beyond your control.
The Decision maker
The best case is if the Decision maker starts talking again as in this case he probably
will tell too much by:
- Elaborating about the problems to be solved
- Your competitors or competing products
- Explaining more about the internal matters related to the decision.
Whatever he tells it will be interesting for you and your sales process.
The silence after a question
In case after you have posed a question there is a silence, then wait at least 10 seconds.
Typically you or your Support engineer will interrupt the silence within 3 seconds mainly
by repeating the question or even by suggesting the answer.
People being questioned need up to 10 seconds to formulate an answer. Thus give them
the required time.
Remember they need to speak out and inform you – not visa versa.
Thus take your time and wait until they answer you or continue the conversation without
answering the question.
If after 10 seconds they haven’t answered the question then repose the question.
What did you do with unbearable and uncomfortable silences during a meeting?
Did you start talking again? Did you start your sales pitch again?
Or were you able to pose an open ended question?
The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand your customer
Did you or do you understand the problem of the customer that he just explained?
Most people (even in Sales) don’t listen or just hear half of the story or the problem.
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As soon as they see or recognize a pattern, a recognizable event or an indication they
have seen before, they jump on conclusions and start their sales pitch.
Ask, listen and learn about the problem
So did you understand fully the problem of the customer ?
Then shut up and start asking questions.
Listen to what he has to say or how he describes the problem.
Maybe you will understand and can offer him help.
Then shut up and ask questions in order to be certain of the best suiting solution or to be
able to dig deeper into his problem.
Listen to what he has to say or how he describes the problem.
Maybe you will understand and can offer him help.
For all meetings and all telephone calls the goal is to have a conversation, not a reason
to start your product pitch.
During your conversation you can evolve slowly into your product pitch when you are
certain that you are offering your best matching solution.
The internal selling is the hurdle
As it is in only rare cases people can decide without approval of their superiors, your
buyer, influencer or decision maker needs to sell internally your solution too.
If there is something missing or there is a uncertainty about the solution in relation to the
problem, it will cause a delay in the decision or the internal selling will even not stand
If there is an uncertainty or missing part in the sales pitch, your internal seller needs to
come back to you and formulate the difference or the perceived difference between the
solution you proposed and the problem he had defined or has been defined by his
Being able to define or describe this difference requires effort and attention: causing
delays or even missing the deal completely if your competitor has done a better job of
listening and asking.
The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand the customer
Thus the better you understand the problem:
1. The better match you can provide with your solution.
2. The better explication you can provide supported by suiting reasons.
3. The less missing parts there will be between problem and solution.
4. The better you can drill your internal seller about your solution.
5. The lesser questions that will be raised by the others.
6. The higher the likelihood the internal selling can be successful.
7. The better you stand out compared to your competitors.
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Thus the next time you think you understand the problem, just ask a few questions more.
As people always tell you more than they want to, you will get more information and
learn about issues and even about your competitors.
How well do you listen?
Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling
After years of success in sales, you want to treat yourself by having one or more luxury
goods: a Porsche, an expensive watch, Italian suits, …
However when you park your newly bought Porsche, that you have earned after years of
hard work in sales, on the parking lot of the next potential customer, it can be you just
decreased the chances of winning this next client significantly.
The employees, the managers and the CxO will notice your car.
The external luxury you show off to your potential customers can have a big negative
impact on your sales immediately.
The Porsche can indicate how successful you are, however the customer will guess the
Porsche cost is also included into the price quote you offer: even though you are offering
them bargain prices.
Your potential customer will understand he is somehow paying for your luxury and might
look for another vendor in order to get a better deal.
Customer is paying for your luxury
Thus in order to sell properly and unbiased, don’t show off too much of your luxury you
actually can afford.
The $10,000 watch, the $5,000 Italian suit, the $200,000 Porsche, …leave it at home.
Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling or brag about your latest expensive voyage.
The customer knows he will be somehow paying for your luxury.
Bragging to the CxO equals fail
The CEO or the CxO of the company you are dealing with can probably not afford your
luxury as he can be married with kids or even worse when he has been divorced with
Thus bragging about or showing off with your luxury can finish your deal faster than you
Similar can happen when you brag about your (extreme) sport achievements as the CxO
is maybe incapable of any physical exercise whereas you live the life of a hero during
People want to deal with other people who they can relate to or feel equal.
Buying from a superior or more successful person is unlikely to happen in most cases.
You don’t want to fail due to things beyond the business matters.
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Keep low profile
Keep your profile average not overwhelming your potential customers at the same time
have some hints of your successfulness: a more expensive PDA or small portable as
these are related to your activity and can increase your performance.
What car do you drive as a salesman?
Do you brag about your spending during the small talk?
Should you take ‘No’ as final in Sales?
In any sales deal there comes a point where the potential customer will tell you about the
deal: Yes or No.
Never ever take the first time No.
- Ask for an explication.
- Challenge the decision taken.
- Determine if there is an alternative solution or a compromise.
- Try to reach a higher placed officer in the company.
- Offer a different product.
- Offer additional services your competitor can’t offer.
- Make a single one-time offer.
- Introduce fear.
Checking your website
In order to know if there is still some interest lurking around at the prospect company,
you could verify the visiting activity of the company on your website.
If there are still visitors the deal could not be completely lost.
Then the quest is to find your advocates within the company.
In any case it will give you additional hope and reasons to continue.
More than just the missing the deal
Now you need to know how deep or how much you want to offer to get the order.
It is not solely the winning of this deal, but also the stronger your competitor can become
due to winning this order:
- Another important reference
- A larger production volume allowing for lower purchase pricing or costs
- An additional geographic sales area
- The possible recurrent future revenue
- The possible follow-up orders
- The prestige of winning over your company
- The defeat weighs on the sales team
Thus instead of taking the ‘No’ you will need to weigh the pro and contra of losing this
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To sell or not to sell?
Anything is allowed if you really want this prospect to become your customer.
When the customer says ‘No’ and for reasons that can reach beyond the prospect, the
real selling starts as the opportunity and part of the market has been lost.
Did you ever win a customer after losing the sales deal?
Don’t despair if The Stig in Sales is your Competitor
You’d better not encounter The Stig in Sales.
The Stig is the best salesman in your business.
However as he is only interested in large deals bringing him a big commission, he will
pay less attention on the smaller and even medium sized deals. He has to manage his
time too you know. Only the biggest deals bring enough return on investment!
He will drop or pay little attention to the smaller and medium sized deals as his return on
investment on these deals is less. The Stig wants to maximize his earnings so why
should he waste his precious time?
This leaves the opportunity for the smaller and medium sized deals where you can build
your references and grow your brand name. This will eventually allow to go head to head
with The Stig on larger deals.
Are you The Stig in Sales?
Have you ever met The Stig in sales?
Point break customers
The more waves a customer generates, the more breaks there are at the point: inside
sales or salesman.
Your sales people are just riding those waves.
Customers that make the most noise get the most attention.
On the one hand there are the ones that make a lot of noise, but once your resolve their
issues, they become your most loyal allies, recommending others to your products or
Then there are the ones that continuously communicate with you or complain or just
attract attention all the time. They are never fully satisfied with anything and probably
never will be (for some people this is part of their character). Maybe they shouldn’t have
been sold your solution? A CEO I used to work with called these ‘the kindergarten
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Although these customers get the most attention, they are often not the most profitable
ones, especially as you have to spend time and effort to satisfy them with answers and
care. Time that could be spend attracting more customers of the easy, satisfied kind
At the same time you might be neglecting your better customers.
Customers that are satisfied with your business, that place their orders and pay on time.
Customers that are probably much more profitable than the very demanding ones.
A customer should receive the amount of attention that he deserves in relation to the
profit generated and in relation to your other customers.
The only way to find out is to keep track of the profitability by customer and the amounts
of time spend handling him or her. Often there are no standard tools within the company
to do this, but just tracking the time spent in a textfile or spreadsheet for a week can be a
real eye opener, giving enough evidence that the customer might be a waste of time.
More often than not you will find that these cry-babies shut up without leaving when you
stop giving them attention (just like real cry-babies).
Instead of trying to satisfy the noisy customers, wouldn’t you rather nurture the ones you
don’t hear about? Or even use that time to attract more customers of the easier kind?
How many noisy customers do you need to to offset losing an easy customer?
If you only had noisy customers, how many would you be able to handle before
they start leaving for not getting enough attention?
Don’t forget to nurture your easy customers!
Should you sell if there’s no fit?
Even if the customer asks for a certain product or service, qualify the customer and then
decide if you should sell or not.
If there is no fit – no good qualification – it is probably the best not to sell and explain
clearly to the customer eager to buy the reasons why. Be honest and stay positive.
The reasons not to sell are in order to avoid:
- Bad word of mouth
- Bad press – bad blog posts – bad tweets on Twitter
- Unsatisfied clients that will never buy anything else from you
- Missing selling to their peers or relations
- Wasting time of both companies
- High after sales service costs
Not selling will build your credibility and it is your chance to become a trusted advisor
and not just a commissioner.
Will you sell if no fit?
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35. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Death of the Salesman as BtoB Sales goes online?
Consumer goods have been available on the Internet since the early beginnings of the
Internet: e-Commerce was all the hype during the Internet Bubble. The website were
and are about consumer goods and consumer web services (in many cases related to
the action of buying consumer goods).
Online selling Internet BtoB services
Since a few years during the Web 2.0 era a new breed of e-Commerce sites have
emerged: web services for businesses.
Previously all business to business services required a physical presence of a sales rep.
or even a sales team in order to sell.
As the Internet has infiltrated business and web services are being promoted and
provided over the Internet without human interaction or interference this change of trend
just has happened.
In order to enable selling business to business the web services have become
specialized or specific services with a minimum of functions and features.
Instead of promoting a complex ERP system with (too) many functions and
functionalities (for buyers to fully grasp) solutions with only one or two business
processes are being offered: CRM, collaboration, invoicing, lead generation or cash
The process of marketing and sales can be completely automated as:
- The marketing message is less complex due to the limited number of business
- Marketing is done using the Internet presence: website, advertising, blogs, reviews,
and email campaigns (spam)
- Companies are identified while visiting the website
- Selling is limited to answering emails and providing a sign-up page with a payment
No man to man interaction required except for the email conversations.
As the current method of getting a solution for a problem in a business is mainly started
by a search on the Internet, the Internet presence is most important.
The online marketing consists of:
- The website with content related to the problems the business service solves.
- The well positioned advertising of companies
- The social media marketing – even for BtoB
- The email campaigns
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36. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
All the online content has become more important for the decision than any other
marketing channel for attracting interested parties which are the potential customers.
They will visit the website if the vendor throughout the entire buying process.
In order to attract Internet buyer-searchers the content and multiple presences on the
Internet are king.
Both Outbound and Inbound marketing have theirs place. However there is a bias or
preference towards Inbound Marketing as:
- Inbound marketing is always active instead of the on/off functionality of Outbound
- Inbound marketing has a broader reach.
Selling by a salesman is not really required for these web service providers.
The persuasion by the content and the presence on the Internet have become more
important for engaging the potential customers.
No death of a Salesman for complex solutions
For solutions offering just one or two business services or functions the death of a
Salesman is near.
However in all cases with greater complexity of the solution provided the greater need
for human interaction by salesmen: discussions, interactions and meetings.
If the service is too complex the Internet is not yet convincing enough.
Still all decision makers and buyers will visit the website of the vendor during the entire
The online B2B Sales currently is only feasible for relatively simple and straightforward
solutions and services limiting to one or 2 business processes only.
The question is how far the bar will be raised: up to what level of complexity people in
business will buy without human interaction?
Currently most companies are still selling the traditional way.
The question is how long will this traditional selling last as the Internet has become
ubiquitous and will move up the ladder of complexity of business services offered?
Has your BtoB sales already been affected by the Internet?
Will the Internet kill the salesman?
Overcoming objections by turning them into the fuel for selling
When the potential customer has an objection, then most sales reps start to feel bad or
uncertain: the stress for failure increases.
Even if you can formulate an answer correctly or refute the objection, then chances are:
- You talk too much and initiate a complete different conversation.
- A second objection is brought to the table.
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This is exactly what you don’t want in both cases:
- The lost conversation without a direction
- Even more objections.
Take your time with objections
Most people will try to formulate an answer or refute the objection as fast as possible.
Instead of replying it is better to take your time by asking him to explain what he exactly
means. Hear him out.
The clarification or the restatement of the objection can contain already part of the
When listening to his exposé you have a second chance to understand the objection and
to look for answers.
Then rephrase the objection: if you have it wrong you will be corrected and probably
more information is contained in the correction.
Moreover people will always tell too much. In order to explain they will reveal more
information and reasons of the objection or even the origin of the objection: a director, a
previous experience, a similar case of a colleague.
The more they explain what is holding them back to buy the better you know what to do
or answer and turn around the objection into an advantage.
The objection discussion
Chances are the objection is getting discussed by the managers of the potential
customers amongst them. You don’t have to participate but to correct or acknowledge
facts or figures that are mentioned during their discussion. This will certainly work if your
advocate is amongst them as he will know:
- The situation better from the inside.
- Where the objection is coming from.
In case there is no discussion and you have no direct answer then you need to get the
interest back to the benefits and advantages of your product or solution.
The best is to acknowledge the objection and immediately ask how fine the benefits or
advantages fit with the problem or need of the company.
The battlefield of objections
The best salesmen consider objections as the battle field.
The sooner they find out about them the better as they then know what lies ahead of
them. By knowing the objections they can build a strategy.
You have a strategy and in control instead of being rushed and driven out of the deal by
Once you have a strategy you have an advantage over your competitors who might still
Maybe objections are not that bad after all if you know how to handle them.
The objection can become the fuel for selling.
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38. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
The sooner you know the objections the better.
The more the potential customer talks the more chance to win as they always will tell too
Turning objections into sales takes time to learn, but the rewards will be high.
How do you handle objections?
Have you ever turned objections into a sale?
When your buyer is living in the past
When the officer or manager your are dealing with for the next purchase constantly
refers to the past using:
- I remember when …
- We used to …
- Formerly the …
- Things used to be better then …
- When we …
- Those were the days …
It is clear he is living with the past as his memories seem to be more important than the
current facts and events that are happening.
The Account manager
If you are in the business of recurrent sales as an account manager then there is little to
worry about as it is unlikely the person wants any change.
Especially because not changing suppliers as that includes a departure from the past
and a risk.
In this case stick with the officer or manager and carry him further with his memories.
Just keep an eye on possible competitors that present new solutions to other officers
and managers you are not related to or dealing with.
The Sales hunter
On the other hand if you are proposing a new method or solution that more or less
implies a radical change from the past, then you need to start doubting if you are
addressing the right person to defend and sell your new solution in this company.
Someone who lives too much in the past is unlikely to favorable for any change.
There are 2 cases:
- Your competitor is pushing a radical change and he can not live with it
- Your competitor still presents the well known and proven solution.
Competitor pushes a new solution
In case your competitor is pushing the new solution, then it could be better to propose
the conservative solution again.
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39. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
However be careful as your company might be classified as outdated whenever there is
a change taking place in this company.
You present a new solution
In case you are pushing the new solution; it is very unlikely your officer or manager is
going to buy.
Then you need to get into contact with a different officer or manager.
This requires your imagination and sales skills as you need to:
- Identify an alternative officer or manager
- Getting into contact with him
- Make appointments for meeting(s)
- Assure he is in favor of change
And at the same time taking care to bypass the original contact without upsetting him.
Are the decision makers of your customers living in the past or the future?
The grass is always greener on the other side: not in sales
Although the grass seems always greener on the other side:
- The products when needed: get commissions as one can sell
- Better customers: not complaining or just easier
- More revenue: more commissions
- Higher margins: higher commissions
- Recurring customers: continuous commissions
- Growing customers: increasing commissions
More commission means a better life for the Salesman.
In sales you need to treat your current customer as if he was the greener one.
He needs to feel as important as if he was the most important customer.
Problem: limited capacity of caring
Caring for your customer takes time and effort.
When you aim to give all your customers the feeling of their importance then you will be
out of capacity before you know it.
There for the need to create and give the feeling of their importance, still managing your
time between your different accounts. That is hassling of your capacities.
Time management: leads versus customers
Typically management and sales people will dedicate more time to new leads and
potential customers mainly because:
- They could hold more potential
- All people like the idea of new and fresh
- To boldly go where no man has gone before is more challenging
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40. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
However nurturing your customers is much more profitable and will be much more
rewarding: those people have already decided for your products before thus they are
likely to choose them again.
Instead the Salesman and the Sales Manager both pay more attention to the leads.
It is better to care for what you have than what you could have.
Managing your time and effort between the exciting new leads and the old known
customers is hard to do.
Still you need to give the customer the impression that they are the most important
whether they are small or big, old or new, recurrent or potential which requires time
In all cases you have to show interest for their messages and information as your
primary aim is listening in order to react and anticipate when needed.
Take care for the customer you have and who is talking to you and balance your time
between customers and running behind potential customers with the most likely reward
What is most important to you: a customer or a new lead?
Desperate housewives are better off than desperate salesmen
We all know what the housewives in ‘Desperate Housewives‘ encounter and react in
different situations, but this is nothing what salesmen will do when they get desperate:
- for a lead
- for closing a deal
- for a reorder
Salesmen need to get sales in order to get paid in order to pay their bills.
The life of a housewife goes on without any doubt.
The life of a salesman more or less stops when he has no leads, no deals from new
customers or no new orders from existing customers come in.
In their being desperate Salesmen will do anything:
- Call whatever possible customer
- Steal customers from colleagues
- Make appointments that will not generate an order
- Visit customers without a proper appointment
- Visit customers without a real reason for them
- Promise additional features or solutions that cannot be realized
- Invite customers to lunch even if they are not present in the funnel
Still these desperate attempts will hardly work as the salesman will start looking less
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41. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Being desperate is the worst that can happen for a salesman as he starts doubting about
himself: his skills, his personality, his communication capabilities, his (14) virtues.
One thing housewives and salesmen have in common: they will keep up the
appearances until the end (whatever the end is).
However that will not solve the problem for the salesmen. They have to decide and take
the course of their future in their own hands: change products, change geography or
change company / business.
How desperate have you been in your career?
Customers get attention like crying babies do
Customers urging for attention
Customers or leads that make the most noise get the most attention. It is like crying
babies getting our attention even if they scream for little problems.
It is not because these customers or leads demand a lot of attention they are really
worth all of your time.
Somehow you should have a metric to dose the amount of your time for each customer
Quiet customers need attention
On the other hand when kids are quiet it is when you need to pay attention as they
usually are doing things that they shouldn’t. Exactly the same as when you don’t hear
from your customer it is urgent to contact them and find out if anything is up or not. They
might be considering switching supplier.
A customer or lead that contacts you is actually helping you getting the conversation
A customer you don’t hear from is a problem: he needs to be addressed with the best
possible and suited message or question. Just sending a newsletter by email is not good
enough to engage him: you need to address him with something that relates or matters
to him. Using the Internet or RSS feeds for starting to look into their company news,
news of their competitors, industry news or market trends in order to formulate a
message or a question that could start a conversation.
Distribution if your attention
Still the problem remains as how to distribute your time in relation to the importance of
the business or profit they generate. Not easy to measure.
How do you distribute your attention?
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42. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
The B2B complex sale is a marathon – don’t sprint
If you would try to sell B2B like a sprint, you will never achieve the marathon.
In consumer and retail business selling is like a sprint as people can decide within a few
seconds as in many occasions the decisions are subjective. A salesman can even
accelerate the buying process by giving advice or influencing the buyer.
Endurance for the B2B complex sale
In business to business it just takes longer: from problem definition, over presentation,
over evaluation, over the last round, to the final decision. It is a much more rational
You can try to move ahead for an intermediate step, but you will not be able to overhaul
your competitors as a consensus by all the different people involved needs to be
They decide and control the speed of the buying process, not you.
Endurance is required to sustain the contacts and relations and keep the focus of closing
The fast competitor isn’t necessary winning
Of course a competitor can try to move or even move ahead faster; however as the
purchase process takes more time they can or will become exhausted by the time the
closing of the contract is in sight.
Or your fast competitor could just loose interest himself as it takes too long.
As the fast moving competitor might have been pushing too much a decision taker or
an influencer the sales process this might just turn against them.
The B2B complex sale is not a sprint – it is a marathon.
If you try to run the B2B sales process like a sprint, you will never finish the marathon.
Are you a sprinter or a marathon runner?
People you avoid at parties can be in your sales meeting
At parties there are many types of people you will meet
- The Real Party people – no conversation possible.
- The Frat Boys - who will get drunk
- The Snarky Women - who complain about anything
- The Attention grabbers – loud and noisy
- The Snobs – boasting about their lifestyle and purchases
- The Not Interested – you can find them in the kitchen
- The Wallflowers – mentally absent
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43. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
- The Aged Beauties – on their way back
- The Killjoy – too serious to be on a party
- The Heavy Drinker – looking for the next bottle in the scullery
- The Cocky Person – telling about his achievements
- The Person Who Forgets to Bring Something – accidentally always
- The Couple Who Make Out In front Of Everyone – but stay together
- The Guy Who Knows Everything – so boring
- The Sucker – will make you feel negative
- The Too Deep in Conversation for You – not the right moment
- The Living Memories – talking about the past as things and life used to be better then
You have the option avoiding and not speaking to certain people at the party. You are
During any sales process you will meet with all kinds of people and you need to talk to
them as they are a part of the sales process.
At a party you can identify them by their appearance, clothes, attitude, body language,
loudness and location, whereas during the sales meeting people sit on their chair, show
less body language and their verbal expressions are limited. As there are rules and the
environment is more stringent in a meeting, less information about the character of the
person will show and less will you know about them.
At a party you can leave people behind in order to seek other more interesting parties.
However during a sales meeting you are stuck with these people until the meeting is
How do you:
- Identify the character of the people in your meeting?
- Pose the right open questions in order to know about each of them?
- Handle all these types of people?
- Stay in good relation with them even if your opinions differ quite?
- Handle people that keep on bragging about their achievements?
The problem even becomes more difficult if different types of people are together in one
meeting room and you as salesman needs to participate in or get dragged into a (social)
conversation that the other might not interest at all.
The worst is of course if you have to invite people to lunch, that you would like to avoid
at a party.
Or as you little know about their characters find out about them during lunch with no way
out but to keep the conversation going even you or they have no interest.
During the lunch you will be stuck with these people you would prefer to avoid for at
least 1 hour.
Equally the people who accepted your invitation can find out about you and get less
motivated to buy from you as your characters don’t match.
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Are such a lunch meetings beneficial for the Sales process? Or should you better not
invite some of the people of the company?
What type of people would you like to avoid at your meetings or lunches?
What types of people are not happy when invited to a lunch with you?
The 14 virtues of the salesman
Most people think Sales is just hard work and requires determination and persistence,
which is true but you need more than these:
1. Be able to qualify your leads
Not all possible interested people are leads.
The better you take care and the more time you invest in the qualification of your leads,
the less time you will be wasting during the sales processes. You want sales processes
that become sales.
2. Be able to shut up
Listen before you pitch to their problems and the picture they paint of their company or
Then have your pitch, have your presentation and then shut up.
Anything that you tell more can be used against you in the sales process before signing
3. Have patience
Have patience. Take your time. let the potential customer speak.
Stay calm in whatever situation.
4. Be confident – look confident
If you aren’t confident, you will not win deals.
Don’t hesitate when you answer questions.
Don’t give complex explications: give clear answers that people understand.
Your confidence will give and build trust.
5. Be able to argue without getting into a fight
You can argue and you can bring good facts to the table, but in the end the customer is
(almost) always right.
Discuss when and where needed, but don’t try to win the discussion. The winning is in
the closing of the deal.
6. Be a networking genius
The more people who know you, the more likelihood to encounter or hearing about a
deal or having a deal proposed to you as they know you.
If you are a nobody, nobody will know you or like you.
7. Be capable of change social class
If you want to sell to the CEO, then speak and think like a CEO else he won’t buy from
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45. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
If you are selling to the divisional manager, then be and think like the divisional manager
in order to make him buy from you.
The salesman needs to be capable of changing social class although he is only working
as an employee at a company.
8. Be humble but don’t obey
You have to be humble, but never ever get on your knees for getting the deal. Never
For a start you have given the impression to have the same status as your potential
customer having the same level in the management hierarchy.
Then you cannot get on your knees.
Still you need to be humble about your achievements.
9. Don’t complain – be positive
If you think negatively and complain about the company, the society, the world you will
leave a negative impression behind. Nobody is really interested in your problems.
Your customer can be negative, let them be. Still that will not help your sales.
Think positively – make them start thinking positively too: that will help your sales
It is important to be genuinely enthusiastic about your company and products.
And about the world and business in general.
11. Reach out to help
If you notice a problem you can help solving based on your experience or advice, then
give it for free.
If it works out it is likely the decision maker will be grateful to you.
Just make sure you give the advice only to high ranked decision makers as they will not
see you as a threat.
12. Have high expectations
Have high expectations about yourself, your company, your products, your customers
and even your potential customers.
When you enter a sales meeting you need to have the high expectation of being
successful and moving towards closing the deal soon.
13. Overcome rejections
In Sales you will have quite often rejections:
- Cold calls
- Canceled meetings for dubious reasons
- Not buying after a long sales process
Sales people need to overcome rejections quickly as the next opportunity knocks on the
door or needs to get found.
If a salesman doesn’t overcome a rejection quickly, he will not succeed in convincing the
next potential customer.
14. Be lucky
As always luck needs to be on your side.
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46. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
What do you have a virtue helping you sell?
Do you have a Bachelor or Master Sales Degree?
Probably not as there is no Bachelor or Master Sales degree (as far as we know).
Many types of Bachelor and Master Degrees exists for all kinds of professions in most
Students aim for a certain degree in order to get into a profession or industry.
However the most important function in any company is in Sales as:
- Inside Sales
All without specific studies. There is no Sales degree.
Still the Sales professional exists and has amongst the better salaries in any company.
Leftovers or gifted professionals?
It seems that people who get into Sales are somewhat the leftovers not getting the real
As if you are not good enough for a job related to your Bachelor or Master degree, then
the only choice you have left is getting into sales: becoming a Sales rep. or Salesman.
It can also be approached differently:
If you are as well as good in your profession and you have the gift of selling then you
can make it in Sales. This has as a result the higher pay Sales can achieve if they do
Probably there will be people that go and become successful in Sales because that’s the
main thing they know. Whereas others combine their degree, experience in the industry
and know how to sell.
No degree vs Sales trainings boot and camps
A significant part of the people who obtain their Bachelor or Master degree, will
eventually end up in Sales.
Still there is no Sales degree in University or High-school, but once in business most
companies will send their Sales people to sales trainings, motivation courses, boot
camps and the like.
What did you study when you where young?
What profession did you aim at?
How to become successful by applying 2 easy steps
Although the title may sound like a squeeze page title trying to sell you a self-training
course consisting of 15 DVD’s and 2 booklets – it is not. It is just a free blog post.
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47. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
Ever wondered why people or companies are successful and others not?
Most inquiry calls are not answered properly.
Most inquiry emails are not answered.
Most online forms never ever get a reply.
Most meetings are held, some meetings are never held.
80% of success is Just Showing Up
“80% of success is Just Showing Up” is a quote from Woody Allen and this quote still
holds the road.
Showing up is:
- Answering the call, listening and answering properly or the best suited solution within a
- Replying to any incoming email with the best suited answer within 24 hours, not with an
- Reading the emails from the online web forms and giving an answer within 24 hours.
- Making sure you get to that meeting on time.
- The findability of your business website – if they can’t find your solutions: no business.
- Opening on time the shop, customer service or after sales service.
90% of success is by additionally Following Up
If you achieve the first 80% by “showing up”, that leaves 20% to achieve!
Half of it (or 10%) can be achieved by just following up on your first action or reply.
You call or email them or ask on a later occasion:
- If they liked your quotation, suggestion or advice.
- If your answer was any helpful.
- If your solution has resolved their problem
- Anything related to your intervention.
People will experience this that you remember them and care about them.
You give them a chance to give feedback without any hassle, solve a new problem that
has arisen or even get a sales opportunity.
These 2 steps will make you achieve 90% of success.
Other advices in order to achieve the latter part are:
- Stay consistent in your exposés and explications: building trust by hearing the same
- Remain calm and controlled: makes a good impression.
- Look successful: that helps a lot.
- Be confident and believe in yourself.
- Have some luck in business: you need that too!
How successful are you?
- Do you show up?
- Do you follow up?
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How good are you at voicemails during the sales process?
Most of your customers or leads will have a voice mail system in place to be used in
case when they are away from their desk.
Voice mails are hard to do
Typically when speaking into a voice mail system, people:
- Constructing the strangest sentences
- Telling the wrong things or things that not really matter
- Missing to tell the real point
- Being very brief missing essential parts of the reasons for your call
- Speaking too long (over 2 minutes)
- Using the wrong wordings
- Speaking with the wrong intonation
These problems are probably due to the fact that there is no human response from the
receiving party at it is a recorder.
Of course you can always use the delete option and re-record until you get bored or
The receiver will listen to a voice mail differently than during a normal telephone
conversation. This adds on to the difficulty of a voice mail. Also the receiver can replay
your (weird sounding) message several times allowing analyzing your strange behavior
on the voice mail system. This will not add on to your credibility.
The end result is that the important message that needed to be communicated can:
- Leave the wrong impression
- Be misinterpreted
Both having with the result of creating the wrong response or action.
Still you can use an email as back-up referring to your voice mail just to be sure that the
message is communicated.
Voice mails in the sales process
During a sales process, if you need to bring an important message or information to your
customer or lead, will you then leave a voicemail? Or try to call back later?
What harms the most?
- Using the voice mail in order to leave the message: that can be misinterpreted or not
- Disconnecting and try to call back a little later?
Calling back later will require more time from you and you can fail to speak your
prospect or customer again.
There is a trade off:
- Using the voice mail system: a wrong interpretation will be hard to repair.
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- Not bringing the message on time has a certain cost too as a decision can depend on
But which one is the costliest?
There are the additional problems of:
- The many voice mails are never returned which stops your conversation.
- The facts changing or events happening after leaving the voice mail.
The best is of course if you could speak the person personally.
An alternative is to send an email, but maybe that’s not suitable for your all-important
How effective are you in leaving voice mails?
Did leaving a voice mail ever helped the sales process?
Why cars do matter in the sales process
Cars and people
For anybody in this world, their car is important as it is a part of their own personality.
A car can express:
- The social environment a person is part of
- Their status or lack of status
- Their psychology
- Their thinking
- Their passion
- Their importance in life or what they find important in their life.
The car owned can even be a statement of the meaning of life.
People who buy a BMW differ from people who buy a Mercedes and differ again from
those driving a Lexus although these cars can be quite similar but the reasons for buying
are quite different.
Even not owning or not driving a car is a big statement as this can mean:
- No drivers’ license: you can start wondering why a manager didn’t achieve to obtain a
- Being a hard core ecologist.
- Major personal credit problems
The cars of your leads or customers
If you know about the car of the people you are dealing with as lead or customer, you
will know and learn more about them in a very short amount of time.
If you can get them talking during a meeting about:
- Their current car: the current status
- Their next car: the expectance for the near future
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- Their dream car: their aspiration
- Their once owned super car: they have had their best times behind them
You will learn more about them in 5 minutes than over several meetings or telephone
calls. People who have been avoiding to tell anything personally, sometimes open up
while talking about their car as passion emerges which is something they cannot hide.
Also investigate about the car of the decision maker. It can tell about what he finds
important in your offering, quote or references.
The car in the sales process
Your customer’s car offers insight in his psyche.
Alter your sales tactic by the car your client is driving or want to be driving next.
Know how to handle your customer by talking about his car.
The car of the salesman
In any case, as a salesman you should avoid talking about your car as your potential
buyer will learn also about you, which can be interpreted both positive and negative. You
can’t know upfront.
Even if you have the same car as your potential buyer, be careful if you express yourself
about it, as the potential buyer might not like it that you drive the same car.
Avoid by all means talking about your once owned super car that you can’t afford
anymore: this indicates you are on your way back as a salesman: you are no longer the
hot-shot you used to be.
You light even have turned into a loser or you have been downgraded on the ladder of
sales people to have to work for this less great or less outstanding company.
Do avoid to park your Porsche (or similar) on the visitor parking space of the company
you are visiting and trying to sell to: it will not help you selling as all employees will talk
about it and the customer will feel as if he has or will be paying for your luxury.
Cars as insight
Cars are a hot item of conversation for all parts and levels of the population.
People do have very specific opinions, judgments and attitudes concerning and towards
Inquire carefully with the people you are dealing with (lead or customer) about their car
in order to know and learn more about them and to adjust your sales process.
What’s the car you are driving currently and what’s your next car?
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Your B2B customers are The Transformers – Are you G.I Joe?
Not companies buy but the people in the companies: the people can be managers,
directors or CxO’s.
Transforming from consumer to business to consumer again
All these rational business people start out the day as consumers and when they get into
the office they transform into a business buyer or decision taker.
At the end of the working day when they go home they become consumers again.
The transformation from Retail (B2C) to Business (B2B) to Retail (B2C) again and still
they are not schizophrenic.
As only a few people in companies are decision makers, decision takers and influencers,
most people stay consumers the whole day. The Transformers are the minority in the
total population of the consumers.
The Transformers buy upon impulse, feelings and sentiment making subjective and even
passionate decisions in their consumer life, whereas during their business hours they
are expected to make objective and rational decisions. This is probably not the case as
their decision taking will still be largely influenced by feelings and sentiments.
Transforming from Interruptive Marketing to Inquisitive Marketing
Interruptive marketing = outbound
Since ever marketing has been using interruptive communication methods to create
interest, to drive customers to buy products or to visit the website. Interruptive marketing
is the process of interrupting potential customers by email marketing campaigns, direct
mailings, print advertising or online advertising.
Over the years customers have build up an immunity or ignorance for marketing
messages: the pushier the ad, email or cold call, the less likely to follow-up.
People have developed sensors for not accepting or believing these ad messages
Inquisitive Marketing= inbound
At the same time the people have developed skills to search solutions on the Internet
helped by the search engines that have gotten more sophisticated over the years.
The potential customer has transformed from being pushed by outbound marketing and
advertising, to the customer who will search and inquire for information to solve the
problems he has encountered: Inbound Marketing.
Just like the consumer is changing from undergoing Interruptive marketing to Inquisitive
marketing, the Transformers are also changing from being influenced by the typical
Interruption Marketing to the Inquisitive Marketing.
In this case the potential customer will be retrieving information and advices from several
different online sources: mainly the Internet as this is a easiest channel and open 24 x 7.
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In order to drive Inquisitive Marketing, you need to keep feeding the communication
channels with new content.
Still these customers can become susceptive again at a certain moment of time and
become sensitive to the old fashioned interruptive marketing by the suiting email
marketing or for that moment appropriate advertising.
Knowing is half the battle
As G.I. Joe said: “…and knowing is half the battle,”.
You should know if your potential customer is susceptive for Interruptive or Inquisitive
Therefore you need to identify precisely your potential customer by company name.
Inform about his interests in solutions.
Are you G.I. Joe (The Salesman) in a battle with The Transformers (The Customers)?
Do you know?
- How rational or subjective the decisions of your customers are?
- If they are into inquisition marketing or susceptive to interruption marketing?
Find out if you don’t know. You will need it.
The quarterly closing puts any sales closing under pressure
The sales process flow and evolution is independent from the quarterly closing.
So why thy to fit the closing of deals just before the end of the quarterly closing as
required by public traded companies?
Selling under pressure
We all know that if you are pushing the client to sign a contract or purchase order there
are 3 possibilities:
- All ends fine and you close the deal.
- The prospect asks for an additional discount.
- The prospect finds you too pushy and turns away.
- The competitor takes advantage of your situation and exposes more confidence than
you. And gets the deal.
The purchasers know you are under pressure to achieve your target in order to make the
budget and to get your commission. They will take advantage of your awkward situation
and get a better deal for them.
Investment in prospects
After all the investments made and efforts done for:
- Lead generation
- SEO (Search engine Optimization)
- Cold calling
- Sales meetings
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- Price quotes
- and negotiations that have taken several months, the closing of the deal needs to be
achieved under great pressure and high speed.
All just for the sake of the quarterly budget and the quarterly closing.
All the investment made in the prospect is gambled against the quarterly closing.
If there would be no quarterly closing and the budget would not be limited by the quarter,
the revenue of the company would be much higher. Higher revenue means more
earning per share for the investors.
Thus more value for the share holders.
Advantage: Privately owned companies
Not having a quarterly close is an advantage for privately owned companies as their
sales people are not under pressure of the quarterly closing. The sales process can
have its’ natural flow and evolution.
All Board of Directors and shareholders of public traded companies should rethink this
quarterly strategy as in the end they are in the loosing team.
How strong is the pressure exercised on you by your management to close deals
before the end of the quarter?
How many deals slip through, decrease in sales value or are lost because of the
Selling is removing the risks due to change that buying brings
Any change involves risk.
Some people like entrepreneurs will take risks, while other people not.
C-level prefer risk avoidance
Most people at C-level or management level prefer risk-avoidance.
All people are resistant to change, especially those at the top of a company as they have
everything to loose and hardly anything to win.
Any decision that turns out badly can be used against them, what can lead to be
removed from the function at the top of their company.
Selling is identifying the risks
Selling is not only presenting the benefits, functions and features, but mainly removing or
lowering the risks.
Benefits, functions and features are important, but before any decision is being made the
salesman needs to bring information to the table that proves the lowering of risk.
One of the goals of meeting with the customers is to identify the risks and the perceived
risks that the decision makers have about your or similar solutions.
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Although the risks or perceived risks will be similar in many occasions, still you need to
identify them precisely by asking appropriate questions.
Selling is removing the risks
Once the risks known, removing the risks or perceived risks can be achieved by:
- References that are representative to the potential customer or well known brand
- Prove you understand their problems and show how your solutions will solve them.
- Present other bigger risks:
– Ask questions about what would happen if they didn’t implement a new solution.
– Tell them about their competitors moving forward on the solutions you propose.
– Mention if any legal law exists as this is presents a risk too.
What are the risks involved with your solutions for the C-level?
Don’t sell your market leadership – bring them solutions
Don’t try to influence decision makers or purchasers of the importance of your company
as a vendor or your market leading position.
Your market leadership, importance of the company or the importance of the company in
the past doesn’t solve their problem.
Bragging doesn’t solve their problems
Bragging will not sell.
You need to understand their problems and bring solutions.
These solutions preferably include your solutions, but can also not include them if you
don’t have a fit.
The goal is to build a trust relationship between the potential customer and you – the
Trust relationships are not built by bragging.
If during your sales pitch you mainly praise your company for being the best, the most
innovative, the largest in revenue or the market leader, you will probably miss the sale
as these statements have no real value for the potential customer.
The same applies to the company website: it should focus on solving the problems of the
customers, not trumping the market leadership of your company.
Moreover being the market leader implies that it is likely you will:
- Give fewer discounts.
- Have higher prices.
- Not supply additional services for free.
- Give smaller companies with smaller purchase orders less attention.
As you will need less the sales revenue and your company has many larger customers
who require your main attention.
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Your selling point can’t be you importance or market leadership.
Your selling point should fit as a solution to their problem. Sell the benefits of your
What’s your selling point?
Emotional Stages of a Salesman during the Sales Process
During the sales process, the salesman goes through different emotional stages.
When the salesman discovers a suspect that could become a customer he is has some
sensation due to the potential. He is thrilled by the idea.
His action is to start contacting the suspect.
Drink: Soda: just to keep going finding new suspects.
After the initial contact and investigating upon the company, the suspect can be qualified
The problem that the company has can be guessed.
The salesman gets excited of the opportunity.
His action is to nurture the lead with information regarding the problem.
Drink: Latte: in order to keep fit.
The lead starts communicating with the salesman and a meeting is organized.
The need is being defined as a solution to the problem. The prospect becomes qualified.
The salesman becomes optimistic and starts believing in his possible success.
Drink: Coffee: in order to keep going.
After several meetings a quote is requested. The salesman provides the best price in
order to get the deal.
The salesman has the first sign of stress as he needs to write a winning proposal
Drink: Cappuccino: to control the stress.
In business to business all deals require negotiations with one or several meetings.
The salesman gets nervous as he moves further through the sales process to his goal.
This stage can include a trial, which makes him even more nervous as it is beyond his
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Drink: Energy drink: staying alive.
a) Closing sales
During the final meeting after many negotiations and changes to the purchase contract
the deal is closed. The contract or purchase order gets signed.
The salesman is ecstatic as he is one of the Masters of the Universe.
Drink: Champagne (senior sales) or Caipirinha (junior sales): go party
b) Losing the deal
Instead of getting the last meeting for negotiations the competitor is invited.
A few days later the salesman gets the bad news of not being retained as the provider.
The salesman is grieved, depressed or has disbelief.
Drink: Whatever that helps to forget.
What are your emotional stages during the sales process?
Are you in Sales? What’s on your business card?
Long ago Sales was Sales and that was clearly stated on the business card:
- Sales representative
- Sales manager
- VP Sales
Hiding the Sales function
Then companies or was it the people themselves started to hide the real purpose of the
- Business Development Manager/Executive
- Strategic Partnership Manager/Executive
- Branch Manager
- General Manager (of a micro company)
- CEO (of a micro/small company)
- Commercial Lending Manager
- Customer Service Inbound
- Call Centre Operator
- Key Accounts Representative
- Account Manager
- Key Account Manager
- New Business Manager
- New Membership Manager
- Product Manager
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- VP Professional Services
Why lie to potential customers?
Has Sales obtained a bad image?
Are people ashamed of being in Sales?
What’s wrong with being in Sales?
Why hide the real function behind a fancy name?
What impression does it give to your potential customers if you lie upfront about your
function with the function on your business card? Can you and your company still be
It is not because all of your competitors are doing it, you and your company show follow
Be proud of being in Sales
You should be proud being in Sales as selling is the most important function in a
No Sales – No company.
You bring the revenue: the profit center – The others are the cost centers.
Cold calling companies to companies in your market in order to generate leads.
Finding the leads converting into prospects and generating sales.
Once people have become customers, customer retention is required.
All Sales these are activities with the goal to generate revenue.
Selling is probably the most difficult job or function in any company:
- People don’t come to buy automatically
- People don’t just buy it needs convincing.
- Competitors are everywhere.
So be proud of being in Sales and show it.
People might even respect you more as you don’t hide yourself behind a fancy name.
What is on you business card?
The reasons why you sell and close deals in B2B
Ever wondered why B2B salespeople win sales?
According to a survey from CSO Insights salespeople define as their reasons for closing
sales in software sales:
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Marketing messaging is no help
Marketing messaging, account coverage and product availability are scoring the lowest.
That’s bad news for marketing.
The brand equity is important and that can relate to marketing efforts, but it can also be
the brand name that has been build up since many years because of the long market
Contrary what everybody would expect: even pricing is not that important.
Market leaders: easy closing sales
Closing a deal comes down to:
- Product superiority
- Existing relationships
Thus if you are working for a company with the best products, that have acquired good
references and you are since quite a while in the same business, then you will outsell
These 3 have nothing to do with the actual selling or selling skills of the salesman.
Challengers: the sales process – not the pricing
In case you are working for a challenger in the market you might have a superior
product, but you will miss on relationships, references and brand equity.
Thus according to the survey you will need to win by providing the best sales process,
ROI (Return On Investment) and service/support.
However, as your company is lesser well-known in the market, service and support still
needs to be proven.
The good news is that you don’t have to sell on pricing. Thus you are standing a fair
chance with fair prices, not undercutting the market leaders.
Market laggards: the sales process and get references
What if you are working for a market laggard with less great products than the
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challengers, then don’t lower your pricing, but focus on the sales process, provide for
ROI calculation example and get some good references.
If you want to win deals in B2B, don’t hope on marketing messages but provide the best
sales process and do present a ROI calculation in order to help the decision makers. In
many cases they don’t have a clue where to start to make a ROI calculation.
More information about the survey and chart on CSO Insights.
Do you have any other reasons why you closed deals in B2B?
8 Reasons for selling fear of missing opportunity instead of
Giving a discount is not the best tactic for generating sales.
For a start a discount decreases the value and the perceived value of your product or
Once you have started with a discount, the next time the customer expects the discount
to be at least at the same level or higher. This leads only to lower sales prices and thus
Limited package deal: perceived value
By adding on a minor feature, function or an additional device or service the perceived
value of the entire package increases.
It is important to specify the pricing with and without the added item.
The pricing difference doesn’t need to be significant: depending on the additional
offering a 4 to 6% price difference can be enough.
Enough value for money to become a bargain.
The missing opportunity fear: hot deals
In order to sell the fear of missing the opportunity, this package deal should be a limited
- Limited in time
- Limited by quantity: as long as the inventory lasts.
Then the potential customer has the fear of missing the opportunity if he doesn’t decide
Although this is a method used for consumers, it works as well for business purchases.
8 Reasons: Multiple effects and benefits
The method of offering a package deal has several effects and benefits:
1. People are more likely to buy the package deal that has just a slightly higher price tag.
2. People will be inclined to take the decision faster due to the limited offer pressure.
3. People will talk about their purchase (even brag about it) to colleagues: Word of
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4. People will like your solution and possibly buy again: recurring revenue.
5. People get the good bargain empowered feeling.
6. Your total revenue increases.
7. As the customers are used to the additional item, they probably will order and pay for
it the next time.
8. Perceived value is high compared the depreciated perceived value for a discounted
product or service.
The method of offering an additional item, can be even more interesting if the additional
item generates a recurrent revenue stream as it requires to buy consumables from your
Examples: a printer consumes cartridges, a staple machine consumes staples, a call
answering service consumes calls, …
So don’t try to sell or close a deal by giving a discount as they will decrease your
revenue also in the long run.
Give an additional function, feature or an additional device or service at a higher price:
your revenue will increase immediately and also in the long run.
How much discount do you give?
How wrong does giving a discount feel now?
Will you be able to offer a bargain package deal?
How to sell more to a customer? Use the endowment effect
In any sales deal, instead of starting with the minimal or basic configuration for your
products or services, start by proposing the full option or the best complete offering that
includes already several options.
Do explain the benefits and the necessities of the included options.
Make clear this is the best suited and complete package for him.
Then the buyer will:
- Only take out those options that are not relevant to him or his company.
- Only remove those options that make the price exceed the budget.
- Take a faster decision as the package is the best suited for his needs.
Selling more using endowment
People don’t want to give up ownership of something in order not to feel or minimize the
pain that this generates.
This is called the endowment effect by Victor Antonio Gonzalez. People place a higher
value on objects they own than objects that they do not.
Once the sales process has reached final phase, people already imagine they own or
have taken ownership of the solution. From then on they become reluctant to give
something or a part of it up. It will feel like a loss to them.
B2B and budget
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This sales method not only works in consumer business but also in selling to
enterprises. Not all purchases are completely based upon rational facts and figures as
emotion comes into play too.
Moreover if a budget has been set, how would you know the exact amount? You can
extimate the budget or have a best guess. Anything you propose below the budget is
Proposing a complete package deal that is slightly over the budget that you have
estimated will be adjusted by the purchaser to the real budget limit by taking out one or
As such your price will be just under the budget limit, probably offering the best
price/quality, best price/functionality or price/features compared to your competitors.
If the purchaser was looking to buy at the lowest price in the market then this
endowment method will not work.
However as you are the best salesman around, it is your job to convince the buyer the
lowest price is not necessarily the best choice for the company.
If you want to sell more, offer the best suited complete offering.
What did you offer lately?
The Jar of Luck and The Jar of Experience of the Salesman
Any salesman starting in a new business has 2 jars:
- The Jar of Luck
- The Jar of Experience
At the start the Jar of Luck is full, whereas the Jar of Experience is empty.
With every deal won or lost, some experience is added to the Jar of Experience.
Every time the Jar of Luck is being used in order to close a sale, a bit of luck is taken out
of this jar.
It cannot be denied that luck often plays an important role in success. Still all success
will require hard work too.
At one moment in time the Jar of Luck will become empty and then the Salesman needs
to rely solely upon his experience that he has collected over the years in The Jar of
If he hasn’t collected any or little experience he will fail to do business.
Once he starts failing repeatedly, he will get less confidence in his selling skills and his
luck will run out.
Thus don’t use up your Jar of Luck to quickly and build up your experience in order to be
confident and not to run out of luck to early.
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How empty is your Jar of Luck and how full is you Jar of Experience?
What is the best for you: selling the cornerstone or an emerging
All companies have one product or solution that is the cornerstone of their business and
The cornerstone is the product that the company is known for.
As all companies need innovation, your company has also products for an emerging
Thus the company has two distinctive divisions:
- The cornerstone product
- The emerging market product
The cornerstone product: the pressure
In the cornerstone division the product has been on the market since long. It is sold into
a matured market, with several competitors offering a similar product that puts the sales
price under pressure.
Accordingly the gross margin of the business unit will be relatively low thus not much
room for operational expenses or bonuses.
The budgets for:
- Marketing and advertising have been defined based upon the historic data of the
- Sales costs are well know and controlled.
At the same time the lead generation and sales processes have been polished and have
been distributed over several Area Sales Managers, Sales reps and sales assistants.
Your sales commissions will be at a certain level.
No more big expansion to be expected.
Additionally as a Sales Manager or Sales rep you need to achieve sales constantly,
driven by the metrics of the past. Previously other Sales people have proven how “easy”
it was to sell the products or solutions.
Every year your new sales targets will increase compared to last year as the higher level
of sales needs to compensate for the price pressure.
If you don’t reach your target there is no excuse.
This results into no bonus or even getting fired.
Emerging product: the hope for the future
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The expectations are high for several reasons for emerging products are high as:
- The CEO and/or the Board of Directors decided to develop, to market and to sell this
new product for strategic reasons.
- There are opportunities lurking in the market that these new products address, but not
- These new products are exciting, but they just don’t sell.
- The markets have been predicted to become important one of these quarters, but it
isn’t happening yet.
In any case these newly developed very promising products hardly make money or even
create a loss.
However due to all the potential business that these new products hold, it is decided that
more money needs to be spend in Sales and Marketing.
As there are no metrics of the past, the pressure is only to achieve sales: to get a
purchase order. Your budget for expenses is less limited and the sales budget is not well
defined as there is no precedent. There is less pressure for achievement.
In case it was the sole decision of the CEO for developing and starting these new
products, he will need to cover up the costs involved in order to hide his mistake.
Especially in case you don’t make any sales or only minimal sales.
Less pressure on you.
In case you don’t close any deal, you can compare with the competition they are selling
neither. Thus the market has not yet developed: not your fault.
Moreover your base salary will be relatively larger as management knows you will have
problems closing sales and you have fewer chances to earn a bonus.
In case you would achieve a large sale then your bonus will become significant
compared to your base salary.
So what division would you like to work?
Engage into a conversation instead of questioning before the
Have you ever listened to your leads, prospects or customers?
Just the answers to your questions?
Or engaged into a real conversation?
Many sales people assume things or the problem to solve based on:
- Their first impressions of company
- Their first impression of the people
- Received or perceived verbal indications
- Partly or briefly answered questions not covering the complete story.
Then they start to pitch: as if the main goal is presenting the sales pitch.
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Conversation instead of questioning
Maybe just asking open ended questions and listening is not enough as only during a
conversation the full picture of the situation or problems to solve will emerge.
During a conversation people will always tell more than what they wanted or were
allowed to tell.
If they only answer your questions briefly, you will never know if you are addressing the
real problem with your solution. There is no conversation.
Still the main problem is how to engage the lead, prospect or customer into a real
- This can take time in order to build trust.
- This can require finding the right attitude.
- This can require finding the appropriate subject.
- This can require winning their sympathy
The person you are talking to should open up and get engaged in a conversation.
Posing open ended questions can help, but you both need to break the ice in order for
him to tell more than the answers to the questions.
Asking questions is just like fishing for clues.
The reason, origin of the problem or the problem itself can be beyond your imagination:
thus beyond your questions.
How long or how many questions does it take before you start to pitch?
How do you break the ice and engage your prospect into a conversation?
Increase sales by just following-up on emails and calls
How fast do you follow-up on an email? On a telephone call? On faxes or letters? On
Same work day?
Within 24 hours?
Within a week?
Or never? Like many companies.
Large and small companies have all the same problem: no following-up.
Maybe sole-traders or micro companies do a better job.
Do you track how well you follow-up?
If not, you probably don’t know how good or bad your company is following-up on
emails, calls, faxes and letters.
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Who follows-up on inquiries by your sales leads and opportunities?
Who follows-up on messages of your customers?
Who follows-up on incoming phone calls?
Who follows-up on emails?
Who follows-up on web forms?
Who follows-up on faxes?
Who follows-up on letters? (if still any)
Who follows-up on web seminars?
If you don’t know: it is time to act and to implement a procedure in your company.
What’s wrong with following-up?
Seems like people don’t want to be doing this as it is too easy? Not challenging enough?
People pose difficult or different questions that need to be answered with attention and
care as no standard answer applies.
Or are we all in the opinion the leads, prospects or interested parties should find
themselves the answers on the company website?
Increase your sales
In order to increase your sales, just follow-up systematically.
Auto-responders are not the right remedy as they create even more false expectations
for the prospect or customer if you don’t answer afterwards.
Just follow-up and increase your sales as it requires effort of your lead or an interested
party to try to contact your company and pose questions.
Your prospect or the interested party went through the effort of:
- Taking the time to try to understand your offering.
- Finding the contact data or online contact form.
- Writing a few lines or formulate questions.
It is as if they are almost ready to become a customer, but need:
- A final information
- A personal answer
- A convincing fact
- Or a “gift” from you.
The “gift” could just be your personal attention, your persuasion or an additional
You can only find out by replying to them and ask.
Increase your sales: now or later
Whatever situation: follow-up and increase your sales.
If you don’t succeed in winning the lead as customer for now, he will at least have a
positive impression from your company as you have answered him quickly and with
He might/will consider you on a next occasion or suggest your solution to a relation.
How good are you at following-up?
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The hardest thing to say to a customer is: “No”
It is just so easy to say “Yes” upon all questions of your potential customer as you have
been working and have put in effort since long.
On the other hand it takes courage to say: “No” as this might kill your sales instantly.
Not feasible obligations
Saying “Yes” implies an obligation or obligations that you or your company need to
Obligations that might not even be feasible.
If you have said “Yes” and it is not feasible then you can:
- Try to explain to your prospect the complete picture.
- Pass on the problem to engineering, development, production or logistics: thus it
becomes their problem.
- Still tell the customer it is not feasible and negotiate a different conditions.
In any case the costs involved for changing your “Yes” with all the false promises into
“No”, will probably costs the company more than immediately telling the truth. Moreover
your company can lose its’ image.
The power of “No”
Telling immediately “No” requires:
- The right sales skills for explaining and convincing
- The conviction in your products and solutions
Recognized market leadership can help a lot in these cases.
If you succeed in saying “No” then you have power and are leading the sales process.
It’s the power of “No”.
Actually buyers and decision makers might just like your honesty.
How hard is it for you to say “No” during a sales process?
When the deal is lost, only then the real selling starts
The complex sales process
Every sale goes through a sales process: longer or shorter depending on your products.
The complex sales process involves telephone conversations, organizing web seminars,
email inquiries for information, replying questions and more questions, sending
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documentation on features and functions, explaining benefits, set up meetings, make
price quotes, circumventing challenging propositions of competitors.
Although very different in all cases, still there are patterns and similarities in all sales
The Lost Deal
If you don’t get invited for further meetings and price or specific negotiations which will
lead to “Close the Sale”, you probably won’t hear from the prospect for a while.
- You call him in order to find out about the progress or what is hampering or delaying
- Unannounced you get the message: “We have chosen for a different vendor”.
In both cases you just have lost the deal!
If you hang up or don’t reply the email immediately, then you are probably bringing to an
end all conversations. In that case you are sure to have lost the deal.
If you don’t investigate, you will never know why you have lost the deal.
Start inquiring and investigating with the appropriate questions in order to find out more.
As a first you need to know who has on the deal.
This information the prospect should tell you or confirm you (as you could should know
the winning competitor).
Even though people don’t want to tell anything, if you can have a conversation by being
gentle and pose some open ended questions people will tell you something: more than
they want to tell.
Now you will need your sales skills.
In a complex sale, there are several people involved. You can contact each of them.
The more people, the more talking, the more clues: thus a higher chance to get
information from the prospects’ side.
Moreover as several people are involved in the decision making, there will be always
people who do not agree with the decision. They will tell more or describe the reasons
for the decision. You will probably know who was on your side.
The official reasons and the reasons given in confidence should give you a clue what
action or proposition to take next.
The loss is higher than the lost deal
If you give up now, the investment made by your company in this sales process is a
complete loss as it adds up:
- Not getting the sale is less revenue to support the operational costs of the company
- Complex sales process investment is lost
- Making the competition stronger in the market
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The costs involved are not to be under estimated. The losses neither.
What do you do in case you have lost a sale?
Investigate and report or forget all about it immediately?
The Raiders of the Lost Deal – the selling starts when the deal is
lost (Part 2)
When the deal is lost, then the real selling starts after you have investigated in order to
find out the real, the good or the bad reasons why you have lost the deal.
Now you can decide to:
- Forget about the deal
- Counterattack as a Raider of the Lost Deal.
The altered proposition
The only way to turn this around is to make a better or more suited proposition based
upon the information received or collected from several sources n the company?
This proposition can be:
- A lower pricing
- Different pricing model: renting or leasing instead of buying
- More services for the same price (not a good idea)
- Higher service level
- Better product or solution
- Lesser quality product or solution
- Limiting the number of function or features (if possible)
- Extending the contract duration
- Shortening the contract duration
- Larger quantity over a longer time span
- Older model or type of product
Anything or any conversation or any threat, that can help to get the sales in order to
generate revenue, recoup the investment of the sales process, and keep the competitor
from scoring is good enough.
This is the real selling requiring your sales skills.
The 5 advantages after losing the deal
As you have lost the deal and know the reasons, you have four advantages:
1. You have nothing to loose as the deal is lost already.
2. The winning competitor is not expecting new challenges: thus you might take him by
3. Decision makers may have overlooked important facts and benefits that have been
revealed by your source.
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4. After the closing the deal, some negative facts previously not known can be revealed
by the salesman or vendor.
5. Although the decision has been taken, nobody is completely satisfied.
Thus time to start selling in your best manner.
Even if you make only a small profit, you don’t have the loss of the sales process costs,
which represents a big difference in operating income.
Are you a Raider of the Lost Deals?
The 14 facts the callee wants to know from the cold caller
Cold calls: interrupting and disrupting
Cold calls are intrusive and obstruct the normal day workflow.
Thus in most cases people are not interested in your call.
Callees don’t want to get cold called as it disrupts their working day and can confront
them with a dilemma they don’t want to decide upon.
Many of the incoming calls are cold calls: up to 50% depending on your function.
Customers normally don’t call – Sales men do call.
The callee perspective
As a cold caller you should be able to place yourself into the position of the callee.
The callee should be able before the sales pitch starts, to state the moment is not
What does the callee want and needs to know?
1. If he recognizes the company name
2. If he recognizes the products or services
3. If there is a mutual acquaintance or a connection
4. If the product or service offered could match his responsibility
5. If not responsible if it is worthwhile to pass on to the responsible
6. If there is a reference customer that he knows
7. If there is a benefit for him included
8. If there is a benefit for the company
9. If there is a big disadvantage or risk involved
10. If it concerns an innovation or a novelty
11. If there is a catch in your proposition
12. If he can sell it internally to his management
13. If it is a waste of time already
14. If he is the first to be contacted or not
The order of importance of these matters is different from callee to callee.
Every person in a company is in a different situation related to work, home, family and
friends. All these influences and sentiments do influence his decision.
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You cannot know all, but the more you know the better you can ask questions and
present your proposition.
The prepared sales pitch
In any case as your time during the introduction is limited, you need to get to the point
After stating clearly the company name, the connection or acquaintance and the product
name is required for reference and then the compelling reason as the callee need to
connect with it.
During these initial moments of the conversation, the callee makes his first decision:
reject or not.
In case of rejection, you still have a little chance to persuade the callee using solid
benefits for him or his company.
In order to pass this second chance, you need to know as much as possible about the
company and the person you are calling in order to ask the best suited questions and to
make the most appropriate proposition. The available information on the Internet about
the company, competitors and the callee can help a lot.
You need to know the perspective of the callee in order to have a successful cold call.
The web service LEADSExplorer will help in this matters as you will know his interest
and you are able to retrieve Internet information at a click of a button.
What do you know of a callee before you make the call?
How do you prepare your cold call?
You talk too much: shut up and listen to your prospect
As Drew McLellan indicates the #1 reason why your prospect said ‘no sale’ is because
of you talk too much during sales calls and meetings. It is in 38% of the cases according
to the How Clients Buy: 2009 Benchmark Report.
As a Salesman you should listen to your prospect. The prospect has a problem to solve
and will hand over information that you can use during the sales process and in the
sales process with other clients.
If you listen you have a 55% chance of winning the deal.
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In most cases people will tell more than what they want to tell. Even if you don’t ask
questions, they will tell you about matters and events, they shouldn’t be telling you.
Open ended questions
In case there is a silent space, don’t jump in with a stupid question or a wrong statement.
Take your time, maybe he starts talking again first.
If not keep him talking with a short open ended question.
Thus instead of talking and turning your conversation into a series of sales pitches, let
Use the information obtained to:
- Support your solutions that your are trying to sell
- Change the proposed solution as you find out the company needs something different.
- Get a better impression and knowledge about the company you are going to sell to.
- Qualify the company even better.
Leads to understand needs
This will help you to overcome the third reason:
“Did not understand my needs” (30%)
Of course you need to answer in a timely manner (reason #2 – 30%)
Although it seems simple and obvious to listen; still it is hard to do during a meeting or
telephone call as you are eager to convince your prospect.
How much do you talk during a meeting or a telephone call?
Are you capable of asking open ended questions?
Customer Relation Management or Control Reps Manager?
Is your VP sales or Sales Manager using the CRM for improving the relationship with the
customers or for controlling the sales reps in the company?
The CRM as Control Representatives Manager
This is one of the major problems of a CRM.
The people deciding to implement are the managers or the C-level officers of a
company. The goal of the CRM is to improve customer relation in order to increase
sales, lower sales costs, thus maximize profits.
At start their intentions might be good, but as soon as they get their grips on the CRM
and get acquainted using the reports, then they will turn the CRM intended for improving
the customer relation into a control system for sales representatives: Control Reps
Sales reps and Salesmen will be required to enter all their customers, leads, contacts, all
their meeting reports, all their planned meetings, the potential deals and the chances of
getting those deals.
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Thus the more data the Sales reps and men enter into the CRM, the more control the
Sales Manager or VP Sales will have over them as they know about all contacts,
communications, meetings and price quotes.
In case of a Control Management Reps system, there is no single good reason why a
Sales rep. should enter all his data into the CRM system. All the effort that has gone into
the CRM, will work against him and even his future.
The CRM as sales tool
A CRM should be used for lead generation and customer retention, not for management
A CRM should be a source of information for the entire Sales team in order to acquire as
many customers as possible and to retain as many customers as possible.
In order to have successful CRM system, C-level officers and management will need to
change and thus no longer use the CRM as a Control (Sales) Reps Manager tool.
Then full collaboration from Salesmen and Sales reps can be expected.
What’s the purpose of the CRM in your company?
Every benefit has a downside too
Just like Yin and Yang
For every advantage there is a disadvantage.
For every benefit there is a drawback or a downside.
Although most advantages and benefits come at a premium price for the customer, the
disadvantage or the drawback is not always the higher price.
This can be a higher complexity for more functions or more specific features.
It can be easier access but higher security risks.
A better mileage but less performance or volume.
Not in all cases the downsides are obvious or evident.
Selling with or without drawbacks?
During your sales pitch do you hide the disadvantages or drawbacks?
Or do you mention them specifically in order to create trust with your potential customer?
This comes down to what is worth the most for you:
Selling the benefits at any cost or selling the best suited solution to the customer in order
to have a satisfied customer that is likely to return for an subsequent purchase?
What’s your game?
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Reaching your potential customers through their trusted party
Reaching decision makers in companies
The decision makers of companies in some market niches are difficult to reach.
As an example: small conventional businesses that have been in business since long.
- Their ongoing business since long.
- No direct or immediate reason for change.
As long as there are no new entrants in their market that challenges them, it will be
difficult to create interest for your new products or solutions.
Instead of addressing these entrepreneurs and founders directly, it might be easier to
use their trusted parties.
a) The accountant
All these smaller businesses have an external (chartered) accountant for keeping the
books and to make the year-end financial statement. This is their trusted party.
The accountant will warn for dangers or problems ahead: from financial, to tax to
The advice of the accountant is trustworthy.
Thus influencing the accountant could be the key in your marketing.
b) The computer dealer
The same trusted party label could apply for the local computer dealer that installs and
maintains the network and remote access for small businesses. These people have
certainly influence on their customers as they too deliver an important service for the
If you can reach out to their trusted party and create interest you stand a chance of
generating interest for your products or solutions.
The trusted party will offer advice to their customers if they see a benefit for themselves
or feel they need to help the entrepreneur-client with the survival or growth of the
company. In both cases: a direct benefit for the trusted party.
Convincing the trusted party
Now the problem has moved to addressing and influencing the trusted party:
- The best is if one of his customers actually uses your products or solutions and sees
- In case the legislation changes, informing the accountants or computer dealers that
your solutions will solve the problems created by the changes.
- Sell the revenue or profit benefit for the trusted party involved.
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- In all other cases, you need to come up with a compelling reason to get the attention
from the trusted party.
Have you been selling using a trusted party of your customer?
Who was their trusted party?
Improve your sales success by preparing your cold call
Rather often we get a proposition of a web services company for increasing our SEO
(Search Engine Optimization).
That’s an interesting proposition as improving the SEO of our website will generate more
visitors, which could increase the number of leads, that could become customers.
However when we lookup these companies on Alexa or Compete in order to know the
number of visitors of their websites, they rank significantly lower than ours. Not exactly a
proof of their competence.
So maybe we should help them to increase their SEO instead?
Preparation equals success
As a salesman you should normally inform and prepare about your target customer in
order to address him with the appropriate solutions to his problems.
This is of course time consuming and seemingly non-productive.
However your CRM system should assist you in this inquiry process that involves mainly
retrieving data from many sources on the Internet.
Sources about: the company, the funding, their industry, their business, their products or
solutions and the people.
This preparation will increase your chances on success significantly as:
- It can become obvious the target customer is not suited for your solutions: thus stop
wasting your time.
- You have more data to qualify the lead.
- You obtain insight in the situation and problems allowing presenting the best solution
Your investigation is half the work for success, saving you even more time in the sales
Do you investigate first or do you address whoever?
Does your CRM help you with this Internet Data Mining?
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What to do when most attendees on a conference are vendors?
Missing lead generation opportunities
The goal of a conference or event is to encounter potential customers and get their
attention in order to create interest in your products or solutions. The pure lead
Have you ever been to events or conferences where most of the attendees are vendors
Thus for every potential client there are at least two vendors.
Competition is fierce just to get talking to one (none vendor) attendee.
Moreover these people don’t want to talk to yet another vendor as they are attending the
conference for the speakers and to meet colleagues from other companies.
Thus you find yourself stuck for one or two days on this conference far away from the
office and home!
What do you do during the conference?
- Socialize with the other sales people in order to find out if there are opportunities for a
- Brag and boast about your gadgets (iPhone) and company car to impress the other
- Play games on your mobile until your battery runs out?
- Call your wife several times until she hangs up as you are complaining too much?
- Chat with the much too young hostesses for your age?
- Write Tweets (Twitter) on your mobile about conferences where most attendees are
- Run away? Going shopping or site seeing.
- Get drunk in the bar of the hotel?
These are all egocentric actions: me, myself and I.
Probably not so good for your image in your industry.
Use the lost 2-day conference time by:
- Make the best out of the situation by trying to speak to some of the attendees?
- Ask intelligent questions at the end of each presentation stating clearly your company
- Steal the attendees list from the registration desk when nobody is watching?
- Calling upon customers and prospects?
- Socialize with the other vendors in order to get into partnerships?
- Chat with the other vendors in order to find out about their business?
- Calling colleagues in the office in order to find out if you can help?
- Prepare email replies on your off-line portable computer?
- Reply emails on your portable computer using wifi paying for the connection?
- Composing and editing quotations you had planned to make over the next weekend?
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- Take the next plane back home (on your expenses)?
These are actions for the benefit of your business.
Are conferences still worth attending for lead generation?
How many of these overpopulated vendor conferences do you attend each year?
What do you do on such an event?
The top 24 facts for selling more in B2B
You need more sales for your B2B business.
Facts on selling
1. People buy not companies
No company will ever buy. The decision makers in the companies are the ones that buy.
2. Sales and need fit together
If there is no need then you can’t sell. You shouldn’t fool the buyer as he won’t buy the
Selling isn’t manipulative. You cannot influence someone to buy without a need.
3. You can learn to sell
There are people who are gifted with a selling ability.
However the best sales people admit they have learned to sell.
It is a skill.
4. Sell the product, solution or service – not yourself
Don’t try to sell yourself, as in the end the potential customer needs to buy the product or
solution. You are not to be sold.
You need to identify their needs or problems and present a feasible and affordable
5. Trust is required
In order to sell a product, solution, or a service there has to be trust.
- Trust that marketing has build for you
- Trust that has been acquired on previous occasions
- Trust that has been given by references
- Trust that you have build with the potential customer, which is the best and most
difficult to achieve.
6. You need to sell a product or solution – nothing sells itself
Maybe in some unique cases if you have a monopoly or a very unique product, then the
products might sell itself.
However in 99.9% of all business, you will have to sell the product or solution by
showing how it solves the problem and the benefits provided.
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7. Avoid rejection by qualifying your leads
Sales people have fear of rejection during the sales process.
You need to believe in the fact that you stand good chances of selling to the prospect.
If not then you or the marketing department have qualified the lead wrongly.
8. The combination of price, quality, service and reputation
Decisions are not solely made on price, but quality, service and reputation count also.
Else companies would just try to sell at lower prices in order to get any deal.
9. Quality of contacts
It is not the increased efforts for getting more contacts, but the effort of getting the best
contacts that will increase your sales.
Selling is not a numbers game, but a search for quality of your contacts and addressing
them with the appropriate message.
10. The conversation
Having a lot of contacts, telephone calls, email exchanges and meetings with potential
customers is not the best approach.
It is better to have a real conversation, being able to question and to listen to your
potential customer using the previously gathered information.
The goal is to understand his problems, propose an adequate solution.
You will be building trust at the same time if you have paid enough attention and had
11. Objections are the best clues
You better know about the objections a soon as possible in order to evaluate them in
order to make the decision: stop or continue.
Obtaining the objection has two advantages:
- If the objections are too high or too deep rooted then stop.
You can avoid spending too much time and effort on a lead that never will become a
- If the objections can be removed, they can be turned around into benefits for you.
So instead of avoiding and running away from objections, listen to their objections, try to
handle and resolve them.
12. Be confident
If you aren’t confident about yourself, you will not sell. It’s that simple.
If you don’t believe in your products or solutions, how can the potential customer believe
He will not trust you.
In the end he has to take the plunge and stick out his neck, then sign the purchase
Thus he needs to have faith in you and the product or solution.
13. Don’t be utterly confident
If you are too confident, the buyer or decision maker might not like you.
He can expect you are hiding something for him.
Then you will fail.
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14. Know the decision maker
You should know who is the decision maker and the influencer.
Avoid those who have knowledge but no decision power or influencing power as they will
Read: Selling to the VITO of Anthony Parinello. Although this book and concept dates
from 1995, it is still applicable to many companies.
15. Acquiring a customer costs more than retaining
Although lead generation and acquiring customers seems more thrilling and promising,
getting customers to repurchase is much more profitable.
Retaining by nurturing your existing customers is a must.
16. Urgency or priority
You need to know the urgency or priority of the decision required for the purchase.
Focus on those companies with a high urgency for a solution.
17. Know offering of the competitors
You need to know the competitors working on the same company.
If you know the benefits of the products or solutions of your competitors fighting for the
same deal, try to estimate their chances of winning.
If they can offer a better price/(solution + benefits) for the customer, then move on to the
next potential customer as chances are high your solution will not be selected as theirs
is a better fit.
18. The entire company is in Sales
All personnel is in Sales – not just the sales team and the salesmen.
Many employees and managers consider themselves not to be in Sales.
However all people involved and being paid by the company are in Sales.
All actions, conversations and writings of the employees are somehow related to selling:
be it during work or during spare-time.
19. Never lie or cheat
You can adjust the truth to the situation of the potential customer, but you cannot lie
about the ability, the functions, features or benefits of you proposed solution or product.
Once you or your company has acquired a bad name, it will travel faster than your
marketing can ever catch up with and will cost years to repair.
20. Know the budget early in the process
If you keep putting in efforts for selling your product or solution and you don’t know the
budget, it can be a complete waste of time if the budget is much lower than the cost of
your proposed solution.
Make sure you know the budget during the initial conversations.
21. Propose a limited number of options
If you want to confuse your potential customer then give him many options. He will then
probably choose for your competitor.
Instead give him the best 2 or 3 suited solutions for his problem or need, clearly stating
the differences. He will be thankful that you have understood the problem.
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22. Reach out early in the buying process
The earlier you can be part of the buying process the better. The best is even to be the
first as all other solutions will be compared with yours.
The earliest sign of a purchase interest is probably on your website. Although the
potential buyer will not present or address to you, you need to know who is visiting your
website by their company name.
Don’t push – don’t rush – be patient.
Don’t limit the buyer to certain time frame.
Don’t put a due date in place even you offer a bargain.
It will only make you look cheap and looking for a quick deal.
Patience is what you need in B2B Sales as in most cases it is a complex sales.
24. Sales is the driver of your company
No sales, no invoices, no revenue.
Thus selling is probably the most important action for the entire enterprise.
Thus if you need help, all should help you.
Even the CEO or Board of Directors should, if they can reach out to the decision makers
and influence them.
All possible sales in B2B (and even in retail for higher priced consumer goods)
The Origin of Salesmen Species – not by Darwin
Charles Darwin presented “The Origin of Species” 150 years ago, which we freely have
adapted for a similar theory:
“The Origin of Sales Species”
1. Variation under Domestication
The differences in markets imply that salesmen need to adapt themselves to the
environment both cultural and social they are in.
This brings variation in the sales people in different markets and geographies.
The conditions of life are the most important factor causing variability.
2. Variation under Nature
Degraded species are sometimes the best adapted to certain environments thus
generating different varieties.
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The best adapted species will flourish in their environment: geography or business, in
which they will expand their success.
Not all Salesmen will sell equally well in all markets.
3. Struggle for Existence
Species of salesmen become grouped into different kinds: door-to-door salesmen, used-
car salesmen, travelling salesman, account manager, B2B salesman.
Each of them the best adapted to the market they address and sell to.
4. Natural Selection
If sales people don’t adjust their manners and action to their market, they will not
They will keep on struggling for survival as the supply of customers is limited.
Salesmen not adapted to their market both culturally and socially with appropriate
attitude will become extinct species.
Those who are not successful will become extinct and will need to seek other business
or a different employ.
Salesmen who are able to adapt to changing environments or markets will stay into
This is the survival of the fittest salesmen: people will fight to survive and to decrease
the success of their competitors.
The natural selection acts as an agent of evolution. May the best salespeople win and
For any market a different type of salesman applies, still all salesmen have the same
drive that is to sell and bring profit to the company they work for.
Thus if you feel you are not doing well or not successful as Salesman in your
current business, look for changing to another market or business in order to
Stop wasting time by blind Cold Calling – Call interested parties
Blind cold calling generates rejection fear
In this time of recession and thus less sales, your sales manager will urge his sales team
to start cold calling just in the hope to generate leads and eventually Sales. More Sales.
However cold calling is not about quantity, but about quality. Cold calling entire
directories or lists is like calling blindfolded. Probably not the right method as some form
of qualification is required before you call, which is not possible as your call is just to
investigate if there is any interest.
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In his Bold Approach Method blog, Dave Lakhani expresses his feelings about pointless
cold calling after being called.
- No qualification of the called people
- Wasted time of the called
- Wasted time of the salesman
- Sticking to the script whatsoever
- No conversation
His advice is:
- Get an introduction
- Get a referral
- Get them to want to talk to you
All good but that’s applicable when the business is running fine.
If you are under pressure and lacking sales (or leads) people act differently.
Blind Cold Calling will give you a high rejection rate. This creates the rejection fear,
which grows with every rejection.
You will become negative in your voice and conversation style.
Getting even more rejections.
Cold call warm companies: less or no rejection fear
Much time and effort has been invested in the website which generates traffic.
Normally most of them are interested parties.
On 100 visitors on your company website, only 2 or 3 will ever:
- Contact the company by email
- Complete a contact form
- Download a white paper after registration
You are able to contact 3 raw leads by email or telephone.
Thus the 97 other visitors will leave without you having the chance to contact them ever
If you would use a Lead Generation and Management web service solution like
LEADSExplorer that reveals the company names of your website visitors, which you
qualify by the pages visited, the time on pages and the search terms used, then you will
be able to cold call on warm companies.
Much more effective.
Wasting less time for your self and being more effective.
Takes way the rejection fear of cold calling, as you will be calling on interested parties.
Thus the next time you need to cold call, get the company names of the website visitors
for lead generation.
Does “Cold Calling on Warm Companies” sounds good for you?
This takes away the rejection fear cold calling.
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Who do you cold call? The Manager or the CEO?
Cold calling vs products or solutions
After carefully selecting a company as target the next action is cold calling.
In order to generate leads, you can try to call anyone in this organization: from
employees, to managers to the CEO.
Much depends on what you are selling:
o Short terms:
– Temporary workforce
o Long terms:
– Investment good
– Durable products
– High level management consulting
If you are selling “Short terms”, then addressing middle management is the best solution.
If you would contact the CEO, you will probably not being able to get him on the phone
or you might even run into problems as he could ban your company from the vendor list.
If you have “Long terms” to sell, then the higher you can enter the organization the more
likely impact you will have. “Long terms” appeal to the CEO and can be important for the
near future of the company (and influence his own income).
A problem arises when you are selling goods or services that are not really consumables
or not really durable products, like consulting, production materials, production facility or
Goods and services that the department manager can’t decide on alone, however these
are not interesting or not significant enough for the CEO or COO or CFO.
Thus you probably need to address the middle manager first.
Cold calling vs size of company
In large international companies, you are likely to call the appropriate middle manager.
The smaller the company is, the more the CEO (founder) is involved in day-to-day
decisions. Thus the more interest he will show for the “Short term” goods and services.
Especially in the case of the CEO being the founder, they are very interested in every
purchase that is going to be made. In many cases these founders still consider spending
the money of the company like spending their own money. Thus they want every dime
well spend or invested.
Cold calling vs industry
Depending on the margins and the profits a company can make in a certain industry, the
CEO will be more or less price conscious.
If the margins are high, there is little competition. The focus is not on keeping gross
margin costs or operation expenses low, but on closing more deals or optimizing the use
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of the available capacity (people or machines). There will be little interest from the CEO
as he has other problems to decide upon than spending. Thus you call the middle
manager or COO.
If the margins are narrow the company is in a very competing market, thus production
and manufacturing costs and expenses need to be under control. The CEO might want
to get involved in every larger purchase as the purchase order might even carry his
signature. Thus you better call as without his decision nothing will be decided, even if the
company is significant in size.
Thus all depends on what type, size and market of company you are addressing.
So who do you call? (Not Ghostbusters)
What to ask on a trade show in order to start a conversation
No interest in your trade show booth
Although this is a blog about online sales and marketing, all sales people will end up one
day on a trade show booth.
Many visitors pass by and only a minority will address to you or show any sign of
As the goal of any trade show is lead generation and customer retention, you are not
achieving any of these goals. Even though there must be several potential customers
amongst the people in the passing crowd there is no interest.
Maybe it is the booth or the messaging on the booth or the location or the booth of the
competitor or the hostesses on the booth in front. Whatever!
In any case if you don’t start acting, you are wasting your time and the investment of
your company in the trade show is wasted.
Some people start replying their emails on their portable others start calling with their
mobile phones. Seen the cost of the trade show this will only increase the loss.
What not to ask:
- “What are you looking for?”
- “Do you need help?”
- “Can I help you?”
- “Do you want a coffee?”
- “Do you want to drink something?”
- “Do you want to see a demo?”
Using these questions, the chance of getting into an interesting conversation is minimal
as in most cases people will say “No thanks” or ignore you.
Even if they say yes, then the problem remains as you have asked something to engage
into a conversation.
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Also handing out freebees will not get you into a conversation and the freebees cost
What could you do:
First: Look for eye contact with someone passing by.
Then: Ask: “Do you know what we sell?”
Then there are 4 possibilities:
1. No response at all
Let it be. Let him go.
There are enough other people to address to.
Moreover chances are he will be back later as he remembers you.
Thus the visitor clearly doesn’t know.
Then you have the chance to have a 20 seconds sales pitch:
- The main problem that your solution is solving with the hope he recognizes the
- The concept or approach of the solution.
Even you have very little time, speak at a normal speed and only promote one or two
In most cases you have started a conversation, still you need to get the person engaged
into the conversation, thus the need to ask an open ended question.
“Do you face similar problems in your business?”
“What do you currently use as solution?”
3. “Yes” with correct description or positioning in the market
Then you can ask:
“How come you know so much about it?”
“Where did you get the knowledge?”
“How come you have so much knowledge about our solution?”
“Do you have experience with these solutions?”
As these are open ended questions that include an appreciation, the person will
probably start to explain briefly.
You have engaged him into a conversation.
4. “Yes” with a wrong problem or the wrong solution
You have the chance to explain that:
- The problem your solution solves is different.
- The concept of solving the problem is different.
You can ask “Why he was thinking differently”.
Again you are getting into a conversation, but you need to get the person to respond and
further engage into the conversation, thus the need to ask an open ended question.
“Do you face similar problems in your business?”
“What do you currently use as solution?”
Of course this questioning method doesn’t always work, and is not applicable for all
products or solutions, but it can be applied in many cases on B2B trade shows. And it
keeps you busy watching and evaluating the visitors.
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As this is not the sole method to approach the visitors, what do you use for
engaging into a conversation?
Most important in complex B2B sales: Branding or Salesman?
Branding in B2C or B2B sales
In Business to Consumer product branding is utmost important as people have a wide
choice of products in the shopping mall or the large department store. The branding
helps to decide because of the trust that has been build and the name recognition.
In Business-to-Business sales the corporate branding has influence for regular or
frequently bought products as the brand name stands for quality and service level.
Corporate branding has even more importance if it concerns catalog products as the
brand name will let the products stand out. People will choose a familiar name from a
catalog or online.
Branding in Complex B2B sales?
However for the complex B2B sales, product branding exists rarely and corporate
branding is only feasible for the very large players: like IBM, HP, SUN Systems, Citrix,
Small companies don’t stand a chance to get any recognition even if they spend a
relatively large budget on corporate branding.
In complex B2B sales product branding is very difficult as the products are rather unique
and sold in limited quantities. Some large international corporations are capable of
branding their products effectively: IBM Tivoli, Microsoft Office, Blackberry (RIM), Boeing
And in many cases the company name is also the product name: Salesforce.com, SAP
This corporate branding will give the Sales teams support during their sales cycle by the
trust it has build over the years of branding.
Importance salesman skills
Still in the complex sales, the proposed solution and the skills of the salesman (and his
sales team) are more important.
The prospect needs to become convinced the salesman provide the best solution and
the best opportunity for the company.
The salesman plays an important role in the buying process and the final decision. The
better he has listened and defined the problem, the more likely he has proposed the best
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In the end at the moment of the decision, all the advertising, trade show sponsoring or
conference pitches have lesser impact compared to the skills and the relationship build
by the salesman and his sales team.
The branding helps in B2B Complex Sales, especially in order to get selected onto the
vendor list. However it has less importance and influence once the buying process has
The Sales team or Salesman are then the most important and of course the quality
and/or benefits of the solutions.
Does your company have a strong branding or do you have to make the
Top 25 warning signs of losing a sales deal in B2B
During any sales process in Business-to-Business there are warning signs or situations
that indicate it is becoming clear you are losing the sales deal.
1. Craving information instead of explaining about their problem.
2. Receiving additional information late in the sales process.
3. Pushing to get price estimate during first meeting or first phone cal without discussing
4. No progress is being made whatsoever after several meetings and conference calls.
5. Getting stuck with mid-level managers, taking no action to involve upper
6. Not able to reach the decision makers who never have participate in a meeting or
7. Comparing and matching your solution with the one from one specific competitor.
8. Specifications from the product sheet of your competitor.
9. The benefits of your solution are considered less important than any of the
10. Receiving the price quote request or RFP shortly before due date (almost too late).
11. Having a meeting where no new information comes to the table.
12. The influencer or decision maker is excused again for not participating in a meeting
or conference call.
13. Noticing they haven’t read or investigated in any of the information you provided.
14. Changing the requirement half way through the sales process (matching the
15. The influencer wearing a T-shirt of the competitor.
16. Having to explain again the benefits which they don’t seem to get.
17. Never having any call returned if they are not present.
18. The PA of the buyer or the PA of the decision maker asking to spell again your
company name on the phone.
19. Noticing the influencer or decision maker in a meeting on the booth of the
20. On a trade show: the decision maker or influencer is hardly greeting you, not
stopping to visit your booth.
21. The influencer and decision maker arrive late and leave early on meetings for
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22. People asking the obvious again and again.
23. Conclusion of a meeting that the all-important people have no time for this.
24. Getting meetings postponed many times in a row.
25. Noticing your competitor with the CEO or COO or VP Sales in the lobby of the
company, while you are waiting
for a meeting with a manager.
If you notice one or several of these indications, it’s up to you to decide:
To continue or to stop selling to this customer.
Maybe it is better to focus on the next opportunity with:
- another potential customer.
- this company again on a next project.
What are your warning indications for losing a sales deal in B2B?
What do you do then?
Killing your sales with a Product Overview Comparison Chart
The Product Overview Comparison Chart
Marketing or Product Management spends a lot of time and effort compiling a Product
Overview Sheet that allows comparing all of your products or solutions at one glance in
order to state clearly all the features, functions and benefits of all products.
At first this seems to be a great tool for selling as you can:
- Inform the potential customer about all possible products
- Offer all possibilities to the potential customer
- Make sure no single solution is overlooked
- Proof the company has wide range of products
- Too much data to absorb by the potential customer: People will remember 3 things
- Too much distraction of competing and similar products: “What’s this?”
- Too much possibility to raise interesting questions about the not suited products: “Why
you need this?”
- Too much time to explain by the sales reps: “The seventh product is for …”
- Too much choice to choose from: “We like products 2 – 5 – 9 and 3″
In the end the potential customer is overwhelmed by the information but hasn’t got a
The big product overview has the potential customer confused and he doesn’t know
anymore about the features, benefits and reasons to buy.
They will probably select a different vendor that proposes the best suited solution as
their salesman have extensively inquired, defined the problem and clarified the benefits
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88. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales
of their best suited solution.
Less is more.
The added value of the sales rep.
Using the Product Overview Comparison Chart the role of the sales rep. is reduced to
send or bring the comparison sheet and walk through the different options and
However the sales rep. has a different role:
- To listen to the potential customer
- To asses the problem(s)
- To define possible solutions
- To present one best solution accompanied by one or two alternatives.
This is where sales rep. are:
- Bringing additional value for the potential customer.
- Limiting the choice to a limited number of products or solutions.
- Builds confidence and a relationship
- Could speed up the buying process
He can position:
- The best product (for both parties)
- Give the customer one or two alternatives in order to have the freedom of choice.
It is like a magician presenting you a hand with three cards and he knows the one you
will be picking.
Less is more.
What to do with a Product Overview Comparison Chart?
Thus instead of presenting the great Product Overview Comparison Sheet, keep it
internally for sales trainings in order to explain to your sales people or resellers what
they should know and how to find the best solution for their potential customer.
A products comparison sheet is a D-I-Y (Do-It-Yourself) solution, to be used in a sales
process without a sales rep. like catalog or online sales.
The sales rep can present parts of the Product Overview Comparison chart to
differentiate 2 or 3 products, but not to offer the complete offering of a company.
The first rule in sales is to build trust with your potential customer, so don’t confuse them
with a gigantic Product Overview Comparison Chart.
Confused people don’t buy.
Confident people buy (from trusted parties or parties that seem trust worthy).
Ever killed your sales with a Product Overview Comparison Chart?
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Just closing is for losers, keeping the doors open is for winners
Closing is not the answer
Karl Goldfield in explains in “Mr.Sales Evangelist: Closing is not the answer” that it is
best to keep the doors open during the entire sales process and keep them open once
the purchase order arrives.
During the entire sales process:
- Investigate and ask the right questions
- Redefine and qualify the requirements of your potential customer.
- Adjust your proposed solution to any changes in requirements.
- Keep explaining the potential customer over and over again your
solution is the better one by stating their requirements and conditions.
Once the deal has come in, you cannot drop them but you have to keep contact, as you:
- Have build confidence by listening to them
- Have brought the best suited solution (you told them during the selling).
- Have engaged the customer
- Have built a relationship with your customer
This engagement and relation will lead to your next possible sales to this customer.
Customer retention has more value than Lead generation.
Getting new leads can be exciting; keeping customers will bring more income as there
are fewer costs involved.
Are you a closing salesman or a retention salesman?
Matching your style to the buyer for building a relationship
If you in Sales would be able to identify or recognize the style or personality of your
buyer then you stand a much better chance of communicating with and building a
stronger relationship with him or her says Andy Miller.
The better you match your style with the one from your buyer, the higher the likelihood to
close a sale.
He defines and describes the styles as DISC: the Dominants, the Influencers, The
Steady Relaters and the Cautious Thinkers in his blog post to which you should adapt to.
Probably, you can define a few more typical styles, personalities and types amongst
your buyers or people involved in the purchase process: The Delegators, The
Knowledge Cravers, The Nay-Sayers,…
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Styles and personalities in purchase process
There are 4 issues with identification of styles:
- Nobody falls 100% in a category.
Have you ever know someone fitting completely into one category?
Most people are a bit of two or more styles.
- In different situations people do react differently.
. the importance of the decision
. the involvement of upper management
in a purchase process, people will react differently.
- People with the same style in a different role need to be addressed differently.
A certain style person can be an influencer, an advocate, or a decision taker.
Although the same style, they should be addressed accordingly and thus differently.
- Smaller companies versus large corporations.
In smaller companies the decision and reporting lines are short, in large
corporation both are long.
People with similar styles will act and think differently than in large corporations with
many decision levels.
How to act to build a relationship?
Thus even if you have nailed down the style of each of the persons involved in the
purchase process, the challenge remains how to act, communicate and interact with him
or her in order to build a relationship.
There is no universal or golden rule.
That is where sales ability and experience probably become important.
What is your experience with different styles and personality of people in different
environments or organisations?
Concerning LEADS Explorer
LEADSExplorer is a web service that reveals the company names and domain name of
your website visitors and their interest.
Combined with the visit analytic data provided it will allow you qualifying visitors as
You can cold call on warm companies taking away your fear and increasing your
More qualified leads from your website, more sales.
Please visit: www.LEADSExplorer.com for more information and free trial.
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