Win More Business with These Simple Tips

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 29-10-2009

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key to successDuring my 25 years of selling in the business-to-business environment I’ve managed to be successful during the slow or sour economies of the ’80′s, the fall of 2001 and the crash of 2008.  Surviving these bad times required me to be more creative, insightful and diligent.  Here is my list of five things you need to master to be successful and grow your business during a bad (or good) economy.

1) One More Call- When you think your day is done, STOP and make one more call before you call it quits for the day.  That makes for 250 more calls in a year!

2) Pay Attention & LISTEN – I constantly observe reps who are so focused on what they want to accomplish, or say on the call that they are not listening effectively.  They overlook body language, ignore buying signals and experience missed opportunities because they are to busy doing all the talking and none of the listening!  If you’re going to ask a question, please shut-up and listen to the answer!

3) Observe – For heaven’s sake people, open your eyes!  Call after call I make with reps who have called on the same customer and/or prospect for months and can’t tell me what kind of office machine the customer has on their desk or at their work place.  We will walk out after the call and I’ll ask, “What kind of printer was that on their desk?” or “What  brand of fax machine was that at the reception desk?” only to get blank stares or the cursory “I don’t know”, reply.  How can you ask for the business if you don’t even know what kind of equipment or supplies they need or use?  When I leave their office I can tell you how many plants they had, what kind of pen was on the desk, the types and brands of office equipment I see, pictures on the desk, file folders used, labels, paper…you get the idea?  I actually had a rep that didn’t even notice the floor-to-ceiling windows in a prospects office on the 35th floor in an office tower when we made a call.  How can you not notice that?!  I’ve noted reps who didn’t know their customer had a warehouse (warehouse supplies), or did mass mailings (envelopes, printing, labels) or sponsored trade shows or training classes (Promotional products, pens & pads).  Open your eyes and see all the business you are missing!

4) Cure the “Order Taker Disease” – Be a “order maker” not an “order taker”.  I know I harp on this all the time but I see it almost every day and it is a real sore spot for me.  Your job is to create more business (account penetration) and bring in new business not ‘drop-in’ to see if they ‘need anything’.  If 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers why are you spending 80% of your valuable selling time seeing current customers to take their order?  Customers can order online or call customer service to place orders.  That is why we pay for these services so you can go out and bring in new business!  Don’t fall into this trap of seeing your regular customers because you fear the rejection that comes with the job of prospecting.  This “order taker disease” is easily identified if you take the time to effectively analyze your daily activities.  The cure is easy and doesn’t even require a doctors visit. :)  I challenge you to make no less than 20 prospecting calls every week, and don’t forget to ask for those referrals!

5) Market Yourself Creatively- Break the mold of being like all the rest of the ‘ normal’ office supply reps.  Dare to be different, offer value with every visit.  By offering a unique value to your customers and prospects you set yourself apart from the competition.  By providing useful and helpful information on each call you bring more to the customers table than the ordinary rep.  This can be demonstrated on many levels.  Here are some examples;  My clients know that I love to cook and I regularly share my recipes.  I even write a monthly e-newsletter with recipes.  Outdoor cooking/grilling is my specialty, that’s why I own seven grills!  I’m always sharing my skills and techniques with my customers.  Many of them know I enjoy growing roses and at one time had over one hundred shrubs.  I used to bring fresh cut long stems in many colors to clients when I made my calls and even taught a rose growing class for a customers office staff that wanted to learn how to grow them.  I was always the “go-to-guy” for supplies and equipment help and recommendations.  I made a habit of asking questions about the equipment and supplies people used and actively encouraged their feedback so I could share this knowledge with others in an unbiased fashion.  Lastly, my customers knew I cared about their business and about them personally.  Some years ago I had a customer that was starting a warehouse and fulfillment operation and needed some recommendations on supplies and packaging needs.  I came in and spent a day working in their warehouse at no charge or expense to them so I could learn their processes, products, and operation so I could have a better understanding of their needs.  The customer was shocked that I would spend an entire day as their employee working for no pay just so I could understand their business.  That one day eventually grew this from a $2K/month account  into a $10K/month account.    I encourage you to be creative and offer value on every visit.

These are some of the skills I used effectively and consistently during good times and bad.  Quit making excuses and start making a difference!  If I can do it so can you.

The last word: “There’s no security on this earth, only opportunity.” Douglas MacArthur

Buying Decisions: What Happens Behind-the-Scenes

Filed Under (OP Sales Training, Suggested Reading) by Don on 06-10-2009

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I spent some time on the phone today with writer, blogger and professional sales trainer & coach Sharon Drew Morgen.  Her new book, Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it hits the stores October 15th.  Sharon Drew breaks the mold on how we should be selling by thinking about the process from the buyers perspective.  She was gracious to offer us the following guest post for the blog.  I’d like to thank Sharon Drew for her time and I encourage you to purchase her new book early.  Read on and enjoy!


For some reason, it’s very difficult for sales people to think beyond ‘need’ and ’solution:’  We tend to think that because the buyer’s need matches our solution, and because we’re professionals who ‘care,’  the only thing buyers need to do is choose our solution.

But if it were that easy, buying decisions would get made more often in our favor. We certainly would not lose as many sales as we do. The problem is that the buying decision is so, so much more complex than we can imagine as we stand on the outside looking in.

Sales mysteriously treats an Identified Problem (my word for ‘need’) as if it were an isolated event. But it’s not. There are ramifications to any change, and the ramifications are ones only buyers can see from the inside and we will never be privy to.


Buyers don’t start figuring out their behind-the-scenes issues until after we’ve met them, except in cases when buyers call us and buy… in which case they’ve made all of the behind-the-scenes buying decisions before they contacted us and we are just lucky.

We come in at the wrong time, pitching a solution to a small portion of the ultimate Buying Decision Team, and have no tools to help buyers do what they must do first: manage all of the off-line buying decisions that need to happen for them to get buy-in for change.

I have said this over and over: the time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle. Before they can buy anything they first look into their current teams, partners groups, rules, historic decisions for a simple resolution to a business problem. They come to us by default, and even then end up going back inside (to their old vendors, or the other department heads, or the tech team) to do an internal check on resources before placing an order.


I’ve fully described the actual steps that happen behind-the-scenes in my new book coming out soon (Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it). To think about this, let’s start with this question: How did a buyer’s ‘need’ get there? It didn’t arise overnight, and people and policies inside agreed to allow it to happen. So the ‘need’ got created behind-the-scenes.

Not only that, the system and rules and people and policies have allowed it to remain as it is – or they would have changed it already.

Before a buyer will buy or choose any solution at all, they must first figure out and manage the very idiosyncratic and mysterious ramifications of change. What will a solution change internally? How will the people and policies interact differently if/when they decide to resolve an Identified Problem and bring in something… something different that isn’t already there? Obviously, the sales model doesn’t equip us with the tools to help buyers manage these issues, and we cannot do it for them.

And no solution will be purchased if there is any possibility that the client can resolve their problem on their own.

As we think about sales, and wonder how to close more sales, quicker, we must realize that by merely focusing on the solution-placement area, and we do our ’understanding’ – understanding need, understanding the decision making, understanding the requirements, helping buyers understand our the judiciousness of our offering - we are not helping the buyer do the behind-the-scenes work they must accomplish before making a buying decision. That work is private, idiosyncratic, personal, unique, and not open to outsiders. And, unfortunately, buyers don’t know how to do this work easily because it’s new to them. But we can help – with a different set of skills.

We can help them by being true servant leaders, true trusted advisors and relationship managers, and guide them through their systemic, off-line, buying decision issues. But it’s not sales. In this time of economic uncertainty, add Buying Facilitation® and differentiate from your competition – and truly help your buyer buy. And, stop selling.