What Your Customers Don’t Know — That’s Costing You Sales


“No, we’re all set.”

“We’re happy with what we have.”

“We’re not looking to change at this time.”

How often have you heard these words come out of a buyers mouth? Nobody wants to hear these words. They stop sales people in their tracks.


Because, for most sales people, if the prospect already has what you’re selling then why “push” them on something. No one wants to be a “pushy” sales person.  I agree. No one wants to deal with a pushy sales person. BUT, in many cases the customer doesn’t know what their alternatives are and don’t know what they are saying no to. It’s your job to help them make an educated decision based on what they know and don’t know.

You see, when people buy, or more specifically when they decide they want something new it’s due to one of two scenarios. It’s either because they have identified a problem they need to fix OR they’ve seen a product or service that highlights an opportunity they didn’t know they could capitalize on. It’s really that trait forward.

Let me simplify. People switch or change if:

  1. They recognize a problem they want to fix or make go away
  2. Something (a product or service) highlights an opportunity they want to take advantage of.

Number two is where the win is when it comes to the objections listed above. When a prospect or buyer says they don’t want to change, that they are not looking, that’s code for — We don’t see a problem that needs to be fixed. Therefore, the first reason to change is not present. Here is the good news, number two is still in play.  Unfortunately, too many sales people walk away from a potential sale, because they don’t recognize number two is still on the table.

Putting number two in play is tricky, but if your product or service can truly improve a buyers environment, then you have a chance. The key to putting number two in play comes down to knowledge of your product AND knowledge of your prospects environment. If you don’t know more about what your product or service does in relation to your prospects current solutions you won’t be successful getting number two in play. And, if you don’t know as much or even more about the environment your customer is in, you’ll fail executing on number two as well. Getting prospects to see an opportunity they didn’t already see is a “knowledge play.” You have to know more than your prospects current and future states than they do. That’s hard and requires serious skill, tact and knowledge.

To get your prospect to see opportunities they didn’t see starts with having a super robust understanding of what the common current state is for their environment and what is good and not good about their environment. You have to understand the workflows, the touch-points, the costs, the failure points, the use cases and more. You have to have to know what your prospects are using their solutions for and how they are using them.

Once you understand what your prospects are using for solutions and how they are using them create a list of three or four questions that can or will highlight the differences in what you offer and what your prospect currently has today. The objective is to create a gap in knowledge between what you know and what your prospect knows.

Here are a couple of my favorite questions to ask when I hear the objections from above:

  1. No problem, I understand you are all set, but if I could ask one question. Are you familiar with the difference between “insert your solution” and “insert what ever solution they are using?” By asking this simple question you quickly determine how educated the buyer is and on what basis they said their not interested. This is a great question for creating that gap.
  2. I understand you’re all set, not a problem. But, could I ask a quick question, how are you solving “insert a common business or workflow problem you know most of your target buyers are struggling with.”
  3. Thanks for your time, if I may ask one last question before we get off the phone, how are you capitalizing on “insert a common opportunity your prospects or buyers CAN’T capitalize on in their current environment.”

By asking any variations of these three questions sets you up to find a gap in your prospects knowledge. Knowledge and information are behind every sale. Too often we assume our prospects and clients have all the information and are making informed decisions. This assumption is a bad one. Prospects and customers usually don’t have all the information, they are too busy running their businesses.  It’s up to the sales person to educate them and sometimes that takes a little push.

When a prospect says they are all set, don’t assume they are right. They usually aren’t, it’s not their job to know it all, it’s yours.

Find the knowledge gap and educate the customer. If they’re all set with all the information then you’ve done your job, until then you’re walking away too early.

Don’t quit too soon.

Meeting at DreamForce 2014



K, I’m gonna be at Dreamforce the week of October 13th.  If you’re gonna be there let’s connect. My favorite part of Dreamforce isn’t the Keynotes, or the sessions. My favorite part of Dreamforce is connecting with the attendees.

Today’s world is more virtual than ever. Our sphere is bigger than it’s ever been, but it’s a virtual sphere. Even though we have more connections, we have less face time with many of these people.

It’s for this reason I get excited to go to Dreamforce. I get to see the people I connect with and talk to all year long.

If you’re gonna be at SalesForce’s Dreamforce and want to connect, hit me up in the comments and let’s see if we can meet too.


What Leaders Should Do, But Don’t!

Watching the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints game the other night reminded me of the Drew Breeze trade from the San Diego Chargers back in 2005.

For you non-football fans or those of you who don’t remember, Drew was traded to New Orleans after the 2005 season in which he broke his shoulder. As a result, San Diego ships him off to New Orleans and Philip Rivers becomes San Diego’s new starting quarterback.

Since the trade, no QB has thrown for more touchdowns, yards or 300 yard games. That includes Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Payton Manning and Philip Rivers. In addition to being the most prolific passer in the past 8 years, he also steered the hapless Saints to their first Super Bowl win, something San Diego is still looking to accomplish.

So, here’s my point. Do you think San Diego leadership has ever admitted to making a mistake?  I don’t sit in the locker rooms, or the front office, so I can’t answer that question, but my gut is telling me no. I’ve never heard one or seen an admittance on any sports channel. I bet the San Diego Charger leadership doesn’t believe they made a mistake and they won’t admit to it. They will point to all the success Philip Rivers has had and say they made the right choice. But looking at the data and the stats, they didn’t.

Every leader, sales leader or otherwise, makes mistakes. They hire the wrong person. They make the wrong strategic decision. The build poor partnerships.  They misjudge the market. They support a bad product. They invest in the wrong idea. Every leader, no matter how good, no matter how savvy, no matter how committed screws up, they just do.

Unfortunately, too few leaders own their mistakes. They don’t apologize and take ownership. When I say take ownership, I don’t mean a passive, quiet confession to their boss or in a closed door session to the board, but an open, public admittance of a mistake.

Here’s why it’s important.

When a leader makes a decision, it effects other people.  Because of their position, their decisions aren’t in a vacuum, they impact the jobs, the wallets, the time and effort of others and more. Depending on how big the role and the decision, it could effect 10′s, 100′s, 1000′s or even 100,000′s of people.  Even though, at the end of the day, they are the decision maker and own the responsibility, their decision sets in motion the lives and efforts of more people than just themselves. Therefore, when a leader makes the wrong decision, he or she  hasn’t messed up their own world, they’ve  messed up the world of a lot of people and that is why they need to own it publicly and admit to the mistake.

By owning their mistake publicly shows a humility and an understanding that their decisions affect other people. People don’t like feeling victimized and when leaders don’t own or show public accountability those affected by the leaders decision feel betrayed and victimized. They had little to no say in the decision, but have suffered the consequences. Once people victimized or betrayed, it’s the beginning of the end for a leader.

Being a leader requires humility and a empathy for the people and teams they lead. They need to understand their decisions affect more people than themselves and when they screw up, they screw up the lives and careers of everyone involved. To minimize the damage and show their allegiance to their team the leader MUST own it publicly.

Being a leader is more than getting big bucks, having control, setting vision, leading strategy and celebrating victory, it sometimes means admitting you fucked up in the most public of ways.

As a leader you’re gonna screw up. That’s the easy part. But can you look at your entire team and admit it publicly?  Now that’s a true leader.


Don’t Ever Trust This Sales Person

When I ask a waitperson what they think about a dish, if they say it’s excellent, I say great and I then ask about another menu item. If they say that one is good too, I then ask about another. If the waiter also says that one is good, I switch my approach and ask, what’s not good. If they say everything is good, I get pissed inside and dismiss them and their responses.

When a sales manager never has any critical assessments of their team. I’m thinking, she’s full of shit! When, a sales person won’t tell me what’s not strong about the product or service, they’ve lost me.

When I interview sales candidates, I ask them where they struggle as a sales person. I ask them what gets in their way. I want to know what it is that gets in their way of making quota? If they give me a negative that’s really a positive like; I work too much, I ask again. If they don’t give me a REAL, negative about themselves, I don’t hire them.

Nothing is perfect, no one is perfect, no product is perfect, no solution is perfect. Everything has it’s flaws and if you are acting as if your product is perfect and has no flaws, you’re lying through omission and that’s just as bad as straight up lying.

It’s our job as sales people to consult and educate our customers and prospects. If we’re telling them everything is good, if we’re not giving them the whole story, we’re not doing our job. We’re lying through omission.

If you’re SaaS offering is weak in a particular area and the customer asks, tell them straight up, don’t beat around the bush. You need to put it on the table. It doesn’t mean the customer won’t buy. But, it does give you the opportunity, as a sales person, to understand why it may be important. Being honest helps you sell a better solution.

If your product is missing a feature, if it can’t do something the other products can, if it has a weakness like everything does, admit and hit it head on. If you don’t you’re lying through omission and nobody likes a liar.

A sales person who lies through omission can’t be trusted. Once trust is gone, the sale is seconds behind it.

If you’re a buyer, don’t trust the pollyanna sales person. If you’re a sales person, tell the truth. It’s not the “perfect” product. We all know it and you just look stupid — cut it out!

Never trust a sales person who lies through omission.


Funny How, Funny Like A Clown? Do I Amuse You?

One of the best movie lines ever is Joe Pesci’s from Good Fellas.

“Funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh?”

In my world, I don’t care how you’re funny, like a clown, like a comedian, like a comic, as long as you’re funny.

When it comes to being funny, in the world of sales and business, Stu Heinecke amuses me. I met Stu Heinecke the other day. He’s writing what sounds a like a cool book on selling using humor and asked me for my thoughts. Stu is a creative guy with some great ideas on how to connect with prospects using humor. I enjoyed our conversation.

He sent me this after our talk.


“That would look really good in Keenan’s office.”

I like what the original caption read,

“How much for that one.”  

Humor is a killer addition to sales that has, for some crazy reason, taken a back seat to . . . I don’t know, but sales people aren’t very funny. I’m not talking the feeble attempts at cheesy humor far too many sales people engage in, but truly good, surprising, unique humor.

Stu was telling me about a campaign he ran using his cartoons and humor. It had a 96% success rate. What he learned was, people respond to good, intelligent humor.

I think Stu is right. I get it, not everyone is funny. But, if you can figure it out, there is a lot to gain.

Stu offers a chance to use some of his cartoons for your own marketing campaign. You can check them out here.

There is nothing wrong with giving folks a good reason to chuckle every once in a while. It’s actually a good idea.

The Best Infographic In The World For Sales People Who Struggle With Price

If you’re someone who struggles with price, check out this info graphic.

Pay close attention to the iPhone’s price in relationship to all the other phones over time.

What do you see?


The iPhone is by far the most expensive smartphone on the market. It gets more expensive every year in comparison to the competition. And, There are almost NO lower price options in the iPhone product line, yet Apple sells more smart phones than anyone else in the world, except Samsung.

Before you start saying you can’t sell because your product is too expensive, think again.

Price matters, but not as often as you think and rarely because something is too expensive.

Don’t confuse price with being too expensive, there is a difference and Apple reminds us of this every day.

Switching From The Competition

I’m a RedBull drinker. I don’t do Monster or 5 Hour Energy. I’m a Mac (Apple) guy, not much of a fan of Microsoft or Android. I’m on my second Audi and have never had a BMW or a Mercedes.  I’ve been with AT&T for 15 of the last 17 years. I fly United 99% of the time.

I’m pretty happy with the choices I make and I’m a fairly loyal customer, but in spite of my loyalty, there is always a little fire inside me that is open to something else.

All it takes is a Mercedes ad showing a slick new interior and killer technology, a Samsung ad showing their phones dropping in a toilet unharmed, a Sprint plan that saves me 200 dollars a month,or a Southwest commercial with better frequent flyer program too feed that fire inside me and get me to contemplate change.

When the fire is fed and grows, I pick up my head and look across the way. I take a longer look at the Mercedes. I consider flying Southwest on my next trip. I look at Sprints coverage and new plan, asking myself, is it worth switching? In spite of my loyalty and happiness with my past choices, like a gas stove, there is pilot light inside me waiting to be turned up. I haven’t ALWAYS been a Mac guy. I made the “switch” in 2005. Apple provided plenty of fuel.

I don’t always act. It takes a lot to get me to switch, however the pilot light is always on. Getting me to pick up my head and take notice isn’t so hard and that’s the message here.

Too often, as sales people, we assume that our customers won’t switch. We assume they are happy with their current product or service and in most cases you’re right, they are. BUT, that doesn’t mean you can’t get their attention. It doesn’t mean that they are shut out to something else. It only means they are happy with what they know, and all they know is what they have.

The key to getting a customer to switch is to give a little gas to their pilot light and that gas is information that can or would improve their situation or make their life better. There is always a reason to switch. Sometimes the reasons don’t exist yet, but the reasons are there. You have to 1) make sure your product or service can provide compelling change and 2) know how to feed the little fire inside the buyer.

Don’t automatically assume that because someone is happy with a product or service that they won’t switch, people/companies switch everyday. Everyone has the “switch” pilot light. Eveyone is susceptible to change, if you know how to trigger it.

And by the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, that also means switching from you or your company.

Switching is hard, getting people to consider a switch, not so much. Learn to trigger your buyer’s “switch” pilot light, that’s what gets them to pick up their heads and take notice.

Do you know how to turn up you prospects and customers pilot light?

In The Trenches

I’m gonna be in the trenches today and I’m excited about it.

I’m currently consulting with one of the big broadband providers and I’m gonna be walking the streets with their door to door sales team. I know, there are still door to door sales people, can you believe it?

This is going to be very interesting.

When I was a kid, I was the king of door to door sales. I sold more raffle tickets, chocolate bars, and other crap than you could imagine door to door.

I’m looking forward to this. I’m excited not only to see how the sales people position, pitch and deliver their message, but also how the small business owners respond to a door to door sales person.

In today’s world of social media, email, online advertising and  phone sales, I’m very curious to see how the face to face human engagement element of selling has changed, if it has changed at all. Are people still open to a face to face interruption?

I’m going to be pounding the bricks for four hours. It’s gonna be fun and I suspect, very interesting.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s Your Mission?

Seth Godin had a killer post the other day called, I Made It My Mission . . . It was phenomenal. In typical Godin style, he got right to the point and made impact.

It had more to do with hiring than sales in general, so I posted my thoughts over on the A Sales Guy Recruiting blog, rather than here. Go check it out.

I love when people make something their mission. It’s the ultimate in personal ownership and accountability. When people make something their mission, shit gets done.

My boy Bob made it his mission to close a client that I had dismissed as not our target market and not a good fit. Boy was I wrong.

Bob is one of A Sales Guy Recruiting’s lead People Strategists. He’s responsible for  managing the account AND recruiting. Bob is one of those quintessential, balls to wall, sales people. When he first came on he was hungry. He wanted to chase everything. One of the things he wanted to chase was a small company that resold books. Their business model was basically door to door sales for 100% commission only.

I didn’t think this was a good opportunity. It wasn’t out target market, as they weren’t technology. They were small. They didn’t even have a website. Their sales people were 100% commission only and so there wasn’t a clear way to determine a recruiting fee.

Needless to say, Bob was undaunted. He made it his mission to not only win the account but to turn them into a good target customer.

Today, only 4 months later, we’ve placed one new sales person with them. The account took Bob’s advice and built a website and started paying their sale people a base salary. They are so happy with Bob’s candidates, they have stopped all their internal recruiting efforts and have turned it all over to Bob and A Sales Guy Recruiting.

We currently have two more candidates in the pipeline and the account has become a good, solid client.

Bob was on a mission and as a result he helped a customer get the sales person they needed and even more entertainingly, he proved me wrong.

People on a mission get shit done. They try harder. They don’t rest until their mission is completed. Bob was on a mission and A Sale Guy recruiting benefitted.

Are you on a mission?

How many people in your organization are on a mission — hopefully a lot!

Can You Sell Yourself?

I know you know you’re good at selling. But HOW do you know?

What makes you so good?

What is it specifically about how you sell that makes you so good?

What is your sales philosophy?

What is your sales approach?

What are your sales liabilities?

What makes your prospecting so good?

What makes your engagement skills so good?

What is about how you sell that makes you good, I mean really good?

Can you answer these questions and a host of others that describe your selling capabilities in a compelling manner? Are your answers unique and specific to you? Can you articulate your OWN specific approach to selling that makes you better than everyone else?

If your answers are you work harder than the next guy, that you build better relationships or that you have a passion for sales, you’re not good or you can’t articulate why you’re good.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of sales people in my day and few are very good at explaining why they are good and this is a problem.

If you’re good at selling, know why.

Don’t leave it for everyone else to figure it out.

Learn to sell yourself.