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.

Can VS Know

There is a big difference between knowing what to do and being able to do it.

You know you have to connect with the CEO to get the deal closed, but can you?

You know you have to grow your pipeline by 30% in order to make quota, but can you?

You know you have to spend more quality time with the kids and the family, but can you?

You know you have to save more money for retirement, but can you?

You know if you don’t close the big deal you won’t make your number, but can you?

You know you need to hire 3 more salespeople, implement a new pipeline strategy and roll out a new comp plan, but can you?

You know you need replace the VP of the West, but can you?

In most cases, we all know what we have to do, but being able to do it is an entirely different story.

Don’t confuse knowing something with being able to do it.

Success comes from execution and being able to actually do what needs to be done. It’s not enough to just know.

My oldest daughter is an independent little shit. She wants to do everything. She thinks she knows how to do everything. She’s only 8, but she will constantly tell me she knows how to “that” and it’s “easy.” The house is littered with failed experiments from her “knowing” how to do something. The most recent, a homemade mermaid tail. I give her credit for trying and I love her enthusiasm. It’s OK for an 8 year old to think they know how to something. At 8 that’s enough. After a few more failed experiments, I suspect she’ll start to have an appreciation for how hard it is to actually get things done.

We’re not 8. As sales people, saying we “know” isn’t OK. Yet we say it all the time.  I hear it often from clients and sales people and it’s the death of them. As sales people we’re terrible at being able to do much of what we need to do. We are woefully unaware of our capabilities. We’re a smart lot. Sales people are generally quick, and able to process info quickly. But, just because we can grasp information and concepts quickly, doesn’t mean we are good at being able to do it.

Don’t take solace in the fact that you know what to do. Ask you’re self “can you do it?”  If the answer is yes, then go do it. But, be honest with yourself. If you know what to do, but can’t do it. Then go ask for help. Don’t try to be the hero.

There is a BIG difference between knowing something and knowing you can do it.

I don’t care if you know, I only care if you can. So stop telling everyone you know and start showing everyone you can.

Can beats know every time!

Subject Lines That Work For Sales Emails

I thought this was an interesting infographic. As sales people, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to communicate with our prospects and buyers. Therefore, it seems to me we might want to get it right.

This infographic suggests nothing in the subject line get’s open the most. Well duh, any “Re:” suggests the recipient is responding to something they sent out earlier. Therefore in essence, the recipient in an “Re:” is reading their own email. Of course it’s gonna get opened at a higher rate. We love ourselves.

However, beyond the absolute irrelevance of “Re:” open rates, this infographic offers a lot of little tidbits to think about as you reach out via email. Most notable, shorter is better.

Infographic authored by ContactMonkey, an email tracking service for salespeople. To view the
original post, see the original subject line infographic.

Here’s the takeaway as I see it. The subject line matters. Take a little extra time and think about what you’re saying. If you use Contact Monkey, YesWare or ToutApp, do a little A/B testing. Don’t just ignore the subject line. You’re spending too much time on the email to waste it with a bad subject line.

First impressions baby, first impressions.

Why You Want to Ignore GPA When Hiring Sales People (Or Anyone At That Matter)

If GPA matters to you when hiring sales people, you are losing out on some of the best talent. GPA has no correlation to job success (Google) or success in general (How Children Succeed, Paul Tough).  GPA is a useless measure when it comes to hiring and using it as a hiring criteria is only hurting you, your team, and your organization.

“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” — Laszlo Bock

The goal of hiring is to find people who can do the job. It’s that simple. Nothing else matters. If a person can do the job and do it well, hire them.  The rub happens in our attempt to determine if someone can do the job and too many of us screw it up. We use irrelevant, useless and mildly correlating criteria in an effort to “categorize” candidates as fits or not. It’s time to stop.

If you want to hire the best people, get real and be honest about what it takes to do the job. If it takes smarts, then look for a way to measure smarts, don’t use GPA. More importantly define “smart.”  What does “smart” mean. Does smart mean book smart, the ability to solve difficult problems, to be creative, to think ahead? What exactly do you mean by “smart?”

Hiring processes are filled with bad decision criteria at best and in too many cases with terrible criteria that doesn’t even correlate with success.

Do you require a college degree? How does that correlate to success? Do you require 10 years of industry knowledge? How does that correlate to success? Success early, maybe, but long term success?  A shitty sales person with industry knowledge may outperform a killer sales person with no industry knowledge for about 6 months, then what? Be real careful in how you identify success criteria. It’s not as black and white as you may want to believe.

A GPA is one of a number of terrible hiring criteria. Don’t get suckered into evaluating candidates on things that don’t matter. Evaluate them on things that do and as head of sales, or as the HR partner it’s your job to know what they are AND why they correlate.

Winning is about the people we can attract, hire and retain. So, let’s get it right!



We’ve All Been Duped

If you missed Venture Beat’s post the other day on these stats you’ll want to go check it out, cause it appears we’ve ALL been duped.


I’ve seen these numbers so many times I, like most people, have come to accept them as fact. Haven’t you? Although I don’t believe I’ve blogged about these numbers, I know I have verbally tossed them about with peers and customers.  Now that it appears they are fake, I’m a bit embarrassed.

I tried looking for similar stats to see if someone else or another company had done a similar study that was close to or similar and I couldn’t find anything. I also wanted to make sure  Stewart Rogers, over at Venture Beat, wasn’t putting one over on us. I couldn’t and he’s not. I couldn’t find these stats attached to a real company or similar stats by anyone else. Which bothers me, because I can recall seeing a bar graph a while back that had similar numbers but not exact and for the life of me I can’t find it.

Needless to say, this is a devastating blow to the sales training and consulting world. No, it’s not going to change much, but it does leave a big hole that many felt was filled. That hole is our understanding of what it takes to connect with a prospect to make a sale.

This information has been used to support cold calling scripts and cadences. It’s been used to promote content marketing. It’s been used to justify inside vs outside sales. It’s been used as a critical piece of data in a myriad of corporate sales organization’s decisions and now it appears the data is baseless.

Stewart does a good job of breaking down how long it appears this info has been out there, how ubiquitous it is and how unfortunate it is that few people actually checked its authenticity.  So, I’m not going to pile on. I will say, it should leave us all thinking hmmm? What now, is cold calling really dead? Are the numbers worse than we hear? Are they better? Should we be doing something else now? How many contacts does it take to make the sale?

Maybe the owl can help us?

How many contacts does it take to get to the sale? Now that we’ve been duped, the world may never know.

Looks like someone has a chance to do a study that will move like wildfire. Just sayin’!

Creativity Strikes Again (On24 Kills it!)

You know how much I love creative shit. I could talk for hours about creativity AND how creativity is the difference between winning and losing. Creativity is the shit and the cats over at On24 have lit up the creativity Christmas Tree with this funny and creative video. How to Webinar!

Not only is it creative, but it’s not boring. Most companies are boring. There is nothing fun or exciting about GoTo Meeting or any other conferencing platform for that matter and On24 is capitalizing on the fact the industry is boring.

Here’s the message, don’t be boring and be creative. This video already has 177k views. How long does it take you get that many views? I’m sure more than a few days.

Why Missing Quota In Q3 Is What You Need

When it comes to making quota there are a number of critical success factors, but the most critical and often undervalued is time. Time is without a doubt one of the most critical and important elements to making quota. The more time we have, the higher the probability we make quota. The less time, the lower the chances we have. Time is our best friend.

Don’t believe me?

Then ask yourself this question, how do you feel the last day of the quarter when you still haven’t made quota vs how you feel the first day of the quarter when you have 90 days to make your number– Exactly! The more time you have to work your pipeline, address challenges, get over objections and most importantly prospect for new business, the higher the chances of making your number and this is why it just might be in your best interest to miss Q3 quota and focus on Q4.

Yup, I know blasphemous, but you’ll get over it.

Here’s how it works. If you’re struggling to make Q3, the odds are you probably have a weak Q4 pipeline as well. Which means, if you put all your effort, blood sweat and tears into Q3, even if you make it, you will wakeup day one of Q4 with a tiny pipeline and a very low probability of making your number for the year and worse yet the quarter. I see this happen far too often. Companies, managers and sales people trade the present quarter for subsequent quarters or even worse the year. They get overly wrapped up in making the quarterly number they make a grave mistake. They stop using time to their advantage and start using it against themselves, unwittingly. They don’t use the time they have in Q3 to set themselves up for Q4 and when Q4 arrives, they are working against the clock.

Here’s how it breaks down. Say you have a 1.5x pipeline* for Q3 and a .7X pipeline for Q4. In order to make quota in Q3 you have to close 66% of your pipeline. That then leaves the .5 to carry over to Q4. You then go into Q4 with 1.2X quota, making it almost impossible to make Q4 and possibly the year, not the ideal scenario.

Now, consider flipping the script. Rather than doing everything you can do to scrape quota out of a 1.5x pipeline, consider scraping 75% of quota out of your 1.5X pipeline for Q3 and spending more time on growing your Q4 pipeline through prospecting. If you can grow your Q4 pipeline by 50% through more prospecting in Q3, AND you push the remaining 1/2 of your pipeline into Q4, your new pipeline would be 1.8 times quota, needing only 125%. In this scenario you have more time AND pipeline to make your Q4 and yearly numbers.

When more time and pipeline are at your disposal, probability of making quota increases. I’m a huge fan of drive, grit and winning at all costs. But sometimes, blind grit and drive only hurt you. Sometimes picking up your head and looking at the big picture is the smart choice. Too often we viciously drive sales teams to make their number for the quarter. There can be a cost of this myopic thinking. That cost is future quarters and even yearly quotas.

Take the time to step back and evaluate where you are. Is you’re pipeline big enough to make Q3 AND Q4? Do you need to sacrifice a bit of Q3 to make sure you can make Q4 too? Are you using time to your benefit, or are you squandering it in futile effort to make the current quarter. Time is critical to making the number. When it’s squandered or mismanaged quota is in jeopardy. Don’t jeopardize your future because you’re too focused on the now. You’re paid to make your yearly number and if that means you have to sacrifice part of Q3 to do it, then so be it.

Getting to quota is more than just working hard, driving your team and being maniacal, sometimes it’s about being smart, smart enough to see what’s really happening, not what you want to happen.

Let go of Q3, it just might be what you need to make Q4 AND  your year!


* 1.5x pipeline represents a pipeline that is 150% of quota. Ex: If you’re quota is 100,000 for Q3, a 1.5x pipeline would represent 150,000 in deals. Depending on your closing percentage, a 1.5x pipeline could be big or small. Traditionally however, 1.5 is too small to make your number. Not many sales organizations have a closing percentage of 66%.