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Sales Solutions
Drinking My Own Kool Aid vol 6, issue #12
December, 2009

Every so often - including at year-end, where we are today - I set aside some time to read some of the stuff I've written over the last 6 years. Like everyone else, I get wrapped up in the daily grind of making a living - and tend to neglect reinforcing fundamental skills, and making sure I'm exhibiting the behaviors I should be. That task has been made easier since I put together and published the Sales Solution Action Item Compendium. Since I tend to evaluate myself in terms of categories, the Compendium - which is organized (you guessed it) by categories - helps me quickly get to the articles I want to review without having to sift through all 69 of them.

One I always find myself going back to is Back to Basics. I don't care how long you've been in your profession, whatever that might be - there is always a tendency to get lazy and stray from performing the fundamentals flawlessly. This article is a good reminder for me to catch myself from doing just that - and where necessary, to get "back to basics". Several I've revisited recently are in the Commitment category. One I've internalized and use regularly (unfortunately, as I'm finding that prospects are taking longer to make decisions) is Gaining Commitment. I'm finding - as I'm sure many of you are - that prospects are more cautious these days in engaging in conversations they know will require them to open their wallets. This article contains some ideas I've used to deal with this caution.

Another article the lessons of which I've internalized is When to Hold 'Em, and When to Fold 'Em. After years of hanging on to "opportunities" that really weren't, I have become ruthless when it comes to maintaining a healthy pipeline by culling out the "dead wood" - those who are going to eat up my valuable time but have no intention of buying. If I don't feel an opportunity is going anywhere (for example, if the prospect has become unresponsive), I make one last attempt to revive the deal, and if I don't get a response, the prospect gets mailed the "Surrender Letter" mentioned in Creating Urgency. They then come off the active pipeline, and I move on to other, better-potential prospects who really need what I'm selling, and who need it now.

Now, one thing I never included in any of my articles, which I'll add here, is something I've begun incorporating from the Sandler Sales System. While I am not a proponent of that system, if a system has some idea they espouse that I feel makes sense (and many do), I'd be foolish to refuse to implement it. Sandler calls their technique the Upfront Contract; it goes hand-in-hand with what I wrote about in both How to Avoid "No Decisions" and Use Take-Aways to Engage Reluctant Prospects. The objective of the Upfront Contact is to pre-empt the all-too-common vanishing prospect phenomenon - the one in which the prospect with whom you've been engaged for weeks suddenly stops returning your calls and replying to your e-mails. The one who leaves you in the uncomfortable (and weak) role of chaser. The "contract" is an agreement that states that if at any time one party decides to discontinue discussions, that party will extend the professional courtesy of not hiding from the other party, but rather will inform that party that they have decided not to continue discussions with them. The parties also agree that the receiving party will have no hard feelings, and other than asking "why", will not attempt to re-engage the discontinuing party. For us as sellers, this removes the #1 reason prospects go dark - they are uncomfortable sharing bad news with someone who's been so helpful to them. The Upfront Contract stipulates that it's OK to deliver such news, without having to feel guilty about it. What often happens, of course, is that when the prospect does call to give the bad news, and you ask why, your probing questions should be able to help the prospect convince himself that he really ought to continue discussions with you!

As we wind down the year of 2009 and begin a new decade (yes, I know the new decade technically began on January 1, 2009 - but cut me some slack for being a year late!), block out some time on your calendar to close the door, unhook the phone, shut down e-mail, and allow yourself a couple of hours to "Sharpen Your Saw", as Stephen Covey out it in The 7 Habits of Highly-Effective People. And while I'm not asking you to necessarily drink my Kool-Aid, at least consider stirring up a batch of your own by doing a self-evaluation to determine to what extent you're using the skills you've learned and developed throughout your career, and that you're exhibiting the behaviors you should be in order to continue being successful.

Good Selling


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