Getting Employees to Meet Deadlines without Nagging


Help employees meet deadlines. Stop missed deadlines from the start. Create a game plan. Get past lame excuses. Ask proactive questions to get employees to take ownership for their projects, and learn to follow through. Employees and sales reps not meeting deadlines is a major factor in low sales team performance. As a leadership coach, exasperated supervisors and sales managers often plead with me to supply effective methods to improve employee time and goal management skills. Take a look at this scenario with Heidi and Rodney Heidi is the team leader. Rodney is a project coordinator on her team. Rodney is called into Heidi’s office. He could tell immediately by the look on Heidi’s face that she was struggling to keep her composure in check: “Rodney, I thought we agreed three weeks ago to get this project finished by now. Now I’m hearing it’s nowhere near ready. What gives?” Flustered, Rodney says, “I’m doing the best I can, and I’ll get to it as soon as possible.” When someone like Rodney makes a habit of postponing certain tasks, procrastinating on his to‑do lists, and failing to meet agreed-upon objectives, it’s maddening for the superiors like Heidi […]  Read More

Value Selling: Getting Customers to Buy at a Higher Price


Through value selling, sales pros need to demonstrate to customers that sometimes the higher price is actually a better solution. – a higher value! I know a long-married couple, Sam and Sarah, who have very different takes on value. Growing up wealthy, Sarah could afford to buy expensive, well-made shoes that would last for years. Growing up poor, Sam had only been able to buy the cheapest shoes he could afford – and keep on buying them, since they kept on falling apart within a few months. It’s easy for people like Sam to confuse price with value, where the lower-priced item turns out not to be the best value. Common value selling obstacles Customers who are shortsighted or in fire-fighting mode who can’t see the bigger picture. Customers whose self-interest may be in direct conflict with their organization’s goals. Customers who are merely the middle-man and not the decision-maker. Customers, hard-nosed buyers or purchasing agents who attempt apple-to-apple comparisons. Step One: Research your customers wisely The first step in value selling is determining which customers are viable candidates. Your products and […]  Read More

Distributor Opportunities – Improving Dealer Relationships

improving dealer relationships

Dear Paul, I need help with improving dealer relationships? My products are sold primarily through dealers and distributors. I have a really hard time judging whether or not a dealer is going to be successful at selling my products. They all usually seem gung-ho when we first meet, but many of them seem to fade away after a few months. I am willing to spend time and energy motivating them to sell more of my products, but I am not sure how I would go about that. It isn’t like I am their manager or even a member of their team. I try to check in with all of my dealers at least once a month. Sometimes the conversations are fruitful, but often it is like trying to pull teeth to get information from them. Sincerely, Hoping for a Great Distributor Opportunity Dear Hoping for a Great Distributor Opportunity, It’s difficult to rely on dealers or distributors to sell your products. How do you know who will make a great business partner and who will be a dud? When I have coached […]  Read More

How to Open a Successful First Meeting with a Prospect


Dear Paul, What’s the best way to open a successful first meeting with a prospect? In my experience, I’m finding these initial sales meetings are either hit or miss. And most of the time, they’re a miss! For instance, sometimes, I arrive at a sales call and realize almost immediately that the sales opportunity simply does not exist. When that happens, I start looking at my watch and get ready to bolt whenever they give me an opening. Last week, I had a meeting with a new prospect that I had arranged weeks earlier. I was hopeful that there might be an opportunity, but then the prospect immediately created a barrier. He said, “We only have 10 minutes, what do you got?” I was not prepared to be rushed, and I lost focus and was off my game. The meeting was not successful. Of course, sometimes I do end up “hitting it off” with a new prospect. But I feel like those opportunities are found more by luck, and not by any particular sales technique I have employed. When planning a sales call, how do I shift my focus to discover the real opportunities? How can […]  Read More

Close More Sales:
The Best Call-to-Action to follow up with New Prospects


Dear Paul, To close more sales, what’s the best call-to-action to follow up with new prospects? I call on a lot of potential new clients.  They are usually professionals who are architects, general contractors, or property owners. The sales calls typically go well. But at the end of the meeting, the prospect will usually say, “We really like what you have to offer. We just don’t have any projects coming up where we could use your services.  When something comes up, we’ll call you.” Most of the time they never call me back. What do I do? I feel like these hesitant prospects are lost opportunities. On the one hand, they might not have any projects in the pipeline. If that is the case, I need to respect that. On the other hand, maybe they are just being polite and do not ever plan on doing business with me? How do I end these meetings with a verbal call-to-action, so I can ultimately close more sales? Sincerely, “No Call-to-Action”   Dear “No Call-to-Action,” The next time a prospect says, “We have nothing in the pipeline, but when something […]  Read More

5 Reasons Why Sales Professionals Do Not Ask Good Questions

Why Sales Professionals Do Not Ask Good Questions

I have found that there are five reasons why sales professionals do not ask good questions. Do any of these pertain to you? The most successful sales professionals ask great questions! If you have been in sales for any length of time, you know that the key to closing more sales is asking the right questions. When I am traveling across North America holding 100 training sessions per year, I talk to sales professionals who know they should be asking engaging questions, but they aren’t. Why?… 1. Salespeople are too often focused on themselves instead of being focused on the needs and wishes of the customer Many sales professionals are born performers. They feel like they are the main attraction when they go on a sales call. Unfortunately, this also means that they do not know when to shut up. The problem is that the customer should be the one taking the stage, so to speak. A sales call should revolve around the wants, needs, and problems of the customer. If you ever feel like you are competing with your customer over who […]  Read More

Qualifying Sales – Stop Wasting Your Customer’s Time

stop wasting your customer's time

Stop wasting your customer’s time. As a sales training consultant, during the discovery process, when trying to qualify a sales opportunity, I’m shocked by the number of times salespeople mention “wasting time” to customers. “I don’t want to waste your time.” “I don’t want to waste my time.” What do our customers think? Let me share a personal experience from a customer’s point-of-view. I received a phone call last week from a sales professional who wanted to sell me software solutions. After a few minutes into the conversation, he says, “Look, I don’t want to waste your time or mine. Do you think you would be interested in what I have to offer?” I told him, “No,” and ended the conversation. The truth is, I was looking to upgrade my software, but his approach immediately turned me off. His method backfired, and he lost me as a potential sales opportunity — Sorry Charlie! I understand that this sales professional and others like him are trying to qualify the opportunity. They want to know if a prospect is serious or not. As salespeople, […]  Read More

Getting Better Buy-in
Discover What Your Customer Really Needs


Dear Paul, One of my challenges is getting better buy-in from my customers. Several times a week, I host “lunch and learns” at various client locations. During these 30-45 minute sessions, held over the lunch hour, I give a presentation about my company’s products. However, as much as I try to ask thought-provoking questions and lead interesting discussions, I feel that my efforts fall short. Too often they are more interested in the menu than in what I am trying to convey. I want to get better buy-in. How do I make my presentations more impactful in order to discover what my customer really needs?  Sincerely, Out to Lunch Open up the dialogue before your presentation – Dispelling participants fears and hesitations Dear Out to Lunch, I always tell salespeople that they need to make their presentations about the customers, not the products. The same is true in your case. It’s difficult to get people to open up and share their thoughts in a group setting. Too often there is the fear of saying the wrong thing, or worrying about the awkwardness when disagreeing with a boss or peer.  The way […]  Read More