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How Getting Fired Saved My Sales Life [Guest Post by Matthew North]

Matthew North has genuine sales experience to share with us here. It's about the lazy attitude towards training displayed by many companies. That their focus is on making sales by whatever means—and if it grinds the salesperson's soul into dust, who cares...and the shift you can make so the process of selling can become much easier for you.

Let's join Matthew North as he describes the trainwreck of an experience that lead to his personal shift in selling...

~Jason

matthew north afraid of selling fired sales

This is a guest post by ex-sales pro turned writer Matthew North. You can follow him on Facebook for more posts like this and see if he'll write for you.

Let's talk about getting you in front of a trove of qualified people whose wallets are wide open, ready and waiting to buy from you.

I'm reporting from experience of being on the front lines. As a former sales guy, I became desperate to connect with people who actually wanted to speak with me. I grew tired of being the marauder of phone books and telephone directories. Sick of calling fax machines and the dominion of secretaries.

But things were good. So it never occurred to me why some people were easier to sell to than others. You just had your good days, then your bad days. And besides, the sales were easy. People kept buying, so I kept selling—which was fine until we ran out of leads.

I didn't suspect anything at first. Fewer people than usual called me back, and a couple of proposals fell through. No problem. I was going through a downswing, and soon I'd be on my way up again.

Things continued like this for a while. Each sale we lost would expand the pressure on the company to keep itself standing. Consultants of many different hats and titles were called in to doctor the cause. None of this mattered. The business had been kicked and dragged around towards bankruptcy.

But we had a plan: a list of old recycled leads. These people had shown interest at some point, and it was my job to close them. Just as I started calling, secretary commandos paraglided in to subvert me. "James? Is that who you want? Well, he doesn't work here anymore." "Brian is in meetings all week. Why don't you leave your number and he'll call you back if he's interested." "I don't really see why I should put you through unless can you tell me what this is all about." A whole calendar worth of presentations, gone. Management roared with criticism. They then gave me an opportunity (as they called it) to either meet target, or get out.

All this would culminate on a Wednesday morning. I was pulled by the neck to a small room; inside, my manager had waited. He closed the door, and handed me an envelope. I knew what was coming. He looked at me. I looked at him. We both stared. They then kicked me out, to a street that was laden with garbage. "Send him back where you found him," I heard them saying.

Over the next few months, everyone watched as our former employers went out the back door, and left behind a death knell of lawsuits and press releases addressed to anyone who'd read them.

Matthew North: Lessons Learned

It didn't matter how many dials I made, how polished my pitch was, or what kind of jokes I told: nothing had made a difference. Prospects had turned into brick walls.
A decade later, things are now clear: once the walk-in buyers were gone, it left only the "Not interested" punters behind. There was no real finesse to what we were doing, no process. We chased, and they ran, that was about it.

So if my company was wrong about selling, what's trick or sneaky shortcut to making huge bags of money?

Mature thinkers know that nothing worthwhile is easy or guaranteed. So there is no a magic close that will force someone to buy, or a pitch so persuasive it sells itself. To seek the easy answers is a misunderstanding of what sales is really about. We cannot force people to do anything.

Instead, give people what they want, listen, and see things from their point of view. Because it's the customer's situation that determines if they buy. We don't call the plumber if our taps aren't leaking; we don't want to shoot the breeze with the cable guy. We engage with companies because we want something, and it's the same for why people will buy from you.

Don't listen to the marketer's jingle of awareness to transaction (which is from the businesses' perspective.) What is going on in your prospect's world? There will always be some unsatisfied need or want if a sale is possible. And if you can't help someone get what they want, it doesn't matter about your prices, how good your product is, or anything else.

What all of this means is that you do not make sales; you find sales. The opportunity of a sale being made is either there or it isn't. And yes, everyone has a fishing story or two of turning somebody around—but how often does that happen? Selling is not alchemy.

When people buy from a salesperson, it's because they were thinking about buying already. The salesperson was just kind of 'there,' handing over what they wanted. In practice, this means there are two distinct, yet concurrent parts to any good sales conversation: qualification, and what happens after. When we talk of simply finding the buyers (qualification), it's the first and most important step of the sale - not the close, nor your glossy sales kits, but who you speak to that matters the most.

This was a guest post by ex-sales pro turned writer Matthew North. You can follow him on Facebook for more posts like this and see if he'll write for you. For a live interview with Matthew North on SalesTactics, click here.

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Qualify Not Close: Make Selling Easier On You

Qualify Not Close. You see a ton of emphasis on The Close in traditional sales training. Get that prospect in there, and BAM! Hit them over the head with The Close. Kill 'em like a squirrel in a deadfall trap.

Killer, huh?

You want to be a killer?

What if word starts getting around that you're a killer when it comes to sales? That this is the attitude you bring to the sales conversation?

Why You Should Qualify Not Close

It may work for appliances and cars—people stupidly buy vehicles, a long term, large financial investment, as if they're deciding what brand of orange juice they like—but in a real, senior B2B selling situation you're likely to get "niced out the door" by the prospects you're hoping to "kill."

Let me ask you this: What matters more...what you say, or what they say?

If you answered, "What I say," you're in error.

If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.

Even if it was exactly the same thing!

Closing without Qualifying is exhausting.

shouting qualify not close

It's mud wrestling that prospect to the ground and pinning them there...in the mud.

It's getting hit with objections, trying to come up with the memorized rebuttal, and overcome the issue.

It's presenting to those who are not necessarily a fit to even see your offer. And the fast-tiring struggle that comes with that.

So while you may have a book in your hands that promises to teach you The Secrets of Closing, what it's really teaching you is how to get tired out trying to force square pegs into round holes. Can you do it? Sometimes. But man, is it exhausting.

Qualify Not Close To Use Your Energy Well

I don't know about you, but I don't have the energy for that.

I don't have the energy to support the case for what I offer entirely on the force of my personality, or my confidence.

If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.

I'd much rather get the prospect to say it.

I'd much rather get the prospect to tell me exactly why they're a fit for this offer.

I'd much rather get the prospect to close themselves.

And the way to do that is by Qualifying heavily up front.

Before any kind of dog and pony show. Before any attempt at a Close.

Put your effort into Qualifying, and you'll have a much easier time Closing. You'll have a lot more energy left over, too.

Even another well-known sales trainer, who really pushes the Closing thing, says this: Fill your funnel to the point where it's overflowing.

OK, he didn't use such nice language, but that was the point. Fill your funnel so that you have so many leads—you can do what?

Pick and choose.

Select those who are most likely to say, "Yes!" to your offer.

Qualify.

Yep, that's qualifying.

Behind the big bang of The Close, which is what everyone thinks and says they want, is Qualifying...which is what they truly need.

Hmm...give them what they say they want...they said it, so it's true...but sneak in what they really need...I have to admit that's good selling.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales trainer and business strategist. To book a consultation with Jason to discuss your Qualification issues, click here. <<

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How Do I Get More Clients?

A very nice and well-meaning web designer just asked in an expert platform I'm a member of...how do I get more clients?

My response:

You have four jobs to do.

1. Attract/identify leads.

2. Qualify those leads.

3. Convert the qualified leads.

and

4. Fulfill the orders.

Do you have a system for each of these?

4. can lead into 1. with referrals.

Prospecting to Answer 'How Do I Get More Clients'

how do I get more clients - landing big fish

You want as pre-qualified a lead as you can get.

Qualifying is filtering. In or Out, doesn't matter which.

Do you know your numbers?

How many qualified leads do you need to know you'll get a project? This is different for every person or business. For me, I need a very small number of qualified leads to make a sale. For you, it might be different.

How many unqualified leads do you need to get one good qualified lead?

Back out into the activities you need to be doing every day. I'll bet (no offense; so are 99.9% of other people) you're sitting there and hoping stuff will come your way. Maybe spending 30 minutes a day looking for new work. Well that is not enough. Needs to be 70% or more of your time spent prospecting! Guaranteed that your prospecting activity, like everyone else's--mine included--is too low.

How Do I Get More Clients By Filling My Funnel?

Fill your funnel.

Unqualified leads >>> Qualified leads >>> Sales.

Work back from the end result.

How much money do you want to make in a month?

How many sales does that mean you need to make?

How many qualified leads does that mean you need?

And how many unqualified leads does that require you to get?

Now you can see how many conversations you need to be having...you can break this down to every week or every day.

In my business, for instance, and remember my numbers will be different--perhaps VERY different--from yours, I need 1 sale a week.

To get that 1 sale, I need 4 qualified leads to ensure I get that sale. Could be 1 in 2 but let's say 1 in 4 to be safe.

Now the funny bit about my business: while conversion for me is easy, finding qualified leads is hard. There are many tire-kickers and broke people who want my help, but are not mentally or financially in the position to afford it. So I need MANY unqualified leads to get one good one!

Again, your business could be different. So let's say I need 20 unqualified leads to get 1 qualified lead.

This means my revenue plan for the month looks like:
20 x 16 = 320 unqualified leads >>> 4 x 4 = 16 qualified leads >>> 4 sales

320 unqualified leads!

If I sit around, hoping passive marketing does the job, will I ever get there?!

No!

I need to plan out my activities based on:

- Video marketing (Youtube)
- Facebook marketing
- Forum marketing
- Prospecting calls

- Referrals (these are great; the way I set it up, 2 referrals virtually guarantee 1 sale; so these 2 referrals take the place of 80(!) unqualified leads, which I can now subtract from my total)
- Talks to audiences
- Webinars

and whatever other efforts of your marketing plan that you decide to run.

Do You Have An Activity Level That Answers How Do I Get More Clients

The point here is: do you have a plan? Until now, I doubt it.

Almost nobody does.

And do you have a high-enough activity level to support your money target?

Most people do not.

Whether they're a corporate salesperson or an independent business owner...they simply don't have a prospecting activity level that supports their money target.

And then they wonder why they didn't succeed. They were beaten before they began, and terrifyingly they had no idea.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist concentrating on sales and conversion. Book a call with Jason to get a personalized prospecting plan. <<