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‘Sales Meetings’

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Science Park & A Sales Mentality

We need to talk about the importance of creating a sales mentality throughout your entire organization.

But before I start, this Monday, I will be releasing my first Motivational Minute Podcast. This is exclusive to email subscribers. Each week, you’ll be getting one of these motivational minutes to supercharge you for the week. Also, I’ll be releasing details about my new keynote speech for 2009 “Beat The Recession With Warren Greshes,” a 90 minute hard-hitting, no-holds-barred presentation guaranteed to transform your organization. Now back to the topic at hand…

I don’t know about you, but many companies with services I need seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. Are they out of business, or just hiding because they’re afraid to sell, or, maybe don’t know how? It has forced me to give my business to people I wouldn’t normally deal with. Sure it might be tougher out there today, but everyone needs to know that when prospects say “NO” today it only means “NO” today. It’s not “NO” tomorrow, the next day, week or month.

I want to tell you a story about the first experience I had with an organization where there was no sales mentality, and why to this day I speak about ensuring that the sales process permeates your entire business culture.

Around 1987 or ‘88, not long after I had started my speaking business, I landed a new client in Connecticut named Science Park. Science Park was an incubator whose purpose was to bring together, under one roof, entrepreneurs and small business owners who were trying to get their fledgling companies off the ground.

Science Park not only provided them with office space, but also with administrative and consulting support. Most of these small new companies were high tech startups. Each and every one of them was started and owned by highly intelligent people who believed they had come up with the next great product or idea. And, in fact, many of them had come up with outstanding ideas.

Their one big problem was: while they all had a certain amount of technical knowledge and tremendous expertise, not a single one of them knew how to sell. On top of that, they thought selling was beneath them and they weren’t quite sure it was necessary.

These would-be entrepreneurs honestly believed, if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door. Unfortunately, many of them ended up sitting in their tiny little offices waiting for that door to open and guess what: that’s right; it never did.

My job was to teach these business owners not only how to sell, but the importance of having a sales mentality, how critical it is for business owners to always be involved in the sales process, even if you have salespeople working for you.

As the economy continues to unravel, it becomes absolutely critical for business owners, and executives, who distance themselves from the sales process, to get involved; quickly.

Clients need to be hearing from the top dog on a regular basis. If you don’t know how to sell; learn! If you think selling is something dirty that’s beneath you, here’s your choice: sell or go out of business!

If you think you can’t sell or are afraid to sell, but still want to learn how, let me recommend two of my DVD’s that can get you started. One of them, Prospecting Skills That Work, will teach you how to bring in new business and the other, Make My Life Easier will teach you how to keep it and grow it. And remember, you still have one day to buy them at a 50% discount!

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Developing and Finding Leads

I just received an interesting email from a reader. His name is Jonathan and he has a question about prospecting, a favorite subject of mine. More specifically it’s about developing and finding quality leads. He wrote:

Warren,

Good day. I purchased your “Don’t count the yes’s, count the No’s " audio program. I’ve listened to the audio often and I’m ready to begin making calls. Before I got your program I planned to call companies from the local yellow pages. After listening to your program, it appears that’s not the best way to do this. Can you tell me what’s the best way to get quality leads and do you recommend any companies? Thank you for any information you can give me.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

First of all, it’s not that I don’t recommend the Yellow Pages; it’s just that I consider it a last resort. The first thing you need to do when starting out your prospecting effort is to figure out who you want to call. Develop a client profile that specifically describes what types of clients and people you want to deal with.

For example:

  • What kind of companies are you looking for (size, industries, maybe even location)?
  • Who will be your contact person? A purchasing manager; VP level; Middle management. If you don’t know who you’re looking for, it’s going to be real hard to find them.

Cold calls are another last resort. But if you don’t have any clients, hot leads or referrals, you better start making some cold calls in order to develop your own hot leads and referrals.

When I first started my speaking business over 21 years ago, I was mostly conducting sales seminars, so my plan was to approach companies that were very sales oriented. Right off the bat, the first thing that came to my mind was the life insurance industry: an abundance of salespeople; new ones being hired every day; plus it was an industry that was not afraid to spend money on training.

So every Sunday, I picked up the New York Times and went to the help-wanted section and looked under “Sales Help Wanted.” I found numerous ads placed by local sales offices of large life insurance companies. Not only were they advertising for salespeople, but there was also a contact name (usually the sales manager) and a phone number.

First thing Monday morning, I would call, ask for the sales manager (the perfect contact person for me) and when asked by the receptionist, “What is this in reference to?” I would say, “The Sales Help Wanted ad in yesterday’s Times.”

Naturally, I was connected to the Sales Manager. Once on the phone I would say, “I’m not looking for a job, but since you are hiring all these new salespeople, you’re going to need someone to train them. Let me tell you about my services.” I would get the appointment and, very often close the deal to train their agents.

But here’s the best part! Every one of those sales managers knew other sales managers in other offices and it was real easy to pick up at least 3 or 4 referrals every time I did a session.

Once you get the ball rolling, and, of course, deliver a good product or service, cold calling becomes less of a factor in developing new business. as you now have a hot new source of referrals.

To learn more about how to get tons of referrals, read these past articles:

Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part I
Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part II
Winning Referrals

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Creating Killer Sales Meetings Part III

The performance of an outside speaker can make or break your meeting. Outside of the decision making process (which becomes a little easier if you follow the advice in part I on choosing the right topics), once the sales speaker is hired, there are many things he or she can do to ensure an outstanding performance.

Preprogram questionnaires are great, but nothing beats the personal touch. Preprogram questionnaires are great, but only if used in addition to phone intake and needs analysis sessions (If the speaker is local, a face to face intake session would be perfect). In my experience, there aren’t enough things I can learn about a company from a preprogram questionnaire; plus a piece of paper can’t answer my questions that I might have. With many clients, it could take more than one phone conversation.

In the case of a sales meeting, while I will speak to the meeting planner, I find it equally, if not more important to speak to a sales executive or two in order to get a deeper insight into the group. This allows me to customize my talk more effectively.

Attend the function the night before. I prefer flying in the day before my speech (I don’t trust the airlines that much), allowing me to attend any receptions and dinners clients might have. Believe me; I’m not doing it for the hotel food. I find it gives me a great opportunity to meet and get a feel for my audience. If nothing else, it helps me find the good sports I can poke fun at, which is a great way to connect with the audience.

Attend any sessions going on before the talk. If there are breakout sessions going on I’ll cruise in and out of them in order to learn more about the issues the audience face and what’s going on in their company, industry and with their clients. I especially like to sit in on talks given by top executives that outline where the company’s been, where they are now, and where they’re going in the future. There is always something I hear in these sessions that I can use.

Understand the Meeting Planner has enough to worry about. Since a Meeting Planner’s job is all about putting out fires, while making sure nobody notices they’re happening, one of the speaker’s responsibilities is to make the Meeting Planner’s life easier. Keynote Speakers should:

  • Call just as soon as they check in to let the Meeting Planner know they’ve arrived.
  • Check out the room where they’ll be speaking in the night before to avoid any last minute set-up changes.
  • Be down early the next morning to test the microphone and AV equipment making sure everything is in perfect working order.

The way I figure it, the easiest way to get invited back is to be a great guest.

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Creating Killer Sales Meetings Part II

So much of what determines a salesperson’s success is based on their attitude, commitment, enthusiasm and energy. The way they feel about themselves, their company, their clients and the products and services they sell. If they don’t believe in who they are and what they do; don’t expect the customers to believe it!

To reinforce this, a killer sales meeting should be bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Now, I know that’s hard to do; especially when people are cooped up in a hotel or conference center going from one session and meeting room to another, but there are certain little things a great meeting professional can do to keep that energy and enthusiasm at a high level.

  • Make sure the room fits the audience. The wrong size breakout or general session room can absolutely suck the energy right out of your audience. Have you ever been to a sporting event where the stadium or arena was packed vs. being only half full? The difference in energy both on the field and in the stands is staggering.

As a speaker, I would rather speak in a room that’s too small for the audience and is bursting at the seams, rather than a room big enough to seat 600 for a crowd of 300. Your speakers and presenters feed off the energy of the audience and visa versa.

  • Put your speakers in the right time slot. High energy speakers should open, close, and fill the dreaded right-after-lunch spot. After dinner speakers should be light and humorous. I am a high energy speaker. While I use a lot of humor and consider myself a good story teller, I should not be put in the after dinner slot because of the content level of my talks. I am not the light and airy type, yet I’ve had many companies who’ve wanted me in that slot (to answer your question, I either turn it down or convince them to put me in another slot).

In addition, watch where you place the afternoon break. I’ve found that while audiences have less energy near the end of the day than at the beginning, their lowest energy level is right after lunch. Try to place the afternoon break closer to the end of lunch than the end of the day. Give your attendees a chance to get their second wind sooner rather than later.

  • Don’t let the presentation materials become the presentation.While Powerpoint is a great presentation tool, too many presenters use it as a crutch, rather than an enhancement for their presentation. Making a room full of salespeople read slides is pretty much the same thing as slipping knock-out drops into their water glasses.
  • Motivation and inspiration is great;but motivation and inspiration with content is even better. While salespeople want to be motivated, inspired and entertained; they also want to be informed. Most salespeople are bottom line people. They want to receive 2 or 3 good ideas that they can implement tomorrow in order to start growing their business by the day.

It’s these subtle factors that can either kick off a killer sales meeting or cripple it. In Part III, I’ll discuss what you should expect from your speaker.

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Creating Killer Sales Meetings Part I

As someone who has been a keynote speaker at sales meetings on a local, regional, national and international level for twenty-one years, I am aware of the challenges faced by meeting professionals in planning and delivering a sales meeting that your audience will still be talking about by the time the next meeting rolls around.

It’s not just a matter of finding the best venue that fits the budget, coming up with activities that everyone will enjoy, or picking the right presenters and speakers. To me, a big key to pulling off a memorable sales meeting is the meeting planner’s ability to pick topics, themes and subject matter that meets the audience’s needs, while also hitting on the biggest issues and obstacles they face on an everyday basis.

If you really want to know what an audience of salespeople wants and needs, then act like a salesperson and treat them as a client, because, after all, your audience is your client.

Talk to them; find out what they do, how they do it and who’s on the other side of the table. You could send out surveys and questionnaires, but remember these are salespeople. The biggest reason they became salespeople was that they didn’t like to do homework in school, so paperwork is not their favorite thing.

The chances of you getting back a sufficient number of surveys and questionnaires are not very good. Make the survey a part of your research mix, but also add some “High-touch.” Here are three more things you can do to get the information you need to put on that killer sales meeting.

  • Spend a day with a salesperson. Go out with one of your salespeople on their sales calls for a day. This will give you a tremendous feel, understanding and appreciation for what they do. You’ll share the highs and the lows salespeople encounter on a daily basis. See the emotional side of selling and find out how personal sales rejection can be.
  • Spend a day with a sales manager. As opposed to salespeople, being a good sales manager requires an entirely different set of skills. What better way to understand those differences than to spend a day with a sales manager. Pay attention to the interaction between the salesperson and sales manager. Pick the sales manager’s brain about the strengths and weaknesses of his or her sales force.
  • Attend a local sales meeting . Most local, district or regional sales managers hold weekly or monthly meetings with their 5 to 10 salespeople. Attend one or two of these meetings. Listen for the issues that seem to be the most important. These meetings can also be a good place to find in-house speakers.

None of these suggestions will be difficult to implement and I’ll guarantee the sales force will be impressed with your commitment to making their sales meeting memorable.