Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are responsible: they work effectively without constant supervision."

Month: May 2015

Did you win or did the competition lose?

Did you win or did the competition lose?

You may not have won the deal. Instead, it is possible that your competition lost the deal.

You have probably been selling for a long time. Personally, I have been selling for three decades. I have sold tens of millions of dollars of products. If I tabulated it all, I might have sold in the hundreds of millions of dollars of products. I have probably won 500 deals in my career and thankfully have lost much fewer. I have sold deals measured in multiple millions of dollars and sold deals much smaller. My sales cycles have taken years, and they have taken days.

In short, I have seen a lot in my career, and I know that I still have 10-20 more years to build on my success.

With all of the deals that I have done, I can think of many times that I have screwed up and still won the deal. I am sure that if you tried to remember all of your closed deals, you could remember a few times that you didn’t do everything correctly.

Of course, when I say doing something correctly, I am saying following the specific steps of the published masters. The books teaching selling skills such as Solution Selling, Strategic Selling, Conceptual Selling, The Challenger Sale, Power Based Selling, Spin Selling, World Class Selling, and Customer Centric Selling.

This observation leads many people to say that these books are wrong. Since you violated every rule in these books and still won the deal, the books must be junk. Their advice is useless and irrelevant.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that you do not need to follow the advice of the masters. All you need is a competitor that does a worse job than you do! Let’s face it, many times a prospect is going to buy, and they are going to buy the best product that they can afford. If your competition is lousy, you just might win the deal because the competition lost the deal, and you didn’t screw up as badly.

In other words, you might be lousy at sales, but your competition could be even lousier.

There is an old joke. Two men were walking through the woods when a large bear walked out into the clearing no more than 50 feet in front of them. The first man dropped his backpack and dug out a pair of running shoes, then began to lace them up as the bear slowly approached them. The second man looked at the first, confused, and said, “What are you doing? Running shoes aren’t going to help, you can’t outrun that bear.” “I don’t need to,” said the first man, “I just need to outrun you.”

And now you know the reason there is a polar bear image in my header (BTW, the image was taken by one of my very good friends, Don Tredinnick).

Did you outrun your competition or were they just slow? Maybe you should invest in some self-learning and read a few of those books so that you can beat faster runners! Better yet, subscribe to this site so that you can read my book when it is published.

Your LinkedIn profile image should be professional not goofy

Your LinkedIn profile image should be professional not goofy

What does your profile image look like on LinkedIn? Is it a profile image that you are proud of or is it a profile image that makes you proud?

A profile image you are proud of could be one where you are on the 18th hole of a favorite golf course. Or, maybe it is you hauling in a big bass. On the flip side, a profile image that makes you proud makes you look like a successful business person ready to give advice to your prospect as a trusted adviser.

Regardless of what you put on Facebook, your LinkedIn profile image should be a professional looking image. It is fine to put a profile image with your best friends at a game on Facebook. Facebook is for friends. LinkedIn is for work. Don’t confuse the two social sites! Your LinkedIn profile image is supposed to make you look like a mature adult that is ready to give your prospect sound advice. It is also supposed to give prospective employers the feeling that you are trustworthy and ready to help them achieve goals.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to get a good profile image. Choose a neutral background, put on professional clothing (at least from the chest up), and have someone take a couple of shots from their smartphone. Take a couple head-on like a mugshot but also take a couple slightly so that your shoulders are not square with the camera. You may also want to take a couple shots where the camera is a few feet above your head and a few shots where the camera is looking up at you. Don’t forget to vary your smiles from a big toothy smile to a small grin.

Avoid using the photo that your company uses for the identity badge. Let’s face it, it looks like a photo that is used on an identity badge (or worse the image used on your driver’s license).

Watch the video below to get some other ideas and understanding on your LinkedIn profile image. Nick Miller of Clarity Advantage explains the importance of having a professional image on LinkedIn.

The image at the top of this article is my current LinkedIn profile image as I write this article. I don’t see a lot of value in changing it too often as Nick advises but I do change it every 6-12 months. As you can tell, Abercrombie is not going to hire me for their next marketing campaign, but that is okay. Surely, your profile image looks as good or better than mine so put it up there and look professional.

Tweet length at 140 characters on Twitter is important

Tweet length at 140 characters on Twitter is important

It is very difficult to create a brand within Twitter, so it is important to manage your tweet length. The service is a streaming service, and the flow of tweets is constant. This problem is even more true if your user community follows a large number of sources. In that situation, your tweet may only be on someone’s page for a few seconds or, at best, a few hours. Retweets help to increase your brand by delivering your message again, but if you don’t manage your tweet length then your tweets become less viable for retweeting.

When readers retweet your tweets, your influence in the community will increase. You need to think of two parameters if you want to maximize your retweets:

  • The tweet has value to your target audience.
  • The tweet length makes it easy to retweet.

I am assuming that you are only tweeting things that are valuable to your target audience. I talk about content for tweets elsewhere on this site, so I am not going to spend time on that here.

To maximize your reach, you must manage the tweet length of your message. This tweet length management allows the reader to hit the retweet button, put a short comment, and hit send. If the user has to edit your tweet length to get it under 140 characters, then you make it more difficult for them. If it is more difficult to do a retweet, then it is likely they will not retweet your original wisdom.

Twitter currently has a tweet length of 140 characters. That is not a lot of characters to share your wisdom, and it is even harder if you have to manage the tweet length to allow effective retweets. That is your life though, so let’s work on the technique.

Your first task is to count the letters in your Twitter name or Twitter handle. In my case, my Twitter name is “soshaughnessey.” That handle has 14 characters. That is a lot of characters, and I wish that I would have chosen a shorter handle, but it is too late. I didn’t realize the information in this article when I first established my account, and now I have too much of a brand among my readers to change it.

There are some other constants that you need to consider to manage the tweet length. A retweet is designated on the Twitter stream with “RT @” before the Twitter name of the original tweeter. That is four characters. This means for me to have a tweet retweeted, it will start with “RT @soshaughnessey” which is 18 characters.

We also want to leave some room for the retweeter to say something. Think of things like “Great article!” (14 characters), “I agree!” (8 characters), or “Must read!” (10 characters). My rule of thumb is that we want to give the retweeter ten characters but the more, the better.

So what is my personal tweet length target? I aim for no more than 112 characters. That is 140 characters minus my Twitter name, the retweet constants, and the room for comment.

112 = 140 – 14 [soshaughnessey] – 4 [RT @] – 10.

Tweet Length = 140 – your handle length – 4 – 10.

If you leave your Twitter handle and the length of your target tweet length in the comments, I will be sure to follow you. Better yet, if you retweet the tweet for this article, I will follow you. You can find the original tweet for this article here. You can also follow me at @soshaughnessey.

Photo by marek.sotak