All posts by Chris Lytle

You Can’t Bore People Into Buying From You

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

In 1976 there were no cell phones or email. We had a message nail.

When you walked into the office, the first thing you did was retrieve all the little pink message slips from the message nail and go through them to see which calls needed to be returned. One afternoon there was a message for me from the new manager at one of my car dealer clients. The fact that the message was on a pink slip was ironic because, in essence, the new guy was firing me.

The message read, “Bob Voss, Schappe-Conway Dodge, called. Cancel all of our advertising schedules immediately. You will have a twenty-minute meeting to re-pitch the entire year’s advertising budget on Thursday. Your appointment with Mr. Voss is at 1:20 P.M.”

Twenty minutes to present an entire year’s advertising program. The meeting was in forty-eight hours.

The bad news: The client had canceled his advertising. The worse news: I was his 1:20 meeting. That meant he was meeting with sales reps from every media for twenty minutes each. He had an 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00, 9:20, 9:40 and so on. I was going to be the fourteenth media rep he would see that day.

Mr. Voss canceled his advertising on Tuesday. The twenty-minute meeting was set for Thursday. In preparing for the meeting, I called a salesperson at the dealership. I learned from her that Mr. Voss had just been hired away from Dodge City in Milwaukee to turn around the Dodge dealership in Madison. For those of you who can remember back that far, that was pre-Lee Iacocca, and Dodge was struggling nationwide.

I planned my approach.

I decided I didn’t want to be like every other rep, in there for twenty minutes desperately presenting the year’s budget. My goal was to sell Mr. Voss on the fact that twenty minutes wasn’t long enough to plan a year’s worth of advertising. My strategy was to differentiate myself and my presentation from that parade of media reps I imagined he was meeting with and the presentations they were making.

I made a conscious decision to not even present him a year’s schedule, even though that was what he requested. I left the Arbitron local ratings book at the station. I didn’t pack a rate sheet or a brochure on the station. All I had in my fiberglas™ briefcase when I walked in the door was my customer needs analysis form and a notepad.

At precisely 1:20 P.M. on Thursday, the door of Mr. Voss’s office opened and out came the salesperson with the one o’clock meeting. He was rolling his eyes and surreptitiously shaking his head in disgust. As he made his exit, I made my entrance. As I walked into Mr. Voss’s office with my briefcase in my left hand, I extended my right hand and said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Voss, I’m Chris L- . . .”

“You’re my 1:20 appointment. Sit down and pitch me.” He said it in an obnoxious, but not abusive way.

“This is going to be an interesting meeting,” I thought to myself. I had never been to a seminar on neuro-linguistics to learn about mirroring a client, but I was astute enough to realize that here was a tough customer and I had better change my style of selling and become the salesperson he wanted me to be. Gruff, quick and to the point. Get to the bottom line.

“Mr. Voss, I don’t know if you should be on our station or not,” I said. I knew he hadn’t heard that line from any one of the thirteen eager salespeople who had come before me.

“What do you mean you don’t know if I should be on your station or not?” he shot back.

“Well, Mr. Voss, I know that you’re already a successful car dealer and I’ve heard about your work with Dodge City. We’re having the biggest month in the history of our radio station. So we’re both successful and we’re doing it without each other.”

(Even when I was twenty-six years old, I wanted to see myself as providing a valuable service instead of taking someone’s money.)

I looked him in the eye and said, “I work with Len Mattioli at American TV, Jon Lancaster at his dealership and the Copps account. I’m helping them get some big sales increases.

“This is the way I work with them. See if it makes sense to you.

“Most of my important clients want ideas that help them improve traffic, sales and profits. In order to be in a position to bring ideas instead of just rates and ratings, I use a tool that helps me learn about nine key areas of your business that may give you an advertisable difference over your competitors. It takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and one half to do this right.

“I could present a schedule and show you what your predecessor and I were working on. But I imagine you have bigger goals and tougher targets than Steve did or you wouldn’t be in that chair.

“Mr. Voss, I want to be in a position to make an intelligent proposal based on your objectives and not just my need to sell you a schedule. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” he said, his voice softening a little bit.

And then I made The Gesture. I raised my hand and gestured to his credenza and he looked around. On the credenza was a pile off all the media kits every other salesperson had brought to the meeting. “Mr. Voss,” I said, still gesturing at the stack, “have you had any intelligent proposals so far today?”

The man changed before my very eyes. The gruff, powerful executive was now slumping in his chair. His face sagged. He looked at me and said these words: “Chris, this has been the most boring day of my life.”

“Mr. Voss? Can we go through this analysis together?”

“Chris, please, call me Bob.”

“Bob, what are your plans for turning this dealership around?”

Ninety minutes later, Bob Voss accompanied me out of his office. There were four salespeople in the waiting room, like planes circling over O’Hare Airport on a stormy night.

Two weeks later, the client was back on our station in a big way. They were one of the top ten advertisers on the station that year.

The most boring day of Bob Voss’s life was made up of thirteen consecutive meetings with people presenting their rates, ratings and schedules. They were talking about buying advertising. Nobody talked to him about selling cars, which was the only thing he was really excited about.

I might have made a quicker sale if I had pitched him in the allotted twenty minutes, but I don’t think I would have made a bigger or longer-lasting sale. I would have been just one of the vendors he bought from, not one of the people he looked to for advertising advice and ideas.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling.

Accidental Salesperson Axiom: You can’t bore people into buying.

Corollary: Your clients buy the way you sell before they buy what you sell.

This is an excerpt from The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

Psst! Googling “best sales closing lines” wasn’t my best idea. Who knew?

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

So, I thought I’d write another article about closing sales. To get the ball rolling, I googled “best sales closing lines.”

Unfortunately . . .

What came up first were some of the worst closes I have ever seen.

Trust me. I’ll be 80 in 13 years and I’ve been exposed to a lot of bad ones.

This site lists dozens of old school, high-pressure manipulative closes:

Concession Close: “John, if I reduce the price by 10% will you sign the contract today?”

Shame Close: “Your son really deserves the new model, don’t you think?”

I won’t even bother you with the Embarrassment Close or Ask the Manager Close.

Manipulative closes are way past their sell by date.

In Spin Selling, Neil Rackham writes about closing, pressure and manipulation:

“In low value sales, given unsophisticated customers and no need to have a continuing relationship, closing “techniques” can work very effectively. With professional buyers, closing techniques make you less effective. They reduce your chances of getting the business.”

Good advice, Neil.

Look, I’m assuming you don’t have a lot of one-call closes.

I’m figuring you’re calling on sophisticated buyers who meet with many salespeople.

If I’m right, then avoid the closing lines you’ll find by googling “best sales closing lines.”

Like the one I found on this site in an article about the best closing lines for life insurance agents:

The Level With Me Close: Polly, level with me. Have I failed to show you the value of what you’ll receive from your investment? (Then, be quiet.)

I like the “be quiet” part. But that’s it.

I kept looking, though. Ultimately I found this good idea from thought leader and author Dave Kurlin.

“Let’s assume that you’ve decided to ask for the order and ask at the right time. When is the right time? It’s when you’ve touched all the bases. You’ve reached first, second and third and you’re sliding into home plate. You haven’t taken any shortcuts. So, what exactly are you asking. You’re asking if they want your help. You might have to customize it a little. “Would you like my help closing more sales?” This question is a close anyone can execute. But you still have to ask.”

Thanks, Dave. I like it. It’s straightforward and fresh. And it’s devoid of any pressure or manipulation.

Here’s what I wrote in The Accidental Salesperson. Hard to believe that book turns 17 this June.

“A Success magazine survey of a thousand top sales performers found out that more than half had abandoned any kind of closing technique. 56% of the salespeople said they looked the client in the eye and said something like, “This is right for you. Let’s do it.” And, then, they waited for the client to sign the order.”

It can work, especially if you believe in what you’re selling. Because problems of belief are more critical than problems of technique.

Here are two closes I teach today in my seminars and webinars:

  1. I would like to have you as a customer. Is there any reason we can’t get started? I got that one from the great copywriter, Bob Bly. It works because it states what you want. It invites the customer to tell you if there’s anything standing in the way of moving forward.
  2. What would you like me to do next? It works because it gives the prospect all the control. No pressure.

Oh, I almost forgot: There’s one more shockingly simple close I really like. I wrote a whole article about it.

If you visit this project of mine and like what you see, then use the promo code LINKED at checkout. You’ll like the price unless I somehow fail to show you the value you’ll receive from your investment.

Hmm. Maybe that close isn’t so bad.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

Are Any of Your Salespeople Hooked on This?

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Let politicians deal with the opioid epidemic.

Sales managers need to address this career-threatening addiction:

“Hope-ium.”

Salespeople get hooked on it. This usually happens when a prospect says, “I’m interested, call me next week.”

The salesperson dutifully makes a note to call next week and leaves.

And guess what?

When she calls back her “interested” prospect doesn’t pick up the phone.

Her “interested” prospect doesn’t return her calls or emails either.

What to do?

Make sure to teach your salespeople this magic question to ask every prospect who feigns interest: “Are you willing to work with me on a calendar basis?”

Real prospects put your salespeople on their calendars for a next step.

They engage.

However, information seekers, will blow the smoke of “hope-ium” at your salespeople to mollify them.

Plan an intervention.

Teach them the magic question at your next sales meeting.

And whatever you do, never put information seekers into your company’s sales projections. Because you can’t afford to have your CFO hooked on “hope-ium” too.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

This Close is Shockingly Simple

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

“Send me a proposal.”

I dread hearing those four words.

“Send me a proposal.”

Those four words can add hours of work to your day.

“Send me a proposal.”

Those four words can add days to your sales cycle.

Look, not every sale is an enterprise solution. Not every product can be customized. Sometimes we’re just out there selling stuff that solves a common business problem.

Quick story.

I’m meeting with the CFO of a broadcast company. We’re 90 minutes into the discovery phase.

He’s hesitant to invest in sales training. His sales managers are having trouble finding good candidates to train. There is too much turnover.

I happen to be selling an aptitude test for evaluating potential employees. I steer the conversation toward selecting better salespeople.

“This is exactly what we need,” says the CFO. “Send me a proposal for fifteen of them.”

(The tests cost $100 each.)

“I brought an order form,” I reply.

Silence.

“That will work,” said the CFO.

Done deal.

“I brought an order form” is the shockingly simple close that will work for your salespeople too.

When will you teach it to them?

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

Success Secrets from Ancient Greece

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Special for MAB members:

Chris is giving away his “Supercharged Sales Management” video. An Australian consultancy commissioned it for a video keynote a couple of years ago. Take a look at it here

Around 2,400 years ago, Socrates said, “I can’t teach anybody anything. I can only get them to think.”

Fortunately, I came across his advice early in my professional speaking career. It was an an eye-opening, game-changing revelation for me.

Almost immediately, I started teaching less and getting my audiences to think more.

I added experiential learning exercises and group discussions.

Getting people involved made those six-hour seminars seem to go faster.

It saved a lot of wear and tear on the trainer, too. I no longer had to talk and be the center of attention all day.

Here’s the exercise I have used in hundreds of seminars. It takes about 25-minutes and really energizes the audience.

Try it in an upcoming sales meeting for a change of pace.

You could introduce the exercise by saying, “Let’s spends some time today thinking and talking what selling is like when you’re at your best?”

Then, pose the first question below. Let every person in the meeting get a shot at answering it. Repeat the process with questions 2 and 3.

  1. How do you feel when you’re at your best?
  2. How do you behave when you’re at your best?
  3. How do your prospects and customers react to you when you’re at your best?

You may find that salespeople talk about feeling relaxed, confident, prepared, and totally in the moment when they’re at their best.

They may describe behaviors like making solid eye contact, walking tall, gesturing appropriately, listening better, and using a more confident tone of voice.

You may hear their clients react by giving them more time, sharing real problems, and even buying from them.

You won’t know exactly until you run the meeting.

I do know it will be a positive and motivating meeting for your salespeople. It might even motivate you to do even less teaching get your team to do more thinking.

And, of course, it can give each of your salespeople insights into how to be at their best more often.

If you’re ready to shake things up a bit, then heed Socrates’ timeless advice?

You’ll find more ideas on running better sales meetings at https://InstantSalesTraining.com

Reprinted by permission

The Dreaded “Got-a-minute?” Meeting

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Special for MAB members:

Chris is giving away his “Supercharged Sales Management” video. An Australian consultancy commissioned it for a video keynote a couple of years ago. Take a look at it here

How long is a “Got-a-minute?” meeting in your office? I’m guessing it’s more than a minute.

Shoot, I remember a “Got-a-second?” meeting that lasted an hour and a half!

Salespeople ask you for a minute whenever they have a fire for you to put out for them.

Could it be that you’ve trained salespeople you’re willing to do their firefighting for them.

Why not? After all, you know more than they do and you’re their boss.

Here’s why not.

Your real job is developing your salespeople so they can do their jobs better.

Yes, developing people takes a lot more time on the front end. As a sales manager, the quick and easy thing for you to do is this:

• Give people the answers to their questions.
• Solve their problems for them.
• Put out the fire.

Then, move on to your next “Got-a-minute?” meeting.

This can go on all day.

And it probably will unless you change your approach.

Developing people starts with your willingness to coach.

Chris Lytle’s Critical Rule of Coaching is to ask at least seven questions before you give an answer.

“But, Chris, I don’t have the time to ask seven questions,” you say. “There are salespeople lined up at my door waiting for me to fix things for them.”

You have to make the time.

Coaching builds loyalty. To ask seven questions, you have to quiet your mind and listen to people.

When people feel listened to and not judged, they become more confident and committed.

Because people rarely resist their own ideas.

And you cannot possibly ask seven questions in a row unless you really are listening.

“You can’t influence someone’s thinking until you know what they’re thinking.” The late Norm Goldsmith said this to our Leadership Institute participants every session.

You won’t know what someone on your sales team is thinking until you ask.

“Got-a-minute?”

That’s your signal that you have an opportunity to develop someone.

Reprinted by permission

40 Years Later Sales Managers Are Still Making This Silly Mistake

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Special for MAB members:

Chris is giving away his “Supercharged Sales Management” video. An Australian consultancy commissioned it for a video keynote a couple of years ago. Take a look at it here

As a young sales manager, I actually said this in a sales meeting: “We have a new salesperson starting next week. Her name is Andrea. I need all of you to give up five accounts from your lists so I can create a new list for her.”

Nobody complained. They smiled knowingly and gave up the accounts they found impossible to sell:

  • The mean ones
  • The small ones
  • The slow paying ones
  • The ones who’d had a “bad experience” with our station

And our brand new hire began her Radio career with an account list that our veterans couldn’t survive on The Charles Darwin Account List.

In this free Webinar. I describe exactly how I learned to get salespeople to willingly pare down their account lists and thrive.

Plus, I reduced turnover by having accounts with real potential to give to the new salesperson.

This is mission critical “stuff.”

Don’t miss it.

And please let me know what you think: Chris.lytle@InstantSalesTraining.com

Reprinted by permission