Infocusselling’s Blog

September 21, 2009

The Myth of Busyness

Busyness is dangerous for business. I’ve heard repeatedly in the past 60 days that things have opened up. When so many businesses have gone as long as they have without being busy, this sudden surge seems overwhelming and distracting. Sales reps get bogged down, the now lean operations department gets stressed, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief that the worst is over. This is a big mistake. I’m about to spout some heresy so hang on.

It’s nearly October meaning we have only three months left to finish strong in 2009 and only three months to start feeding the 2010 pipeline. If you are experiencing a sudden uptick in business, that’s great and I’m happy for you. Now, work longer hours and keep selling. Forget about breathing easy and forget about smiling at how all your networking has paid off.

Right now you should be having two kinds of meetings: prospects who are prospects right now and prospects who are prospects for 2010. If someone is not a prospect, take them off your calendar. You don’t have time for fence sitters and wishy-washy people who “might do something” in a month or two, or who are “thinking it over” or who are “looking to see if it’s in the budget.”

Your time is incredibly valuable and you owe it to yourself and to your family to bring it home. Learn how to spot a true prospect from someone who has no chance of buying from you. Think about what those who became clients said during your meetings and compare it to what was said by those who never signed. As you meet new people, listen carefully and objectively but not optimistically. If you hear a fence-sitter, be polite but be specific. Find out if they are serious and if not, stop wasting time on them.

Before I get razzed for thrashing networking, I’m not saying that networking is not still part of the mix. It is, and you need to network. But networking meetings are different from prospect meetings in that networking meetings end with referrals and introductions. Prospect meetings end with either an order or a decision not to go forward. Either is fine; something in between is not.

You network to fill your calendar with prospect meetings. You meet prospects to fill your sales column. If someone does not fit either column, you’re too busy to meet and you need to focus on the sale right in front of you.

Click here for information on a nearly free workshop on Sales and Marketing in 2009 and Beyond sponsored by Business Ownership Initiative.


June 17, 2009

Going Too Far: Appreciation, Incentive, or Inducement?

I recently heard a speaker (David Steele) comment about changes in selling today. He commented that in the past, expensive dinners, golf trips, and high priced tickets were the norm. I know from experience that unless a new car showed up in a driveway or a rep’s beach condo was used by a customer for vacation, no one really gave much thought to corporate gift giving. But today, expensive dinners, golf trips, and front row ticket are much less common. Have the rules changed? And if so, is it due to the economics of business that no longer allow fat margins to cover gifts, or have the ethics of business changed so that the potential impropriety of gifts given in anticipation of or as a thank you for business is no longer acceptable?

When a gift is given, what is the intent? Does the timing matter—a gift given before or after an order? A gift given before a purchase is likely intended to sway a decision than one given after, unless there was a promise of such a gift made during the sales process. Does it matter who initiated the conversation? The seller could say, “I’ve got tickets to the finals every year, and I always take my newest account. I hope you can get this order placed so it can be you.” If so, that could be construed as an inducement. But a buyer could also say, “I want to go to the playoffs this year, and last year my supplier got me tickets. Do you think you can do the same?” This could imply a requirement to the seller as part of the purchase decision, an intent by the customer to extort special favors as a result of his or her discretionary purchasing power.

What about on-going customers? Do we give gifts to on-going customers to maintain their business, or to sincerely thank them for being loyal and supportive to us? Who is more valuable? The first time buyer or the repeat buyer? Sure you have to get the first order to get to the second order, but think how much easier it is when you have on-going customers instead of a long list of one hit wonders. If we only give gifts to repeat buyers, does that look more like a sincere thank you and less like a blatant inducement?

In the end, it comes down to intent. What is the intent of the buyer and what is the intent of the seller. If the intent is to influence a decision, it sounds questionable. If it is done post order and the buyer didn’t know it was coming, it sounds more sincere. I can’t answer the question for anyone but myself, but I’m noticing a change in trend that might mark a new direction in buyer/seller expectations.

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March 4, 2009

Creating a Structure for Sales Success

It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Experience tells me it should be, “If you fail to have a good plan, you plan to fail.”

Do you have a good plan for what happens during a sales call? That plan is to have a structured question sequence that walks a contact from beginning to end, from the introductory opening to the final commitment in getting an order. Having that plan separates a Sales Leader from a sales rep.

The acronym to use for building an effective question sequence is INFOCUS—hence the name INFOCUS Selling™. The acronym reminds us of the best sequence for your questions, giving your questions a plan and a purpose. Let’s take a look at INFOCUS Selling™, letter by letter.

I for Introduction—This initial phase introduces who you are and who you represent so that you
are not talking with a stranger, stated in a way that the other person wants to talk with you.

N for Name Your Purpose—This defining phase sets the parameters for an open dialogue
between you and your contact, that you are there to ask questions and collect information to see
whether there is a match between their needs and your offerings at some time in the future–not
that you are going to ask them to make a decision today.

F for Find a Goal—At this phase you begin to discover the desired pressing goal or overall
objective of this contact, a goal that is important to them in their world, both personally and

O for Outline the Goal—Through this phase you help the prospect identify and explore the
details of the goal so that both you and the prospect have a full, complete, and comprehensive
understanding of the goal or objective.

C for Crystallize Gains and Losses—During this phase you have the prospect determine the
good, positive, and pretty things that will happen personally and organizationally if this goal is
achieved, and the bad, negative, and ugly things that will happen personally and organizationally
if this goal is not achieved. Together you calculate positive and negative financial values for both
achieving and failing to achieve the objective.

U for Uncover Blocks and Obstacles—In this phase you dig for what is in the way of
accomplishing the goal; what must be overcome or at a minimum handled or addressed for the
project to be successful or the goal to be achieved. This may also be the reason the goal has not
already been accomplished or achieved in the past.

S for Secure Final Commitment—This last phase is where you get the last commitment you need
to start a client/vendor relationship. When the entire process is done correctly, this is a natural
outcome and a natural progression of the questions you have asked up to this point.

These letters that spell INFOCUS™ indicate the process and sequence to take your sales from
wherever they are today to above whatever chart or goal you and your boss have devised. We
will deal with all of the letters in future postings as we dissect each step of the INFOCUS
Selling™ process.

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February 22, 2009

When Closing Seems Harder Than it Should Be

Salespeople love to close a deal. Making a sale is what you’re paid to do. Ever have trouble convincing someone to buy? No matter how hard you try, you can’t move them from “think it over” to “where do I sign?” Maybe you should stop trying to convince and close and go back to why you are there—to collect information and help them make a decision.

Sales is about a series of structured and intentional questions, not a canned pitch about features, advantages, and benefits. You cannot push your prospect to a close through talking, because you do not know what your contact needs nor do you know their value from your solution. You going in and giving a feature pitch is selling in the worst context of the word, and it will not help you gain the commitment you need to move forward.

And that is a much better word than closing—commitment. Forget about closing because closing is for doors and windows. More on that next week.

Before you go on your next call, have a plan for getting the necessary information on the table. Think about what you and your client both need to know to make sure that you are a good fit. You know your business but unless you own the other company, you don’t know their business. They are different from your last prospect and different from your next prospect. Instead of assuming what he or she wants and needs, start asking questions.

A structured question plan can help you guide the conversation so that your contact becomes a prospect at the highest dollar value and in the shortest amount of time. Your sequence walks a contact from beginning to end, from the introductory opening to the final commitment in getting an order. Having that plan separates a Sales Leader from a sales rep.

Stay tuned for more on how to create your powerful question structure using the INFOCUS Selling™ process.

January 5, 2009

Resisting an Invitation to Give Away a Quarter Million Bucks

Article by Chris McEvoy

Setting the stage, back a few years, when I’m president of PALLM, Inc., an Indy-based insurance software company.

 It was the English chap on the phone from Tokyo.

“Good news, you got the deal! They’re OK with your pricing. They want you to bring a technical person to Tokyo to present to the computer geeks while you finalize the deal.”


December 9, 2008

Closing the Sale

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 9:12 am
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Rainmakers University: Closing the Sale

How many times do we feel confident throughout our sales cycle until the end when we try to close? In this class taught by experienced sales trainer, Jeff Bowe, you will learn how to:

**Build urgency so your prospect wants to move forward

**Know and understand exactly what is in the way of moving forward today

**Not to have to worry about “closing” by focusing on commitment

**Get your prospect to pay for writing your proposal

Join us to learn how to better close your sales and increase your revenues!

Thursday, December 11th, 12:30pm – 2:00pm

Seminar at Fishers Office Suites, 11650 Lantern Road, Fishers, IN 46038

REGISTER HERE  for this seminar

December 2, 2008

Never Make Your Prospects Lie

Never Make Your Prospects Lie

by Jeff Bowe

Have you ever been asked a question when buying something that prompted you to lie while answering? Not a big lie, just a little one. I am guessing you have and I bet the question was, “Are you the decision maker for this purchase?” You probably said “yes” even though you knew you had to consult with someone else.

When you ask your prospects the same question, you are begging them to lie to you in exactly the same way. This isn’t a great way to start a relationship nor does it give you the information you need to make a sale. Let’s look at why this is such a dangerous question.


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