The Hardest Sale of Your Life

(also known as, 10 courageous ways to take down the bad guys and live a life of amazing opportunity)

I was in a conversation with a close friend last week about some serious matters when I just stopped everything I was talking about and simply summed it up by noting:

“You know? This is the hardest sale of my life”…

Have you ever been there? Are you there right now?

It’s a pretty incredible opportunity to really know that what you are engaged in RIGHT now is the fight of your life.

  • Understanding that nothing else you have ever done before compares to the challenge you are facing right now…
  • Realizing that when you walk away victorious from this challenge you will have won the biggest battle of your life…

It’s a do or die set-up.

A time when the fork in the road is a choice of harder or hardest. There is nothing easy about this — just a painful uphill struggle.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this opportunity? How do you handle the hardest sale of your life?

  1. You hold nothing back in your personal effort — The fight of your life demands the fight of your life.  You really have to lay it all on the line: mind, body, and soul.   And if there is anything else you have to offer, you need to put that in the game as well.   All!  Everything!  Every ounce of effort goes to winning this cause.  (And by the way, don’t confuse “almost” with “all”. One gets you close to the deal. The other is what helps you close the deal.)
  2. You don’t stop your analysis until you find real meaning — Things are never as they seem.  Winners today can end up the real losers tomorrow.  You have to keep digging into the “facts” of the case until you get the answers that no one else has.  Here’s a DEW favorite: “remember that it’s always what it’s not – at least the first few times around”.  That means that the standard answers you are getting from your prospect about timeline and budget are the exact opposite from the actual words that you are hearing.
  3. You are patient with results and refuse to over-react — Most sales people are their own worst enemy once they sense that they might not be winning the hardest deal of their life. They transform into irrational, paranoid super-sulky panhandlers asking for the prospect’s loose change. They stop thinking like the savvy business ninjas that got them into the game in the first place. You need to remember to be patient with the process. Put in place the “24 Hour Rule” ( i.e. No communication to the client for a full day after you sense bad news from a prospect.)  Use that time to find an alternative strategy that shows your care of the client rather than a hand-out attempt to beg for their attention.
  4. You ask for non-judgmental advice from a guru — A guru doesn’t need to be a world-famous author or the biggest hotshot in your industry.  Sometimes that guy is the manager who has been doing this for three decades and has seen a million different deals come and go.  Sometimes that guru is just an article written on a blog or your favorite selling magazine.  The key is that the advice has to be non-judgmental.  You are where you are and asking someone (at this point) how you could have done it “better” is a huge waste of your time and a real “downer”.  Talk about “next steps” from “right here”.  Ask for advice and you will likely get some solutions you would not have considered all on your own.
  5. You take time for physically tasking exercise — There is  nothing that compares to kicking ass in the business world like kicking ass in the gym.  It clears your mind and prepares your body for stressful situations.  The world-famous Mayo Clinic calls exercise “Meditation in Motion” and that seems to have been my experience running on the open road.   You need to be physically and mentally prepared for a potential beating and nothing helps you navigate the madness of your schedule like a regular session of body building.  Take 30 minutes and push yourself hard.  You’ll find new confidence returning just when you need it most.
  6. You consider the advantages of the “outrageous” — Sometimes you need to break out the “clown suit” and go for broke — I am joking 99.5% here. While you don’t want to be silly, there is some solid reasoning to asking the hard questions you were afraid to ask during the sales competition — like “we didn’t really have a chance did we?” or “we sure seemed to miss the mark with you guys, didn’t we?” or “I’m embarrassed that we were so so self-centered we didn’t think more about the value we should have been providing to you.”  When you get the answers to these questions, you might find yourself with some solid “behind the scenes” information to propose a winning counter-solution.  You have nothing to lose, so go for it…
  7. You reverse roles with your buyer and justify “you” — Think about how you appear to your prospect.  Are you a whiner? A bully? A loudmouth? A hot-shot?  A miserable time-wasting, arrogant asshole?  Who are you from the buyer’s perspective?  Consider that….   You can call yourself the superhero of value propositions, but if your prospect doesn’t get it, then you have failed – miserably.  Think about the words you are using.  How would you react if they were being “played” to you?  Reverse your roles and see how you look from the other side of the table…
  8. You manage personal distractions by eliminating them first — You can’t execute a masterful strategy while you have nagging side issues beating you between the temples.  Conventional sales books have all made the case for running after distractions after you do your core mission.  I totally disagree.  That’s a horrible process.  It doesn’t work.  Distractions are a part of life.  You have to manage these issues FIRST, before they threaten your ability to perform at high levels.  Don’t half-ass the hardest sale of your life by focusing part of our attention on something else.  Get the nasty stuff off your plate – or at least partly solved – and then go kick ass.
  9. You don’t ask if dropping your price will close the deal — At this point (in the middle of the hardest sale of your life) you are way past grovelling for a rock-bottom price negotiation vantage point. Don’t do it.  Double the value analysis of your offering.  Triple your support offering. But do not cut your price.  Customers want the best offer — not necessary the lowest price.  By providing the most VALUE (i.e. explained benefit to the buyer) you become the best offer.  And here is a question for you: Does a price drop really ever increase your odds of winning the deal?  Doesn’t it just make you more frustrated?  So don’t do it.  Force yourself to demonstrate value instead.
  10. You close the hardest sale of your life — You face down your demons, put in the effort, and at the end of the day you take a commission to the bank.  You close the deal because you want it the most.  Because you are willing to ask for help.   You wait patiently through the chaos, the client demands, and personal fears.  You close the deal.

That’s what you do.

You close the hardest sale of your life.

And why? Because that’s all there is to do.  That’s why you are in the game — to fight, to win…

I certainly don’t want to gloss over this idea. There’s more to this idea and it’s not for everyone.  It’s certainly one of those topics that is easier to talk about than to actually do.

That’s because deep down some of you think that winning is for someone else.  That you aren’t the one who can win.

But you are mistaken.  You are a winner.  You were born that way.  You can do it. You can win big.  You can close the hardest sale of your life.

Call me, I’ll help you.

Advertisements

Obsessively Searching for “Stellar”…

Many thanks to the dozens of you who have sent me kind messages over the last two weeks asking where The DEW View! had gone. 

Nowhere.

I just didn’t have anything shockingly inspiring to share.

I really do want to change the world not waste your time.

ALSO… this blog is getting a massive upgrade.  I am working on some new content at danielwaldschmidt.com for you along with my friends at Channel V Media that I am SO excited to share with you.  That should be coming to you at the beginning of the year.  It’s really going to be VERY cool.  I will finally have a platform to offer you so much more content…

Everything that I am working on falls in the general category of high performance.  It’s a curious thought.  How can you consistently perform at amazingly high levels?

……….How can I do that?

………………..How can you do that?

…………………………How can you hold you employees to that standard?

These questions are on my mind these days.  Frankly, I think it’s on a lot of your minds too — if your emails and calls are an indication of what you are thinking about these days.

Being amazing, awesome, stellar — whatever you call it — really comes down to three attributes that any of us can have.  It’s not a hard formula to understand.  Is is however a painfully hard act to live…

Here is what defines “stellar”:

  1. Desire — You have to want to be better.  This is where it all starts.  Without desire, you will quickly fall off the mark of consistent high performance.  It happens all time — well intentioned, passionate people giving up way too soon.  Their will is broken.  Their passion is quelled.  WHY?  They give up because they forget how bad they really want to be successful.  You need desire now more than ever.  With the gloom of global economic negativity in our face every day, desiring more for yourself is a must.
  2. Dedication — You have to focus your time on being a high performer.  You can’t just simply want to be amazing and it magically happen.  You’re life isn’t a David Blaine performance, it’s a battle — for your time and attention.  Daily activity toward your goal is the only way to be a consistent high performer.  Small things add up to big things over time.  They do.  With the dedication toward accomplishing small goals, you will find yourself doing huge things over time.
  3. Discipline — You have to train yourself to endure the bad stuff that happens along the way.  Despite the best plans and the most altruistic of ambitions, people and circumstances will rain all over your parade.  They will discourage you.  Many times they will deliberately try to hurt you.  You have to be ready to take a punch, get knocked out, and then stand back up and keep fighting — time after time after time.  No matter what happens, you have to have the discipline to reach deep within your soul and fight on.

Success is not usually an intellectual challenge.  It’s a mental challenge.  Desire, dedication, and discipline are not taught in the classroom.  They are a harsh reality of life.  You can be stellar.  You can find excellence.  You can be amazing…

How are you searching for stellar?

—————

By the way, if you missed the “Edgy Conversations” webinar I presented for Top Sales Expert International last week, click here to check out what 740 other people clicked on to see.  The video is about 60 minutes long and got some tremendous reviews from those who saw it live.  As a side note, there were a handful of the hundreds who saw this that thought I was a complete moron — so you know it has to be “spicy”…

How to succeed when your life life kicks the @$%*# out of your sales life

beat-up-faceSometimes life throws you a curve ball.

Things blow up…. bad.

You get beaten up in your personal life and it starts to affect your chances at closing deals.

You have opportunities that demand finesse, skill, and talent — and you feel defeated and ready to quit.

Winning is more than about a notch on the belt. It pays the bills.  Not succeeding is something you don’t want to consider….

So, what do you do?  How do you put your life back together while not missing a career beat?

  1. Recognize that life dealt you a black eye.  There is no use denying the obvious.
  2. Try to solve solvable life problems as soon as possible.  Let go of your ego.
  3. Spend time “grinding” through the sales steps you know you need to get done.  Send emails.  Return calls.
  4. Set aside a few special minutes a day to focus on your sales goals.  Focus on your dreams.
  5. Write down your scattered sales strategy thoughts throughout the days.  Your mind has a lot going on so take the time to store your half-finished ideas on paper.
  6. Write your daily goals on a calendar and don’t let time commitments slide.  Don’t let things that used to take 5 minutes take 30 minutes.
  7. Talk to someone that you trust and get the bad stuff out of your head.  Telling yourself that you suck is not a super way to build confidence.
  8. Challenge yourself in a favorite hobby or through physical exercise.  Take time for mastery.
  9. Take the first step toward your sales goal that day. Then another. Then another.  Build momentum.
  10. Learn from the experience — about yourself, about how your customer might be feeling.  Build empathy.

There’s probably more to this list than the points I have included.  In fact, I am sure there is more to consider.  The point is that life happens — and it hurts.  You want the world to stop so you can heal and it won’t.  It just runs you over again.  Use these basic steps to stay “in the game” while your world works itself out.

Winning is not about removing problems that you can not control but about continuing in spite of them…

————————

And a special event for The DEW View! community.  Join me November 19th for a Masterclass about “Edgy Conversations: An Explosion of Opportunities

Ever wonder how some sales executives land big deals with big players and you feel stuck chatting up the small guys about opportunities that will probably never happen.  Do you want to get the attention of the right people?  Do you want to see the number of opportunities you are working on explode?  Learn how to have “Edgy Conversations”.  Learn how to have conversations that matter….

I hope we can share a few minutes together…

(Illogically) Help Me Be Your Customer

chokeThink through the mind of your customer… and ask yourself if you are “illogically” wooing your customer.  Are you doing what no one else will do to make them successful?  Are you working to guarantee that your customer hits a home run by working with you?

It’s not logical.  In fact, it doesn’t really make sense from a “nuts-and-bolts” perspective.

But like anything, when you swing the opposite direction, you get a better perspective.  Instead of being illogically helpful, let’s look at being illogically awful.  Let’s look at the bad emails we send and see how we can make them better.

The endless onslaught of crappy emails has accelerated.  It has gotten serious.  For some reason, crazy sales people who need to have a strong Q4 all decided that they need to mass email the world in the hopes that we will magically take an interest in their nonsensery.

There is no interest in a relationship or learning what might be important to you or me.  It’s all about their email and how they have access to an amazing service that we “can’t miss out on”.  I want to drag them into my office, throw them on the floor and let them know this simple fact that they are overlooking:

We have thoroughly enjoyed not “enjoying” your service; and if your current care of us is any indication of your future care, then we are best served to not be your customer….. ever — for the sake of our health.

It is such a horrible experience to get these emails.  It’s like a sudden nausea that has me tasting a little stomach acid in my mouth.  I feel sick but my head’s not warm.  I just don’t feel well after reading this chicanery.

I had one such illogically awful encounter earlier this month when I received the following email in my inbox…

Email1

Of course, I was more than a little surprised and then annoyed at the premise of the email. (In this case, “annoyed” is a code word for “enraged”).

  1. There is no mention of my name in this entire email (I am not totally sure if she sent this to the right person…)
  2. There is value statement (I can’t figure out what really sets Melissa apart as being worth my time…)
  3. There is no call to action (I am kind of confused as to what logical action Melissa expects from me…)
  4. There is way too much content (I immediately start skimming because it “appears long and boring…)
  5. There is different color font in the email (I start wondering “why” and if there’s a special reason…)

So I emailed Melissa back.  And yes, I was in a funk.  My time had been wasted.  My intelligence had been insulted.  I was upset with myself that I had even given Melissa time in my busy day.  I was irate and so I shared my thoughts:

Email2

I just asked Melissa why being “illogically awful” was a reason why I should care. And not to be outdone or undeterred she let me know.  She wasn’t trying to woo me as a customer.  She was throwing data at me and hoping that I might be interested.

AWFUL!

Now you can gain access to thousands of developers.......

A truly “illogically awful” experience.  Melissa clearly did not want me as a customer.

A lot of sales books tell you that you qualify and don’t take chances with customers — that you do exactly what Melissa did:

  • That you refine your questions to only work with prospects who have money and time…. you get then give…
  • That you only build a relationship once you see that your prospect has something “in it” for you…  you prioritize based on immediate perceived value…
  • That you trade enough negotiable points and win a deal without taking any risks…. you never appear vulnerable or genuine…
  • That you explain all your moves logically in a “I always win” matrix… you need to appear important and in control…

But let’s not belabor the illustration.  We can learn how to be “illogically helpful” by doing everything that Melissa failed to do.

  1. Be personal — Start the email by calling me my name – my first name and leave off the “mister”….
  2. Be brief — Keep it to 5 sentences max.  If you need to tell me more, don’t…
  3. Be thorough — Tell me something you know I don’t know… and convince me you’re bad-ass…
  4. Be creative — Leave me wanting to hear the rest of your idea…
  5. Be different — Remove any buzzwords and industry “gibberish” that make me tune you out…
  6. Be inspiring — Combine what you want from me with what I care about.  I might actually get involved…
  7. Be important — Leave me good contact details so I can return your call or email and add you to my address book…
  8. Be neat — Proof read your email to make sure it is grammatically “mostly correct”.  Bad punctuation is distracting…
  9. Be safe — Don’t go nuclear on a random idea until we have a relationship. (i.e. politics, religion, etc…)…
  10. Be vulnerable — Admit it if you want help.  If you claim to have it figured out and don’t I lose respect…
  11. Be About Me — Rewrite your email if there are more I‘s and me‘s than you‘s.  You are writing to me so make it about me…

And here is the kicker: If you follow all the traditional sales rules (like Melissa did) you might never really ever lose a big deal.  You’ll never be in a position to question whether you made the right decision.  You’ll never have to take risks….

But you’ll never have the illogic to support yourself landing big deals.

The language of people

There’s a secret language that many of us don’t understand.  It’s deliberate but very real.  It’s hidden but in plain sight.  It’s how we work but rarely what we think about.

It’s called “humanity” and it’s the key to making the impossible very real.  It’s the difference between the unbelievable happening and almost “getting there.”

When you understand people you understand the possibilities.  You get to be a part of this language of “humanity“.

But it means your mission – your calling in life – is not about YOU:

  • It’s you feeling deep loss and quiet tears even when you’re told “I’m fine”…
  • It’s you reading the lines of worry on a tired face …
  • It’s you hearing the silent call for help when there is no sound…

It’s going on around you.  It was you yesterday and maybe today.

Chances are it’s your client tomorrow…

How GMC Lost My Million Dollar Business

What happened to the art of caring about the success of your customers?

What happened to caring in general — about your own success, about what wakes you up in the morning, about a higher calling than your 9-to-5?  Is it costing you millions of dollars and you don’t even know about it yet?

envoy“Sir, that’s the fee we added recently to anyone returning their vehicle at the end of their lease.  It’s helps to offset our recent losses.”

That was the response I got from a customer support rep in India answering my frustration over a $800 bill from GMC after returning my vehicle at the end of a 36 month lease.  Do I even need to tell you my response?  I was livid (and so are many of you just reading this).

Not only did I pay several thousands dollars up-front to buy my way into the lease, but Bank of America did a super job of auto-paying the bill each month — from my piggy bank to the coffers of GMC’s “bean counters”.  And now that my lease is done, some one decides to change the rules and charge me because they horribly mismanaged their own affairs.  (That puts me in a bad mood.)

There’s more to this story actually.  It gets better…

About 10 hours ago, I got a call from a Senior Customer Service Rep named Debra in Midland, Texas who “humored” me with a call back to help me with my concerns.  When I asked why I was getting charged $800 for a “Disposition Fee”, I was told”

“That’s a fee all of our customers pay…  It’s only if you decide not to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease.  It’s kind of an incentive thing… “

I kindly asked her where this was mentioned in my original agreement.

“I don’t know if that’s in your agreement, sir.  I don’t know if it’s mentioned there…”

So then I just got personal and I asked her the logic of demanding I pay a fee that was added three years after I signed paperwork.  I just asked why none of this made any sense.  What if this was happening to her?  Would she think this was the right way to be treated?

“Sir, I am sorry; we can not waive that fee, regardless…”

And then I got the real answer.  The fee right now was more important than I was.

……………………..She didn’t want it to make sense.

…………………………………………………She didn’t need it to make sense.

At the end of our discussion — at the end of getting no answers, no clarity, no reasons for these fees — Debra summed it up by simply noting that regardless of the fairness of the situation or her inability to explain the logic of the bill, she simply did not CARE….

That’s what it came down to.  She represented a company that did not care about me.

Two things I know:

  1. I will not ever pay this $800 fee until someone can clearly show me my rightful obligation (which at this point seems a long way off)…..   AND
  2. I will never (in my lifetime) ever buy another GMC…. (ever, ever….)

What does that mean?

It means that GMC loses horribly over a lack of caring.

Think about this with me.

If I buy a new vehicle every 5 years for the next 40 years (until I am 70) and pay roughly $45,000 per vehicle  (like I did with this Envoy), GMC lost out on $360,000.  And with a 2-car family, that’s about $750,000.  Now what if I buy the boys a car or two (like a generally insane parent)?  Are we close to a million dollars?

Are we beyond a million dollars?  Probably.

So what happened?

GMC forgot that CARING is the ultimate CAPITAL…..

You can spend millions on marketing and billions on branding, but if you don’t care, you can’t replace your customers fast enough to stay in business.  In face, it’s worse than bad.  You just don’t upset your community; you create an army of vigilantes who go out-of-their-way to make sure you fail.  They actually invest in your demise….

Now before you get too indignant over GMC, think about your customers and the amount of money you lose because you don’t take the time to care.  Think about how much money you could lose by not caring to invest in your relationship with them.

And the amazing thing about caring is that when you really do care — you really empathize — you can screw up pretty bad and your customer will forgive you.

Because caring is really what matters most in a relationship.

———————–

“Caring is the different between the struggle for survival or the the passionate pursuit of excellence.  With one, you succeed at living and with the other you live to succeed… (DEWism)”

Stop Shouting at Me

1039171_52843470Since when did we as business people decide that having conversations was too much work?

Instead of discussion with our customers and the community we decided that SHOUTING at the world was the “latest and greatest” in sales-marketry…  That being annoying was a great replacement for providing value to the community around us.

(If you see the guy who switched the playbook let me know so I can slip him over the border into North Korea.)

I want a lifetime ban on boring HTML newsletters.  They just suck.

At least pretend to know my name.  I feel like the other side of a bad date.  Like I am being used for just another number in your “see my 10 gabillion readers” quest for encyclopedic  nonsensery.

And here is the ironic part about the craziness of your bad content:

I really want to be inspired by what you have to say to me.  I want to get a rush of adrenaline and nod my head at the end of each paragraph as you rock it out.  That’s what I want from our conversation.

Instead, you think that your fancy picture (which I have now officially deemed “Lame 2009 Clipart” or L2C for short) does a better job of telling me what you really want me to know.

Here’s another paradox:  We all hate the loud dude in the office who just won’t shut up (which is usually me).   But then we turn around become the sales people of the world who fight fearlessly for our loud and impersonal emails that just do the same thing.

We need to stop thinking about emails as sales tools and more as conversation tools.  If you wouldn’t kick down your customer’s door and start spitting sales facts in his face in person, then don’t do it with your emails.

Stop shouting….

Start sharing.