Tag Archives: fight

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.


Attacking the hill.

Last year as I trained for a UFC fight I spent time in the gym pretty much every day running on the treadmill, pushing some weights, and hitting the heavy bags (The speed bag is still a challenge…).  After I got out of the ICU from the staff infection that I caught, all the time in the gym was wasted.  I had lost about 15 pounds in 4 days and for several months after I left the hospital I was weak and exhausted (from what I still don’t know).

This year I have been back to my roots — running.  I will think about getting back into fighting shape later.  Right now I am working on the cardio aspects of my training.

To keep myself h0nest, I have been using RunKeeper on my iPhone 3GS (which uses the internal GPS) to manage my entire running process.  It then posts it to the web where I can measure calories burned and times and even track the direct link between a specific climb and the speed of attack.  It does not however add in the temperature….


Unfortunately, Greenville is a hilly place.  A really hilly place.


Most of sales is attacking a hill — a challenge, a target, a opportunity, a commission quota…  There is no level playing ground and if you should be worried if it feels like you can do your job while coasting (that means a “cheaper” someone else can probably do the same thing).

Getting in fighting sales shape is about training on the hills.  You practice on a slope and challenge yourself to run the course faster and more efficiently each time.

You become a master of winning where other people get “winded”…

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It’s your fight. Come to play.

It you have been in sales long then you can appreciate when I make the observation that SALES is a fight.  It require discipline, dedication, and dogged training.  To be the best (or even get better) you have to “put in the time” in the sales gym.  You can’t get better by being a “January Gym Going”…

It doesn’t work.  You will never be the dude giving the knockout punch.  You’ll find yourself gasping for breath, knocked around, and feeling like you just got sucker punched.  And the reality is just that.  You got taken (and lost the deal)…

Like a good fight, the winner knows what he is going to do before the chime of the bell.  He has a plan and he executes with a zeal of a man who is about to get his head split open if he doesn’t win.  It’s that intense.

So what do you do?

You “put in the time”!  (like a lot of life, there is no shortcut….)

You study your craft, study the big players, study some great sources (like Seth and Sandler and Shamus and SalesClub)…  and you decide that whatever happens (no matter how badly you get hurt) you will show up for training the next day…  Because that’s what winners do.

And this is your fight.  And you have come to play……

Skin in the Game

bruise_first_aidWarren Buffett famously coined the term “skin in the game” in his business insight that you can “guarantee” the success of a company by requiring C-level executives to use their own money to buy stock in the particular company they are running.  Since the company’s interests and the senior leadership’s interests are the same thing, you have maximum inertia in the right direction…

That’s great for running a business, but let’s go another direction.

If you’ve played on an outdoor basketball court at all, then you know what it’s like to leave “skin in the game”.  It can be brutal.  Every dive and fall leaves a scrape, a gash, or a bruise.

The harder you play, the tougher you need to be.

So it is on the court of “changing the world”…

You should assume that you will leave skin in the game if you really believe in something:

  • If you don’t have skeptics… then your idea isn’t big enough…
  • If you don’t have critics…  then you are doing everything wrong…
  • If you don’t have a nemesis…  then you are not changing the status quo

If you have skin in the game, you can expect to be regularly maligned, misunderstood, hated… and most possibly SUCCESSFUL!

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Taking a Gut Punch

gutpunchUnderstanding “why” is a frustrating part of life and more specifically your sales negotiations. You can work your ass off, do a lot of things right, and still not get a deal done.

It’s a punch in the gut!

I have had deal-makers get transferred, get sick, get laid off, get fired, get demoted, get married, get retired, get bored and a million other bad and “unplanned” things that kill a deal.

It’s always tough to handle — especially since it almost always unforeseen.

The danger is that you lose motivation trying to dissect something that is too random to really be valuable.  There is nothing there.  Life sucks!  Move on!

Don’t stop to assess, plan, re-strategize, over-think or anything else labeled “the logical” next step.  The truth is that you are punch-drunk — like Rocky in the 11th round.  You can’t trust your logic or your emotions.  What you do next has to be something that is practiced and un-emotional:

  1. Keep your head up — You can’t “suck wind” and get energized with your chin tucked in…
  2. Keep your hands up — You still need to “protect your chin” with your other prospects…
  3. Keep your legs up — You need to push farther and faster now that that you are “behind”…
  4. Keep your eyes up — You need to believe in your vision now more than ever…

You can take a gut punch and hit the mat or keep moving…

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What Courage Looks Like

courage3I aspire to be courageous.

I don’t really think I am.  What I do (who I am…) doesn’t seem to demand courage.  But I might be wrong….

A few days ago I received an encouraging email from a friend who is much older than I am and was a mentor at one time.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on everything (especially in some recent interactions) so the email was altogether unexpected.  Here is the first paragraph:

You are a great teacher, a great contributor, a fine example of someone with  the courage to stand up, trust in his ability to create value in the scary moment of now, and make a real difference.

As I read this email I literally had to pause and collect my emotions so I could read the rest of the email.  So many thoughts at the same time. Glad to be recognized.  Challenged to continue. Thoughtful for the task at hand….

I realized that courage is not no much a single big action as it is a series of small and seemingly insignificant ways of living.

Here is what the inches of courage look like:

  1. Planning for greatness when you feel clueless….
  2. Turning a 5 mile run into 6….
  3. Not apologizing for being different….
  4. Dialoging with people that are smarter than you….
  5. Changing your mind….
  6. And then changing your mind again….
  7. Telling the world what you are passionate about….
  8. Disagreeing with a good idea….
  9. Waking up and doing it all over again….
  10. Fighting for the extra 1% when 99% seems good enough….
  11. Saying “NO” because your “YES” won’t be worth it….
  12. Believing in yourself even though you are the only one….
  13. Telling yourself the truth about what scares you….
  14. Facing your fear of failure….
  15. Starting something new when the old stuff isn’t done yet….
  16. Pausing to be grateful for past life lessons….
  17. Finish reading all the books you half started….
  18. Using personal doubts to fuel activity….
  19. Asking a close friend what they think your faults are….
  20. Answering the phone when you see it’s the bill collector….
  21. Teaching a class on a topic that you have mastered…
  22. Mastering a topic well enough to teach a class about it….

How many times will you be courageous today?

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Wrong, stupid, and half as bright as you

DanThat’s me by the way (the topic and scary pic)…

Some of my recent blog posts seem to have touched a raw nerve in the business world.  Besides the stupid comments I deleted from this blog about how stupid I am and ego-maniacal (I might actually be that one), I got a whole series of personal attacks (i.e. threats) that made me pause for a moment and reconsider…

And then I thought: WHO CARES!!!!

Can I share a little secret with you?  A huge part of long-term high-performance is understanding who you are….

Seriously.  Let me share my own personal story with you:

Concepts like discipline, hard work, goal mastery, and passion were drilled into me from an early age.  I was raised by Christian parents who were very moral people (still are) who set the bar very high for performance and personal endeavor.  I was trained in the musical arts (piano and trombone) and in public speaking.  I started my first business before I was a teenager.  I had no access to television for 18 years of my life.  In fact our house was not even wired for cable — my dad told the builder to skip it altogether.  During the summers, I had to read books for at least 2 hours per day and during school “season” I was fined if my bed was not made, shoes lined up in the closet, or (God forbid) I left the window open.  Silly or not, I was trained to be efficient and effective.

I also picked up some bad habits.  I worked so hard to be “perfect” that I spent a lot of “Dan PR” time trying to make sure everyone around me was happy with me.  Was I wearing the right thing to go the right place to see and do the right things……..  It became an internal guessing games of “am I doing everything right”.  That trickled over into my college choices, my business habits, and my selling style.  I was out to prove everything to anyone within earshot, eyeshot, or “texting range”.

And then I hit a few rough patches…  And all the critics that I was working so hard to please were no where around to help me.  They were happy to throw their mental “sucker punch” and run.  Everyone I was trying so hard to please was pleased that I was failing.  I was pushed myself to “be better” and they were providing enough criticism to feed my addiction.

It took a great coach, a great wife, therapy, and lot of experience for me to come to grips with me being me.  And guess what?  I am more successful than ever — in every sense, style, and shape of the word…  Lesson learned!

When you try to be who you are not, you waste enormous energy being someone that who is not effective.  I may be wrong.  I may be stupid.  I probably am half as bright as you are.  But I am cool with that.  Being me is pretty surreal…

But I also have a secret that you should know: Long after you give up, sit down, and throw in the towel, I will be achieving excellence because the “me” that was trained to be effective and efficient  is a warrior — and warriors conquer.

Do not apologize for greatness, achieve it.

P.S.  I had the best parents a child could ever ask for.  Thanks Mom and Dad for being rockstars!

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