Posts Tagged ‘sales

03
Jul
14

book girl

A tribute to Charlie "Tremendous" Jones from the sales force at Southwestern.

A tribute to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones from the sales force at Southwestern.

Ever since I got my first work release at the tender age of 14 I have worked. I worked in fast food, retail, at a summer resort in housekeeping; you name it, I did it. One of the jobs I had in between college years was selling books door to door with a company called Southwestern Book Company, now known as Southwestern Advantage. My father was a true believer in the role of sales in developing a person as well as being a book lover of extreme conviction.

He highly recommended that I consider working for a summer with this group. After all, he told me, if I could knock on a door cold and make a sale I would have successfully completed one of the hardest things I’d ever do in life. Sign me up!! I was all for getting the hard stuff out of the way early so I could move on to greater experiences. He also told me that when a prospect opened their door to put my head in first instead of my foot. That way if they slammed the door on me I could keep talking.

I found out quickly that selling books with Southwestern was unlike any other previous summer job. You are completely on your own to get up, get out, and get results. No one is making you punch a time clock or allowing you to sit behind a computer and surf for 7 hours and 50 minutes a day. And although there were no cell phones in my day, the company still requires cell phones to be left in the student’s home or vehicle.

It truly was a crash course in self motivation, grace under fire, thinking on your feet, and handling rejection. The goal was to knock on as many doors as possible so as to hit the law of averages and get several sales in a day. I had a difficult time with that much rejection so I modified it a bit.

I sold in the coal-mining hills of Bluefield, West Virginia my first summer. Rather than knock on 20 doors and sell 2, I would knock on 2 doors and sell two. By taking time, I was able to develop lasting relationship with these people. Some I even remained pen pals with for years to come. They cooked me meals, shared their family photos, and yes, bought my books. People who had houses with dirt floors saw the value in my $60 two-volume condensed encyclopedia set. Sometimes, if money was short, I would barter with them. I even ended up with a kitten and some moonshine (but obviously didn’t drink it since I still have my eyesight).

The next summer I sold in Blacksburg, Virginia, a much more affluent area. Guess what? They didn’t buy my books. They thought they were too good for my books. And there I learned that the people with the most resources at their disposal are often the ones who lack the most. I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. So back to my country roots I went, where folks knew a good deal when they saw it and recognized books to be the transformative tool that they are.

You can’t scare me. I’ve sold books door to door. The military was a cakewalk after this experience. I also learned that when someone said “No” what they meant was that I hadn’t done my job in showing them the true value of my product. That was a pretty big lesson to learn so early in life.

So if a book salesperson knocks on your door, please take the time to hear them out. They are doing a job few others would even attempt. And I can guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their tremendous products and will be proud to add them to your library.

13
Nov
13

Curiosity killed more than the cat

Curiosity+killed+the+cat.+source+smosh+facebook+page_06d5f5_3980829I just read one of my favorite books, You and Your Network, by Fred Smith.  Chapter 7, “Your Friends”, includes a fascinating insight. Mr. Smith clearly outlines the difference between interest and curiosity, and it’s an important distinction we need to factor into all of our relationships, personal and professional.

I recently spoke at a networking event and shared with the group how it drove me crazy when I’d get a call from someone who would ask me what I do in my business or what they could do to “help” me. I could tell from several of the attendees that they did not understand why that bothers me. Isn’t it good to hear about the prospective client so you can meet their needs? Well, if you haven’t established a relationship with them or at least done your homework, no, it’s not.

When you have a deep, sincere interest in someone you ask questions in order to truly help them. When you are curious about someone, you ask the question because you are looking to serve yourself. So there’s a big difference between asking interested questions and asking curious questions.

Here are the top three curious questions that will not just kill the cat, but any chance of a deal or relationship as well.

The Time Suck: These are sales calls from someone asking how they can help your business, or worse, asking you to tell them about your business. The reality is that they are looking for ways to help their business.  It’s like asking the teacher for the answers to the test so you don’t have to study.

Stump the Chump: These are calls where the salesperson asks you a question when they already know the answer. They are already smarter than you and are waiting for you to give the “wrong” reply so they can correct you.  It’s like someone pulling the rug out from under you and then wondering why you don’t take their hand to get up.

The National Enquirer: These are questions that ask for too much information (TMI). These people are simply looking for gossip fodder and are fishing for information so they can get the inside scoop. The behavior of these “Nosey Mrs. Rats” can best be summed up by the colloquialism, “I don’t repeat gossip, so listen up the first time.”

Always be careful what you say and to whom. Not all questions are meant to be answered. Not everyone who claims to be interested in you really is. Curiosity killed the cat. Be careful it doesn’t do the same to you!

08
Jul
13

Death of a Sale

Death of a SaleLike many business owners, I get approached by individuals trying to sell me their services or products. You’d think in this day and age that certain approaches would have died decades ago, and yet I still hear them, repeatedly.

To sell successfully, you first have to sell yourself. If you don’t have a pleasing approach or reputation, you aren’t going to be signing many clients. You want to be able to say you nailed it, not you killed it. In life, I may have to suffer fools gladly, but that doesn’t include foolish salespeople. Here are the top three ways to guarantee within the first thirty seconds that I will never do business with you.

  1. The “No One Knows You Exist” Approach. I find this used most often by groups selling SEO (search engine optimization) services. If I had a nickel for every time a salesperson called me or sent me an email stating that I was “unfindable” on the web I would be a rich woman. Telling someone that they are invisible will never persuade them they need your services, especially when coming from a complete stranger. Just who do you think you are? Leading with a negative will guarantee a quick end to the phone call or a one-way trip to my spam folder.
  2. The “You’re Nothing Without My Product” Approach. This person will compliment your product offerings then explain how it has a glaring hole because you do not carry their product. After all, you would be so much more successful if you did! I’m not sure how telling a business owner they are incomplete without you will get you any purchase orders either. I steer clear of people who think it’s all about them. This goes double for salespeople with this egotistical approach. There is no room for arrogance in sales.
  3. The “Your Reputation Precedes You” Approach. Before I engage in business with anyone, I check them out. You can find out anything about any person or business these days. I once had a now-defunct management consulting firm hand me a business card with a Better Business Bureau credential on it. When I looked them up online, they were under investigation and had a BBB rating of “F”. You can also find lawsuits, unpaid bills, and unfavorable reviews online. Sales people need to remember that their personal reputation and the reputation of their company precedes them. I don’t care about how much money you can make me; if I can’t trust you, I ain’t buyin’.

Always remember that sales is about getting people to like you, trust you, and feel that you are going to offer them value. So avoid these poisonous behaviors lest you kill any chance of a deal with the first words out of your mouth.

Death of a Sale

28
May
13

hello mountain, it’s me muhammad

The Charlie "T" Jones Conference Center

The Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center

If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad will come to the mountain. Life is all about making a series of decisions designed to move you closer to your goals; decisions that often involve seeking out alternative routes to get you to your final destination. My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, joked, “Plan on everything going wrong. If something does go right, we’ll just have to work that in!”

Like every other living, thinking person on this planet, I get up every day looking for ways to further my professional mission. I try lots of different things, plan on them all going wrong, change it up a bit, and pray a lot. This strategy kept our business steady and even on a sustained growth pattern for the last four years. Life is good, but good just isn’t good enough anymore. There’s got to be a better, more concentrated strategy out there that we just haven’t discovered.

For several years, I’ve mulled over various usage options for our vacant warehouse space. My inner child had dreams of an indoor putt-putt facility, go-carts, and bumper cars; even a year-round haunted house spooktacular. But alas, I just couldn’t link that directly to our core mission. I had even considered a flea market since our founder was such a lover of collecting antiquities and books of all types. However, nothing led this opportunity to fruition materialize either.

3d_layout_prelim1All this was going through my mind as I was still working at building our clientele base, going out and speaking, giving away books, and hosting various events at our current facility. That’s when the idea of a state-of-the-art conference center was born. Rather than go out and sing the praises of how books can transform the life of an organization, why not build a leadership annex where I could bring the entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce, and business people in so I could actually show them!

Rather than put a link on our site about how we funnel our profits to ten tremendous organizations via the Books for Tremendous Living Foundation,  why not open up a gorgeous area where these groups could come and conduct events educating people in our area about ways they can get involved and help their neighbors!

Rather than trying to get booked into high-dollar venues, why not have intimate settings where attendees can learn sales techniques from Jeffrey Gitomer; how to write books from Mark Sanborn; how to become a speaker from Don Hutson; and how to combine your faith with your profession from Naomi Rhode?

So the planning process began, and we started setting aside the money and reviewing architectural drawings. After years of trial and error and due diligence, the groundbreaking will commence on June 3rd, 2013. All systems are finally go! And while I’m still assuming everything will go wrong, I do know I’m moving that mountain one step closer. And in life, that’s all that matters. Check out our tremendous progress on our website and watch it all come together!

12
Jul
11

somewhere in America, a sales office is missing a slug, a snake, and a jackal

 

As a business owner, I get the responsibility of selecting the products, goods, and services we are going to pay for. Since returning home to run the business, I have been the recipient of sales tactics so egregious they would make Og Mandino roll over in his grave.

Here are three things I have learned over the past two years. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.

1)      “I Want Leads Without Having to Work for Them”: I call this lazy salesman the Slug. I recently had someone call me and request a face-to-face meeting, which I said yes to. He said he wanted to come hear about my business. We chatted for about 30 minutes when this individual, who had printed out my list of LinkedIn contacts, proceeded to ask me to go over them line by line, and tell him which connection might need his services. Lesson learned: Ensure you get specifics as to who your visitor is and why exactly it is they are coming to see you. Also, don’t give in to his prospecting method. This is how this person ended up calling me.

2)      “I Will Lie on my Business Card to Gain Your Trust”: There’ll be a special place in Sales Hell for people such as this. You would think their business cards would go up in flames before they’d even reach a potential client’s hand. I call this lying salesman the Snake. I recently had a business print “BBB certified” on their business cards when I fact they had an “F” rating and were the endless source of customer complaints on blog boards. Lesson learned: ALWAYS look up someone or something on the Better Business Bureau website and/or any other search platform before entering into any type of agreement. Just because they print it doesn’t mean it’s true.

3)      “I Will Over Promise and Under Deliver just to keep enough money coming in so I can buy a new iPad or tech gadget. Then I’ll move onto someone else”: I call this opportunistic and scavenging salesman the Jackal. This is especially prevalent among social media “gurus” who claim to be able to boost your SEO visibility to the ends of the galaxy, make you go viral at the speed of light, and promise to create a website that will draw them in like the Death Star’s tractor beam. They spout out questions about what analytics you are using (you fool!), how clunky and lame your existing website and backend software is, and how you’ve got to add value, value, value!!!  Lesson learned:  If you’ve got more Twitter followers and Facebook fans than those doing the pitch, you might want to pass. And just be sure that you get verifiable references from clients who can trace the work back to a specific metric. Question: How can you tell if someone is a social media expert? Answer: If they say so.

These real-life situations cost me tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of valuable time. I get convicted when I think of what I could have done with those resources had I taken the time to really do my homework, but I know that I learned valuable lessons about how to maneuver myself in the world of unethical salespeople. They’ll have to deal with their own accountability when the time comes. So beware slugs, snakes, and jackals! The next time one of you crosses my path I’m going to open up a can of salt, mongoose, screaming eagle, and/or whoop ass and take you down!

 

10
Feb
11

be a pal, not a HAL

This month our newest release is a sales book, one of the most “back to basics”, “how to personally interact with the customer” books that I’ve read.

Sales, like all other industries, is constantly changing. Technology has changed how people get pricing, locate, and even review, products. In short, everything is out there. This is great, but the bottom line is that people do business with those they know will treat them fairly and who go out of their way to provide an outstanding product or customer service. That’s the human equation. And no amount of SEO ranking can take away the importance of that in the long run.

I sold books for two years in college during my summers with the Southwestern Company. My father, the consummate salesman, told me that if I could make a sale from a cold call, I could do anything in life. In a lot of ways he was right! He also used to joke with me that I should put my head through the door, and not my foot, because then I could keep talking even when they slammed the door!

But the most important thing I learned during those summers was the criticality of the human interaction. Many feel sales is a numbers game. If I make ten calls and close one sale that means I have a conversion rate of 10%. Determine the number of sales I have to make to meet my goal and I can extrapolate the number of calls I have to make.

 But what if I made two sales calls a day and closed both of them? That’s what I did. That means I can spend a lot more quality time with each customer. I spent hours at people’s houses. They cooked me meals, shared family photos, gave me kittens, and yes, bought my encyclopedia set. It was a great product, they liked me, and that made the sale happen.

I love technology because it allows me to begin to connect with a wider audience. But in the end, it’s all about how we personally interface with each other that defines the relationship, be it sales or otherwise.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

Join Me On:

June 2020
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

%d bloggers like this: