Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Friends,

I humbly invite your comments on the following:

We have arrived at a point that was predicted and feared by many of us in the boomer generation who watched in horror as Leftist forces dominated our young adult thoughts about social policy and set the wheels in motion toward the quagmire we now endure.

America’s political power structure is now dominated by members of a generation that once proudly insisted: “Never trust anyone over thirty.” Thanks largely to this nonsense mentality, we now live in a time when historical ignorance is greater and more destructive than at any time in at least the last two centuries! Indeed, the objective study of history, may well be the most important of all intellectual activities because it is the only way we can understand how we arrived where we are today and how to avoid the mistakes of the past. Please believe me — over the last 7000 years or so, just about every mistake that can be made has already been made many times, all too often at great human cost! And yet, most people today who are thirty or younger, received almost zero inspiration to study history from the comical, diabolically warped institutions we now refer to as “public education”. The little history they were exposed to in that doctrinaire venue was delivered in support of a revisionist, Leftist political agenda. IOW, self-serving lies!

Our current struggle over nationalizing one-fifth of the US economy simply because 45 million out of 300 million Americans have no health insurance is significantly driven by our deliberately instilled ignorance of history. BTW, that forty-five million of us are not without heath CARE, they just don’t have health INSURANCE! One-third of the people without health insurance earn $75,000 or more per year and are young enough that they feel no need to pay for health insurance! Many of these people simply save a portion of their earnings (created wealth) as a medical emergency fund. Gee! What a concept!

Please note the article below by one of the most innovative people on Earth today, John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Market, Inc. His is the kind of mind that Ayn Rand modeled as a wealth creator in “Atlas Shrugged” — the kind of mind that is routinely enslaved by Collectivism’s envious mediocrity!

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

"The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." —Margaret Thatcher

[Lament: Oh the great Maggie Thatcher! Where are these kinds of leaders today!]

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us. [BOTH!]

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

· Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

· Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

· Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

· Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

· Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

· Enact tort reform [my emphasis] to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care. [The number one obstacle to Tort Reform is the tangled web of back-room influence from various, well funded attorney groups who prowl the halls of power and stalk our representatives like toxic parasites. The single most effective Tort Law change needed is to make the loser in any law suit pay all legal expenses for the winner. This single change will, almost overnight, eliminate most of the nuisance law suits that artificially increase the cost of health care.]

· Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

· Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

· Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

· Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

· Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America [or anywhere else for that matter].

· Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

· Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

· At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country. [Because human beings are not the source of Rights!]

· Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

· Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

· Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

· Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

To this I will add: Because of our widespread ignorance of history, most people today do not know how we originally got started down the road of health insurance being provided by employers as opposed to everyone purchasing their own health insurance that moved with them from employer to employer. That diabolical circumstance was originally caused by another example of Socialism poisoning the economy. During WWII (another highly suspicious event), the U.S. Federal government unlawfully imposed price and wage controls, allegedly to make funding the war effort easier. Since employers could no longer use wages as a means of attracting the most skilled employees, they started offering “benefits”, just one of which was health insurance. As they say, “the rest is history.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Top Ten Time Traps…

Successful habits:
Top Ten Time Traps

We know that time wasting has been raised to an art-form. We are surrounded by time wasting traps, which are often ironically advertised to save time. Think about how much time is spent reading e-mail, ‘researching’ the internet, working the palm pilot or other fruit-flavored gadget that’s grabbed the market’s attention. The traps are seductive and catch a lot of us, but with a little knowledge and a smaller amount of discipline, you can create ‘catch and release’ instead of ending up as ‘catch of the day’.

The most productive people know these ten time traps must be avoided:

  1. I’ll handle my procrastination issue later, thank you: If you don’t get on the phone, it can mean quick business death, and yet what to do about the 500 lb gorilla it’s turned into? Phone fear is irrational, but everyone deals with fear-based procrastination at one time or another…sometimes quite regularly. The best learn to make the phone their friend and take regular breaks from the calling routine. If possible, stand while talking on the phone, as it improves your posture, speech and ability to ‘think on your feet’. Prioritize your day and keep yourself accountable to the list.
  2. Go Ready or Go Home: Anyone in sales has large stresses they take on, which often results in rushed presentation prep or advance paperwork. Clients and prospects don’t like costly, annoying delays. Don’t skimp in this area by thinking the ‘small stuff’ doesn’t matter, because it will bite your backside in ways you’ll never see coming. Details need to be confirmed, for both accuracy and clarity – and most of all, for the confidence you’ll have knowing you’re good to go.
  3. Don’t look for what ain’t supposed to be lost: That business card with an important number written on its back; car keys, glasses, cell phone – anything you don’t have a routine set to handle, you will end up treating carelessly, and the time lost in the furtive search for the items you use most in life will cost you more than that anxiety attack you’re bringing on for yourself. Have a personal system for handling ‘Going Out’ and ‘Coming In’ and stick with it.
  4. Make your calls like a cat burglar: Get in and out with minimum exposure and always leave ‘em wanting more. Set a time limit for each call, have a purpose, have all your prep work within reach, and make sure you tell people when you’re available to talk. Be polite, but ask to call back if you have a long-talker and catch them just as they’re going home for the day – that should keep the conversations to a minimum. That phone’s a tool, not a toy. Invest in a good headset if you’re telemarketing, as this will minimize your fatigue.
  5. Negating the negative: Granny always said, “Watch that your words are sweet, as you may need to eat them.” Nobody likes a griper, another big time trapper. Negative thoughts that are given attention will grow into negative statements. They are unproductive and dangerous. Drive negative thoughts from your mind as they come up, (a very good habit to develop) and surround yourself with positive-minded people as often as possible. Start each day taking a “grateful inventory” of your many blessings and gifts. Acknowledge that there is abundance for everyone in the universe and accept that you have a legitimate claim to tap into the source. Then go out and act in the positive and certain ways that lead to success. How to turn failure around? Double it: set more appointments, get in front of more people and by doubling your rate of failure you can actually improve your rate of success.
  6. Jello is for dessert, not your appointment calendar: You don’t like ‘squishy’ appointments, do you? Firm them up by calling your prospect or client . Make a quick call before you go, with a carefully worded statement that shows you’re serious - don’t call ‘just to confirm’; say, “Hi, Susan, I’ve been preparing for our meeting and thought I’d let you know I’ll be there right at 4:00. I think you’ll be excited about what I have to show you.” Conversely, to leave without confirming – a fear-based inaction that costs many sales people entire business days – means time and energy spent traveling… for nothing. It’s aggravating and can affect your positive mindset. Always call to confirm your appointments - the time you save can be spent prospecting, you won’t lose your focus and people appreciate working with purposeful people.
  7. Long meetings kill more than company morale: This one is a “big time” time trapper. If you lead a team, consider how many meetings you hold and why. Try a meeting in a ‘standing only’ situation, and see if business isn’t done more quickly without the comfortable chairs.
  8. Use that time behind the wheel: The average sales person drives over 25,000 miles per year… that’s more than 500 hours per year, depending on how badly congested the freeways are. Make that time count for something more than improving your karaoke idol tryout. Books on tape for language, motivation, history, self-improvement, sales training are excellent for making the best of a long commute or breaking up a series of appointment trips. Leave the karaoke for the shower – the acoustics are better.
  9. Ditch the 2+ hour lunch: Like the phone call menace, this time trapper can sneak away with an entire afternoon of peak productivity. Make your lunches purposeful and a respite from work as much as possible… eat light and get back to the office refreshed. If you are dining with a chatty client, plan your time and stick to it. At a l:00pm lunch date, saying something like, “This is good – my schedule’s clear until 2:30 so we have time to talk” helps set business as a focus.
  10. Television, the best grow light for a couch potato: Television is probably the most time-trapping activity plaguing America today. Make TV time work for you the same way your driving time can work for you by watching sales training, motivation, success-mindset DVDs, or biographies of successful entrepreneurs and historical pioneers. You don’t need a lecture on the vapid wasteland that defines most of what’s on TV; be smart, stay active and make it work for you instead of becoming a prime-time slave.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Responsible Email Marketing

PREFACE: If you had asked me back in 1998 if I would ever arrive at the conclusions and advice given below, I would have vigorously denied it as a possibility. Unfortunately, at that time, I did not foresee the devastating abuse of email marketing that has happened since that time. So, at the risk of alienating many of our best marketing friends, I must now propose the following, just to maintain our ethical standards:

The Golden Rule: NEVER buy email addresses from another company!

Yes, I know, many of us find the mere suggestion of this rule shocking. However, the fantastic "democratization" of advertising made possible by the onset of email technology has now reached a point described by many economists as a "tragedy of the commons." This means that the availability of email for marketing purposes has allowed so many untrained and unethical people access, that this once awesome resource for business promotion has been all but destroyed.

Under present day circumstances, here is the bottom line: No legitimate company will ever sell you a list of email addresses. Anyone selling you lists of email addresses is very simply a spam outfit. Many spam outifts, such as 'Neuport Internet Marketing' to name one, offer lists of email addresses for sale. If you have been sold a list of email addresses which the seller promises are "opt-in", you have been conned.

Sending any bulk email to a purchased list is guaranteed to get you in trouble for spamming, since none of the addresses on the purchased list consented to receive bulk emails from you.
All advertisements for "Millions of opt-in email addresses" or "Millions of targetted email addresses" are fraudulent. No matter how legitimate the seller's web site looks, or how much the seller promises you the addresses are bona-fide, never get suckered into buying any email address list.

(The Exception Which Proves The Rule is when a legitimate COI list is transfered from one owner to another owner, exclusively, such as in a company buyout, with all the subscription agreements retained including the topic of the list. COI records should be transfered as part of the agreement. That is obviously a special case, and very different from buying generic lists which are repeatedly resold to multiple buyers.)

What is "confirmed opt-in"?

Confirmed opt-in (COI) is a process by which a bulk email marketer automatically verifies that an opt-in request did in fact come from the email address owner and was therefore not spoofed, mistakenly or fraudulently subscribed. COI is the only legitimate way of operating a mailing list.
For the user subscribing to a list, COI is as simple as replying to an automated confirmation e-mail or clicking a link in an automated confirmation e-mail. In professional list management software, COI utilizes a unique token (sort of like a single-use password) passed from the list software to the would-be subscriber, and the subscriber returns the token to confirm their permission. Such "closed-loop confirmation" has been Best Current Practice in mailing list management software since about 1996. Software handles all the token transactions and maintains logs to document each and every subscription.

All professional mailing list management products support COI, some proprietary and some open-source (free). Communigate Pro, MajorDomo, EZMLM, MailMan, and Lyris are a few of the names of such products.

If the recipient is given the choice to opt-out, is it still spam?Spam is Unsolicited Bulk Email. If you send any bulk email to a recipient who did not request it from you or did not give their prior and informed consent to be subscribed to your list, you are spamming that recipient. Whether you offer an opt-out option in the message or not does not change the fact that the recipient has been sent Unsolicited Bulk Email, spam.

Nobody must ever be required to opt-out of anything they did not opt-in to in the first place. Given all the nasty and infectious material circulated by spammers, the endless tricks spammers employ to get users to click links to websites which on arrival infect their computers with Trojans, it can never be recommended that anyone click on any links in any unknown e-mail.

What is the right way to send bulk e-mail?

This is intended only as a basic outline of what it takes to manage a legitimate bulk e-mail list. Seek expert advice from appropriate companies and consultants for a more complete understanding of the complicated issues of legitimate bulk e-mail. Remember, all bulk e-mail must be opt in, otherwise it is unsolicited. And Unsolicited Bulk E-mail (UBE) is spam!

1. Address acquisition - Make sure it's Opt In! If the recipient didn't ask for it in the first place, the rest of the list management processes are irrelevant. While various transactions and business relationships can infer permission, if there's any doubt, or for any on-going bulk e-mail relationship, closed-loop Confirmed Opt In (COI) is the gold standard for verifying permission, in use since about 1997. Some examples of software which use COI include Majordomo-2, EZMLM, Mailman, and Lyris. (Search for these names in Google for more info).

For more on COI, see:

2. Truth in advertising - State your policies and the nature of the bulk e-mail at the point of subscription. Tell the subscriber what to expect: how often, how big, what kind, what topics and content, etc. Don't hide information about the subscription on remote pages, behind hyperlinks, or buried in jargon, legalese, and obfuscation.

3. Identify yourself, or at least your company or organization. Use properly registered domains with working mail and web addresses. Have a website at those domains which properly identifies your company. Don't hide behind ever-changing mazes of domains. Anonymized "whois" records just shout "hey, I'm trying to hide something!" Do you buy your electronics off the back of unmarked trucks in an alley? Make bank withdrawals while wearing a ski mask? Make your online identity as solid as a brick-and-mortar business!

4. Maintenance - Keep your list current! Remove unsubscription requests and bounces promptly, as close to real-time as possible, on the same day at least. Mail the list at regular intervals. Unmailed lists provoke high complaint rates when they reactivate, even from truly opt-in addresses. Addresses "churn" over time, that is, they are abandoned or re-used. For most commercial lists, mail at least once per week and remove any address with three sequential bounces, or with sequential bounces for more than two weeks.

5. Bounce processing - Respect what the recipient's server tells you. SMTP "5xy" codes mean "NO!" Bouncing your mail off the filters but showing up in the logs, or resuming spamming after filter rules come down, is a sure-fire way to really annoy server operators and mailbox owners alike. Addresses being converted to spamtraps will typically reject (5xy) all deliveries for about six certainly don't want those on your list so make sure they bounce off!

6. Unsubscription must work! Promptly. And for all the bulk mail you're sending to that address. It must work via e-mail (include correct info in headers) and many subscribers also appreciate a web link included in message body. Sign up for feedback loops and consider that abuse reports may indicate more serious problems than can be fixed by simply unsubscribing the reporting address. Some jurisdictions also require snail-mail unsubscribe processing. Basically, if someone wants off your list, help them with their request no matter how they ask.

7. Concurrency - Respect the receiving server's SMTP dialogue. If it says pipelining allowed, give it what it wants. If it accepts a bit slowly, throttle back your server so as not to flood smaller sites. Opening up lots of threads to a slow server is an excellent way to get tarpitted and blocked.

8. Seek expert advice! There are highly qualified deliverability consultants, and some who aren't so qualified...buyer beware. Ask your ISP for advice. Consider a reputable E-mail Service Provider (ESP). If any deliverability consultant is not aware of the terms and problems in this very brief outline -- and more! -- or if they promise you that they can get you "whitelisted" anywhere but their own network, well, do you want to buy a bridge?

Important Documents for Email Marketing Firms

All firms engaged in marketing via email should read the following documents:

The Definition of "Spam"

Responsible Mailing Lists -vs- Spam Lists:

Permission Pass - How to rescue your mailing list:

What is the right way to send bulk e-mail?

Spam is no worse than postal junk mail, is it?

Sending postal mail costs money, both to print and to deliver, so there is a monetary threshold that keeps everyone from sending lots of it. Spam, on the other hand, costs nothing to the sender therefore there is no monetary barrier or incremental cost to deter how much spam can be sent.

There are 30,000,000 businesses in North America alone. If sending postal junk mail cost nothing either to print or to deliver and therefore each North American business could freely send you one item of junk email per month, you personally would receive 1,000,000 items of junk mail each day in your postal mailbox. Luckily, print and delivery costs prevent that ever occurring. But not so with email spam.

Very simply, spam does not scale. There is no way for a recipient to say "I will accept only 10 items of spam per day and no more" since there is no mechanism to force other senders to stop sending after the recipient's daily quota has been reached. Nor is there any mechanism to force spam senders to not send more than one spam per month to each recipient. Nor is there any mechanism to limit who can send spam to your email address. The Internet is international -- can only North American businesses send you spam? How about South American businesses? And European businesses? What about businesses in Asia or Africa, are they somehow not allowed to send spam to you as well?.

If you agree to accept spam as an advertising medium, then you also agree that every business in the world can send spam to you. As you have no way to limit who can send you spam, you are therefore agreeing to receive bulk email advertisements from a potential 200,000,000 businesses worldwide. Assuming each only sends you one spam per month you would receive 6,600,000 spams per day, meaning 4,500 spams per minute, or 150 spams per second, into your email mailbox. And many businesses would like to send more than one message per month, possibly more than one per day! So how do you solve this problem?

The obvious solution is to limit who can send bulk email advertisements to you, so that you only receive the bulk email you actually want to receive. Instead of agreeing to receive millions of unsolicited bulk emails from millions of senders, the solution is to instead opt to receive only bulk emails from specific lists you decide to subscribe to. That is what Spamhaus advocates.

BAD ADVICE: The DMA says spamming is OK!

Unfortunately the USA Direct Marketing Association wrongly advises DMA members that the sending of unsolicited bulk email is an acceptable business practice. This bad advice by the DMA has tricked many DMA members into spamming and consequentially damaged the reputations of companies who believed they were following correct advice.

Sending and delivering unsolicited bulk email is against the Terms of Business (Acceptable Use Policy, "AUP") of all Internet Service Providers (ISP) as well as being against the policies of all of the Internet's anti-spam systems. Sending unsolicited bulk email gets the sender not only blocklisted by anti-spam systems but the sender also breaks their own ISP's Terms of Business and therefore will often lose their internet access as well. The long-term damage caused to a business' reputation and to its internet connectivity by spamming is serious.

As well as being increasingly in conflict with international spam laws, the DMA's advice is in direct conflict with Spamhaus policy on legitimate bulk email, and coincides with the Spamhaus Block List (SBL) listing policy which states that anyone knowingly sending unsolicited bulk email will be listed on the SBL for spamming.

It must be stressed that this bad and irresponsible advice is given out only by the American DMA and is contrary to the correct advice of other international DMA organizations including the Australian, Canadian and European DMAs, all of which endorse opt-in policies only.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Closing in stages

With consultative selling you learn what merchants are doing, what they like and what they don't like. You also gain clues about new products and services merchants may want or need.

But a sale is not a sale until you close. Entire books have been written on closing, so this column will be a light overview of the topic. Hopefully, it will stimulate you to study closing skills in more depth.
The ABC's of closing:
In the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross," Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, delivers a hardball motivational sales training on closing that is ridiculously over the top. Still, a meaningful message is in his tirade: Always be closing (ABC). Unlike moving from sound bite to consultative selling, there is no single point of transition to the close.

Progressively, through the sales presentation, you want to do closes that ease you seamlessly to the final close. So, always be closing.

Think of it as baby steps. Other than impulse purchases, a purchase decision is not a one-step process. It is actually a series of decisions that build to the final purchase decision. Therefore, you want to do partial closes and trial closes as you go through the selling process.
Partial closes:

A partial close is getting buy-in from the prospect to part of your sales proposal or to the steps in the buying process. It can be viewed as soliciting small commitments from prospects that are investments they are making in the sale.
One partial close might be getting merchants to provide you with merchant statements. Merchants are not going to invest the time to pull statements for you unless they have interest in buying from you.

Setting a next appointment can also be a partial close, but there is always the chance a merchant will not actually buy in and will only humor you by setting an appointment to get rid of you for the time being.

Just getting merchants to agree that they need to consider changing providers or need an additional product or service is a partial close because it is moving them to the purchase decision in incremental steps.
Trial closes:
Trial closes move you closer to the final sale just as partial closes do. Trial closes also tell you where you are in the sales process. If you are waiting until the end of the sale to attempt your first close, you may get surprised.
If you don't know where you are in the sale throughout the sales process, then you aren't controlling the sale, and you are greatly reducing your probability of success.

A trial close is testing a prospect's orientation toward buying what you are selling. It can be phrased as a hypothetical question.
One example might be, If I can show you how you can increase sales by implementing loyalty cards, would that be something you would consider? You can also use a "would you agree?" question to see if someone is being convinced by your sales proposition.
Trial closes need to be carefully crafted. First, come up with questions that will lead to meaningful answers that add to your grasp of where you stand in the sale. Second, phrase questions in a way that makes it difficult to say no, so that you are building toward the final close.
Finally, you want to position the partial close in such a way that if a prospect does say no, you haven't killed the sale. Leave yourself room to retreat a little, so you can come back to the discussion from a slightly different angle.
Watch for buy signals:
During the sales process, look for buy signals. These are verbal and nonverbal indicators that the prospect is moving toward buying or is ready to buy. If you are not keenly looking for buy signals, you may miss them. They can be very subtle.
Does the prospect's body language indicate he is very interested, or does it indicate he just wants you to leave?
If a merchant is thinking about where to put your new terminal, that is a strong buy sign. All too often, salespeople miss or misinterpret the buy or no-buy signals.
Know when to hold, when to fold:

Trial closes are invaluable. They help you avoid wasting your time on a sale that is not going to happen. Sometimes I have avoided trial closes because I was afraid of their answer. All this does is waste the prospect's time and your time. If a sale is not happening, it is better to know that early on, and bail.

All too often, salespeople hang on in sales calls gone sour when they should be walking away. Your time is better spent looking for the next opportunity than trying to salvage an unlikely sale.
Just ask:
When you reach the end of the sales process, it's time to ask for the sale. This seems so ridiculously obvious, but I am continually amazed at how many salespeople don't ask for the sale in their closes. When I interview job candidates for a sales position, I put a lot of stock in whether they ask for the job at the end.
If you have been building commitments from the prospect throughout the sale with partial and trial closes, it is much harder for them to say anything but yes when you do ask for the sale. You should be eager to ask for the sale because you have been getting buy signs along the way.

If, on the other hand, you hesitate to ask for the sale, then you likely have not been getting buy signs during the sales process, and you either have not been doing trial and partial closes or have ignored the negative responses you received.
Now zip it:
When you have made the sale, stop selling. This is one of my pet peeves: I can't tell you how many salespeople I have seen make the sale prematurely in their sales presentation, but keep going through their entire spiel. Don't talk yourself out of a sale. If a merchant is ready to buy, close and then put away the sales pitch. Always be closing

As I said before, a sale isn't a sale until you successfully close. You can't wait until the end to do your first close or you might be unpleasantly surprised.

You should be doing little closes throughout the sale to know where you are in the sale, to know what the prospect is willing to buy and to build the prospect's commitment to your sales proposition. Closing is a learned skill for most of us; it doesn't come naturally.

What works for one person, doesn't work for another. As you reflect on each sale (or lost sale) consider how you could have done the closes better, and apply your insights to the next sale.
Develop your own personal approach and style for closing. Just remember, closing is as simple as ABC.
By the way: RECORDING your prospect interviews, then actually LISTENING to yourself on the recording is a VERY powerful tool for rapidly increasing your closing skills and courage! If you're using LMS, please note the HELP menu item labeled "Auto Dialing > Phone Wiring Diagram" for instructions on how to set up a recorder for this purpose.

Celebrate your failures, not just your successes!

What if, starting today, the word ‘no’ didn’t stop you anymore?

What if every time you heard the word no, you became stronger, more powerful, and more resilient?

What if the greatest success strategy in the world was not to go for yes, but to go for no?

Well, it is.

The word ‘no’ does not have to debilitate you. In fact, it can empower you to achieve a whole new level of greatness you never dreamed possible. You might think this is just a sales strategy. It is a sales strategy. But, it’s a life philosophy too.

Whether we define ourselves as salespeople or not, we are all engaged in the sales process. We all must overcome fears of failure and rejection to be successful and achieve what we want.

Here are five secrets to help you turn failure into success Immediately!
  1. Change your mental model of “success” and “failure”: Most people operate with the following mental model: SUCCESS <<>> FAILURE. They see themselves in the middle, with success on one end and failure on the other. They do everything they can to move toward success and away from failure.

    But, what if you reconfigured that model? YOU >> FAILURE(S) >> SUCCESS Instead of viewing failure as something to be avoided, turn it into a “stepping-stone” on the path to success and gratification. In other words:

    Success is the destination. Failure is how you get there!

    To achieve significant success in today’s world, failure is not just a possibility. It’s a requirement. We must see success and failure for what they truly are. They’re not opposites, but instead opposite sides of the same coin.
  2. Intentionally increase your failure rate: If it’s true that the more we fail, the more we succeed (and it is), then your immediate goal should be to intentionally increase your failure rate! With this thought in mind, you’re succeeding even when you fail. Yes, this is a counter-intuitive, reverse thinking philosophy. But trust me, it works! Intentionally increasing failure is largely ignored sales success strategy. "Go for No" means the more people tell you "no," the closer you will get to ultimate success. In other words, the more people telling you no now, the more people will say yes in the long term. If they actually counted the number of times they hear “no” during a typical day or week, most people would be shocked to see how low the number actually is. Go ahead and try it! You have nothing to lose because the opposite strategy may well not be working for you now -- correct?
  3. Set “No” goals: Everyone sets success goals. But how about setting goals for the number of times we fail? For example, rather than a salesperson setting the goal of having two prospects say “yes” to them, they set the goal of being rejected (hearing “no”) 10 times. Imagine the first two prospects they called on said, “Yes!” Rather than being done (having hit their “yes” goal), they’d actually be behind because they still have 10 no’s to go!
    The other exciting aspect of this strategy is how it keeps people “in the game” when they’re “red hot!” If all you have is yes goals and then you slow down (or quit) when you’re successful, the hot streak ends. But if you keep going when the yeses of life are falling at your feet, the sky is the limit!
  4. Celebrate your failures, not just your successes: It’s natural to be excited about our successes. Yes, you want to celebrate them. Yes, you want to give yourself a reward or even throw a party. But, if the key to success is to increase our failures, then it only makes sense to celebrate our set backs as well. Yes, you heard right: if someone turns you down, celebrate it!

    When is the last time you rewarded yourself for failing? Probably never! Instead of mentally punishing yourself for not succeeding, buy yourself an ice cream cone and say, “I’m one step closer to success!” Stop letting failure have the negative hold it has on your thoughts and emotions.
  5. Chose to view courage as a “muscle”: If failure is a vehicle that can take you to success, then courage is the fuel! Courage is a muscle. And, like any muscle, you must develop and strengthen it with lots of exercise. As the saying goes: Use it, or lose it. It’s no different with courage. Use and develop your “courage muscle” by looking fear in the eye and taking action anyway. Each time you take action, the courage muscle gets stronger. When you don’t, it atrophies. And before you know it your courage is gone. But it does not have to be this way. All the courage you could ever want or need to achieve every goal you have is already in you, just waiting for you to take action.

So, change your mental models, intentionally increase your failure rate, set “no” goals, celebrate your failures and see courage as a muscle, and you’ll significantly increase your success rate in six months or less -- guaranteed! Remember, this strategy is not just a sales strategy. It is not just for business. It’s for every aspect of your personal and professional life!

Bottom line: To increase your success, increase your number of failures!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Break Down Objections with Five Power Questions!

Often in the selling process you reach a point where the prospect tells you that they would like to buy your product but there is a real reason why they simply can't do that at this point in time. In most cases this is not actually true, although the prospect may genuinely believe that it is.

Here are five questions that can help you blast through this stalemate and get the order.

When you reach such a stalemate you will hear the prospect say things such as; "I can't ......", It's not possible ...", "I can't do it now ...", and so on.

The mental process that is occurring here is that the prospect is shutting down possibility -- often due to fear. While they remain in that mindset they will never be open to see that acquiring your product could in fact be a good solution for them. Your first task is to snap them out of that stalemate mentality and put them in a frame of mind that is open to accept the possibility of a solution that involves your product.,

One way to do this is to take the "unspecified" roadblock and bring it into reality so that it can be addressed and hopefully overcome. You can achieve this by this simple question:-

Question 1: What stops you?

Have you ever noticed that in frightening movies the thing that you don't really see, or don't see clearly, is usually a lot more frightening than things you can see clearly? This is a natural, human mental process that also applies to buying. Once you can bring the buyer's stumbling block into cold, hard, specific reality quite often it is not as big a stumbling block as the buyer thought it was. Also you can then "get on his side" and help him brainstorm solutions. All of a sudden he is working side by side with you to remove the objection.

Sometimes it is not an unspecified stumbling block so much as an unspecified consequence that the buyer thinks is stopping him from going ahead. This unspecified consequence is shutting down the possibility of a sale. You can reopen possibility here with:

Question 2: What would happen if you did?

You would be amazed how often they stop, think, and then say something along the lines of "well I suppose nothing really." Then you say great and proceed to complete the order form. Of course if they do specify a consequence then now you have a specific objection you can overcome.

Perhaps the problem is not that there is a roadblock at all, it is simply that you haven't qualified them well enough and now you are finding out that they are saying "I can't" because they don't actually have the authority to say "yes" but their ego doesn't want to admit it..

You can flush this out at this point by a surprise, very direct question such as:

Question 3: Who can?

Often they will simply tell you who the decision maker is before they have realised they are saying it. Other times they will remain guarded but you can follow up with "Who in addition to yourself would usually be involved in such a decision?"

Another cause of the supposed roadblock could be that they have slipped into problem focused mode and need to be shifted into solution focused mode before they can see the solution. There are two really effective questions to help you do that for them:

Question 4: What's the best way to change that?

Then, LISTEN carefully!

And the whopper question 5: What if you could? (or "What if it were possible?") How would you go about it?

This is even more powerful if you first agree that it is not possible, then induce a vision of the possibility by an open-ended question. For example: "I understand that you can't do it now. But, just for fun let's briefly pretend that it IS possible. How would you go about it?

This allows them to switch into solution focus without having to let go of the (often habitual)crutch of "impossibility."

With practice you can become very skilled at using these five questions and at knowing witch is best (or the best combination) to use in any particular circumstance. Give them a try and you will be surprised how often the stalemate vanishes.

Sales Mythology Lives On!

For more than two decades I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with thousands of salespeople and I have discovered a few myths to which many of them have fallen prey.

Here are just a few:

  1. Buyers are liars. I'm constantly amazed how many salespeople use this expression. Do people mislead salespeople? Absolutely. But this usually occurs when the sales person has failed to earn that person's trust. Gaining someone's trust means not pushing them into making a buying decision. It means focusing your attention on THEIR situation rather than trying to close the sale. Earning trust means treating people with respect and dignity even if they are not prepared to make a buying decision right now.
  2. Anyone can be persuaded to buy. This may be true of impulse purchases but in today's business world, buyers are more savvy than ever before. I once heard someone say, "If you have a strong case you will clarify it. If you have a weak case, you will try and persuade the other person." The real key is to determine whether or not the person or company you are speaking to has a genuine need for your product or service. If they do not, then your best strategy is to move on to someone who does need AND want your particular solution. Even if a company could benefit from your product but they are reluctant to give you the opportunity to discuss, your time is better spent talking to other companies.
  3. Price is the primary reason people make a buying decision. I will never dispute that price is a factor in the buying process but it is not usually the primary reason, unless, of course, you fail to establish the value of your products or services. If you don't clearly show how your solution will help your customer, price will become the default decision-making criteria.
  4. A technique that works well for one person will work for everyone. Countless books have been written about one sales strategy or another and I have read many of them. In this search, I have discovered that we all have our unique personality and what works well for someone may not work as effectively for us. However, instead of discarding that particular idea you should look for a way to integrate it into your natural style and approach.
  5. It's critical to close the sale as soon as possible. This is one of the craziest beliefs. Yes, it's important to move people towards a buying decision. Yes, it is important to gain commitments along the way. Yes, it is important to include a call to action in your proposals and conversations. But, it is also important to recognize that not every sales decision will be made quickly. Decisions can be delayed for a number of reasons, and in certain situations, trying to rush the customer to a commitment will actually cost you the sale.
  6. Close the deal at any price. Too many people feel they have to close every deal, even if it does not make good business sense to do so. I have spoken to countless sales people who will accept a deal that has virtually no margin just so they can get the sale. I recall talking to a store owner who quickly matched the prices of her competitor in order to prevent people from going to her competition. However, this seldom creates loyalty and only conditions that customer to continue asking for a better price. Decisions like this cost you or your company money. If you are not making your desired gross profit on a particular sale, then you need to consider whether it makes good business to accept it. I know small business owners who will offer substantial discounts to a large company in the hopes of generating additional business from that client in the future. Unfortunately, they end up giving away their services and expertise because they don't get any more business from that company. They neglected to negotiate an upfront agreement.