How to Use Leverage to Your Customer’s Advantage in Crafting Your Sales Deal

The only way a sales deal can happen is with proper positioning of appropriate leverage in crafting and presenting a deal.

The word leverage can have multiple connotations and occasionally they can be negative: there are unscrupulous folks who will twist or turn leverage into a negative tool with which to manipulate to get their way. Just like sales itself, anything can and has been unfortunately mistreated, yet leverage in its pure form can very much be used to the advantage of what I deem the holy sales trinity: customer, company and you. All three must benefit in every deal.

Your entire sales function exists to bring value – to your clients and your company. Leverage in creating a deal can apply to leverage that you are able to use on a customer’s behalf when in search of internal mechanisms to incentivize your customer to buy. It can apply to how you can tap into various different qualifying buckets to make a deal more attractive for a client. And, ultimately, unless you have leverage to motivate a client or potential client to make a change from what they do right now (whether an alternative option or nothing at all) in the area you specialize, no deal will be made.

  1. You work on behalf of your client or potential client. You exist to support them, add service, be responsive and, in essence, serve as your own form of leverage. They are getting you in the deal as well.
  2. You utilize components of the customers’ needs (both the ones they realize and the ones you help them realize) to match them to different components of your potential offer. Are you able to offer discounts or other offers or promotions based on your conversation? Your leverage that is gleaned from the conversations and relationship with the customer is created by knowing your client, understanding their business, following the industry and trends, and effectively showcasing why your solution is required to remedy any potential gaps in their process. This leverage is essential; if the customer does not envision greener grass with you, they will stay on their side.
  3. You will use your client’s scenario, the potential upsides and your company’s desire to win their business as leverage in creating a deal for your customer. As a true proponent of your clients, you advocate on their behalf – you’re selling your team and your leadership to support you and the client by coming to the table with a worthwhile actionable deal. The more you can do to qualify your customer for different incentives and to show your leadership and your team why the customer merits special consideration and attention, the more likely your efforts will culminate in an attractive offer your client will be apt to agree to. I literally like to tell clients that I am using everything at my disposal to create leverage on their behalf with which to go back and create their deal. They want us to advocate on their behalf.
  4. Leverage additional relationships in the business to win the crowd! Are you merely targeting one potential buyer or decision maker in the organization? Or are you gaining multiple vantage points and perspectives, so that you can tell the CEO or the VP, “Hey, John VP and Mary CFO told me that this would be great for their current project because of XXX.” Leverage is merely an advantage of some sort for whomever is positioning it based on factors that exist. Making sure to play up those factors and optimize them is the most important role. A decision maker will be more likely and more comfortable committing to a course of action if other members of their team have recommended it and support it. Keep this in mind. It’s the same reason we leverage our network when prospecting, when making connections in different companies – even when job-hunting! Having a personal touch aiding you in achieving your goal substantially enhances your chances of success in whatever endeavor you are engaging in.
  5. Leverage the variables and the controllables. Leverage your customers’ needs and wants in putting together an attractive proposal that will entice their emotions and desire for change. Leverage your knowledge to bring together all sides engaged in the deal. Your intricate understanding of customer emotions and company and industry inner workings and any and all factors that will play in to a decision (timing, the steps that will be required to get from the present to the signature, and the sometimes multiple components of the deal itself) will serve your customer, company and you well.

A deal does not exist without leverage. Ensure your client’s outcome is top of mind and utilize everything at your disposal to craft a deal they can’t refuse.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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How Much Potential Reward Merits Career Risks?

A friend posed a question recently: In our career, are we bold enough to soar like an eagle, or are we chicken – bound to the safe ground and presumed limits.

Sometimes, it’s easier said than done; the stage of career is a significant factor in making decisions about potential risks, which can come in a variety of forms. A fresh-out-of-college new-in-the-workforce employee has a much different vantage point than the tenured professional with money in the bank and desire to start their own company. That said, we’ve likely all weighed and considered making substantial career risks against the potential downside at varying levels of our career.

Do we sacrifice or gamble a steady yet unfulfilling role because it pays the bills for our family? Do we leave Corporate America and structure and benefits for the unknown because it scratches an entrepreneurial itch?

Career risks can absolutely pay off with financial and personal gratification and reward. They can also go horribly wrong – no matter how much thought goes into them. There are most certainly rules and principles you should apply when making these life-changing decisions.

  1. Never gamble what you cannot afford to lose, but don’t be afraid to gamble something you can live without. If you are in a role that can be easily replaced and the proposed transition will immediately improve your finances or your ability to move up, it’s worth considering. Be careful, however, to take too many “steps back” – I hear all the time people saying, “Yeah, I’ve got to take a step back, but in a few years I can move up.” Frankly, that’s true most anywhere and no matter what you’re doing, you’re going to have to pay dues to go to the next level. If you leave, any dues you have already paid are likely forfeited permanently. Certainly, they may help gain you greater footing when you start out in a new role or new company, yet you’re starting all over at this new company at the bottom of the totem pole. You’re once again the newbie. Your tenure is gone.
  2. Is the grass really greener?  Do your research. The nice thing in this day and age is that social media like LinkedIn allows us access to just about anyone. This empowers you to talk to people who are in the know about the specific opportunity – people who have done the job, do the job, know about the job. Look, I get it: when you aren’t pleased with your lot in life, it’s so easy to look at something else and be allured by what looks great from the outside. I’ve seen people job hop repeatedly, always hating just as many aspects of the new job or company all the while having to start over again and again and again. Investigate the other opportunity. There will be some that are better, some worse and some a wash; you can only find out as much as possible to help you make an informed decision. If you aren’t sold you’re making an upgrade, you should probably shy away.
  3. Are you at a stage in life and career where you can make a risky move? If you’re paycheck to paycheck, supporting a family (meaning others are part of the decision-making process and kids are depending on you), just made a major purchase, or are in the midst of or eyeing major change, making another one in the form of career may not be wise. Do the math based on the worst possible scenario: if this risky move results in you completely falling on your face, how long could you sustain your current responsibilities while in search of something else? This can absolutely aid you in the decision. Sometimes we have to look at a potential opportunity, realize it simply is not feasible – accept that fact, and move on.
  4. Is the change reversible? In a favorite superhero film, Superman foregoes his powers so he can live as a human with Lois Lane. Scenes later, the world is terrorized by a serious threat and he’s got to beg and plead to his deceased, holographic Kryptonian parents to get his powers back. If there is a chance of going back to the gig you’re leaving in the event things don’t pan out, this certainly minimizes the risk and can make the decision a lot easier to make. If you are in essence burning a bridge or sealing off what you do now, very carefully weigh those consequences.
  5. How often do you make career risks? If you’re bouncing from job to job, what impact is that having on your career and your prospects? That can show an employer you won’t be around for the long haul and could inhibit you. Are you improving yourself each time? Do you have more hits than misses? These are all things to consider, because if you make a lot of risks and they typically don’t pan out, I’m not sure what would lead you to believe your next risk might. But if you have been really stable and devoted and hard-working and things have not panned out toward your long-term goals over a decade or two of dedication, perhaps a change of scenery brought about by a little leap of faith is not such a bad idea. It’s all about perspective.

Obviously, when making these types of important decisions, it is important not to rush into them. Don’t react to a setback at work by resigning or applying to 20 internal jobs. Don’t get all worked up and start telling everyone about a potential path you’re exploring. Absolutely look into and explore potential paths to better yourself. If and when there is a decision to make, try to know everything you can to make the most informed decision. Then commit.

The more knowledge and experience and stability, the better your decision-making process evaluating career risk will be.

Sometimes all signs can point to taking the chance and the chance still does not pan out. The advantage of taking the risk is you don’t look back with regret; you can grow to accept your role and function, and perhaps even pursue other passions on the side if you aren’t being fulfilled in your career. Many of us accept roles that are not our true passion, and we do so for money, for stability, benefits, and security for ourselves and those we love. Nothing at all is wrong with that.

We may regret taking a risk, but if we do our due diligence and walk through the proper motions to get there, chances are likely we will be able to live with our decisions now and in the future.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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The 5 Steps to Sales Excellence

Sales excellence is not about big sales. It isn’t necessarily getting the most or finishing a month or two on top. It’s a process, continued evolution and consistency in approach, process and performance.

  1. Be a student. Realize that learning in sales and your career is ongoing. It begins with the training you partake in with a sales role – learning products, systems, processes and go-to-market strategies. It continues with the unwritten training: learning what those who are successful are doing, replicating it and improving on it in your own way. It entails studying the statistics that get you paid, that equate to success for the holy sales trinity – customer, company and you – and either perfecting process in those areas or creating one. You may master individual components of selling. You may have a great day, week, month or even year. You may do really well at a certain role or two. But sales excellence evolves over years and decades, takes perseverance and patience and will come down to how much you want and are willing to learn from each person or obstacle or challenge you come into contact with.
  2. Be open-minded. When you think you know it all when it comes to sales, your journey is over. Even the least effective managers you’ll have may drop a nugget of wisdom that helps you endure through career challenges. There are multiple ways to formulate and enhance your processes and there are numerous ways to meet people and learn about their business and scenario – yours may or may not work, but being open to new approaches and able to accept coaching and feedback and guidance will make you more effective – both as an internal collaborator and a seller. You never know when or where you’ll pick up additional selling acumen. Never turn down a meeting or opportunity to collaborate with other leaders or sellers. Work to find new ways to approach obstacles. Take what you wish and assimilate it into your process. While you don’t and won’t ever completely jettison your process,  you will make countless additions and subtractions over the years; being open minded to sources and substance will make you more and more effective.
  3. Continue looking for challenges. Be mindful of your goals. Many salespeople will fall into one of these two categories: (1) They come out of the gates strong, have a quick ascent and then steady descent; never again reaching that peak performance and (2) They take some time to ramp up, learn a ton and find a peak a little bit later but have more success in maintaining that level of performance. The latter is beneficial because of the realization of what it took to reach the peak, rather than having quick success and/or burning out, getting bored or folding to first signs of real adversity. Are you the top seller in your group? If not, learn from those around you and work with leadership to improve your process so you can head in that direction. If so, are you mastering each metric in your business? You may be really strong in certain areas of your portfolio yet have gaps in process leading to unsatisfactory results in some metrics. Challenge yourself by getting uncomfortable and forcing yourself to become a complete seller; the one trick pony who is great at one metric and has ridden that to top dollar results is not as valuable as the complete seller who contributes consistently to metrics across the board. With this approach, you will always have something to be striving to improve, and through that approach and process you will be a better seller of true solutions to your clients. It helps you gain credibility with customers and your company alike. It will also make you the more complete seller whether you want to make more money or you wish to get promoted. New challenges can exist within your role, in new roles that help you develop other skills and even by taking additional responsibilities or stretch roles assigned by leadership to grow your expertise and value.
  4. Proactively work to better those around you. If you are effective in an area, share the best practice in a collaborative way. Offer to your boss your willingness to share these ideas. Reach out to a peer who is doing well in an area you’d like to better yourself, offering to share best practices in your strong area but requesting their thoughts on theirs. Don’t wait or rely on someone to necessarily reach out to you and ask you everything you know – someone has to take that first step and if you wish to showcase your value and collaborate with peers and leaders, there are few better ways than offering to expound upon your own value. One person performing exceptionally well is good, yet multiple people benefitting from this knowledge and you benefitting from the knowledge of everywhere equates to everyone winning. It rarely takes food off your plate to help another seller become better, especially if they teach you a few things; even if they pass you up, the friendly competition can motivate you and more people will be aware of the value you bring to the team and organization.
  5. Use all tools at your disposal to network and grow relationships. Stay top of mind. In the digital age, you can utilize social media to find people geographically and at different levels of companies like never before. You can share quality content, stay prominent in clients’ news feeds so they can latch on to your message, but you can also set an initial dialogue and broker meetings like never before. Do not take this opportunity lightly. All of that said, no amount of social media replaces the face-to-face interaction and the personal touch. Selling is relationships. Even if you are selling over the phone, a trust and rapport must be built and these require mutual understanding of goals and situations. Research your client or potential client, find decision-makers, send them unique messages which will elicit response and just get you to the table so you can take it from there with your selling processes. Tools exist that can prospect and be part of setting meetings like never before; use them effectively to find new relationships, share information, learn about people and businesses and trends and effectively get in front of more potential people.

Sales excellence means excellent selling, not excellent sales. It isn’t always the person with the most or biggest, but the people who have polish and tirelessly work to improve process.  Sales excellence comes from willingness to try new approaches, recognizing reasons for failures and evolving approaches to be complete sellers with multiple dimensions. It means partnerships, relationship-building and a never-ending quest to stay effective and relevant and sharp.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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How to Close a Sale Over the Phone

While selling over the phone versus in person can present additional challenges, many have found incredible success in this version of the trade. You can too, by harnessing certain strengths and implementing practices that further your process.

  1. Build rapport/ gain trust through an efficient, confident approach. Never has this been more important in a phone sales role, because you are relying on establishing a relatively high level of credibility, sometimes in a short period of time, with someone who you may never meet. A big area of focus and attention needs to be paid to how you can achieve this buy-in over the phone. Can you rely on a name brand or known product? Do you have credible statistics to support the effectiveness of your product or service? Are there tools at your disposal that can show (not tell) a customer why your service is going to cure what potentially ails them? Do you have effective fact-finding questions to quickly ascertain your customer’s scenario and expose needs? Be unique in your approach; realize that others who have likely called this customer and failed have fallen into common traps: they sound salesy, they overload the customer with broad information hoping the customer latches on to something and says “yes” or they fail to establish a link and bond in this interaction. The customer will not make a decision to change their current scenario unless you give them a strong reason to believe you represent a solid alternative and dedicated support.
  2. Understand the probabilities and where you falter. Study the call and its dynamics, from start to finish. Even more so than a face-to-face sale, the call is regimented; it’s sales process and you are tasked with continuing to advance the process every step of the way. Make an effective introduction which announces you and your brand, quickly bridge into fact-finding and ask questions which show your interest in their business and vertical but also get them opening up. Utilize the information you learn to be conversational and keep the chat progressing toward needs analysis. Weave their needs and their own words into your pitch and utilize these very same nuggets when you overcome any objections. Show you have been listening. Say their name frequently. And when you find that there are segments in the call flow (intro, questions, pitch, close, overcome) that you are faltering on the regular, formulate a game plan to eliminate the obstacle. What is stopping you? Do you not have enough quality information to make your pitch? Do you not know enough about customer gaps in process to adequately present why your product is superior and overcome any objections they have? Heck – are you getting past the gate-keeper to even talk to the decision-maker (another topic entirely)? Likely you can review your calls and strategize with your manager, meaning you can diagnose where in the call your process breaks down; if you have a process to remedy this and your sales flow is solid, you will achieve the real goal here: advancing as far in the call flow as possible on each call. Some will end in no, but if you end each call with either a sale or knowing the specific reason a customer isn’t buying because it isn’t a fit, you did your job.
  3. Regularly gauge the level of buy in. While you are tasked with moving strategically through a call flow from one step to the next, optimizing each leg, you do need to make sure your audience is still tuned in (because you have no visual clues or body language to pick up on). Verbal clues are very important – the tone of voice can indicate right out of the gates what their level of interest in talking to you is. This is why the introduction is so important: you quickly have to set yourself apart from anyone else who has called to sell them, lest you’ll be lumped in with them and you lose before you begin. Establish yourself and your brand and quickly move to fact-finding questions that will get the customer actually opening up about their passions: their business. What’s their role? What do they envision as the positives and areas of needed improvement for their current method of doing what you propose they change? Don’t sound like you’re scripted (especially because you’ll be off the script often!): be conversational, get to know a little about them and what makes them tick. Ask them throughout the conversation: “Does this make sense?” “What questions do you have?” “If we were able to deliver the expected superior results, how much of a positive impact would that have on your business?” While avoiding yes or no questions, “trust check” verbally with the customer to maintain and ensure their level of buy in to your conversation. If done properly, they will often go from loose involvement early (as you have yet to establish yourself) to realizing you’re not a typical phone seller, listening to your pitch and believing it’s a better solution.
  4. The one call close and necessary follow-up. This is pivotal. Here’s the thing: sales is all about probabilities, like any other sport or game of chance. There is a certain chance of you getting a decision-maker on the phone. There is a lesser chance you will get them to advance through all legs of the call flow. Finally, there is a certain chance you will close the sale (the conversion rate), and these things are variable based on components like type of lead and time of day. That said, you have your best shot at closing a cold call, for instance, on the first call – mostly because the probabilities of getting them on subsequent calls diminish. Do not fret, however – in fact, many customers absolutely will not close on Call #1 for very legitimate reasons – need to engage a partner, talk to another decision-maker, weigh some statistics. Furthermore, in relationship-building scenarios, call #1 is often establishing some additional rapport and parameters so you can engage the right resources and gather the right facts and figures. All of that said, follow-up and responsiveness are two of the biggest reasons anyone buys. They want to be able to rely on their seller as a resource. Certainly, sometimes they just take advantage of your free expertise and they buy nothing (but you can’t take that chance); a customer will buy from the responsive, attentive seller and will value that relationship above price nearly every time. Give yourself the best probability at success by optimizing each call; if it can be closed in Call #1, do it. If not, quickly provide committed information, provide timely answers and follow up as promised (it’s important to set these steps clearly on each call). The longer this process drags out, the more the probabilities of closing the deal decline; some of these things are out of your hands, but control as much of this process as you can to keep the sales cycle as short as you can.

The more emphasis you put on not falling into traps every other seller who has called the customer before and failed has fallen into, the better off you will be in your quest to advance through each and every stage of the call flow to the goal of closure.

Be confident, be conversational, be unique. Time is valuable for both parties, so get to know your potential client quickly and effectively and carry with you all of the learning from each call prior – things you know about the industry and your competition will be invaluable.

Closing a sale over the phone – just like closing sales in general – requires rapport and trust, reliability and being in tune with the customer; give yourself a better probability of success by handling each leg of the call optimally and perfecting your process for each stage based on your experience and your strategizing with leadership.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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What to Do If You Miss Sales Goal

Try as you might, if you spend enough time in sales, it’s likely you’ll miss a goal. Be it a daily, weekly, monthly or annual expectation, you fall short. You may second-guess yourself. And you certainly don’t want to repeat yourself.

We could have an entirely separate debate about the percentage of people in your business hitting goals, how accurate or fair your goal is, etc., but the fact is that if there is a goal, you’ll be expected to hit it. You’ll be expected to answer for it. And, should you miss, you’ll be expected not to have a repeat performance.

  1. Reflect. Hindsight is 20/20. What specific issues arose that prevented you from hitting goal? What variables that you actually have control over could you have taken a different approach with and potentially increased your probability of success? It’s helpful to focus on your learnings during the past timeframe: what modifications can you make to your approach that could make an impact on your selling process? Remember that sales is a game of chance and probability; you can make alterations to process that simply raise your chance of success – of getting decision-makers to talk to you, of presenting your products and services more effectively, of overcoming objections and of following up. Could you have better prospected, in places with higher propensity to buy? Could you have led with a different metric that customers are more attracted to? Can you study more and improve your knowledge, making you a more powerful selling force? Look back, only enough to learn from your experiences, and then look forward from there on out.
  2. Tweak. Utilize the learnings you make to modify your approach. Be aware that often it only takes small tweaks to your process to make a huge impact! It’s like a baseball player or golfer making a small modification to their swing or basketball player slightly modifying their shot – it can be a barely noticeable modification that leads to greater conversion. Greater conversion equals results. Do not focus on the result, but on the process that will equate to results when executed properly. The most important element of learning from your missed goal is what you will change in your process to address the gaps and move forward more successfully.
  3. Execute. Have a great idea about how you can change your sales process?  Fantastic! However, don’t go out of the chute trying this new procedure only to jettison it in favor of old comfortable ways of failing just because it feels strange or doesn’t work the first one, two or ten times. There was a reason you diagnosed yourself with a need to change – you missed goal. You are merely sacrificing your failing process to gamble on a new process that could lead to better results. No better time to change. You are incentivized to change because there is potential for improvement, and you stand only to risk your less-than-acceptable performance. Learn from your goal-missing result, adopt new process, and commit to it.
  4. Hold yourself accountable. Checks and balances. Continue to look back on every action – prospecting, dialing out, outreach, meetings, follow up’s – and ensure you did everything you could to optimize your new and improved process. Don’t obsess over the numbers: that is a short-sighted approach. Obsess over the process and your customers. Being responsive, being responsible. Certainly, you will continue to evolve your process over time and as new products and services and industry trends present themselves. But you won’t get the new results unless you are committed to optimizing the new process.
  5. Seek out best practices. You’re not alone. You have peers and leadership, all with different perspectives of what will or has made them successful in this very role. Be humble, set aside your pride and seek out other ways of conducting business in your trade; you will take these morsels and you can roll them effectively into your arsenal while putting your own unique spin on them

Missing goal, while never fun, can actually be an experience which leads to greater focus, better process and longer term sales success in your career. It forces you to improve yourself – whether it’s for survival or for chasing whatever goals you have.

Choose to embrace missing goal as an opportunity for betterment, and you won’t be sorry. You also very likely will not miss goal again.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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How to Emerge Victoriously from Career Setbacks

Your entire career is mapped out in your mind. You see yourself retiring from your current company, a potential promotion you’ve been vying for coming to fruition. You see blue skies ahead. Then, inexplicably, events occur that give you a jolt. It could be loss of job, a negative review out of nowhere or even harsh feedback that was unwarranted. Any of these can hamper that picture you have of the illustrious future.

1.) Reaction (or lack thereof) is paramount. The way you conduct yourself in the span of time immediately following the triggering incident will be telling in how you rebound. Eyes are watching you and there are expectations of how you will handle the setback. Whether they expect or want you to falter, do not under any circumstances provide any negative fodder that can be used against you. If the triggering incident is something you deem unwarranted, you’ll negate any potential path to proving your point if you show yourself to be part of the problem.

If you immediately flounder as a result of this setback, it illustrates that you are not ready to effectively lead, it may prove the narrative being told in a negative appraisal and it can cause you to burn bridges you may need later.

The best things you can do are to…

2.) Regroup. Get your bearings. Do not show your surprise and do not lose your cool. Experiencing major setbacks in your career can be very telling experiences: you certainly learn the true nature of your relationships with co-workers and you are forced to modify your approach whether you want to or not. Rather than react, reflect on the information that you have received which is – in essence – an edict to change your behavior and often a warning or punishment because you have failed to adhere to some expectation or set of expectations. Getting distance from any occurrence – good or bad – lends perspective. Utilize the time you are licking your wounds and analyzing the steps that led to this point to consider alternative tweaks to process that could lead to different results and…

3.) Re-think your strategy. Look for the learning. Even if you vehemently disagree with the triggering incident, take a step back and attempt to look through the lens of an outside view. No matter how much you hate the ramifications or potential repercussions of this setback, try to find some kind of learning. Work to change the perception. Like it or not, perception is deemed as and defines reality: if someone has this connotation of you, it is imperative to change that perception. Seek out people who have knowledge of the situation, attempt to learn from people who may have provided criticism and be open-minded to evolving based on feedback from others who know you or know the playing field.

Showing that you are serious about turning the tide and that you really want to modify your strategy based on the feedback or the negative event shows growth (and desire to grow). Even if it is a situation from where there is no return (a termination), you will need to roll your learning into future interviews and roles. You will need to show that you have identified where you could have altered your process and that you did glean knowledge from the situation which has made you better. Everyone stumbles and falls, and we all earn and deserve second (and sometimes more) chances. Make the most of that additional chance by being able to tell the story of what transpired, why it did, what you would do differently and what you will take from the experience to better your process going forward.

4.) Re-commit. This re-commitment is internal (with yourself, an acceptance of what has happened and a conscious decision to move forward with a modified approach that will lead to better results). It is external (with others who are part of the setback, be it a leader, a team, clients, partners, etc.). The commitment is important because it shows others who have dubbed you insufficient that you have a plan to address the shortcomings. It may surprise folks who expected you to ignore or fight the criticisms. It also shows that you are committed to controlling the variables you can control: you can control the activities you take, the actions you put forth to change the situation, and the plan in place to modify the perception. This is a key part of your reputation; rather than reacting negatively, you have respectfully analyzed what truth may exist in this unwanted analysis of you and utilized it to forge a path forward. Whether you believe it to be true or not, whether you were the recipient of an undeserved punishment or not, it falls on your shoulders (and yours alone) to address the need for change within yourself and your process. Make clear to those who have a hand in either this decision, this setback or situation, or in your path forward that you take very seriously your reputation, that you have made these tweaks in order to course-correct, and that you are committed to these strategic steps to alter the trajectory and move forward with a modified approach to lead to better results. That is a very crucial part of this process, followed by and only trumped by the action to…

5.) Re-engage. Get back in the game. Be fueled by the fire that got you into the game to begin with and the unstoppable passion to change the dynamic and the perception. If you have lost out on a promotion or received negative attention or feedback or even lost your job, it is vital to not only show that this did not cause a death knell to your career but that it reinvigorated you to be an even better version of yourself. To not only do the job but master the job. To not only do what you’re good at, but to step outside of comfort zones, learn from others, face the criticism head on and add value in other, better ways.

It’s never too late to draw the line in the sand and make the conscious decision to be better, to add more value, to master your craft. Unfortunately, sometimes preventable and sometimes completely unfair career setbacks will befall us. Lick your wounds in private. Analyze your process and learn. Emerge from the setback as a superior version of yourself, determined to move forward with more knowledge, experience, passion and focus than ever before. The person who determines if a career setback is debilitating or if it can be used as an experience to learn from and better oneself is solely up to you

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales and leadership skills, go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073HN3SXQ

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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Focus on Exemplary Service, and Never Worry About Your Sales Again

Sales is a sport based on probability of success at each step. Putting a quality product on the field at every step of the selling process enhances your chances of earning the business. Differentiating yourself from those who do the job poorly or even status quo is paramount, lest your results will be poor or status quo. There is no more important element to sales than service.

Service is in your approach when you prospect, it’s during the pre-sales process when you are conducting needs analysis, truly listening to the needs of a potential client, being responsive, delivering what’s needed and expected and promised, communicating and providing a real solution to match gaps in a customer’s process to help their decision to change. It’s also post-sales: do you sell a product and run? Or do you stay with the customer, checking in and ensuring satisfaction and looking for other ways to add value?

For, that’s ultimately what leads to sales: value.

Value comes in a variety of ways; there are tangible items that you and your companies can provide in the way of results, there is the perception of value based on track record or probability, and there is the value you bring to the equation. You are the X-Factor.

Customers have told me before they knew my price was higher and that the process was a little clunky, but they bought from me because I responded, got them answers, communicated frequently and genuinely cared about delivering for them.

  1. Differentiate yourself from the pack (the others who have come before you and either tried unsuccessfully to sell to your potential client or did sell to them). Whether you are looking to displace an existing solution or expose a customer’s gap in process that your product or service can serve as the solution for, you must ensure that you give yourself the best chance at being heard. That first impression and how you put your best foot forward will directly correlate to whether you wedge your foot in the door and are able to make it inside or the door is closed in your face. Focus on the attempt to ascertain how you may best be of value to the potential client; what’s your angle? Do you have key information about the industry vertical? Do you have experience with others in similar predicaments? Do you have insight about the client that is unique to your position or business? Whatever it is, you must know your angle and you need to position yourself in a way that you exist to add value to the equation. If the customer senses that you can do this, the chance of progressing to the next step is more likely. It’s like a board game, and you must roll the dice each time (actions with different probabilities that either determine you go forward or the game is over). You are positioning your service as a solution to their business.
  2. Ask insightful questions and truly listen. Customers know when you are scripted. They understand (or tolerate) that we are salespeople, but in order to prevent being treated like many salespeople are when they are shown the door or ignored, we must make the most of our opportunity with a decision-maker or stakeholder: show your mettle with interesting, engaging questions (that will not result in simply a “yes” or “no”). Be able to ask follow-up questions showing you are engaged in the dialogue. Evolve your line of questioning based on experience – trends you are seeing in the industry or at their level or position, what priorities of decision-makers typically are, etc. – and utilize this time like a detective attempting to uncover clues. Your clues will help you understand what is missing in the customer’s current process. Once you know this, you formulate a solution. Truly listen to your customers – using their own words to lead in to your next question or to bridge into possible recommendations. Do not make them repeat themselves. Take diligent notes. Take action on things that will benefit them while you are still in the meeting! They love it when not only do you say you will find resources for them or get them answers, but what if you are able to utilize technology to find those answers while you are sitting there? The value you are bringing through this service sets you apart.
  3. Be responsive and be diligent. Pre-sales, there is nothing more important than how and how often you follow up (don’t use words like “I’m checking in” or “I’m following up” but, rather, “I want to ensure I am operating on your timeline” and “Based on our conversation, we agreed the next step was this and to meet your timeline I want to ensure we are on track” or even “You indicated this was a priority – is that still the case?” when a potential client goes dark. If customers ask you questions, even if you don’t know the answer, respond and show you are getting the answers and working on it. Certainly, some customers will use you as a free information bank, but you certainly cannot pinpoint which right out of the gates. Respond quickly when there is any type of need, because you are showing the customer what type of service and value you’ll bring. This is your audition.
  4. Add many layers of value to your solution. Your proposal is not just that the customer acts and transacts. The customer needs to understand that you are part of this journey and not just one sale, potentially presenting other complementary services and solutions, incentives or perks, and most of all yourself. Certainly, customers buy for a variety of reasons. They trust companies and choose companies for a variety of reasons. Chief among them are customer service. What will transpire if something goes wrong – what’s the contingency plan? The customer needs to understand how and that they will be taken care of. What will your role be after the sale is completed? Customers have to make a decision to change – give them as many compelling service-related valuable reasons with which to do so and it will only enhance your chances.
  5. Maintain the relationship post-sales. Agree to a cadence with the client – perhaps you check in monthly or quarterly? Perhaps you are part of status meetings at their place of business? Maybe you just send them an e-mail to gauge satisfaction levels and ascertain if there are any steps you can take to add additional value? Even if you would typically sell a client and move on, only to have them work with your support teams, a client you maintain a consistent relationship with built on communication and trust will be a strong referral, a valued partner, a potential lead source, a potential prospect when you have future products or services emerge, and the possibilities go on and on. It’s as simple as can be to make a call or send a note to make sure they are satisfied and – if not – to assist them in finding service. That’s an investment that could pay dividends in a multitude of ways.

If your top priority is service and adding value at every step of the pre-sales and post-sales process, the results will take care of themselves. Your book of business and your funnel will expand in incredible ways solely because of your attention to the potential client. You will quickly determine if a potential business relationship can flourish or is not viable simply by being respectful, thorough, transparent but being candid with tact.

Focus on service and adding value – to clients, to business partners, to other members of your team and leadership – at each interaction, deliver on promises, communicate, be prompt and take control of the controllables, and you’ll never have to worry about a sales result again.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales and leadership skills, go to https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073HN3SXQ

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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