A Tale of Two Lumberjacks

I see people spinning their wheels all the time getting nowhere. They see the next bright shiny object and off they go, once again. The worst is when you see someone who can’t keep focused on their goals. It usually means they don’t have one. It pretty simple to realize that if you don’t have a road to follow and a compass on hand, you may end up going in circles. Have you defined your goals? Have you come up with a mission statement? Does your company have its own mission statement? What are you all about anyway?

If you are a salesperson working for a company, take the time to define exactly how much in sales you will need to do each month to accomplish your personal goals and take care of your family. That will be your minimum. Then work it through. How much commission do you make off of each sale? If you add that all up, how many sales on average would you have to make each month, each week, each day to get there. Once you’ve defined the numbers, how many actual client contacts must you make each day to make that many sales? Then finally, how many calls each day must you make to keep your pipeline full and make actual contacts. In my experience as a sales manager over the years, I’ve seen some of my best salespeople be able to make 80 to 100 actual phone calls each day with at least 20 actual client contacts. A contact is where you actually talk to a client and accomplish some small item to move the sale ahead. Where are you in this? Are you willing each day to make the commitment it’s going to take for you to accomplish your goals? I’ve prepared this little story to illustrate what working smart is all about. It’s an oldie but goodie.

A Tale of Two Lumberjacks

Two lumberjacks were given axes and told to go into the woods to cut down trees. The first lumberjack found a tree and started chopping. He chopped all day without stopping. The second lumberjack also did his share of chopping, but kept stopping once in a while during the day. He’d walk away, and then come back a few minutes later. The first lumberjack just kept working.

At the end of the day, the second lumberjack had cut more wood than the first. The first was much more tired than the second. What happened?

The second lumberjack who took breaks went to go sharpen his axe. The point is that both had the same tool, but only one took the time to learn how to use it properly. Work smarter, not harder.

We all get the same tools. We have the same rules. Some of us learn how to use our tools better than others. The playbook is not as important as the execution. Is your execution of the tools that you have getting any better? Your ability to carry out the “execution” of the plan can make you better than your competition. It can give you the success you need.

Conscious Body Language and Powerful Sales Training

Can sales professionals remain at the top of their game without practicing conscious body language in their sales training?

Sales professionals are leaders when it comes to human development.

To stay on the leading edge of the sales profession you must constantly adapt to what attracts your customers and constantly adjust what repels them. Never has this principle been as important as now. With the explosion of information available to buyers, gaining the trust of today’s sophisticated customer is the biggest challenge professional salespeople face.

Long gone are the days when a salesman (yes mostly men) could crack a dirty joke, take out their order book (yes, paper) and book a sizable sale with a fat margin. In today’s competitive market your potential customers have access to the same information as you. The distinction between your competitors and you, in their eyes, has disappeared. Even using the most sophisticated CRM system has little effect as something deeper is shifting. The sales pendulum is now swinging back towards the importance of a trusting relationship from almost 30 years of impersonal business transactions. Current trends suggest that people are getting very tired of being treated as sales statistics. They are increasingly voting with their wallets to be treated with corporate social responsibility and as distinct and individual humans. Can you blame them?

All the latest research is pointing in this direction.

From Forrester Research to Harvard Business School, many on the cutting edge are talking about the value of building and nurturing warm and trusting customer relationships. Wise leaders are now taking steps to train their employees to treat each customer as a valued individual. That we now have to teach people how to treat others as humans is also interesting. Yet how can this process can mature without paying closer attention to the importance of body language?

Yes, even body language is becoming more important

This is great news, but what if there is still another threshold to separate elite sales people from the very good ones? That is becoming conscious of and effectively using your body language with feeling. It is one thing to know how to shake hands correctly, when to loan your pen to get a signature and when to open or cross your arms. Yet what if it is a separate and so far overlooked dimension to begin connecting these and many other gestures to the feelings and the atmosphere they generate. The more you can sense and feel what is happening to you and those around you, the more effectively and gracefully you and your customer will be able to dance your way to your next sale, together. Some suggestions to encourage this process and to become more conscious of it, at the body language level are:

– Becoming more present, Salespeople are notorious for unconsciously disappearing into their sales pitch. It still seems easier and somehow safer to forget you are communicating with someone who wants to be seen, heard and understood. The more you can practice balancing being here and now with your need to know where you are in your sales cycle, the better you will succeed and the less returns you will have to accept.

– Listening attentively instead of just waiting to talk. Consciously pause and reflect over what your prospective client has just said before you answer them. If you finish their sentences for them they will justifiably feel like they are talking to a machine than a fellow human. If you allow this to happen you will have defeated the distinction between doing business in person versus ordering your offer on-line. Using all your senses and trusting your intuition more are all requirements to hear your potential customer’s whole story while adding value to your chosen profession.

– Serving your way to your sale, instead of pushing, performing and impressing. Relax, ask questions, listen attentively and respond in a way that your potential customer can feel special. The more they feel special, the more they will treat you specially too. Master your emotional triggers. Train to reflect and respond more while automatically reacting less.

– Becoming a more open and attractive target. The more you consciously adjust your body language to invite your listeners into dialogue, the easier it will be for them to graciously agree to do business with you again and again.

Each one of these points requires a new set of soft skills

New, sensational soft skills are needed to maximize your conscious body language training. These skills can be used to create a more conscious and present interaction where you and your potential customer can relax, then expand your respect and understanding for each other. The result will be a more solid platform of agreement, less cognitive dissonance, a longer, more sustainable and enjoyable business relationship, with fewer returns.

Bulletproof sales arguments and customer capture, Not!

This traditional way to sell is becoming less and less effective as the difference between products, companies and sales tools narrow daily. With the current oversupply of competitors in just about every industry, customers can switch suppliers faster than you can create new sales arguments. Yet with human nature being what it is, life is still easier for everyone when your customers discover you are a trusted supplier. Strive to become someone who is authentically interested in collaborating over the long-term than just making the next sale.

The current trend of building trustworthy and loyal relationships with your customers is how future business looks to be conducted. The more you train to feel what your body is expressing, the more you can then align and adjust your message to respond seamlessly with your customer’s needs, wants and wishes. What if this honest and sensational set of soft skills is quickly becoming the deciding factor when choosing a trusted supplier? Training your corporate and social ability to respond will help you develop your edge in this exciting new trend.

Improving Your Sales Meeting Conversion Tips for Business

Here are some tips on the topic, “How to successfully turn your sales or lead meetings into more new business.”

• Have a good preparation for the meeting including having a standard question base to do a great needs analysis on the client, this will sell you well as demonstrate you are organised and are asking all the right questions. This should be done so well, the lead will know you know what you are doing.

• Use soft statements, listen by giving them ample opportunity to be heard, address their concerns as well and use all opportunities to introduce to them the ways you can add value to them.

• Rather than give convoluted price options or tables, give them a bottom line fixed quote or price and clearly state, what are their inclusions.

• Have different available options, try to sell your biggest package first, if that is not taken, reduce the sale to lesser packages.

• Get the simple things right, remind them of their appointment, send an agenda, directions where you are, welcome them with a clean professional office, present yourself well, offer drink or coffee, have testimonials in your waiting area.

• Be able to answer common objections – such as, “I want to think about it”. Respond to them by saying, “can I ask some more questions?, Is that the price you expected? Is this what you need as your solution?” Try to uncover more of their genuine reasons for hesitating.

• A good sales meeting should establish a relationship, identify needs, offer the right solutions, close with an offering which fulfils an underlying motivation which is either an inspiration to the client (such as you too can look this good with our product) or remove their fear (such as with our solution you never have to worry about something again).

• Be able to defend yourself against competitor offerings. Say what is good and unique about you such as your quality, additional service, guarantees, testimonials, bonuses.

• Offer bonuses like they do in the ads. It really works. Often you may think something is normal service offered but saying our price includes for example “within 24hr email response”, “free e-book on solving your something problem” or whatever you can offer, there must be something in your business that is an easy giveaway that samples your brilliance. It can be the slight difference on a tight quote that wins you a deal.

• If you do convert your close, a great idea is to follow through on using your needs analysis – start solving those problems they wanted sorted, stick to the price quote you agreed on, send a welcome email which covers your value, quote and solutions you are giving which can overcome buyer remorse (when a client goes home after a conversion and then rings to cancel it all).

Regular Account Reviews – Part One

A regular account review is a good way to keep in touch with regular customers and let them know you are interested in their well-being. If you do any repeat business at all, it’s a great way to find new business of which you might not have been aware. Some of your competition just might be trying to take a little business away from you. If you aren’t keeping in touch, you won’t know it’s happened.

For this, any good CRM (contact relationship manager) software will do the job. Every time you call someone, set a new call for when you should call the next time. Make notes about personal information that you may find out as you talk, as well as any business that you know you need to review.

Three months is a good time to call back if you really have no particular reason to call except to follow-up, but if there is a company event, personal event such as a birthday, make the day you schedule your call a few days earlier.

I believe there are two kinds of calls to be made. The first are tickler type calls. These calls need to be made somewhere around the time that you have the call scheduled, but it really doesn’t matter when. Most software provides an area called “Action Items” which is just a database of calls to be made linked to the company and person that need to be called.

The other kind is the call that must be made at a certain time or the sale will be lost. A tool like Microsoft Outlook or some other scheduler can schedule these kinds of calls. Outlook can be used to beep you 30 minutes in advance for example. Outlook can also be used to build a schedule that can be printed for your boss. If you are on the road and have to submit a travel schedule to your boss on a periodic basis, this is most useful.

Here are some reasons to call if you can’t think of any – Review the original reason your companies started doing business?

– What was the original experience they had either using your product?

– How did they perceive the first time process in delivering and setup?

– What were their experiences after they had the product for a while?

– How was the service, and response to questions?

Do a new analysis of the clients current needs. What direction are they heading and what’s next. Make notes. Write a new prescription. Determine how you can meet their needs in the future.

If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll also find referrals you don’t expect and new business coming from old clients that you didn’t expect.

You Get What You Inspect


“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.” – Peter Drucker

I took part in a training last week on how to effectively evaluate the impact of learning. Throughout the session, the recently-released report from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Evaluating Learning: Getting the Measurements That Matter, was referenced and many of those mentions were fairly shocking.

According to this white paper study, while organizations invest approximately 8% of annual profits in training initiatives, a mere 35% of those surveyed “reported that their organizations evaluated the business results of learning programs to any extent.”

Additionally, the 2016 report noted that the majority of funding available for training impact evaluation is earmarked for assessments targeting only Levels 1 and 2 of Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of effectiveness. But before I go off about why this is so puzzling, perhaps it’s worth a quick refresher on exactly what this Kirkpatrick Model actually is.

Developed by Dr. Don Kirkpatrick, his namesake model sets the standard for accurately gauging the impact of training. His framework organizes learning impact into four buckets, which represent the essential ripple effect that well-designed training should initiate.

1. Reaction – This take the pulse of the individual learner. Did they enjoy the training? Did they find it engaging? Did they believe its content was relevant and useful to them, individually?

2. Learning – This level goes beyond the individual learner’s “feelings” about the course or training and evaluates how much of the intended new knowledge (theories, skills, competencies, etc.) imparted within the training was actually absorbed by its participants.

3. Behavior – This third level looks at the correlation between what participants learn in a training and their subsequent work performance or behavior. Level 3 evaluations provide the first glimpses into how effective training efforts are at achieving the intended collective end-goals (i.e. effective learning transfer ).

4. Results – At this point, evaluation goes beyond individual behavior and skill set to consider the degree to which the training’s effect on individual participants impacts the targeted results at an organizational level.

In many places, you will now also see a Level 5 added to Kirkpatrick’s model, which takes the evaluation one step beyond organizational goals and looks at ROI. The ROI of a training program is calculated as:

Net benefits (benefits minus costs) / program costs * 100 = ROI%

(Phillips, Phillips, and Ray 2015)


So just how do organizations justify continually-increasing training expenditures without the ability to prove the actual effectiveness of those investments? While in some cases, it can be justifiably blamed on an institutional “checklist mentality,” it is much more often related to the particular challenges of developing a truly effective training evaluation strategy.

While roughly 85% of organizations report regular evaluation efforts at Levels 1 (Reaction) and 2 (Learning), the percentages drop dramatically from there. Some potential drivers behind this sharp dip in evaluation efforts include:

  1. Organizational structure silos that prevent access to key management or supervisory players critical to evaluating Level 3 effectiveness and higher.
  2. Limited funding to develop rigorous evaluation methods beyond already-available assessment tools.
  3. The nature of the methods best suited for evaluating higher-level learning and business effectiveness.

    • Many strategies well-suited for gauging Level 3 effectiveness and above require 1-on-1 interviews, focus groups, and performance observation. All of which require time, personnel, budget, and most importantly effective planning and coordination.

Yet without a methodology for understanding training’s ripple effect throughout an organization, it is impossible to validate its effectiveness (or lack thereof) and use that data to optimize training content for improved results. And who wants to keep running (or participating in) an ineffective training program? Remind anyone of the old adage about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again, all the while looking for a different outcome?


Humor aside, I in no way underestimate the difficulty of structuring solid training evaluation strategies that span all levels of effectiveness. First, you must have a clear understanding (and agreement) about the real end-goal(s) of your learning expenditure. From there, it then takes a great deal of deliberate and thoughtful planning up-front, cooperation and cross-departmental coordination throughout, and dedication to creating a reliable feedback loop to support continual content and process improvement.

But the effort pays off. The payoff is seen in customer and employee satisfaction rates, in performance improvement and increased efficiencies, in the impact on a company’s bottom line. And also in the fact that an entire organization doesn’t feel as if it is treading water in the training and development department. No goodwill ever comes from wasting peoples’ time.


Association for Talent Development (ATD). 2016. Evaluating Learning: Getting to Measurements That Matter. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.

Phillips, P.P., J.J. Phillips, and R. Ray. 2015. Measuring the Success of Leadership Development. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.

Open Door Questions

In our past few blogs, we’ve been talking about the great sales technique called Reversing. Reversing is an approach we use, where we answer questions with questions, designed to disarm the prospect and create trust. If trust is established, you have a much greater chance of uncovering the prospect’s pain and gaining a sale. This blog is the last in our series on Reversing, and shows you how to open doors you assumed were already closed.

Salespeople sometimes make the mistake of assuming they understand the motive behind a prospect’s question, and jump right into answering the question, only to find they’ve been set up. Savvy prospects may use tricks like the trap and test question, designed to box a salesperson in to a corner. Here’s an example:

Prospect: “Do your sensors have fast response times?”

Most salespeople who sell sensors with fast response times will respond proudly and quickly without thinking.

Salesperson: “Yes, our sensors respond in milliseconds”.

Prospect: “Well, we don’t need response and don’t want to pay more for something we don’t need”.

Smiling slyly, the prospect knows they have just boxed the salesperson in to a corner.

A smartly trained Sandler expert, would have asked a reversing question instead, something like:

Salesperson: “Well, actually, that’s a great question. I don’t get that question too often. Our sensors… please, tell me, do you need fast response times?”

This reverse response is called the “start-stop reverse”. Did you notice the start-stop? Let’s breakdown the reverse so you can see.

“Well actually, that’s a great question (stroke). I don’t get question too often. (another stroke) Our sensors (stops – the salesperson looked like they were going to answer but stop and ask another question) Please tell me (softening statement) do you need fast response times?” (reverse question)

This technique comes across as spontaneous to the prospect and throws them off, but in reality, it is “prepared spontaneity”. It’s another very effective way of getting prospects to loosen up and reveal some pain. This technique also helps you stay out of the traps that prospects may try to lure you into, throwing you into a box, and keeps you in the game. You still have a chance to make a deal.

An expert salesperson should analyze the prospect’s question to understand their true intent, before offering a response. When you begin to master the reversing techniques, you will do this without much thought, and reverse your prospect into trusting you and sharing pain. If there’s enough pain, and you have the solution, your sales numbers will increase dramatically.

These reversing techniques are awesome, but be smart, and don’t over do it. If some asks what time it is, you don’t have to say, “great question… why did you ask me that at this time?” It is okay to just look at your watch and give them the correct time!

By the same token, if prospects ask the same question twice in a row, you must answer it. Don’t try to reverse it again. If you do, you’re going to break your bonding and rapport and maybe even make them angry. But (and it’s a big but), if prospects do ask the same question twice, you can and should reverse after you answer the question:

Salesperson: “Our response times vary. We have sensors that respond in milliseconds and others that have response times up to 15 to 20 seconds. Can you tell me why you asked?”

Reversing is a powerful selling technique that will help you uncover your prospect’s pain. Make sure to use it only when the prospect feels safe and you’ve established bonding and rapport. Add Reversing to your sales tool box and you’ll have an effective technique that’ll help your prospects relive their pain. And as you know, Pain leads directly to the Money.

Find Out Why MNCs Are Spending Fortunes on Improving Their People’s Communication Skills

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

– Lee Iacocca

Communication in personal and work life is crucial to one’s development and growth. Even the worst ideas communicated effectively are likely to score better than brilliant ideas which are not put across with due emphasis.

Imagine a sales person calling up a prospect. He/she calls up and informs the potential customer at the other end about a newly launched product or service. He/she, however, doesn’t sound very confident about the product/service and also fails to answer queries raised by the person at the other end. Now you tell me this thing: would this sales person be able to close a deal? Would this person be able to meet or exceed the targets set by the company he/she works in?

Herein this post, we are going to talk about what it takes to excite a potential customer and successfully closing a deal.

No matter how deeply a sales person understands his products and/or services, if he cannot communicate well, chances are he would fail a lot more than he would succeed. Good communication helps a sales person build a quick rapport with the customer which means he has a better chance to persuade the customer to consider the product and/or service on offer. This is why smart companies, MNCs, are investing substantial amount of efforts in training their people. They are increasingly leveraging the benefits that training programs for employees entail.

Training programs for employees that are customized to empower attendees communicate more effectively are either arranged internally or through outside resources – training companies. In the in-house training model, senior level managers take up the task to educate the participants in the art of building relationships with the customers through effective communication. They may also be trained on selling skills, which go hand in hand with the communication skills. When companies look outside for training needs, they look for professional training companies which are experienced in imparting proven training programs for employees or management skills training programs.

Professional end-to-end training program companies conduct needs diagnostic studies to get an idea about the training needs of the employees so that they can customize their communication training programs for employees. These companies also measure the impact of their trainings once the programs are done with, and employees get back to their usual work life. Training programs for employees are not anew; they have been in existence for decades. The modern day training programs, however, are more scientific and result oriented in their approach.

How To Sell If You Hate Sales

If you want to be a successful person, whether it is a business venture, a job interview or to convince your boss to give you a raise, if you want to build successful relationships with people of the opposite sex, or in many other situations in life, you must free yourself from your preconceptions about the world of sales, it is worth your survival.

Why People Hate Sales

Most people have huge preconceptions about sales, often related to negative experiences with pushy telemarketers or shady car salespeople (By the way I have been a car salesman and a telemarketer myself and the majority of these people act with enormous integrity but unfortunately there are always the bad apples like in any other profession that negatively impact everybody else).

When people think about sales, they often tend to imagine the typical car salesman wearing gold bracelets with his hairs slicked back, but successful salespeople are anything but this: In fact, when I think about successful salespeople I usually have in mind politicians, famous lawyers, TV personalities or doctors.

Anyone who has achieved success in any area of life has often managed (consciously or unconsciously) to master the ability to influence other people, to achieve ambitious goals, to compete and to win in life.

Change Your Mindset Towards Sales Today

So many people don’t feel comfortable about sales, mainly due to insecurity or for fear of being rejected.

The top salespeople learn to master an “iron” mentality, a mindset that allows them to knock down any obstacle and to get what they want.

Do you think that this type of attitude might be useful in other areas of your life? You bet.

If you think about it, everything you see around you exists because you bought it, somebody sold it to you.

The same house you live in belongs to a sale, or even if you pay rent you had to sign a contract, everything inside is “born” from a sale, the chair or the sofa on which you are resting your ass in this instant comes from a sale, so have respect for salespeople if you don’t want to end up with your ass on the ground.

The greatest inventors or scientists had to “sell” their idea, they have managed to overcome many objections from people who did not approve their ideas before they became famous, otherwise nobody would have known them today.

Historical geniuses like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates are people who have mastered the art of sales.

In the society we live today, mastering the art of sales is no longer an option, it is mandatory for your survival in this world because everything revolves around sales.

The only way to get what you want in life, the only way to achieve your dearest dreams is to master the secrets of sales.

Successful salespeople are geniuses in creating solutions

People want to find solutions to their problems, whether it is about choosing a vacuum cleaner, to buy a vacation to the Caribbean or to choose the right political party, anyone needs to be able to make the right choices, the real salesperson is a problem solver, someone that can help you to think better, to analyze the right options and ultimately to live a better life.

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