Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Patience Over Greed - October 25, 2014

I’ve often bee asked about the timing between sales, as in when is the best or appropriate time to reengage with a new client. My standard response is always “patience over greed”. In many cases I get a puzzled look and the “what do you mean”?


No matter what career path someone has chosen, we are all consumers. We have purchased a home or a car. We stand at the deli counter waiting our turn. We’ve made purchases at department stores and online for personal products or gifts. And, being on the consumer side, we sometimes must restrain ourselves and be patient not greedy. As the old saying goes, “patience is a virtue”, but what does that mean for a sales person?


When talking with sales people about “patience over greed” I often start the explanation by asking about personal experiences where they are the consumer. How does it feel when either they or the sales person get aggressive in the process or you feel as though you or the sales person are being greedy? Is it a pleasant experience? Does it make you want to continue to work with this particular sales person or the company they represent? How does this feeling change when you and the sales person show restraint in the sales process and show patience? Are you more at ease? Does it help guide the sales process and provide you the information to make a more informed decision?


Once we’ve evaluated the answers to these questions, we then move on to the calendar, and we evaluate a schedule. That’s right a schedule to manage when you will contact your new client. This is about not coming across greedy and showing patience. But, you cannot be too patient, or the new client may find someone else to manage their needs. Timing is everything.


In past blogs I’ve talked about keeping a journal. A journal is a great tool for reviewing when you’ve had a truly wonderful sales experience with a client. You should keep notes on when you reach out, how often, and why. These notes become your frequency pattern and provide you a road map for future successful sales relationships. Every industry is different and so your touchpoints (as I call them) may be different than my own. However, there is always a frequency pattern to successful sales.


Journal and manage your frequency patter. This will lead to a greater understanding of the touchpoints you’ll need and when with your new clients. And, ultimately, these plans will lead to more sales from your existing clients.

Paint A Picture - October 18, 2014

Have you ever watched a movie where the scene flashes forward and shows what life around you would be like if you did not exist or were not present? The director is painting a picture for the character and for you. These tend to be used as “ah ha moments”, ones that drive home the point of the plot. When selling, you too can use this approach, to drive home the point of the plot.


Mr. Prospect, let me paint a picture for you, of what it will look like to work with my firm. Mrs. Client, let me paint a picture for you, of what it will look like if we stopped working together and you chose another firm to partner with. In either case, you can be an artist, and you can use the painting of a picture to close the deal.


There are several tactics that must be applied at the same time for this approach to closing to work. First and foremost, you must be sincere. Sincerity when describing the future relationship, both with ups and downs, is the key to having the prospect or client believe in you. Two things were also just said that are important to point out. You must describe what it is like, in reality, to work with your firm. Of course, there will be many highs or ups. There may also be lows or downs. Being believable is being honest. Most sales people only want to paint the picture filled with beautiful colors. A true artist must sometimes show the dark side. Describe what happens when something does not go just right. Outline how you handle resolutions when a change in the relationship occurs. Explain how you will get past a possible disagreement. And the other point is they must believe you. You represent your company and therefore you must be believable because you will be held accountable not your company.


Other factors in painting the picture for working together is through story telling. It is okay to have a small tangent in your closing process to tell a real story that your prospect or client will relate to. And, if you can then provide a reference to validate the story, the picture you are painting becomes even more prevalent to the close.


As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, ‘A’ level sales people understand how to build relationships, and recognize the building process may take time. Like an artist, the outcome of the final product is unknown in the beginning, but takes shape throughout the process. And, so does selling. Unfortunately, there are too many ‘B’ and ‘C’ level sales people that want to rush through the process. I call them “paint by numbers sales people”. They think they are using their best skills, but they are simply trying to speed through by copying another’s work.


Be yourself, be honest, be realistic and paint a picture for what is to come. You will qualify your prospect or client. You will make them desire to work with you. And, you will be able to refer back to the sales process and the picture you’ve painted if ever you need to review your relationship with them. Until next time, keep selling.

Breaking back into jail -- October 11, 2014

Here we go again, the second week in a row, where I’m using a bit of a cheesy phrase. Don’t break back into jail – it is a phrase typically heard when a recently divorced person begins to date too seriously too quickly. Or, at times, when two exes get back together. It is not the nicest comment and it is not intended to be.


And so the story goes in sales, where a relationship ends, and then somewhere down the road someone wants to do business together again. Do you not remember why you broke up in the first place? Chasing revenue, to a certain extent, is a sales person’s priority. But, there is a difference in chasing revenue, and ultimately chasing quality relationships that drive revenue. When you break up with a client, you may not want to break back into jail.


Even in a global economy the market you sell in tends to be small and so you will inevitably cross paths with a former client. Depending on the reasons why the relationship ended may determine how you treat each other when your paths do cross for a second or third time. Break up’s happen. It is a fact of life when dealing with relationships of all sorts, both personal and professional, when you’re younger or older. I have found, especially in business, to keep meticulous notes about the relationships I have with clients including each individual I encounter.


Note taking must always be an important part of a sales person’s role. And, at no other time do your notes come in handy as when a past relationship is called into question. My notes tend to follow a pretty standard pattern. Here is a breakdown of what I track: who are the primary contacts and what are their specific responsibilities; how do I get along with each person; are there any common (non-work related) activities or hobbies; have we dined together; how do we get along on a personal level; have we disagreed and how have disagreements been managed; do compromises tend to be considered fair by both sides; what happens when we do not see eye-to-eye; is the client level headed; and, how do we manage next steps after a disagreement.


It may seem like profiling and it is. Trust me, your clients have a profile on you too. The key is making sure you give the business relationship every possible opportunity to succeed. It is only when the relationship must come to an end when these profile notes come in handy. And, more specifically, when there is a possibility of doing business together again. Be careful what you wish for – you may just get it – and end up back in jail.

You had me at goodbye - October 4, 2014

I know the title of this week’s blog is a bit cheesy, sorry about that. I’m sure you’ve heard the play on this title from a famous sports agent movie, but not too sure you’ve heard goodbye. Long before the movie was even released this is a phrase I’ve come to love in the sales world, “you had me at goodbye”. So, now you’re probably asking, “what in the world is he talking about?”


Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret that I’ve been using in sales for over 20 years. No matter how good or bad you feel a meeting has been going, the tell-tale sign is the goodbye. I’ve sat through decent meetings that I thought went well until the goodbye. That’s when the decision maker hurried me out the door because of another meeting and barely uttered goodbye. That particular deal never happened. And, in an opposite manner, I very recently had a meeting that I thought was just oaky, but the decision maker provided me with parting words that made it all the worthwhile. Not only did she say goodbye, she referenced several talking points from the meeting, expressed her gratitude for me driving to her office, asked if she could visit my office for the next meeting to meet the team, and wished me well as I walked out of the door. We are now very close to signing the contract.


Keep in mind, especially in a first meeting, that saying hello can be awkward. There is sometimes a moment of silence, or the need to break the ice, and then get down to the business of the meeting. Meetings, depending on the topic and attendees, can be quick and easy or long and drawn out. It is your goal as the sales person to remain in control of the meeting, keeping the agenda moving forward, and hoping you’ve kept their attention to move forward toward a signed contract at some point.


I have found that when it comes time for goodbye, this is the moment of truth that will set the stage for whether your potential new relationship has legs to stand on. If it appears genuine you’ve done your job. If it appears rehearsed or rushed, keep your fingers crossed.