1. Know what you are going to say and organize it into chucks. Dealing with lots of information in bite-sized pieces means it can flow more easily. Pausing between each point will allow you and your audience more time to process.
2. Realize that nobody can tell if you are nervous. 10% of us are terrified of public speaking but the audience can rarely tell what’s happening in your head. Don’t worry. People are usually to busy worrying about themselves to think about you too much.
3. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Studies show that this increases the number of fillers used. Stand with your hands out in front of you. OWN YOUR SPACE.
4. Keep your sentences short. Pause between sentences. Pause often. A pause of one or two seconds can add impact to your words, gives you and the audience thinking time and never lasts as long as it feels.
5. Make sure the content is engaging. If your words are interesting and enjoyable, the audience will rarely pick up on any filler words.
6. Tell a story. Audiences latch onto stories, and if you’ve told the story before, you will have to think less about what’s coming next.
7. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. If you know everything you’re going to say before you say it , there will be far less need to rack your brain for the words.
8. Avoid distractions. If you’re talking on the phone, don’t browse the web at the same time. If you are in front of an audience, make eye contact with people. The intensity means you will be less inclined to feel awkward.
9. Understand why you say ‘um’? Knowing when and why you say ‘um’ will give you an advantage when it comes up. If you find yourself entering a situation where you would normally say it, you’ll be able to manage yourself with prior knowledge.
10. Know your transitions. Before moving on to a new topic, use an appropriate segue. Pause and acknowledge the change in topic, without losing your train of thought.
11. Listen to yourself. Record yourself practicing. This is the best way to understand how you speak and when you say ‘um’. Knowing these situations before they happen mean you will be prepared to avoid them.
By Steve Tobak
The good news is you won a big contract. The bad news is you committed to do the impossible.
Deadlines trip up most entrepreneurs. They’re the direct cause of quite a bit of lost repeat business, not to mention a ridiculous amount of stress. The problem is that time and money are always intertwined because nobody gets paid until somebody delivers the goods. That goes for both you and the customer, if it’s B2B.
Nothing teaches you how to deal with crazy deadlines better than putting your butt on the line as a top executive in a publicly traded company. That’s what I did for more years than I care to think about and, while the pressure was enormous, entrepreneurial life seems like a walk in the park by comparison.
Whatever business you’re in, meeting deadlines always comes down to estimating two data points: 1) When does the customer really need it, and 2) How long does it really take for you to deliver the goods. This is how to make those guestimates as accurately as possible and communicate with the customer along the way.
I know that seems obvious, but few entrepreneurs understand the importance of that competency. Just remember you live in the real world where there’s just one of you, one of each worker involved, and a finite number of working hours in a week. Don’t laugh; you’d be amazed how many people screw that up.
At the end of every project, make sure you assess the accuracy of your initial forecast to improve future quotes. In time, you’ll get very good at it.
When customers tell you to jump, your initial reaction will always be to say, “How high?” You need to resist that urge and learn to ask questions and find out as much as you can before providing any answers.
To be specific, when customers ask, “When can you deliver?” your reply should be something along the lines of, “When do you need it?” or “Can you tell me more about your project?” Always get information before you give it. Sometimes you have to do a little digging but that’s how you build buffers into your schedule without risking the business or your credibility.
Also remember that things change. Even after you’ve committed to a schedule, it’s a good idea to stay up to date and see if you’ve acquired any wiggle room – without setting off any alarms, of course
While you need to know how well you’re tracking to your forecast, it’s equally important to be smart about what you tell customers. Never communicate more than you have to. Remember, not every schedule slip or milestone miss is critical and it may do far more harm than good to share too much information.
Always develop an aggressive internal schedule and have the discipline to stick to it religiously. Why? Things will go wrong. They always do. And when they do, you don’t want it to impact the schedule you committed to, which you’ve hopefully had the foresight to pad as much as possible.
You will be asked to commit to the impossible. That can’t be helped. In fact, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The biggest, most successful companies on earth always ask the world of their vendors – and they usually get it because everyone wants their business.
Just do one thing before you sign on the dotted line: Tell the customer something along the lines of how important their business is to you, that it’s going to be a real challenge, but they’re your top priority and you’ll move heaven and earth to meet their schedule. Then do it.
If you miss a deadline, and you probably will, don’t beat yourself up. Well-managed companies usually build in some padding just in case. In the unfortunate event that your miss legitimately harms the customer’s business, you can still recover and perhaps even create an opportunity to build a stronger relationship. It just depends on how you handle it.
Granted, it’s a tenuous situation, but once you know you’ve passed the point of no return, you want to come clean and tell them exactly how you’re going to do everything in your power to make it right. If you perform well when your butt’s on the line, that should actually improve your credibility and their trust in you.
Nothing builds a stronger customer relationship than going through hell together.
As an entrepreneur, you are your best friend and your worst enemy. You vacillate between believing in your ability to take on the world, making it better as only you can, and doubting your worth, self-sabotaging through procrastination and unnecessary spending. You can make 2017 your best year yet, but in order to do so, you’ll need to let go of a few nasty habits.
Yes, you are a special snowflake with a unique combination of skills and vision, but that doesn’t mean the world owes you anything, especially as an entrepreneur. If you want success, you need to make it happen. You want a new client or your company featured in a great publication, then you’d better start hustling to make it happen.
That said, don’t try to do everything alone. It’s okay to ask for help and advice, and you can even hire someone to take some of the burden off your shoulders. You have a whole network of friends and fellow entrepreneurs who will be happy to help you, whether it’s because you’ve helped them or because they just want to see you succeed. Entrepreneurship is hard enough — don’t make it unnecessarily harder.
Everyone fails sometimes. A successful person is the one who keeps getting up until eventually, life stops knocking her down. Trying to be perfect will keep you from making the mistakes and riding the learning curve that you need to in order to reach success.
Successful people are meant to be inspirations. Their success can be a potential road map to help you avoid the same blocks they stumbled over on their way to the top. You are not supposed to look at them and castigate yourself for not being equally successful. They started and made their way with hard work, and if you focus on the lessons you can learn from them instead of where they are now, you’ll get there too.
Certain parts of your business aren’t fun. You might hate dealing with email campaigns or formatting your website. No many people enjoy preparing contracts or invoices, but every single step is important and needs to get done. Don’t let procrastination be the reason you’re behind meeting your targets and reaching your goals.
Whether it’s the result of procrastination or overconfidence, being under prepared can ruin client pitches, client work and your reputation — which, once tarnished, is so very hard to fix. No matter how confident you are that you know your stuff, prepare for everything. Have a “plan B” and a “worst case scenario plan.” You may never need them, but you’ll be glad you have them if you do.
Not only is it exhausting to always be miserable, but you’ll turn off other people who might have otherwise wanted to help or work with you. If all you do is complain, you’ll be too busy to see opportunities. You will be so focused on the negative that you won’t appreciate what you do have. If something isn’t right, fix it. Don’t complain.
While it might be exciting to buy all the new toys, focus instead on ways to spend your money that will get you closer to your dreams. A new computer might be flashy and fun, but the course on Google Analytics or revamping your website might be a better use of your money. Or you could always tuck that money away for a rainy day — they do happen eventually.
No one is ever really ready for the big things in life — starting a business, having a baby, etc. You just have to figure out things as you go. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have a knowledge base and a plan, but as they say in programming “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Do it now.
There are plenty of things that can be road bumps in your business. Don’t let the things you have control over be one of them. Fix these bad habits and bad mindsets, and go into 2017 ready to accomplish your dreams.
I’ve been called the “queen of networking” for longer than I can remember. At one point, I felt like this was, perhaps, an insult, since so many people think networking is a bad word. But I later realized that’s simply because too many people do it poorly, thus giving networking a bad name. After countless conversations, speeches, and seminars teaching people how to better network, here are the nine ways that you might be contributing to the bad wrap that networking gets.
One of the linchpins of networking is the ability to create value-add relationships for others, which begins with an introduction. That intention is pure and necessary. Where the error begins is when you blindly send a three-way email introduction (or worse, just give someone the third party’s contact info) so that you and your original conversation partner know the introduction is coming, but the third party is in-the-dark.
I much prefer to take the extra step of calling or emailing before making an introduction to get the buy-in from the third party. This preps everyone and makes the introduction seamless and more importantly, invited by all parties.
Of course, there are circumstances where this isn’t necessary because you are certain it’s a value-add to both parties and/or you have such a trusted relationship with the third party that you know it will be a warranted introduction. When deciding how to proceed, put yourself in the shoes of the third party and ask yourself, “If I got a blind email connecting me to this person by this person, how would I feel?”
Follow up is critical both to keep the momentum going once an introduction is made and to close-the-loop afterward. The biggest problem is when someone makes an introduction for you and you never let that person know what happened as a result. This is a fast way to inadvertently signal to that person that you don’t value their time or that they leveraged their reputation with the other party. Do a quick follow up and share what occurred (as well as to say thank you).
It’s no wonder that when we were kids, our parents were so concerned about whether or not we were hanging out with the ‘bad kids’. You are the company you keep, both by osmosis and by the perception of others. The good news is, if you keep great company, you get to ride on their reputational equity as well as glean great traits from them. But when we keep poor company, they bring us down and lessen the way others perceive us. Consider doing some housekeeping.
I believe that 24 business hours is the maximum amount of time you have to follow up with someone before you begin to look like you don’t care or think you are too important. We are all busy and pulled in a lot of directions. But your reply can be as simple as, “I’m back-logged on email right now and wanted you to know that I saw your note. I will get back with you as soon as possible, and look forward to connecting soon!”.
One of the primary reasons networking has a sullied reputation is so many people who claim to be “networking” are simply out for their own advantage. It’s best to shift your mentality to being curious when you meet or connect with people. Ask them meaningful questions and really listen. See what you can learn and how you can find connection points. Always ask how you can help them in some way, not with an expectation of what you can get in return.
It’s not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While it’s fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, don’t forget that there’s also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.
When you meet someone, you’re not meeting just them, you’re meeting hundreds of people. As we can see from social media, people have hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts. While some are naturally stronger than others, keep in mind that they are a gatekeeper to the people they know and to whom they could introduce you. Don’t write someone off because you don’t see immediate value.
This is a quick way to chip away at trust and lessen your credibility. If you say you’ll follow up with an email today, do it. If you say you’ll be at the dinner, be there and be on time.
As someone who hosts monthly networking events in three cities for hundreds of people at each event, I often hear this when I extend invitations. When you say you “don’t need to network”you’re saying you will never be in need of the help of others nor do you want to meet anyone new to help them.
Networking is a fancy word for relationship building, so you’re basically saying that you are happy to live with the circle you’ve created and have put up a wall to anyone else. What you may mean is that you’re not currently looking for something you think you can gain from meeting new people (refer back to point 5) or that you don’t like big events, in which case, express that.
If you see yourself in any of these networking faux-pas, consider working on them in the New Year to expand your circle!
By: Danny Wong
There are plenty of cold calling techniques that can facilitate the sales process, but there are only a few which can guarantee a purchase. With many cold calling techniques stuck in the nineties, it’s no surprise that new approaches were created to make each cold call worthwhile. So if you’re looking to turn cold call recipients into regular customers, feel free to continue reading.
Buyers know when they are being read a sales script, and even if the salesperson is delivering a persuasive speech, prospects may automatically tune out the message. It’s critical that you have key talking pointsprepared for things you can say if a customer asks a particular question. When you cold call customers, develop a list of their frequently asked questions and then craft consistent answers that you and your colleagues could share with future cold call recipients.
Sales representatives tend to fear objections as they can derail a sales pitch. But if the sales representative is prepared they can anticipate the objections with prompt answers and continue moving forward with their sales pitch. Managers should train their reps to avoid stumbling when faced with buyer hesitancy. That way, conversations can be more fluid and salespeople can approach objectionsmore confidently rather than with surprise.
Premature pitching can end a cold call before it even begins. If a prospect doesn’t know what he/she wants, they certainly don’t want a product/service forced under their nose against their will. Be mindful of what your customer is saying so once you have fully understood their business problems and their anticipated goals, you may be able to execute your sales pitch at the exact time when it is most appealing.
A cold call requires undivided attention and there should be no distractions during the conversation. Although the pitching process can become mundane when repeating the same answers to the same questions, each call requires attention as the customer (believe it or not) knows when you’re not listening.
Natural showmanship and charisma can go a long way when it comes to cold calls. Salespeople need to understand these mechanics so that their words are almost hypnotic and they can mesmerize during their cold calls.
Under no circumstances should a representative mention their product or service’s price before explaining its value. However, never give the customer a solid “no” if they ask for the price. To avoid this conundrum, explain what they’re getting and why it’s worth it.
Common rejections usually include the product or service being too expensive or the product or service not being an exact match for what the potential customer is looking for. To bounce back from these common rejections, make sure you explain the value of the product or service you’re offering to justify its cost and illustrate how it solves at least one of your prospect’s biggest business problems.
“I don’t have the time” is a common excuse cold callers face that kills a sales pitch before it can begin. Although this excuse usually means the cold call recipient doesn’t want to talk to you anymore or isn’t interested in your product or service, the conversation would have already ended if they didn’t have the time to respond.
Most salespeople throw in the towel when a customer utters this statement, but a great salesperson finesses the objection without stammering as they continue their sales pitch. If anything, the salesperson would throw in the core values of their available product or service to keep the customer on the line.
When entrepreneurs begin cold calling, they often struggle. Drumming up business with a stranger isn’t easy and it’s a skill that usually comes with time. In addition to this, the initial approaches can begin rather timid and resistance to the offers can be very unsettling for the salesperson.
To turn this fear into fearlessness, approach potential customers with the same confidence as with someone you’ve already been acquainted with and initiate the call with the assumption that your prospect would like to know more about your company’s product or service. If the cold call recipient genuinely isn’t interested, don’t take it personally and simply move on; there are plenty of other buyers out there who are ready to commit to a purchase.
By: Tim Brown
Many of us would find the title of salesperson unappealing. Its connotation may be associated with pushiness, ruthlessness or other unsavory words. Though it doesn’t have to be that way, especially when being a salesperson encompasses much more than just sales.
Daniel Pink, author of three novels including To Sell is Human, argues that regardless of your vocation, everyone is in [some form of] sales. Whether you view yourself as salespeople or not, chances are you’re trying to sell something to someone on a daily basis; be it our product, our thought, or even ourselves!
Given our tendencies to sell without being fully aware of it, we might be better off embracing the idea of being a salesperson and learn tips that could improve our results.
Here are four useful sales tips that will help you in your endeavor to persuade others.
In a salesperson’s world, it has always been true that when you sell something, the timing of the pitch has to be taken into consideration.
As kids, when asking parents for something, catching mom or dad in a good mood was an important detail. The concept isn’t much different as adults, though it is certainly more complicated in today’s digitally disrupted world. People experience a bombardment of brand advertising messages. It’s important to align the timing of your outreach with those fleeting moments-of-interest they have for your product.
For example, if someone visits your website and completes a contact form, it is imperative that you contact them almost immediately.
According to Mark Galloway, CEO of OppSource, a sales development software, a connection with a human being is incomparable to an automated message response.
People are very hard to reach, given their busy schedules and packed personal lives. Since that is generally the case, you need to be persistent.
If you are frustrated by the lack of response from those you are trying to persuade after a single attempt, you are probably getting worked up way too early. It takes today’s professional eight attempts to get in touch with a prospect.
If salespeople gave up after their first attempt, they wouldn’t be selling much. Take into consideration that it takes most six attempts for a sale conversation. Use the lack of response as an opportunity to work on your patience and stay with in pursuit a bit longer.
If you are serious about selling something to someone or persuading them to take action, remember that you have one mouth and two ears. The art of persuasion starts by making the conversation all about the person you aim to convince.
No one likes to be part of a lopsided conversation, especially if there is no existing relationship. The amount of time you should be talking versus listening should be proportionate to your mouth and ears.
We all appreciate when others ask us about us. Let the person you are engaging do the majority of the speaking, and you will have mastered a critical element of persuasion with selling.
When you are selling something, you need to consider what value you can bring to the conversation.
It might be something as simple as having done your homework on their interests or knowing the big initiatives they are currently involved in. Offering up insights to them about those areas in which they are interested brings value to your conversation.
So as you think about and prepare for your next opportunity to persuade or sell someone something, remember these four important and often overlooked selling tips. Using them will significantly improve your odds reaching your intended outcome.