Tag Archives: Selling in the Now

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

elvis-rl-blogI found myself in the city of Nashville last week and had the opportunity to walk along Broadway. It was amazing. People everywhere were enjoying the city’s history as the sounds of country music filled the streets from every bar I passed. I watched the smiles as passersby soaked up the experience when there it was, a life size statue of Elvis Presley.

I could almost hear the thunderous applause followed by the King himself saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much.” I began to think, how often in sales do we take the time to say, “Thank you”? I know we live in a sales world of CRM and contacts with our customers revolve around forecasts and revenue projections, however I am talking about contact with a sole purpose and a sole purpose only, to say thank you. Not some passing thanks for the last order and then asking for another, but a face to face to just say I appreciate your business then disconnect.

Sure, using social media in sales is important, but our sole purpose for interaction with another human should not be to beat them with a URL, to drive them to your website, or deliver content that will help raise your credibility. Saying, “I appreciate your business” without another motive might just display something that is more valued than your company’s product or service, something called caring and sincerity.

So, the next time you wish to get closer to your customer don’t send them a survey, retweet or a blog, take a lesson from the King. Look them in the eye and say, “Thank you, Thank you very much.”

Author: RichLucia

Are You Selling Like a Four Year Old’s Soccer Game

four year old soccer This past weekend, I had the pleasure of stopping by a four-year-old’s soccer game. I watched as these boys and girls had the best time chasing a soccer ball in unison, up and down the field. There were no plays and their techniques yielded to a recurring cheer of, “get it”, kick harder”. It occurred to me, while watching, how similar this scene is to most sales organizations.

Like their four-year-old counter parts, they dress the part and there is often no lack of enthusiasm, but there is something else missing; a good strategy. Many sales teams, armed with no strategy or one that was designed for days long gone by, are also given the same recurring cheer, ‘just go get it, sell harder’.

In times of poor sales results, there is no lack of finger pointing. Blame is spread generously on the economy, pricing, sales compensation, and lack of sales training. If there ever was an example in today’s sales organizations of the similarity to four-year-olds playing soccer, it is watching companies run to one technology tool, quickly abandoning it and running to another as they play ‘just kick it’ with social media, CRM and other selling tools designed to track sales people and catch them doing something wrong.

Have you ever considered it might just be a lack of a sound sales strategy? How powerful is a sales strategy that totally understands what is happening now in your market and addresses it with an executable solution. Technology clearly has its value, but remember the key mission of any technology is to make a process more efficient. If your process is flawed, then your best case is you will achieve failure more quickly.

When was the last time you put your sales strategy under the microscope and held it accountable for the results you seek? When asked, What is your sales strategy?” do you answer it only with a goal or is there a plan attached to that goal and is that plan current?

Having a solid sales strategy is much better than selling like four-year olds playing soccer. A ‘kick it harder’ mentality may occasionally result in the ball finding a chance goal but that might not be good enough to accomplish your mission.

Author: Rich Lucia

Are You Approaching Sales as a Shark or an Anchovy?

sell-like-an-anchovyToday’s business development calls for a fresh look at your sales strategy. I realize we were raised on the sales mentality of being a Shark. Cover our geography and chase anything that moves. Want more catches? Swim faster.

There just might be a more effective way to ensure that buyers are more receptive. Be an Anchovy instead of a Shark.

It is said that the Anchovy is the best feed fish in the ocean. It swims under the belly of the shark and does quite well feeding on what falls out of the Shark’s mouth while it is chewing. The Anchovy is focused and has become quite good at getting endless opportunities for food. There just might be a sales lesson in this scenario.

By not trying to sell to everyone that crosses your path, it becomes smarter to understand your niche and stay put. You will begin to be an expert in that niche and today’s buyers seeking added value will gravitate toward your advice and solutions. Your niche is that intersection of your company’s product or service and the most value it provides to targeted buyers. Focusing on selling narrow and deep will maximize your efforts and help turn that outdated sales funnel into an efficient sales cylinder. Oh, you will be tempted to run after the next passing shiny object but understand it for what it is, an effort to diffuse you and your mission.

Sell like an Anchovy and stick to your focused niche. Anchovies have learned that if they can avoid getting distracted and stay under the belly of the shark, they will do just fine. Getting distracted and getting too close to the shark’s mouth will lead to an unpleasant outcome, and wandering off, chasing something outside their niche, just might get them caught and wind up on someone’s pizza.

Author: Rich Lucia

Smaller Consulting Companies Play Tug of War with Customer Ownership


Often, when a consulting contract is closed and the delivery phase has begun, a sigh of relief can be heard now that the competition has folded their tent and gone away. We believe the battle is over. In many cases, however, the battle has just begun. Yes, the internal battle of “Who owns the account?” “Is it sales or delivery?”

Until this point, Sales took the spotlight and, in many cases, shared it with a pre-sales consultant. They worked together to create the proper expectation and showcased their company’s capabilities. After the sale, the spotlight quickly moves to delivery where the ‘real sale’ is tested. Delivery must exceed expectations, not only to grow that customer but also to put another arrow in the salesperson’s quiver when securing referrals for new customers. Salespeople typically have a challenging time letting go and thus the sales vs. delivery ‘tug of war’ begins.

Delivery, if trained properly, can have the customer looking for more opportunities as the aura of credibility fills the customer’s to do list. Why then is the sales rep so reluctant to give the delivery person his or her moment in the spotlight? Maybe it’s a throw back from the old Sales philosophy that any account is MY ACCOUNT – hands off. The new reality is Delivery now has the customer’s faith and any reentry from the sales rep named ‘Joey Needanymore’ is not welcome.

I often see Sales trying to run internal meetings with Delivery. The concept sounds like a good effort to get everyone to work together as a team but, when Sales runs the meeting, a different outcome is the usual result. Delivery’s eyes roll and this adversarial phase now accounts for the least desirable part of their employment experience.

Times have changed. Customers want to buy but they don’t want to be sold. I will always put my money on a sales rep, using all the company resources availed to them, closing a new deal over a delivery person. However, I will always double down on a well-trained delivery person to grow that customer. I am not talking about training Delivery people to act like sales people. No way. They are much more effective doing what they do while highlighting their company’s ability to deliver. This not only must be taught but must also be integrated into the consulting company’s process or the tug of war will continue until the customer finds a new provider.

Author: Rich Lucia


Millennials Just Might have the Key to Unlock Cold Calling Doors

millennial image photoshoppedIt almost can be called a perfect storm. Just as the world of existing buyers has rejected being interrupted by sales cold callers, a generation has come along that not only has no appetite for such an ancient practice but offers a valuable alternative.

Since the beginning of selling, sales representative making cold calls has been the way of life. If sales were down, you made more calls. Sales management could rely on a simple formula ‘cold calls equal sales’ and that’s that. Buyers were open to the daily interruptions because, prior to online access, receiving a cold call was a major source of information. Thanks to the internet, buyers are more informed today and have little time for a stranger’s intrusion, asking, “Tell me about yourself and what do you do here”. There remains, however, the sales management element that still subscribes to the notion that even though it’s not working, just do more of it.

It is a bit ironic that we now have a Millennial or Millennial-influenced workforce that possesses the DNA that is averse to wasting time with random, unfocused actions. Their reliance on technology has given them the title of Technophiles and has set them on a course of value and efficiency that not present with cold calling. They recognize the practice of calling someone without both information and purpose makes about as much sense as removing your hand from a bucket of water and looking for the hole it left behind.

Millennials know that trying to fill a sales funnel with anyone that will listen is a waste of time and resources. They reject the inefficiency of selling to unqualified prospects and embrace more of a cylinder approach over the traditional funnel. These technophiles are using digital resources such as social media and business intelligence to work with only those who are predisposed to buy their product or service. By focusing on their target market, armed with information about the buyer and their company, they fill a cylinder with qualified buyers and see a greater and faster return on their efforts. How many touches now have been replaced with meaningful interactions? Technology exists today that will help you identify your target market’s buying influences and even create a personality profile of your buyer before making contact. Millennials are more inclined to use this technology in place of calling cold.

Today’s selling challenge is getting to interact meaningfully with a qualified buyer. Buyers have changed and we should be thankful the next generation of sales is also changing. Before we demand more of what doesn’t work any longer, let’s embrace a Selling in the Now attitude, and take advantage of the Millennial sales evolution.

Author: Rich Lucia

In Sales, March Madness Means Something Different

March Sales MadnessA quick look at the calendar and we are aware that March Madness is upon us. Ah, March Madness, a time for college basketball and the thrill of watching, cheering, and betting on our favorite team. However, in the world of sales, March brings on a different kind of madness – the awareness that one-fourth of the year is close to closing and sales aren’t where we would like them to be.

Sure, we had our beginning-of-the-year sales kickoff meeting and passed out our previous year’s accolades. At the same time, we announced this year’s revenue expectations and assigned aggressive goals. We persevered through complaints, negations, and outright begging for lower goals as we painfully reviewed individual sales representative’s business plans. Yet, we are facing lowered expectations as we struggle through March.

March Sales Madness means those business plans are somewhere out of sight, growing moss on their north side and that sales goals are being met with excuses that range from ‘the economy is bad’ to ‘our pricing is too high’. It’s a lot like when you flush a toilet. You begin to push down on the handle and start to hear the trickle of water. It’s not a complete flush but you know the complete flush is on its way. March Sales Madness is that trickle, however there is something you can do to end the Madness and get things back on course. Clients have taken the following three steps to reverse March Sales Madness and get things on the right track:

  1. Bring someone in who is not part of your organization. Someone who can look at things through new eyes and has worked with other organizations. There are many companies that have paid dearly to make the mistakes you are about to make and have had successes that you are not aware exist.
  2. Together, go through the company strategy to market. Way to often, the sales strategy is, ‘more of the same’. In a changing market with buyers getting their information and motivation differently, ‘the same’ doesn’t cut it anymore.
  3. Re-examine those individual sales business plans and determine if they fit the mission. If they do, implement a short-term strategy, follow the plan and modify when needed. If they do not, re-create the plan and begin again with short term (30 day) monitoring.

Think of January as the ‘dreaming’ phase of a sales mission. It is a whole new year of hope and high expectations. Sales tendencies that lean more towards tactics than strategies and action plans are like seeds planted with the expectation of a fine crop to harvest. March comes along and we start to recognize that many of those seeds were never watered and in many cases were planted in the wrong place. March is the time to recommit to that garden and don’t allow March Sales Madness to carry over to another quarter.

Author: Rich Lucia

Are You Selling Like a Leprechaun?


It’s the time of year that brings to mind the Leprechaun and how many sales people operate every day as if they were this bearded green mythical character. Like the Leprechaun, sales people are observed tap-tap-tapping their tiny cobbler hammer, driving nails into shoes, appearing they are hard at work, confusing activity with results. It is the same expected behavior and selling techniques that have been passed down for hundreds of years with the hope that it will lead to a pot of gold. There is no pot of gold using antiquated sales practices and the customer of today is in a different place. Why do we continue to follow a rainbow that has moved or doesn’t really exist?

Why then, are we teaching our sales representatives to continue to tap-tap the same way they did in the past. We have even implemented CRM technology that inspects our out of date practices when the real answer is to change the way we sell. Our customers have changed. How they get their information has changed so it just might be time to put away the cobbler hammer and start ‘Selling in the Now”. Selling is no longer folklore but a deliberate effort to keep in tune with today’s buyers and how they buy.

Let’s take the tap- tap practice of cold calling. Ancient wisdom always told us that if we tap (knock) on enough doors we will find someone who will buy from us. Behind those now locked doors are buyers who get their information from the internet and each other, yet we still address this phenomenon by just making more calls. Are we taking the time to target those prospects that are predisposed to buy? Standing at the edge of the woods, taking a shot and hoping to hit something isn’t hunting.

Why are we spending our sales training dollars on what to say when we get in front of a prospect when the new challenge of today is getting that face-to-face appointment. We work very hard tap-tap-tapping on a standard brochure or elevator pitch when buyers have ceased to be standard. We challenge our prospects when confronted with an objection, yet the buyer of today is too informed (or think they are) to let us get away with a challenger attitude. Do we fully understand that today’s buyers talk to each other to seek consensus of thought? Are we truly too busy tapping our cobbler hammer to look up and see who our new buyer is and what matters to them.

The good news is, there really is a pot of gold if you follow and understand the rainbow of today. It’s no longer how many nails you hammer but which ones and where you place them. We grew up in a world that taught sales tactics yet today’s success is embedded in the correct selling strategy. Get your sales team on the right track first, then speed up the engine.

Remember history is a great educator of what not to do in the future, so leave the Leprechauns out of your sales practices and realize your customers are no longer attracted to a tricky green man with mythical results.

Author: Rich Lucia

#CONV15 03.16.15 – Rich Lucia Presenting at MS Convergence 2015

Microsoft Convergence 2015Join Rich Lucia in Atlanta, Georgia for Microsoft Convergence where leaders will gather to explore, share and experience business solutions. Rich will be presenting Don’t Get Stuck in the Past: Three Keys to Selling in the Now

Event Details:
What: MS Convergence 2015
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
When: March 16th at 11:00 in B406

Where do you turn when sales aren’t where they should be? To your sales tools that have been used with great success for years? Not so quick. Your customers have changed the way they buy. If the mission is to win the game of today, then you must use the tools that customers respond to NOW. Join Rich Lucia, Business Development Specialist, to learn how to sell in the now by finding your ideal customer profile, driving them to your door, and nurturing them to close the deal.

Key Learning #1:  Understand how buyers now bring more diverse motivations, values and perceptions
Key Learning #2:  Learn how and why customers buy in today’s world
Key Learning #3:  Get three critical tips for selling to today’s customer

See you March 16th from 11:00 – 12:00 in Room B406! #CONV15

Learn More

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

It’s in the news – the economy is coming back. You’re looking forward to a rise in revenue as you watch your sales organization begin to clap at the prospect of long awaited sales. But don’t expect the revenue to just start pouring in. If you send your sales force out there with the same approach as last year, I’m afraid the results will be like the sound of one hand clapping – nothing!

Dollars are not plentiful, and we may never see the spending frenzy of yesteryear. Your salespeople will now face the challenge of their lives: competition. And it won’t be another company that sells a product or service similar to your own, but a new competitor – everyone! Your sales force must be ready to compete for your customers’ entire budget, mind share and attention. This will require a new set of skills. Skills not in asking the questions, “Do you need any?” or “Do you need more?” but skills in understanding your prospects’ and customers’ organizations – their goals, objectives and challenges.

Relationship building has never been more important. Gone are the days of being the “salesperson” for XYZ Company. Customers have grown tired of the order-taking robot whose appearance generates an under-the-breath, “Ughhhhh.” Customers want, no need, a “Trusted Advisor.” Someone who can see the world through their eyes and feel their pain. Someone who will actually help them get their mission accomplished.

A good “Trusted Advisor” knows his prospects’ business and knows his customer. How does this happen? Relationship Building. By building a close working relationship with your prospects, you can be that Trusted Advisor and be in the best possible position to have them take advantage of your products and services. This just might require a different mindset and skill set when you’re with your customer or prospect. It begins with caring. Caring about what your customers and prospects care about and listening intently to learn. I was asked once, “What technique or trick can I use to make the customer think I really care?” I responded, “There is no trick. You just need to really care.”

So, sales managers, before you dust off your call reporting system to increase the number of sales calls through micro management; before you fill the arms of sales reps with glossy brochures and tell them to “Ask for the order, often;” step back and take a look around. It’s a new world out there. A different time and place. A different culture. The selling skills of the past just won’t work anymore. Before we can win the sale, we have to relearn how to earn the right to present our product or solution. Is the economy bouncing back? Sure it is. But save the applause. Customers have changed. If we want results, there’s work to be done. Sales development now requires a holistic approach. Sure there are new social selling tools but used together without regard to how they might be in conflict can be as dangerous as mixing medications. Look into Integrated Social Selling to achieve the success you seek.

Author: Rich Lucia

It’s No Time to Invite Company Over if Your House is a Mess

You have finally made contact with your new prospect. After a brief interaction, you managed to generate enough interest to move to the next step. However, your next step might not be your prospect’s next step.

As you reach into your pile of brochures and sort through your PowerPoint point slides, what do you think your prospect is doing? They are looking you up on LinkedIn and your website to learn more about you and your company. If your profile on LinkedIn is a mess and your company’s website has seen too many excuses of, “We are working on a new site” then you may as well have taken your new prospect by the hand and walked them off a cliff.

Gone are the days where you were the only point of contact and a smile was your rite of passage. Information is easily found and if your electronic profile doesn’t match your presented one, you lose.

Integrated Social Selling, as part of a system, trains you to pay close attention to all of your initiatives, making sure they are in lock step and presenting you, your company and your brand as a unified holistic solution.  Before you invite someone into your home, make sure it is fit for company.

Author: Rich Lucia