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Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 7th

Posted on :February 08
Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 7th
Creating an Atmosphere of Greatness If you and I bought a young colt from the bloodlines of the greatest race horses in history, we’d hope to have a winner when the colt turns 3. However, if I kept the colt at my house, if my vet friend checked on the colt periodically and if I let my friends ride the colt on the weekends, then when the colt was 3, I guarantee we wouldn’t have a winner. Why?  We didn’t create an “Atmosphere of Greatness.”  We created an atmosphere of failure.  Without training, proper medical care, proper diet and proper conditions, our horse would fail. The same is true for salespeople.  I see so many salespeople who do not find or create for themselves an Atmosphere of Greatness.  When I interview salespeople, I look for a good jockey on a bad horse.  It’s amazing what happens when you take a salesperson that is ambitious and coachable and put them in an atmosphere foc ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 27th

Posted on :January 05
Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 27th
Set Goals to Succeed in the New Year Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” It doesn’t make much sense, but we all know what he meant. As the year draws to a close, we should all be thinking about next year’s goals. Another thing we must all face is a work/life balance. Most people don’t have a plan to balance their work and personal life. They do whatever the job requires and hope the rest works out. That’s not a plan. One of the earliest quotes I memorized was by Thomas Carlyle: “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” This is the goals-setting system that I’ve found works the best. Rather than going wherever the wind takes us, we must choose our direction. Here are some tips for setting goals in the new year: •Set goals in all areas of your life. You should have work goals, personal goals, physical goals, financial goals ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 15

Posted on :November 17
Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 15
Rules for Doing Business at the Table America has always done business at the table.  It’s a tradition!  And after recently reading “Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s” by Charles Cerami, I was further inspired to share the lessons I have learned at the “salesperson’s table.” It was pointed out to me recently that I had actually spent millions of dollars on meals and entertainment for prospects and clients through the companies I have owned and the salespeople that worked for those companies.  I am still spending money on meals and entertainment for prospects and clients of the companies I am involved in. The question I have come to ask and that you should ask is, “Am I getting any more benefit meeting over a meal or at an event than I would in the prospect’s office?”  For most salespeople the answer would be no.  No significant advantage was gained by paying for a prospect’s meal.  However, that ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 1

Posted on :November 10
Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 1
Selling is about service, and your results will show itIf you aren’t selling as much as you want or need to, look in the mirror and repeat, “I am not helping enough people with my product or service.”That’s the bottom line.  Like Zig Ziglar said, “You can get anything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”  Yes, selling is about service.When I was selling books door to door, I was taught “Always have a service attitude.”  Further, I was told, “The customer can see the dollar signs in your eyes.”  I believe it!The best sales people in every company I’ve worked with portray this service attitude.  The worst just want to tell their story and leave.  I might add that they usually don’t tell it often enough.  Here are some characteristics I’ve seen in salespeople with a service attitude:They pay it forward.  Regardless of the outcome of the sale, they are trying to hel ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 4th

Posted on :October 09
Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 4th
10 Things Great Salespeople Do Over the past few years, I have worked with over 300 companies’ sales organizations.  One common denominator in every company is this: Some salespeople were better than others. It wasn’t based on luck or circumstances. The most successful salespeople were doing something different than their coworkers. Here is a list of 10 things I saw repeated over and over again by the top salespeople: They read or listened to inspirational material.  Inspiring stories do just that, they inspire us.  We all perform better when we are inspired. The easiest way I know to get inspired is by reading or listening to inspirational stories. They manage their people time.  For most of us, there are only certain hours in the day that we can meet or talk on the phone with people. The greatest salespeople I have met and observed do not waste people time doing administrative work. T ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 6

Posted on :September 15
Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 6
What is preplanning the sales call? Planning a sales call is essential to top performance in sales.  When I talk to salespeople and ask, “Do you preplan your calls?” most salespeople answer yes.  There are a few cowboys out there winging it, but most salespeople believe they are preplanning their calls.  I don’t believe they are.  I think most of us, including me, do an incomplete job of preplanning.  Recently, I made this list for myself and the salespeople in my companies. 1. LinkedIn: Have you looked on LinkedIn for information about your prospect and their company?  Most companies have a LinkedIn page.  Further, have you looked for other people that your prospect is linked to?  Seeing the whole picture that LinkedIn paints of your prospect and their company is an important part of preplanning.  By the way, you don’t do this research between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday through Frid ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 23

Posted on :August 27
Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 23
In Sales, EQ is just as important as IQ Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” So a sales person calls on me and she is 20 minutes late.  She says, “I got lost,” or she tells me “The traffic was horrible.”  My thought is, “I’ve been late, but for important meetings I leave early and know where I am going.”  Or a salesperson calls on me and doesn’t follow up for several days. When she does, she says, “I had trouble getting all the information together” or “The office misplaced my request but I’ve got it now.” Let’s face it, salespeople cannot be perfect, but what we do far outweighs what we say to our prospects. Our prospects are judging us. Rarely, when we call or meet with a prospect, is the prospect saying, “I am so glad you called or came by.”  There is a healthy degree of skepticism that every prospect has about every salesperson when the ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 9th

Posted on :August 10
Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 9th
Common Mistakes Salespeople Make- Over and Over and ...... Grace Williams said, “We all learn from experience.  A man never wakes up his second baby just to see it smile.” Sometimes I wonder if some salespeople do learn from experience. I see them repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Throughout the last year or so, I have been recording the mistakes I see so often repeated. Improper follow-up.  Literally hundreds of salespeople have told me “The prospect didn’t call me back” or “He didn’t return my email.”  It is not the prospect’s responsibility to call or email you back. It is our job to find them and motivate them to respond. The statistics support my observations. Forty-eight percent of salespeople never follow up with a prospect. Twenty-five percent of salespeople make a second contact and stop. If you follow up a second time with your prospect, you are in the top 25 percen ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 12

Posted on :July 30
Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 12
So You Have a Bad Attitude, Your Attitude Doesn’t Matter When I started to sell, I was told “You can’t sell with a bad attitude.”  What I came to understand is that, “You can’t sell if you let your attitude affect your performance.” If you’re like me, you have mood swings   most people do. Most people are more productive when they’re in an upbeat, positive mood. Most people are less productive when they are in a low or bad mood. Since I want to be as productive as possible I try to do 2 things: First, I try not to let my attitude affect my performance. Every professional goes through mood swings. The greatest in every profession separate themselves from others by not allowing a bad attitude to determine their performance. Actors say it well, “The show must go on.”  Despite how we feel, we must put out our best effort and give our clients and prospects our best performance. Our mind set m ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 26

Posted on :July 30
Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 26
The Future of Selling People keep asking me about the future of sales and selling.  With an ever expanding base of knowledge through the internet prospects know more.  They are better informed and have access to more information than ever.  You can find out the price of any article you want with a few clicks.  As more and more products become commoditized, where does that leave the salesperson and what is his or her future? It may surprise you but all the research states that the salesperson will become more important not less.  The ten year projection for large companies is that they will be hiring more salespeople not less.  In face over 20% more.  So why don’t these two facts connect?  There is more information available for the prospect and yet a need for more salespeople. The research says that when a salesperson’s products are basically the same as their competitors the key differe ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 28th

Posted on :July 06
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 28th
Don't Wing the Sales Process, Perfect ItRecently I met with a company that asked me what I meant by a sales process. The question started me thinking about whether salespeople in general had a process they used or whether their process was PFTA (plucked from thin air).Sales and Marketing Magazine reports that 2 percent of high performing sales organizations have a nonexistent sales process; 26 percent of high performing sales organizations have an informal process; 22 percent of high performing sales organizations have a well-documented sales process; and 50 percent of high performing sales organizations have a closely monitored, strictly enforced sales process. By contrast, only 28 percent of underperforming sales organizations have a closely monitored, strictly enforced sales process and 72 percent of underperforming sales organizations have a weak sales process.In addition, high perfo ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 14th

Posted on :June 15
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 14th
Persistence and Determination Alone are Omnipotent Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. The world is full of unsuccessful people with talent. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Half of the business days you have to sell are over for this year. Excluding holidays, you have about 120 business days left this year. It is a good time to review your past efforts and recommit to the second half. Just like in sports, like football and basketball, what happened in the first half is not how the game will necessarily end. One thing you can do to guarantee your second half is better than your first half is to reevaluate your level of persistence. Here are some things to think ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 31st

Posted on :June 01
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 31st
Harness the Benefits of Short-Term Stress Recently I was talking to a group of salespeople and the topic was stress. They were stressed by quotas. They were stressed by the competition. They were stressed by their commissions. They were stressed by their boss. They were stressed by their chosen profession. So I ask, “Why do you stay in sales?” The answers were “the money,” “the freedom” and “the opportunity for making an impact in their businesses.” I agree these are the reasons we chose sales as a profession and, yes, there can be stressful components of our job. The question I ask, then, “Is stress good or bad?” TalentSmart asked 1 million people about their emotions in stressful situations and they found 90 percent of top performers remained calm in stressful situations. Wow. We can all learn to do this if we don’t already. Stress can be good. Most of the research shows performance pe ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 17

Posted on :May 18
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 17
Ethics in business begins, ends with honesty Ethics is a big word; we could discuss its role in sales and in life for hours, days or weeks, but for now I want to share with you a little about ethics’ key role in the world of professional selling. There are certain rules of fair play in selling and most can be summed up in a single word: honesty. There are endless chances in selling to be dishonest. Sometimes you will never get caught, but for most of us, the stress and tension of living with a lie is just as bad as getting caught. The first place you must practice honesty is with yourself. Polonius, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” says, “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Most of the time, if we look in our heart of hearts, we know what do to. The real hope of improvement and happiness lie in the accept ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 3rd

Posted on :May 04
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 3rd
Appearance, demeanor are crucial to sales successRecently I read the results of a sales survey of more than 2,000 companies. They found that only 63 percent of salespeople hit their quotas last year (down 7.62 percent from 2013). If you are reading this and you are one of the 37 percent who didn’t make it, there is hope. If you did, congratulations, but there is room for improvement. Another fact from the survey: The No. 1 sales objective of 54 percent of companies was to capture new accounts. The No. 1 area of sales execution that needed improvement was “conducting a thorough needs analysis.” These statistics say a lot about our profession. Here are two areas to work on: 1. One mistake you can never overcome is a bad first impression. Yes, once made it can never be corrected. Here are some first-impression mistakes salespeople make. Stay neat. Twelve percent of buyers say that long hair ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 19th

Posted on :April 23
Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 19th
Tell a story, make a saleAs a child, some of my favorite words were “Once upon a time.” Yes, I loved a story, whether it was at bed time, a Walt Disney movie or a book I was reading myself. I think no matter what we do or who we are, we love an engaging, interesting story. The TV networks and movie production companies have proven that. So how does that apply to us in sales? Well, a great sales person is usually a great storyteller. Over the past two years, I have noticed more and more sales trainers talking about storytelling in sales, so I thought I would weigh in. In selling, a story is really a third-party testimonial. Zig Ziglar said, “The most powerful influence in selling is the third-party testimonial.” In every sales person’s career that I coach or manage, I teach them about stories. Here is what I teach: Have a story for every situation. The prospect can argue with YOU. He may ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 5

Posted on :April 13
Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 5
What is persistence? All my life I have heard it said, “Be persistent.” I tell every sales person I meet that “Persistence and determination are omnipotent.” But really, what does that mean? Today I want to talk about long-term persistence. For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume you have a good competitive product or service you’re selling and you work for an ethical company. If you can’t have these two things, you’re a jockey on a bad horse. Go find a good horse. If you have these things, then persistence and long term persistence can be your best friend. Have you ever heard of Ron Wayne? Probably not. He co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Wayne designed the original logo, wrote the manual for the Apple I computer and drafted the original partnership agreement. He owned 10 percent of Apple, a position that would be worth over $40 billion today. That’s ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 8th

Posted on :March 09
Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 8th
Secret to sales success? A killer presentation Success in sales does not come from playing the good hands well. That is easy. It comes from playing the bad hands well. So how do you play the bad hands well? It comes down to practice and preparation. This week, let’s focus on giving “Killer Presentations.” A Harvard study found that sales scripts (canned presentations) started in 1863. We have a long history of canned, planned sales presentations. They started even earlier in England. The most important element of a killer presentation is that it is prepared and practiced. I can hear some of your objections already. “I don’t want to sound canned.” “I want to be flexible.” “Every situation is different.” And, “I like to wing it.” Sometimes I wonder if these aren’t just cop outs for not doing the work. Making these excuses is a lot easier than doing the work of a professional, which is prep ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 22nd

Posted on :February 23
Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 22nd
Beating the Competition If you’re in sales, you face competition every day. Some salespeople hope their prospects will never hear about their competition. Some salespeople hope the competition just won’t show up, while others, the great salespeople, welcome competition. In sports, there are no world records and no unbelievable performances without competition. The same is true in sales. Competition makes the free enterprise system work. Good, honest competition makes us all better and ultimately the prospect/customer wins. I hope everyone that reads this understands the ultimate value of the competition. Now, how do you surpass your competition? Here are some ideas that have proven to work and continue to work: First, know the competition. Learn everything you can. Visit their websites regularly. There is always a lot of good information there. It happens all the time, I ask a salesperso ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 8th

Posted on :February 12
Tennessean Column- Sunday, February 8th
Tough Minded Salespeople Recently I read an article that said, “The most successful salespeople are mentally tough.”  As I thought about what that meant, I decided to list qualities that mentally tough people exhibit.  This week I want to share that list with you. Mentally tough people maintain control.  When salespeople lose control they give up their power.  Sure, salespeople face issues that upset them.  Prospects lie to us.  Prospects change their minds from yes to no.  Our companies change “the deal” and on and on.  It is our reaction that separates an average salesperson from a great salesperson.  As Kipling said, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…yours is the earth and everything that's in it.” They focus on the present.  It does a salesperson no good to dwell on past failures and disappointments.  The only control we have is in ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, January 11th

Posted on :January 12
Tennessean Column- Sunday, January 11th
The List I have had “to do” lists since I was seven.  That is how old I was when my mother gave me a “to do” list every Saturday before I could go outside and play with the neighbor kids.  Still, to this day I have a “to do” list every day.  However, today I want to show you a different kind of “to do” list.  It is a list you should remind yourself of every day.  I will go so far as to say you should copy this list and put it in your car, on your desk, or by your bathroom sink.  Just make sure you see it every day. I will be enthusiastic.  Nothing sells like enthusiasm.  Selling is a transference of feeling about a product or service.  Unenthusiastic salespeople have skinny kids.  Zig Ziglar said, “For every sale you lose because you are too enthusiastic you will lose 100 because you were not enthusiastic enough.”  I will be honest.  I will not hide the truth or give vague answers.  Your ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 28th

Posted on :December 30
Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 28th
Email TipsWhen I started in sales I had a Dictaphone. I dictated sales letters and memos into a handheld microphone. They were recorded on a floppy plastic belt. Alexander Graham Bell invented the technology and owned the company, also named Dictaphone. It was founded in 1879. American salespeople have been communicating with prospects since the turn of the century. I can still remember typewriters and carbon paper, but only vaguely. Today we use email and texts, instant communication with spell check. Who knows what we will use in 50 years — maybe telepathy. That’s scary. Here are some ideas about using email more effectively, both for your own time management and as a communication tool. First, email can drive your life. Salespeople get many emails, and it can be both a distraction and an excuse not to do more difficult and important things. So one rule you should follow, if you can, i ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 14th

Posted on :December 15
Tennessean Column- Sunday, December 14th
I Don’t Like That About Salespeople Recently I asked several people what they don’t like about salespeople’s behavior.  Based on their responses and my own experiences I would like to submit, for your pleasure and to improve your performance, an open letter to salespeople from the prospect. Dear Salesperson, After years of meeting with your profession I would like to tell you some things I don’t like. I don’t like salespeople who just drop in on me without an appointment.  I don’t mind if you drop by and ask me or my assistant to set an appointment, just don’t expect to stay.  Another thing I don’t like is for you to flirt with me or the people in my office.  It sends me the wrong signal and puts me in a bad mood. I don’t like salespeople who feign an insincere interest in me.  Yes, I will give you a chance to get to know a little about me but let’s not kid ourselves.  You want to sell m ...
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Tennessean Column- Saturday, November 29th

Posted on :December 02
Tennessean Column- Saturday, November 29th
Objections are a Buying Sign One summer when I was selling books door to door I called on Mrs. Craighead of Farmville, Virginia.  She was an elderly woman and her family was grown.  I showed her a family Bible and she loved it.  When I told her the price I thought she was going to throw me out of her house.  Then I learned a very important lesson.  Objections are a buying sign.  One no doesn’t equal a no sale. Mrs. Craighead shook her head and said, “That Bible is high.  It’s just too expensive for an elderly woman like me.”  She paused, I said nothing and she finished her thought, “But I always wanted a nice family Bible.”  I got her check and she got her “nice family bible”. That day I learned that most sincere objections are a buying sign.  I underline and emphasize the word sincere.  She was sincere.  She was saying, “I really want this if you can solve my buying problem.”  In profes ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 16th

Posted on :November 19
Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 16th
Do Your Homework Before the Sales Call Tom Peters, while at McKinsey and Company, said, “we prepared one hour for each one minute of anticipated meeting time with a prospect” (30-minute meeting, 30 hours of preparation). Today, sales people have more opportunity than ever to prepare for their sales calls. Yet over and over, I see sales people arrive on the call without as much preparation as possible. Technology, social media and the glut of general information available allows us to be very prepared for every call. When we are calling on a new prospect, we should know everything we possibly can. You never know when some bit of information will help you communicate more effectively. Many companies I have been associated with lately have had a great deal of success with LinkedIn. This source gives you information about your prospect, their co-workers, their supervisors, their circle of in ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 2nd

Posted on :November 03
Tennessean Column- Sunday, November 2nd
Disconnect The holidays are on us.  Time will be at a premium.  Everyone will be busy with shopping, parties and bad weather.  At the same time the holidays will put more on every salesperson’s plate.  In addition to scheduling, it is everyone’s last chance to hit their annual numbers or win the prizes and trips.  What’s a salesperson to do? Well, the statistics I have been sharing with you indicate salespeople waste a lot of time.  The more companies I work with the more convinced I am that we just do not know where the prospect is coming from.  The difference between the deals we project and the ones we sell is roughly 50%.  That is a national number based on a survey of over 1000 companies.  Ask yourself what the difference is between what you project and what you actually sell.  One company I work with is running at 22% sold of what they projected. If we, as salespeople, are experts ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 19th

Posted on :October 20
Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 19th
Wordsmithing Part of a true professional salesperson’s skill set is the ability to “wordsmith.” The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between a lightning bolt and a lightening bug. They sound alike but their impact is significantly different. Let me illustrate. A man comes home and tells his wife, “Honey, when I look at your face time stands still.” Another man comes home and tells his wife, “Honey, your face would stop a clock.” You get it. There is a right and wrong way to say anything. Over the years I have developed some answers to common selling situations. These answers have been wordsmithed over the years and I thought they might be helpful to you. A salesperson often finds herself trying to reach a prospect who is postponing his decision. After a few contacts with no decision I have used these carefully crafted phrases: “John, I appreciate you ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 5th

Posted on :October 07
Tennessean Column- Sunday, October 5th
Follow UpHere are some facts that may surprise you. In a survey of 1200 firms it was found that 37% of their salesperson’s time was spent selling face to face or by phone.  63% of their time was not spent selling. 21% of their time was spent on lead generation/account research 48% of salespeople NEVER follow up with a prospect 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts Now with all that, here are the results concerning success/making the sale: 2% of sales are made on the first contact 3% of sales are made on the second contact 5% of sales are made on the third contact 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact Yes, as salespeople we are spending less time selling and less time following up with contacts.  Whatever your de ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 21st

Posted on :September 19
Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 21st
Pay it Forward Many times in sales we get a bad reputation for “greed” or “say anything to get the sale”.  Sometimes it is true.  One of the greatest things I have learned in my sales career is to “pay it forward”- to give to my customer or prospect without hope of return.  Here are two stories that inspire me to keep that philosophy. Story one:  Al Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie”.  Eddie was as good as they get.  He kept Al Capone out of trouble many times.  Al paid him well too.  He lived in a mansion that covered a city block.  He also had armed guards around his house. But Eddie had one soft spot, his son.  He did everything for him and had an unlimited budget to care for him.  Despite Eddie’s work he tried to teach his son right from wrong.  Like all fathers, he wanted his son to be a better man than him. One day he had an epiphany and decided to set the right example for ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 7th

Posted on :September 08
Tennessean Column- Sunday, September 7th
Fourth Quarter, Your Best Quarter The fourth quarter has started.  There are only four months left in 2014.  When you break it down into days that’s 80 work days.  There are a lot of holidays in the fourth quarter and many of your prospects will take off more days around the holidays.  I know I do.  So with the rest of your year flying by how can you maximize those 80 days?  Here is some advice and some ideas to help you maximize the end of your year. First, review the prospects you have seen so far this year.  I am assuming you are in the 21st century and you have kept a list.  There will be some who said, “Check back at the end of the year.”  Call those prospects.  There will be another group that told you “It is not in the budget.”  Companies prepare their budgets for next year in the fourth quarter.  Be sure to call this group as soon as possible.  This is the time of year when there ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 10

Posted on :August 06
Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 10
Price Objection “It is too expensive.”  “I cannot afford it.” When salespeople are asked why the prospect did not buy over 70% say it was one of these reasons.  When prospects are asked why they bought only 22% say price was the major factor in their decision. Wow, that is a 50% difference in perception.  Why the disconnect?  I believe it is because the vast majority of salespeople do not want to face the truth.  The truth is that over 50% of the time the salesperson failed to communicate the value of their product. When the customer says, “It is too expensive” they are saying that the product is not worth what the salesperson is asking.  In other words, your little product is not worth the prospect’s big pile of money.  When you  hear this objection your only hope is to create value in the prospect’s mind or to discover the real objection.  Remember, only 20% or so of your prospects are ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 27

Posted on :July 28
Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 27
A Great Sales PresentationIs it really a “sales presentation” if no one is listening? As a prospect in front of sales people I do not always listen to what is being said.  It would be naïve to assume that we hold a prospect’s attention 100% of the time.  However, every salesperson can improve their presentation. Here are some general tips to help you get better: 1.  Establish rapport.  Before you start talking about your product or service be sure you have connected as a human being with your prospect.  It is so much easier to say no to someone you have no connection with.  Once you have found something in common with your prospect you can begin talking about your product or service. If you have trouble establishing rapport memorize some opening questions like “Where are you from originally?”, “How long have you been here?” and “Where were you before this?”  Look around the prospect’s h ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 13

Posted on :July 11
Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 13
Second Half The year is half over.  Now is (if you haven’t already done it) a great time to reflect and rededicate yourself for the remainder of the year.  Most of us find ourselves in one of three places.  Way ahead of your goals and coasting to a great year, maybe your best year ever. Just on pace to get the results you and others expect from you. Behind and headed for a terrible year. Wherever you are, things can change and you can change them.  If there is one thing I have learned and believed, in over 30 years of selling and coaching sales people, it is that there is no such thing as long term circumstances.  I do not believe in circumstances.  The people that win are the ones who find their circumstances.  If they cannot find them they make them. So here are some ideas to make the second half of the year your best half ever.  First, you cannot be too busy chopping wood to sharpen t ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 29th

Posted on :June 26
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 29th
Know Your P’s and Q’s Recently I was talking with a sales person who told me he was a “natural born salesperson”.  So I slapped him.  Seriously, it led to a discussion of that thought.  Are salespeople born or are they made?  I suppose it is obvious no mother every gave birth to a baby with an order pad.  Nor has a mother ever given birth to a baby with a law book or a stethoscope.  No one was ever born to be anything. It is true that as we grow up we gain skills and knowledge that better prepare us for some professions than others.  In a survey of 200 sales people with college degrees none (zero) said they went to college to be in sales.  So how did they end up in sales?  More importantly, what made them successful in sales? When given IQ tests sales people are no more intelligent or less intelligent than the general populations.  We would all agree it takes a basic level of intelligenc ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 15th

Posted on :June 13
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 15th
Create Your Own Sales Culture For the last five years I have been working with other companies to help them improve their sales results.  We always talk about a “sales culture”.  So I would like to share my observations with you about what makes a great sales culture. First, and most important, the company is customer focused and sales driven.  I was in one company the other day and every administrative employee had a sign on their desk; “Sales makes Salaries”.  That’s right, the focus of the entire organization was on increasing revenue.  After all without new sales most companies cannot exist.  New sales mean growth.  New sales are necessary to replace lost customers.  New sales are necessary to keep great employees.  Great employees do not stay with companies that are not growing and providing new opportunities. I am always shocked by companies I visit where operations, accounting and ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 1st

Posted on :June 05
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 1st
Prospecting with PowerA salesperson without a prospect list is unemployed.  The single most important tool a sales person has is his prospect list, yet company after company I work with does not put enough emphasis on this one thing.  Here is what I teach people about prospect lists.  First, get one.  I don’t mean a list of names in your laptop.  I mean a list of prospects that have these qualities:  A prospect is a decision maker not anything else.  A non-decision maker is not a prospect. You must know something about the name on the prospect list.  Recently, I was working with a company calling for appointments out of a “Domino Data Base”.  That is not a prospect list.  Here are some things you can look for: Are they in your current verticals of customers? You sell manufacturers.  Are they a manufacturer or a services company? If you sell individuals and your average customer is 50 ye ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 18

Posted on :May 16
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 18
The Sales Profession is in a MessHere are some interesting facts about Sales and what you can do about them. Only 67% of sales people make their quota.  This is even more revealing when you realize that not every company has sales quotas. Figures vary, but between 45 and 60 percent of a salesperson’s time is not spent selling.  They are responsible for many things that do not involve prospects. Did you know that 90% of selling content provided by the companies is never used in selling a prospect?  There is just too much information for a salesperson to mobilize and use effectively.  Qvidian Sales Execution Survey for 2014 says 88% of missed opportunities were because salespeople could not leverage or find internal resources.  WOW- 80% of sales are made between the fifth and the twelfth contact with a prospect but 48% of salespeople never follow up with their prospects after a first call. ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 4th

Posted on :May 06
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 4th
People Love to Buy - They Hate to be Sold Everyone in sales has heard a prospect say, “You’re a salesperson.  You are just trying to sell me.”  If given a choice no salesperson would want to hear that from a prospect.  It means there has been a communication disconnect. In any selling situation the prospect has a healthy degree of skepticism.  Most of us are guarded when we meet a salesperson.  The common stereotype is that, “This person will say anything to make the sale and earn a commission.”  However, if you are in sales you know that is not true.  The idea of “let the buyer beware” has long past.  Despite this reality, no matter what you are selling, the prospect is asking themselves “Should I trust what this person says?”  They are looking for a reason not to buy, not looking for a reason to buy.  The prospect is suspicious. So, as a salesperson, one of the first things we must do ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 20th

Posted on :April 21
Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 20th
Winging It “Today I begin a new life.  Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure.  Today I am born anew…”  ~ OG Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World I have noticed the same bad habit by the same bad salespeople over and over again.  It’s winging it.  For some reason salespeople have told themselves that they can wing it and succeed.  Some salespeople even have some measure of success winging it.  However, the greatest salespeople do not wing it.  No one wants to work with a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher or any other professional that wings it.  Of course all those professions have people that wing it but they usually are not successful and they usually do not serve their clients very well.  I have never heard anyone say, “I want to work with someone that wings it.” For some reason a lot of mediocre salespeople tell themselves, “I can get by wing ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 6th

Posted on :April 07
Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 6th
Change is Possible For 30 years I have been saying “Embrace change”.  Our hope for the future is based on “change”.  In every change we face there is a seed for greater growth.  Charles Darwin said in The Origin of the Species, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent but the ones most ADAPTIVE to change.”  All very true. However, let us back up a step.  We as salespeople can change our brains to improve our performance, the amount of money we make and therefore our lifestyle but improvement is based on change. Science used to believe that once the brain reached maturity it could no longer change.  “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.”  In other words, our potential is fixed biologically.  Shawn Achor explores this thoroughly in his book “The Happiness Advantage” (buy it).  We now know that there is something called neuroplasticity.  Neuroplastici ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 23

Posted on :March 24
Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 23
Failure Leads to Success This is what I have noticed from coaching salespeople for 30 years- successful people have a ferocious drive and hunger, yes hunger, for success.  This drive and hunger pushes them to never give up when others would quit or be satisfied with where they are. Success in sales does not come without bumps.  One year I went six months without a sale but I still had my best year ever.  There is usually no perfect ascent to success.  It just does not work without obstacles, frustration and defeats.  Sometimes I wonder how I kept my job that year. Most of the time I find successful salespeople are spurred on by defeat.  They learn from their defeat and start over from a stronger position of knowledge and determination.  In addition, I have seen successful salespeople take full responsibility for their defeat.  They do not blame their circumstance or their situation.  The ...
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Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 9th

Posted on :March 07
Tennessean Column- Sunday, March 9th
The Tennessean - Sunday, March 9th, 2014 NEAT “There are two kinds of people.  One looks for a way the other looks for an excuse.  I want you to be the kind of person that goes over, under, around and through any obstacle that stands in your way.”  That is one of the first things my mentor, Sam Johnson, told me when I was 18 years old. Over the years I have learned that in every walk of life there are those that make excuses and those that find a way.  In the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio tells his new salespeople “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the B.S. story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” After my second summer selling books for Southwestern my sales manager came to me and said, “You can be #1.”  I was sure a light out of heaven had shined on me.  How else would he predict I could be #1 out of over 6,500 students?  L ...
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PRESS RELEASE --Tennessean Column June 2012

Posted on :September 05
PRESS RELEASE --Tennessean Column June 2012
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release  Striving for Success Column Column Launch --June, 2012 The Tennessean has selected Tom Black, The Boxcar Millionaire, to share his sales wisdom in a continuing column in their business section. Randy McLain, Business Editor sought Tom out to partner with The Tennessean in reaching out to sales professionals with helpful advice on strategy as the economy recovers. Tom hopes his column will provide a touch of humor, inspiration and motivation for those along for the ride in the roller coaster career of sales.  He says of Tom: “The Tennessean is adding a total of five new business columns written by experts in their field, including Tom Black. Tom’s new column on sales to help people in the trenches learn to prospect for clients more efficiently and close the deal more often is going to be perhaps the most fun one to read of all.” Tom founded the Tom Bla ...
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PRESS RELEASE --News-Leader Column August 2012

Posted on :September 05
PRESS RELEASE  --News-Leader Column August 2012
Businessman Tom Black gives back to Ozarks Successful businessman, MSU grad maintains ties to Springfield area   7:40 PM, Aug 4, 2012 Written by: Kathryn Wall   Coming Monday Tom Black will be writing a regular business advice column for the News-Leader. Watch for his first column Monday, followed by one every other Monday on the Business page. Tom Black might not be a household name in the Springfield area, but he’s definitely had a local impact. Black came here from Kansas to attend Missouri State University and join the debate team. There he met future local standouts like Chamber President Jim Anderson and Attorney Tom Strong. Although Black now lives in Nashville, Tenn., he still maintains connections here, including a business in Republic. Bancsource, a banking equipment sales and service company, has around 400 employees, compared to the 27 workers there when he bought the company ...
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PRESS RELEASE: Commencement Speech at Missouri State University 2010

Posted on :June 24
PRESS RELEASE: Commencement Speech at Missouri State University 2010
PRESS RELEASEFor Immediate Release Missouri State University CommencementJQH ARENA685 S. John Q. Hammons ParkwaySpringfield, MO Contact:Sherry StringfellowTom Black Center for Excellence, Inc.sherry@tomblackcenter.com615.263.2833 May 14, 2010 - Springfield, MO.  Missouri State University has selected Tom Black (The Boxcar Millionaire) for their commencement address Friday, May 14th.  Tom graduated from then Southwest Missouri State University with a degree in Rhetoric and Public Address.  He was a nationally ranked debater and was active in student government.  He is a significant contributor to the University and remains in close contact with the current debate team. His business career is a true rags to riches story.  Born in humble circumstances, he has built several large nationally known companies in the banking services industry.  Recently he created the Tom Black Center for Excell ...
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PRESS RELEASE: Ordre Des Coteaux Promotions - May 2010

Posted on :June 21
PRESS RELEASE: Ordre Des Coteaux Promotions - May 2010
PRESS RELEASEFor Immediate Release June 17, 2010, Reims, France – The Ordre Des Coteaux Has Recently Announced Promotions for Three Americans; Bruce Fingerett, Todd McGowan, and Tom Black.  Bruce Fingerett and Todd McGowan Were Inducted into The Order as Chevaliers.  Tom Black, a Member for Over 11 years Was Promoted to The Office of Chambellan.  Only a Handful of Americans Have Ever Received this Designation and it Truly Sets Tom Black Apart as One of America’s True Champagne Authorities. Tom Black has been given numerous rewards in the food and wine world.  Being a member of the Commanderie de Bordeaux, on the National Board of the Chaine des Rotisseurs and an officer in the Order de Conteaux separates him from most gastronomiques. Unlike other champagne wine fraternities, which confine themselves to the promotion of a particular “cru” or variety of grape, the very special feature of t ...
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Nashville Business Journal - October 2008

Posted on :August 14
Nashville Business Journal - October 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008  |  Modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 The ‘practical’ art of the sale ‘Boxcar Millionaire’ gives motivation to small businesses Nashville Business Journal - by Linda Bryant Nashville Business Journal Tom Black’s life began in the tiny town of Nickerson, Kan., a long way from the corporate offices in Middle Tennessee where he served as CEO of two public companies — Private Business and Open Solutions. Black’s parents weren’t members of the local country club. They were dropouts who worked low-paying jobs and were so destitute the family lived in a railroad boxcar. Surprised that he even made it through high school, Black got his first introduction to selling at Nashville’s Southwestern Co., where he peddled books door-to-door in the summer while he worked his way through college at Southwest Missouri State Teachers College. Thus began his escape from a hard-scr ...
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PRESS RELEASE: See Tom Black at Entrepreneur Media Conference in Miami Beach

Posted on :August 11
PRESS RELEASE:  See Tom Black at Entrepreneur Media Conference in Miami Beach
SEE TOM BLACK AT HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED ENTREPRENEUR MEDIA CONFERENCE IN MIAMI BEACH For Immediate Release (Nashville, TN – June 3, 2009) – Tom Black, well-known as one of Nashville’s most successful entrepreneurs, the nation’s best sales trainer, and author of the wildly popular book, Boxcar Millionaire, will speak at Entrepreneur Media’s 2010 Growth 2.0 Conference presented by the UPS Store on January 26, 2010 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  Tom was specifically asked to present his incomparable “Secrets of Sales Success” sales training to over 500 entrepreneurs and small business owners.  “It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with an organization like Entrepreneur Media,” said Black. The Growth 2.0 conference is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get hands-on, business-building advice. The content offered in the seminars is specifically designed to offer fresh ideas, ha ...
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Wine Spectator article

Posted on :August 07
Wine Spectator article
Wine Spectator Magazine, June 15, 2007 Collecting A Life of Wine Lessons Businessman Tom Black`s Cellar-Building Strategy Stresses Classics    By Peter D. Meltzer Tom Black has a spectular 20,000-bottle wine cellar (with an additional 9,000 bottles on consignment to Alto, an upscale Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence-winning Italian restaurant in New York), but you`ll never hear him boasting about it. He firmly believes that collectors should appreciate the scope of what they have and not try to impress guests with trophy bottles all the time. "I probably have 100 vintages of Chateau Latour,"  he says, "but I don`t feel compelled to brag about it. I`m happy drinking Chateaus Haut-Bailly, Batailley and Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Wine is an art form, and I enjoy learning what the winemaker-as-artist has accomplished." Black, a 48-year-old Nashville, Tenn, businessman (his company, Bancsour ...
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For immediate release 120108 - Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne - English version

Posted on :August 06
For immediate release 120108 - Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne - English version
America’s greatest Sales Trainer receives ‘Royal Promotion’ In the most prestigious symbol of success and celebration For Release: Immediate(Nashville, TN – December 1, 2008) - Established in 1656 by aristocrats in the court of French King Louis the XIVth, the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne is responsible for managing a global communications policy of essential information concerning the wines of Champagne, France through a worldwide network of highly-knowledgeable staunch supporters. These individuals are prudently chosen from all over the globe and include renowned restaurateurs, sommeliers, connoisseurs and international personalities in politics, media, stage and screen.Entrepreneur and author Tom Black is one of America’s top wine experts and collectors and has been a representative of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne for the last decade. At a prestigious ceremony held at the Sain ...
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