Years ago, after a snowstorm in New York City, I was standing outside my apartment and I saw an elderly woman shuffling down the street between parked cars. She was going from car-to-car, looking in between. She couldn’t have been more than four feet eight inches tall and I could barely see her knit wool cap over the mounds of snow piled up on the curb.
As she moved between the cars, it appeared as though she was searching for something. She would walk to a spot, look around, shake her head, and move to the next space between cars.
After she did this three times, I realized what was going on. She couldn’t find a place to get from the street to the sidewalk. The snow was piled up too high and she was too small and not nearly nimble enough to hop over.
Instinctively – actually reflexively – I walked toward her and reached out my hand.
“Come. Let me help you.” I said without even thinking.
She looked shocked. Maybe years of living in a tough city had hardened her. Maybe she was surprised someone was watching her look for a place to cross. Maybe she just wasn’t expecting a handsome, young man to appear in front of her at that moment (that’s my favorite explanation).
After a brief reflective pause, she nodded, smiled, took my hand, and climbed over the snow mound onto the sidewalk. She stomped the snow off her feet, thanked me, and moved on.
Two things stand out in my mind from that encounter:
First: My instinct. I moved toward her without even thinking about it. I saw someone who needed assistance and moved.
Second: The look of surprise on the woman’s face when I extended my hand.
Our mental programming is amazing.
We are born predisposed to help. It is natural. We see someone in distress and we want, no, we need to do something. It takes actual effort to NOT assist someone in need.
But because of the cynical nature of the world, and our exposure to negativity, we are shocked when someone comes to help us.
Last week a Category 4 Hurricane made landfall in Florida. Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys. As I write this, there is a massive effort to help people feeling the impact of this disaster. Average people – Americans, Floridians, and people from all over the world, are giving time, talent, and treasure toward the recovery effort.
My neighborhood (I live 120 miles north of The Keys) was spared any real damage. We lost power for a few days and had some trees knocked down. Even with the minor inconvenience in my area, the outpouring of support among my neighbors was tremendous. People helped each other cut trees and remove debris. Families with generators invited others in to share a meal in front of a fan. Folks with extra gasoline, propane, or water gave of their resources not concerned about scarcity.
It takes adversity to bring out the best of our nature.
But it shouldn’t.
Each day you sit next to someone who needs help. It could be a friend, a co-worker, or a client. He might be struggling with a personal problem, low on cash to pay his bills, or struggling with an illness or addiction.
You’ve been in this situation yourself.
It is impossible to recognize when these people need us because they are not shuffling between cars looking for a place to cross the street. They are not in a designated disaster zone with debris surrounding them.
They look fine.
You look fine.
The only way we can allow our natural instinct to take over – the only way we can offer assistance – is if they ask us for help.
That’s the takeaway.
If you need assistance with a personal problem – reach out. People want to help you. It’s human nature.
If your problem is business-related, you MUST reach out. Some of us have made it our life’s work, our mission, to help people solve business problems. We not only WANT to help you, we NEED to help you.
Never be ashamed, embarrassed, or shy when you need assistance.
We all do.
Reach out. You’ll be surprised at who reaches back.
One of the best ways to develop deep, profitable relationships is by connecting people with opportunity. For this to be effective, the person you are connecting must understand and appreciate the value you provide. The challenge: Knowing when someone has a valuable opportunity versus when they are just taking a shot at selling you something.
How can you divine the difference?
You must treat everything as an excellent opportunity and then move on the instant you determine it is a waste of time.
A few months ago I reached out to the president of a local bank. The bank provides outstanding service, has a great reputation, and is undergoing a rebranding initiative. I wanted to present him with an opportunity to connect with 150 local trust and estates attorneys. I reached out via email and requested ten minutes of his time for a conversation. This wasn’t a cold call. The bank executive had been to one of my presentations, had expressed an interest in my work and has regularly read my articles (he’s probably reading this right now).
I sent an email and received a quick response. The president said he would reach out to me the next day.
A few days later, an external consultant called me. He said he was connecting with me to vet the opportunity on behalf of the bank. I politely described the opportunity and when the consultant asked for more information, in writing, so he could present it to the bank president, I declined and moved on to another institution.
The lesson: When someone wants to put money in your pocket, TAKE IT.
A ten-minute telephone conversation by the president would have given him the chance to evaluate this opportunity and it would have developed relationship capital with me. Instead, the president decided to add two additional, unnecessary steps to this process and he gave me the impression he wasn’t interested in a relationship.
C’est la vie.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Don’t be afraid of being “sold.” Quickly ask questions to evaluate an opportunity. You can always politely move on if it’s not right for you.
If you want to sell more and give your bank account a jumpstart, change the crowd surrounding you.
There are many worn-out adages along these lines because this good advice has worked for decades.
Each of us only has 24 hours in the day. Spend at least 8 hours working – and most cannot choose the people with whom we work. Then we spend another 6 hours sleeping. Can’t hang out with people during that time. But those 10 remaining hours offer significant opportunity.
Take an inventory of the people who help you fill your discretionary time. Do those people help you grow? Do they help your business move forward? Do they make you smarter?
If the answer to any of those questions is “NO,” you need to make some changes.
Here are three reasons why:
The people you currently hang around think like you. That’s the last thing you need.
You need to discover what people who are like your best client – your ideal customer – are thinking. You need to hear about their problems. You need to hear where they go and what they do and why they do it.
Immersing yourself in the world of your ideal client will change your thinking and open a world of possibilities you never imagined.
If you want good referrals, you need to be around people who are qualified to refer you. They need to know people who need your services, can afford your services and can decide to work with you.
If you’re not getting referrals from people in the crowd surrounding you, clearly, they are not qualified to do it.
More Purchasing Power
Like the thoughts above, if the people around you are not inquiring about your products/services, you are around the wrong people.
When you change the crowd, you’ll notice more people asking you for help and when you provide it, that’s selling.
Make the Move
This is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve the quality of your life and the quality of business in your portfolio. Change the people in your orbit, change the people who surround you, and your business will grow.
This is the time of year that drives every sales professional crazy.
You’ve been trying for a few weeks to get in touch with someone – anyone – who can buy something. You’ve been calling prospects, referral sources, former clients and even clients. Nobody is in the office. People who do return calls leave you a message late at night or early in the morning. They tell you they are away and they’ll be in touch when they get back to work. Even people who are working cannot make decisions now because someone, somewhere who needs to give some type of approval is on vacation.
You have to produce results. You’ve got a budget and it doesn’t have a place for “vacation when nothing happens.” Even more important, you’ve got to eat. You’ve got bills to pay. The supermarket and cable TV provider don’t care that you can’t get a hold of anyone.
So what do you do to make this slow time of year more productive? How do you make the most of the vacation season?
Here are five things to make August more productive:
Research Ideal Clients
This is the perfect time to do the deep research you’ve been putting off. Use this time to find the exact person that can authorize that million-dollar purchase. Use LinkedIn, Hoovers and any database program you have available to find out who the ideal person is. Call the company. Talk to people who actually answer the phone. Find out the name of the assistant to the key person. Often the assistant will be in the office and you can potentially schedule an appointment. At a minimum, you can begin to develop a relationship with the assistant which will make it easier to get in touch with the ideal buyer.
Write, Write and Write Some More
Update your website with new content. Update LinkedIn with new content. Write articles to pitch to publications. You’re always complaining you don’t have time to write because you are too busy. This is your chance. Get ahead of the game now, while things are slow.
Take a course. There are thousands of courses you can take online. You can enroll in a course on technology with a local training company. Don’t want to sit in front of the computer for hours or go back to school? Okay, read a book. Great knowledge can be found through reading. Sales, self-help, psychology, biographies all offer great lessons you can apply immediately.
Clean and Rearrange Your Workspace
This is the perfect time to reset the area around you. Rearrange the furniture. Organize the files on your computer. Clean out the closet in the office where you throw everything before clients come to visit. If you work virtually, and your computer is completely organized, clean out your garage. The symbolism of “resetting” things will help you jumpstart your productivity.
Relax and Unplug
Spend 3-5 hours each day for a week without electronics. Turn everything off. Unplug for a few hours each day for a week. Sit on a beach and stare at the horizon. Hike a mountain trail. Talk to a friend. Get to know the members of your family. This will help you reduce stress and you may want to continue this habit after the summer ends.
August seems like the end of the world. Nobody is working. You can make any deals. Potential clients do not answer the phone and they take forever to return calls. But do not despair. By the last week of the month, people will be in back-to-school and back-to-work mode. They’ll be thinking about all the money they spent on their vacation and they will be ready to have you help them.
Enjoy the time you have this month to get ready for the best 4th quarter you’ve ever had.
Not long ago I was really fat.
Doctors told me to lose weight. People with whom I worked told me to lose weight. Family members (but not my wife) told me to lose weight. Years went by and I did nothing about this situation even though I suffered from heartburn, pain in my knees, fatigue, and lack of energy.
Then I had a big change in my career that changed the way I perceived myself. Subconsciously, I was successful because of my income and position in my firm – working for someone else. Not true. I was in control of my success. If I wanted more income, I knew how to go get it.
I thought I was destined to be a jolly fat guy. Subconsciously, I thought it would be too difficult to change my behavior and slim down. Once I realized it was possible to start my own company and make whatever money I wanted and needed, I knew the same was possible with my weight.
I am now at a healthy weight and in a healthy place mentally after realizing that change is not only possible but well within my control.
Here’s the thing you don’t want to hear but you need to…
It’s time for you to make some changes to your business. You’ve wanted to make them for a while. You deserve the rewards that come with these changes.
But you’re not going to do it by yourself. If you were, they’d be done by now.
You need help.
Once you realize you cannot do this alone, you will have taken the first step toward real change.
Don’t let your ego prevent you from asking for help.
You’re at a crossroads in your life and in your business.
Pick up the phone and give me a call. (786) 436-1986
Being persistent is critical to success.
You must be undeterred in your desire to achieve a goal or to make a dream come true.
Being curious is also critical to success. Asking why, asking how, and looking for better, faster, and easier ways to do things drives innovation and differentiation.
Although not mutually exclusive, there is a point where these two virtues intersect. It resembles a fork in the road, and it may be one for your career or for a relationship.
Holding on to an opinion just to say you didn’t give in is career limiting behavior.
If you’ve ever seen the guy with the Ph.D. working at Walmart, you’ve witnessed this. Eventually, his 25-year-old manager will fire him for stocking sporting goods in alphabetical order rather than by compensated shelf space positioning.
At home, your spouse wants the sofa and loveseat set up railroad style. This hurts your neck when you watch Jeopardy because the seating is perpendicular to the TV. So, when your spouse moves the furniture, you move it back. You know you’re right and eventually, she will give in.
No, she won’t.
Why not ask why this set-up is appealing to her? Why not try to find an agreeable option – like purchasing a chair and have it face the television?
The next time you find yourself taking a position on something, consider why you are doing it. Ask if there is another option you have not considered. If you are presented with an option ask if it will work and, even if you think it is illogical, try it.
It will make you grow intellectually and it will help your relationship.
You see it all the time. The host of a TV show asks a “sales expert” to sell him a pen in 60 seconds of less.
Selling is not a parlor trick.
The first 60 seconds of any relationship are critical but not because you can put the ideal pen in the hands of a prospective client. That time is critical because that’s when you sell your most valuable product – yourself.
So how should you spend the first 60 seconds of any interaction?
Asking questions and finding out how you can help the person standing in front of you.
That’s when people learn if you are selfish or if you have an external orientation.
Think about the relationships in your life. Think back to how they started. Imagine walking up to someone at a cocktail party and saying:
“Hi. My name is Dave. I’m currently looking for a best friend. I like baseball, camping and working on cars. Would you like to go on a hike with me tomorrow? If the weather is nice we can go camping. Want to share a tent?”
You wouldn’t do that. If you did, people would run away from you as fast as they could. Now, if you approached, introduced yourself, paid a compliment, and asked a question, that would get things off to a good start.
Here’s an example:
Last month I was traveling for a week and I had to check a big bag. As I approached the First Class check-in counter I noticed the guest service agent had unique eye glass frames. They allowed her to express her originality even though she was wearing the mandated drab uniform.
“Hi. My name is Dave Lorenzo and I’m flying to New York, JFK.” I said as I handed her my identification. “I love your eye glasses. Those frames are fantastic.”
“Thank you.” She said.
“Do you have others you wear regularly or are those your favorite?” I replied.
She went on to tell me the story of how she picked out her eyeglass frames and why these were her favorite.
I told her the story of how I picked out my favorite frames. We laughed about how hard it was to get frames that made us feel good about wearing eye glasses.
We continued to chat for a few minutes as she checked my bag and then I said: “Can I ask you for a favor?”
“I have to send a couple of emails and I’d like to relax before my flight. Can you sell me a day pass to the Admirals Club?”
“I can’t sell you one, but…take this up to the desk and they will help you.”
She wrote a note to the agent at the desk and whatever she put in that note gave me access to the club immediately – at no charge.
Total time of the interaction – 3 minutes. Did I sell something in the first 60 seconds? You bet I did. I sold myself.
I started a relationship and I put the other person first before I asked for anything.
How Does This Apply To You?
So, you sell fractional jet ownership, or you sell medical devices, or you sell commercial property and you’re wondering how you can use this to your advantage.
The next time you start a conversation, ask the other person an appropriate question and be genuinely interested in the answer. That’s how you demonstrate an external orientation and that is the first step toward a productive relationship.
When this comes in, it will be the biggest deal you’ve ever closed. The client knew the number before you sent the paperwork over and he agreed to it. But you need the signature before you can celebrate.
Then the phone rings. It’s the boss. “Any news?”
That’s probably the worst question you can ever ask a sales professional.
By nature, great salespeople crave recognition. That’s why they drive fancy cars. That’s why they dress well. That’s why they tell all those “war stories.”
They want you to give them a pat on the back. Tell them they are “number one.” Give them the accolades they deserve.
So to think, even for a minute, the sales pro would keep news of a closed deal from the world – especially a big one – is just foolish.
Take this advice:
The next time someone is waiting to get an answer on a sales proposal or the next time a salesperson tells you about a proposal he is waiting to get signed, DON’T ASK.
If you don’t hear anything about it, the deal didn’t close.
Because if the deal goes through, you’ll be hearing about it for a long, long time.
Each time I give a speech on sales someone asks the question:
“How do I close more deals?”
There is not ONE THING you can do to increase your closing percentage. But there is a PROCESS you can follow that will make it easier for people to work with you.
Here is your step-by-step guide to closing more sales deals:
Step One: Be confident
Lose that stink of fear. You cannot want a deal so badly everyone can smell it on you. Believe in yourself. Believe you can solve your client’s problem or fill a need. Believe that the guy in front of you is important but he is one in a long line of people who will sit in front of you this month. If he walks out, you’ll find someone else.
Step Two: Listen
Stop talking. When you talk, you miss out on how you will close the deal. The client will tell you what he wants. When he does, give it to him. But none of that can happen unless you shut up.
Step Three: Remember Why You Are There
When you sell, you’re part psychologist. You must be a kind, nurturing soul whose goal is to help solve a problem or fill a need BUT you’ve gotta eat. You receive compensation for helping people. This isn’t a charity. The guy across from you expects to pay so don’t forget to take his money. Always ask for the business and never hesitate to talk about money.
Step Four: Remind Your Client Of The Value
After the client signs on the dotted line, remind him he is solving a problem. Use his own words to help him understand the value he is receiving. Show him the great deal he got. Make him feel like he won the game. If you don’t do this, he will back out or at minimum, feel bad. People who feel bad don’t refer business to you.
Step Five: Ask For A Referral
At the end of this process, you owe yourself one more thing: A referral. If you’ve done everything correctly, your client should be feeling great about the deal he got and he should feel great about you. Ask him to give you the names of three people you can help. Ask if he will bring those people to your office. Tell him he is the kind of guy who likes to help his friends and that’s what he’s doing by introducing them to you.
I know you were expecting a “say this, do that” kind of process. That’s not how selling works. You can say and do any number of things to close more deals if you have the correct mindset.
Sales is a game played between your ears. It’s a game against yourself. You win each time you reach out to someone else and offer to help.
You’re a winner, now go out and help somebody.
Dave Lorenzo is the leading expert on selling for professionals. He helps business leaders make a great living and live a great life®. Call him today: (786) 438-1986
Last Thursday I was on the phone with a successful attorney and his question reminded me of something valuable I discovered years ago.
About midway through the conversation, the lawyer said:
“Dave, I don’t want to practice law. I want to invite clients into my office, listen to their problems, and offer to help them (when I can). I want to do this all day. I realized I love to sell. Is that okay?”
“That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard.”
Implicit in this conversation were two breakthroughs.
First: This attorney realizes that “SELLING” is simply helping people solve problems in exchange for financial compensation.
Second: This attorney finally received absolution for being a “salesman.”
You don’t have to be an attorney to struggle with these concepts.
In 2002, I went from an operational management role with Marriott (hospitality and hotel management) to VP of Business Development with Gallup Consulting. The role at Gallup was essentially a start-up – meaning if I didn’t find clients, there would be no business.
After my first couple of days on the job, I had a conversation with my wife. I told her how I organized the office, read through the latest research the company produced and familiarized myself with our capabilities. I said:
“Now I just need some clients.”
“You better become a great salesman!”
That hit me like a bucket of cold water in the face. Nothing happens until you sell something. I am a fantastic consultant. I’m a great executive coach. I help business leaders solve complex problems. But unless I sell something to someone, I am the smartest person NOBODY knows.
This should be the bucket of cold water in your face.
Unless you learn how to develop relationships and offer to help people in return for financial compensation, you will be the best lawyer nobody knows.
You sales style should be consultative. It should be a soft approach. It should make people feel good.
But you must sell.
There is no way around it.
The sooner you realize this and learn how to develop relationships, the faster you will make a great living and live a great life®.
Dave Lorenzo is the leading expert on selling for professionals. He helps business leaders make a great living and live a great life®. Call him today: (786) 438-1986