Proven Strategies From the World’s Top Sales Professionals

First, I’m so sorry for being absent over the last 3 months.  I recently stepped into a new role and have been heads down focused.  I just haven’t had the time to devote to weekly writing but promise that I’ll be back July 1!

In the mean time, I wanted to provide an ebook by our friends at LinkedIn on proven strategies from some of the world’s top sales professionals – and at least one knuckle dragging sales guy…

 

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We’re All in Sales – Like It or Hate It

I reluctantly rolled back on a bench at my local YMCA at 5:05am Friday.  I returned home to Nashville at 11pm the evening before completing a 4-day bender of a business trip.  I was now preparing for one of those “check the box” workouts.

As I stretched, delaying the inevitable workout, I heard the ring of my phone through my ear buds.  When I pulled the phone from my pocket, the caller ID glowed “Unavailable.”  My heart stopped – the only person who disguised their phone number and would call at 5am was my mom.  This is bad.  I answered, “Ma, what’s wrong?!”

After what felt like a full minute elapsed, I heard the sweetest motherly British accent say “Uh, Um, Mr. Crowley – I found your healthcare sales mentor website and I must learn to flog a techie product.”  (Insert awkward pause.)  “Excuse me, my name is Emma Doubtfire.”

Ok, that’s not Mom and what did she say?

After an hour of listening to a dialect so thick that I felt like she was speaking Mandarin, I figured out Emma’s problem.

First, she didn’t calculate time zones properly.

Second, Emma (not her real name) is a product owner for an Electronic Medical Records company in the UK.  She was previously a Practice Manager at a dental practice for 20 years.  After she successfully implemented the EMR into her practice, she was recruited by the company and was hired as a subject matter expert.

To date, her job was to conduct demos of the software to leads provided by the outside sales team.  Recently, management informed her that she would receive a quota and would be responsible for flogging – British for selling.

WE'RE ALL IN SALES

Emma was petrified!  During our conversation, she toggled between anxious nervousness when contemplating a quota then dove into a depressed state as we discussed her fear of rejection.

After she calmed down I asked a series of questions:

  • How do you convince your husband to do things he is resistant to do?
  • When you were a practice manager, how did you convince your doctors to give up the comfort of paper charts for an EMR?
  • In life and work, what is the greatest barrier you face when trying to convince people to change?
  • How do to get stubborn people to see things through your lens?

As we talked about life and work, she began to see that our success boils down to our ability to motivate others.  As much as I wanted to deliver the punch line, I refrained.

After several hours, the light bulb went off – “Brilliant!  We’re all in sales, whether we like it or not!”

Some people sign up for our line of work because they enjoy the thrill of the sale.  I withstand the constant rejection knowing when I win, the victories are so much more meaningful and rewarding.

Others loathe selling and salespeople.  They believe it’s beneath them.  They think of sales as sleazy and slimy.  That mindset is antiquated and is rooted back to when salespeople were in control.

In the past, when a buyer wanted information on a product – they had to go through the salesperson.  Today’s buyer is empowered with unlimited information about our product, our company and our people.  They are socially connected and networked sharing their experiences – both positive and negative.

The sleazy salesman with slicked back hair and pit stains is no longer effective because buyers can cut them out of the buying process.  The good news for the rest of us is that image will continue to dissipate as today’s salesman evolves.

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So how do you get comfortable with selling when you’ve never be trained, held a quota or dealt with constant rejection?  Here are three ways to overcome sales anxiety:

  1.  Read – Some of the greatest business minds in the world spend years putting all their thoughts and advice in a book.  You can absorb decades of their experience in a few hours. Here is a list of my must read sales books and what’s on my to-read list.
  2.  Make rejection a goal – When I began this website, my goal was to get a hater.  I knew that if my message was heard by enough people, eventually I’d find a troll that wouldn’t like my message and hide under the anonymity of the Internet.  By making a negative outcome a goal, I was excited the day I received my first hate mail because I was reaching enough people with my message.
  3.  Focus on problem finding rather than problem solving – Old school sales trainers attempt to persuade new sales reps into believing they aren’t salespeople – they’re problem solvers.  This comes from a sales technique whereby the rep asks a litany of questions to prospective buyers to elicit a particular pain point.  When the buyer sites a pain point addressed by the product, the rep demonstrates how product is the perfect cure.  Here’s the problem, buyers know what you’re doing.  They’ve lived with that pain point and found workarounds.  Worst yet, your competition was just in the office claiming to solve the same pain point even better, faster or cheaper than your product.  Spend time learning the customer’s business.  Dig deep to find the customer’s hidden problems.  Look for problems in the unforeseen future.  Seek to understand the problems of the whole organization, not just the buyer.

The ability to find real problems is a skill Emma brings to the table that her competition could never provide.  As a subject matter expert she has insight that would take years for a “salesperson” to develop.

If you’re new to sales or just got handed a quota, embrace it.  You’ve done this before – you just didn’t realize it.  Or maybe you didn’t want to admit it.

So how’d Emma get my phone number?  LinkedIn.  Check out this post on keeping your contact info up-to-date in LinkedIn.

If you found this helpful, please share it or comment below.  If you didn’t, let me know that as well.  It would help me hit my hater quota!

Must Read Sales Books

This is a dynamic look at my favorite sales books.  How do I determine if they are my favorite?  The number of times I listen to them.  Each one has been listened to numerous times.

New to Sales?  Contemplating a career in sale?

TJPTJPThe Joshua Principle by Tony Hughes

Illustrates the effort and desire that goes into being a sales professional.  Read if contemplating a profession in sales.

 

 

 

TSIH

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Embracing sales and how to avoid sales clichés.  Read after going through sales training.

 

 

 

Breaking down the sales process…

TLRBS

 The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeff Gitomer

Breaks complex sales processes down to easy to understand nuggets and how to use them for success.

 

 

 

TPOS

The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy

Understanding the inner motives of buyers and sellers and how to create alignment between the two.

 

 

 

8020

80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

How to focus on what moves the needle fastest.  This was a particular weakness of mine.

 

 

 

 

SWW

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Move beyond features and benefits and learn how to craft a unique and inspiring sales message.

 

 

 

TCS

The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson et al

Based on comprehensive study of sales professionals that identifies what the best reps do to separate from the pack.

 

 

Classic sales books that withstand the test of time…

TGR

Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Plan for success.  The first audio book I ever listened to on self-improvement and I’ve listened to it dozens of times since.

 

 

 

 HTWFHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Title explains it all.  Sales is about changing people’s beliefs and habits.  This book shows you how.

 

 

 

Here’s my to-read (listen) list:

 3VCThree Value Conversations by Tim Riesterer

I heard the author on a podcast and really enjoyed his science backed insight.

 

 

 

 

 

PA

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

I’ve seen PowerPoint kill an audience and want to learn how to present in the new millennium.

 

 

 

JJJRH

Jab, Jab Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

I’ve listened to Gary Vee’s podcast for years and I want to understand how this man prints money.

 

 

 

TUSM

The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

Recommended by Ralph Barsi whom I follow and enjoy on Twitter.

 

 

The “Weed Out Course” for the Subpar Sales Person

Ask anyone with a professional degree about their “weed out” class in college and you’re bound to hear…

  • Med School – Organic Chemistry
  • Engineering – Calculus II or Intro to Mechanical Engineering
  • Law School – Civil Procedure or Contracts

Weed out courses are unofficially designed to be ridiculously difficult and force students to reconsider advancing within a specific degree track.  They are a sneak peek of the effort required to receive a degree in a desired field.

So what’s the weed out course for the subpar sales person?

In a profession with misconceived prerequisites of having a “good personality” or being “well spoken”, there’s nothing designed to help people understand the level of skill and effort that goes into being a true sales professional.

-WEED OUT CLASS-

Sales doesn’t require an advanced degree or a professional certification – (I hope to change that in the future).

Rarely do training programs force candidates through the psychological rigors required to be successful in sales.

No college class can prepare you for the day your manager says, “I like you, but if you don’t hit quota next month- you need to find a different job.”

Of the 479 accredited business programs in the US – only 101 have sales based curriculum. Until universities recognize the need for intensive sales based programs, The Joshua Principle is the best alternative to a “weed out” class for the subpar sales person.

Author Tony Hughes masterfully weaves a fictional storyline about a struggling rookie salesman and his secret mentor with concepts behind the RSVP SellingTM framework:

Relationships:  Do you have the right business relationships with the right people at the right level of the organization?  Do your relationships garner the intelligence and insight that your competition lacks?

Strategy:  Do you have an effective strategy building the right relationships and understanding the competition (both internal and external).  The scariest competitor is often the threat of complacency – the customer doing nothing.

Value:  Features and benefits are not value.  Have you utilized the intelligence gleaned from your relationships with the right people to create compelling business value?  Have you demonstrated the cost of doing nothing?  Have you convinced the customer that lowest price is not best value?

Process:  Do you know the customers buying process?  What is their process for evaluating, selecting, approving and procuring the ideal product?  How do they asses risk with your product/service?  Has the customer validated your implementation process?

RSVP_Button_Clockwise

These concepts are far from novel but are often overlooked or skipped by even the most senior of sales professionals.

The barrier to entry for sales jobs is almost nonexistent.  Yet the skills, effort and mental fortitude needed to become an elite sales professional is unmatched by any other profession. The storyline of The Joshua Principle holds your undivided attention while articulating the energy required to become a Sales Master.

The Joshua Principle is my default book recommendation for anyone thinking about a career in sales.

3 Reasons New Years Resolutions are Worthless

Did you know…

Why is it so difficult to stay committed?

3 Reasons New Years Resolutions Are Worthless

 

Truth is that I failed at goal setting for years.  Every New Years I’d write down some vague and lofty goals.  Lose weight.  Make more money.  Get a promotion.

I’d throw the paper in a drawer and set out to conquer the world.  Months later I’d come across the same piece of paper tucked in my drawer and realize I was no closer to accomplishing any of my goals and often had gone in reverse.

A few years ago, I set out to understand the psychology of effective goal setting.  After reading dozens of books, I realized there were 3 reasons I failed:

  1. Neglect to reflect – While the ability to not dwell on the past is a redeeming character trait, reflection does serve a purpose.  A Harvard study showed that we learn more from reflecting on our past than the experience alone.  I like to reflect because it helps me connect motivation to a goal.  By thinking about the embarrassment of taking my my shirt off at the pool last June, I’m able to find the motivation to get into the gym and lose 20 pounds before our spring break trip to the beach.
  2. Lack of a process – We’ve all heard about setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Result-oriented, Time-bound.  While this is the beginning of a system, I needed an in-depth framework that asks questions to draw out the motivation behind setting goals.  I wanted a repeatable process to guide me from reflection to setting motivational big picture goals and then help me break it down into SMART increments.
  3. Absence of a tracking tool – I find it difficult to stay on task with all the distractions of life.  In the beginning, I neglected to write down my goals (see why this is important in this post).  Once I began documenting my aspirations, I struggled to keep them top of mind.  I need a honing beacon to keep me focused on the big picture and avoid the minutia that adds little value.

Despite countless books and articles about the importance of setting goals on quality of life, I couldn’t find any goal setting systems that fit my needs.  Over time, I developed my own process for creating and tracking goals and I want to share it with you.

Since I’ve begun creating/using this system 5 years ago, I’ve accomplished more than the previous 20 years.  If you follow this process, I’m confident you’ll be able to achieve your wildest goals.

Click here to download the 7 Steps to Mastering Your Destiny Workbook.

7-Steps-to-Master-Your-Destiny-Cover

If you download the 7 Steps to Mastering Your Destiny, you’ll find one “Key to Success” is recruiting and involving other people in your dream.  There is a direct correlation to the number of people involved in your goal and the probability of success.  Not only does developing constituents provide additional insight and assistance, it increases accountability.  You’ll be less likely to lose sight of your goals if others are checking in on your progress.  So, I’d like to involve you in my goals for this year.

In my previous post, I talked about my goal of earning 10x in the next 10 years – this is a component of my own BHAG – Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal.

Here are two of my “Stories”:

  1.  As a business leader, I will increase my knowledge and become an industry expert by consuming 1 book per week.
  2.  As a Healthcare Sales Professional, I will develop meaningful relationships based on value by helping others achieve their goals through blogging about my reading.

Here are my top “To-Do’s”:

  1.  Upgrade audible.com membership from Gold to Platinum package by 1/1/16
  2.  Reserve 6-8am every Saturday mornings for blogging 1/1/16
  3.  Attend a personal development emersion seminar 4/1/16
  4.  Enroll and complete Bryan Harris’s 10k Subscribers Series in May 2016
  5.  Increase www.justjohncrowley.com subscribers to 100,000 by 12/31/16

I’m telling you about my goals because it will keep me accountable when I want to take a break.  When I don’t feel like thinking through the correlation between a book and my business, I’ll remember that I made this declaration.  I hate not meeting an obligation so I’m enlisting your help to keep me accountable.

Question: So tell me, what’s your BHAG? Send me an email at john@diversifyhealthcare.com and I’ll check back to make sure you’re staying strong. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If You Want to Increase Your Income 10x, Read This Before New Years Day

I always blow out my personal budget during the holiday season.

Regardless of how much I commit to staying on plan during the holidays, I always make poor spending decisions.  I’ll spend way too much on my kids, book an extra vacation with Amy or splurge on a suit that’s “on sale”.  Every year, it’s the same story.

This year I’m changing my approach.  Rather than hone my budgeting skills, I’m going to increase my income.  By December 23, 2025, I will earn 10x more than I did in 2015.

What’s the secret to earning 10x in 10 years?

IF YOU WANT TO

I just finished reading, What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School. Author Mark McCormack writes about a decade long goal setting study done with Harvard MBA students.

McCormack describes a 1979 study where interviewers asked recent Harvard MBA graduates about their goal setting habits.  Here’s what they found:

  • 84% had not set goals.
  • 13% had goals but lacked documentation.
  • 3% had well defined goals and committed their goals to paper.

Ten years later, in 1989, researchers followed up with the same students.  Check this out:

  • The 13% of students that had undocumented goals earned 2x more than the 84% without goals.
  • The 3% of students who committed their goals to paper earned 10x more than the other 97% combined!

So why don’t people commit to writing down their goals?

I believe there are two reasons:

  1. We don’t believe it matters. See above for the reason why that mindset is incorrect.
  2. We are afraid to fail.

We live in a society where the simple reference of failure makes people sweat. We wordsmith “fail” out of our vocabulary to give people a sense of optimism. We babysit ourselves with terms like fell short, insufficient and could do better.

As a result, our fear of failure fosters a lack of commitment to big goals. We falsely think avoiding commitment to big goals prevents failure.

I believe not using the word “fail” makes us weak. Rather than empower people, it provides a false sense of safety for the ignorant. Avoiding honest dialogue forces the keen to change the altitude of their goals.

This year I challenge you to dream big. Shoot for something only your mother thinks you’re capable of achieving.  Increase your income so much that you no longer have to budget for anything.

Do yourself a favor right now, open your calendar and block off 4 hours next week for “Goal Setting”.

Next Monday 12/28/15, I’ll share the goal setting process I have followed for the last 5 years and will give you resources to prepare yourself for your best year yet!

7 Steps to Master Your Destiny Workbook Cover

One of my 2016 goals is to reach 100,000 people with my blog.  If you like what you’ve read, click here to have these nuggets delivered directly to your inbox once a week. I would be grateful if you helped me hit 100,000 by sharing this with your colleagues.  I know you’re reading this now and thinking I’ll never know if you share it but I will – please, share it on LinkedIn.  I may not be Santa but I know when you share it and I know when you don’t!

 

How to Take a Professional LinkedIn Headshot Using a Smartphone

Want a good laugh?  Spend a few hours looking at the LinkedIn profiles of Healthcare Sales Professionals.  It’s shocking.

We make a living knowing that we only get one chance at a first impression.   Our customers are engaging with our online profiles before they ever sit down to meet.  Yet many of us have awful, some blatantly inappropriate, LinkedIn head shots.

A professional photo shoot can set you back hundreds of dollars.  However, with a little planning and advice, you can take a professional looking LinkedIn headshot using a smartphone.

HOW TO TAKE A PROFESSIONALHEADSHOT WITH A SMARTPHONE

Admittedly, I was once a LinkedIn headshot offender.  It wasn’t until someone called me out that I took notice.  Let’s check out my first LinkedIn headshot…

Old-Head-Shot

 

 

My amateur photoshopping skills make my daughter’s dress look like a doily draped over my shoulder.   If you’re trying to figure out whether the pattern in the background is from a funeral home curtain or my grandmother’s couch – both are wrong.  The point – all the stuff in the picture takes the focus off me.  It also says that I don’t care enough about my own brand to take a professional headshot.

 

 

Below are the 7 Deadly Sins of LinkedIn Headshots.  If you’re guilty of any of the following, strongly consider taking a new photo:

  1. Glamour shots – Employers don’t want to hire an ex-underwear model no matter how good you look in your Fruit-of-the-Looms.  Wind swept hair just doesn’t belong on LinkedIn.
  2. Group shots – You’re a family man and have adorable kids – that’s fantastic.  Keep the pictures of your family on Facebook.  LinkedIn is a professional network.
  3. Cropping – You looked amazing at your best friends wedding but the bridesmaid’s arm in the background takes the attention away from you.  I’ve seen a few cropped photos that work but you must get any sign of other people out of the frame.
  4. Trophy shots – Posing with dead animals is never acceptable.  Don’t do it, ever.
  5. Star stalking photo – No matter your political stance or how much you love Donald Trump, star selfies are no good.
  6. Cluttered backgrounds – While the grey, blue or library backdrop from your elementary school pictures aren’t great, it’s better than standing in front of a wall covered in pictures that take the attention away from you.
  7. No picture at all – People are 11 times more likely to accept your LinkedIn invitation in you have a picture.  Don’t be a grey silhouette.

To help you look like a pro on a rookie’s budget, I worked with a professional photographer to develop the guide below on How to Take a Professional Headshot Using Your Smartphone.  Click the image to download the free guide.

How-to-Take-a-Professional-LinkedIn-Headshot-with-a-Smartphone

 

 

Now that you have a professional photo, use it everywhere – it’s your personal brand.  You’ll be shocked how many people will recognize you in public when you use an up-to-date and professional headshot.

 

 

One of my 2016 goals is to reach 100,000 people with my blog.  If you like what you’ve read, click here to have these nuggets delivered directly to your inbox once a week.  I would be eternally grateful if you helped me hit 100,000 by sharing this with your Healthcare Sales colleagues.

If You Want 37% More Sales, Read This on Thanksgiving

For many years, I told myself that I’d be happy when I made $10,000,000.  That was my number – my big, hairy, audacious goal.  $10M was the amount of money I needed to have in the bank to take care of my family, my mother and my in-laws for the rest of my life.  I wouldn’t have to work and could spend all my time with Amy and the girls.

What I neglected to realize was my lofty goal didn’t correlate to happiness.  I was so busy doing the work to get me to $10M that I never took time to thank the people who helped me along the way.  I didn’t appreciate anything.

IF YOU WANT

It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom a few years ago that I felt gratitude.  A previous employer, with deep pockets, sued me for $10M (how’s that for irony) for breach of my non-compete and confidentiality.

Legal and personal bills mounted fast.  I was jobless and unemployable.  I was doing manual labor to make ends meet.

For the first time in my life I started to appreciate the little things – the sound of leaves blowing in the wind, the smell of coffee in the morning, my daughter’s contagious laughter.

All the energy I spent thinking about how to get to $10M was replaced with being thankful for the things a Judge couldn’t take from me – my family.

I just finished reading Shawn Achor’s book – The Happiness Advantage:  The 7 Principals of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work where he reveals extensive research on positive psychology.  His most notable discovery was the impact of starting with a positive outlook – what he calls the Happiness Advantage.

In the book, he shows that sales increase 37% and you’re 40% more likely to receive a promotion when you start with a positive outlook rather that waiting for future success to determine your happiness.

This phenomenon happens in Healthcare Sales every day.  If I just hit my budget this month, I’ll be happy.  If my product was on formulary, then I’ll be able to sell.  As soon as “they” fix that system issue, I’ll be able to land that mega account.

It’s easy to lose perspective.  We have great jobs but there are 7 million unemployed US citizens right now.  We’re in an a business that improves patient’s quality of life.  We even save lives – there are people getting ready to have Thanksgiving dinner with their families right now because of the work we do.

The next time you get bit by the negative bug, take a step back and think.  Consider just how lucky you are to be in this country, in this industry, during these times – and be thankful.

So how do you develop the Happiness Advantage?  Here are some simple recommendations to start the train of gratitude:

  1. Begin your day with gratitude – First thing in the morning, write down 3 new things that you are grateful for in your life.  Nothing is too small or insignificant.
  2. Exercise – If you can’t get a full workout in, just go for a 15 minute walk.  Be grateful that you have two legs.  No legs, be thankful you have two lungs.
  3. Pay it forward – Be intentional about preforming random acts of kindness.  Leave a short thank you note for an unexpecting colleague.  Buy a newspaper from the homeless guy on the corner.

I never made $10M.  However, since my gratitude wake-up call, I have accomplished more than ever before.  Most importantly, I’ve realized that money won’t bring me happiness.  Happiness has brought me riches.

I want to thank my family for believing in my crazy ideas (even the ones that get me sued).  I am very fortunate to work with so many amazingly smart and dedicated people at Cardinal Health.  I’m eternally grateful for all of the people that take the time read and comment on my posts (even the ones that disagree with me).  Your feedback fuels my fire to serve our community of Healthcare Sales Professionals.  Happy Thanksgiving!

My Conference Checklist: 21 Ways to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows

Whether your attending a trade show as an exhibitor or and attendee – preparation is the difference between a draining or invigorating event.  A bad conference is not only mentally and physically exhausting, it’s devastatingly expensive.

According to the Exhibitor trade magazine, the average cost to fly you to a venue and cover your daily expenses for 3 days is $2250!  That doesn’t even include the cost of the exhibit, materials or sales lost from your vacant sales territory.

MY CONFERENCE CHECKLIST

I used to dread conferences.  I rarely found new leads and spent the entire time giving away “one more pen for my kid” to wealthy foreign physicians.

When I discovered social media my experience changed.  I began connecting with speakers and attendees before the event and discovered a new way to network.  The majority of my conference work is now done long before I ever board a plane and made easier than ever with technology.

This guide will explain how to pre-conference plan for a worthwhile experience and the best ways to follow-up for lasting results.  Click here to download my Conference Checklist.

4-6 WEEKS BEFORE THE SHOW

  1. Define your goals:  Want to close some lingering open deals?  Generate more leads?  Develop strong connections with customers?  Network with experts in your field?  Meet the people that influence you?  Look for your next job?  Set your goal and define the tactics to accomplish it.
  2. Make restaurant reservations early:  Don’t wait until you have commitments from your targets to book a restaurant.  Great establishments fill up early.  It’s easier to cancel a reservation than to find something last minute.
  3. Schedule meetings:  Take advantage of having multiple influencers in one location by scheduling meetings well in advance.  Obtain a list of attendees and prioritize whom you want to meet.  Invite high priority targets to dinner or lunch meetings.
  4. Leverage your executives:  Schedule appointments with high priority leads and customers to meet your executives.  Use them to strengthen your corporate relationships and add value.
  5. Get Social:  Search for hashtags specific to the event and connect with people attending.  Engage with speakers and attendees ahead of time to develop rapport and get acquainted.
  6. Read the conference material:  I once missed a reception with Marcus Lemonis (one of my business heroes) because I waited until the flight to read the event materials and didn’t RSVP in time.  Don’t miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
  7. Broadcast your presence:  Add a line to your email signature informing recipients to visit your booth.  Refer to my Conference Checklist for an example. Even if you’re not attending, you’ll drive traffic and marketing will love you.
  8. Order business cards:  A rush order for business cards the week of the conference is a waste of money.  Plan ahead to ensure you don’t look like a dolt with outdated or generic business cards.

1 WEEK BEFORE THE SHOW

  1. Brush up on industry news:  It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day jobs and lose sight of the big picture.  Take some time to search your industry trends and come to the show thinking and talking on a macro level.
  2. Craft thoughtful questions:  Look like a thought leader when a speaker opens the floor to questions by preparing a thought provoking inquiry ahead of time.  Craft 3 questions you can use as ice breakers and even conduct your own market research.  Refer to my Conference Checklist for examples of my favorite.
  3. Research fellow exhibitors:  Investigate companies with booths to identify what they’re doing of interest and who you may want to meet in-person.  I enjoy finding other companies doing interesting work in my space.
  4. Create a template with CTA’s:  When you make a connection at a show, follow-up immediately with a Call-To-Action.  Prepare template emails that are ready to send from your smartphone immediately after meeting a potential lead.  My favorite CTA is to schedule a meeting/call/demo with the lead while standing at the booth.  Refer to my Conference Checklist for some examples.
  5. Prep your wardrobe:  Don’t be the guy that realizes he packed on a few pounds when it’s too late to get a new suit or have it tailored.  Remember to wear comfortable shoes.  A full day on carpeted concrete feels like a full day on concrete.  Your puppies will thank you.
  6. Power up:  I hate being tethered to a power outlet recharging my phone instead of networking.  Invest in enough battery backups to keep you mobile and charged the entire day.

SHOW TIME

  1. ABC = Always Be Connecting:  Get right mentally to develop some deep bonds.  Making 100 superficial connections is not as valuable as 10 meaningful relationships.
  2. Be a connector:  One of my favorite trade show strategies is to connect people I meet with other people in my network.  Building your network bank account by helping others in need will make you a networking millionaire.  Be sure to email your friend and ask permission to connect them with your new contact to protect against networking bankruptcy.
  3. Be a promoter:  Most speakers have a brand or product they’re trying to promote.  Leverage your network by publicizing their content to your connections.
  4. Identify 3 takeaways:  There’s nothing worse than leaving a show with a notebook of great ideas only to return to work and squander your learnings.  What are the 3 things you’re going to implement immediately?

AFTER THE SHOW

  1. Be immediate: The latest you should follow-up with a new contact is the evening after meeting.  Any later, don’t bother.  They won’t remember you.
  2. Be memorable:  What did you say to your lead that was remarkable?  Make reference to help them remember you amongst all their interactions.  Refer to my Conference Checklist for examples.
  3. Report-Out:  Want to stand out in your organization?  Send an email to the people responsible for coordinating the conference thanking them for the opportunity.  Include a list of the people you met, positive outcomes and key learnings.  Refer to my Conference Checklist for a list of report-out questions to answer.

Not only will following this guide make your conference successful, it will be enjoyable.  To download my free Conference Checklist, click here.

Question: What did I miss?  How do you make conferences worthwhile? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to Avoid the Sales Chills

Have you ever experienced the “douche chills”?  Not the most professional saying, but the term popularized in the Arrested Development sitcom, perfectly describes self-inflicted embarrassment.  Watch this clip for an example.

I experience this horrifying phenomenon when reflecting upon my past as a young, hungry and overly zealous sales rep.  I call these moments “sales chills”.

HOW TO AVOID SALES CHILLS

I recently attended a fantastic sales conference tailored to sales leaders.  As an attendee, I found myself in a role reversal.  Sales professionals hocking their wares were courting me.  I’m accustomed to being the hunter but in this rare occurrence, I was the hunted, the target, the prospect, the lead.

Selling is a daunting task and profession.  Now imagine pitching to someone who sells for a living.  Not easy.  During the multi-day conference, I experienced many great sales pitches and commended those sales professionals.

Then, there were the “sales chill” moments.  It wasn’t the actual pitches that caused these awkward periods of time.  It was reflecting upon the younger version of me and having flashbacks of making the same mistakes.

These were pitches that I buried deep in my memory, promising to never replay them again.  Now, deja-vous brought them to the forefront of my hippocampus.

During the conference, there were 4 common themes that caused me to break out in cold sweats.  If you are guilty of any of these techniques, reconsider your approach:

  • Regurgitating features and benefits – You’re not going to form a lasting impression by dumping your 30-second pitch on a potential customer.  Engage with well-constructed questions that qualify the customer and better understand their situation.  Asking smart questions conveys experience, authority and signals that you will be a good partner.
  • Slinging ambiguous jargon – Just because Marketing uses big words that sound cool doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t believe me?  Next time you’re at a conference, grab the sponsor booklet and read through the company/product overviews (written by Marketing).  I guarantee you’ll have no idea what the products do or what value they deliver.  Talk at a 4th grade level.  Simple wins in sales.
  • “We’re the best” – I had 3 competing companies tell me their product was “the best”.  How do you honestly know that you’re the best if you’ve never used the competitor’s product?  Avoid talking about the competition and sell on your product’s merit.  Let me be the judge.  As soon as you say you’re the best, I think you’re the worst.
  • Lack of preparation – It was clear who did their homework prior to the conference.  I received LinkedIn connections, one-on-one meeting invites and offers to go to dinner.  The rest of the companies relied on baiting me to hear their pitch in exchange for swag.  Lack of preparation is just plain lazy.  Be better than that.

I now realize these as sales killers because I was fortunate to have strong managers point them out.  I find comfort in thinking even the great Zig Ziglar had “sales chill” moments.

The key is to becoming a remarkable Healthcare Sales Professional isn’t to avoid making awkward mistakes.  It’s to recognize when you do and learn from them.  Just try not to do it during a recorded training session.

Question: Do you recall any techniques you employed in the past that cause you to break out in cold sweats now? You can leave a comment by clicking here.