Archive - January 2017

Are you a Goal Dictator?

Warren Buffett is a truly brilliant man. Of course this is my opinion and may not be everyone’s, that’s fine but here is why I say that. Warren Buffett is a billionaire many times over. He has truly earned all of his own money and is well respected because if it.

There are many people, including him, that feel that the amount of money he has is crazy over excessive and certainly not necessary.


Since he does feel that way, not only has he committed to give half of his fortune away to charity, he has enlisted other billionaires to do the same through the Giving Pledge;


“The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the worlds’ wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”


What do I like about this? Well besides the obvious, which is helping people in need, I like it because it allows these billionaires to do something good, great in fact, by choice. Choice is a very important part of the human psyche. When we are given choices and opportunities to make them, we feel empowered and we have ownership.


How can we adopt some of this thinking into our own organizations today? Simple work with your sales people in helping them develop their own goals. I’m not talking about setting charity donation goals, though that is a great idea, I am just talking about the idea of choice.


Right now we are starting fresh with a new year, new goals. Often companies have revenue goals and from that, trickle down these numbers to their salespeople to create their goals. That would be great if that worked but I would bet money that most of you would tell me that the majority of your sales people didn’t reach that goal in which you wanted them to hit.


Why? There are several reasons. One that you can change the outcome of right now is to give them some ownership in creating their goals.

Try this. Start with how much money they need to make as well as how much they want to make. There is a difference. When I say have to make that is to pay bills and live their life. What about the other “stuff”? The stuff that gives them the motivation to do whatever it takes. What is that? If you can help them uncover it, everyone wins.


Additionally when you dictate that number, even if it could get them the “stuff”, those things that do motivate them to do whatever it takes, that exercise must be done so they can come to that realization themselves. That is important. Carving the path for someone instead of letting them carve out their own is massively different. You must let them go through this exercise. Find out what the underlying needs and wants are?


If you want help, here is a free download to walk you through it. To get started begin with you. What do you want? Why do you want it? What would it mean if you achieve it?


Remember when someone creates their own destiny and has worked through the process of how to get there, they are empowered, engaged and feel good that they made their own decisions.


And maybe if this goes well, create your own giving pledge among your sales people as well. How much would they like to give, to whom? Let’s have them share that in a sales meeting!



A World Without Salespeople

If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? I think most would say yes simply because when buyers/prospects think about “a salesperson” they don’t typically think about someone who brings real value to their organization. Why? Because most salespeople have done a poor job of really helping the prospect. Salespeople are much more concerned with showing our “value” to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible rather than diagnosing each prospects issues and trying to solve them.


Most salespeople bring to their prospects lots of information. Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, “Am I really bringing value to the prospect or just information?” If you are bringing information, then you’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your prospects time. You might as well just email your buyer the information and then go play on Facebook.


As a salesperson, if you can’t honestly and fully understand the issues you’ll need to help your customers overcome, then you really have to begin questioning the role you play. With the advent of technology and communication, the role of the salesperson has changed. If you as a salesperson have not recognized and embraced this change, then you are nothing more than a walking brochure.


Prospects and clients alike don’t want more information. They want solutions. Unfortunately, because prospects are often far too invested in their own issues, they don’t even know what their specific issues are that you may be able to solve. This is the role the salesperson needs to play — the role of helping identify the problems, whether obvious or obscure, and turning them into opportunities you can solve.


So how do you go about identifying problems? You as the salesperson must become an investigator – someone who is determined to find out what really is happening in an organization, industry and global marketplace. Asking questions is the key. “But Greta, if I show them our solutions and how we have solved them for others, they will see how we can help”. Really? How’s that working for you?

Start this process by shifting your focus. Instead of just delivering information to your customer, begin to ask more questions. When I ask clients to do this exercise, they almost always come up with these leading questions. For example; “if I could show you how to save up to 20% on your ____, is that something you would be interested in?” Seriously? When you develop a question, make sure it passes the “duh” factor. If the answer of the question could be “duh, of course”, don’t ask it.

A few things to keep in mind when developing good, thought-provoking questions are;

  • Research their organization in advance. Find out all that you can about them and the decision makers too. It’s so easy today to gather information so don’t skip this step. They will have much less respect for you if you don’t.
  • Use open ended questions. I know you’ve heard this before but it is imperative to keep this is mind. Help the prospect to think by asking questions that get them to think about the answer. Questions that begin with; “What are your thoughts on…”, ‘share with me…”, “What would happen if…” are good examples. Anything that helps them engage in a discussion with you is the basic foundation of a good question the more they are talking the more they are beginning to sell themselves. Success comes from them self-realizing they need what you have, not by you telling them.


  • Once you feel you have gathered enough information to tell them why they should use your solution, don’t. You are still not ready. Begin by summarizing what you have heard and what solutions they would need to solve the issue. Not a summary of what you can do but what they need. It must be summarized from their words and a solution they have expressed they are looking for. For example; “So what it sounds like is that you not only need a faster widget but fast enough to keep up at the accelerated pace that you are expecting to continue. Is that right?”

When you can clearly identify ways you’ve helped your buyer achieve either of these outcomes, then you will know you’re no longer the type of salesperson that buyers love to hate. Plus, you’ll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that’s a lot better than simply doling out information!

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Play at your Best Regardless of Your Competition.

My client Bobby was telling me a story yesterday about his son. His son is 12 years old is a very good tennis player, he tells me. He explained to me that when his son goes to the tennis camps, which he does in the summer and a couple times throughout the year, he plays with other kids that are at his level. They’re serious about tennis, they love tennis, and they want to win. And when Bobby’s son goes there, he does really well. Then during the year, when he plays at school, he doesn’t play so well, he misses balls, hits shots that are so easy for him during camp are much more difficult for him at school. So the interesting thing about that is what Bobby said to me is “When I watch my son play at school as opposed to at camp, I notice the difference. And I said how can that apply to me in my business?”

What Bobby said was he felt that setting yourself goals to compete at a higher level forces you to compete at a higher level. It also allows you to want to be the best that you can be. When you’re playing with people, competitors, associates, that aren’t that good, aren’t that serious, and aren’t that competitive, you just don’t have the motivation to reach to the next level. So Bobby said what he thinks that means to him is that he has to set his goals higher than he had set them before, and it doesn’t matter what his other associates have set their goals at, he needs to set his at that next level. It also means that he needs to play his best all the time, and even when something becomes easy for him, he still needs to play at the highest level. He needs to be going on all eight cylinders; he needs to be using a process that’s much better on the process all the time, not just when he’s in a difficult sales call. So I thought that was interesting that he tied both together. So what could I learn from that. Well, I thought it was first of all very introspective of him and interesting that he thought about how to take that situation and put it into business for him. But even more importantly, I thought what was truly interesting is what happens when you have others around you that compete at a higher level. We’ve all heard the saying associate yourself with smart people, and you’ll be smarter. Well, it doesn’t necessarily mean it happens through osmosis, but when you have people around you that thrive, people around you that want the best, you are going to naturally rise to the occasion. And how do you do that with a bunch of associates in your organization? Well, you can’t. You can’t control other people, but what you can control is that you’re always competing at the highest level.

Now, the most important thing is to make sure that you are always hitting the top level of your game all the time, no matter whom you’re competing with, no matter how easy you feel it is to make that sale because you are always competing with yourself. If you are always competing at the highest level, you will always get referrals to bigger and better opportunities, you will close more sales, and you’ll have the pride that you should have knowing that you did the best that you possibly could all the time. Keep that in mind. The next time you go see a prospect you say, this one’s going to be easy.


Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best selling author of “To Sell is Not to Sell”. Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more tips go to: “”


Are You Tracking the Right Stuff?

tracking photoI just finished speaking to a large CEO group this morning and I asked a very simple question. “What are you doing to track your sales people?” Several of them didn’t have an answer, but one of the men in the room spoke up. He owned a manufacturing company and said, “We track the amount of quotes that they send out on a monthly basis.” I said “Ok, tell me about that.”

“Well, we require all sales reps”, and he has sales reps around the world, “to put out a minimum of 20 quotes per month.” I said, “Ok, why do you do that?” and he looked at me with curiosity, and said, “What do you mean?” “That’s how we track what they’re doing and we know that if each one of them puts out 20 quotes, they’ll typically get six back with interest, they’ll negotiate and usually close two of them”. I said, “So you’re closing 2 of every 20?” “Well, not every 20, but pretty close, that’s pretty much our track record” I then asked “How much time are they spending on the other 18 that they don’t close?” He said, “What do you mean? They don’t spend any time on them.” I said, “Who does their quotes?” “They do.” “Who puts them together?” “They do.” “Who sends that out or presents them to the clients?” “They do.” “Who follows up?” “They do.” “Then ok, so have you ever tracked the amount of time they’re spending on the ones they don’t close?” “And a 2 out of 20 ratio is 10% and so if you think a 10% closing ratio is a good idea, I would make sure that you are hiring very very inexpensive sales reps, and just get them to throw enough quotes out there. You certainly don’t need professional sales people because you’re not looking at professionalism when you do it that way.”

This is such a common occurrence, when I talk to leaders of sales organizations. So many of them don’t have any tracking at all. So many of them just say, “I hire professionals, and they get out there, and if they don’t meet their revenue number, I get rid of them.” “Ok, that’s one way of going about it, but you’re supplying no tools to them, no coaching, no mentoring, no leading and that’s not the right thing to do. You take a big chance there.” So I do admire the fact that he’s tracking something, though he is tracking the wrong things. You don’t want to track the amount of quotes, proposals, whatever you call them in your world. You don’t want to track those, because anybody can throw a bunch of proposals and quotes out there and see what sticks. You might as well sit back in your office and sent ‘em on out. What you need to do is not send any proposals or quotes out until you actually have a conversation with somebody. It is imperative to pre-qualify every opportunity, confirm that they have issues that you know you can solve with your product or service, you have had some level of discussion about investment so not to spring that on them in the proposal and finally a true understanding the solutions that you’re going to provide. Most importantly, and most commonly missed, you know when they get that proposal, what they’re going to do with it. Who’s going to be looking at it? Who are they, and if they’re happy with the proposal, what is going to happen on the other side of that?

If you don’t know those things, and your sales people don’t know those things, you shouldn’t be putting proposals out in the street. Depending on what kind of company you have and what you do, you could be spending a lot more time and money than you think developing recommendations and proposals, getting quotes, putting numbers and things together.

It is a huge waste of salespeople’s time to throw a bunch of quotes and proposals out there and just keep following up on them until you either exhaust the client or the salesperson.

Maybe, they do buy 2 out 20, it’s probably less than that. Either way 2 out of 20, a 10% closing ratio is shameful, absolutely shameful.   Your proposal should never get into the hands of anyone until;

Number 1, you know what their issues are, you know what their needs are and you know you can solve them and you have an idea of what solutions you will use to solve them.

Number 2, You have had a discussion of what the approximate dollar amount would need to be for you to come up with a solution to solve their problem.   You don’t have to give the number but you had to have some level of investment discussion and

Number 3, in my opinion most importantly, is never give anyone a presentation or a proposal or a quote until you know exactly what they’re going to do, once you presented to them, if they like it. We all know what they’re going to do if they don’t like it. So if they do, what is their process?

The CEO who owns the manufacturing company is a very bright man. He has processes in place for everything and I admire that, but the process he has in place for tracking his salespeople is poor, and if I were grading him on it, he would get an F.

Make sure that you keep your proposals back; you hold your proposals and don’t show them to anyone until they qualify and deserve to see them. Proposals never sell. The sales should be almost complete before you make your presentation, and your presentation or proposal or quote is merely the proof statement of what you already discussed. If that’s not what is happening you’re doing it backwards.

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