Build Your Business By Fulfilling Needs

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There were 150 people in the room, and all eyes were on me.  I was the keynote speaker at a major annual meeting for the American Diabetes Association.  My program was entitled, “The Power of Choice.”  The staff and volunteers that were present had made a series of choices that brought them to this place.  These people are dedicated to a cause.  They needed the well deserved “pat on the back,” and a motivating message to carry as they moved forward in their quest.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.  In the past eight years the number of people with diabetes has grown 50%!  The good news is that the ADA has seen this trend developing.  Eight years ago only 50% of the people with diabetes even knew they had it.  Today less then one third of the people with diabetes don’t know it.

The ADA has worked hard over the years to fulfill the needs of the people in their market.  They have stepped up fundraising, staffing, the number of volunteers, and the depth of the services they offer.

Their success in educating people with diabetes is based on their ability to anticipate needs and then fulfill them.

You can build your business by fulfilling needs as well.  Being effective at fulfilling your clients needs is based on three things.

1. Understand your client’s current needs.

What needs do your clients currently have?  Do you know all of them, or just some?  Are you a resource for the entire range of needs that your clients have?

Many business professionals take the course of least resistance.  They do one or two things well and then focus on those two things.  If your clients have more needs, then you should develop the skills necessary to be a resource for those needs as well.  If your clients needs extend beyond the scope of what you do, a network of resources for them may be a powerful solution.

The best way to discover all of your clients needs is to ask them.  Find out what they like about the services and products you offer.  Also, ask them what other services or products would be of benefit to them.

Take your clients to lunch.  Interview them.  Learn about their professional and personal needs.  Now find ways of servicing those needs.

2. Understand the future needs of your client.

Many times, a client’s needs will change over time.  They may anticipate the changes that they will face, but they may not.  It is your responsibility to have the vision necessary to understand what is coming.

Needs change for several reasons.  Your client’s needs are affected by the economy, changes in technology, changes in government, social changes, and changes brought on by age.

New products and services expose new opportunities for you to add value to your clients.  On the other hand, changes in their business or personal life may create needs that you could fill.

Ask your clients open-ended questions like, “In the next three to five years, what additional investment needs do you anticipate having?”  Give a wide range of possibilities for your clients to fill in the blanks.  Ask questions that will allow their thinking to be as broad as possible.

Each time you fill a clients needs you bring value to their life, you further a relationship, and you create an opportunity to generate referrals for your business.

3. A mindset of service.

The greatest business professionals I know always put their clients first.  They are not commission or profit focused.  They are client focused.  Sure, they want to run a profitable business, and they know that they need to be aware of the numbers and manage their company appropriately.  But, they also know that without their clients they would not be in business.

If you focus on your clients, their needs, and how your products or services can fulfill their needs, then you will almost automatically generate profits.

Sometimes you may need to recommend someone else’s product as the best alternative for your client’s specific needs.  Ultimately, having a mindset of service means always putting your client’s needs before your own.

Don’t think for one minute that a client doesn’t recognize this attitude.  They will be grateful.  They will be loyal.  They will refer other business your way.

By understanding your clients current needs, future needs, and having a mindset of service you will fulfill more of their needs, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Listen Your Way To Business Growth

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Mary had the soccer ball lined up on her right foot.  Then, in an instant she sent a pass to Shawn.  It was right on target.  Shawn received the ball and passed it to Tom.  Tom passed it to Suzy who passed it to Beth.  Beth passed the ball to Bill, and he shot the soccer ball into the goal.

Sounds like a regular soccer game, right?  Well, it wasn’t.  All the kids I mentioned are blind.  I was amazed as I watched them at the Special Olympics soccer tournament I was at.  The kids could not see the ball.  They could not see their teammates.  They could not see the goal.  They could not see, but they could play.

Here’s how it worked.  The ball had a device inside that beeped.  The children could hear the beeping sound and discern where the ball was.  Their teammates would clap.  The child with the ball would hear a teammate clapping and kick the ball towards the audible target.

It was an inspiring sight.  I will remember it for some time to come.

In business you need to listen more so you can achieve success.  We tend to use our eyes and our mouth, but we don’t listen as much as we should.  You can greatly accelerate your growth by asking the right questions and become a better listener.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself and your clients.  Take stock in the answers.  Are there differences between the way you answer the questions and the way your customers answer them?  There is an old saying that says you are three people: the person you think you are, the person others see you as, and the person you actually are.  Businesses are the same way.  Successful business professionals are those people that bring all three images together in a laser like focus.

1. What is your company’s greatest strength?

We tend to focus on our weaknesses.  We try to eliminate them.  We want to improve.  We strive for perfection.  The truth is that perfection is not possible.  Excellence is.  Look for your strength and leverage it to your advantage.  Do what you do well better then anyone else.

Now, look for ways to do it even better.  Maybe there is a new twist or a new approach.  Take stock in your dominance.  Nurture it.  Develop it.  Exploit it.

2. In one sentence, can you tell what you or your company does?  Do it.

This is probably the biggest downfall of most business people.  They simply can’t state in a few short words what they do.  I don’t mean, “I sell insurance.”  That will not attract anyone.

To be effective in networking and to attract clients you need to be able to effectively communicate a Memorable Marketing Message™.  In ten seconds or less you need to be able to have a prospective client think, “I need that,” or “Tell me how you do that.”

There is an art to being able to deliver a Memorable Marketing Message.  Once you are able, your clients will be able to tell others about what you do, and you will be able to network your business to the next level.  Do you know the true value you deliver, to whom you deliver that value, and how to effectively say it?

3. What can you do to offer even greater value to your clients?

Your clients have real needs.  You probably address many of them.  Frequently, business people fail to fully understand the scope and diversity of the needs of their clients.

McDonalds recognized the need of a quick breakfast and introduced a breakfast menu.  They also recognized the need of their clients to get their food fast and get going.  This led to the concept of the drive thru window.

Your job is to apply your products or services to satisfy someone’s needs.  The better you accomplish this, the more you will build your business.

Discover more of your client’s needs and more ways to fulfill them.  Your clients will be loyal, and you will accelerate the growth of your business.

Listen not only to what you feel in your heart, but ask your clients questions and listen to what they say.  They have insights that you can use to explode your growth and get on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Better Business By The Numbers – Personal Growth

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6 Steps To Personal and Professional Success

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses
2. Never stop learning
3. Ask yourself, “Is there a better way to do this?”
4. Surround yourself with successful people
5. Share what works for you with others
6. Take action today

2 Questions

1. What is the last nonfiction book you have read?
2. What system in your life or business have you improved in the past 60 days?

1 Action Step

Connect with two people you admire for what they have achieved. Take them to lunch (you pay). Ask them the following two questions:

What is the best lesson you have learned?
If you were to start your business over today, what would you do differently?

Selling… An Open and Close Case

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There are probably as many opinions on how to be a great sales professional as there are about what products and services to sell.  And, although the art of selling has many facets that you need to master, there are two skills that, if your master them, you will see your sales success soar.

The two areas are your open and your close.  These are the bookends of selling.  Without a great open you probably will not have a change to get the process rolling.  Without a great close you will leave the selling situation with your product or service and not the order.  Mastering both skills will pay off big for you as you grow your business.

1.    The Open

All selling situations must have a beginning, an initial contact, a start to the process.  How you start things off with a client sets the tone for everything else that follows.  A great opening sequence has three major objectives.  They are:

The initial contact
Managing the process of the first impression
Establishing expectations

You must be able to get to the decision maker.  It is a waste of time to deal with anyone else.  Learn about your prospect.  Be in a position to hold a knowledgeable but brief conversation.  Remember that it’s all about them, their needs, and their problems.  It is not about you or your products and services.

Establishing trust, and a belief in your competence and expertise is a must if you are to move forward.  The way you look, how you speak, any written correspondence, and the follow up tactics you employ will all effect the first impression that your client forms.  Take ownership of this process and make sure that you look, sound, and act like the professional that they do want to do business with.

Before you finish the opening process you must leave your client with a clear set of expectations.  Where do you expect the relationship to go?  Are you able to solve their problems or address their most critical needs?  Do you have a proven track record of improving the quality of life, making your client money, increasing their personal comfort?  You must convey to your client exactly what you expect to be able to accomplish on their behalf.  You also need to set down expectations of how future meetings and communications will progress.  Of course, you will have to consider their schedule, but you want to set up a framework that will allow you to keep the process moving forward.

2.    The Close

The close is a culmination of the entire sales process.  If you have done everything right up to this point it will be much easier to close.  However, even if you have been a master of the sales process up to this point, if you do not close properly the sale won’t happen.  Sales do not just “magically” happen.  They happen for a reason and it is your job to make sure all of those reasons are dealt with.  There are four main reasons that a sale is made.  They are:

You have established a need
You have provided a quality solution
You have handled objections
You have asked for the order.

You have set up your close by establishing in your clients mind that they have a need or a pain that should be addressed.  And you should have provided a great solution for your client; one that specifically addresses that need.  Now you must be able to handle the inevitable objections that you will receive.

I know several sales professionals that meet to discuss all of the objections they hear.  Then, they work with each other discussing how they handle each objection.  No matter what product or service you sell, you will find that there are probably three to five objections that are most common.  Be prepared with several ideas on how to address these objections are presented by your client.

The final part of the close is to ask for the order.  You must specifically ask the client to buy.  Ultimately, you are not paid to prospect, present, and write proposals.  You are paid to ask for to get the order.  More sales are lost because someone just doesn’t ask the prospective client to buy.

Now, you probably will not ask the client to buy in those specific words, but you could say any of the following closing lines:

“Can we move forward on this project?”
“When would you like to take delivery of the product?”
“I know you want to start enjoying the cost savings we discussed, should I set up a time next Monday for installation or would Tuesday be best?”

You get the idea.  There are many ways to ask for the order.  The key is that you ask, and then when you do, be sure and not say another word until they respond to your questions.  If you say anything else the sale will be lost.  I suggest you reread the last sentence because that is ultimately the key to great closing.

If you work on your open and your close you will find your sales increasing, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Lead Your Business To Success

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The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
– Walter Lippmann -Twentieth century journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner. 

A good leader is able to motivate other people to perform at or above their previous best in order to produce results that will help the leader achieve his primary desires. A true leader helps others think about themselves rather than thinking about the leader. A true leader can help others succeed and thereby help himself to succeed. If you help people get what they want, then they will help you get what you want. Sometimes you can give a little and receive much in return. Of course, you need to know what it is that someone wants or needs.

A leader’s basic responsibility is to build a team whereby individual strengths are enhanced and weaknesses are reduced to insignificant levels. A good leader has the ability to develop mutual respect and motivate those around him/her. A good leader provides vision and direction for the team.

In the movie “Dave”, a look-alike is hired to impersonate the President of The United States. At first, he takes his job lightly and only does it for the money. Shortly after he starts, he asks a Secret Service Agent if he would sacrifice his life for the president and actually shield the President from gun fire. The Agent did not respond. He did not want anything to do with the impersonator. When the real President dies unexpectedly, the look-alike assumes the presidency and begins putting the good of the people before conventional politics and himself. The presidential look-alike helps the homeless and shows compassion for all people. After exposing several corrupt officials, he loses the job as “president.” Before he walks off to disappear into the crowd, the same Secret Service Agent turns to him and says: “I’d take a bullet for you.” This kind of loyalty is the result of his having exhibited great leadership qualities. He makes people feel appreciated. He puts their good above his own short term gains.

Developing good leadership qualities will enable you to motivate others and gain their assistance in your conquest of barriers as you move to achieve your primary desires. Developing into a great leader will put you on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Better Networking … Better Business

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A regular coaching client, Amy, called me the other day.  She said that her business just wasn’t growing at the rate she expected and needed.  We talked about how long she had been in business, where her sales leads were coming from, and where the majority of her business originated.

After asking Amy several questions it became apparent that Amy wasn’t getting in front of enough new people on a weekly basis to have the necessary opportunity to grow sales.  “Sales is a numbers game.  You have to meet enough people and have the opportunity to share what you do if you are going to increase your sales,” I told Amy.

The truth is that it is more then a numbers game.  The quality of the numbers is also very important.  Just putting yourself in front of bodies is a waste of time.  You want to be speaking to qualified people, people who have a need and the ability to buy.

Amy and I decided that she needed to work on her networking skills and increase her networking opportunities.  Below are the four specific areas we discussed.

1. Put yourself into situations where you can meet people.

If you are waiting for your phone to ring off of the hook you may be kidding yourself.  When it comes to networking, it may be best to start small but think big.  Look for one additional networking opportunity per week.  Don’t try to over do it.  If you add one opportunity a week that would be anywhere from 44 to 50 additional opportunities a year depending on how much time you set aside for vacations and rejuvenation.

By starting off small you have the chance to overcome any fears or apprehensions you may have.  It will also give you the opportunity to hone your skills at delivering your finely tuned marketing message.  Chamber of commerce meetings, service clubs, and trade associations are all great networking targets.  If you are involved in one chamber of commerce, maybe think about adding one or two others.  Certainly your choices will vary from community to community.

The key is to find people that have the need and the ability to buy.  They may not know that they have the need for your product or service, but you can educate them.

2. Communicate the right message.

Poor communication or communicating the wrong message may be the biggest mistake that business professionals make.  To be effective at networking you must be able to communicate a memorable marketing message in 10 seconds or less.

Do you accurately know why people buy from you?  Are you positive of the specific markets and groups of people that can best use your product or service?  Do you have the ability and confidence to deliver a message in 10 seconds or less that can catch someone’s attention, be remembered, and generate a response that will lead to business?

No matter how many additional people you put yourself in front of, if you can’t put into words the value you deliver and to whom you deliver that value, you will not be able to take advantage of those additional networking opportunities.

3. Follow-up appropriately

Just because you meet people who need your service, and you start building a relationship with them, it doesn’t mean that they will make the effort to follow-up with you.  You must be responsible to follow-up with them.

There is a difference between being a pest and thorough efficient follow-up.  When you conclude a meeting with someone always ask what the appropriate follow-up would be.  In your closing question provide your prospect with an alternative of choice for your follow-up.  This will help you maintain control and allow you the opportunity to further the process.  An example might be, “John, it was great meeting today.  What would be the best time frame to follow up?  (do not pause here) Should I call you later this week, or would next Tuesday be best?”

Either choice is good for you.  Make great notes and make the follow-up call when you promised.

4. Ask for referrals

A commonly overlooked way to network is through referrals.  Many times we simply forget to ask the people we come in contact with for the names of others who “may” need your service.  I like to use the word “may” because it is less committal on the part of the person you are asking the referral from.  If you put them at ease, they are more apt to provide you with that valuable name.

You can ask for referrals from your clients, people who don’t buy from you, and people who you just happen to meet and network with.  All of these groups of people will be willing to help you if you have taken the time to build a relationship up front.

Every time a client buys from you thank them and ask them for a referral.  Your clients like and trust you and will be willing to recommend someone else who may need your product or service.

It is not unusual for someone to not buy from you at this time, but they will believe in you enough to recommend someone who will!  Don’t overlook this valuable source of business.

At all of the additional networking opportunities you are going to go to try to meet people, and also try to get referrals from the new people you meet.  That will really maximize your return on time.

When you put all four of these networking ideas to work, your referral base will grow, your sales will grow, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Developing Great Sales Habits

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I arrived in Louisville at 9:30 AM.  Todd picked me up at the airport, and we went straight to the hotel.  I knew that it was early, but I was hoping to be able to check in and have a room to meet in with Todd.  Sitting in the lobby would work, but it wasn’t my first choice.

At check in I was greeted with a warm “good morning.”  Nancy looked up and smiled.  I explained my situation, and Nancy went to work on her computer.  “I have two rooms available to check into,” she said.  “A regular room, or for only $19 more I can put you into a suite.”

I thought momentarily and then opted for the suite.  Nancy was really trying to work with me.  She was giving me choices.  She also was moving me up to a more expensive room.

Nancy had developed some great sales habits.  Her habits led to increased sales and greater profits.  One of the quickest ways to build your business is to develop great sales habits.  Below are three powerful sales habits you can develop and use.

1. The habit of increased profitability

When you go into McDonalds they ask you if you want fries with you order, if you want to “Super Size” your order, or if you want an apple pie with your order.  They always want to increase the dollar amount of the transaction and grow their profits.

The first sale is the hardest to make, but it doesn’t say anywhere that you have to wait a certain amount of time to make the second sale.  You should always have an item or two that you can add on after you make your sale.  You have your client’s trust, and they want to do business with you.  Make the most of your time and resources.  Always look to increase your average sale.  By adding products or services to the sale, you are increasing the value that you deliver your client and growing your profitability.

2. The habit of assuming the sale

Ever hear the expression, “I picked up good vibes from her?”  We sense what others are feeling and thinking.  You need to be putting off the vibes that you believe in your product and service, that it is right for your client, and that you are anticipating that the transaction will move forward.

When you approach a selling situation with an outcome-positive mindset you will be confident, persuasive, and trusting.  Your clients will pick up on your commitment and, they will believe in your solution.  You will close more sales.

Persistence is one foundation of a great sales professional.  Your level of persistence will be significantly higher if you enter your sales relationships with an attitude of assuming the sale.

3. The habit of telling the whole story

I was working with a sales manager of a large equipment rental company.  He shared with me an incident that he experienced with one of the members of his sales team.  It seems that his sales professional lost a three million dollar client.  The sales manager asked the sales professional if he knew why he had lost the sale.  The answer was, “no.”  So, the sales manager took the representative back to the client to find out this critical information.

It turns out that the client went with the competition because the competition had a field service representative and service was of top importance for this client.  Well, my client was sick.  The client had offices all up and down the east coast of the United States.  The competitor had one service representative allocated to cover that entire region.  My client had a field service representative in each town they had an office in.  My client was in the best possible position to provide field service but lost the sale because the field sales representative did not properly educate the customer.

Never assume that your client knows what you k now.  They probably don’t fully know about your product, your company, you as an individual, or the services your organization provides.  Educate your client, and you will make the sale.

Every day you should work to hone and improve your sales skills and habits.  It takes twenty-one days to effect a habit.  Work on these three sales habits for the next twenty-one days, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Build A Better Biz By The Numbers – Superior Customer Service

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5 Steps To Superior Customer Service

1. Know who your customer really is.
2. Learn all about your customers needs.
3. Separate their “product” needs from their, “act of doing business with you” needs.
4. Design systems to address your customer’s needs and then exceed their expectations.
5. Empower your entire company to service the needs of your customers.

2 Questions For You

1. Do your customers have any needs that they are not aware of?
2. When evaluating the process that a customer uses to transact business with you, does your process make it easy or difficult for them to do business with your company?

1 Thing To Do Today

Call five customers and ask them what is the best part of doing business with you, and what is the most challenging part of doing business with you.

Creating High-Powered Sales Teams

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Becoming a great salesperson takes dedication, training, and experience.  Creating a high-powered sales team is an entirely different project.  Great sales teams can make a company very successful.  A weak sales team can bring a good company down.

Creating an environment that attracts and keeps great salespeople is challenging, but critical if you want to build a better business.  A really good sales team is more then the sum of its parts.  A high-powered sales team brings out the best in everyone on the team.  Sales professionals that did well before joining a great sales team will produce at an even higher rate when surrounded by the right people.

There are several components of a great sales team.  Below I want to discuss four of them.

Hiring

Great sales teams are filled with the right people.  Look at your existing team.  Who is doing a great job?  What characteristics do those people possess?  Can you use them as a guide to create a model that you can hire against?

Many times successful salespeople come from customers.  The people that buy from you make very good sales professionals.  They have experience buying and know what they want and need.

You should use an independent evaluation tool with potential candidates.  There are many good tools that will uncover the traits, strengths, and weaknesses of the people you interview.  A sales specific tool will provide insights as to the candidate’s aptitude towards sales.

If you interview three people, don’t just hire the best of the three.  Always have a list for criteria of the sales position you are looking to fill and then hire against that list.  If no one you interview meets your criteria or scores well on the written evaluation tool that you use, then bring in others to interview.

You invest too much time in training and building relationships with your clients to take a chance on a salesperson that doesn’t have a good opportunity to succeed.  Put your time in up front and hire right.

Training

Many companies have limited sales training.  To build a high-powered sales team you must train your people well.  Sales professionals need product knowledge, industry knowledge, sales skills, and more!  They need to know how their clients use their products and services.  They need to be very savvy about their competition.  They need to be educated as to what happens after the sale and how your company interfaces with the client throughout the entire life of the relationship.

Learning all of this knowledge requires time.  There is no quick fix.  The best companies with the best sales teams provide great training when hiring someone new, and they offer ongoing continuous education to keep their sales team at the peak of performance.

Design a training program for new hires.  You may decide to outsource some of the sales training if you cannot handle it all internally.  Then, think about how often you will need to provide ongoing sales, product, and industry training.  Don’t promise your team something and not deliver.  Be sure and follow up with a great sales training program.

Motivating

Even the great sales professionals need to be motivated.  Sure, you want to hire self-starters and people that want to achieve, but additional motivation that you provide will separate your high-powered sales force from a good or average one.

The key to motivation is to understand that everyone is motivated by different factors.  What may work for Sue might not work for John.  Be sure and try a variety of programs including, bonuses, awards, trips, recognition, and even special parking spots!

The more creative you get the more fun your team will have, and the better they will respond to your promotions.  Many sales managers forget to ask their sales professionals what they would like.  By asking your sales professionals what is of interest to them, you won’t look silly by offering a meaningless award.

The dynamics of your organization and the amounts of money that any one sales professional is responsible for will determine the magnitude of the awards you can offer.  I know of one company that provides a BMW for it’s top producer each month!

The really great sales professionals are driven to increase sales so that they can increase their own earnings, but they also like the status and recognition of winning award programs.  Mix large and small incentives into their monthly activities and watch the team’s efforts explode!

Compensating

The bottom line for most sales professionals is the bottom line.  Most sales people are in the sales field because they like people.  In sales being a people person is critical.  But, I also notice that most sales professionals have figured out that sales is a great way to make a wonderful living.

How you compensate, as well as how much compensation a sales person earns, is very important in building powerful sales teams.  Every industry is different, but you will probably want to consider fixed salary, commission, monthly bonuses, and yearly bonuses when designing your compensation program.

Most people know that they can earn more if they are on straight commission, but it is hard to find individuals willing to take the risk.  Look at what is being offered in your industry, and then think about how you can tweak the system to provide a great incentive for your sales professional and at the same time promote them to produce at a higher level and grow your bottom line.

Be sure to tie compensation into factors that they can control and should be responsible for.  Many times sales professionals are given the opportunity to adjust the price a client pays.  As the price goes down, so does the margin.  Their commission may decline as well.  It only makes sense.

Spend time building a high-powered sales organization and the return to your company will be many fold.  Sales drive most any business.  Get your sales force in high gear, and you’re on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Business Mentors

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No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.

– Ben Jonson -Sixteenth century English dramatist.

 It is difficult to improve yourself if your own set of skills is the only model you have to follow.  To reach a higher level of skills and abilities you must strive for them; but before you can strive for them, you must be able to see them in others.  See those skills and abilities in others first, then, adapt and apply them to yourself.

Someone who is a good role model performs two functions. 

         1)         He/she provides a good example of what you want to be.

         2)         He/she provides an excellent source of information and knowledge.

People who have achieved a high level of success will encourage others to go out and achieve similar success.  Take advice from people who have achieved what you want to achieve and who possess the qualities and traits of the successful person that you want to attain.  Someone who has worked for a wage all his life, will be unlikely to advise you on starting your own business.  People who have never achieved high levels of success will be hesitant to tell you to take a chance and work toward your primary desires. 

Successful people are willing to share their successes with those who show ambition.  Don’t hesitate to approach someone who is successful in your field.  They will take your interest as a compliment.  Additionally, you can shorten the learning curve and time needed for success by taking their advice.  You can attain important knowledge from books, but wise men and women give practical advice based on their experiences.  You can learn from the mistakes of others without having to make the same mistakes yourself.  This is an extremely important concept to adopt.

 I have been very fortunate to have been taught by two of the greatest salespeople I know, my father, Rubin, and Tom Hopkins.  After graduating from graduate school, I went into sales.  I trained with my father for two weeks.  It was time to go on my own and I adopted the strategy of just trying to imitate what my father did.  I knew that if I was only 50% as good at using the techniques as my father I would be considered successful.  After time, I could add my own embellishments to the system.  This plan worked for me and in a matter of months, I was the number one salesperson on a team of twelve.  In a short time, I was able to outsell the next best representative by about two to one.  One of the secrets to success is to emulate the best to get immediate and great results.  Then, and only then improve the system to become a superstar.

Later in my selling career, I was introduced to Tom Hopkins.  Tom has successfully trained over one million salespeople.  Tom is a stickler for details.  He helped me refine my selling skills by teaching me to pay attention to details.  It is the little things that can make, or possibly kill, a sale.  Just using one wrong word in your closing sequence can blow the entire opportunity.  Tom also taught the value of scripting out specific closes for any situation.  By writing out closes that are tailored to your particular industry, and then rehearsing them until they become second nature, you are prepared for almost anything the customer can throw at you.

After almost two years of rapport building with an account in Chicago I was in a position to close on a window program that would amount to over four-hundred-thousand-dollars a year.  I felt that the main obstacle to my success would be thirty-thousand-dollars of service credits the dealer was earning as rebates from his existing supplier.  I structured my pricing so I would be able to offer year-end rebates that more than offset my client’s lost credits from his former supplier.  By preparing a specific close for his possible objection, I was in position when the concern was raised by my client, to handle the objection and make the sale.

 Major corporations such as Xerox Corporation use a powerful technique called “benchmarking.”  Benchmarking allows you to gain the most from your mentor relationships.  It has become an important part of many Total Quality Management programs in recent years.  Xerox perfected the techniques in the 1970’s and used them to successfully beat back Japanese competitors producing cheaper copiers.

Benchmarking is made up of four parts:

         Identify areas that need improvement.

         Search out examples of other companies or individuals that excel in your area of interest.

         Study the techniques used by those companies and individuals to achieve  the “best in their field” status that they enjoy.

         Apply those same techniques in order to achieve significant improvements in your own performance.

If you were starting a new company and felt that in addition to your industry knowledge and good buying skills you needed improvement in internal accounting controls and marketing, you could use benchmarking to accelerate your success.  Seek out someone who exhibits excellent knowledge and use of accounting, statistics, and controls in his/her company.   Then, find someone else who has a great track record in marketing and product promotion.  Now, speak with these people and learn from them.  By carefully defining the areas where you need help and by “target benchmarking,” you will get a higher level of quality information to apply to your business.

 The best benchmark projects are those that have specific, well defined, and narrowly focused objectives.  Don’t try to analyze the big picture.  Work on specific elements of your plan.  Most of all, implement the information you obtain.  Many times people work hard to make the right connections, obtain valuable information and then do nothing with it

I continue to seek out advice from experts in any field in which I wish to excel.  If I am interested in a something, I am only interested in excelling at it.  Mentors will make the difference in your performance.  Making and learning from your own mistakes is often too costly, both in time and money.  Find people who will share their experiences and knowledge with you.  This will greatly shorten the time it takes to achieve your primary desires.