Get Your Free eBook

GET IT NOW! Rory Vaden eBook

Sign up to receive my Daily Discipline blog posts via e-mail and get a copy of my popular e-mini book of quotes FREE.

Get a free Rory Vaden e-book!

Here’s What You Don’t Know About Sales

Everyone is in sales.

Why?

Not just because we’re almost all involved in some way at some point in our life actually increasing revenues, asking for a raise, gathering donations, helping to keep a customer, or literally calling on prospects and collecting payment.

Sales is all that but sales is much more than that.

Sales, the study of sales, and the art of selling extends far beyond issues related to just gathering money – even though that’s traditionally what we all think about.

Sales is the psychology of moving people to take positive action.

Sales is studying, understanding, and implementing strategies to help someone create change in their life.

Sales is compelling someone to go from where they are to a better place they could be.

Sales isn’t just about overcoming objections; sales is about doing the genius work of influencing someone to break free of the inertia in their life of how they’ve always done things.

Sales is about inviting someone to engage in the process of improving their own situation.

Sales is about challenging someone to break free of their comfort zone to live a better life.

So if you’re a teacher trying to get students to learn….

If you’re a doctor trying to get patients to change their lifestyle…

If you’re a parent trying to get your kids to brush their teeth…

If you’re a recruiter trying to get someone to join…

If you’re any kind of a coach…

Or any kind of a campaigner…

Or any kind of evangelist…

Or any kind of leader…

Then you are in sales!

Because you are engaging in the process of moving people to take positive action.

And the sooner you embrace that you’re in sales, the sooner you can learn and be coached to do it the right way instead of the wrong way.

In the past, you may have resisted thinking of yourself as a salesperson.

If so, it’s likely because you thought of sales as “talking people into stuff they don’t want.”

But that’s not sales!

Sales isn’t talking people into stuff they don’t want.

Sales is helping people figure out what is best for them.

Sales is moving people to take positive action.

Sales is teaching.

Sales is coaching.

Sales is recruiting.

Sales is evangelizing.

Sales is campaigning.

Sales is leading.

Most of all…

Sales is serving.

That’s why we at Southwestern Consulting use the term “Servant Selling” and that’s why we coach people from all different types of professions about how to sell.

We’re teaching them the eloquent art of moving people to take positive action.

And perhaps you’ve followed this blog because you first heard about us from our Take the Stairs book on self-discipline and overcoming procrastination.

Or perhaps you heard about us from our Ted talk on prioritizing and multiplying time.

Or maybe you heard about us from our leadership virtual training Mastermind.

And so maybe you’ve wondered “Why does Rory write so often about selling? What does self-discipline, procrastination, leadership, and productivity have to do with selling?”

And the answer is, it has everything to do with selling because selling is moving people to take positive action!

If you can learn to sell then you can learn to lead, teach, coach, or recruit.

If you can learn to sell you can learn to help and you can learn to serve.

So embrace selling, learn to sell and help people take positive action in their own lives starting now.

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

Pardon the bathroom setting of this story but I think it’s worth the lesson.

It was just another normal travel day for me as I headed into a Charlotte airport E-Terminal public restroom for a quick stop in between flights.

Like most people, I’ve obviously been in plenty of public restrooms over the years and probably encountered maybe 50 bathroom attendants- but none like the one on this particular day.

I’ve rarely ever given any of them any tip because they didn’t really provide much value to me unless they had a stash of products sitting there and I used something.

But on this particular day I walked in and was enthusiastically greeted with a big presence and a large smile.

“Welcome in sir. You’re looking sharp! My name is William and my goal is to keep it fresh, keep it fun and keep it as fast as possible for you while you’re in here!”

“Fun?!” I thought to myself. “This could be interesting.”

William’s first act though was that he sprayed a very pleasant air freshener in the general direction I was heading.

Then before I had a chance to even react he said “please allow me to help” and gently grabbed my bags from my hand.

Once he saw where I was headed he actually walked over in front of me and sprayed the handle I would be using with disinfectant spray and quickly wiped it off. He smiled again.

At that point he then wiped down the handles of my bags and placed them near the exit of the restroom.

As I prepared to exit, he beat me over to the sink and turned on the faucet for me so it was running warm before I arrived and then held out a bottle of soap to squirt some right into my hand and smiled again.

Before I was done rinsing my hands, he tore off a couple paper towels and patiently waited with them standing by for when I was ready.

As I dried my hands he grabbed my bags (with a towel covering his hand) and brought them over to me with a big smile and said “my guess is you’re a busy guy with not a lot of time to spare. Can I answer any questions for you about where you’re headed in the airport?”

I simply smiled at him and said “thank you for your wonderful service William.” I handed him $5 and walked out.

Not only did I tip him, but he managed to pull off the same routine with every person as they walked into that restroom.

In the few minutes I was there, William must’ve earned around $15 in tips.

As I walked out I thought “what an incredible guy!”

And I asked myself what was it about William that made my experience so wonderful and unique that I would literally give him a $5 bill for doing things I could’ve easily done for myself?

Sure, he was positive, enthusiastic and pleasant and that counts for a lot. But I’ve met other pleasant bathroom attendants and never felt compelled to tip them.

And then I realized what his key service difference was…

He anticipated the need.

He didn’t just serve my needs. He anticipated them.

A clean bathroom with all the necessary items you need to do your business is meeting the need.

But when they’re each presented and activated for you on your behalf just moments before you need them, that’s special.

It’s special because it’s useful.

It’s useful because it’s helpful.

Because it’s helpful, that makes it valuable.

Delivering what your customers want is good customer service.

But great customer service is anticipating their needs before they come up.

It’s knowing what they’re going to need and supplying it before they even think to ask for it.

That’s what creates a great experience. And that is a part of what creates a unique experience.

It’s thinking through “what could make this experience better for my clients?”

“What could we do that would over deliver on their expectations?”

“What could save them time?”

“How can we be more useful?”

“How could we provide for our clients in a way that would far exceed anything they’ve ever experienced?”

Those are the types of questions that bring about remarkable customer service.

If William can do it with the ultimate commoditized experience, then surely we can all figure out a way to pick it up a notch for our own customers.

 

The story of Southwestern Consulting – My Business Partner Dustin Hillis Featured on the EO Fire Podcast

Dustin Hillis  and I met when we were in college through the Southwestern Advantage door to door summer work program.

Dustin broke the all-time sales record in the company’s 160 year history making $100,000 in one summer. The year prior was the year I broke the company’s recruiting and team building production record.

 

This past week I was so honored to see Dustin be interviewed and featured on one of my other good friends, John Lee Dumas’ podcast. The Entrepreneur On Fire Podcast hosted by John Lee Dumas gets millions of downloads every month, has featured some of the most recognized thought leaders in the world, and is widely regarded as one of the best business podcasts in the world.

Click here to listen to Dustin’s interview with John.

The Misconception People Have About Sales

THE MISCONCEPTION PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT SALES

If you think “sales” is a bad word, then you’re thinking about it wrong.

You may think of it poorly because you’ve had a bad experience or maybe even because you’ve had bad information.

“Sales” sometimes gets a bad reputation because even sales-people often misunderstand their role and the value they provide.

Too many salespeople think of selling as “talking people into things.”

But sales is not about talking people into things at all.

Sales should be thought more of as serving people.

In fact, at Southwestern Consulting, we often use the term Servant Selling to help reinforce the core of what true professional salesmanship is all about.

Servant Selling is about helping people make decisions about what is best for them.

Servant Selling is about helping people make their lives better.

Servant Selling isn’t something you do “to” people; it’s something you do “for” people.

People need help understanding options.

People need help coming up with solutions.

People need help finding answers.

People need help overcoming fear.

People need help pushing past procrastination.

People need help making decisions.

And those are all things that a highly trained, well coached, professional salesperson will help them with!

Professional sales people help people make better decisions.

And that is an extremely valuable service.

When someone has a negative connotation around “Sales” it’s because they typically understand it as adversarial.

As in, it’s the salesperson vs the prospect. And it’s a battle and a fight to the finish about who is going to win…

Will the prospect be able to hold out or will the salesperson have the magic words to convince someone and pressure them to buy something they don’t really want?!

Yuck.

That’s not selling.

Servant Selling isn’t adversarial at all.

Servant Selling is never about the salesperson winning and the prospect losing; its always about the prospect winning.

Because Servant Selling isn’t about the salesperson vs the prospect; it’s about the prospect vs some challenge, opportunity, or problem the prospect is trying to overcome in their life.

In that way, Servant Selling is the salesperson and the prospect together, on the same team, working side by side to try and find a solution to make the prospect’s life better.

The salesperson is serving the prospect.

The salesperson is supporting the prospect.

The salesperson is helping the prospect.

And sales doesn’t happen through one way communication; it happens through a conversation.

It happens through a dialogue.

It happens through the salesperson asking questions, listening, and understanding the prospect’s situation first.

And then offering solutions to help them make their life better.

So if you want a more accurate way to think of professional salesmanship…

Think of it as a conversation about someone’s needs, where we ask them questions and understand their situation.

Then, we enthusiastically show them options that will hopefully solve those problems, and then we gracefully lead them through a decision process that helps them make a choice that’s best for them.

Sometimes they buy and that’s great! Sometimes they don’t, and that’s okay too.

The role of an expert sales professional is to just help them make a decision about what’s best for them.

Think of it as a partnership.

Think of it as helping.

Think of it as serving.

The #1 Most Costly but Avoidable Mistake of Presentations 

presentations

There are 66 words in the Lord’s Prayer, and most people can recite it.

There are 179 words in the 10 Commandments, and most people can name at least a few.

There are 282 words in the Gettysburg address, and most people can recognize it.

Then there are 26,911 words in the United States Government’s Regulation on the Sale of Cabbage, and nobody cares.

The point, as I originally learned from the above illustration by James C Humes, is that when it comes to presentations “less is better.”

Yet, it’s perhaps the number-one mistake that salespeople make in their sales presentations and speakers in their keynote presentations: they talk too much.

They go too long. They share too many details. They divulge too much information.

And as a result, their overall message gets diluted and decreases the likelihood of moving anyone to action.

As presenters, we think that it’s the opposite.

We think we’re serving the audience by trying to squeeze more in but we’re not; we’re dis-serving them.

More is not always better, and that’s especially true when it comes to persuasive presentations.

Too often salespeople talk past the close and miss out on the chance to make what should’ve been an easy sale. Too many presenters drone on and on about useless details that water down what could’ve otherwise been an impactful message. In both instances we miss the mark because we share too much.

Experienced presenters know differently.

I remember when I was working on one of my practice presentations for the World Championship of Public Speaking, I was trying to whittle down my presentation from 9 minutes to the allowable 7.

I had spent 9 months pouring over it, not being able to figure out what to cut out. I felt like everything had to be in there.

And then I sent it to one of my speaking coaches David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking. He said, “Let me have a quick look at it and see if I can give you some ideas”.

Twenty minutes later he emailed me back the speech, and he had reduced it from about 900 words to 600 just by deleting parts that weren’t critical, changing a few words here and there, and suggesting to replace some of the words with stories and facial expressions that could make the points much faster.

I immediately called him on the phone and said “David, I can’t believe this, you did in 20 minutes what I’ve been trying to do for 9 months!”

He replied, “No Rory, that took me 20 years to learn how to do.”

David went on later to say, “The masters tell the audience every word they need to know but not a word more.”

If you’re in sales (and we all are), or you do any other type of presentations, we should all learn how to do the same.

Why most stories will never help you sell but how yours can!

stories

The story is in the struggle.

If there is no struggle there is no story.

You can’t have a hero if you don’t first have a villain.

You can’t have an exciting climax if you don’t first have a dramatic conflict.

You can’t have a win if you don’t first have a chance of a loss.

The story is in the struggle.

That is the secret to storytelling.

If you want to tell better stories then you have to become better at describing the struggle.

Why do stories matter?

Because stories are one of the most powerful, communication tools we have.

Stories are persuasive because they are what people relate to.

Stories are one of the best strategies you can use to influence people to change their behavior, buy, donate, or take action.

The human mind loves stories.

Part of the reason why is because the human mind loves to complete things

It loves to finish things.

And it doesn’t like unfinished things.

Which is why stories are so powerful.

The start of a story begins something and then our brain stays engaged until it is finished.

The opening of a story draws us in and our mind doesn’t let us release until the story is closed.

Think about it, haven’t you ever finished watching a movie or reading a book that you really didn’t like?

Why did you do that?

It’s just because you couldn’t handle not knowing how it ended!

Expert leaders, salespeople, marketers, speakers and of course authors know this and that is why they use stories to communicate their points rather than just delivering information by itself.

And the single most important ingredient to any story is the struggle.

The story is in the struggle.

It is the conflict.

It is the drama.

It is the uncertainty and unknowing of what is going to happen.

We’re not interested in a movie where a man meets a girl and they immediately fall in love and they get married and live happily ever after.

That’s nice but it’s boring. It doesn’t engage us. It doesn’t get us emotionally bought in. And so it doesn’t capture our attention.

But you could make the same exact movie a thousand times just using different characters that follows this plot:

Girl wants love but is unsure she is worthy of it and will ever find it.

Man loves to party and is unsure if he’ll ever trade in his independence to settle down and become a family man.

Upon an unexpected meeting, they both feel a spark.

But neither is sure if it’s real or if the other person would go for them.

Still unsure about the relationship possibility and their own selves, they flirt and it starts to come together.

They start to casually date and all is wonderful as they begin to fall in love.

But then something terrible happens and they separate. It all falls apart.

Just when there seems to be no hope, one of them has an epiphany and comes back to the other desperate for forgiveness.

For a moment though we’re not sure if their partner will ever take them back.

But then they do and THEN they live happily ever after!

Sound familiar? It should.

It’s the formula for just about every romantic comedy ever made. (I love all of them!)

But it works because it’s littered with conflict!

It’s loaded with self-doubt, uncertainty, challenges, and odds.

The story is all about the struggle.

We think it’s the climax that we care about but it’s really the struggle that’s more important.

How do stories apply to business? 

Smart marketers know that you can’t just talk about the results you provide – that is just skipping ahead in uninteresting fashion immediately to the conclusion.

Rather, you have to write about and describe the problems you help solve.

Smart salespeople know that when you’re third party selling, don’t just tell a story about the results your client experienced.

Make it interesting, more engaging, and more influential by first telling us about the challenges they were experiencing and the obstacles they had to overcome.

Tell me a story specifically about what they were struggling with BEFORE they met you and if I can relate to having a similar problem in my own life then I will be more likely to buy from you as well.

You have to sell the problem as much as you sell the solution!

If you’re a leader don’t just tell us about a new strategy the company has. Give us the context for why you made the decision based on a real-life story of what happened that triggered the realization that we needed to change.

If you’re a fundraiser don’t just tell us about all the thousands of people you’ve helped as a collective body. That’s wonderful but we sometimes have a hard time connecting with a mass body of faceless people.

Instead, tell us the story of one person and what they were struggling with and what their life was like BEFORE they found you. THEN tell us about what your cause or charity did for them and how it changed their life.

Do that and I’ll double the amount of the check I’ll write to you.

It’s important that you share the results. It’s important that you tell us what ended up happening. But that is most powerful when you first tell us what the need or the pain was before.

We do want to know what happens. We do want to know how it finishes. We do care about knowing the ending.

But if you want to engage us, if you want us to pay attention, if you want us to care…

Tell us a story.

Tell us a struggle.

Tell us about what the challenge was, what the villain was, what the darkness was, what the problem was, what the doubt was, what the uncertainty was, what the hopelessness was…

Then tell us how you overcame it.

That’s a story that will sell.

That’s a story that will influence.

That’s a story that will lead people to action.

That’s a story because the story is in the struggle.