Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Your Greatest Comeback Ever!

Once upon a time there was a wise old man who lived in a small, remote village. Like most wise old men, he had some not so wise folks that wanted to prove him wrong. In fact, there was a young man who devised a scheme to publicly put the wise old man to shame. He captured a small bird from a nearby tree and quickly approached the old man. Holding the bird behind his back he challenged the old man by saying "Tell me wise old man; is the bird alive or is it dead?" His plan was flawless because if the old man said alive, he would crush it and if he said dead he would release the bird. Both scenarios would surely prove the old man a fool. The old man confidently pondered the situation and then calmly said "The answer lies in your hands"

As corny and cheesy as this story may appear, I'd like to believe that the answers we seek to perhaps the most challenging of economic times does, in fact, lie in our hands. With less than 70 days left in 2009, I have to believe I can do something to take control again. And let's be real, maybe I can't turn it around in 70 days, but I can certainly set myself up to come of the gate stronger in 2010!

Here are a few things that are truly in your hands:

1) Be able to answer this question: How long does it take to get in a foul mood? You know the kind that gets you so depressed you have to play it safe that day because your body armor is gone. Answer: Exactly as long as it takes for you watch the news. Take the news in bite sized portions and understand that good news doesn't sell as well as the bad news.

2) Set up an appointment (as in put it on your calendar) to get on the phone to speak with prospects on a weekly basis. Pop Quiz: Would you break an appointment with a client or prospect? Of course you wouldn't. You need to have that mentality with appointments with yourself. Oh and if you don't make that appointment, lets be real, it aint gonna happen!

3) For the next two weeks (starting this Monday) track your time. According to NYC research firm Basex, we lose 2.1 hours per day in interruptions. Knowing where your time opportunities lie will set you up for greater productivity.

Free PDF: Send me an email and I will send you a cool PDF you can use to track your time over the next 2 weeks. No strings attached, just my way of paying it forward! Uncle Paul needs some good Karma baby!

4) Set up at least 2 networking events a month and have that same mentality of not breaking the appointment. When you go there, put your agenda aside and make it all about them. Ask lots of questions, have a genuine interest and don't even try to get a word in edgewise or one up them with your war stories. I truly believe that everyone has a story and wants to be heard. Make it your mission to hear theirs!

5) Make it a point to get more involved with your social networking activities. Participate in the groups, contribute, start discussions. If you have any thoughts that Sales 2.0 isn't here to stay, you are delusional. Getting involved makes you visible, allows you to learn about a variety of topics and it helps people to interact with the wonderful brand we call YOU! Oh, do you remember that saying how none of us are getting any younger? Statistically speaking our buyers are as more and more Gen Y's are moving into decision making/influencing positions. Guess what they rank very highly in their process. Gold star if you said social networking! Why? Because social networking allows folks to safely find out about and sort of hang out with a brand.

Required Reading: Pick up Trust Agents by Chris Brogan, Twitter Power by Joel Comm and Me 2.0 by Dan Shawbel. Better get your arms around this stuff folks.

6) Get more creative. Understand that businesses today are struggling. They desperately need creative solutions to help them weather the storm. If all you have in your prospecting arsenal is a lousy cold call, you not only limit your ability to connect, you limit your ability to demonstrate your creativity and stand out from the masses!

7) Call everyone who has told you "No" or that you selected out because you feared rejection, you weren't good enough etc. Things change!

8) Call everyone who went MIA on you and you never heard from again. Once again, things change.

9) Dedicate yourself to getting better at negotiation. Seriously. If we know that price is an issue, why not learn how to play the game? Every time I offer that advice I can almost hear the sales gurus saying "Well if you created enough value pricing wouldn't be an issue" My response to that, aside from "Guru Please!" is that sometimes, price, whether we like it or not, is going to be an issue. We can spend a whole bunch of time talking about what we should've done or we can learn to "dance" My suggestion is that you pick up Roger Dawson's book Secrets of Power Negotiation for Salespeople. I like studying Dawson for a very specific reason . . . he trains lots of Purchasing folks and then I get to counter their moves right from their own play book.

10) Get your arms around how a business ticks. Have your CFO or Controller do a 30-45 minute overview of financials with your team. Learn how to read a 10q and a 10k. You see the more you understand the financial end of a business, the more questions you can ask to uncover deep rooted opportunity. The more you can do that the more you can sell the people who really make these decisions in a business.

11) Think about getting the right people to the party. We've all been taught that we need the highest level of decision maker present. I won't disagree. You might want to get some folks in the room that feel the pain at ground zero instead of just at 30,000 ft. Doing so creates internal champions that will sell your cause much better than you ever will. I would invite you to consider the theory that you might be going in at the middle level and only including folks higher on the food chain. If so, you are missing some great opportunities.

12) Answer this question when you have a little "You" time. "What scares me?" "What makes me uncomfortable?" Take some time to get to know yourself again. What is it about those things that scare you. For example: For the longest time I was afraid of failing again because I lost everything I had many years ago. My fears became a bully and I needed to stand up to it. Once you identify what really is holding you back, face it, go outside your comfort zone. Build new muscles and for God's sake, leave your safe haven. Imagine a 70 day work out of that muscle group?

13) Believe Again! We've all gotten a spanking out there this year. I once heard (and I don't want to play the holy roller card) that God's delays aren't God's denials. We are all finding out what we are made of. Don't quit . . . we are all closer to the prize than we think!

Today's long winded message is actually quite simple . . . The answer lies in our hands!

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  1. Wishing everyone an awesome weekend!

  2. @Raakeshmohan KS: Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts!

    All the best!


  3. Thank you Anonymous.

    Note to all: If you can, please leave your name so it doesn't feel wierd when I respond to you. Truth be told it makes me feel dirty. Like you left cab fare on my night table and I'm left lying there saying "Wait. I don't even know your name"


  4. Thanks Paul,

    I was going to send this to all of my sales associates, but then I thought, why don't I just apply this advice to myself for once? (and then I'll probably forward it too!)


  5. @ John: Kudos to you my friend. As sales leaders we are always looking at these things almost in the 3rd person like it doesn't apply to us.

    By looking in the mirror and working on our own areas of improvement we can become stronger leaders.

    Mucho respect to you for doing that John!

    Paul Castain

  6. Paul

    Loved the advice but think you missed outstanding call for action...sometime we are so busy telling be how wonderful we are we forget to ask for the business....

    The so what test is in effect!


  7. Printed and on the wall next to my desk, and forwarded to my sales network conections. Great stuff for a rainy Friday morning in Cincinati!

  8. Great post. I am going to share it with all of my resellers (and tweet it too).

  9. @ James: You are spot on! In fact I missed quite a few which will be part of a later post. Thanks!

    @Kevin: That's great to hear. Hoping the sun shows its face out here in NY!

    @Sean. Thank you. Rock horns to you my friend!


  10. Hey is it me or does the picture of that kid make you want to go out and kick ass?

    I say, screw this blog post. Cut out the picture of the kid and put that by your phone :)

  11. Thanks Paul:

    Grat words of encouragement and a call for internal reflection.

    See you at the TOP.

  12. Thanks for the content today. I appreciate the "call to action" tone.

    Also, in about 20 years, I want to hire that kid!


  13. Once again good stuff. Having a GREAT day is a personal decision. Have a good weekend everyuone.

  14. @Luther: Thank you and we certainly will see each other at the top!

    @ Jeff: My pleasure. I'm thinking about making that kid our mascot.

    @ Dan: It really is up to us, isn't it? Enjoy your weekend as well amigo!

    Call me crazy, but I want to hang out with that kid this weekend or maybe go cold calling with him next week :)

  15. Paul.. spot on like always... I will be presenting this premise(with citation) to my sales team next week.
    Good stuff.. thank you

  16. @ Dusty: Thanks for the kind words and passing it on!

  17. Paul

    Awesome tips yo! I cant wait to read your book..

  18. @Don: Thanks man! That puts me at about 6 advanced book sales :)

    Guess I better finish writing it now!

    I appreciate you stopping by buddy!


  19. Great read and awesome tips. Thanks Paul!

  20. Paul, Great post.
    I alread printed this out and the picture of the kid is awesome.

    Have a great weekend all and lets get geared up for another week of kick ass sales.


  21. Hi Paul - thanks for the great suggestions! Perfect timing...this tough year has me taking another look at everything I am doing and how I do it.

    And yes - that picture rocks! It is already printed and posted next to my phone. :-)

  22. Thanks Paul. You're blog validates what I do and say everyday. Great job

  23. @ Brooke: Thanks and you better update your profile with your new last name or I'm gonna tell your husband :)

    @ Jamie That kid has to be a dwarf. He seems to "All knowing" and confident to be a baby!

    Yes, lets all have a fantastic weekend because next week, on my command, we release all hell!

    And that kid is riding with us :)

  24. @Julie: Thanks for stopping by to say that. Wishing you all the best.

    @ John: Much appreciation!

    Rock horns all around!

  25. Paul
    Thanks for the great post. Love #12 and the picture of the kid. Good karma back at you ...

  26. Paul, your blog always leaves me with a positive note and gives me something to think about...not to mention a great sense of humor that comes through in your writing. Here's to better times for all in the months ahead! Cheers, and thanks.

  27. @Matt: #12 is the scariest of al of these because we have to be strong enough to admit our vulnerabilities. Not an easy task at times! As for that kid, I want him to do speaking events with me. I'm thinking if he just stands behind me, with that face and clenched fist, I could rock the house!

    @Adrienne: I'm glad to hear that Adrienne! Writing this blog is a wonderful opportunity for me to give back and be respectful of the numerous second chances I have been given.

    Much appreciation Matt and Adrienne for taking the time to stop by and contribute.


  28. Quoting my brother Michael: "That kid looks like he had his first taste of sand . . . and liked it!"

    Spot on dude!


  29. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and will begin tracking my time Monday. Mary

  30. Thanks Mary. You will be amazed what you learn and/or confirm :)


  31. Great stuff, Paul. Many good tips and reminders throughout your posts, delivered with directness and levity -- two qualities left out of many sales articles.


  32. @Jeff: Mighty cool of you to stop by and say that! You made my day!

    Hope you are having a fantastic week!



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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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