Showing posts from June, 2011

Put First Things First

One of the most common things I hear from top producers is "If I only had more time!"  This feeling of task saturation can become as frustrating as trying to push a rope uphill.

Here's what else I know - the common skill set that seems to accompany most salespeople often misses an ingredient of planning.  Some of my favorite salespeople begin their day with war paint on their face, like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart". In their best Scottish-American accent they fiercely stare at themselves in the mirror and declare this day to be a day of Victory!  "We will conquer!  I will do this for my family!  I will do it for braces for my twin girls!  I will do it for the payment on my german compact luxury vehicle!  I will do it for my Cobalt speedboat!  I am in debt up to my eyeballs, failure is not an option!"  Then they are off, sword drawn, to vanquish any objection that dare separate them from another order.

What they, and maybe you, could be missing is: plann…

Selling the Sizzle

When I lived in Houston, one of my good friends owned the BEST mexican food restaurant on the planet.  Literally, La Escondida ( is the finest Mexican food this side of the border, saturated with authentic recipes and amazing flavor. 

I loved ordering their fajitas - they come in Chicken, Beef, seafood, all garnished with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Yes, mashed potatoes!  Minutes after I ordered it, I could hear my food from the kitchen as they pushed through those double doors, with the tray elevated high above the waiter's head.  Then, as he approached the table, he would undoubtedly pause - straining his voice above the crackling meat and veggie feast - and warn my nearby kids how hot the platter was.  Just gimme the food!  By this point, I am thinking that the iron skillet itself may not be spared the torment and fury of my insatiable hunger!  Wow, Sergio and his team knew how to sell the sizzle!

In homebuilding, this translates to …

Activity breeds activity

You've tried everything you can think of - called your best clients, dressed better - maybe you even bathed today!  However, you are not getting the results you desire.

Many salespeople, no matter how grounded or religious in other areas of their life, get very superstitious when it comes to sales. 

I often ask a sales professional "Why do you have a salt shaker on your desk, and your trophies are all turned backwards?"  The response, with all the confidence and shock in the world, "Well, I have a strong appointment today, and I don't want to jinx it."  Really?  Don't you hope your surgeon has more confidence in her ability the next time you need a procedure??

Here's the cold, hard, facts.  Sales is a blend of art and science, of  "try" and "do" work, as one of my old bosses used to say.  On the art side, it is an art to read buying signals, to know when to shut up, to know when a buyer is bluffing.  The science side is much, mu…

Real Estate advice for 3500 years

For those that thought that when Moses went up on Mt. Sinai that all he came down with is 10 simple instructions, you are sorely mistaken.  Know what else he got from God?  Real Estate advice.  No, not just the "I am giving you the land of Milk and Honey" type advice, but the kind of advice that would have prevented this entire housing crisis we have experienced over the last 4-6 years.  Who knew - it's been written down for 3500+ years, and we all missed it.

Here's your chance today - buried in Leviticus 25 is God's real estate picks.  From Fair pricing methods to valuation guidelines, it's all there.  Yep - God, from his perch on high, was even the first to put a premium on a property in a gated community - (v.29-31) - over a property in the suburbs.  Other than the birds, He had the only available topographical view at the time, so it probably was painfully obvious!

For valuation guidelines - my real point - Value in Leviticus was to be determined by the n…

Build Value into Relationships

Over the years, "fads" have crossed the sales profession, from "Spin Selling" to "Relationship Selling".  It's funny, dust off one of the fad techniques in your next pitch, and your peers and boss will look at you like you came to work in tight parachute pants and a "Pantera" t-shirt.  Oddly, human behavior has not changed significantly, we just continue to evolve to try to understand it better.

Here is what is different, whether you are selling retail goods or B2B, the buyers have become more selective as their budgets have tightened.  I saw this firsthand last month in the US territory of Saint Thomas, a vacation destination that relies heavily on tourism.  In 2003 I visited, and everybody was happy go-lucky, there were steel drums everywhere, it was all lots-of-laughs.  Enter 2011, and the weekly cruise stops have dwindled from twenty-something plus to less than 5.  Doors are closed, businesses are suffering.  Now, the street "handle…

Fear of Loss Trumps Desire to Win

It rarely fails - I am coaching one of our sales counselors through a negotiation, only to recommend a negotiation point that strikes fear into my counselor.  Not just "I don't think that will work, Stephen." kind of fear - no - I'm talking sweaty palms, dilated pupils, "I don't want to get shot", and "I'm-going-to-be-so-broke-my-three-year-old-will-have-to-go-to-community-college" kind of fear.  Why is that?  Because the closer you get to realizing a sale or a deal, the more one fears losing it.  However, we homosapiens are funny creatures, because this phenomenon goes way beyond sales, it's true for all aspects of our lives.

It is our nature that anything that we care about, we want to keep.  At the very least, we wish to stake our claim in what we already have firmly prior to evaluating other options.  This is why a high school senior may really want to ask out the head cheerleader, but will keep his current date UNTIL he gets a fir…

Welcome to Sales Pearls!

After years of speaking to people and hearing "you really should write" - I figured now would be the best time to do it.  After all, it's Father's Day, and I am perched on my throne as King of my household.  I may be slightly delusional, but to a father of five, it is rather unusual to have a Sunday afternoon without a honey-do list longer than the Constitution.  My youngest, whose nickname is Red Bull, made me a paper Burger King-esque crown today, which I've worn with a great deal of pride.  I could tell the state highway patrolman was contemplating whether or not to stop me as I raced the 9 passenger family van down Georgia 400 wearing the contraption, but the regal open hand wave certified that I was legitimate royalty.

I have been in some kind of sales my entire twenty-four year career.  Better yet, I've been pretty darn good at it!  Most of you are in sales, too - whether or not you know it!  Ever need a better price on a car?  Question whether your ser…