Streetfighter Selling

for Sales Professionals

  • Apr

    There’s a phenomenon sweeping our culture, forcing change at every level of business. Change Guru/Strategist Clay Christiansen gave it a name: Disruptive Innovation.

    By definition, Disruptive Innovation is a new, sometimes radically different way of doing something that ‘disrupts’ the old way, sometimes leaving those practicing those old way in the proverbial dust. While the innovation is usually a service or product, at its core is a change that’s radical enough to ‘disrupt’ the product or service process currently in use. Examples include the way cell phones totally changed the landline industry or the way the Internet changed newspapers.

    The solution to disruptive innovation is to innovate yourself. A few salespeople have already adapted with innovations of their own. A few others have already been defeated by it. Most salespeople are somewhere in between.

    Disruptive innovation has hit the profession of selling in two dramatic areas:
    #1: Connecting with customers, and
    #2: Maintaining relevancy

    The rapid rise in technology has altered the psychology and methods of customer contact. It’s popular to keep supplier contacts short, to the point and only when needed. Technology has rendered obsolete the old approaches to cold calling by phone or having voice mails returned. Connecting with customers today requires proactive innovation, including live and online networking, and high-purpose calls.

    Maintaining relevancy is even more reliant on proactive innovation. We’ve got to continually ask ourselves “am I bringing value here?” Or, better still, “do my customers need me?” Historically (meaning, of course, in the old days), the salesperson was the courier of information, of details, pricing and the like. We were the customer’s information and action connection. But, with information abundantly available online, how can you remain relevant? The solutions lie in what they need, not what we want to tell them. Ask more, deeper questions to uncover their hidden costs and concerns. Demonstrate your problem-solving expertise. Make sure they see you as a valued consultant and not just another vendor who wants to take up their time. The secret is…make them want to see you!

    Disruptive innovation is changing the world, and the way business is done. We can’t scoff at it or ignore it. To survive and thrive, we have to innovate, too.

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  • Apr


    I had a salesperson recently tell me “selling just isn’t fun anymore.” Hard to hear, but not an unusual feeling these days. Almost every job carries some additional performance stress these days so, if you’re in sales, you’ll have your fair share.
    Now I’m not a fire and brimstone motivator, but I can give you three reasons why selling can be as fun…or even more fun…than it’s been in the past.

    1) Business IS improving. Slower in some sectors, sure. But if you’ve made it this far, you’re a likely survivor. And customers are going to want to talk to you!

    2) Opportunities are opening up for displaced workers. As with every recession, some old jobs won’t be coming back. But, if you can sell, employers are going to want to talk to you.

    3) “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” That may sound good in the movies, but how does it help on the street? Staying mentally strong is crucial to staying positive and active. Think positive, always.

    4) (as a follow up #3) Streetfighters are already out-performing their sales counterparts. They deal with the same reluctance and price issues as everyone else, but are taking action…enthusiastic action…and getting better results!

    And here are some action ideas……..

    Break Negativity Cycles
    We’re like doctors, in that we continually see people who need help. In tight times, they’ll talk more about problems than solutions. Our job is to help them (and ourselves) to be more solution-focused.

    Break old, toxic habits
    Forcing yourself to learn new technologies or talking to customers about changes in their business can spark new thoughts and ideas on how to do things

    Get more creative
    One of my favorite sales calls was to a fast food franchisee dressed in that chain’s uniforms. The shock value was great, and we got the business.

    Focus on successes
    When times are tough, lost and postponed sales take the spotlight. Don’t start, or end your day without a mental review of personal successes, whether they’re actual sales, tough-to-get appointments or a great service call.

    Focus on new opportunities

    Now’s a great time to build your network, and that includes using online services like Linkedin to make new connections with people and special interest groups. Some of the ‘old’ approaches to selling will be less productive, and getting new approaches into your mix can help get you fired up.

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  • Mar

    Success Dial
    The difference between good and great is not huge. The difference between being good and great comes from the little things.

    Tweak this…. and sell more.

    Here’s a great example: in the 2014 Winter Olympics, US downhill skier Ted Ligety won the Gold Medal in the grueling Giant Slalom (an extremely intense race). Meanwhile, Italian skier Davide Simoncelli finished less than two seconds behind Ligety. Two seconds! About the time it took you to read that last sentence. But those two seconds left him in far down the leaderboard. All the way to17th place. (*I’m using this as an illustration only, as I believe that anyone who even attempts to make their team is a champion over most of us couch-sitters).

    The point is: the extra mental preparation and the subtle moves you make in sales can be the difference between winning Gold (getting the order) and out of the running (the one they don’t even call back).

    This is by no means a complete list, but here are three tweaks that can energize your sales right away. See if any could apply to you:

    Escape the Office
    Problem: too many salespeople spending too much time on the computer.
    Outcome: very limited face-to-face connection, resulting in low closing ratios.

    You can’t win the race if you’re not on the slopes! Unless all your business is long distance or in-store, don’t expect a decent call-to-close ratio if you make most of your contacts by email. Driven by comfort with technology, and the perceived reluctance on the part of customers to meet, there’s an epidemic of ineffective activity happening. I know email is fast and intrusive, and prospects stay hidden behind voice mail. But an email or text message can’t read the customer’s eyes, make a connection, carry on a conversation or uncover deeper needs and concerns. All it can do is tell. And, as the saying goes: “telling isn’t selling.”
    Some sales are made this way. But those are a minority. Most (and I’m referring to ‘outside’ sales here) are still completed with face-to-face contact. Old school? No, just under-used. It’s easy to get too caught up in electronic contact, like email and social media. I know I do, and sometimes I have to hit myself in the head to remember those tools are great for contact, but terrible at uncovering needs, making presentations or closing. Sitting at a desk all day while reaching out by keystroke is an extremely inefficient way to build sales. Face-to-face will consistently produce the greatest closing ratios and strongest relationships, hands down.

    Which leads us to….

    Talk Less, Listen More
    Problem: the sales profession attracts outgoing people
    Outcome: it’s easy to talk your way out of a sale

    Having the ‘gift of gab’ is not always a good thing. One of the best salespeople I ever knew (who I was fortunate to have as a manager) spoke little and listened a lot. He was skilled at asking ‘open ended’ questions….the kind that can’t be answered “yes” or “no.” Consequently, he understood them and their needs so, when he did talk, he was always right on target with what they wanted.

    Always have a plan for meetings or phone calls. Have a (short) list of questions. Ask questions that uncover deeper thoughts or needs (i.e. “that’s interesting, tell me more about that”). Ask. Listen. Take notes.
    Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to talk. But there’s a difference between communicating and talking too much. What a customer has to say is far more important than what we have to say.

    But before you do….

    Do Your Homework
    Problem: calling prospects without a purpose
    Outcome: calls and messages remain ignored

    Time is a 21st century currency. People will protect their time as much as they protect their home, car and savings. When a salesperson calls, a prospect will subconsciously reject it, whether it’s by phone or email. They put up that imaginary force field to block any attempts to steal even a small slice of their time.

    (*There are exceptions, of course. You can give on-going customers a basic quote when asked. BUT…do this too often or for too long, and you’ll lose them to a competitor who have gotten themselves in the door and been selling them. Complacency kills)

    Basic ‘must-do’ homework includes:
    • Look at their website (especially the “news” or “what’s new” pages
    • Check ‘google news’ for recent changes or announcements
    • Find out if they have a company LinkedIn page
    • Does the company have a YouTube page? A growing number of business-to-business firms use them for company tours, new product or service demonstrations, etc.

    Your initial goal is to know what’s happening at the company and names/titles of decision-makers. This will help you having to ask the main desk: “who handles your xxxxx?” A question that’s sure to position you as a peddler and, all-to-often, sent to a non-decision-maker.

    I do make a big exception to this rule: if you can’t find anything online, go ahead and make the call anyway….even if it means asking the “who handles” question. Any action is always better than none.

    Again, these ‘tweaks’ are obviously not advanced strategies. But that’s the whole point. The root of all success is in the basics and, in our hurry-up-and-get-it-done-now world, it’s those very basics that are most often neglected…and are the difference between good and Gold.

    Have your own tweaks you’d like me to share? Send them to

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  • Jan

    Sales Mojo

    My sales conferences and keynotes are usually based on selling skills, whether it’s getting more face-to-face time with customers or selling value vs. price. But the sometimes-forgotten key to making any of it work is having a winning ‘sales mojo.’ (Is this one of those hyped-up articles based on buzz words? Read on and find out!)

    “Mojo” has multiple meanings, from magical and spell-binding to enthusiasm. Generally, your mojo refers to a mix of enthusiasm, performance and overall good feeling about yourself and what you’re doing. It won’t close sales, but neither will selling skills if your mojo is running low.

    Here then, after years of observation, analysis and use, are 7 extremely powerful tips to boosting (or bringing back) a weak or missing mojo:

    Many salespeople act out of habit. You’ve done it so many times before that your ‘routine,’ including sales calls, becomes rote. Experience is a tremendous advantage, but your approach can become bland. And that can dampen your attitude toward and enthusiasm for the job.

    So, even if you’re a seasoned pro, go back to the basics: review and rehearse before a sales call or presentation. You’ll feel more energized, and the results will show.

    Review your actions; your ‘Sales Business Plan.’ That includes your daily plan…the number of people you plan to call or see. While big numbers, alone won’t make you successful, small numbers will not, period. Are you keeping up with your plan? Don’t have one yet? Now’s the time to build it.

    Frequent contact with a favorite (or demanding) customer is usually not a good use of time.

    The feeling of not getting anything done can deflate anyone’s enthusiasm, so avoid getting bogged down in unimportant, time-sucking routines.
    Here’s just one example: I’ve met salespeople who tell me they have to check and return email messages as they’re received. Yet research shows thre total time consumed browsing through internal and other in-box clutter can absorb as much as 15% of your day. Learn to separate critical tasks from less-important time-wasters. You’ll find yourself getting more done in the same amount of time.

    Face-to-face or over the phone, your mindset can be affected by your body language…and it will affect your performance, for better or worse.
    Most of us slouch…at least once in a while. It’s just easier. At home, it doesn’t take much for us to slide on down into that super-relaxing, TV-watching position, like a contented dog stretched out in the sun.
    But look around. People everywhere walk through stores and offices with shoulders sagging, head slightly bowed and, not surprisingly, an expression somewhere between blank and a scowl.
    But being told “sit up straight” wasn’t just Mom’s advice. Richard Petty (no, not that one), professor of psychology at Ohio State, says “most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves.”
    Good posture makes for a more positive, confident and influential salesperson.

    OK, you can’t always avoid them, but you can avoid letting them get into your head
    When two or more people get together to complain, just for the sake of complaining, it can have a massive effect on your mental state. It’s even worse if you’re the one who’s whining. We all have problems, and it’s not a bad thing to talk about them. But there’s a big difference between discussing problems and whining about issues. When the subjects become chronic, they become mojo killers. Try to associate with positive thinkers.

    Again, no hype, just common sense. Henry Ford said “if you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Like many people, I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve felt unsure and lacked confidence. And during those times, I was a lot less successful.

    But here’s the good news. You don’t have to be happy or successful to come across confident. But you do have to tell your brain that you can do it.

    Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps would tell other swimmers “you can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get”

    Too many people get so focused on what they see in life’s rear view mirror that miss looking through the windshield of opportunity. Focus on possibilities and your mojo will get psyched.

    You’re busy. You’re plate is full. Fine. Now, challenge yourself to add 20%. Greet 20% more customers, call 20% more prospects, see 20% more people in a day. Don’t rush through them just to accomplish more, either. Make each one smooth as silk. Use your time efficiently so that each call, each meeting is done with a clear mind and with the enthusiasm that says it’s the most important call of the day. If you fall short of 20%, don’t panic. Just don’t give up. More activity, done right, will fire up your successes…and your mojo.

    -Joe Guertin is a sought-after sales speaker, trainer and coach. Questions or comments are welcome to or at 414.762.2450

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  • Nov

    There are few things worse than a prospective sale that just kind of vanishes.
    “Poof!” No reasons, no excuses, no phone calls returned. The process just stops. Phone calls go unreturned, and time continues to drift along.

    It’s slipped into the Black Hole of Sales!

    Most Black Holes are a symptom of something else. Something we missed. Asking more of the tough questions will take us further behind the scenes where Black Holes originate. These questions include:

    Is there a ‘drop dead’ timeline for moving ahead?
    What has to happen in order for it to proceed
    Who has to decide or sign off on it?
    What are the biggest potential barriers?
    Is it budgeted?
    Is it a strong priority?

    Any “no” or otherwise vague answer spells DANGER. Black Hole possibility is good. The sale can still move ahead, but it would be a good idea to ask more questions and uncover those roadblocks early.

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  • Jun

    Yogi Berra once said “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” He wasn’t half wrong.
    Practicing the right things and a total belief in your outcome will win out over ‘going through the motions’ every time.

    In sales, practicing the ‘right things’ means learning everything about how their company can or could use what you sell, then knowing how to tailor your presentation to their specific needs. Practice means taking the time to study, even rehearse the questions you plan to ask, or the presentation points you’re going to make. The psychological advantage you’ll have at your next ‘meeting of the minds’ with that prospect is astronomical.

    Your ‘total belief’ is just that. You have no-limit confidence in your company and in the suggestions you’ll make. Not a cocky attitude or arrogance, just firm confidence. It’s one of the most engaging and contagious attitudes in business today.

    Focus on those two traits, and 90% of the battle is won.

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  • Jun

    Do you accomplish everything you set out to do in a day? Yea, me too. (are you kidding?) Time is today’s currency, and every one of us fights the daily battle between the details and fires needing attention right now, and the planning and execution of consistent new-business development.

    This is always easier said than done but, if you made three new ‘good contacts’ every week since the first of the year, (at a few hours a week), you’d have an extra 80 contacts that could connect you to new sales. Even with a minimal call-to-close ratio, that would mean a lot of potential activity (and a more secure account list!)

    Except for that time thing.

    Finding time is the challenge. Taking it is the solution. Nobody’s going to give it to you. No customer is going to call and say “we want to buy…and you just leave those little details to us.” The interruptions will not stop.

    Here are three strategies for finding time:

    1) Schedule it (this is pretty basic, but it’s critical). Block out several hours every week as though it was time for your best customer.

    2) Prepare for it. Before you start your week, print out a list of prospective customers, complete with name, phone and other notes. You’ve got to have a list, otherwise, when the time comes, it’s spent looking up names.

    3) Be disciplined. I like the health club analogy. On January 1st, we’re all committed to fitness. That’s why the lines at Bally’s are so long. But, but February 1st, you can fire a cannon through there and not hit anything. Point is, discipline wins. Do you stay committed to a plan after the initial motivation has worn off? Challenge yourself week in and week out. It gets toughest when you’re already at peak capacity.

    Don’t just find time….Take It. Grab that clock and out a choke hold on it. It’s yours.

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  • Feb

    Happy People
    Did you know that ‘chronically happy’ people are generally more successful in their professional and personally lives? More importantly, their happiness is the result of ‘positive emotions,’ not money, but their happiness DOES make them more confident, optimistic and energetic, creating what UC-Riverside research guru, Sonja Lyubomirsky calls “success-oriented behaviors.” It’s too bad that we too often tend to focus on the negatives in life. Bad news sells, and people like to tell others about their ‘pain of the day.’ But those who are serious about success will spend more time looking up than looking down.

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  • Feb

    It’s become a common rallying cry in the sales profession: “if we cut this deal, we can make it up on future sales.” My first experience with it was in my early days of ad sales. I left a meeting with a potential advertiser thinking ‘this is going to be huge.’ My sales manager wasn’t as impressed when I started spewing my promises for “more, more, more” if we’d take this cut-rate (half price) offer. “We’ll make it up when we renew!” That’s when he explained two rules of selling:
    1) don’t sell for potential profit, and
    2) it’s not good business to lose money on a sale.

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  • Nov

    Email, as we know it, will soon be obsolete, replaced by modes that are more dynamic. In the meantime, we rely on it. A lot. Just ask the U S Postal Service. But the speed and frequency of that use is costing a lot of people a lot of sales. The reason? Undue expectations and unintentional misuse.

    In recent months, I’ve compiled more than a dozen “do’s” and “donts” when it comes to email in sales.

    Here, for your consideration (and further business development) are the topics that fall into the assumption category: things we take for granted:

    #1: We ‘assume’ the customer demands it

    Especially with prospects we barely know, “just email it to me” is the phrase of the day. It’s also the equivalent of the famous line “send me something.” Translation: you’re not one of their vital concerns, and getting you to take a passive action, without their participation, is an easy, diplomatic way to express it. The bigger problem, though, is that we’ve come to convince ourselves that it means “I’m too busy and will not, under any circumstances under the sun, plan a face-to-face visit with you.”

    When told “just email it to me,” go ahead, but use it as leverage to get a more in-depth discussion, whether by phone or in-person. Agree, then ask questions (“Sure, I can do that, but let me ask you this….”) Clarify more about their needs/usage. Then, (assuming you’re in outside sales) go for a meeting. “…we have options that can make it more cost-effective.”

    Tip #1: suggesting a date/time that is several weeks out is more likely to get the green light than the immediate future.

    Tip #2: If you’re in telephone sales, go for planned telephone time. Emailing information or prices without doing a needs analysis is usually a waste of time.

    #2: Assume they’re reading your email message
    Congratulations on reading this article. It shows you’re a pro. But, if there weren’t money-making ideas here, you’d have hit the delete button 10 minutes ago. So will your prospect.

    Be relevant. When you do send basic information or (against my better judgment) unsolicited pricing), add some sizzle. Your subject line must imply ‘take a look at this…it can help!’ Sales expert, and author of SNAP Selling, Jill Konrath has some excellent advice in this article

    #3: Assume it’s a great primary new business tool
    The best prospects are the busiest prospects. They’re the people most likely to delete messages that aren’t of prime importance. And that includes you. If you’re counting on email to get their attention and make a great impression, you’re in trouble.

    Have a multi-pronged plan of attack. With the potential for rapid, and often dramatic turnover in customers, it takes a strategy of multiple prospecting streams to consistently create new sales.

    #4: Assume it can replace personal contact
    You can tell I’m a big fan of face-to-face sales, as this one is similar to my first point. I talk by email all the time, and it’ great. Like texting, it saves both parties a ton of time. Just remember…and this is huge….that is NOT always A GOOD THING.

    The average business email message gets banged out in less than a minute. Preschoolers can do it. Zap…click…boom….done. Who doesn’t like the idea of zapping off half a dozen ‘sales calls’ by email first thing in the morning. Makes anyone feel productive! But it can breed the habits of emailing instead of calling.

    For the casual comment or response to an inquiry (“how late are you open?”), you don’t need prose and poetry. But if you’re developing a sale, the time you time you put into it should be commensurate with the dollar amount of the sale.

    Once again, I’m all for using email. Love it! I’ll add any technology that helps me increase contacts or efficiency. But the one common thread in selling….the one that, with any sale that matters….is still human contact.

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