MARCH 2024
exhibitor newsletter
Have you ever met someone who genuinely believes they are good at sales, only to think to yourself, "You're not good at sales, you just like to talk a lot." On the other hand, there are individuals who are actually very strong at communicating with people, but they are a bit more reserved, so they've convinced themselves that they are not good at sales.

I think we can all agree that there are people, regardless of personality, who are just gifted at salesmanship. I'm not saying anyone and everyone can be the Babe Ruth of selling; I do believe, however, that anyone can improve their sales skills (or any interpersonal communication) by becoming extremely focused on self awareness.

When I was teaching Interpersonal and Public Speaking courses to college students, I told them that if there was nothing else they took from me - as an individual instructor (vs. what they are going to be able to regurgitate from a text book), was that to truly be an effective communicator, the strongest skill you can have is self awareness.

This is a topic that has many levels, so I am just going to touch on a few points that I hope will help you become more self aware... or at any rate cause you to say, "ah-ha, I've noticed my colleagues doing this or that; I wonder what I do; because here's the thing - we all have quirks.

I am continuously adopting nuances and it can become frustrating; because once you have recognized something you do that probably needs to be filtered out, you create a whole new annoying habit.

So - here is a quick list of QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF if you can attempt to "step outside yourself" and reflect on the way you interact.

PRO-TIP: watch a Zoom meeting of yourself and take notes; just like a football team would go through the film of a game. Trust me, it's not fun; I am often mortified when I go back and watch my tapes, but to get better, we have to do things that are uncomfortable.

Ask Yourself:

Am I able to describe to someone any of the habits I exhibit when I interact (socially or professionally)?
If you are able to step back and think about the way you communicate - that's good! If you can't, then it's time to start using some serious brain power to be focused in each momentmso you an start to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

When I'm in a sales situation, do I bring up "negatives" or "objections" that weren't even on the table?
Often rookie sales reps feel like they want to answer questions that haven't been asked, just because they either feel it's important to the client, or they may be nervous and just can't handle an uncomfortable silence. For example; if I were to be selling a piece of capital equipment, I might say - "And if it breaks, we'll send you a replacement within 48 hours." OK - well, the prospect might not have even been thinking that the product would break.... but now that you mention it, why would it break? Is the product crap?

Make sure to just answer the questions that are asked; there's usually no need to bring up anything isn't on the prospect's mind. This point is also why I feel that those who feel they are not good at sales can still have a career in sales without being one of the natural talents. Most of the time, selling is a matter of confidently answering questions and forcing yourself to say, "and how would you like to pay for that?"

Do you I use a lot of verbal pauses or repetitive phrases when you communicate?
The classic verbal pause is "UM," and I'm sure there is someone who comes top-of-mind to you right now as you think about who does this consistently. A lot of times individuals will start every sentence with "um,"; I try not to go bananas, but it definitely makes me crazy.

I know, however, that I have my own words and phrases that I use as verbal pauses; I definitely have room for improvement as well. For example, I know I consistently say, "SO...." You'll even see me use it several times in my articles because as I write these, I am doing so as if I were speaking with you face-to-face. I always go back and delete several "so"s when I do a final proofread.

Some other popular verbal pauses include:
  • ya know (I had a college professor who said "ya know" so many times that one day I completely disregarded the lecture and spent the entire hour tallying the amount of times he said, "ya know"; I could not focus on anything else
  • like.....
  • and also (I have a personal vendetta against this one as it is a redundant statement, lol)

There are also verbal pauses that aren't actually words; the one I'm thinking of is when people, "cluck/click" their tongue.

Verbal pauses are another aspect of your communication style you may not be aware of until you go back and watch video conferences of yourself with another person.

Does silence make me feel anxious?
Silence can make a lot of people feel extremely anxious. When you're in a sales situation, try to keep in mind that the pause is likely a lot shorter than you feel it is in the moment, and there is a possibility that the prospect is just running the facts of your product/service in their mind. Silence is not always a bad thing, so avoid feeling the need to say something. Allow for both you and the prospect to breathe, think and provide space for them to ask more questions.

Do I lack vocabulary?
Sometimes individuals with an above average vocabulary may not portray this in an interpersonal situation for various reasons. What comes top-of-mind for me in this regard is the use of words, "stuff" and "things."

It would not be uncommon to find yourself in a moment where you are trying to find the right word(s); but instead of using "stuff" or "things," I would recommend being OK with taking a pause so you can find the word that fits the situation.

We are all professionals in a very specific market. Words like, "stuff" and "things" have the potential to give off the impression that you are not as experienced as one would expect when engaging with DPMs who use very specific jargon.
I consistently work on ensuring I am aware of the ways I communicate and why those habits may not be serving me or my goals. Keep in mind, these recommendations to become self aware is not the same thing as me telling you to change who you are. I have a personality that does not mesh with everyone; and that's OK.

The difference, though, is that I know there are subconscious "flaws" in our communication styles that could be affecting our success - even with those whom we do connect.
Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
Noteworthy takeaways from pop culture.

I have my guilty pleasures, like we all do, and this weekend I binged a show on Netflix called, "Buying Beverly Hills." I'm not going to get into the premise, but the point is, one of the episodes showcased a perfect example of a concept I had been thinking about. It was almost an act of kismet that it was portrayed on the show at the very moment I was outlining this newsletter.

The show depicted a scenario where one the agency's very successful real estate agents was considering going to work for a competitor because he he was not being recognized for his strong performance.

Quick note: this post is specifically for owners/managers/team leaders...

Before I was self-employed, I (like many of you) observed injustices in employee recognition. We've all seen someone who was deserving of a specific promotion or award and was overlooked for one reason or another; the overlooked person may have been you in some cases.

We all love a bargain, right? Of course. However, I implore those of you who manage people to avoid relishing in getting a "steal of a deal" when it comes to the players on your team.

When young people enter into a new job there is, of course, a realistic expectation of both job title and salary. I have found that genuine and talented individuals are OK with paying their dues and they find true value in the experience they are gaining and the skills/lessons they are learning in the real world.

Here's my bottom line advice...
make sure to recognize those rising stars EARLY.

These people know their worth (or they realize it eventually), but they are also humble enough to not push for advancement... until it goes too far/too long. This is a dangerous situation for the manager/owner because these are the same people who may find it uncomfortable to ask for advancement. They also may develop feelings of resentment for the fact that they would have to ask.

What usually happens, then, is the valuable employee stays silent and begins seeking a job elsewhere; somewhere that sees they are no longer a rookie, but someone with both a skill set - oh and a client list (depending on your non-compete agreements).

I remember working for a marketing agency in my mid-twenties where something similar took place. I didn't feel I should have to ask for recognition (nor was I comfortable doing so). When I went to my boss's office and told him I had decided to take a job elsewhere, he offered me more money to stay (after throwing his wireless mouse across the room).

I asked him that if he was this upset over losing me and was willing to increase my salary, why didn't he offer that to me earlier? If I was a valued asset to the team, then I should be treated as such. Additionally, while some people may have taken the offer of increased salary, I was not going to continue coming into work each day with the feeling of (for lack of a better word) weirdness. We spend too much time of our existence with the people we work with to settle for constant awkwardness.

There are several additional arguments as to why managers/leaders need to stay ahead of the game when it comes to employee appreciation, but I'll close this article with the points above and encourage any of you in a leadership position to take a moment sooner than later to think about your team.

Is there is someone who, if they left, would be devastating to your success; or would be difficult to replace? Is there someone who you have invested in (in regard to education and training) that could take those skills elsewhere?

I know it's not always possible to hand out huge raises or bonuses, but also keep in mind that while money is vital to anyone's career and livelihood; there are other ways to recognize great work.

Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
Being in a business that does not sell directly to the end-user is quite a different playing field than working in consumer sales. For me, the biggest challenge has always been the lack of control in regard to selling to the end-user (the patient).

When I was the marketing director at an orthotics lab several years ago, I faced this obstacle every day when working on plans for the sales team. Our boss would consistently want to secure more orders from existing clients. This is a reasonable demand when just looking at it on a surface level, right?

The problem - we have no control over the marketing and sales success of the physician practices who order from us. If they're not successfully bringing in new patients and/or running a healthy dispensing program, we wouldn't see more orders. It didn't matter if we secured another client; if they weren't prescribing, we weren't growing.

This is exactly why we have witnessed strategies utilized by Big Pharma and others; to send sales reps into practices and incentivize docs to prescribe more of products, "x, y, z." As a B2B company, there are several elements out of our control, but what we can control are the strategies in which we supply our clients with the tools and resources to help them market to their patients.

Ask yourself: once we land a new account, how much are we investing in their success? Think of all the time and energy you are putting into marketing and sales to acquire more clients. Consider reallocating some of that time and those marketing dollars to investing in programs that elevate the success of your clients.

There are different levels to which you get involved, and the types of materials you would provide your practices totally depends on the nature of your product; but here is a short list of communication tools that should be or could be be in your practice marketing tool kit:

  • Standard collateral (brochures, flyers, posters, rack cards, etc.)

  • Educational videos for practice waiting rooms; you can also place these videos online and provide practices an embed code so they can showcase the video(s) on their website

  • Website Verbiage

  • Suggested verbiage and images for social media posts / ads

  • Post Cards

  • Email Templates

  • A list of keywords they can use for Adwords and SEO

You could take this to even higher levels by reworking the job description of your account managers. If you have people who crush it in sales, you don't want to take them away from selling, but most of the time, the sales rep is the account manager.

Consider creating a cooperative team of sales reps and account managers who are, really, B2C marketing professionals. These experts can be assigned to certain accounts and work as a constant marketing resource for their assigned practices. They would help to ensure new and current clients are growing and sales reps can continue to do what they do best - close.

Getting a new account doesn't mean jack if those practices aren't dispensing. Invest in the success of your clients.
Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
Random reflections from what we're currently reading.

Last month, I shared my thoughts regarding goals. I know I said they were irrelevant, which is a bold statement and not entirely the point in terms of face value; instead the main idea was that we are not able to control the result. We can only control the process which leads to a result.

A couple of weeks later I was watching "Full Swing" on Netflix, which is a series that follows a group of professional golfers and documents their personal experiences on the PGA Tour.

I was so pumped to witness and hear coaches/caddies of the players describe exactly this point! So I simply want to share a couple of clips and and teasingly say... seeeeee, I told you so. ;)

Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
Clearly I love alliteration..... ANYWAY.

People used to be shocked when they learned that the number one fear among people is public speaking. Please note: I don't know if current research shows that this is still accurate.

When I taught public speaking at Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, IL) and Midstate College (Peoria, IL), I was always surprised when my students told me they felt more comfortable speaking in front of people they knew. I, on the other hand, felt (and still feel) the exact opposite. I experience a great deal of pressure and anxiety to perform at a higher level when people I know personally are watching as opposed to feeling very little nervousness in front of strangers. The same type of angst exists when I am in a position where I am selling.

Today, I would tell my younger self to be more mentally tough and to get over it, but on the same token, I am aware that some people just need their space to perform their best. Hovering over your sales reps on an exhibit hall floor has the potential to create an environment that throws even your most talented sales reps off their game, resulting in poor performance where ROI is critical.

This smothering environment can also be present in the office; sometimes unintentionally. For example, I used to work in an office that had an open layout; so I didn't have my own office, nor did I even have the privacy of a cubicle).

First of all, I talk LOUDLY - especially when I'm on the phone. I also pace. When I am having a strong sales day, I probably get in three miles of steps by just circling my home office. I never feel like I can "do what I do" when there are other people present, especially if I am not the boss. There are constant mental distractions about judgment of my sales style or if I'm saying the right thing, according to whomever is listening.

It's definitely necessary to ensure members of a sales team are generating an appropriate amount of revenue, however, I am a proponent of allowing individuals to accomplish their goals the best way they know how; in a way they are able to produce results. I have seen several sales team leaders try to force a process upon talented reps only to create a formula that does not lead to success.

Obviously if a member of the team is just not producing, then there is a strong reason for intervention or a performance audit; but if you want a members of your team to flourish, allow them to do what works best for them... and reap the rewards.
Thoughts? Questions? Email Me!
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