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Jeffrey Gitomer

The proposal and the sale are miles apart

“Sounds good, send me a proposal.” How many times have you heard that? Too many. So you run back to your office, put together a proposal, send it to the prospect, and start the follow-up process (and the prayer vigil).

Or do you?

REALITY: The sale should be solidified BEFORE the proposal is written. Your proposal should be the essence of what has been decided by you and your prospect. It should solidify the sale.

How many proposals do you win – how many did you lose? If you lose way more proposals than you win, it’s much more than just the proposal. It’s the proposal process.

Count the wins. Count the losses. That’s the scorecard baby. Your scorecard. Ouch.

AND when you win proposals, how profitable are they? Are you telling your boss, “Hey let’s go in real low on this one so we can get the business, and then six months from now, boy we can really lose some money.” Ouch.

REALITY: Once you lower the price, customers expect a low price all the time.

Proposals are there because buyers think they’ll get the lowest price or the best deal by pitting one company against the other. Your job is to make yourself a winner BEFORE the proposal happens by creating conditions or terms that preclude others from either bidding or winning.

The first thing you need to do is determine if it’s a price proposal or a value proposal. If they’re going to take the lowest price only, you’re going to lose, even if you win. Because the lowest price is the lowest profit. It may even be no profit.

So the challenge is, can you create a profitability formula or a productivity formula, measured against what you do, that sets a standard for the proposal. A formula that your competition must meet or exceed regardless of initial price.

You need to convince your buyer that there’s a long term cost, not simply a short term price.

Are they are buying your price only — taking the lowest bid? If so, they only need a one sentence proposal, and you don’t need me.

Try this: – Don’t do it… at first. When someone asks me for a proposal the first thing I say to them is no. That always shocks people. And besides, proposals are a pain in the butt.

I ask the person if they were taking notes. They say, “Yes.” I say, “Well, let me just sign the notes.” I continue by saying all we really need to do is pick a date to begin. And 30% of the time the prospect will say, “You’re right.”

The other 70% of the time the prospect will insist on a proposal. But I’ve just won 30% of the business without submitting a paper. And there’s a reason for this. I have sales balls and you may not.

The reason proposals are there is to lower risk to the buyer, and potentially to lower the cost. But in the final analysis many proposals can be eliminated if your prospect feels that your price is fair, and that their risk is low.

If the risk is low and the reward is high then the answer is always obvious.

Before the decision is made, it’s important to your customer that they know what your product or service will be like AFTER it’s been delivered. This will take away all risks and all fear. And it may also take away the price-only-decision process.

The key words are: value messages on video testimonials.

Customers only buy for an hour or two, but they may use for years. So you say to your customer, “Mr. Jones, I’d like to add a clause to the proposal that insists on proof of salespeople’s claims. And so I am asking you to require five testimonials in video form so that you’ll know any claim a salesperson makes has been validated by a customer, and it’s not just a sales pitch or a proposal.”

The video testimonial is a powerful piece of support. And depending upon the quality can be the difference between sale and no sale.

2.5 thoughts on testimonials:

1. Testimonials reduce the risk of purchase.
2. Testimonials are the only proof you’ve got.
2.5 Testimonials MUST be included in every proposal.

Winning proposals are solidified by dynamic sales presentations. Proposals should be the solidifying factor, not the sales pitch. The proposal should document what has been said and agreed. The proposal should confirm the sale and all the claims you made about it. Does yours?

Your proposal process is not a regurgitation of your price list. It is not a document to see how much of your profit you can give away. It is not something you prepare to beat the competition.

Your proposal is the gateway earned business. It solidifies a value-driven sales presentation that begins or extends a relationship where everyone profits. The minute you low ball a price, you’ve gone from a relationship sale to transactional sale and the next person who low balls your price will beat you. And beat themselves.

Don’t just win the proposal.

Win the value. Win the profit. And win the relationship.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

Do you have the character and characteristics of sales success?

Here is list of sales success characteristics.

They represent the elements of what will make a salesperson successful.

But here’s the secret – before you make judgments about others and how they compare to the list, FIRST judge yourself. Measure yourself against the elements that make salespeople who they are, and successful at what they do. And for those of you who hire salespeople, a checklist of the real things to look for in a potentially successful person.

NOTE WELL: If you want to succeed, you and whoever you hire better be somewhere between 8 and 10 (on a 1-10 scale) on every one of these characteristics.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 13.5 individual characteristics that would make any person a “hire”able and “succeed”able salesperson (you included).

1. Smart. Salespeople have to be smart enough to think on the spot, and deal with every kind of situation as it happens. CAUTION: Very experienced salespeople, who think they know everything, are most vulnerable to be beaten by a smart person with hustle.

2. Self-Starting. Great salespeople don’t need “motivation.” They have a built in fire – that’s somewhere between a cup of Death Wish Coffee and a Red Bull. Nobody has to tell them what to do. They know what to do. And they do it. They make the first call of the day, and the last call of the day.

3. Great Attitude. Great salespeople believe they will make every sale. Great salespeople take “no” as “not yet.” Great salespeople accept every lemon thrown at them by management, customers, and accounting – and use those lemons to open up a lemonade stand. A great salesperson is able to take everybody else’s crap, and somehow turn it into money.

4. Excellent Communication Skills. Great salespeople are not “good” communicators. They’re great communicators. Their message is both compelling and transferable. Their passion and their belief system is as contagious as their enthusiasm. And they’re able to articulate in a way that gets customers to buy, more often than not.

5. Physically and Mentally Fit. The statement speaks for itself and implies that you work out on a regular basis working your mind and your body. Exercising your mind and body before you get to work (push-ups and brain-ups) so that you feel good and that good feeling is projected every time you interact with a customer.

6. Computer, Tablet and Smartphone Literate. There’s no excuse for a lack of computer literacy other than stubbornness and laziness. The internet will rule the economic world for at least the next decade. And those who ignore this fact will find themselves completely unemployable after they get fired from their present job.

7. Focused and Intention Driven. Having a goal is a basic fundamental element. Intending to achieve it is the motive to achieve it. Having a plan is a basic fundamental element. Intending to implement it is the motive to put it into action. Keeping your eye on the prize and working towards it steadily is what separates those who do and those who don’t. “Goals without intention and focus,” is like an automobile without gasoline. It looks pretty, but it can’t get you anywhere. Intention is the fuel that will take you from where you are to your goal, your destination, to where you want to be.

8. Dedicated to Succeeding. With great salespeople, it’s not just a matter of goals. It’s a matter of focus on outcome and achievement. Multiple achievements lead to success, and a self-confidence that keeps the momentum going from sale to sale.

9. Past History of Success. Every time a great salesperson makes a sale, it remains in their self-confidence memory bank and can be called upon for positive energy in any situation. The more you succeed, the more your success is likely to continue.

10. Looking for a Career, Not a Job. If a salesperson has a base salary and a commission, the job person wants a raise in their base pay. The career person wants a raise in their commission.

11. More Interested in Personal Success and Personal Development, Than Money. Salespeople who work for money rarely achieve it. Great salespeople work to be their best, and dedicate themselves to that process daily. And as a result, earn tons.

12. A Constant Student: Willing to Learn and Adapt. Great salespeople know there is always more to learn. They dedicate themselves to being better, being best. Great salespeople know that learning from their past allows them to adapt and be ready for new encounters and new challenges. It’s the difference between “already knowing everything” and “life-long learner.”

13. Taking Joy in Serving Others. This is the “master” quality. One of the best salespeople I’ve ever known is John Ruhlin. He created and is the master of Giftology, and loves to serve.

13.5 A Great Social Presence and Reputation. Easier stated: “google-able” by you and any customer they might visit. They know social media, have a social understanding, and participate daily in learning, posting, and reputation building.

Notice one characteristic missing? Sales skills. I’d rather have attitude and brains than selling skills any day. I can teach someone to sell. I can’t teach them to be smart or happy.

Easier answer. Compare these qualifications to the best salesperson you ever knew. Compare them to the best salesperson you ever had. Compare them to yourself. Ouch.

Now that you know the criteria, you have some work to do.

If you’d like examples of how to discover and breed great salespeople go to www.gitomer.com – register if you’re a first time user – and enter the word SALES CHARACTER in the GitBit box.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

The non-secret formula that makes a great salesperson

Why are salespeople great?
What makes salespeople successful?
What characteristics make up a sales superstar?

Wouldn’t you like to know the answer to these questions?
So would every salesperson.
So would every sales leader.
So would every person who hires a salesperson.

By understanding what criteria sales managers and business owners look for in a salesperson, you may be able to determine how those characteristics fit into your own personal success formula.

Everybody tells me they wanna hire a great salesperson. They go through the expensive gyrations of outsourcing, in-sourcing, testing, interviewing and finally hiring. Then they train with some intensive orientation and a week or two of product sales skills, investing all the while in their hopeful rookie. Yet the turnover rate of salespeople is pegged at 74% in the first year. So evidently, there’s a gap between who you think is great, and who is actually great.

I’ve been collecting great salesperson characteristics from many different sales managers and entrepreneurs. They’ll all give me “hiring” criteria and characteristics. But what they really mean is, “I need this person to have these skills in order to succeed in my company.”

QUESTION: Do you hire for skills, and fire for attitude? Why don’t you hire for attitude and train the skill? I have encountered hundreds of salespeople who claim to be great. Many of them are cynical and broke. The ones who really are great, don’t have to brag about it. They carry their own water, chop their own wood, mind their own business, and don’t have to talk about how great they are, because they have a positive attitude, a positive customer base, a positive success record, and a positive bank account to prove it. Their results do the talking.

It’s funny that every person who has ever bragged to me about what a great salesman or saleswoman they are, has never bragged to me about what a great person they are. And if I’m doing the hiring, I’m going to start with a great person, not a great salesperson.

The lesson here is that attitude and work ethic are more important than sales skill. If they have a great attitude, and a solid work ethic, they will accept learning new skills as a way of life and a path to success. If a person’s attitude is lacking, they fall into the category of “you can’t teach an old (sales)dog new tricks.”

And then there’s the character of the person. If you have a great salesperson with a rotten character, what do you do? You fire them, that’s what you do.

Here’s an easy unscientific answer to uncover the skill set, criteria, and characteristics of a great salesperson. Go back, and list the best ten salespeople you have ever known. Don’t forget to include yourself. Leave some space to list their characteristics. Maybe make a spreadsheet listing their names across the top of the page. Then compile your list of great characteristics down the side, and begin checking boxes for each salesperson.

When you begin to chart the characteristics of great salespeople you have known or hired, you’ll find that several of their characteristics are the same. Especially those of deep belief, ability to build relationships, ability to self-start, and ability to maintain a positive attitude.

You’ll also discover that every sales superstar you’ve ever known had individual characteristics or strengths that made him or her rise above the others. Maybe it was the fact she was a single mom. Maybe it was the fact he had overcome some tragedy. Or maybe it was just personal determination. Maybe it was their athleticism and their willingness to be coached that created the discipline for them to succeed.

It’s important that you list every one of these elements so that you’re able to develop a full set of criteria. This will allow you to measure that criteria against yourself, and your coworkers. It will also aid you in the selection process as you seek another sales star.

Here’s an idea: why not list all the criteria and create a self-evaluation test. Ask people (yourself included) to rate themselves in each of the sales characteristics. This will give them, and you, insight as to strengths and weaknesses, so that they (you) will know where to grow.

I’ve developed 13.5 characteristics compiled from salespeople and sales managers over the years. They will appear right here – NEXT WEEK.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

The most coveted prize in selling besides a sale… is a referral.

Everyone tells you to get referrals. And most people tell you to “ask” for them.

“Don’t forget to ask for a referral.” Horrible strategy. Totally offensive for the most part. Borderline rude. And asking the same customer twice is a death wish.

MY DEFINITION OF A REFERRAL: A name and contact information provided proactively by someone you have a relationship with (most likely a customer) who believes a third party would be willing to, or would benefit from doing business with you – AND they are willing to introduce you and provide a testimonial.

“I know a guy looking for…” “don’t use my name…” “here’s someone to call…” those are not referrals – they’re leads.

Now that that’s out of the way, suppose you actually DO get a referral. Ask, beg, get one proactively, earn one (the best way), whatever, let’s say you have the referral in hand… NOW WHAT?

No one tells you that part. What to do next to ensure the sale? How do you approach this person? How do you maximize the selling power of a referral? And what do you risk with the wrong approach?

Here’s a strategy that will work. CAUTION: It’s significantly slower than you would like, but it WILL WORK. The key is not just patience, it’s a combination of your preparedness, the strength of your relationship with the person giving you the referral, and execution of strategy to build confidence and rapport BEFORE the sales process begins.

Here are 8.5 rules and guidelines to ensure your success:
1. Approach with care, be prepared, don’t move too quickly. Timing is everything. Don’t appear to be too anxious to get the sale (money). Proper set up will breed a long-term relationship (more money) instead of just a sale.

2. Arrange a three-way call, then a three-way meeting. Setting the stage for the first meeting/communication can make it or break it. All three people together will set the perfect stage. Your customer will sing your praises and help make the sale in front of the referral.

3. Connect socially. LinkedIn, and the entire suite of social media. Subscribe to whatever – their blog or ezine. And keep in mind when they see you connect, they will do the same. Rule one: Be at least one notch higher in social profile than your customers and prospects. Not having solid social presence is a fatal mistake.

4. Get personal information about the referral before you make the first contact. Start with mother Google, and advance to cousin LinkedIn and all other members of the online social family. NOTE WELL: Don’t just look for information, look for similar interests, similar people, and similar situations. Common ground will establish immediate positive rapport. LINK STARTERS: Business information, personal information, recent successes, likes, last vacation, children’s schools, hometown. Having their personal information is an advantage. Having web presence is an advantage. Not having personal information is a fatal mistake.

5. You don’t have to sell at the first meeting if your customer is with you. In fact, the less selling you do, the more credible you will appear. You only have to establish rapport, gain confidence, and arrange a second, private meeting where you can get down to business.

6. Try to get the prospect to prepare information for your private meeting. If you can get the prospect to gather and/or compile information, you have an interested prospect who will be willing to talk and listen.

7. Don’t send too much information in the mail or email. The mail and the email, like the phone, is not where a sale is made. It’s just a sales tool. Send just enough to inform, create interest, and make a meeting.

8. Write a personal note to the referral within 24-hours. Brief, but positive. Don’t slobber all over the note with thanks, and thanks again. Just tell him or her it was nice to get acquainted and you’re looking forward to the next meeting.

8.5 Deliver! Failure to follow up and deliver as promised makes you and your customer look bad to the prospect. Failure to deliver also eliminates any chance of another referral. This rule is the most important of all. It’s a breeding ground for your relationship AND your reputation. What kind of reputation have you got?

How valuable are real referrals? One third-party introduction and endorsement is worth a hundred presentations, if you know what you’re doing.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

It’s not what you say that makes the sale. It’s what they ask.

Here is a sales action for you to take: Become question aware.
Here is another sales action for you to take: Listen with the intent to understand.

Every time you are asked a question. Ask yourself this question before you answer it… Is the prospect telling me that he or she is ready to buy?

That requires thinking way beyond your sales pitch. It’s the nuance part of the presentation. It’s where the sale is.

Below is the last part of the list of 21.5 signs and signals that the customer MAY be ready to buy…

14. Specific questions about ownership of your product or service. “Would you provide supplies each month automatically?” “Would you come by each month and pick up my accounting?” “Suppose I like the temp, and want her to work for me full-time?” Those are the nitty-gritty questions of the buying process. The prospect is already owning it. You are being asked secondary (ownership) questions that say you are going too far. You should have asked for the sale a long time ago. These are questions that should come after you have completed the sale.

15. Questions to confirm unstated decision or seeking support. “Is this the best way for me to go?” Or, “What do you recommend?” Could they be leaning any further forward without falling over? Your customer is looking at you for your expertise and advice. They are depending on you for your wisdom. When they ask, “What would you do?” and you don’t put ink on paper at that time, get out of there! You don’t belong there.

16. Wanting to see a sample or demo again. “Could I see those fabric samples again?” “Tell me about the warranty again?” When prospects ask to see or hear anything again, that is when you write the order.

17. Asking for a test or a sample. “Can I try this for a few days?” “Can you send me a sample?” The prospect is saying, if this works I will buy!

18. Making buying noises. What’s a buying noise Jeffrey? The prospect saying, “Oh! I didn’t know that!” or “Oh really? that’s interesting!” or “You know, that’s in line with what we have been doing,” or “That is something that I have always wanted to try.”

19. Asking about other satisfied customers. “Who else is using your product right now?” “Who are some of your current customers?” Here’s a clue: They don’t believe you, so they are asking questions about someone else like them so that they can have enough reassurance to buy. Customers don’t always believe the salesperson, because at some point in their life, a salesperson has lied to them.

20. Asking for a reference. If they say, “Can I contact someone you did temp work for?” That is a specific question that says if you can provide this for me, I am buying. Or if they say, “Do you have a list of satisfied customers?” and you go, “Well no, but I do have this list of loyal customers. Would you like to see it?” that’s how you make the sale.

21. Asking chicken questions. The buyer is always looking to lower the risk of ownership, but they start out with something like this, “Suppose I buy it and it doesn’t work, or it doesn’t fit, or it’s not the right size?” What they are saying is give me some more reassurance. What the customer is saying right now is don’t sell me anymore, rather, reassure me.

Ok, so there’s the 21. There is one more, and then the .5 of course. Ok, so the last one is SO BIG that it needs its own space so I purposefully did not number it.

The biggest buying signal of them all is the one most often never asked because you have employed the rule of dumb.

Giving away critical pricing information before it’s asked for, therefore precluding the biggest buying signal in sales… How much is it? This question is the single most powerful buying signal on the planet. If you tell your price at the beginning, or send your price list in your info-pack, you are taking away a huge tactical advantage in making the sale. The other “ask” that I did not put in this list but should be mentioned is when the buyer asks you, “What is the next step?” This is so blatant of a buying sign it’s not really right to consider it a signal. It’s more of a hit in the face with a shovel.

And finally, 21.5, your ability to convert any signal, sign or question into a sale. Every one of these buying signals or questions can be turned into a closing question that will lead to a faster sale, if you are paying attention, if you are listening with the intent to understand. With every pointed question, the prospect is saying, “I want to buy.” My question to you is, “How are you responding?”

Listening for, recognizing, and acting on a buying signal is critical to your success as a salesperson. You will go past the sale if you don’t. And many do.

Free GitBit – all three parts of this series are available if go to gitomer.com and enter the words BUYING SIGNALS in the GitBit box.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].