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Three Rules for Selling in Tough Times

In a recent interview with sales guru Neil Rackham, he tells us about three rules for selling in tough times. In this interview Neil points out that these three rules stems from  studying previous recessions and trying to work out what the successful players have done.

Rule Number 1: Avoid Chasing After Too Many Things

In times of economic anxiety, chasing after too many things is the number one mistake that business owners make. In times of uncertainty, our instinct for survival naturally takes over and we begin to get ‘whatever comes our way.’

Neil Rackham states one very important rule of thumb during tough times: “Don’t chase bad business.”  He further stressed his point by adding, “If you won’t chase a business in good times, never ever chase it in bad times.”

Winners instead decide on which pieces of business are most important to get and puts more effort into them. Putting double the effort into a half-opportunity will give you better return than spreading everything thin across all opportunities.

During tough times it is important to keep your focus sharp and over-deliver to your identified market.

Rule Number 2: Never get into Early Negotiations

Yes, it is true that-times are hard; therefore it’s always easy to fall into the trap  of getting into negotiations too early.

In stressing this point, Neil explains the difference between selling and negotiation. According to him, “When you’re selling, you’re not giving anything away; when you’re negotiating, you’re giving things away to get business.”

In uncertain times, anxiety pretty much causes us to start giving things away due to a feeling of desperation. One thing to take important note of is that potential customers can sense this desperation. Emitting these vibes can reduce your chance of getting the business; and what’s worse is that you might even whet the customer’s appetite to get more and more concessions.

Customers  can sense this desperation and will try to push you over the limit once they see that you’re willing to negotiate at the initial meet.

Rule Number 3: Make the Customer Feel Safe

The most common misconception is that during a recession, most people think that customers are price-sensitive. This is not so. Studies have shown that customers would rather pay more and go with a safe alternative than go with a cheaper, less-stable alternative.

To prove this point, you can ask yourself this question: “When times are hard, and you’re willing to make a big purchase, would you go for the safe option or the cheaper option?”

As per the study of Neil and his group, they’ve  found out that eighty percent of people would always go for the ‘safe’ option. With this in mind, your challenge now, as a business owner,  is that you would need to make yourself appear to be the most reliable, and the safest option to your prospects.

sad man

Getting Rid of the Selling Blues

At the start, most of us business owners have a certain fear of selling. It is usually caused by the bad images of pushy and annoying sales people that keep filling our heads with dreadful experiences and cheesy tag lines. Also, another reason why we might hate selling is that we never want to get rejected by a prospective client.

As business owners, we need to overcome this irrational fear and get over it as soon as we can; because if we don’t there are great repercussions as to what it can do for ourselves and our business.

There are three main reasons why we need to reconsider our unwillingness to sell. The first reason is very obvious. No selling equates to our business suffering. No sales equate to no revenue. No revenue equates to no profit; and ultimately, no profit means no business.

The second reason is very obvious too. Not selling also has its negative effect on our self-confidence. It may even come to a point that the fear of rejection can stop us from entirely selling.

The third, and last reason – though not so obvious and is usually forgotten by most of us, is that not selling equates to us not helping as many people as we wanted. We established our business and created our products and services so that we can help people out (and profit while doing it). Not selling means that we are not fulfilling our mission as business owners to help our customers and the industry.

If you’ve got that fear of turning into the salesperson you hate, then now is the time to change your mindset. We are all in the middle of an alleged economic crisis where every dollar earned counts.

I also kind of did an introspection as to why I am hesitant to sell my product; and these are the things I found out.

There are also three reasons why I don’t want to sell; and these are mainly just biases based on very bad experiences with sleazy sales people. I’m sure these might also look all too familiar to you.

The first reason being is that I love to buy, but I don’t like being sold to. I’ve had that experience with an annoying car salesman wherein I felt that the only thing he cared about was  getting my money. Oh, how I despised that person that time. I felt like that he was desperate and only focused on getting that fat commission.

Next reason was that I always had a notion that all salespeople are insincere, dishonest, and are very self-focused. This was another bias that stopped me from selling. The third and last reason was that I always had that fear of being rejected. Who doesn’t?

If you can relate to these three reasons, then, like me, you’ve put some limitations on yourself regarding selling and have already sold yourself short of what you can actually put on the table.

Here are some tips on how I cured this fear. Who knows? It might cure yours too.

  1. You need to change your mind set when it comes to selling. Selling is an exchange of value. It means that I provide you something, and in exchange, you give me something of equal value. Think of the ‘barter trading system’ of the old days.


  1. You need to believe that your product or service is the best. When you have this kind of belief in your product or service, selling usually comes naturally. Just think of the best movie you’ve watched this year. When you discuss it with your friends, aren’t you very enthusiastic about it to a point that you try to sway your skeptical friends to also consider your point of view? This is what most people call the ‘raving fan syndrome.’


If you’re not a ‘raving fan’ of your own product or service, then you might want to re-evaluate the product/service itself. Be mindful that not being a ‘raving fan’ of your own product and service might turn you into the ‘sleazy car salesman’ who’s only goal is to hit the quota and get that commission.


  1. Always remember that the customer is more important than the sale. Offering value and helping people with their needs are your most important goals as a business owner. Though you may not have made a sale this time; but if you continue focusing on these important goals, you will build a lifetime fan. This will, of course, equate to more sales in the long run.

Facilitating Effective Meetings can Close You that Business Deal

For business owners, meetings can either be a positive, fruitful experience; or they can also mean hours of wasted time that could’ve been used in other tasks. In order to conduct effective, productive, and efficient meetings, preparation is always necessary. Being prepared makes sure that participants will all be on the same page during the set appointment.

Some time ago, I had a business appointment with a fellow entrepreneur. I was planning to use his services on a certain project I was planning to launch. This person was an expert at what he does; he also knew that I knew almost nothing about his craft.

An appointment was set so that we can begin looking at the possibilities of what our partnership can bring.

During the meet, both parties were too casual.  The results I wanted to get from the fellow entrepreneur wasn’t really made clear. Furthermore, the other party did not ask any questions before we got together for a meet.

This unpreparedness resulted to a very awkward meeting that actually only began when our time was almost up. Both parties had not set any guidelines for it to be considered an effective meeting.

This lack of preparation resulted to a sloppy business practice deemed unacceptable by any professional.

During that time, I felt that my potential supplier left with a notion that his time was wasted.  I was also having some doubt as to his ability to manage the project. After that experience, I can’t help but ask myself, “What results can I expect from a person who can’t even manage a meeting effectively?”

I might be too judgmental in thinking that; but most probably our potential customers are also having the same doubts when we give them that impression. Managing meetings, therefore, is a vital skill in our constant search for new business and new opportunities.

In this scenario, none of us had not taken responsibility for the meeting. This failed meet therefore resulted to bad impressions from both parties and was also reckoned as a waste of time by everyone involved.

In a scenario like this, we can be proactive and take the wheel when it comes to setting the scene.

With being proactive in mind, I want to share some helpful tips for facilitating effective meetings:

Never Go to a Meeting Without Expected Results

Never show up at a meeting where the desired results are not understood by all parties. This includes, but are not limited to, the meetings you schedule and the ones you are expected to attend.

Do a ‘Play-by-Play’ in Your Mind before Each Meeting

Always plan any appointment in advance. Always put into consideration about what messages you want to convey and what things you expect to learn. Make a certain experience as a benchmark of success  for each meeting. Setting a benchmark every time will help you prepare for the next meets.

Treat Each Meeting Like It’s Your Own

Own each meeting. A meeting that’s getting out of control is never a time to be passive. If you look bored and disconnected throughout the meeting, believe me, everyone will think that you have the same demeanor at any given time of day.

Don’t be Afraid to Propose Other Options

Do not be afraid to challenge the ‘meeting-setter.’ If you think that a conference call, rather than a face-to-face meeting, would be enough to get the expected outcome – then offer it as a suggestion. If you need more to get more information or more details from the other participants before setting an appointment – then don’t be afraid to say it.


Always Recap Before the Meeting Ends

It is always a good idea to give a short  summary of what transpired during the meet. This recap time can also be used to discuss items that need follow-up and the next steps. Make sure that there’s no stone left unturned.

Always Confirm and Reconfirm

It is a good business practice to schedule meetings days in advance. It is also a good idea to confirm attendance to meetings a day before, at the most. As a business owner, you should always leave nothing to chance. All means of transportation are full of entrepreneurs miserably returning to base after learning that  a very important meeting was cancelled due to him or her not confirming attendance. You don’t want to be one of those people.

When customers see that you respect your time, they will also respect it.  As an entrepreneur, you should always remember that customers and clients can read the inefficiencies in an area, such as meeting management,  as a sign of inefficiency in all areas.


Double your Sales with These Selling Tips

Sales are usually measured in terms of conversion. As a business owner, it is always a good idea to  keep track of your conversion rate; you might even notice an increase in sales performance from your staff just by monitoring it.

In order to calculate your business’ conversation rate, you just need to have this very simple formula in mind: conversion rate equals your total sales divided by your total enquires or presentations. With this formula for defining selling success now at play, here are some tips on how you can improve your business’ sales conversion.

Actively Listen to your Customers

Do you become defensive when a prospective customer says something about your product or service that you don’t like? If being defensive is always your initial reaction when it comes to negative feedback, then you definitely need to improve your listening skills. Active listening requires processing the speaker’s message on both the content and context level. It means that you would need to focus on what was said and how it was said. Moreover, you should always look at opportunities for connection and start asking questions when things are unclear. Likewise, active listening also entails you knowing exactly when to paraphrase, when to be silent, or when to give verbal nods.

Build Rapport with Your Customers

Ever had that experience of watching two friends converse and talk about the same topic? To add to that, both of them basically sound alike, use the same word choices, and to a certain extent, also finish each other’s sentences. If you’ve experienced this scene before then you’ve just witnessed how rapport works between two people. When people are in rapport, they naturally ‘match and mirror’ each other. As a business owner, building rapport with your customers is a way of telling them that you are like them. It is a known fact that customers only buy from people that they like and trust; pretty much people who are like them.

Ask Effective Probing Questions

One of the best and fastest ways to find out the needs of your customers immediately is through effective probing. Probing entails asking the right questions in a logical manner to ensure that you get the right details in order to match a need with a product or service.

In asking effective probing questions, there are two things that you should always remember. First, ask  questions that are non-threatening. Second, once a customer answers a question, ask follow-up questions based on what they’ve answered. Once you’ve effectively probed and found out a customer’s need, most of the time, these customers are already sold once you’re done asking questions.

Simplify Your Pricing Schemes

Many business owners already experience apprehensions once the question of price comes in. In discussing process with your customers, always make sure that you get to simplify your packages. Based on your probing, you should already have at least two options available for the customers.  It wouldn’t be wise to overwhelm a customer with options at this point of the negotiation.

Don’t forget to Close!

A lot of sales get lost because no one actually asked for it. Don’t forget to close the sale. An example of a closing questions is, “Which would you prefer option one or option two?” Another very effective closing question is “When do you want it delivered?” Also, when closing the sale always remember to give the customer a little bit of room to think about it or consider his or her options.

Handle Objections

For most business owners, objections signal that you’ve lost the interest of a customer; or even worse is that some give up and even get defensive. Objections are hidden treasures in themselves. Always listen to objections carefully as sometimes they are excuses; but most of the time they are problems that clients want to address. In handling objections, make sure to answer questions with confidence, and re-assure the customer that it is your product or service that will suit their needs. Don’t forget to ask for the sale again. You’ll find out that handling an objection effectively will result to more sales and even a higher level of confidence from the customer.


Recognizing Buying Signals will Help you Close those Sales

Before we start, I just wanted everyone to know that I started my career as a used car salesman. I don’t want to cause any panic as I know that people like me have had a bad reputation when it comes to selling. But trust me, I wasn’t that stereotypical car salesman who’s everyone’s all too familiar with.

This was almost about two decades ago, but during this stint at selling used cars, I happened to pick up a few things that helped me throughout my selling career. The valuable lesson that I learned from that experience was that you always have to mindful of buying signals from your customers.

When your prospective customer is close to making a purchase, he or she may demonstrate these buying signals. Buying signals, therefore, are signs that the sale is ‘ripe for the taking.’ Let me share some examples of buying signals; so that you too, can benefit from identifying them, and effectively closing those sales.

The Customer is Visualizing Himself or Herself Using the Product

As a car salesman, I’ve experienced visual statements from customers such as : “I think my friends would love the color” or “I can just imagine seeing the kids sitting comfortably at the backseat on one of our monthly visits to their grandma, about an hour’s drive from home.”

The Customer Has You Go Over the Terms Again

This can come in the form of having to repeat some terms and conditions that were just tackled a few minutes ago or the customer requesting a breakdown of all the fees.

The Customer Tries to Push The Limits

Questions that try to circumvent your company’s standard operating procedures are good indicators that the customer is ready to buy. Most of the time, these attempts are just indicators of ‘pre-sales playfulness’ on the customer’s part. In these instances, the customer is just trying to test you if you can break a few rules in order to get a much better deal.

The Customer Talks About Money

If your potential customer claims that your price is too much; more often than not, this is a sign that he or she is almost ready to buy . The only thing that you need to do is to figure out a way on how to reposition your product to be more convincing when it comes to value-add.

Timing the Close Correctly

When the discussion already changes to timelines, then you’re already set. This is an indication that the customer has already considered taking the product or service and is already planning his or her activities around the product.  What’s more is that once you hear the magic question, “So, what’s the next step?” it pretty much tells you that you’ve got the customer hooked and the deal is sealed.


Sales Forecasts

In every business, sales forecasting is as important as market strategy planning. Through this, you can project your sales revenue and analyze them along with market trends and assessments. However, having no available data is as hard as seeking investors.  But wait, you can still do certain things to make it work. Validating sales forecast will affect every feature of your institution so you better consider doing some of the things below for validation of your sales target.

Counting actual sales be it a single customer involved with just a small amount will be helpful enough. Every piece of your sales is important because eventually, this will turn into a profitable investment with your stockholders combined. Don’t underestimate a minor contribution. Successful businesses always start with the hard time looking for money and investors.

Potential big-time investors could count as a worthy validation of your sales forecast.  Early investments will help you to gradually climb up the market trends.

Demographic marketing profiles shows actuality of your sales. Consider totalling your potential customers and their possible amount of investments. You have to get the upper marketing variables.

Breakdown your forecast into different parts of the market composition. Don’t go with a block of general information. This will just confuse you and won’t help you validate your forecast, at all. For example, if you are forecasting your cafeteria business, break it down to your foodstuffs, drinks, ingredients added, employers, number of visitors, peak hours for the customers, number of customers daily, weekly and other demographics to help you create a positive validation.

Remember market limitations in dealing with your customers. Don’t go beyond the limits of forecasting your sales revenue. Your deals will get compromised if you do so.

Pattern you forecasts to previous business data and situations that exhibit the same market trends. You may have it similar with existing sales strategies on products or services that you are offering. But make sure that you’ll form it along with the successful strategies that your company has made before.

Don’t act like there are no competitors because it won’t be believable.  Other business institutions aren’t just your competitors. You may be the sole business on your place or field of market but take note of your resources and investors. You should be kept updated on different market approaches. What you got used to ten years ago might not be very effective or practical this time.

Don’t merely expect your future from the past because as mentioned earlier, you should have updates.  You may use your history of data as a basis to have wild guesses and intellectual approach on your sales. You must exhaust your analytical thinking and gather as much data as you can. But on top of this, you have to be accurate and realistic.

Regularly evaluate your forecasts with no fail. It’s because a missing one step of the business process might hinder you towards the success of validating your forecasts. Your assumptions must be well taken and keep track of the certain changes that occurred through time.


Dealing With Big Business

Are you planning to sell in big businesses? But then something is hindering you because you are not sure of what to do? Don’t worry here are tips to guide you in venturing to this big corporations.

  1. As an entrepreneur you should be aware of the products that are needed by the big businesses because there are many competitions in this kind of area.
  2. Know how to introduce yourself to the company and prove to them that you are better than the others.
  3. You must also have a good background in your financial account because this is business and both of you are taking risk. You must remember that you should earn your credibility so that they can trust you in this business.
  4. Make sure that you have the capacity to provide the volume or number of products that they order. Remember that you are doing business with them.
  5. When you already get their orders, make sure to follow up your buyers. In this way they can see that you are serious with what you are doing.
  6. Provide also a business card so that they can have your contact number in case that they want to order. Put the basic information in your business card like your name, contact details and email address, name of the company as well as the location. You can also put some offers at the back of the business card to advertise your products.
  7. You must also provide a company email for you to monitor the progress in your business. In this case it will not interfere with your personal email address.


These are just some of the tips that you can use when dealing with big businesses. Remember that it is a tough competition so you need to do the best thing you can to be able to survive in this competition.


Buying A Business – 6 Big Mistakes

Purchasing a pre-existing business can be pretty risky.  If you are considering the possibility of buying a business, there’s a possibility that you might commit one of the most common mistakes people make.  But do not worry, you can take necessary measures to prevent encountering problems.

Purchasing a business can be your ticket to financial success or it can be your biggest investment downfall. What most do not know is that, the odds of it being a failure or success are actually determined by whether you have researched a lot about your prospect business purchase or you just jumped out unprepared.

Listed below are the common mistakes committed when purchasing a business:

  1. Not enough research made.  Most businesses on sale try to look as promising as they can be. It’s the same case when you buy a house from realtors. They stage the home they want to put on the market so that it will look very appealing to the potential buyers. You need to do further research and investigate if what they claim is true. Never take it based on face value, since most business owners will try their best to make that business look great.
  2. Culture is not a problem.  When you buy a family owned business and turn it into a corporation, chances are it may not be able to work. You need to take your company culture much into consideration and evaluate if it will still be the same once your team runs it.
  3. Fast merger pace. In most cases, slow and steady change during a merger provides better results than a fast one. When the merging is too fast, many problems arise and could spell trouble for the business. Taking over another business is a critical and an important decision, it definitely does not need to be rushed. A slow and steady yet smooth transition will yield better results as in most business merger cases.
  4. Frontrunners need not actively participate. When acquiring another business, it is imperative that the leader of the acquiring company needs to have his presence felt. Even after the deal is finished. It is still the leader’s responsibility to participate and perform his leadership duties.
  5. Know the community behind.  Acquiring a business needs more knowledge and familiarity of the organizational chart, you also need to know the social chart. For example, Mrs. Fields, the clerk, who passes in home-made delicacies and is well appreciated by the employees, can essentially be more significant than the VP. The new acquirer needs to recognize this.
  6. No proper negotiations. Not all people have negotiation skills. Bear in mind that if someone sells their business, you have the advantage. You need to be aware of this and use it to negotiate terms that benefits you more. If you do not have this skill, hire someone who will do the negotiations for you. Sparing you from bad business situations over time.




Writing For Your Website

Trying to verbalise your thoughts can sometimes be considered as a hard task. Writing it into a narrative or some composition might even be harder. Some people love it and make a living out of it; while some might dread it. There are a lot of considerations for writing, but the most important guideline out there is that you should not forget who you are writing for.

Your intended audience will largely shape how you should start and end your composition. There are already a lot of publications and websites about the guidelines in writing. However, this time, put yourself in the shoes of your receiving end – your readers. Reading from a published book, magazine, or newspaper is already hard. Not everyone has the time nor the interest in reading your composition. But with the advent of the Internet, more and more people are taking their reading experiences online; and this makes it harder for writers. Reading a printed material is very different from reading from a computer screen, much more, a mobile phone.

For those who are starting to write for the web, or who are about to, here are some guidelines regarding online readers.

Physiology of the human eye

The normal reading distance for the human eye is about 35cm. Studies have shown that reading and retention rates decrease as line length start to go beyond an average field of view of 3.67cm (six degrees of an arc).

On the other hand, the recommended OHS viewing distance for computer users is 40 to 70cm. This is equal to five mid-sized words.

However, when reading the brain unconsciously increases this length. The optimal size of a column of text has been found to be about 12 words in a line, about 60 characters per line.

Abrupt reading of texts

According to researches, readers only read about 20% of the text of an average page. Similar studies also show that readers read their email newsletters more abruptly than they do in websites.

It is quite a fact that readers do not read everything word. They just scan and pick out separate words and sentences.

F-shaped patterns

Most reading patterns of websites look like the letter “F”.

Readers usually read from top to bottom with decreasing horizontal views. The vertical movement readers make by scanning the contents of the left portion of the website serves as the stem of the letter F.

Other techniques

Use these facts to your advantage. Readers are easily lost when their eyes must pass through a long distance in a page, therefore making it hard to look for the beginning of the next line.

Use a lot of techniques to keep their interests. Highlighting keywords, changing formats, using meaningful subheadings, employing the inverted pyramid style, and using bullets and lists are some guidelines.

Get straight to the point and use only a single idea in every paragraph. Decrease the length by using short and simple words. Add credibility by doing research and including links to other sites. Avoid flashing and multi-coloured texts.




Business Mentors Wanted

Looking for an apt business mentor is like entering a relationship; you look for certain qualities that lead to a successful partnership. In this case, you have to find someone who can understand your ideals, cater to your needs, and would want the best for you.

Step One: Identify your needs

First and foremost, you should identify the kind of mentoring your business requires. A business has several aspects, each one different from the last, so you should examine them separately.

You may come across several problems in areas such as public relations and marketing or perhaps you want to seek for leadership mentoring that can help expand your enterprise. Also, you might be pondering on selling your business.

Mentors for the said aspects (and a lot more) are widely accessible. Recognizing your own capabilities will help you further in finding the right business mentor. List the things you can and cannot do and specify if you are good or extremely good at doing them.

Furthermore, examine your business and take note of proposed ventures that may need a little boost in order to be launched. Concerns regarding operations (that are yet to be improved) should be listed down so you can discuss them with your business mentor in the future.

After acknowledging such difficulties in your business, it’s now time for you to choose the appropriate business mentor for the job.

Step Two: Find the Best Candidates

The question is where? An instinctive thing to do is to scope your own network. You may already be acquainted to somebody who can serve as an effective business mentor to you and your company. Or maybe, a friend of yours can refer a suitable colleague. By asking people from your own network, you’re already broadcasting to the world that “Hey! I’m looking for a business mentor.”

If this endeavor proves to be unsuccessful, you can also consult agencies that can provide business mentors. They can give you a list wherein you can choose a mentor possessing qualifications suited for the job in hand. You can also try to searching for business mentors via the Internet. This can provide you with a wide range of viable candidates to choose from.

Step Three: Choose the RIGHT business mentor

Finally, it’s now time for you to choose your business mentor. But before making the big decision, be sure the one you would choose owns the level of expertise you are looking for, holds experiences applicable to your company, and knows referees that you can talk to. Also, make sure to consider if you can work alongside the person.

Work between you and your future business mentor will entail intimate working relations and trust so you should feel easy and comfortable around that person. It doesn’t matter if you’ve found the perfect business mentor (CV wise) but if there’s tension going on between the of two you, perhaps it would be wise for you to think twice if that mentor is really the right one for you.

A vital yet critical factor in the expansion of a business is selecting the appropriate business mentor. Recognise your deficiencies, learn as much as possible about the problems, be open minded and accommodate ideas that can be useful in the future.