sales

Trash Talk Leaves You Dirty

Donttalkshiz

The salesperson who says you’ll get feline aids and an a year of bad hair days if you live at community X is only thinking about the short term gain – which is actually illusory. Maybe you believe them, but that doesn’t mean you like their community any better. If anything, you’re naturally put off as we generally dislike people who crap all over others. What’s to say they’re not going to do the same to us the second we leave?

Build a good reputation for honesty. Tell them the reasons why you do what you do, and what you believe in as an organization. State where you’re better than X and where you’re not and trust them to see the value you’ve worked so hard to build. That’s all the difference you need to stand out.

Always Be Closing – How?

If you’ve ever had anything to do with sales, then you’re likely familiar with Alec Baldwin’s famous scene from the film, “Glen Gary, Glen Ross.” If you’re not familiar, and you haven’t seen it, just stop right now and watch it. Easily one of the best uses of seven minutes you’ll ever have in your life. Just click here. You’re welcome. 

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In the scene, our dapper and dashing hero (who’s with us from Mitch & Murray) excoriates the all-star cast, extolling the virtues of ABC and AIDA. ABC, of course, is short hand for “Always Be Closing.” Closing, also being a salesman’s ultimate goal.

Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Always be closing means: Everything you do, every handshake, door opening, please & thank you, sales pitch, head nod of understanding, all of it, is done for one purpose: TO CLOSE THEM. Get them to sign. Car salesmen understand this better than most and they have a secret expression they teach to new recruits: “The feel of the wheel, will seal the deal.” Part of the reason they’re always trying to start out with a test drive as quickly as possible is because they know emotion will take over. “I look so good behind the wheel, oh wow, feel how she handles? This is WAY better than my car.” 

A lot of lip service is paid to closing. Every single manager I’ve come across in the past 15 years has used the word and the majority have done so incorrectly – or at least incompletely. Everyone knows it’s important and thus can’t be avoided – but few spend their time or resources teaching how to do it better or studying their technique. And for one important reason…

Because Closing is where winning and losing happen. Closing is the final arbitrator: you either got the sale or you didn’t. You’ve gone all-in and the cards are turned up – did you make your flush? 

Most people avoid losing. Certainly more than they pursue winning. Given the choice, better to not really push it to a decision, right? I mean, if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen on its own, right? That’s garbage thinking.

Everything we do speaks, as my illustrious co-worker told me recently. Everything we do should be in the service of doing our jobs, whatever they be, as well as we can. My job is chiefly focused on sales (55%) and more importantly, the success of the 15 sales people that report up to me. How do I help them execute like a black-hooded-hatchet-man? 

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Closing means asking questions. It means caring enough about the client to want to solve their problem, even if the solution isn’t your product or service. It means valuing your clients’ time, attention, and trust. Closing is vowing to maximize each interaction, using every word and gesture to build a rapport so you can solve the mystery of what they need and how you can help them find it. If it happens to be your product/service, great! If not, that’s fine too! They’ve ostensibly come to you because you’re an expert and they’re in need of your knowledge – that’s a sacred trust and should be respected. 

These are the things we need to breakdown for our teams. We need to get to the “WHY” of what we do. We need to make plain and clear that we’re here to solve problems, to solve mysteries, and to create relationships. Any person or team who can deliver those three things will find no shortage of success. 

If you don’t execute, you don’t eat.

If you don't execute, you don't eat.

This sums it up perfectly. EXECUTION is ALL that matters. Apologies to the delicate sensibilities out there, but all the warm fuzzies of best intentions won’t sell SQUAT. Positive thoughts and “hard work” alone won’t move product or make a difference if nothing actually, HAPPENS.

If you make a difference, a REAL difference, then something should be DIFFERENT because you were there. Sounds simple, right? Are the material conditions on the ground different because of something you DID? If so, you made a difference. If not, hate to break it to you, but we’re still waiting.

I’m flummoxed and fired up when a solid sounding strategy never makes waves. It stays perfectly conceptualized inside the minds of the creators and on the tongues of the braggarts and blowhards – but never encounters the harsh light of actually being birthed into the world.

I get it. The world is messy and there are question boxes to outnumber those in the Mushroom Kingdom. There are as many threats, too. If you’re scared, if you can’t get over those fears to bring something to life, please do the rest of us a favor and politely move out of the way. There are things to make and worlds to conquer and markets to impact.

Repeat after me: “If you don’t execute, you don’t eat.”

You can’t sit around talking about how cool it would be to kill a wholly mammoth, and survive. At some point, one of you is going down. Stop talking and pick up a spear. Stop telling me about your responsibilities and tell me about what you changed – what DIFFERENCE you actually made.

Don’t Mess With Texas, or The Power of Stories…

I had five meetings today. That’s a lot for me in my current position as I don’t typically have five in a week. I’d heard a maxim “The only people who enjoy meetings are the ones doing the talking” and it’s served me well. These meetings were different though – I had stories to tell.

More on that in a minute…

You’re no doubt familiar with the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas“, especially if you’ve ever been to the state. What you probably don’t know is that it was/is an advertising campaign to curb littering. Yeah, littering.

I wouldn’t mess with it if I were you.

It was a huge deal for the state that cost around $20 million per year in highway clean up. The problem was massive and so were the proposed solutions: stiff fines, stronger enforcement, pleading messages to “keep Texas beautiful” printed on everything in sight – nothing worked.

The solution came from a pair of creatives at an advertising agency which tapped into the power of stories. They looked at their target market (18-35 year old males – the ones most likely to litter) and found a story that spoke to them. Texas, having been its own country for a time, has a strong independence streak, and possibly more pride than any other state. To be a Texan is a badge of honor and a huge part of one’s identity. It even applies to transplants to the state – it doesn’t take long for converts to adopt the “Don’t mess with Texas” attitude. It’s really quite something to see.

The campaign consisted of State heroes in print and video, conveying that Texas wasn’t to be screwed with, and that if it were, well… not good things would happen. Check out this classic commercial for an example.

The beauty of the campaign is how well it stuck with people. Dan and Chip Heath relay the whole process in their book “Made to Stick” which I can’t recommend enough. By telling these guys a story: “Texans are proud of their state. It’s the best state there is! All other states suck by comparison! You’re a Texan and all Texans (REAL TEXANS, anyway) don’t litter! They don’t degrade the proudest state in the Union. They defend it in with their dying breath. People in Arizona or California may litter, but not us by god.”

That’s a powerful story. It’ s simple and yet still manages to have a massive impact on behavior. I relay this story as I’m trying to do the same thing. In fact, I think the test of a leader is how much they can affect the culture of their team for the better. What kinds of stories do they tell? What effect do those stories have? How did we get better? This is the most significant part of  my job.

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“Oh, yeah… what? Water is included. I think…”

So today was about telling stories to my team and what separates us from the rest:  “Other Agents text their BFFs on tours and ignore prospects, we stand and greet people with a warm smile and an eager handshake.

We ask lots of questions because we want to get things just right for our clients, even if that means referring them to the place down the street if it’s a better fit. That’s what we do. We’re great at our jobs and we make a difference in people’s lives. We seek to constantly get better. This is who we are. Other people, they’re not as good, and who cares – we’re not them. We’re us, and we’re elite!”

Motivating, right? The truth is, I LOVE these meetings. I get animated and excited and start wildly gesticulating all over the place. I can’t help it. I swear, I get as much out of these meetings as I give, I think. And that’s why five meetings wasn’t so hard. It was important and it was empowering and thoroughly necessary.

At it’s core, telling stories (the right ones) is what leadership is all about. Fortunately, I really like telling stories.

“Be Confident”… why didn’t I think of that?

A friend recently posted a very nice Facebook update that read something akin to “Be Confident. Be Fierce. Be Rad.”

Confidence

Ok, she didn’t actually say “Be rad” but that would have been a nice touch.

As I was in an introspective place when I read it, I thought “Oh, why didn’t I think of that? I’m going to be confident today! Psssshhh.” As though confidence is a thing you decide to do vs. a thing you either are or aren’t. Try: “Be experienced today” and see how far you get. Confidence, like experience, is a thing that once obtained tends to become a part of you. Before you blow me up here, I know there are a myriad of exceptions and confidence can be lost – but just go with me on this one.

Working in Student Housing, one of the hardest things to do is to get College Student Leasing Specialists to be confident in the selling process. To most people, sales is a filthy, perverse word readily eliciting the image of a car salesman wearing tweed and twirling his waxed mustache, like some silent-film-era-villain, while he forces some damsel into purchasing a Jetta at 13.9% interest – with an extended warranty. Terrible things, no doubt.

So before I can tell them to “Ask for the sale! Close EVERY lease!” (read: Be Confident) and do my best Alec Baldwin impression from “Glenngary Glen Ross” I need to build their confidence. There are multiple ways of doing this but I have my favorites that tend to resonate with everyone.

Often I’ll ask them to tell me about their last big purchase. Inevitably this is a laptop. When I ask them how they decided which one to buy from the endless sea of choices they’ll inform me that they went into a Best Buy and told the person what they wanted and that person told them which was right for them. VOILA! SUCCESS! Could it really be that easy? 

You want confidence? Here it is: These people are coming to you because you are that person! You’re the expert! People buy things from people who they believe know more than them on the subject and have the solution to their problem! Your prospective Residents WANT YOU TO ASK THEM TO SIGN A LEASE! They may not consciously know it, but they want to be told. A guy doesn’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.

Alec Baldwin - "Second prize is a set of steak knives"

So true Alec. So true. 

Often, after this exchange, confidence levels soar as our Leasing people understand their role in a new light, and their own capabilities. The frame changes from, “can I ask someone to sign a $10k lease after 45 minutes of meeting them?” to “can I attempt to solve someone’s problem that is looking to me to do just that?”

p.s. 2nd prize is a set of steak knives. 

Instead of imploring someone to be “something”, can you help to actually make them “something”? Can you offer a quote, a perspective, a new way of looking at things that helps make them; confident, proud, assertive, aware, concerned, involved – or any other adjective?