Subscribe in your email box!

Subscribe in your feed reader!

I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Always Ask Questions

posted this on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at about 8am.

Nearly ten years ago, I accepted a new job and moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to Boise, Idaho. My employer previous to that provided me with tools that my new employer did not. Among those tools was a cell phone.

My first order of business when I arrived in Boise was to get a local cell phone. I shopped around a bit and decided that, for the money, T-Mobile was the way to go.

If figured I'd find what I needed at the mall since there are usually a plethora of kiosks and stores to choose from.

I found my target salesman and went in for the buy.

Now, if you know how I buy, you'll understand that I make most of my decisions by research before I buy. It allows me to get the best deal possible.

As I started the process, I decided if it cost about $100 to get the right phone, I'd be okay with it. So, I started looking at the phones to make the final decision, the sales associate started telling me all the virtues of the free phone. Then he pointed out the features and benefits of the phone that was $100 but with a $50 rebate.

Since I had already decided that I was willing to spend $100 to get a phone, the net cost of $50 was a no brainer for me.

For some reason, I paused to think. That's not common for me when I've already made up my mind, but in this case I paused long enough for the salesman to say, "You know what, how about I give you that phone for $50 then you can keep the $50 rebate and it will be like getting the phone for free.

At that point, I realized that I could probably get more if I played my cards right. I decided to make an obvious pause with a hint of contemplation in my face. Sure enough, after about 20 seconds of me being silent combined with an eager salesman, he spoke up and said, "Let me just give you this phone for free and you can keep the $50 rebate."

I signed right up.

In thinking about that experience after the fact, I realized that what he thought I was stewing over was whether or not to buy the service. He didn't understand that I had decided T-Mobile was right for me before I even met him.

The reason he didn't understand what I was thinking was because he didn't ask. He never asked what direction I was leaning or what was holding up my decision. He simply made an assumption as to my thinking then started resolving concerns that didn't exist.

When you are trying to persuade someone to do something the way you want, you have to make sure you understand the objections first. If you don't, you'll end up leaving something on the table.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

How to Sell to Me

posted this on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at about 9am.
How to Sell to Me

As the owner of a business you can imagine that sales people call on me all the time. I get emails, letters in snail-mail and phone calls on a daily basis. I even get the occasional pop in to the office in the hopes that I'll be available to be sold to.

Most of these sales people have one key thing in common. Most of the time the attitude is that of, "I have something to sell and I want to see if you want to buy."

I hate that. I hate being looked at as a wallet. I'm fortunate my children aren't old enough yet to ask me for more money and I'm sure I'll hate it when they are.

I am a very difficult person to sell to. If you can figure out how to sell to me, you can probably be more successful in your sales career. I won't pretend to be the best sales person or the best sales coach so you won't be seeing a new sales book or a lecture series on how to be the best sales person in the world. However, here are the reasons I choose to buy from a sales person or, better, what it takes to get me to love you as a sales person and ultimately trust you enough to buy from you.

Consistency and Persistency in Effort

Getting the first appointment is the hardest part with me. I've trained my gatekeepers to screen sales calls. And, the fact is, they are pretty darn good. I bet they filter out at least half of the sales people that want to take my hard-earned money.

When my gatekeepers see someone is genuinely working hard to get the appointment, it wears on them and they'll eventually encourage me to at least take the appointment. They won't do this if the person is a dolt but if they get a phone call every month and occasionally see that same person stop in, at some point they will tell me to just visit with them for a couple of minutes.

The same is true if I see constant efforts in email, phone, snail-mail, etc. I may ignore your email the first dozen times. If it's personally sent and obviously not automated then I am less likely to delete. I may not take action. I may delete it. However, I won't be frustrated. At some point I'll feel obligated to at least respond with something you can work with, if you are good.


If you are selling something that is relevant to what I need, you have a much greater chance of getting the appointment. Even if I don't plan on buying for a long time, I'll be more likely to let you meet with me and start the relationship if your product is relevant. Also, I'll be less likely to ignore your messages.

This is a challenge for any sales person because you never know what's going to hit the nail on the head. For any sales person that is good, I'm an open book. I blog a lot. I'm very active on social media. If that sales person takes just a little time to pay attention, he or she will know what I'm interested in. It will then be easier for that person to be noticed.

I'm amazed how often I get pitched to buy a product or service that I actually sell. If you don't understand me well enough to understand what I sell then you don't deserve my time.

Genuine Interest

This, I think, is the hardest thing to get. Some people are naturally curious enough that they are interested in what other people do. They want to find out more. As such, it's easier for them to ask me, with genuine interest, what's important to me. Other people have to work harder at it.

Just as genuine interest is the hardest thing for a sales person to have, it's the easiest for me to identify when someone is being fake. I can tell by the questions you ask and how quickly you get to the pitch.

I don't want the fake pleasantries. Too often sales people have been drilled so much to build some sort of relationship that it's obvious they are trying to get to some common ground with trite questions and comments.

If you get the first appointment, you have to get to your point to demonstrate relevancy by asking questions about me that helps me know you are relevant, have done your homework, and are genuinely interested in me. If your product is not immediately obvious how it's relevant, then you have to show me how you are relevant for me to take the time to learn about your product.

Get to the Point

When you get the first appointment I'm likely going to be pretty impatient. If you know me already, you'll know that I'm very process oriented and am very quickly ready to move on to the next thing.

I don't like the big set up and then the big reveal. For example, when I ask you for a price range, I don't want to hear, "Well, I can't really give you a range because it really depends on..."

Come on, give me a break; I'm smarter than that. You have worked with companies my size before. You have done other deals. You can give me a range.

Don't play dumb and don't stall. I want to know quickly whether or not you have value to me. Remember, I have money that you want. If I can't afford you then there is no point talking. If I don't see value quickly, I'm going to show you to the door.

Get to the point quickly. Show me value. Then build the case around it.

Serve Me

I don't care what you know. I don't care how long you've done business. I don't care about you. That is, until I've built a relationship with you. At first, you are only yet another person that wants to take money out of my pocket.

You get into my good graces by serving me. That can be very simple. That can be sending me a note with an article that I might be interested in. That might be bringing something for my office staff to enjoy. That might be inviting me to an event that I might like.

I'm not saying you have to come and clean my car. That would be taking it too far.

Give me something I can use. Do it more than once. Tell me how you can help me. Show that you understand me.

In fact, this is one of the key reasons I speak at events or host educational workshops. I want to give people something they can use. I pitch very little and give away knowledge. I want people know I genuinely care about them and am willing to give them something whether they choose to buy from me or not.

Ask for the Sale

I'm going to hold you to a pretty high standard and I'm going to test you. Because I know how to sell and I understand the sales process, I'm going to expect you to walk me through the steps to buy your product.

I don't want you to jump ahead to the end to the "buy my product" line. I am going to expect you to take me to the next step in the process. I'm going to expect trial closes. I'm going to expect you to ask for the next appointment. I'm going to expect follow-ups. I'm going to expect you to be willing to hear, "no" and I'm going to test how you handle it.

In fact, sometimes I'll tell you that I'm going to think about it to see what you do. Are you going to send me a follow-up email about our meeting? Are you going to call me when you said you would? Are you going to resolve my concerns? Are you going to be patient or be pushy?

If you don't understand the sales process, I'll give you little nudges to help you along. If you still don't get it, I'm probably not going to buy from you.

Final Thought

When I meet a sales person that is really trying to be successful and trying to do it right, I want that person to succeed. If I see that you are genuine but are struggling, I'll help you through it. I'll even give you pointers and advice. The better you take that advice, the more likely we'll have a long-term relationship.

A long-term relationship means I will give you more money and I will connect you with people that can give you more money. It doesn't mean I'm going to hang out with you. It doesn't mean we are going to be best friends forever. But it does mean that I'll take care of you.

But, don't ask me to tell you who to go sell to. Don't give me $100 for a referral. Don't expect me to do your job for you. I'll give you leads if I trust you and if I see that someone needs your service.

Oh, and until we are friends with an established relationship you will probably think I'm very rude. When I'm kind to you and don't rush you, that's how you'll know you're on the right track. If you don't think I'm rude by the end of the first meeting, congratulations, you might be able to make some money... evenutally.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

People Never Buy On Price

posted this on Friday, July 19, 2013 at about 7am.
Give Me All Your Hunnerds

When I was a sales manager, I would often have sales reps that lost a deal comment that the reason they lost was because we were just too expensive. It took me some time to help them learn that I would never accept that as an answer.

It's a lazy salesperson that says his or her client made a decision based solely on price.

The fact is nobody buys on price alone. Nobody. Period.

I know, you might ask, "What about the people who buy from Costco?" Or, you may ask, "What about all the people buying double-wide?" or "What about those that choose to buy a Scion instead of a Honda?"

The interesting thing about a warehouse store like Costco is that not everything there is the least expensive place you can find it. Sometimes you just spend more because you buy bigger boxes. There is a perceived value there that people love. Many products do have a better price. Many products have a better quality. Sometimes, the experience of a big warehouse causes people to feel that they are actually saving something.

People make decisions based on a number of factors. For everyone, the reason they choose to buy something or not buy something is because of very individual things. The relationship they have with the sales person is often the biggest reason someone buys something. That relationship also extends to the store. If they feel a connection to the store, they will buy. If they don't, they won't.

As an example, I will never buy anything from Shopko. I don't care how inexpensive it is compared to the competitor, you'll never find me go in that store. You won't even catch me buying from them online. I just don't like it. I had a few bad experiences (including a month working for them years ago) that prevent me from interacting with their brand.

You might choose a double-wide because you don't think you can afford a house or you might think that's the lifestyle you want. You might buy a Scion because you think it looks cool and figure you'll probably sell it before it starts to fall apart.

What this really boils down to is the value that the customer sees in a product or service. The customer may say, "For what I am getting, I am only willing to pay a certain amount." Once the customer determines that the value of the product meets his or her minimum threshold of what he or she wants, only then does the price becomes a factor.

All things being equal, people will choose the lowest cost. If the format for purchasing and the specific product is the same, nothing is ever equal. For example if you have equal trust level in two online stores (e.g. you've had the same purchasing experiences from both) and the products are identical then you'll choose the lowest price. Even buying from eBay, people make these types of decisions by how much they trust the seller of the product. If they don't trust the seller for whatever reason, the value of the product goes down.

Usually, however you'll find that even your experience at the stores will be different. Even when similar, the experiences are different. A good sales person's or a good marketer's job is to help their customers understand their unique value.

For me, as a consultant, my job is to prove why it is that I am going to be more expensive. I am going to be more expensive for a reason. If you are willing to pay for that experience, I am the right person for you to buy from. If you are not willing to pay for that experience, then feel free to go and buy elsewhere. The experience that your customers are looking for has to match what they want... not what you want.

Bottom line. No one ever buys based on price... even if that is what he or she says. There is always something more to it. Period.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

Consultative Selling is an Attitude

posted this on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at about 6am.
Sales Consultant

When I was 11 years old, I started throwing papers for a living. For an 11-year-old, $150 per month was quite a living. I found that if I was willing to work hard, I could make more money and therefore have more money to spend on the frivolity of youth.

And, yes, I was frivolous.

Shortly after I turned 12, I was invited to sell papers door-to-door in the evening. These were for neighborhoods in which the newspaper didn't have a strong presence such as new sub-divisions.

I would get a bonus for each subscription I could sign up… I think it was like $2 per sale. In addition, I could earn bonuses for hitting certain milestones.

The first summer I sold newspapers, I could sell as many as 10 in a night. $20 for 3 hours of work for a 12-year-old was pretty darn good. In fact, I sold so much that I had enough additional promotional points available that I received two new bikes. I was the only kid in the 'hood that had a mountain bike and a racing 10-speed.

Over the years, I've had plenty of opportunities to sell. I spent a few years selling print & design work and office equipment. I was a sales manager for a couple of years and in the last 5 ½ years I've not only run my company but it's been critical that I sell to make sure my team stays busy.

In fact, for my company, I can track the slow times in our business and relate them directly to when I personally didn't sell.

After all these years in sales, I've never considered myself a salesman. In fact, I always thought that I hated sales. I always figured that I had to do it because it was the best opportunity for me to increase my wealth.

It wasn't until recently that I realized it wasn't sales that I hated. It was the sales pitch that I hated. I've never liked to self-promote. I've never liked to try to push a product. I've never liked to try to convince someone to buy something that wasn't right for him or her.

I finally realized that I didn't have the attitude of a pitchy sales person. I have the attitude of a consultant. I love to consult. I love to help people solve their problems.

After hiring and managing all types of sales people, I realize that selling as a consultant is more of an attitude than a skill. You have to want to help people more than you want to pad your own pocket book. You have to be willing to tell your prospective client, "No," because the product you offer is not right for them. You have to be self-aware. You have to understand your abilities and those of the company that backs you.

Of course, you still have to do the basic things that good sales people do. You still have to talk to people to generate new leads. You still have to follow up and be persistent. You still have to ask for the business. But, when you have the attitude of a consultant, you'll find that your sales opportunities increase.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

People don't buy on price alone

posted this on Friday, April 12, 2013 at about 5pm.
cheap gas

When I was a sales manager in a former career, I’d have sales reps that would tell me they lost a deal based on price alone. I would always try to help them understand that was only the excuse they were using to make themselves feel better.

While I agree that there are many people that say they make a purchase decision based on price, the reality is that most people have many other considerations, which they usually never think about.

I think people who truly believe they buy on price alone just aren’t very smart. When they disregard all other considerations, they often will spend more money. Maybe that is the biggest proof they are not actually buying on price.

I live 9 miles from Costco. Costco has an average savings (as far as I can tell) of about $.05 per gallon… sounds pretty good, right? I get 20 miles to the gallon. I have a 20-gallon gas tank. This means that driving all the way across town saves me $1… and only if I am bone dry by the time I get there.

But wait, it takes me almost 1 gallon to drive there and back and gas costs $3.50 per gallon. That means that cheap gas just cost me $2.50 more to buy from Costco.

Let’s get a little crazy. Let’s say that going to Costco saves me $.50 per gallon (not likely, but let’s say it anyway). My 20-gallon tank saves me $10, but it still costs me $3.50 to get there and back. I reality, I have actually only saved $6.50. It takes me an hour to get there, wait in line and get back.

If $6.50 is that important, I could have worked one hour at McDonald’s and been better off.

If I’m already there, it may be worth it, if I don’t have to wait too long at the pump. If the philosophy were correct that people only buy on price, gas stations across the street would have the same price or no customers, all the time. I have seen gas stations across the street have a $.15 variance and still the more expensive gas station is busy. Why would that be if people only care about cheap gas? If people only care about cheap gas then why is premium gas even offered?

Your customers are no different. When they say they make their decision to buy from your competitor because you are too expensive, you need ask one of two questions:

  1. What price could I drop to in order for you to buy from me?
  2. What more can I offer to make the price more appealing?

You’ll find that they will still say no to you, which means that they are proving my point. If you can get to the bottom of why they are really saying no then you’ll be able to be more effective in your sales approach.

The Two Most Important Questions

posted this on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at about 6pm.

Of all the questions we ask (especially sales people) we often forget the two most important questions.

  • How much can you spend?
  • How do you want to finance?
  • How many people are in your office?
  • How fast can you hog tie an ROUS?
  • Don't we get a lot of questions on a daily bases?
  • Have you ever asked questions that you don't seem to get the answer you were hoping for?
  • Are these enough questions for now?

We get inundated with questions every day. When I go to buy a car, I get the questions about finance (how much can you afford) and I get the questions about my favorite features (red or chartreuse ? -- yes I said chartreuse, deal with it).

The problem I have is that I never get questions that really matter. I never get questions that will help someone help me in the way I want to be helped.

The first most important question is, "What do you want (to do)?" Wouldn't it be nice if a sales person came to you and rather than asking you if you want this feature or that, he simply asked what you wanted?

The second most important question is, "Why do you want to do it?" The answer to this question may surprise you and may change the way you help someone reach their goals.

The next time you want to sell someone something (an idea or a product) ask the two most important questions and see if it helps you. When it comes down to it, if you can get the answer to these questions, you'll know how to help people solve their problems.

Subscribe to RSS - Sales