Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question


Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question.

Steli absolutely nails it in this article. I’ve been using this technique for years and it absolutely works.

Close Every Customer By Asking This Powerful Question

I was out training one of our new people the other day and described it as the “time-travel” close.

When the prospect asks you after a successful meeting to send them some information, I always ask the following two questions:

1) “Absolutely, Sean – what kind of information would you need to help you (and your team, if applicable) come to a decision?”

and most importantly:

2) “Sean – let’s say that I sent you all that, you reviewed it and loved it – what would happen next?”

That second part is critical – and I’ve seen very few salespeople use it effectively. You can literally cut multiple steps out of your follow-up process by using this simple technique.

Click the source link to Steli’s article and see his take on this tactic. What do you think? Can you figure out a way to use this in your business?


Take 2 Minutes and Change Your Life Forever


Ira Glass is the producer of This American Life. This 2 minute clip is aimed at creative types – but I can’t think of any better advice for a beginning salesperson. Watch it, take it to heart, and put it to action today!

13 Inspirational Books of 2014 with Big Implication for World of Business That You Can’t Afford to Miss


Amber Kapoor has a great article on Plash today. She lists 13 Inspirational Books with big implications for the world of work that you can’t afford to miss:


1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

After taking the world by storm with his captivating message about purpose in Start With Why, Simon Sinek has turned his attention to critical questions about the how. What does it take for leaders to transform paranoia and cynicism into safety and trust? Is a common enemy necessary for cooperation? I can’t wait to read about what he’s learned from military and corporate leaders.

2. Quick and Nimble by Adam Bryant

In an increasingly competitive and dynamic economy, every organization is charged with building a culture that supports innovation. Whereas most books on innovation take a deep dive into one company’s success or failure, New York Times Corner Office columnist Adam Bryant casts a more comprehensive net, interviewing hundreds of executives to identify what’s effective across industries. Bryant offers an expert guided tour through the minds of the world’s most innovative CEOs, sharing insights that are both enlightening and immensely practical.

3. Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold

When I go to bookstores, I usually steer clear of the self-help section. In this case, I would have missed a gem. Small Move, Big Change is a rare self-improvement book that actually works. With the right mix of research evidence and practical examples from her experience as a technology leader on Wall Street, Caroline Arnold provides compelling advice for motivating ourselves to save more, eat less, get organized, boost our willpower, and even keep our New Year’s resolutions. It’s the most useful guide to getting things done since Getting Things Done.

4. Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao

When I work with leaders, I often ask them about the biggest challenge that they face. The most common response, by far, focuses on spreading and multiplying success. If you have one team that’s thriving while others are sinking, how do you export their best practices to other teams across your organization? This pair of eminent Stanford professors is the first to shed systematic light on the pervasive problem of scaling with a landmark book full of rich case studies, powerful research evidence, and actionable ideas for anyone who cares about making groups or organizations more effective.

5. Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer

Philosophy, business, and history come together in this look at leadership, creativity, innovation, and sustainability from a successful serial entrepreneur and a cutting-edge journalist. With takeaways for large global companies and small startups, this book examines what leaders can learn from Eastern wisdom, Da Vinci, and contemporary psychology.

6. Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

This is a potentially life-changing look at one of the toughest but most important parts of life: receiving feedback. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of Difficult Conversations, show how to take an honest look in the mirror, and gain invaluable insights about the person staring back at you. I’ve already taught the principles in the classroom and applied them in my own life, and the payoffs include less defensiveness, more self-awareness, deeper learning, and richer relationships.

7. Thrive by Arianna Huffington

In the quest for success, many people end up taking paths that they come to regret. Climbing up the ladder in pursuit of money and power, leaders and managers sacrifice their health and well-being, and miss out on meaningful opportunities to give back. Building on her celebrated Third Metric conference, Huffington Post cofounder and president Arianna Huffington is on a mission to redefine success beyond money and power to enhance well-being, giving, wisdom, and creativity. This book may be the Lean In of 2014—for women and for men.

8. The Humor Code by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

Humor is an invaluable resource at work: it helps leaders defuse the tension in moments of crisis, managers temper the sting of tough feedback, and employees generate creative ideas in brainstorming sessions. Thanks to the global adventures of a zany social scientist and a perceptive journalist, we can all figure out how to become funnier, and laugh out loud along the way. This book is so good that I wish I wrote it. In fact, I’ve already started telling people I did. Luckily, Peter McGraw and Joel Warner are givers, so they won’t mind. They’ve given us a remarkable look at what makes us laugh, with the perfect blend of science, stories, satire, and sweater vests.

9. Brilliant by Annie Murphy Paul

You’re either born smart or you’re not. Most people hate this notion, but never question whether it’s true. Science journalist Annie Murphy Paul shows us that it’s false: intelligence is a renewable resource. In Origins, she revealed that the nature-nurture debate has overlooked the formative nine months that we spend in the womb. Now, she marshals two decades of evidence from psychology and neuroscience to explain how we can make ourselves and our kids smarter. This book is poised to shake up our parenting habits, our schools, and our workplaces.

10. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

It’s one thing to admire the genius of the rogue economist and perceptive journalist who brought us Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. It’s another thing entirely to understand how they come up with their brilliant ideas. Their latest book takes us behind the curtain with studies, stories, and illustrations that enrich our abilities to solve problems in our personal and professional lives.

11. Invisibles by David Zweig

Why do some of the world’s most talented, accomplished people choose to fly under the radar, hiding in the shadows rather than clamoring for the spotlight? In his nonfiction debut, journalist David Zweig introduces us to some of the most successful people we’ve never heard of, from cinematographers to skyscraper engineers to United Nations interpreters. It’s a clarion call for work as a craft: for carefully honing expertise without hogging attention, for generously contributing knowledge without claiming credit, and for prizing meaningful work above public recognition.

12. Smartcuts by Shane Snow

This book by journalist and tech entrepreneur Shane Snow uncovers unconventional patterns among rapidly successful businesses and people, from innovators and hackers to daredevils and revolutionaries. Snow is one of my favorite writers, a maven of creative productivity who holds the keys to becoming an expert in less than 10,000 hours.

My Favorite

13. Zero to One, Peter Thiel

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One , legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

Kobe Bryant Sucks At Basketball


You may have read that tittle and thought… “Ludicrous! What about his five rings? His 81 point game? His legacy with the Lakers??!” Well in addition to all that, The King of Clank, The Baron of Bricks, Kobe Bryant has missed more shots than any player in basketball historymissed more shots than any player in NBA history, and for that, we salute him.

Imagine that – one of the top NBA players of our lifetime has screwed up more than everyone else who has ever played the game. Want to know who else is on this ignominious list? Here’s the leaderboard, as it stands:

  1. Kobe Bryant, 13,418 (and counting)
  2. John Havlicek, 13,417
  3. Elvin Hayes, 13,296
  4. Karl Malone, 12,682
  5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 12,470
  6. Michael Jordan, 12,345

Recognize anyone else on there? Everyone else on there? How is it that some of our greatest champions in this sport are also the biggest screwups?

We have, highlighted here, one of the biggest insights to winning – not just at sports – but at LIFE: There is no failure, only feedback.

Don’t be afraid of “failing” – get out there and fail over and over and over again. That’s the only way to get ahead. See, most people are terrified of failing. They equate it with “being a failure”. That fear paralyzes them and keeps them stuck in their tracks, unable to make a move, unable to take a shot. And as Wayne Gretsky – arguably hockey’s greatest player – has said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Isn’t that ironic? The truth is, it is actually the FEAR of failure that keeps you from succeeding – not failure itself. Failure is, in fact, the only gateway to success anyone ever has.

How To Suck At Sales


My good friend and business partner Brady Rhoades covered these points on a conference call this morning and I thought them well worth sharing.

Remember, unsuccessful habits will always outweigh the positive and progressive habits. These are the habits of unsuccessful sales professionals:


1) Be lazy (get distracted by no-pay activity and forget the name of the game is prospecting and pitching.)
2) Have no goals (go to bed late Sunday after watching a bunch of football with no goals or vision for the week. You’ll walk into the week blind and unmotivated.)
3) Don’t create a schedule (this includes family, personal time, church, extracurricular, etc)
4) Don’t be coachable and think you always know what you’re doing!
5) Let your mommy tell you you’re better than rejection (you’re not…)
6) Find nothing in common with the prospect (people who like me buy and I only sell to people I like.)
7) Know little about the company and products you represent
8) Assume everyone is a prospect (not everyone is a buyer – they’re a suspect before they’re a prospect, reference Sandler Rules.)
9) Let personal life get in the way (ie friends who want to go out on Weeknights, family dinners, happy hour, social clubs, etc. If you respect your career and the future it promises, your friends and family will respect the time you commit to it!)
10) Don’t ask for the sale by letting your prospect think about it! (You must value your time and demand that others value it)
11) Don’t collect qualified referrals
12) And whatever you do, DON’T HAVE FUN!!! Sales don’t make happy salesman, happy salesman make sales.

Getting Referrals with LinkedIn


My friend Dustin Hillis is a Senior Partner with Southwestern Consulting™. You can find his blog online at He posted this article and I thought it was just dynamite and worth sharing with my readers.

Nothing has had a bigger impact on my business than improving my flow of referrals. I’m always blown away when sales people are not being more creative about developing their referral pipelines. His post will have some great ideas and verbiage for you if you struggle with this. Be sure to subscribe to Dustin’s newsletter for more great sales tips if you’re in the business.


Where do you rank in your level of expertise at asking for, expecting and getting referrals?

Are you an expert? Are you honestly getting five referrals every time you meet with somebody?

Are you a novice? Do you rarely get referrals? Is your idea of getting referrals that you do a good job and impress people and ask them to pass your name? (Or perhaps you’re a really bold novice and you give them a couple extra business cards and ask them to hand them out!)

If you practice those strategies, you need to realize that you’re doing what amateurs do. We want to be pros! We want to be the best! If you want to be the best, you have to ask for, expect and get referrals on the spot.

When you’re meeting with people–especially your biggest fans, your customers, the people who like you and know you’re doing a good job–there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get referrals.

Ask yourself these two questions:

Do I believe in my product/service that I’m providing? Do I believe it is as good, if not better, than anybody else offering it in the market?

Do I feel that I personally am as good, if not better, than anybody in my market at delivering this product/service?

Hopefully, you’ve said yes to those two questions. If you did, you should be dogmatic about getting referrals. The question isn’t whether or not their friends need your product/service, it’s who are they going to use. It’s probably someone not as good as you; so, therefore, it’s a disservice to not ask for the referrals.

Have I convinced you and now you’re wondering how to ask for referrals? We have a 7-step process you can follow to ask for referrals. I’ve already blogged this process, so if you missed it, you can read that post here.

Another option, though, is what I want to share today. There is a more powerful and easier shortcut that you can have and use to help you get referrals. It’s called the LinkedIn Referrals Technique.

This is pretty advanced stuff… it might just blow your mind!

If you follow our 7 Steps to Asking for Referrals process, you know that at the end of your meeting you’ll say something like this:

“You know, Monica, it has been so awesome meeting with you today. Gosh, I wish I could have 10 people like you to meet with everyday. You’re just amazing!”

With the LinkedIn Technique, you’d alter that just a little by following that statement with asking them, “I’m wondering…are you on LinkedIn, by chance?”

Hopefully, he or she will say that they are indeed connected on the popular professional social networking website. If so, you can continue with, “Great! Do you mind if I peruse your connections and find a couple of folks that might be good for me to connect with and call or email you to let you know which ones they are?”

Hopefully, they will agree. That is the easiest and most basic way for you to use the LinkedIn Referral Technique.

What you’d do next is find their LinkedIn profile and click to view their connections. You do this by clicking on the number that specifies the number of connections they have.

You can then scroll through those contacts, search by keyword, company name, or job title and make a list of those connections that you’d like referrals to. Then call or email your customer back and provide them with the list you created so they can connect you with them.

That would be the most rudimentary, 101 level of LinkedIn.

There is more, though. Here’s the next level:

In Southwestern Consulting™ Co-Founder Rory Vaden’s product called Next Generation Marketing, he talks about the Hunt and Peck Technique. This technique is very efficient and it front-end loads the LinkedIn Technique we just discussed.

Instead of locating a list of their LinkedIn connections you’d like to be referred to after your meeting, you would do that step before you meet with your customer. You don’t wait to get permission; you just go and do it.

You would locate 10 people who they are connected to on LinkedIn that you know you’d like to meet or be referred to and you write those names down on a pad of paper.

After finishing your meeting with your customer, you’d end with saying, “You know, Monica, it has been so awesome meeting with you today. Gosh, I wish I could have 10 people like you to meet with everyday. You’re just amazing! As a matter of fact, I was on LinkedIn the other day looking at your connections and I noticed you’re connected with some of the people that I’m already going to be speaking with, (that is key verbiage! You would then pull out your list…) So, out of these people, can you tell me what they might be looking for and a little bit about them?”

They will then most likely give you some information including who you should call and should not call as well as something we like to call pre-approach.

What you’re looking for in pre-approach is four questions:

What is the decision maker’s name? Is it their connection or someone else at the organization? Who do you need to talk to?

What is their cell phone number?

If you were me, when would you call them?

Tell me a little bit about him/her. What kind of person is he/she? Is he more extroverted? Is he straight-to-the-point? This is your buying behavior style question that will indicate to you their NAVIGATE style.

The next option is to go into LinkedIn and click on the button located next to the search bar that says “advanced”.

It’s amazing how you can comb through all of your connections as well as others. You can search for and locate all of the people who have listed their title as “President”, “CEO”, “HR Director” and so on. Then sort it by a radius around your zip code. We call this search the Simple Sweep because it allows you to sweep through their contacts and narrow it down to just those few you’d like to be connected with. This will save you a lot of time, especially if they have thousands of LinkedIn connections.

Do you use LinkedIn to generate referrals from your customers? This is an example of what our Southwestern Consulting™ Certified Coaches would teach you in your Top Producer’s Edge coaching program.

Be Ruthless With Your Time


Starting up a new sales team here in Birmingham has been fun, enlightening, challenging, and a host of other adjectives that I can’t even begin to delineate. One of the things I’ve been going over with our new agents here is the idea of being a complete “Time Nazi”.

One of my good friends passed along this blog post from Sales Benchmark Index and I thought it was worth passing along.

What would happen to your income if you lost a month out of the sales year?

Have you ever calculated the annual cost of allowing anyone to waste your time?

Let’s say you manage to spend 60% of your time selling.  Because certain admin work is unavoidable.   Leaking just 20 minutes daily equates to a month of lost selling time.

Below I discuss seven (7) ways to plug leaks.  You will also find a free tool that will help you find the leaks.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Check out this chart that shows your “hourly rate”.


Giving up time you might use to make more sales is like paying more taxes.

Time Study Tool

How Can You Minimize Time Leaks?

It sounds so simple:  Be ruthless with your time.  But it’s challenging:  Because it’s hard to diagnose the leaks.

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin

So take a series of snapshots of how you spend your time.   To assist you, we’ve developed this time assessment tool.
  • Note necessary evils, for example:

o   Order processing

o   Post-sales support ensures smooth implementation and repeat customers.

o   Don’t shortchange these sorts of activities.

  • Notice that sales productivity killers jump off the page

Invest five minutes for the next 10-20 business days.  Activity tracking is dull, but it will pay big dividends.   It isolates non-selling activities that take money out of your pocket.

What Can You do to Create More Selling Time?


  • Pay yourself first:    Set a target for 75% of your time spent on revenue generating or selling activities.   If you make your number, there will be high tolerance for imperfect process or paperwork.   If you miss, no amount of admin excellence will substitute.
  • Block prime calendar hours:   Treat them as sacred.
  • Make a “Stop Doing” List:    “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”  -Peter Drucker
  • Practice Ruthless Meetings
    • DO:  Meet only to collaborate.
    • DO:  Start and end on time.
    • DO:  Insist on an agenda for every meeting.
    • DO:  Expect people to prepare.
    • DON’T:  Let Calendar programs make your meetings longer than you need.
    • DON’T:  Cover what people should have reviewed on their own.
  • Delegate:    Resist the temptation to “just do it myself.”   Could you do it faster?  Maybe.  But delegate anyway, because a sales professional’s time is the scarcest commodity.   Once you run out of you, you’re done.
  • Re-allocate:   One of our clients now covers more opportunities per rep.  How?  They moved CRM entry, forecast calls, training, and reports to non-prime selling hours.  You can too.
  • Cluster:   Are you addicted to multi-tasking?   It’s an illusion; it actually makes you less productive.   The biggest time-sink is email.  Limit yourself to two calendar blocks daily for email and other administrative tasks.

What more can you do after you’ve streamlined everything you can.  Share your time tracking data with management.   It might help make the case for deploying more sales support.

What can you do to make your number?    Download our free Time Study Tool.   And start being ruthless with your time.