Simple Sales Tracking Blog

Are You Dressed to Sell?

It probably isn’t fair but you seldom get a second chance to make a great first impression. What we wear and how we present ourselves not only colours our attitude towards ourselves but also influences others perception of us. John T Molloy, author of Dress for Success says in almost all situations, one’s appearance makes a statement, either “I am important, please show me some respect, or I am not your equal and do not expect to be treated as such”.
There was once a school of thought that suggested salespeople needed to dress down to the level of their client or prospect, whether this is gumboots and a swandri on the farm or shirt and jeans at a creative firm. However studies have shown that we should be dressing to the level of our prospect’s advisors. The psychology behind this is that it is easier to take advice and act on recommendations from someone who looks professional and dresses like an executive than someone who doesn’t.
When you are meeting with a prospect, consider that they are buying you first, then your product/service and finally your company. In this sense you should dress in a way that takes nothing away from the message or value your company brings. If you are selling a $5000 product or service, dress like you deserve to.
Of course it is important to consider different industries dress codes i.e. a banker would have a different standard of dress than a graphic designer, but in general those in professional services should try to adhere to the unwritten rules of business attire. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that our clothes are associated with meaning, and in turn put us in different mindsets. In this sense we associate a suit and tie or formal business wear with professionalism and hard work.

For salespeople, a tie says a lot. In my previous life in customer service, it always occurred to me when I met someone in a suit and tie that they must be important. This was my impression as someone from outside the business world, and it illustrates just how subtly the way you dress conveys a message. As salespeople we never know who we will meet on a day to day basis making sales calls, so it is vital that we always look our best.
Along with a suit and tie, good grooming is integral. It shows attention to detail and conveys professionalism, we take pride in all aspects of our appearance and it shows. A series of studies published in the Evolution and Human Behavior Journal in 2013 found that people change their behavior to match their dress. When you are well groomed and well-dressed you have subconsciously stepped into your professional persona and are ready to make that sale.
Dress in a way that says to the prospect that you respect them and have made an added effort in your personal presentation for them. Their business matters.
Action Steps
– Dress to a level one above your prospect/client – dress like their advisor
– Always be well groomed – the small details matter
– When appropriate wear a tie, it says a lot

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

Monthly Sales Toolbox – Top Sales Tips

Here are my top tips for making the most of every sales interview and getting the most out of your referrals.

Never bag the opposition – This goes without saying but we can all fall into the trap of bagging the opposition, but be aware, sometimes this can be a test from the client of your professionalism. If the client comments negatively about the opposition, it is better to apologise for them, “I’m sorry to hear that”, if they make positive comments then agree with them “that’s good to hear, I have heard good things about that company”. This will show that you are a professional and your reputation will grow as a result.

Share the business – The best way to succeed in your business is to help someone else to succeed in theirs. So work with your colleagues from other non-competitive businesses with whom you share clients with to provide market intelligence, and referrals if possible. Grow your networks and align yourself with business people you respect and like. In a small business community it is to everyone’s benefit to work together to help each other achieve more.

Be genuine – find the need – When you walk into a sales interview, remember that your aim is not to make the sale, but to find the need. You need to assess whether the prospect has a need for the product or service you offer. The only party that can close the sale is the buyer, remember too that you are adding value to their business so don’t feel like you are begging for the work, stand by your product and if the need is there it will sell itself.

Be timely – This goes without saying but always be early for your appointments, no more than ten minutes, or else you may make the prospect feel uncomfortable to leave you waiting. The prospect’s time is valuable as is your own, and if you are looking for an ongoing relationship with the prospect, get off on the right foot by being prompt. The same goes for email correspondence, if you can reply to emails the same day you receive them, your clients and prospects will respect your punctuality.

Respect the local market – Most businesses grow to a certain size and start to look outside their backyard for bigger jobs and prospects however it is important not to overlook smaller accounts. Too often in business we rely on a large account to carry us through the financial year but when these accounts fall through or move on as they are prone to do, it is often the smaller jobs that keep us on an even keel.

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

Monthly Sales Toolbox – How to Handle Email Overload

One of the most time consuming and often frustrating parts of our work day can be dealing with the multitude of emails that find their way into our Inboxes. There’s a saying that goes ” When you are answering emails you are working for someone else”. Everyone is busy and every task and request was due yesterday but we don’t have to let emails rule our work days and hamper our productivity.

Here are some tips for dealing with ‘email overload’ that I have gathered from across the internet, which may help you in dealing with this productivity blight.

Never open the same email twice. This is probably easier said than done it can be easy to skim over an email and miss the important details, or decide you will come back and reply to said email later in the day. Try using the delete/delegate/respond method, if you can respond in under two minutes then you have dealt with it in a timely manner and won’t have to come back later to action it. It also means you aren’t wasting time re-reading the same information.

Setting yourself a time limit each day for responding to emails can also help. Whether this be 15 minutes each hour or once in the morning and once in the afternoon, it helps to have a structured approach to correspondence. They say that depending on the complexity of the task it can take between 4-15 minutes to get back to full productivity if distracted. This distraction can be as little as the ping notification from your email client.

Respond to your emails in a timely manner. This is a given in business but many don’t adhere to this principle. Generally the rule is to respond within 2 hours if you can, or if you only check your emails twice a day, respond to all your mail these two set times. However don’t fall into the trap of responding two quickly otherwise people may take this for granted and expect it every time.

Utilise the subject line to summarise and not describe the content of the email. It is best practice to give concise information here so the reader can immediately gauge its importance and relevance.

Make sure to include the full context of the message when your reply, often when we receive multiple emails from the same sender the message can get lost. At the beginning of each email you send make sure to include the most pertinent information eg. “Just getting back to you with regards to the proposal you sent out this morning”. Don’t just jump into your reply with the answer to their question eg. “Yes it looks great let’s go ahead”, give some frame of reference.

Use rules to your advantage. Setup folder for personal emails, or perhaps break up groups into current, past and prospective clients. This can mean you aren’t distracted by onscreen alerts every time you receive mail, and mail that isn’t urgent is filed away for later actioning.

If you can only implement one of these tips, you will be well on the way to having a more productive day and your clients will love you for it.

Key Actions :
– Never open the same email twice, use the delete/delegate/respond method
– Set yourself a time each day when you will respond to emails, whether this be for a set period each hour or at a specific time in the morning and afternoon.
– Respond to your emails promptly, a good rule is within 2 hours if you are checking your email once an hour.
– Utilise the subject line, make it concise and to the point.
– When replying to email make sure you give context to your message you the receiver can immediately see the key points of your email.
– Setup rules in your inbox for sending and receiving mail, setup folders to group your contacts.

Written by: Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy

How many sales are you losing through poor sales process?

“To train or not to train?” – that is the question

Many businesses spend thousands of dollars on marketing and advertising to generate inquiries and yet spend nothing on training their salespeople to convert these same inquiries into sales.

A common misconception is that if the salesperson has great product knowledge they can make the sale. These types of salespeople rely on what we term “show and tell” selling which leads to price focused buyers rather than needs based selling.

Many sales are lost as a result of poor or even non-existent sales processes. The analogy I often use is when baking a cake you follow a recipe and if you do you get the same result each time. When you decide to change the recipe and say use less baking powder you may still get something that is edible but not the best result.

Well it is the same with many salespeople who have never had any formal sales training – they may have a recipe/process they are following but some of the key ingredients may be missing, resulting in missed sales which invariably leads to increased cost of sales not to mention lost sales revenue.

When you consider the cost of making a sales call can be from $90 to $500 depending on type of call and then take into account the lost opportunity costs it often comes down to leaving sales to chance.

I meet many businesses who would gain immediate sales from sales systems but will delay sometimes up to 12 months before starting.

The great thing about sales training is that it is entirely measurable and the return on investment can be seen almost immediately.

The cost of missed sales can be huge even for small businesses. An example might be a business where an average client may spend $200 per month over 12 months – this adds up to $2400 p.a. If the average client stays loyal to this business for 5 years then the average lifetime value is $12,000.

Now if our untrained salesperson is fumbling one sale per week over 46 weeks this amounts to $552,000 in lost business and over 5 years this could come to $2,760,000 and remember this is per salesperson.


From Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company, who once was asked by a wholesaler why he invested so much in training his people, when ultimately they might leave.

His reply was “what if I didn’t train them, and they stayed?”

Action Steps:

Review your sales processes – do you have systems for:

• Asking for referrals
• Managing new leads
• Identifying potential prospects
• Making appointments using the telephone
• Conducting sales interviews
• Quantifying your prospect’s problem in dollar terms

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

How prepared are you for your Sales Presentation?

Recently Samsung launched their new Curve 105 inch HDTV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Employed as the celebrity presenter and spokesperson was “Transformer” director Michael Bay .

Unfortunately for Michael his teleprompter malfunctioned and it soon become embarrassingly obvious that he was totally unprepared and after ad-libbing for about 30 seconds he walked off the stage (view on You Tube)

There is no excuse for not being prepared. He would have been paid a small fortune for that appearance and so to just turn up and rely on a computer to feed him the information without doing any research or preparation it’s fair to say he got the result he deserved.

You might be thinking what this has to do with sales?

Well the truth is many salespeople do very little preparation before sales calls, meetings or presentations in the mistaken belief they can ad lib the meeting because of their experience and confidence around their products.

Getting appointments is the key to ensuring the best outcome from the meeting – 90% of sales are won or lost before we ever get in front of the prospect because too few salespeople actually do any pre-call planning.

Many salespeople believe experience is a substitute for this or they do their planning in their prospects reception area.

These people believe, like Michael Bay, they can walk on stage and use the script and walk out with the sale. What they don’t allow or plan for is when the prospect changes the script by asking different questions or throws up new objections or the teleprompter malfunctions!

We as salespeople should treat pre-call planning the same way pilots treat their pre-flight checks – as if their lives depended on it, which in fact they do. In our case our livelihoods depend on it.

So what to include in your pre-call planning –

• Written call objective
• Anticipated problems our prospects may be experiencing that we have solutions for
• List of similar clients case studies
• Needs Analysis with key questions
• Cost qualification analysis
• Closing strategies

The lesson we can take from all of this is – preparation is the key to ensuring the best possible outcome from any sales interview.

Quote of the Week:
“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”
Benjamin Franklin

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy

Does Your Sales Team have the Right Weapons to win the Sales War

Last time we looked at the average cost of making the sale and also the general lack of sales skills training within most businesses.

This time we will examine the importance of developing the sales skills within our salespeople and how that translates into profits.

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Czar prepared his troops for battle in the following manner.

The first wave of charging infantrymen were given rifles, the second wave were provided with clubs, but the third wave was given nothing but good wishes. They were supposed to pick up the weapons from their fallen comrades and then continue the attack.

If you were recruited into that army, which wave would you chose?

That’s exactly how new salespeople feel when they are sent into the field without adequate tools to do their jobs. This is no way to break in a new salesperson; it’s a sure way to increase staff turnover.

Sales training is the foundation upon which product training should rest. Many companies assume their salespeople and the salespeople they hire already have a solid foundation in sales skills and systems. Salespeople who don’t perform are simply written off as part of the 80% in the old 80/20 rule of selling: 80% of the sales force produces only 20% of the company’s sales. Or, put another way, 80% of the company’s sales are produced by only 20% of the sales force.

Denying the training and support systems, which every jittery newcomer needs to get started in selling, is a short-sighted and counterproductive view of the sales team-building process. New sales reps are entitled to all of the help and tangible support that a business can provide.

Success in selling is inversely related to a salesperson’s FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – which they experience every day in the firing line. Because selling will always be a problem if it is not learned as a procedure, it is mandatory that selling skills – as well as product knowledge – be emphasized in your training programmes. Without adequate preparation, new salespeople will surely fail in the field – just as the ill-equipped and poorly trained Russian soldiers did.

Many salespeople I’ve trained over the years have been very successful in selling before they undertook the training however what I often hear from these people is the comment
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know” as we introduce them to a structured sales process.

Without a structured selling process many sales are lost that could have been converted with the right preparation, asking the right questions and then following up.

They say more sales are lost through poor questioning than are ever lost on price.

What this all means to businesses is that the cost of making sales goes up as these opportunities are missed.

A national client I was working with achieved over 40% improvement in sales through following a structured sales process.

For every business I have worked with over the years there is a recipe of the right questions to ask a prospect to uncover firstly if they have a need – No Need = No Sale, and secondly how urgent that need is. Yet most salespeople have a few standard questions they ask and then launch into their sales pitch – generally before the prospect has fully understood their own needs – this then leads to “leave it with me I need to think this over”.

With the right questions and processes the prospect should be able to make a decision based on the information presented.

We will look at team development and the correlation to sales staff retention next time.

Quote of the Week:

Every sale has five basic obstacles
No Need, No Money, No Hurry, No Desire, No Trust

Zig Ziglar


Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Where Do The Dollars Come From?

When considering this question many of us think of activities such as marketing and advertising, operations, lead management – the list goes on.

The fact is that only one activity brings money into any business and that is sales, unless of course you are a non-profit organization.

There is an old saying “Nobody gets paid until a sale is made”

You can have the best products in the world but unless someone is actively selling these you will go out of business.

If we can agree that sales are one of the most important activities in our business then the next question to consider is “are our salespeople making the most of the opportunities that are out there?”

Sadly the answer to this question in the majority of cases is “No”.

Here is some data from a study conducted with the Fortune 500 companies in the States, which found –

98% of salespeople do not have a consistent methodology for their presentation
95% talk too much
93% volunteer a price decrease without being asked
86% ask the wrong questions
87% of sales inquiries are never followed up – not even once
90% depend almost totally on leads from marketing efforts

What this information points to is a lack of sales skills training for the sales teams.

According to ASTD research conducted in 2008 – 48% of salespeople learn selling through trial and error. How many prospects do these people waste while learning?

Many of the people I train have been in sales for years and have basically learnt through this method.

The most common issue I see with the trial and error training methodology is a lack of confidence in the salespeople.

The next most common group I come across are the salespeople that did a sales course ten or so years ago and are still using the old style selling techniques.

Sales like any other business activity should be systemised.

When selling becomes a process your salespeople will become more confident, your sales closing ratio will increase and your cost of sales will decrease.

The cost of making a face to face sales call can range from $90 – $500 depending on the location and time.

What many of us fail to take into account when working out these costs are the hidden cost such as technical support, administration support, on-going training – the list goes on.

Using $150/hour as an example let’s look at what goes into making a sale

Preparation and getting the appointment 1 hour
Face to Face presentation (including travel) 2 hours
Preparing Proposal 2 hours
Follow-up appointment to present/discuss proposal 1.5 hours
Miscellaneous – phoning, research etc 1.5 hours
Total 8 Hours

The equation is 8 hours x 150 = $1200

This is assuming that you make the sale however there are very few companies in the world who have a 100% closing ratio. Most companies average 35%. This relates to proactive selling (you approach the prospect) as opposed to reactive selling (the prospects approach you)

We will look further at developing sales teams in the next article.

Quote of the Week:

From Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company, who once was asked by a wholesaler why he invested so much in training his people, when ultimately they might leave.

His reply –

“What if I didn’t train them, and they stayed?”

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, Uncategorized, , , ,

Manage Contacts

8603449602_a806248c13_mOver time, most of us amass many contacts in business. If we’re not careful – we can end up with a drawer full of business cards; which leaves us left to hunt through them when trying to remember a contact made months or maybe years earlier.

Organizing and managing those contacts is important so we will remember who they are and have easy access to them when we need it.

Nowadays there’s no shortage of ways to track contacts whether on your phone or desktop computer.

Within Simple Sales Tracking, it is possible to manage your contacts – businesses and people – separately from your sales pipeline.  While managed separately, you still maintain the ability to associate one or more contacts to one or more leads, opportunities or accounts.

From there, you can easily look up and get in touch with your contacts, or synchronize them with other platforms – such as Outlook or your email marketing software.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Does Cold-Calling Still Work?

In my last article I ranked cold calling at the bottom of the list as far as prospecting activities were concerned.
This caused a number of comments which I felt needed to be addressed.
I define a cold call as “calling on someone who doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call or visit.”
Now most experienced salespeople will have their cold calling story of the “big one” they got as a result of cold calling a prospect.  However for every one of those there are 100’s of prospects they burnt along the way as a result of a cold call.
Ask these same successful salespeople if they still cold call and the answer is always no as their business now comes from referrals.  But everyone has to cold call to get started I hear some of you saying.
The answer is that if you don’t have any other prospecting systems, then yes, you will have to cold call when starting out.  The plan then is to have your prospecting plan organised to get enough referrals to fill your diaries.
The punishment for not achieving this is cold calling and if you must do this then only ever cold call “C & D” type prospects  – that way if you burn them you haven’t wasted a major opportunity.
I was reading an article recently by Frank Rumbauskas the author of “Never Cold Call Again” and he mentioned some research by the Keller Research Centre at Baylor University in Texas.   The study was based on a group of 50 experienced and qualified salespeople who made a total of 6,264 phone-based cold calls over a two week period.  And the results were far worse than even he would have expected.  “Dismal” would be a compliment says Frank.

Here’s how it turned out:
72% of the calls were outright rejections.  People saying “no way,” hang-ups and so on
28% of the calls were labelled as “productive”.  These were people who didn’t hang up right away showed some interest, gave a referral, asked to be called at a later time and so on.

But what was most interesting is that the majority of the two week study period was spent working on and following up with this 28% of the list.  The time that went into it was extraordinary and very eye-opening when you see the final results.
That 28% – totalling 1,774 calls, resulted in 19 – yes, that’s NINETEEN  appointments.  Out of a total of 6,264 cold calls made!
The success rate of cold calls to appointments is 0.3% (based on the average closing rate of 20%, that would equate to just under 4 sales, from 6,264 cold calls)
Now that you have heard the horrific numbers experienced during the study, here is the conclusion drawn from it.

Experienced salespeople can expect to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling to get ONE qualified appointment.   That’s an appointment – NOT a sale!  Cold-calling is a numbers game – A BIG numbers game – and one we are bound to loose.

My suggestion is to follow a structured prospecting plan which will lead to the right number of referred leads and sales.

My next article will focus on how to achieve this.

Quote of the Month:
“At the age of three, we all possessed three important skills to make the sale:
Persistence, creativity, and the ability to ask one question after another”
Dirk Zeller

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

How to track your sales pipeline and why it’s important

sales pipeline funnel exampleYour sales pipeline (or sales funnel) is an important part of your sales process, and when used will lead to closing more sales.

In its simplest form, a sales pipeline can be represented in 3 major stages, starting with Leads, then following on to Opportunities and finally to Accounts. For most of you reading this, you’ll already be familiar with the concept and likely be employing it in your selling activities.  For a more detailed explanation of each of the stages, take a look at a post we wrote a while back where we explain how the 3 step pipeline fits into Simple Sales Tracking.

A primary reason for tracking your sales pipeline is for projections, which include future/prospective:

– Cash flow / Earnings

– Demand for products and services

– Customer growth

– Scalability

If you consistently convert the same percentage of Leads into Opportunities, then into Accounts, over time you’ll be able to more accurately trend your projections and uncover your closing rates individually and for your group or company.

With you increased insight, you can begin to measure and test various approaches to your sales activities, rather than ‘taking shots in the dark’, you’ll begin to carefully measure the effect of each one.

Importantly, you’ll also begin to see where your customers are falling through the cracks and learn where more follow ups are needed and when.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , , , ,


Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
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