The Top 10 Sales Don’ts to Avoid at All Costs

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Every day people enter sales positions or start businesses.

They are either taught techniques and tricks of the trade, or they assume that certain behaviors are appropriate. Unfortunately, many of these people are doing the wrong things and therefore, not getting the results they seek.

Below are the top ten sales don’ts, listed from least offensive to screaming hot bad.

10. Do Not Hand Your Business Card to Everyone You Meet

First of all, they don’t want it. Secondly, you are telegraphing that you are interested in what you can get, not what they need. Only give your card to people who ask for it. This way you’ll know who really wants it. DO ask for the other person’s card every time. You’ll want to follow up with them, if only to send them a short note saying it was nice to meet them.

9. Do Not Prospect by Email

I’m not talking about email marketing which I believe in. I’m talking about prospecting; sending an unsolicited email to someone trying to gain their business. It doesn’t work for a whole host of reasons. Remember, the prospect wants to know that you want to do business with them specifically. Make them feel like you are working to gain their business by going the extra step of regular mail or phone.

8. Do Not Pitch on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place to build relationships and position yourself as an industry expert. No one wants to be sold – anywhere. Plus, you don’t know whether you want to do business with someone just because you’re connected to them on LinkedIn. Use the platform to connect and build. Business will come naturally when and where it makes sense.

7. Do Not Connect with People Just to Sell to Them

People see that coming a mile away and will avoid you like the plague. Remember, people don’t like to be sold to. Have a reason to connect with people outside of selling to them. Or, if you find someone you think might be a potential client find out how you are connected to them and ask for an introduction.

6. Do Not Give a 30-second Commercial That is 2 minutes Long

I see this happen all the time. Someone starts and just doesn’t stop. The more you talk, the less people listen. So create a 30 or less second commercial and use it. If you can’t figure out how to say what value and results you bring in 30 seconds or less, get help figuring it out.

5. Do Not Lie

Enough said

4. Do Not Over-promise

It’s better to be realistic with what you can do. A lot of salespeople want the money so badly that they will agree to do anything the prospect wants. Then they find out that they can’t deliver.

3. Do Not Tell People Everything You Do

When you are in that sales appointment do not go on and on about your products/services, bells and whistles. To tell you the truth – they aren’t listening! They only care about a solution to the current problem they are having. So talk about your solution to their problem. Later you can share more as you build the relationship.

2. Do Not Sit Around and Wait for People to Call You

Sales is a verb. It’s an activity you have to engage in daily in order to grow your business.

… And the #1 most offensive Don’t?

1. Don’t Sell

Yep, I said it. There is no place in sales for selling. We see selling as convincing, cajoling, or persuading. That’s not what it’s all about. Sales is about matching a solution to a problem. So don’t sell. Listen, learn, and connect what you have to offer to the problem they are having.

Have you committed any of these don’ts? That’s okay. We all have at one point or another. Moving forward, remove them from your practices and you’ll see your sales increase.


Guitar Amp Dial Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Top 10 Sales Don’ts to Avoid at All Costs” was first published on Small Business Trends

Cracking the Sales Code with These Two Basic Principles

cracking the sales code

The classified ad screamed: “$600/Month Guaranteed!”

This was a lot of money back in the day.

I was a new high school graduate and had only a vague notion of the saying in business that “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” I would learn soon enough.

It was my first big sales job. I would be selling vacuum cleaners, cold-calling door-to-door. But the company managers weren’t demanding sales numbers, just behaviors.

The sales training was not what I expected. The sales trainer was not Alec Baldwin in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” pounding the ABC’s of AIDA (sales-speak for “Always Be Closing” and “Attention, Interest, Desire, Action”).

Sales was more than FAB. Selling was not just:

  • Features — describing what product is.
  • Advantages — what it does.
  • Benefits — the value to the customer.

Instead, George, my trainer and mentor, taught two basics:

  1. Think behaviors, not ‘dollars’; and
  2. Practice influence, don’t ‘sell.’

Door-to-door selling taught me that sales is first about behaviors. Get your behaviors right, and the money follows.

The sales funnel statistics were simple. At the top, at the widest, was the action that I had to perform as a condition of employment for that 600 bucks.  The job was easy; knock on 100 doors a day, six days a week.

It didn’t matter what happened. No one home or not interested? I just had to bang on doors. This behavior, I was assured, would lead to three invitations to return that evening to present the machine. For every three presentations, one sale would result. The company numbers worked for me. As I got better, I needed fewer numbers at the funnel’s wide top to get a sale at the narrow bottom.

The second skill George, my mentor, taught, was to influence, to persuade.  Good sales training programs remind us the first step in the sales process is to establish rapport. The prospect must respond and then trust you.

Earning the confidence of the prospect begins with the other person making a move in the salesman’s direction. In door-to-door sales, that microscopic move was getting the homeowner to respond and to open the door.

If you’re not knocking on doors, what might that look like? That first response could be getting an email reply.

If the prospect will not open the door, or answer the phone, or return an email, there is no relationship. And there will be no sale.

Please understand, I am not minimizing the skills and the teachable science of salesmanship. Rather, I learned in cold calling that sales also includes the art and craft of personal interaction.

Always try to get your prospective customer to make a move in your direction.

Here’s what it looks like when selling is life and death: in hostage negotiations. Have you ever wondered how those guys from the FBI talk their way in and get live bodies out?

It might go something like this. The hostage negotiator (sales guy) will spend considerable time establishing a personal connection with the criminals.

Our negotiator will suggest bag lunches be brought in to feed the hostages and delivered on plastic trays.

At the end of the lunch, the negotiator will ask for the trays to be returned.

If the hostage-taker complies and returns the trays, then the negotiator knows that within 72 hours the hostages will be released.

Hostage negotiators, like sales professionals, understand that the start of persuasion is to get the ‘prospect’ to begin to respect the power of the negotiator-salesman. The micro-obedience begins with the returning of a worthless plastic tray.

The negotiator will then suggest ever-increasing incremental exchanges until the hostages are set free. The power comes from persuading the other person to make moves.

Whatever you’re selling, remember to focus first on behaving a certain way, and then on persuading and influencing your prospect.

Classified Ads Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Cracking the Sales Code with These Two Basic Principles” was first published on Small Business Trends

6 Reasons All Business Owners Should Register Trademarks

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A trademark is often an important tool worth investing in to protect the intellectual property of the business. Intellectual property rights cover creations both artistic and commercial. Trademarks protect words, names, or symbols identifying goods made or sold, distinguishing them from others, while patents protect inventions. Copyright protects books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, software, etc. and gives the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office administer IP laws and rules.

[Related: Attorney Jo-Ná Williams Details How She Helps Artists Protect Their Art]

Many business owners and entrepreneurs wonder whether they should trademark their company name. After listing the pros and cons, the answer was a crystal clear ‘yes’ for Marjorie Adams, president and CEO of Fourlane, an Austin, Texas-based QuickBooks reseller and consulting firm. Fourlane helps improves the efficiency of client accounting departments through bookkeeping, tax, software consulting and business process training. Trademarking may not be for everyone. “Just like anything involving the government, the process takes months of research and there is a long waiting period to get approved,” notes Adams.

In early 2015, after changing her company’s from AQB to Fourlane, Adams promptly applied for a trademark on Fourlane and its sister company, POSWarehouse. Both names now have approved trademarks, or in this case, “service marks.” A trademark and a service mark really aren’t different, she explains, it just depends whether you have a product or service. A trademark — designated as ™ — is used for words, phrases, symbols or designs to identify and distinguish the source of the goods of one party from others. A service mark (using the registered mark or “®”) is also referred to as a trademark, except it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

Despite the hassle of dealing with government agencies and paying for a trademark attorney to help sort out details, as well as the time it takes to jump through government hoops, here are six reasons Adams gives as to why trademarking your name is important.

  1. It protects against impostors and copycats. With a trademark, your name is legally protected so that no one can duplicate it. A trademark protects ownership rights over the name—a logo, tagline or whatever you’ve trademarked. Once you have a trademark, competitors can’t use your name. If they try, you can take swift, legal action.
  2. It secures your brand on social media. Customers search for brand names on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites. The social media venues have policies in place to protect you against abuse—someone grabbing your company name and misrepresenting your brand can result in suspending the account. See Twitter’s policies for more information. “Our business name, Fourlane, was formerly a Web design firm before we took over the URL. To get access to the Fourlane account, all we had to do was change the e-mail address,” she says.
  3. Trademarks never expire. Nabisco Cream of Wheat, Carnation Condensed Milk and Pabst Blue Ribbon all have trademarks more than a 100 years old. Once the process of trademarking is complete, you’re protected with no pesky renewals. This also means we can sell our trademark if we ever want to do so.
  4. Trademarks are inexpensive. Depending on the type of trademark you need, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office charges between $225 and $325 per trademark. The minimal fee makes the decision whether to trademark a no-brainer, but remember that this does not include any research or legal fees.
  5. Trademarks build brand loyalty. Registering trademarks mean you’re in it for the long haul. This reassures customers as well as employees that as the business owner you are committed to the business.
  6. Trademarks safeguard against cybersquatting. Cybersquatters register domain names that are identical or similar to well-known trademarks with the purpose of selling them for a high fee. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1999 to allow the trademark owner to sue to collect damages from individuals who registered a domain name that is identical or similar to a trademark.

A version of this story appeared on the BusinessCollective, a virtual mentorship program designed to help millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, which was launched by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

5 Easy Ways To Sell Without Being Pushy Or Obnoxious

easy ways to sell

One of the greatest fears entrepreneurs face when selling is being too pushy. Nobody wants to come off like one of those obnoxious salespeople.

You know what I’m talking about. Those people who are more interested in shoving their product or service down your throat than they are in actually figuring out what you need. Despite your protestations, they push and push until you finally find a way to escape from the conversation.

You know that nobody likes dealing with that type of person. So when you’re selling, you’re deathly afraid of being that person. Let’s face it. Selling is hard. Really hard.

Getting someone to buy your product or service can create a lot of pressure. You want to make sure that you’re approaching each prospect the right way. You don’t want to be too pushy, but you also don’t want lose sales because you’re too afraid to close. It’s a like walking a tightrope.

You have to strike the right balance between getting your point across and not pushing your prospect into a corner. Fortunately, this is much easier than it sounds.

There are easy ways to sell and techniques you can use to ease into the sale rather than rushing into it. Below is a list of actionable easy ways to sell and tips you can use to enhance your sales process and ultimately close more deals.

1. Remove the Pressure

This is one of the most important tips on this list, but for many, it’s the hardest. You’re trying to build a successful business. In order to do this, you need clients.

Not only that, you might depend on your business as your primary source of income. Because of this, it’s easy to feel pressured to get each prospect to buy from you. This pressure can cause you to make mistakes. It can make you rush straight into your sales pitch rather than taking the time to get to know you prospect.

However, it’s important to realize that this pressure can cause you to become that pushy, aggressive person when you’re trying to sell. In the end, this will cause you to lose more than you win.

It requires you to change your mindset. Instead of believing that you absolutely must get this sale right now, understand that in the end, it’s more effective to work your sales process until it’s time to close.

2. Take Your Time

One of the best easy ways to sell while not being pushy is to take your time. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is rushing straight to the sales pitch. It’s like asking someone to marry after the first date!

If you come off like you’re desperate for the sale, it will turn your prospect off. Remember, you want your prospect to be as comfortable as possible.

This is why it’s so important to develop your own sales process. A sales process helps you organize your sales interactions by giving you steps to follow before you actually close the deal.

Your sales process should include the following:

  • Introduction: How will you begin the sales interaction? What’s your elevator pitch?
  • Needs Discovery: What does your customer need? What are their pain points? How can your company help?
  • Solution: This where you present your solution. Make sure you’re addressing their needs and pain points.
  • The Close: Make sure there’s no further objections and ask for the business.

Your sales process should include these four points. When you follow a viable sales process, you can find a way to provide the solution your prospect needs.

3. Let Your Prospect Do the Talking

If you follow this sales tip, there will be no way that you will appear to be too pushy. Why? Because you’re not doing the talking. After all, it’s hard to be aggressive when it’s your prospect that is speaking, right?

Encouraging your prospect to do the talking will make it much easier to sell without being aggressive. It also helps you understand your prospect more, which means your chances of winning the sale increase.

The best way to get your prospects talking is to ask great questions. Anyone in sales knows this.

Good open-ended questions will encourage your prospect to open up to you. When they feel comfortable talking to you, it will be much easier to earn their trust. The more they talk, the deeper the connection you’re able to build with them.

4. Make Your Prospect Feel Comfortable

The more comfortable your prospect is, the better your chances will be of earning their business. Being aggressive will make your prospects feel nervous and tense, which is why it’s so ineffective.

One of the easy ways to sell and get your prospect to feel comfortable with you is to smile and relax when you’re interacting. Use humor to get them in a better mood.

When you show that you’re comfortable and relaxed, your prospect will feel the same way. Do whatever you can to put your customer at ease and you won’t have to worry about pushing them to buy.

5. Focus On Their Problems, Not Your Product

You’ve probably heard it said many times: your customer doesn’t care about your company, product, or service. They care about themselves. They care about solving their problems.

This is another rookie mistake that pushy salespeople make.

They rush into the pitch without any regard for the prospects needs and pain points. This sends the message that you see the prospect as nothing more than a dollar sign. Then you go on and on about your product without even addressing what your prospect really needs.

This is another reason why it’s so important to take your time and get your prospects to talk. Find out what their problems are and figure out ways to solve them.

You want to become a partner and a consultant to your prospect. Not just someone who wants to sell them something.

This approach can take more time, but it’s more effective in the long run.

The important thing to remember about these easy ways to sell is that they work together to create an approach that actually helps your prospect. That’s what this is all about. Your objective is not to sell your product or service. Your objective is to make your prospect’s life easier.

If you follow these five easy ways to sell, it will be impossible for you to become that pushy, obnoxious, ultra-salesy entrepreneur that nobody likes. As a matter of fact, it will cause your prospects to see you as someone who genuinely cares about their needs and concerns.

Remember, when you focus on selling solutions instead of products, your sales interactions will be much more successful.

How do you avoid coming off as pushy?

Pushy Salesman Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Easy Ways To Sell Without Being Pushy Or Obnoxious” was first published on Small Business Trends

Golf & Tennis Challenge: Just 3 More Days

In a mere three days Black Enterprise will kick off the highly anticipated Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge at the PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. If you have yet to register for the event, now is the perfect time to do so.

[Related: Close Out the Summer with G&T]

Close out your summer with fun in the sun among colleagues, friends, family, and associates with a weekend of golf, tennis, fitness, games, relaxation, and let’s not forget the live entertainment where Doug E. Fresh takes us back in time with an Ol’ School Hip-Hop jam hosted by AT&T, Estelle shares a night in Harlem at the Awards Dinner & Concert Celebration hosted by FedEx Express, and Alison Hinds takes us to BE Carnival with super soca hits.

Don’t forget to bring your game face as there will be ample opportunity to compete for highly coveted titles at the challenge. We know, we know, no one is any competition for you on the spades table. Here is your chance to prove it.

Ladies and gentlemen, dust off your microphone for the Lip Sync Battle and come prepared to show what you know at the Battle of the Sexes Trivia Challenge. It’s obvious who this game is in favor of, but time will tell if predictions are true.

This wouldn’t be a Black Enterprise event if there isn’t an opportunity to test your money sense. Test your knowledge with Financial Jeopardy hosted by Prudential. If you know your way around the kitchen, join a team and compete in the Master Chef Challenge hosted by Anthony Anderson and attempt to recreate the guest chef’s signature dish.

In the midst of all of these exciting activities, take a moment to relax and revitalize at the PGA National Resorts highly rated spa. If this sounds like a place you’re supposed to be, it’s because you are. Register now.

Visit www.blackenterprise.com/events/golf-tennis-challenge for registration, updates, and all pertinent event information. For last minute savings use the code LABORDAY when registering for a special discounted rate.

Just three more days for the BE Golf & Tennis Challenge, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Thursday, September 3rd- Sunday, 6th. See you there.