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    Effective planning in life and in sales is as much about what we say no to as what we say yes to. It’s like the mind of a sculptor. He is given a piece of solid rock. He knows that the secret to getting what he wants is what he eliminates. Day by day he takes off little pieces at a time. He is showing us the art can come from saying “no.” He achieves his masterpiece by saying no to everything that is not part of his dream. He is demonstrating the power of saying yes to only those things that deliver that dream and no to everything else.
    Keep in mind that activity, even planned activity, isn’t necessarily progress. The goal of sales planning is efficiency. That means getting more done in less time, often with less stress. It means doing the most important things first. An effective plan optimizes delegation and maximizes the value you get from external resources. It means planning down time, recreational time, learning time and inspiration time. It means getting these important priorities scheduled and written down first because they’re your priorities. Your calendar must not become your ticket to burnout. That’s what happens when your daily plan isn’t based on your priorities.
    That two thousand year old question still awaits your answer, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
    Use your daily plan to guarantee a balanced life. Use it to connect your purpose and mission to your daily activities and insure that the success you achieve is the one you truly want.
    What are the high priority goals that you wish to achieve? Include personal and business goals. Now determine the steps you must take to achieve those goals. What is the sequence of those steps? Do you have the resources to take all the steps by yourself? If not, note the internal and external resources you need. Include the acquisition of any new skills, knowledge or tools that you don’t currently have. What are the metrics of those goals? What defines success for each of them? What must happen today to make meet today’s goal metrics?
    Define the daily disciplines you need to drive results you want by doing only what matters most. Next, take your plan to your planner and commit to the daily discipline of using the planner. Use your planner to build and support the habits you want.
    Now it’s time to track your time for the next week or two. Tracking how you use your time will help you understand where you need to be more efficient. You can learn so much about efficiency by just tracking where you're inefficient. Any of those little conversations going on in your mind about, “Why am I doing this?” or “This is the fifth time I've done this today!” Those are yellow-light signals that I want you to reconsider.
    Next, let’s talk about Interruption Management. We all need an effective daily plan, but if you don't manage your interruptions, your interruptions are going to manage you. Think about this for a second. Before every unexpected knock on the door, there's a moment in time where we still have the choice as to whether that knock will become an interruption. That moment occurs between the time we hear the knock and the moment we open the door. Hey, it's a simple decision. You've got to manage the insanity of interruptions by saying “No” to interruptions.
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    For any of you out there who don’t yet recognize the magnitude of the changes that are going on, consider these facts about social media and social networking.

    • Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
    • 1 out of 8 couples married in the US last year met via social media
    • If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.
    • Facebook users view approximately 100 Billion pieces of content......per day
    • There are over 200 million blogs and 34% of them post opinions about products and services
    • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertisements
    • There are over 138 million Facebook users in the U.S. About 40 million use a mobile device for access
    • 35 million of them have shared information about a product
    • 26 million have asked for product or service recommendations
    • And 22 million report making a purchase as a result of Facebook user recommendations
    • Ebay has a market capitalization of over $36 Billion and over 100 million items for sale on any given day
    • YouTube has over 100 Million videos and 490 million unique visitors per month. Users spend 29 billion hours per month on the site (that’s 325,000 years if you’re counting)

    While the impact of social media and social networking on B2C selling has been dramatic, let’s start our conversation about the impact of social media and social networking on B2B selling.
    Things began to change in the B2B space when blogging became popular about seven years ago. Established voices, such as journalists and analysts, had a new channel for expression. Customers, competitors, and other people with expertise in a given area even, if they “had no dog in the fight,” became new information sources for prospective buyers. Blogs were different from other forms of communication. They’re less formal, more matter-of-fact, sometimes unbiased, and most importantly, they provided the opportunity for feedback. Readers can respond to and extend the conversation through comments.
    But it’s been the explosion of social media and user-generated content over the past three years that has really changed the sales process. Prospects can ask questions, within or beyond their social networks. Anyone can answer; not just the traditional “experts,” but anyone inside or outside of a vendor organization, including customers. Journalists, analysts and other industry influencers have new channels for communication. Employees, who in the past were far removed from customers, can join online conversations. Customers can say pretty much the same things they’ve always said, only now instead of talking to only a few close colleagues and peers, their words can reach thousands or tens of thousands of social media readers and participants.
    You need to understand that 93% of business buyers believe all companies should have a presence in social media and the majority believe companies shouldn’t just present information via social media, but use it to interact and become more engaged with them. If you sell B2B, keep in mind that a majority of B2B buyers use social media to engaged with peers about their needs, 48% followed industry conversations on the topic and 37% posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions.
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    Most people spend less time planning their life than their vacation. A success plan is a method of taking abstract goals and dreams and reducing them to a daily schedule of actions and behaviors that guarantee that those goals and dreams are achieved. It’s a systematic method of action. A plan without a calendar is a car without an engine. A plan defines what to say yes to and what to say no to and is the shortest path to success.
    As strange as it may seem, I need to spend a little time helping you understand why you need to plan. The plan I’m talking about isn’t the big plan you presented to the company or the formal territory plan you may have to review with management every quarter. I’m talking about your real plan; the one that actually guides your day to day activities. I’m talking about a plan that links your daily activities to your business and personal goals in life; a plan that links your purpose and mission in life to your calendar.
    In every venue of life, the foundation of success is a plan. If you don’t believe me, ask an architect or an engineer. That’s because everything designed to last requires a plan. If there isn’t a designed sales approach, then every sale is luck
    Given the dynamics of your sales career, you can be easily overwhelmed. A plan is simply a device to give you a systematic method of action. Done correctly, plans are how you put action to your purpose in life and provide a path toward your future. They insure you control all the things you can control and are taking daily step in the direction you intend. You plan because you don’t want to leave your destiny to the influence of others or your future to chance. A good plan provides compounding effect on your efforts. The better you plan the easier it is to reach your goals.
    An important truth about the kind of plan I’m talking about is that it’s worthless if it’s not worked daily because it’s the only foundation upon which you invest your time and expect a return on your investment. Salespeople love the feeling of freedom and independence that comes with the job. If it’s financial freedom and independence from financial constraints you want, then a good plan is the fastest and most direct path to getting them.
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    accesses your company’s website, blog, white paper, or signs on to a webinar that it’s hosting. They go online and Google your website but they also look at competitive offerings, reviews of your company, and check out forums or blogs discussing your company and the solutions you offer. Combine that with the fact that 92% of business-to-business buyers start their search for a solution to their problem online, and the customer buying process has drastically changed.
    Here is a summary of the things that have changed in B2B selling from the buyer’s perspective. Today, they:
    1. Know More About Your Products and Services
    Today, the internet allows your customer to search not only your product or solution, they can open their search and learn about all the options currently available to them. It’s time to stop actively selling your product and begin asking business related questions to uncover their issues, problems and concerns. Remember, they no longer need your information but they may value your insight.
    2. Make Product and Price Comparisons Without You
    The B2B buyer no longer has to meet with all the B2B sales people to handle technical and price comparisons. They can get everything they need from the Internet. Too often they make a decision without any B2B sales person involved. They can also find all the pricing quotes they want. Often they demand that you match or go lower than the internet quotes they have on a spreadsheet. Therefore, you better be an expert in your competition. You’ve got to know the differences between their written claims and whether they actually deliver the results stated. Counter this demand by getting the buyer in touch with one of your customers who switched from that competitor.
    3. Unexpected Changes in Decision Makers and Buyers
    Some of our customers are actually learning how to purchase and negotiation the Walmart Way. Which means rotating buyers so personal relationships can’t be developed to influence the decisions. Networking within the buyer groups as well as the people who actually control budgets can give you a competitive advantage. Take steps every day to make contacts with as many people as you can within the target company.
    The result of these changes is that B2B Salespeople have to work smarter to win. No longer will B2B Salespeople be able to “wing it” as a strategy. Today, you will need to out think, out work and be more prepared than ever before. The past is gone. The good old boy network is almost gone. For B2B sales professional, selling to “financial and business influencers” presents an opportunity for competitive differentiation. If you can establish a reputation for helping companies accelerate business outcomes and financial performance, you’ll be given a seat of influence at the customer executive table.
    Of course, the personal development challenge for B2B sales professionals is building the requisite business credentials to actually do that. Today, it’s about adding value based on what you know and how it can be creatively applied to meet customer business needs, because customer executives don’t have patience for traditional sales methodologies that don’t ultimately hold the partnership promise. Customers are seeking B2B sales professionals with the competencies to accelerating their business outcomes and financial performance.
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    Perhaps never before has the requirement to add value to the buying process been greater. This applies equally for B2B and B2C selling environments. The process for adding value is different for both selling environments but the requirement to do so applies equally. The only important definition of added value is “something customers are willing to pay for.” Value is what the customer defines as valuable to them. That’s why it is sometimes called customer perceived value.
    In today’s lesson, we’re going to start with the issues of adding value to B2B sales and then address B2C sales. Because adding value applies equally to high-trust and high-transaction selling, I will address them as well.
    Due to the impact of the Internet and the continuing revolution of information technology, it has become easier and easier for products and services that were once sold based on their added value to slip quickly into commodity status. For example, both Hewlett Packard and Dell Computer are spending billions of dollars buying professional services businesses because the computers, software and supplies they sell are now commodities. In both cases, the shift from having industry leading products to owning warehouses full of mere commodities took less than 5 years.
    If your clients and prospects are coming to you with pre-defined problems and they’re simply looking to you for a solution, you’re being perceived as a commodity. Admittedly, an individual salesperson can’t change a company’s slide toward commodity status. However, there are things you can and must do to keep from tottering over the edge of the commodity chasm.
    To determine how to add value you must look to your customers, clients and prospects. You have to find and understand the unique problems that face them. You must stop being a “solution” specialist and become a “problem” specialist. Stated most simplistically, that means that salespeople must
    1. Help your customers understand their problems, issues, and opportunities in a new or different way
    2. Help show your customers new or better solutions to their problems
    3. Act as advocates for your customers within their supplier organization
    Unfortunately, that’s not how most salespeople see their value add. A major research firm has asked over 2,000 business owners and salespeople “Why should people buy from you instead of your competitors?”
    Here is what many answered:
    • We give better service
    • Our clients get better results with us
    • We know what we’re doing better than our competition does
    • Our products and service are better
    These answers may sound familiar, don’t they? But as nice as they sound, and even as true as they may be, they don’t differentiate you. Everyone says that.
    Techniques that worked well in the past just aren’t cutting it today. Feature-benefit selling has ruled for nearly two decades, but like all great runs, this one is ending. A national survey of sales revealed:
    1. More than half of all salespeople don’t feel they have what it takes to be an effective salesperson
    2. Three quarters of veteran salespeople don’t believe that their company is giving them the kind of training and support they require
    3. Nearly two thirds of sales managers feel unprepared to lead their sales teams in today’s challenging sales world

    The survey further concludes that customers aren’t at all happy with their sales experiences.
    • Seven out of ten customers believe that the sales rep that service them are product-focused rather than customer focused
    • Customers feel that only one in ten sales reps add any real value
    • More than half of all customers believe that salespeople are unable or unwilling to create a business-to-business customer-supplier relationship

    Why are both customers and sales professionals so dissatisfied? For one thing, the expectations of customers have changed dramatically in only a few years. Fueled by the Total Quality Management movement of the last decade, business buyers have raised the bar in virtually every area. That includes what they expect from their suppliers in terms of sales and service. Consultative selling, which adds value beyond the product or service sold, is quickly becoming the standard for sales success.
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