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Thursday, September 18, 2014

6 Steps to Objection Handling

I enjoy teaching this section in my sales training classes. Objection Handling is the most fun during training as it provides role play and sometimes many laughs. 

I also enjoy this part of when I get sales trained as well because I always jump up to play the customer and hope I get a young sales rep to play with. Our greatest fear is always the price objection and the one that has us all tongue tied.

In one gamification training class, we had to remind the roleplaying CIO to relax a bit with his objections because in real life they are not as intense as he was but he said "I wanted the other guys to walk away from the deal so I could buy it from the guy I liked". We were taught a valuable lesson that objections are also used to manipulate buying decisons that are not price based in this case.

I try to take the customer point of view as if I was buying a car myself. I too will have objections as I am trying to get a deal as every dealer has the same list price. Some objections are very valid because you did not do a good job stating the value proposition. Some objections are just insane and are designed to have you walk away so the buyer can buy the product from his current supplier. (This is common for those buyers that are afraid of change). However, it is a serious issue that we all need to deal with. 

We all have our horror stories and the one I enjoyed the most was visiting a Telecom Manager for a railway early in my career. When you sit in front of his imposing desk that appears to be higher and larger than normal there is what appears to be a square baseball bat and it has written on it facing you "Salesman Adjustment Tool".

At one point during the sales call (or in my case after reviewing my proposal with him) you may actually ask a very awkward question:

Uh Fred I didn't know they made square baseball bats these is very interesting...what can you tell me about it?

Well, John that is a Salesman Adjustment Tool and I use it a lot

Adjustment, Fred....adjustment for what?

Well, John I use it for adjusting attitudes and as well as beating the price out of salesmen. In fact, I used it this morning to beat the arrogance out of the photocopier salesman.

Hmmm....are you going to use it on me because that looks like it can be pretty painful?

No John, i like your attitude. You somehow appear like you are interested in helping me with getting rid of message slips and trying to get me to buy this electronic voice mail contraption. You know the railway started out with analog clocks and trains ran on time just as good as digital clocks now.

Ok thanks for that Fred, I was really worried for a moment. So I would like to get your project going and have the equipment ordered and scheduled so we can get it up and running quickly for you. if you can just sign off on this document and .........................

John, John, John you must be crazy or something because this Meridan Mail thingamajig is very very expensive. We don't have that kind of money. I don't have budget for this luxury and we have boxes of these message slips in the closet. I cannot just throw them out.

Fred, so you are saying that this Meridian Mail solution is too expensive? What makes it expensive?

I am sorry John but I will have to use this on you now because I think I really need to beat the price out of you. Ok stay still now and I will be easy because I only need to beat the price out of you not your attitude.

The guy was a real character and he had a lot of fun buying technology but he was a very shrewd and over bearing bully. Yes, he was a bully and not just because he looked like a big hulking line backer but because that was his personality. I hadnt taken the Buyer Personality training yet.

So back and forth we went and sure I showed ROI, productivity increases, ability to save important messages etc etc, lease it or pay by the month, pay cash, Canadian Tire money even. So we settle on the final price a week later. I return and that tool looks like it had gotten some use at it appeared to have several scratches.

OK, Fred I have the letter of intent for you to sign....

Then he does the...John, John, John, I have talked to others last week and you are higher still....stay still while i beat you up again...but AT THIS POINT I had  nor more room and we gave the solution a haircut and even took out some items to lower the price and install it in the next quarter to line up with his budget. Its a win-win for both of us. I can't drop my pants again.

We had built up a relationship over time and he told me that he trusted me in the past unlike the other guy who was a flakester so I thought i could just say...

Fred, I worked hard to get the pricing down and cut out a lot of the profit for our company. I promised you I would take the train instead of the airplane for business travel to Montreal, but I got 10 minutes left on my parking meter outside. I cannot do this deal and don't want to get fired for giving the deal away at such low profit. I appreciate your time Fred. I am sorry but I have to walk away from this.


You know I am sure you can buy the box off the other guy and maybe he is lower in price and enjoyed the beating more than I did  but really the greatest risk on this project is the implementation. Let me sketch out and go over the implementation tab on the proposal and show you the team who is going to deliver a best in class installation. Fred, let me go top up the parking meter and lets go grab lunch , I want you to meet Alex our Project Manager, and our field office is just down the street so he can join us. I called Alex and like anyone in operations if sales is coughing up a free lunch (and drinks) he is on it. He was at the restaurant before we were and he surely enjoyed the T-bone steak and shrimp cocktail.

I finally got the deal later that week but he did use the tool on Alex because now the installation costs were out of whack but we remained firm and explained the installation costs line item by line item. He realized that our implementation story was a stronger value proposition than the other guy and our pricing did include services the other guy did not.

We can also enjoy the story about the buyer who objected to not getting brochures. He had 7 sets of identical brochures from the other vendors but he needed 8 to complete his set. I was the 8th and made sure I put them in those plastic protector pages and in a nice binder. I gave him 2 sets, just in case. What does one do with 8 Nortel Networks M81C brochures anyways? actually 9 I exceeded his expectations.

Objection Handling Scripts

1 Listen carefully

Learn to accept  objections for what they are… hidden opportunities. They are a sign of an interested customer. Don’t interrupt or try to handle the objection immediately. Listen carefully and patiently to what they have to say.

2 Make sure you understand the objection

Do this by repeating your understanding of their objection back to them 

“So, if I have understood you correctly, what you are saying is..…”

Make sure they confirmed that your understanding is correct.

3 Acknowledge the customer’s viewpoint

“I can understand why you might say that. In fact, one or two other clients started by saying the same thing to me in the past....”

4 Answer the objection

Continue from step 3 by saying something like:

“…. but what they found – and I'm sure you’ll find the same thing – was that....”

If they are objecting to the price then they have not seen the value of your solution. If they are objecting to reliability as example, you will have to come back with more information to alleviate their concern.

5 Check back that your answer has met their concern.

“Does that make sense to you as it does to me?”

6 Ask for the order

“So would you like us to go ahead?”

If  the customer still objects, you may have to go back to step 1 and start again. If this still fails, ask more questions to help you establish their needs and the value to them of meeting those needs. Your goal is to help them understand your solution

Strategy Tips

Delay talking about prices until after you have demonstrated the value.

“Before we can discuss prices we both need to be absolutely sure that this is the right solution for you. So, if it’s all right with you, we’ll come back and discuss the price in detail when we both know what you need.”

Paint a picture, quantify the value, and help them to understand how it will solve their problems. 

Offer payment alternative like financing or leasing.

Compare your prices to others

“Tell me, are you always the cheapest supplier in your market? Well, neither are we. Like you, we charge a fair price for great products and services. But if all you want is the cheapest widget on the market, I can introduce you to several cheap firms from whom you'll get exactly what you pay for. They are also lower in quality”

“I am sure our competition knows what his widgets are worth. Just as we know what ours are worth but we offer a better widget overall in reliability and quality."

Focus on the difference between what they say they are willing to pay, and what you are asking. This is haggling.

Remove some items or feature of the package to bring the cost within their budget.

Reduce the customer’s risk – perhaps with a money back guarantee or try and buy program

Offer a discount disguised as an incentive. Have them sign up for a 3 year service plan instead of a 1 year.

  • Bonus Tip: Go back and squeeze the manufacturer for some discounts you can pass on

If all else fails, be prepared to walk away – or perhaps introduce them to a lower cost supplier who can offer a 1 ply toilet paper in place of your 2 ply model. Everyone knows the more plys the better the experience.

Happy Objection Handling

The Future of IT is still in the Clouds?

Clouds? yes there are more than one types of clouds in weather watching and in IT

The Cloud has gone beyond the data center and disaster recovery center of 1999 and has also become the catch word for SaaS or Software as a Service. and Google Docs are tweo prime examples of SaaS.

Clouds are configured into 3 versions:




The public cloud is accessible by everyone that has internet access and Google Docs is a great example. i can create a document on any device and store it on my Google Drive that is located on a storage server somewhere in a Google data center. I can also retrieve that document on any device. Microsoft 365 is another example.

The public cloud service typically houses operations and applications that require elastic scaling (unlimited data bandwidth or storage) and is ideal for short increases or short term bursts in access. 


The private cloud is available to corporate users and can be accessed through  a private VPN service or the corporate WAN. The cloud could be in a corporate data center or hosted by a Cloud provider. Steve needs access to his corporate ERP system from a customer location. He uses the VPN service through the internet to have a secure and private path top the servers in the corporate cloud server that has the ERP system.

The private cloud stores sensitive corporate data, has a firewall for security and is typically virtualized. IT can control and manage the platforms and control data flow on a dedicated infrastructure.


Hybrid clouds are a mixture of both where corporate resources are available only to VPN users but customers can access data through the internet as well. In this case Steve can update the ERP system and coordinate inventory data as a private cloud user and his customer can run dashboards or reports from the same ERP system (they only see what they have been profiled to see) as a public user.

The hybrid cloud can sometimes take the private infrastructure and have a provider virtualize it and provide elasticity in storage and bandwidth needs. This hybrid cloud is a common and standardized infrastructure that has the ability to provide different users access to services or applications as defined by the IT department.

The IT department still has control over how resources are provisioned and what applications are available to public or private users.

There has been numerous studies showing ROI and cost saving benefits to have a cloud service on a data center or application level. Thankfully there are various cloud configurations that can be deployed to serve any IT departments needs.

Caveat: There are many vendors stating "Cloud" when in fact all they are doing is taking your server farm off your premises and placing them in their data center. They then charge for a lot of extras that can increase the cost. There are reasons to do this but it is not a real cloud service. The only difference is that your office users that access the email server in the back room for example, now access it across data circuits to the providers rack space. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to attend and enjoy a really big conference and survive!

How to attend and enjoy a really big conference!

Every industry has big conferences that have over 50,000 people attend. Out in Silicon Valley you have Dreamforce, Oracle and Cisco events and out in New York there are big trade shows at the Javits Center. Event planners have the statistics of how many babies are born, legs broken, people that go missing, hangovers and lost shoes that occur. In fact, every city will have some sort of conference or industry event going on at any given time. For many attendees this is a new city for them and may be their first time out of the office.

As I tried to tell my mates at the big Nortel ISLUA conferences back in the day, that these events are not parties (although there are some big ones) but a chance to learn, engage, connect and have a bit of fun as well. Those that did not take heed ended up AWOL in their rooms trying to clean up what the made should not have to. Make the best use of your conference and it will help propel you forward in the future. Remember, you are an ambassador of your company and if the VP of Sales likes dancing with a lamp shade on his head then make sure you are not that guy.

1.     Know the Agenda

Take a look well in advance of the event the actual agenda and read the event descriptions. You have the chance to register before popular events are sold out and ensure you get to attend those activities related to your job function. Some events will have room for walk in traffic if push comes to shove and you must attend it you then go early to the session if you can because there will be no shows. There are special event specific apps that will allow you to build your agenda and save it to your smart device.

2.     Floor Plan

Study it and if the events are in various buildings then you will need to understand the travel times between events. If the convention hotel is sold out then you will need to choose an alternate that is close by.

3.     Who else is going?

Find out if your customers, partners, potential prospects or co-workers from other offices are attending. Plan in advance any meet ups as during the conference things can get pretty crazy.

4.     Bring a Backpack

There will be swag, handouts, and laptops to carry plus the much needed peripherals. If you have your own bag then it won’t look like the handout bag everyone is carrying around. If you leave your bag in a corner at some event then someone will take it by mistake and then “hey someone grabbed my bag and my iPad was in it”. It was a black bag with the Avaya logo on it…hmmmm there are 126 of them in this corner…

5.     Arrive early and maybe leave late

If you can arrive a day or two early then you can avoid the crush at the airport and hotel check ins. Trust me it will be a zoo regardless of how much staff is available. When the show ends at 3pm most attendees will be like bats out of hell rushing to the airport to catch flights. I think it’s best to leave the following day. The evening is a great time to reflect on the event and if with customers or colleagues share in learnings and coordinate next steps. After 5 long days at a trade show, a day off to take a sightseeing tour or do some shopping will be a relaxing thing to do.

My Secret Super Rockstar Show Tips

Bring along a personal assistant to look after all your whims and petty needs. If you do not have one then you are on your own and these survival tips may help:

Keynotes: 80,000 people in a room means you will be watching Tony Robbins on a big screen so why not enjoy the show from a remote viewing location or vendor lounge. The A/V crew will be filming like it’s the Academy Awards so beat the crowds and enjoy it in a saner environment. Check ahead to see if this is the case at your venue.

Aisles Seats: These are the golden seats but you need to get there early. If you choose the front row you have a chance to get pulled up onto the stage and participate sometimes.

Schedule: Do not try to pack it all in one day because your brain will not allow it. Take a break between the longer sessions to get fresh air and recharge your senses.

Leave Work at Home: Your business will not end while your away so do not try to juggle both because it will be very stressful. There are many things that can wait until later in the day. Set you email to reply back an out of office alert with a name of a backup person while you are away.

Check the Weather: A co-worker arrived in a T Shirt and jeans not understanding that Toronto has cold and snow in November. His first mission was to buy winter clothes.

Travel with an Empty Luggage: There will be material to bring back, swag, T Shirts and travel mugs and most likely souvenirs. You may also come back with a jacket if you forget to bring one or do not understand the weather patterns.

Leave the Backpack at the Hotel at night: If you are hitting the party and dance floor circuit then dragging a heavy back pack around is no fun and then you have to worry about it getting stolen while doing the chicken dance with the red head from Fargo.

Healthy Snacks: Pack protein bars, nuts and berries and breath mints instead of loading up on carbs that will put you into a doze by 3pm. Donuts and Muffins are hotel trade show staples.

Booze and Booze and more Booze: For some that have never been away from home or their small town it makes the big city very inviting. Do not overdo it the first night or two because it will affect you the rest of the week. Save the blow out for the last night if you have to get your freak on. I hate seeing so many people wearing sunglasses in the workshops to hide their bloodshot eyes and haggard faces. It didn’t hide the fact one attendee has his pants on backwards. I can count several vendor reps crashed out in the lobby couches at 8am while the attendees stream by to fetch breakfast. “Oh hey look there is Brian and he looks like he lost a shoe last night and seems to have coughed up his oatmeal” or how Francois from Montreal has to explain to everyone how he has his arm in a sling because he tried to climb a fence in the back parking lot with his dress shoes on. He always adds the EMS staff was so nice!

Extension Cord or Power Outlet: Belkin makes a nice 3 outlet extension plug with 2 usb ports. This will be a lifesaver and you will make many friends if you are near an outlet. I found a 3 foot extension cord at the local Dollar Store and it’s been a lifesaver at training classes.

Power Pack or Battery: Yes bring one because cell coverage indoors is usually weaker and your device will use up more battery power. What your HP laptop onlys runs for an hour? Ok bring 8 batteries

Transportation: Car pool with others, take public transit or shuttles or just walk. I saw one guy from the Atlanta office take a cab every day for two blocks from our  hotel and while I walked I got there before he did and didn’t have to try to expense $8 for each trip. “OMG the traffic is horrible around here”

Dress Properly: Comfortable shoes and loose fitting clothes are best. Umbrellas and rainwear will be required for Seattle and Vancouver. Going to Wiinipeg in January…bring a North Face Everest Expedition jacket to go over your Dewalt Contractor jacket (the one that takes 2 12v batteries with the built in warming element).

ID and badges: Make you sure you have ID as some events require you show ID to match with the name on your badge.

Business Cards: Bring lots and I like to write details on the back if handed a business card so I do not forget when I get back as to why I had that card. “Oh I see Tony Bishop at Evans Inc. is interested in a product demo as opposed to a blank card”

Don’t Be Shy: talk to people, engage with others and smile and take it easy. The person you are chatting with may just end up having the invites to a special party. I was talking to some guy at the coffee urn at one conference and it turned out he was the keynote speaker. I was able to chat with him later because we made a small connection and he tossed me his VIP ticket for the rest of the event.

Play Safe: I have seen people do stupid things and usually while impaired resulting in personal injury. So try to keep a level head or at least have your gang all be on the lookout for each other. Crossing the street, getting into fights with locals, stumbling around New Orleans in the alleys at 4am, and meeting interesting women at the bars in Las Vegas can be a real fun time (she cleaned his room out while he slept like a baby - passport, watch, wallet, luggage, TV remote and even the little shampoo bottles were gone)

Take in The Local Sights: Take a bus tour to see the city and learn about it the week before you go. You will appreciate it better when stuck on the 405 in Los Angeles or walking under the overhead trains in Chicago.

Coffee Line Ups: Be prepared as they will be long and bring a travel thermos and a reusable water bottle

Client Dinners: make reservations well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Attitude: It will be stressful, line ups, lousy food, bitter coffee and lots of running around. Relax, it’s just a conference. Have fun! and smile!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Boss versus the Coach – A Comparison of Traits

The Boss versus the Coach – A Comparison of Traits

During our careers we have come across various managers that can be called a Boss or a Coach. Their behavior actually shapes our work day and behavior and can be the difference between success and failure for a team. In some cases Human Resources hires the wrong personality deeming a certain trait better than another but the reality is the best manager is the one that is not only respected by their employees but also manages to get the best performance from them. Coaches, on the other hand get out of the way and let the players play the game.

Some companies thrive on the extreme boss approach while others fail and for other companies the coaching style is what increases their shareholder value. I suggest you choose to be one or the other or a mixture of both and see what works best for your team.

The bigger question is who DO you want to work for and how DO you want to lead your team or peers?

The Boss
  • They TALK a lot
  • They TELL a lot
  • They FIX things
  • They PRESUME a lot
  • They always seek CONTROL
  • They love to ORDER people around
  • They work ON tasks and people
  • They put PRODUCT first
  • They always want REASONS for your actions
  • They assign BLAME to others
  • They keep DISTANT

The Coach

  • They LISTEN a lot
  • They ASK questions
  • They PREVENT problems
  • They EXPLORE new ideas
  • They seek COMMITMENT
  • They work WITH employees
  • They put PROCESS first
  • They seek RESULTS
  • They make CONTACT

I prefer the Coaching method because it actually works best from my observations and here are some thoughts:

1.      Awesome Coaches maintain control and get things done. They empower their team with time, resources and techniques, to solve big issues with big ideas instead of Band-Aids and checklists. They are proactive in their approach.

2.      Awesome Coaches foster a sense of community. Coaches  make sure they attract the right people to get on the train and then get them in the right seats. They also make sure that the wrong people never get on the train, or if they do, they get off at the next stop.

3.      Awesome Coaches invite creative thinking and know how to integrate creativity into daily conversation and procedures so that every employee feels natural about being creative.

4.      Awesome Coaches create an open environment for voicing concern and frustration where people are empowered to make change on their own to improve product, process, and procedures. They invite the expression of honest concerns by everyone involved to achieve the highest levels of team performance. This means that they are good listeners.

5.      Awesome Coaches encourage career development for their employees so personal growth is required and rewarded.

6.      Awesome Coaches run effective and efficient meetings and do not waste any time and resources.

7.      Awesome Coaches build trust so people feel safe. Successes are met with equal high praise and rewards, while failures are met with encouraging acceptance and learning the  next-step improvements.

8.      Awesome Coaches generate happiness in the workplace so they are inspired and excited to come to work and perform well every day.

9. Awesome Coaches make sure people are responsible for their roles and actions.

10. Awesome Coaches know how to praise and show gratitude. They help employees develop a strong sense of self-confidence and self-praise that outweighs any pat-on-the-back or award provided.