Larry Long Jr is the Founder and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of LLJR Enterprises, which focuses on sales motivation & inspiration, as well as team training. He is the host of the ‘Midweek Midday Motivational Minute’, and also Co-Founder and Lead Instructor of The Sales Allies, an online sales training course and supportive community designed to uplift the sales community.
As a former college athlete (Go Terps! He played baseball for the University of Maryland), Larry is extremely passionate about coaching, and helping professionals take their game to the ‘next level’.
Specificity – the quality of belonging or relating uniquely to a particular subject
A dog collar, a hammer, a tennis racket, and a swimsuit.
These products have literally nothing in common with one another.
But any of these objects are valuable to the right audience.
It’s when we pick the wrong audience and try to sell them something they don’t need that everything can go sideways. We get discouraged and try to change the marketing materials, product appearance, add new features, or scrap it altogether.
We think the market doesn’t want what we are offering but maybe we were shouting in the wrong room of people.
Tailor your message to a very specific market in a way that attracts the most viable buyers because you solve a real need for them. Get as hyper-specific as possible.
If you can pinpoint the right audience and focus intently on them then you won’t have to guess for long if your product or service is valuable as your ideal clients will do that for you.
Matt Clark is the founder of The Virtual Edge and co-creator of The Rainmaker System – an online marketing system that helps entrepreneurs get 2-5 high-value leads per day from LinkedIn without paying for ads.
With their flagship program, Matt and his business partner, Wesley Longueira have helped thousands of businesses in 26 countries grow exponentially. They are now on a mission to reach 10k businesses worldwide and build a vibrant community of Rainmakers!
The success of The Rainmaker System has led to Matt becoming a sought-after international speaker and has shared the stage with Brian Tracey, John DeMartini, Michael Douglas, Stedman Graham, Peter Sage, Brandon Bays, Les Brown, and many more. Matt is also the author of The Proven Path, The Automation Playbook, and The Automated Income systems and has been featured in Wake up- How to live a Healthy Vibrant Lifestyle.
René Rodriguez is entertaining, but he is NOT an entertainer. His clients describe him as “powerful”, “thought provoking”, and “authentic”. They say things like, “you could hear a pin drop as everyone was so captivated.” Rene’s engaging speaking style, backed by his scientific approach, makes him a top-rated speaker at every event.
For the last 20 years, René has researched and applied behavioral neuroscience as a dynamic keynote speaker, leadership advisor, world-class sales expert, and renowned speaker coach. Yet, he believes that we are only scratching the surface of what is possible and that every profession can benefit from fully engaging the human mind/brain.
His company has trained more than 100,000 people in applying behavioral psychology and neuroleadership methodologies to solve some of the toughest challenges in leadership, sales and change. As an entrepreneur and CEO of multiple companies, Rene brings a practical business approach while inspiring his audiences to take action. He helps leaders create influence, transformation, and immediate results in their business and personal life. René connects company vision and strategy to fundamental and applicable neuroscience in a way that empowers anyone to engagewith courage and grace.
He has been named to the 40 under 40 list for 7 years straight and has been a trusted adviser to leadership teams at Coca-Cola, 3M, Medtronic, Nestle’, Microsoft, Bank of America, and Cargill. He was featured on the Cover of the Niche Report Magazine and has authored dozens of magazine articles.
A captivating, high-energy speaker, Rene is in high demand for annual events, conventions, and keynote speeches. He has shared the stage with the likes of Tony Robbins, George W. Bush, Magic Johnson, Ken Blanchard, and Jeffery Gitomer to name a few. He can be reached at email@example.com
Consistency – conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
I’ve put consistency as the last ingredient on the list because it tends to be the final piece that makes all of the rest work together very well. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has had sustained success in anything they do including sales without being consistent in their approach and work ethic.
There are tens of thousands of examples of short term wins by sales reps or maybe even hitting or exceeding their quota in a given year but it is the consistent professional who time after time continues to chop away and stay in the ring long enough to get to the next round. A Rocky metaphor is apropos here. There are always going to be bad months or quarters but when you continue to hone your skills, build up your book of business, and bring the right attitude to your work then you will only continue to succeed.
It is the sales professional who thinks they have figured it out, has a few big whales padding their pipeline, or is arrogant about their current place on the team that ends up getting complacent and ultimately frustrated when others pass them. These are the folks that tend to churn out of organizations at around the 9-15 month mark when their “ramp” is over and they’ve been found out by the rest of the team.
Consistency allows you to do a few things:
Build Repeatable Systems
Having systems that you can go back to over and over again can only be useful when you are consistent in the way you work both internally and with potential clients. If you continually do a lot of the same things and build repeatable processes behind those then that can ultimately help you carve out some of that wasted time mentioned above. Repeatable systems might be crafting similar email templates that you can customize on the fly, document client information the exact same way (I used OneNote and the Description section in my specific Opportunity), or can ask similar/specific questions in client interactions. This helps make sure you are working toward the partnership in the right way versus missing key information from one call to the next. Building these types of consistent systems in place can do wonders for your productivity and partnership discussions
Create Sound Habits
When you are organized in your efforts and understand how your week generally flows it helps you put up barriers to corner your time and not let the “time robbers” get in the way of it. When you focus like this great habits start to take form like proper time for “pipeline hygiene”, prospecting time, administrative work, and ultimately more time to spend in front of potential clients working through great partnerships. Habits take time to build but if you put the right systems in place and then focus on how to tackle those and what new habits can help achieve better results like task lists, blocking time, batching emails, etc it all starts to come together nicely.
Keep Ahead of the Game
As I said earlier, you are going to have bad months and quarters (sometimes just bad weeks if you are lucky) but they are inevitable. If you don’t get complacent in your efforts and strive to out-pace projections then this can help set you up for success down the road and not get behind. If you have a few good months and try to coast through the rest of the year you are hurting yourself because since nobody can see the future you can’t predict if some of the partnerships you thought were coming in will actually come to fruition. Get ahead and stay ahead and this can be beneficial in more ways than one.
Consistency tends to get thrown around a lot like a thing that everyone wants to get better at. I believe that building systems to narrow your focus on all the different things you come across in a given week needs to be prioritized in order to be consistent. When this takes form, you begin to week out a lot of the wasted time and can spend it on the right things.
Then it’s rinse and repeat. It’s not sexy but it’s effective. It generally is the people that are the least flashy and stay head down on their goal that tend to win in the long run. They know that staying consistent will generally beat out almost every other person in the long run when others get tired, complacent, unmotivated, or in a rut.
Consistency is a skill that can be learned and it just means to suck it up sometimes despite many barriers. Ultimately, once those minor barriers get worked out you have achieved a lot more than you thought you could and are that farther ahead.
If you want to succeed in almost anything and you have to have others involved then having and gaining respect throughout the process should be a high-value focus item for anyone. In life, respect is so critical and as you get into a sales role when you are working directly with your peers and potential clients, it becomes extremely critical.
Respect – a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Looking inside of an organization, I have found that respect has had a profound impact on being able to get things accomplished and arrive at a better place as a collective organization. When you are respected by others you are able to have your thoughts and ideas echoed and cheered for which might have a greater impact on helping them get adopted. Remember, this doesn’t always mean every idea will be great or accepted but it gives you more slack to be able to offer up those ideas and speak through them. I’ve often found that the most respected individuals also had the loudest voice because they spoke their mind, professional of course, and came at whatever situation it was with passion and exuberance. Others see this and get on board with the mission because they trust and respect you are also looking out for their best interest as well. As a sales professional, you are on the front lines with potential clients and hearing the good and bad about the company, industry, landscape of the market, etc and your voice has to be heard. However, if you haven’t earned the respect of your peers then it is going to be challenging to have your spot to share and have your ideas accepted.
How do you gain respect as a new sales team member:
Respect others and be graceful and polite in your approach
Speak up and share ideas – it still may take time to gain respect but often the new people have a fresh perspective on the issues they see so others are willing to listen. When you have your chance, articulate what you are seeing, be thoughtful in your approach, and try to present a solution along with the problem. Doing this early on will start to plant that seed of respect
Offer help – the easiest way to gain respect is to show you care. Help other peers when you see them struggle, listen in on calls and be interested in how others perform their job, ask other departments to shadow them to learn about their roles to make the relationship better, etc.
These are just a few ideas but it is really simple. Come in with eagerness to learn and share and that starts to rub off on people. If you show you are a team player from day one then you gain instant street cred for being approachable and genuine in your dealings with your peers. If you act as you know it all and come in with all the answers, that won’t go over as well. Be mindful of the situation and the groundwork others have laid and try to build upon it and not tear it down.
I’ve mentioned other ways that respect starts to be gained in a client relationship. Honesty, Candidness, Punctuality, Humility, and so on. There is no secret answer here. It’s that you just want to be a good human being with good intentions and communicate in a way that helps your potential client get further ahead.
Being polite goes a long way. Simple things like:
Do you use their correct name or ask them the name they prefer (Mike vs Michael)
Do you interrupt or them off often
Do you regularly show up late for meetings
Do you avoid answering their questions and change course
Do you take forever to follow up on emails
These are a few examples but it’s basic etiquette. I boil it down to how you might act on a first date. You’re going to be your best self (i hope). Do that every time when working with a potential client. The more you do it the more it becomes a habit.
Remember, this should be an easy one to remember but it’s hard sometimes and that’s why I think these characteristics are so important to work on and improve. Respect is earned and by proving that you are an honest, trustworthy individual who is looking out for the potential clients best interest then you have the chance to build respect early on. When you gain respect, it opens up a new set of doors with the relationship.
More information gets shared, Your calls get answered or returned quickly. You are the first to know of any changes in timeline or scope. It makes it easier.
It doesn’t mean you will earn every partnership, far from it, as there are other factors at play. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know if you didn’t earn the partnership and why very early after the decision versus emailing and calling a bunch to finally get a bland answer.
Focus on building the relationship early and often and the level of respect you receive from your potential clients will be in line with others in your organization even family and friends. That’s when sales get really fun when you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with a potential client and cut out all the noise that sometimes gets in the way.
Punctuality – the fact or quality of being on time
There are so many different paths to success that really knowing the perfect combination is going to be hard to pinpoint. The attributes I’ve laid out so far are what I have observed and experienced myself that are cornerstones to top-performing sales professionals. Punctuality is probably one that can be argued either way but I’ll share why I think it is paramount to any successful person, sales, or otherwise.
There is a great saying that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I think it fits well into this example.
When you are on time it generally means that you are prepared and organized. If you are prepared and organized then one can assume that you are good at the work you do, thorough, and always follow-up through on expectations.
Those go a long way when serving your potential clients. They recognize the little things in your interactions with them. Politeness and punctuality are generally two of the most glaring. I’ll assume everyone knows how to be polite so we won’t focus on that here. Remember, selling is as much about the product fit as it is about a trusting relationship. You are an extension of the company you sell for and therefore if you are professional, polite, and punctual in all of your interactions with the potential client then they are going to assume that’s how the organization is run as well and they’d be a great long term partner to have.
The flip side, which I was reminded of just last week, is not where you want to be. I was on a first discovery call with a potential client and we had built rapport throughout and the conversation was fluid so when they brought up that they had been exploring some other products I made sure I pried in a bit more and here’s what came out.
Brian: That’s great you all are doing some exploration to see what’s out there, who have you looked at so far?
Potential client: Just one other one at this point…like Gov something..or you know I can’t remember their name exactly
Brian: (in jest) I guess they didn’t make a great impression then, huh?
Potential client: Oh you don’t know the half of it. We called and had a conversation and scheduled a demo of their product and then when the time came for it the sales rep didn’t show up. They didn’t send a message or anything. So we called in later to find out what happens and not only did they not have a good excuse they weren’t even remorseful for missing the call in the first place. Let’s just say they didn’t leave a good impression on us.
Going back to the dating analogy from a prior post, if you were to stand up a date and then not even feel bad about it when they called you do you think that relationship will progress anywhere? It’s disrespectful to the other person and shows that you are thinking about yourself more than them.
Besides scheduled meetings, being prompt with proposals, emails, etc are also very important. I don’t believe you have to reply the minute a message comes in but I like to at least get back to someone within a half of day or at worst by end of day. If the message comes in during the afternoon then certainly first thing the next morning. If you are needing to gain additional information internally prior to responding at least take a minute to acknowledge their email and tell them that you are on it and will return the message soon (or put a more defined time on it). This goes for proposals or other important documents. When you agree on a time then hold yourself accountable to that time (or earlier). It amazes me how simple this notion is but yet it can be missed without properly organizing your efforts.
I’ve written a lot about outward-facing activities when working with potential clients as it relates to these attributes but it should be noted that many of these, including punctuality, is extremely important when working internally with other teams. Showing up to meetings on time, being respectful of getting back to emails that ask for your guidance/insight, and completing tasks when your voice is needed are all things that show you care about the greater mission and are helping the other members of your team succeed.
Sales can seem like an individual sport but it generally takes a village to make you successful. Someone had to build the product, someone had to organize sales materials, someone had to define the ideal client that fits the product, someone had to sell and implement other partners before you so you had great references. Unless you have done this all by yourself, you need others around you to support your efforts and therefore it is important to show up for these types of activities or discussions even though it may not be your top priority. The company needs to hear your feedback in order to improve and it’s an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and help everyone get to the next level.
Remember, A rising tide lifts all boats. Start by being on time.
humility: a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
There is no question that humility has to be one of the characteristics of the best sales professionals. Additionally, one of the sub-categories that are almost certainly in line with people who are humble is confidence. There are certain people that may not be confident in themselves and still be humble, but in sales I’ve found that the ones who are successful in their role often times have a nice balance of humility and confidence.
Confidence is such a big key to being successful and setting your mindset on a positive track helps you get there much quicker. When you are confident in your ability and realize that you will continue to exceed expectations then it is much easier to be humble. The reason I say this is that if you look at someone who exudes confidence then most of the time (not always) they don’t need to be told “great job” or “you’re the best” or anything like that. They act like they’ve been there before. They generally are the ones who are consistent and expect those results.
Similar to this situation, look at how the top sales professionals act when they bring in new partners. I am not saying they don’t get excited or accept the praise, I am saying that they are much more humble because they realize the hard work it took to get there and they don’t take it for granted. They don’t get a big head about it and gloat because it’s not about an “I’m better than you” mentality. It’s that they are continuing to compete against themselves and try to get better at their craft. They are confident in their abilities but humble in their approach and that balance continues to be a winning formula.
On that note, let’s make sure we don’t forget the humility needed when working with potential clients. I’ve really been speaking about internal-facing interactions but I think that being humble during client interactions might be more important, actually, they have to be.
The potential clients you are working with are fairly savvy these days. They’ve used a lot of products and services and have a good tell that almost none of them are perfect. Neither is your product. We need to look at ways of communicating with the client that exude our humbleness while articulating what we can help them with and what we can’t. If we are saying we can do everything then that’s not only dishonest but also comes off as arrogant.
We’re the #1 ____ , We’re the Top ____, We are the industry leader in ____
All of this type of fluff and the stories around it don’t make us sound like we are trying to help the client. They are self-serving and arrogant and if you’ve ever tried to buy something and heard this touted you’d know what I mean.
Let’s take the approach that “we may” be able to help the potential client as we continue to look behind the curtain and find out what they truly need. I think it’s wise to be confirming that “we can help you here” but “may not be able to exactly help there” and walk them through a potential future-state where they can envision what is the most important and what isn’t.
A piece of this is also the real possibility that you may not be a good fit and have to tell the potential client that. There is a mix of candor in that but I believe you have to truly be humble to get to this level of comfort passing up on what might be a great “logo” to work with and focus on the fact that the partnership may not be the best fit, for a number of reasons.
A lot of this continually comes back to one tried and true principle of sales.
Are you trying to help the potential client or are you trying to help yourself?
If it’s the former, you win every time, even if you don’t win the partnership.
If it’s the latter, you might win sometimes or maybe more than sometimes but in the long run, you will end up losing because your reputation will be stained and your network of people that you could have leveraged for referrals and otherwise will be shrinking.
Start with humility and try to go into each potential client call with that same air of humbleness while still maintaining your confidence and I’m sure that your calls will be much more pleasant, more trust will be formed, and you’ll have a better chance of holding your head high, win or lose.
Before you go grab the latest and greatest sales book, understand you already have most of what you need to be successful at sales. You’ll learn a ton through experimental trial and error but I think a few suggestions below can get you started on an easier path as well.
In my opinion, I believe there are a lot of things early on that make sales hard for newer folks that don’t have to.
Too much information – product knowledge, value statements, sales playbooks and frameworks
Too much bad direction – poor training, unproven sales templates, bad call scripts
Bruised confidence – Overwhelming expectations, high activity metrics, poor personality fit in the role
There are good intentions behind all of these, especially from organizations facilitating these practices, but oftentimes it comes in the form of misguided or misinterpreted information and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for reps, especially new to the game. Now, throw in all of the sales books out there that sales reps are suggested as they start down this path. A lot of this information and the strategies or practices are outdated and what has worked for some that wrote the books may not work for all using its teachings.
I personally believe there are other things you can do first to help you get on your way and be a more well-rounded sales professional.
Learn How To Write
Most sales are done through phone or email so those are the two powerhouses, to begin with. This is not about “sales tactics” or anything like that. This is about proper grammar, word usage, paragraph length, bullet points, and all other things around professional writing. It’s vital because you will write thousands of emails and other documents in your career. Learn how to write in a clearer form and this will help when you start slipping in your sales language. Also, it translates well into your spoken word.
My Suggestion: First, I’d take a few writing courses online for free or jump on YouTube and type in How To Write Better. It also doesn’t hurt to download the Grammarly plugin for Chrome as this will help instantly as you begin to type. Next, I’d look at the emails you write to people and which ones tend to get the most positive responses. Remember, the tone is very tough to pick up in an email so how you write can be taken in multiple ways if not structured correctly. That’s why I say positive responses. Also, emails tend to grab your attention from people. Are they short, bulleted, bolded, etc? Chances are, if they catch your eye then they probably will to your future clients as well.
Learn How To Listen
Listening is hard and can be much harder when you are trying to think about the next question to ask without paying attention to someone. Stop that. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and a gentle pause isn’t so bad. Being able to dissect a conversation and pick up the undertones of the language as well as the social awareness piece all at once is a masterful skill to have.
My Suggestion: There are a lot of ways to do this and it could be as simple as turning on a Podcast to try and observe the conversation or you might call a friend or family member and interview them. Try to catch yourself when you lose focus and attention as well as when you start to think ahead too much and forget to stay present in the discussion. It can be much easier to lose focus over the phone without someone watching you being visibly distracted so keep an eye on this.
Learn How To Learn
When was the last time you actually learned something new that you knew nothing about the topic beforehand? It’s a No for most people, too. However, the great thing is you can start today. Pick something you are curious about and learn about it. For instance, during my Dozen Months of Discovery, I learned Spanish for a whole month. My sessions with the tutor were really difficult especially the first few days but it got me attentive and feeling like a beginner learner again. You may even sign up to do a demo of a product you are interested in. Whatever gets you into the mindset of knowing nothing and then having to take in information for the first time.
My Suggestion: When you are demoing a product, think of the person on the other end that has no idea what your product does, how it could help them, or is able to visualize use cases to help a problem they might not even know they have. You have to do a great job of communicating properly and simply and your messaging has to help them come along for the ride otherwise you’ll lose them. By going through this prior, you’ll be able to anticipate the challenges the future client might have during the call and it will help you navigate better. (i.e- Slowing down, fewer mouse clicks, reiterating key points, pausing to ask questions and get clarity, etc.
Learn How To Get Uncomfortable
The best sales reps and leaders I’ve been around have taught me how important it is to “own the room” in any conversation. Sales conversations can get uncomfortable really quickly. You need to be confident in yourself and believe that the product can truly help the client to solve a problem they have. This is tough when you are new to sales because you get nervous or timid or fearful or (insert appropriate word here). Heck, even I have these feelings every now and then and I’ve been doing this for a dozen years.
My suggestion: Figure out how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Put yourself into situations when you get really nervous or anxious and try to navigate yourself through that process. Even if it’s a big struggle, you’ve grown a bit and it will help you on the next try. This could be as simple as asking a person out on a date randomly that you see out somewhere, taking an Improv class, or signing up for a Public Speaking course. Many of these options cost minimal dollars and the experience gained is priceless.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deliberate skill practice and the beauty of all of these is that whether you choose to remain in sales or not, these are very transferable in almost any other career you go into.
So, think a bit differently as you look at a sales role. This can be valuable for anyone doing sales especially entrepreneurs or company founders and, yes, even seasoned sales professionals. You should always be looking to refine your skills and improve your communication and I hope some of this guidance will be a big help in your life.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’m happy to be a resource.
Was really cool to have Dale Dupree of The Sales Rebellion stop by for episode 60 of the Podcast. I’ve been following Dale for a couple years and since we had so many mutual connections and I always enjoy reading his thoughts on sales, I had to have him on to share his journey and knowledge. This was a really interesting interview where we go all over the place talking about his new company, what he learned from his Dad, when he was touring in a band, and much more. Definitely think you all will enjoy some of Dale’s thoughts and his perspective on not only sales but life.
Dale also talks about two former Podcast guests on this episode that i’ll link up below:
To understand my Sales Rebellion, first you need to hear and acknowledge the role my Father played in my life. His legacy is one of integrity, perseverance, and service to others. I spent my life in the shadow of one of the greatest men to ever walk this earth and I am eternally grateful for his amazing example. I realized my calling in the Technology world through his business and also just how much fun I had being in a sales role. Copiers and Printers are pretty boring and usually not top of mind, they are also the most important piece of hardware in the office when they break, am I right? I enjoyed the challenge behind making them a fun piece of your business puzzle.
in 2017 I moved on from the company I had represented most of my career, after my Dad’s passing (see my shared articles for the saddest story I have ever told). I stayed in the copier industry for 2 more years before creating my Sales Rebellion. I have gone into sales training and develop for both individual contributors and entire sales organizations.
In 2019, The Sales Rebellion was born. My conquest of changing the game has expanded beyond my role as an individual contributor in the sales world, as The Copier Warrior. Now I am teaching the masses how to choose legendary for their sales career. No longer will the mediocre rule throughout our profession. It is time for a Sales Rebellion to rise.
I believe in Radically Educating your prospects on a first touch. I believe in Responses, good or bad, but never indifferent. I believe your Territory is your Community, we enable Sales Wanderers. I believe your Pipeline is Alive. I believe people are more than just a signature for your deal. I believe in fellowship over negotiations.
On this episode of the One Mic series I start the conversation around Sales especially as it relates to people who have never had to “sell” before. This idea was originated from a great conversation I had up at the Next Gen Summit in NYC this past weekend. A lot of Start-up Founders have many talents and skills but one of the challenges a lot have is actually understand sales and the sales process of pitching VC’s, selling their first clients, etc.
I’m going to turn this into a multi-part series but wanted to give a taste of how I look at Sales and what has helped me become successful in the world of Sales.
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