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6. Getting mugged by your own mouth. This is a very easy trap for a salesperson to collapse into especially if you're extroverted and talkative. If you're not careful with the language you use, you run the risk of sounding like the "Mediocre majority." For example, you should avoid using these phrases: I think, can I be honest, can I ask you a question, I know you're busy so I won't take up much of your time, how soon do you need it, I agree with you - But, what do I have to do to earn your business today, so - what do you think, I was wondering etc. I hope you get the picture and recognize that these phrases aren't inherently sinister. They are however over-used by the salespeople who are in the "Mediocre majority" category. Avoid them like the Plague!

Action-step. The more you prepare what you'll say and how you'll say it during a sales call the less likely you'll end up getting mugged by your own mouth.

7. Making the sales call a virtual "Improvisation." The way my twisted mind works is there are only two types of sales calls. One is prepared and the other is a total improvisation. Let me concede right out of the chute, it's inconceivable to totally prepare for a sales call - the way I define the word prepare. It should also be inconceivable to you from this point on, that your sales calls should be a 100% improvisation. In this example, when I use the word prepare, I mean in writing.

Here's a short list of what I recommend you thoroughly prepare - in writing: Prepare how you call for appointments. Prepare your elevator speech. Prepare at least 12 open-ended questions. Prepare how you will segue into your presentation. Prepare how you will deal with the price objection. Also prepare how you will ask for the customer's commitment to order your product/service.

Action-step. Prepare in writing the words you will use in each of these key steps in your selling process. Preparation always sounds better than improvisation. Always!

8. Forgetting to develop the "Brand Called You." One of the cardinal sins I observe salespeople making is your complete reliance on the branding of your products and your company. Please remember this. Most people don't buy the product. Most people don't buy the company. Most people buy - because they buy the relationship with the sales professional working with them.

I just ordered the autobiography written by PT Barnum. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. If you want to be remembered you have to be memorable and PT Barnum wrote the book on this topic. Marketing will win more sales than selling ever can. To be a success today, and in almost any business, you have to be an extraordinary marketer! You might want to buy Peter Montoya's book, "The Brand Called You."

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July 2005