The Sales Blog http://thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino Wed, 27 May 2015 13:19:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 S. Anthony Iannarino The Sales Blog clean The Sales Blog iannarino@gmail.com iannarino@gmail.com (The Sales Blog) S. Anthony Iannarino The Sales Blog http://thesalesblog.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://thesalesblog.com Identifying Leads, Prospects, and Opportunities http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/26/identifying-leads-prospects-and-opportunities/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/26/identifying-leads-prospects-and-opportunities/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 01:37:21 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48966 Christopher sent me a note on LinkedIn asking me to explain the difference between a lead and a prospect. I answered by telling him my version of the difference, and I added the definition of an opportunity to help him with his question. What Are Leads A lead is the name of a company or […]

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Christopher sent me a note on LinkedIn asking me to explain the difference between a lead and a prospect. I answered by telling him my version of the difference, and I added the definition of an opportunity to help him with his question.

What Are Leads

A lead is the name of a company or a person. They might be on a list your company purchased. Or they might be on a list of people who attended your webinar or downloaded your white paper. They haven’t yet risen to the level of being a prospect, because you can’t tell from their activity whether they are a prospect. To find that out, you have to pick up the phone and call them.

What Is a Prospect

A prospect is a person or company that has the kind of problems or challenges around which you can create value. If you call a lead and they don’t have these kinds of problems and challenges, they are not a prospect. You have to disqualify them if you cannot create value for them, or if they will never perceive the value you create.

You know that I write the words “dream clients” a lot (that link takes you to a video that explains it in greater detail). These are like “super prospects.” They will perceive what you do as creating massive value. They are the very top of the stack when it comes to prospects. This is where you should spend your time.

What Is an Opportunity

And finally we come to opportunities. In order for a prospect to become an opportunity, they have to agree that they have something that they want to change and they are considering you as a potential partner in helping them make that change. That change might be around a problem or a challenge. Or it might be helping them to take advantage of some future-oriented opportunity. But unless they agree that they are going to explore change and consider you, you still have a prospect.

It doesn’t matter how much pain your prospect is in. It doesn’t matter how much better things could be. Unless they want to change, it’s a prospect. If they can’t benefit from what you sell, they are a lead worth disqualifying.

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Remember the Heroes http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/25/remember-the-heroes/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/25/remember-the-heroes/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 01:09:10 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48958 The time to protest a war is before it begins. If you disagree with the war on whatever grounds, you should call your Congressman, write the President, and march in the street holding up signs. You should make your voice heard (and as loudly as possible). That is your right and your duty. But once […]

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The time to protest a war is before it begins. If you disagree with the war on whatever grounds, you should call your Congressman, write the President, and march in the street holding up signs. You should make your voice heard (and as loudly as possible). That is your right and your duty.

But once the war has begun, the time for protest is over. You have to support the decision and work to end it as quickly as possible (something we in the United States aren’t at all very good at). The decision is made, and the soldiers in harms way require your support to complete their missions. Protests only show a weak resolve, poor intestinal fortitude, and increase the horror of war.

Today is a day to remember heroes who did what their country asked of them. And more.

The soldiers who served and died didn’t want to go to war. They wanted to be home with their families. But they did what we asked of them.

The soldiers who served and died didn’t want to put themselves in harm’s way. But that was their duty, and their honor and their responsibility required it of them. So they marched into the fray.

The soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice didn’t want to make that sacrifice. They didn’t want the medals. They didn’t want their family to receive a flag in their place. But they gave all.

The soldiers that we lost gave themselves out of the love they had for the soldiers standing next to them and out of the duty they had to their country.

You are a beneficiary of their sacrifice. Be grateful to the heroes who were asked to do the unthinkable and did so out of duty, honor, and the love of their country. Your country.

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What I Learned Washing Dishes http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/24/what-i-learned-washing-dishes/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/24/what-i-learned-washing-dishes/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 01:00:13 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48938 My very first job was washing dishes at a huge banquet center. I was 13 years old, and I desperately wanted the money. I worked every hour available, which meant most weekdays, all day Saturday until late into the night, as well as Sunday until late evening. I loved working (and still do). Hard Work […]

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My very first job was washing dishes at a huge banquet center. I was 13 years old, and I desperately wanted the money. I worked every hour available, which meant most weekdays, all day Saturday until late into the night, as well as Sunday until late evening. I loved working (and still do).

Hard Work Is a Matter of Perception

There were two kinds of dishwashers. The first kind didn’t want to work spraying the dishes and loading them on the tray to push them into the dishwasher. It was disgusting, and you would be drenched by the end of the shift. The second kind didn’t want to work at the back of the dishwasher because the dishes were very hot and hard to handle.

There is always someone who doesn’t like some job and believes that something else is easier. I worked both without complaint, and neither was as bad as others made it out to be.

There Is Always a Way to Do More

The banquet center was often so busy that we didn’t have enough dishes for everyone we were serving. Some dishwashers would wait for the wait staff to clear a table and bring the dishes back. We were paid minimum wage, after all. But other dishwashers were more proactive. These dishwashers went and picked up the dishes, and they tried to make sure that we had enough of whatever dish the kitchen was going to need next.

There is always a way to contribute more than the minimum, to create more value. Some people wanted to do as little as possible. Others saw themselves as part of a team.

You Have a Work Family

I wasn’t paid very well, but the family that ran the banquet center fed the employees every meal on every shift we worked. If I worked breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a Saturday, I was given every meal, often prime rib, lasagna, and chocolate mousse.

Some people appreciated being treated as family and being included in every meal. Other people were ungrateful, and complained about it, for reasons I never understood.

Some People Have Invisible Scars

There was an old Polish immigrant who worked as a cook while I was there. One day I was helping him make sausage (a task that lives up to its reputation). Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cook sneaking small bits of raw sausage from his pocket and eating them. This startled and horrified me. I was young, but I knew it was dangerous to eat uncooked pork. I told another cook, hoping he would do something.

The other cook told me that this gentleman was a young boy when Hitler invaded Poland. The German soldiers rounded up all of the boys his age and forced them to fight for Germany, wearing German uniforms. One night, they killed their commanders and fled to the Allies. They were immediately given uniforms and turned around, so that they could now fight the Germans. He fought on both sides of World War II. This cook was always afraid that something would happen, that food would be scarce, and that he would need to prepare.

Some events leave scars on people that are not visible to the human eye, but only to the human heart. This fact explains a lot of what you see and do not understand.

Investments Now Produce Dividends Later

One time I cut school to work a day shift. I was doing my job, washing the dishes alone, when one of my high school teachers walked in the back door of the kitchen. He was a big, burly, bearded man, and he rode a big Goldwing motorcycle. He knew where I worked, but I don’t know how he knew I would be there. He told me that I had to get an education to be valuable and make money. I told him that going to school didn’t pay me, and the people I worked for did pay me. I ended up back at school, in less trouble than I imagined.

Money now isn’t always better than money later. You don’t get paid for the investments you make in yourself while you are making them, but later they pay unimaginably outsized dividends.

A Thief is Always a Thief

One time I needed a ride home, and one of the dishwashers said that if I would give him some gas money, he’d drop me off. I gave him a few bucks to keep from having to walk the 3 miles home. On the way home, he backed up behind a car on a side street, pulled a pump out of the back of his car, and stole the gas from someone’s car.

Some people believe they are entitled to take from others whatever they want or need. I hung with a rough crowd, but none of us were thieves. I never trusted him, and never asked him for a ride home again either.

Zen and the Art of Washing Dishes

The best part about washing dishes was looking at the nice, neat, shiny, stacks of clean dishes tucked away in their place at the end of the day. There was nothing left undone, and there was nothing at all to worry about.

This is what I learned from my first job washing dishes. What have you learned?

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The Hustler’s Playbook: Energy Is Critical http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/23/the-hustlers-playbook-energy-is-critical/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/23/the-hustlers-playbook-energy-is-critical/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 01:33:05 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48926 There is one critical ingredient necessary to hustling and producing. If you have this ingredient (and many don’t), you will have a distinct competitive advantage. If you are lacking it, you will quickly find yourself among the non-hustlers. That one ingredient is energy. Physical Energy You need physical energy to hustle. Your capacity for work […]

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There is one critical ingredient necessary to hustling and producing. If you have this ingredient (and many don’t), you will have a distinct competitive advantage. If you are lacking it, you will quickly find yourself among the non-hustlers. That one ingredient is energy.

Physical Energy

You need physical energy to hustle. Your capacity for work is determined by how much energy you have. The more energy you have, the greater your potential for work.

Some hustlers are born hard-wired with endless physical energy. They have what seems like an never-ending power supply that allows them go longer than almost anyone else. You’re lucky if you are one of them.

Most hustlers have to be smarter and manage their energy. They have to focus on creating a system for creating and recovering physical energy. They manage their diet, their exercise, their sleep, and their stress. The strict discipline they apply to their lifestyle is an insurance policy they take to make certain they have the physical energy to produce.

Non-hustlers lack energy. They move slow and accomplish little because they lack the physical energy necessary to do better.

Mental and Emotional Energy

There is another kind of energy you need if you are going to hustle (and if you are here, you are going to hustle, aren’t you?). That is emotional energy.

It takes mental energy to think. Thinking well is the hardest work you will ever do. The very act of hustling presents you with hundreds of challenges, problems, obstacles, and roadblocks. Whatever your business is, you have to find a way to produce results when those results are difficult to produce. Mental energy is what allows you to find a way where there are no maps, no directions, and no clear path before you.

You need emotional energy too. While you are building your dream, you are going to experience setbacks. There are going to be times when your world is turned upside down or when you go backwards. Your emotional energy is what allows you to move forward. Hustling requires that you manage your emotional state.

The non-hustler lacks the mental and emotional energy necessary to hustle (even though they could develop it if they chose to).

Energy is the currency of hustling, not money. Manage your physical, mental, and emotional states so you can manage your energy.

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The Minimum Effective Amount of Preparation to Prospect http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/23/the-minimum-effective-amount-of-preparation-to-prospect/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/23/the-minimum-effective-amount-of-preparation-to-prospect/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 14:46:52 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48919 You need to be prepared to prospect. But not as much as you might think. The first thing you need to know to begin prospecting is your company’s value proposition. What problems does your company solve? How do you solve those problems? What are the three or four main differentiators that allow you to make […]

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You need to be prepared to prospect. But not as much as you might think.

The first thing you need to know to begin prospecting is your company’s value proposition.

  • What problems does your company solve?
  • How do you solve those problems?
  • What are the three or four main differentiators that allow you to make a difference and that compel your client to choose you over your competitors?

When you can answer these questions, you know enough about your company to begin prospecting.

The second thing you need to know is who your target clients are, your dream clients.

  • You need a list of dream clients (Here is a video to help you define dream clients). These people or companies are plagued with the kind of problems you solve and will perceive the value in what you sell.
  • It’s also helpful to know the titles and roles of the people who are going to be most compelled by what you sell, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. You can find the contact you need.

You don’t need a CIA dossier on your contact before you contact them. You know enough to call.

The third thing you need is a good script (or planned dialogue) that allows you to ask for a meeting while promising to create value for your prospect.

  • You need two or three useful insights or ideas that you can share with your dream client so that you can ask for a meeting. This is the value you promise to create (which means your meeting isn’t a pitch meeting).
  • You also need a list of reasons why people refuse an appointment and good methodology for overcoming objections.

A List of Things You Don’t Need

  • Except in the rarest of cases, you don’t need to do hours and hours of research (even though you may need to do more research later, once you’ve booked a call). A look at the company’s website and the contact’s LinkedIn page is smart, but hours of research is call reluctance.
  • You don’t need a trigger event. You don’t need to wait until something is reported in a public source before you call. You want to be there before the trigger event occurs. You want to nurture relationships. When the trigger event occurs, you are already behind where you need to be.
  • You don’t need to connect on social sites, and you don’t need to listen. It’s wonderful if you connect with a contact before you pick up the phone and call them. It’s even more wonderful if you can pick up some insight that allows you to create value. The telephone is an awesome social tool because it allows you to actually speak with your prospective client across long distances.

There is no formula for success that includes waiting to take action. There is no benefit in doing more than the minimum amount of preparation necessary before prospecting.

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4 Ways to Create Competitive Advantage http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/21/4-ways-to-create-competitive-advantage/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/21/4-ways-to-create-competitive-advantage/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 01:00:09 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48914 You want to tilt the playing field in your direction. Here are four (of many ways) you can personally create a competitive advantage: Work Harder: No one can outwork you without you allowing it. If you are getting out-hustled, that’s on you. You control how much work you do. You control how much of an […]

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You want to tilt the playing field in your direction. Here are four (of many ways) you can personally create a competitive advantage:

  1. Work Harder: No one can outwork you without you allowing it. If you are getting out-hustled, that’s on you. You control how much work you do. You control how much of an effort you make. You control whether or not you produce excellence or mediocrity. If your competitor is beating you here, you are allowing it to happen. You create an advantage for you and your company when you work harder.
  2. Get There First: You need to prospect (social media isn’t very useful here, but for LinkedIn). You need to nurture your dream clients  (social media can be exceedingly valuable here). Both of these efforts needs to result in your obtaining a face-to-face meeting (Or what my friend, Nate Wright, referring to video, would call “digital face to digital face meetings.”) You create a competitive advantage by getting there first.
  3. Create More Value: You can create more value. You can be more responsive. You can be more valuable in understanding the real source of your client’s need to change, or you can teach them that they need to. You can help them better detriment what they need, and you can help create a bigger vision. There are literally countless ways that you can create more value, even if it requires more time, more energy, more creativity, and a greater presence. Value creates a competitive advantage.
  4. Wire the Building: You can wire the building by developing deep relationships vertically and horizontally. You can generate trust by showing up and paying attention to the people most salespeople ignore. You can create a competitive advantage by helping your prospective client develop consensus within their company. That ability—and the willingness to do it—creates a competitive advantage.

Here is a YouTube video I recorded about the importance of having a competitive advantage.

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Inheriting Your Customer’s Sales Problem http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/20/inheriting-your-customers-sales-problem/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/20/inheriting-your-customers-sales-problem/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 02:57:37 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48907 Some companies press their suppliers for lower prices because it is their business model. They drive prices down to drive cost out of the business and pass those savings on to their customers. This is what Walmart does in the United States, and Aldi does the same in Europe. If you are a supplier, you […]

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Some companies press their suppliers for lower prices because it is their business model. They drive prices down to drive cost out of the business and pass those savings on to their customers. This is what Walmart does in the United States, and Aldi does the same in Europe. If you are a supplier, you know this going into a deal, and you know it’s all about pennies.

But other companies focus on cutting their supplier’s prices because they have a sales problem.

Sometimes, when a company doesn’t have the revenue they need, they start making cuts. They start by cutting anything non-essential to the business, then they work on their suppliers. They have to find money somewhere, and it is easier to push your suppliers to cut their prices than it is to build an effective sales organization.

As a supplier, vendor, or strategic partner, you inherit their sales problem. Their sales problem becomes your problem as soon as they ask for a price concession.

Other times, a company will grow their top line very well, but they’ll spend too much money to deliver that top line growth. Sometimes they spend too much on client acquisition, things like sales and marketing. But more often they spend too much money executing and delivering for their customers. Their profit margins don’t match the value that they are creating for their customers, and that is oftentimes how they won the business.

As someone who supplies them with the things they buy, they hand you down their sales problem. Because they can’t make money, they need you to lower your price to help them correct the fact that they have under-priced their offerings.

You can always know if a company has a lowest-price business model. But it is difficult to tell what kind of a sales organization your prospect might be. They can measure their revenue in the billions and still have a revenue problem caused by poor sales. You can find companies that appear to be doing well only to later discover they aren’t profitable because they are winning business at prices that don’t support the business.

If your customer has a sales problem of their own, you will end up inheriting that problem. Eventually.

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Are You Really Prospecting? http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/19/are-you-really-prospecting/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/19/are-you-really-prospecting/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 00:20:57 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48897 Prospecting is difficult. It isn’t easy to open the new relationships that create new opportunities. A lot of things that are supposed to be prospecting don’t do enough to open the new relationships or the opportunities. If something is easy, it probably isn’t prospecting. Prospecting requires that you ask for the commitment of time. In […]

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  • Prospecting is difficult. It isn’t easy to open the new relationships that create new opportunities. A lot of things that are supposed to be prospecting don’t do enough to open the new relationships or the opportunities. If something is easy, it probably isn’t prospecting.
  • Prospecting requires that you ask for the commitment of time. In business-to-business sales, you mostly need a face-to-face conversation. If what you are doing doesn’t require your dream client to make that commitment, then it isn’t likely that it is really prospecting.
  • Prospecting results in you hearing the word “no” a fair bit. Because you are asking, some people will say “no.” Some won’t have perceived the need. Some won’t be susceptible to your pitch or perceive the value in meeting with you. Some say “no” to every salesperson because they have a relationship. If what you are doing doesn’t result in some people rejecting your ask, it probably isn’t prospecting.
  • Much of the time, prospecting feels like work. What comes after prospecting can feel a lot more fun. The first meeting is exciting. Presenting is even more exciting. Even the stress of fighting for a deal and coming up with a strategy is exhilarating. If what you are doing doesn’t feel like work, if you don’t feel any resistance to doing it, it is probably something other than prospecting.
  • The outcome of your prospecting efforts is appointments. You make some effort, you produce some number of appointments. Appointments are what count, and they are what is counted. If what you are doing doesn’t count, or if counting it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t prospecting.

Do you need your calendar open and available? If not, you are doing something other than prospecting. [Here is a little video I shot about prospecting. Subscribe to my YouTube channel while you are there.]

If you really love what you are doing, but you right now don’t have enough opportunities and are struggling to make your number, then you want to change what you are doing and start prospecting.

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The Only Productivity Trick You Will Ever Need http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/18/the-only-productivity-trick-you-will-ever-need/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/18/the-only-productivity-trick-you-will-ever-need/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 02:25:28 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48892 Right now, what is the most important thing you should be doing? What is it that you need to do that is going to produce the biggest result when it comes to what’s important and what’s meaningful. Do that. Don’t do everything else. There is no task management software that can or will do that […]

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Right now, what is the most important thing you should be doing? What is it that you need to do that is going to produce the biggest result when it comes to what’s important and what’s meaningful.

Do that. Don’t do everything else.

There is no task management software that can or will do that work for you. Trying and buying new software is avoidance, not productivity. While you are exploring new tools, you could be doing that work. Your task management system isn’t your problem. It’s good enough. Now you have to be good enough.

There is no new methodology that is going to suddenly complete your real work for you. I use a modified version of David Allen’s GTD methodology. You might keep everything on a yellow legal pad or index cards. Whatever works. But if you don’t work, if you don’t do the first item on the yellow pad or what’s on the first index card, it is all for naught.

There is no productivity list post on Facebook, or article in Fast Company or Wired Magazine, or on some secret list of the rich and fabulous that is going to supercharge your productivity or help you produce the results you want now. The only list that matters is your list, and the most important, most meaningful task on that list is what matters most.

Productivity is doing what is most important to the results you want. It’s not the software, the methodology, or something that someone else is doing.

You know what you need to do. Now go do it.

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Everything In Context http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/17/everything-in-context/ http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2015/05/17/everything-in-context/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 01:48:38 +0000 http://thesalesblog.com/?p=48882 Every bit of advice that you read on the internet, including blogs like this one, needs to be taken in context. Much of what you read is written as universal advice, applicable to everyone, applicable in every circumstance, and as though it should be adopted as your general practice no matter what. But none of […]

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Every bit of advice that you read on the internet, including blogs like this one, needs to be taken in context.

Much of what you read is written as universal advice, applicable to everyone, applicable in every circumstance, and as though it should be adopted as your general practice no matter what. But none of this is really true. Much of the advice you read, including what you read here, is context specific. Out of context, it can be horribly bad advice.

Let’s look at some of my very favorite examples.

Cold Calling Is Dead

Every day I read more articles about how cold calling is dead, how the phone doesn’t work, how you create enemies instead of friends by picking up the phone, and how you should change your entire sales approach based on this particular belief. And in some cases cold calling is not the primary choice, nor should it be.

I know you’re surprised to read that here as I’m an enormous proponent of cold calling. But cold calling is different for different people. As someone who does coaching, consulting, and speaking, cold calling doesn’t make a lot of sense for me personally. It isn’t the very best approach, especially for someone who publishes as frequently as I do and who has the social media profile that I’ve been fortunate enough to build here.

But for a quota-carrying sales rep who doesn’t have the platform and brand recognition, who doesn’t have time to write, to publish, to record video, and to nurture relationships, not cold calling would be a death sentence. It would take them far too long to develop the opportunities that they need to succeed.

Never Be Closing

You also will find tons of advice suggesting you connect instead of close. There are a lot of people who say that you just never try to close your customer, rather you should wait until they give you some indication that they would like to proceed. There is some context where this makes sense.

In fact, when I had my brain surgery, I was approached by two doctors at UCLA. I had been taken to that hospital by the ambulance, and the two young doctors were extremely anxious to cut my head open and slice off a piece of my brain (particularly because it would allow them to video tape it so they could train future neurosurgeons). But they were so anxious, and so aggressive in asking me to let them perform this surgery, that they frightened me. I wasn’t ready to make that decision, and I needed time to speak with my family, and perhaps even get some more important things in order before I allowed myself to be cut open.

In the context of closing before you’ve done the necessary work to help your buyer get to the point of decision, not closing for the final commitment makes sense. In the context of selling something with very little risk and at a relatively low price, closing makes absolute sense, and in some contexts, the sooner the better. In B2B sales, you need as many as ten commitments. Not closing, not gaining those commitments, will cause you all kinds of problems.

Truth, In Context

Most of us, myself included, are writing about or speaking some truth. In the context in which we are writing it it is likely true, and it makes a lot of sense for people within this context to adopt the idea. But out of context it can be horrible advice and can have a devastating impact on your results.

Think deeply about the context in which the writer is writing. And carefully consider the decisions you make as you play the game. Dropping the context is dangerous to your results.

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