Talking Virtual Platforms with Tom Wittman

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Wittman.  Tom offers a balanced perspective on virtual selling platforms, tried and true selling tactics, and the evolution of sales.  Tom’s recommendations are just what we need while the service industry adapts to life during social distancing.  Enjoy the podcast, stay safe. #flattenthecurve


Focus and Stability–The Digital Sherpa Matthew Tyner – March 2020

Matt Tyner is the Marketing Manger for an HVAC company that employs 400+ people and that services a multi-state area.  He is accountable for the digital strategy, budget, implementation, and results.  Prior to his current role he designed and managed digital campaigns for boutique level clients. The things that matter most to me is that Matt is a smart, no-bullshit guy who pays attention to the trends but is never distracted by “shiny new toy” syndrome.  I hope that you’ll find his recommendations applicable.

Flatten the curve.


Podcast: E-Commerce for the home service industry–a growth and survival strategy. My interview with Justin Riley.

justin riley

I interviewed Justin Riley in 2018 when his on-line/e-commerce platform was hitting a stride.  Since then it’s grown exponentially in both scale and profitability.  While many contractors are limited by social distancing Justin’s technology provides limitless sales and service opportunities.  This is a fantastic podcast for any business owner who is tired of cancelled service and sales appointments and is ready to shake off the traditional constraints associated with in-home selling.

Thank you for listening.  I appreciate your support.  We’re in this together.  Flatten the curve.


A time management exercise for salespeople.

now now now

Let’s assume that you spend your time on three separate types of activities with three corresponding outputs.

Activity/Output #1: Low leverage, low output.  These activities include disseminating information, updating clients on topics that may or may not improve their output (trip points!), and content that can be emailed, downloaded, or included in a newsletter.

Activity/Output #2: Medium leverage, medium output.  These activities include some type of standard training or motivation, although the uniqueness is questionable because your competition has their version of the same message.

Activity/Output #3: High leverage, high output.  These activities are highly customized around your customer, reflect their aspirations, and are scarce.  As such they help you differentiate your services and force your competitors to play catch-up.  These activities create positive leverage that allows you to increase the clients’ output.

Take a look at your calendar from last week.  Classify your activities based on the descriptions provided above.  Where did you spend most of your time?  Where should you have spent more of your time?  What types of activities will you reduce?  What things will you say “No” to a lot more this week than last?

Remember, everything you do with your time should improve your clients’ production.  Have a great week, Matt.

How to Optimize Your Schedule in 99 Words.



You have to distinguish between activity and output.  As a salesperson your activities do not always improve output.  Some activities actually impede your output.  Spending time with low output/low loyalty clients, clients who ask you to give 100% of your effort without reciprocity, or simply disseminating information are bad time management decisions.  Every hour of your day should be spent improving your leverage in order to improve your output.  That is the essence of a salesperson’s job.  So take a look at your calendar.  Is it optimized for output or are you just filling in the blanks to stay busy?

How to protect your price and improve customer loyalty in 99 words.

Price to ValueYou can protect your price position only if you establish a value-based difference that is sustainable.  The essence of your difference must be predicated on the things you will and won’t do (your strategy requires “yes” and “no” binaries such as  ‘Yes, I will work with people with an appetite for change.’ or ‘No, I won’t work with people that lack an appetite for change.’).  It must also be based on choosing to perform activities differently than your competitors.  Failing to articulate these distinctions devolves in to a low value low price bake-off.  That’s not a strategy.  That’s capitulation.

12 Ways to Sell More in 2020 in 99 Words.

Back to basics

  1.  Reduce the number of opportunities you pursue.
  2. Increase the amount of time you spend selling versus the amount of time you spend doing busywork.
  3. Improve your presentation skills.
  4. Sell the things your customers demand rather than what you supply.
  5. Treat selling as an opportunity to serve, not an an opportunity to convince.
  6. Terminate weak engagements.  If they’re not a buyer then move on.
  7. Don’t confuse telling with selling.
  8. Generate referrals–they’re the only things people really trust.
  9. Make sure you’re spending time with the real decision maker.
  10. Practice your process.
  11. Differentiate yourself from the competition.
  12. Increase your mix and margin.

Improve your prospecting results: Pattern recognition.

absolute pin

The world’s best chess players don’t play move-by-move chess.  There’s no “10 moves ahead” aspect of their games.  Chess, like life, is too organic and the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.  Instead, the world’s best study patterns and use their prodigious gifts to memorize the most successful responses to these patterns.  The pattern in the image is called an ‘absolute pin.’

Salespeople can learn from this type of strategic preparation.  While many salespeople say “every account is different” or “my market is unique” there are nonetheless patterns that connect the most successful sales and conversions.

Think about your very best sales and your very best conversions:

  1. Who and where was your point of entry in to the account?  Did the most successful conversions start at a branch?  A lunch?  A sales seminar?  And who was the person that consistently opened the door for you?  A service technician?  An administrator?  If you can find a pattern regarding the point-of-entry then you can look for ways to duplicate similar situations and make similar connections.
  2. What was the problem that they wanted you to solve, the perspective they were looking for, the decision they needed help making?  If it was price-based did those attempts yield the right results?  If it was inventory-based did the relationship prove to be lasting?  What unmet need did they share an interest in satisfying?
  3. What caused the process to accelerate and at what point in the sales cycle did this happen?  Was it after the very first meeting or after a factory tour?  Was it a growing level of dissatisfaction with a competitive supplier?  Did the process accelerate because you gave a superior pitch?  At some point the road blocks disappeared.  Why?
  4. What caused the process to delay and at what point in the sales cycle did this happen?  Was there competitive push back immediately following your first meeting or was it a slow burn?  Did the decision maker get cold feet at some point and why?
  5. Who from your team made the greatest impact on winning the business?  Did the Branch Manager’s involvement provide a level of trust that was needed?  Did your Sales Manager’s participation improve the results?  It’s not always a singular effort that generates big results.  It’s a team effort that matters.

Do you see any patterns?  If so, duplicate them!  Moreover, plan your prospecting activities accordingly:

  1.  Who from your side must your prospects absolutely meet?
  2. Artifacts.  What processes, documents, samples, and testimonials create the greatest confidence while unsticking any friction points?
  3. Time.  When you had delays in the conversion process what was going on?  What was the bad recipe that you want to avoid?  What recipe worked the best.  Repeat that one.

Selling is a hard job.  Some people have twenty years of experience to draw from while others seem to have one year of experience twenty times.  Regardless of the experience there are patterns–situations that a smart professional has seen or experienced many times over.  Like a brilliant chess player, your ability to recognize patterns and duplicate the successful responses will improve the likelihood of a win.

How to sell more in 2020: Improve your presentation skills.


“Technology is a glittering lure.  But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash.” — Don Draper

An expertly crafted, deftly delivered product pitch is one of a salesperson’s most important assets.  Yet it’s easy to forget that educating a customer and inspiring a customer to the point that they have to have your product are two very different talents–the former is common while the latter seems forgotten.  Why did this happen?  The most likely reason is that companies inundate their sales teams with so many “shiny new toys”– products, programs, services, incentives, quarterly plans, internal reports, and non-customer facing requirements–that sharing and selling became synonyms.  The pitch was lost somewhere between “People buy from people they like” and “Take ’em to the pain.”

Expertly pitching products and services is the smartest (and most elusive) answer to the parity problem.  Think about the last transformative pitch you heard.  Have you ever heard one?  Was it an ordinary “features, functions, benefits” effort–clotted up with mechanical language and poorly rehearsed?  Or, did it make you want the product to the point that competitive products disappeared (moreover, you’d regret buying a competitive product)?  If that’s the case then here’s why:

A beautiful pitch is based on a big idea.  Big ideas are magnetic, harder to object to, are inspired and are aspirational.  A big idea transforms the ordinary in to the extra-ordinary.

A pitch usually includes a story.  A well-told story does the job of conveying meaning without the salesperson having to overtly explain it.

A  pitch appeals to emotions.  A pitch that creates an emotional response connects with a customer’s deepest instincts for safety, security, belonging, and improvement, and the emotional that keeps every business owner pushing on: hope.

A pitch allows for multiple voices.  A harmony of ideas so to speak, lending itself to a broader audience and broader acceptance.

A pitch will rarely be exclusive to a slide deck.  The narrator shapes the path, the pitch, and the slides are simply icing on the cake.

Salespeople often bemoan the lack of differentiation among products as an impediment to their competitive advantage.  “We’re just as good as the other guys and they’re just as good as we are,” they say.  Competing on the  basis of sound levels, efficiency ratings, or fractional design differences increases the likelihood of a price bake-off.  The salesperson who wants to win will double down on his pitch and presentation skills (Note: I’ll be focusing intensely on the craft of the product pitch with my clients in 2020).  

“It’s not called the wheel.  It’s called the carousel.”

5 Critical Questions to Ask When Prospecting.


The questions a salesperson asks during a prospecting process should provide insights regarding the prospect’s attitude and willingness to make a change from one supplier to another.  For example:

  1.  In terms of time, money, and risk, what business problems will working with us solve for you? (the prospect self-selects financial, structural, or security concerns that he views as liabilities).
  2. How will you measure our success 60 days after we start working together? (reveals the prospect’s sense of accountability and performance for himself as well as the new supplier)
  3. How much “better” does our “better” have to be in order for you to work with us? (the prospect will define performance standards as well as dissatisfactions with the current supplier)
  4. How soon does (insert a problem) need to show improvement for you to feel that our work together is successful? (prospect’s level of urgency and focus is apparent)
  5. What process will you follow in bringing us on as your provider? (the prospect’s process management and intent are illustrated).

The most important questions that a salesperson can ask a prospect are designed to answer one question: When adding a new supplier, what are the qualities they always must have and what are the things that are never acceptable?  A salesperson can’t decide if the opportunity is valid until he has an answer.