Life and Business Lessons From My Parents

Everyone learns valuable lessons from their parents.

My late mother taught me about courtesy, punctuality and about respecting other people’s time. In the world of sales, this has turned out to be brilliant advise! You can make an appointment with me for 11am on May 5 next year and you won’t need to remind me; I’ll just be there.

My late father was a doctor. An old-fashioned one at that because he genuinely cared about his patients well-being.

While I didn’t recognise it at the time, his response to the question I asked as a teenager has guided me through the world of sales and marketing to an extent he would have never believed. It rings true to this day.

I asked him what made a good doctor.

Here’s what he said…

“Remembering that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.”

He went on to explain that if he were to make assumptions about a patient’s medical problem he could easily diagnose the wrong complaint and prescribe the wrong treatment of medication. He added that one more question never hurt anyone but too few could.

How has this helped me in business?

I never suggest a solution without first doing the best I can to understand the problem.

Unfortunately on an almost daily basis I see people blindly pitching without considering the client’s situation. It happened to me this week when someone took almost 2 hours of my time to seemingly gain my trust then without asking, pitched something to me instead of first asking some qualifying questions. I was deeply annoyed and he lost many trust points in my eyes.

If you truly want to master the skill of selling, start by learning how to ask better questions and listening to the answers before you formulate and ask your next question. This simple practice has resulted in millions of dollars in sales for me and those clients who I have taught how to do it.

Once you can truly understand the client’s situation you can look to see if it is unique to him or symptomatic of that kind of business. If it’s symptomatic, test by asking others in the niche if they have the same problem. If so, you have a powerful marketing message at your fingertips…

Advertising Insights

How good are you at writing adverts? These tips might help you. 

Advertising is an essential element in any marketing mix. It has been said that advertising drives economies in that it stimulates enquiry and demand for both new and existing products and services.

And while the essential elements of a good advert haven’t changed, the media has.

A client asked me today what I meant by the essential elements of a good advert. Here’s my answer:

A good advert basically says “Hey you; do you have this problem? If so, here’s how we can help, call us.”

(By comparison, a bad ad has a big logo and words of self-praise that shout “Look at us, aren’t we good?” and do absolutely nothing to stimulate the reader’s emotions.  In the trade, we refer to this as  “weeing on ourselves…”)

So what makes a good ad, and how do you write one?

Copywriters the world over will each tell you that their “secret formula” is the key. They all have their mnemonics like AIDA or BUTRLIS or a formula that requires you to fill out 20 fields in a template. And while they probably all work for their creators, most are darn difficult for someone else to use unless they truly understand the DNA of the system.

They will all tell you that a certain type of headline will out-perform another. And while it’s probably true that if you’re really stuck, start with the words “How To…” and add the remainder yourself. Some examples of this are:

  • How to make $10,000 a week sitting at home in your underwear selling stuff on ebay
  • How to know if your Superannuation is making or costing you money
  • How to win friends and influence people
  • How to beat the taxman at his own game
  • How to write great adverts that convert like crazy
  • How to meet and date attractive people

Another frequently used formula is “X number of secrets to…” like these (and I’m not convinced that 7 is the magic number by the way)

  • 7 secrets the insurance companies don’t want you to know that will reduce your premiums
  • 7 ways to lose weight while still eating whatever you want
  • 5 things you should never say to your wife when she’s angry
  • 4 words women use that create instant fear and terror in their male partners (In case you’re wondering, they are “We need to talk”)

There are also the classic headlines like these that we see reused and recycled over and over:

  • They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play…
  • The secret to making people like you
  • Do you make these mistakes in English?
  • Have you these symptoms of nerve exhaustion?

Undoubtedly the key to a great advert lies in a carefully crafted headline. Can you see how you could adapt one or more of the 14 examples I’ve given you to your business?

But what comes next?

What you now need to do is talk to the reader about their problem and how you can solve it. Finally you need to make them an offer or provide a compelling call to action. Here are some examples:

  • Call before June 24 and receive a 20% discount
  • Visit our website and get your free report
  • Drop by our showroom on any Saturday with this advert, buy 12 bread rolls and get a free family sized apple pie
  • Order now for December delivery and get it delivered free

While these basic principles work for adverts in most print media, the content you would use for a brochure or an online search engine advert would be different.

Let me explain why…

A brochure is typically an element distributed to people who already know something about you. It might be handed out at a trade show, left behind by a salesperson or used to accompany a proposal or quote. (I’ll talk about quotes in another article soon.) You can see from this that the brochure is a piece used to confirm your capability and to position you as a suitable supplier. Your brochure needs to be written in a totally different style and language to your adverts simply because the buyer is at a different stage in their consierations.

An advert on the other hand, has the purpose of creating the enquiry that led to the use of a brochure.

Advertising online and website copy

Search Engine Advertising is a totally different kettle of fish. Here we have interested buyers searching for what you do by means of either a question or a request. Examples include (and there are thousands)

  • After-hours plumber Brisbane northside
  • How do I balance my accounts?
  • Can I subdivide my block for townhouses
  • How can I lose weight
  • Pacific island cruises
  • Holidays in alaska
  • Buy Canon camera
  • Best pizza in san francisco

These search strings (or search phrases) each have different interpretations in terms of what the person is seeking. Some are researching, some want information, some want to buy.  Our job is to sift through the search phrases people us when looking for you, to put the most relevant advert in front of them and to guide them to a page on your website that addresses their question or problem.

Search engine advertising is often referred to as pay-per-click in that you pay the search engine only when someone clicks your advert and visits your page. And let me ally any suspicions about people just maliciously clicking your ads and racking up a huge bill. One, it doesn’t happen as much as you might think, and two, the clicks can be tracked.

Some quick examples of how ads that respond to these search queries:

Need A Plumber Now?
After-hours plumber comes
to you inside 60 minutes
(Link to website)

How to balance accounts
Experienced bookkeeper helps you
get it right every time, $45/hr
(Link to website)

Looking to subdivide?
Town Planner Tells You Exactly
What You Can and Can’t Do
(Link to website)

Call us on 1300 884 757 (+61 7 3088 2961 from outside the land of Oz) for an obligation-free discussion on how to improve your advertising.









Business priorities

Do you currently spend 80% of your time Marketing and Selling what you do?

Yes? Congratulations, you either already have a successful profitable business, you soon will have or what you are selling isn’t commercially viable.

How do we manage time? We all have the same amount of time, we can’t save it, or accumulate it, we only have now and what and how we choose to use each moment. Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

So why do some people seem to use their time more effectively? In my experience they prioritise and have systems and the good news is you can too! 

What value do you assign to all the different things you do? Value = Importance. If you are a parent, the value of seeing your child perform in the end-of-year school play might be higher than having dinner with a prospective client. (In my opinion a prospective client who doesn’t respect this is not worth having.)

One couple I know own a mega successful Civil Construction company. At 21, their only son is well on his way to become Australia’s’ top motor sport driver. They work their business commitments around his racing calendar. Recognising your top values and implementing a strategy (that means system) will help you achieve what’s important for you and for your business success.

A system creates boundaries to help you act in your best interests and according to your values. Sometimes people who don’t like our strategies will use guilt and obligation to get you to change your system to suit them. Recognise this and stick to your system. Focus on high value tasks that provide the outcomes you have decided to enjoy and benefit from for your life and your business!

Successful business owners spend up to 80% of their working time on Marketing and Selling first. They then allocate time and labour resources; their own or someone else’s, to order fulfilment.

Decide on your strategy, set some targets to test its viability, create a system to implement it and stick with it, until you have proved it’s not viable according to the parameters you initially set or it works. You can tweak, just don’t give up, get sidetracked or jump onto the next best way unless you have proven that your carefully considered strategy is not viable.

Seems simple, it is – unfortunately many of us get sidetracked looking for complex solutions, promoted by slick operators, promoting vast and rapid wealth, whose primary interest is to line their pockets with your hard earned cash.

I urge you, stick to logical and common sense strategies you understand. Avoid anyone who won’t or can’t explain their strategy in a way you understand and if they attempt to embarrass you into buying their solution – Run away from them very, very fast!

Find and engage professionals you can build trusted relationships with to help you, who speak in clear, easy to understand everyday English and whom you can speak to personally!

(c) Debra Yuille

Preparing your presentation, so that people want to hear your message

Begin with the end in mind:

What’s your purpose in speaking? (Why)

Are you educating, informing, selling or a combination of these?

What is your timeframe?

What is your outcome, what exchange/expectation is within you?

Once you have answered these questions you are ready to construct your framework. Ideally you will develop an outline, stories and strong opening and finishing statements.

4-Mat credited to David Kolb is a proven structure for constructing presentations that work, and it gives you the flexibility to individualise your content, reflecting your personality and business message. It consists of 4 parts;

1. Why, What, How, What If

2. Why? (would audience want to listen to you?)

3. What? (benefit/impact will your subject make to your audience?

4. How? (the body of your message)

What If? Question Time or you could choose to answer some questions pre-emptively which means putting yourself in your audiences shoes or more literally in this instance getting inside their heads and thinking what they are thinking. Answer the questions they have, especially the ones that they may not verbalise.

Strong Opening Statement(s):

You could ask an enrolling question that the whole room will say ‘Yes” to.

Such as ‘Who here wants to look good naked?” usually we would make it about the topic, “Who here wants to be a better money magnet for their product/service when they speak?” Can be two or three questions, you may then choose to ask, “Who is not going to put their hand up whatever question I ask?” Usually good for a laugh.

Next, get them engaged. If you can tell a good joke, this is the spot, (the previous question counts here). If not then engage them in an activity, it gets your audience on your side feeling warm and fuzzy. Some ideas are: turn to the person next to you and say “You are Awesome!”, Meet 3 new people, Give 5 Hi 5’s! Smile :-) What others can you think of?
Closing Statement:

What action do you want your audience to take?
4-MAT (David Kolb)

Call to Action – Tell them what you want them to do next; check out website, buy book, fill in form, talk to someone else, invite you to speak again. Don’t overload them, max of 3 and/or alternatives!

“I invite you right now to pick up your pen, block 21/22 February 2014 in your Diary and register for Speaking and Selling From Stage.”
When you have ended, finished, closed, you are done.

End Now. Leave the stage.

(c) Debra Yuille

Are you an effective sales manager?

A client called to discuss with me that he’d not been getting the results he’d wanted from a salesperson. The salesperson’s reports had shown lots of active prospects and that sales from many of them were “just around the corner”.

However, when the client decided to examine what that meant a little closer, he found out that in most cases, the “corner” was months away. The impact on cash flow projections was significant to the point where the viability of the salesperson had to be questioned.

The salesperson was enjoying a base salary plus allowances to cover vehicle, phone, etc and had the added incentive of commission on sales. The base salary was enough to live on but was unsustainable for the employer without the revenue from sales.

The result was that the salesperson was, in effect, eating from profits before they were made. He was comfortable but at his employer’s expense and wellbeing.

He was faced with no option but offer the salesperson a “Commission only” package. Guess what happened when he did? That’s right, the salesperson fled.

My client then spent time backtracking over the salesperson’s work. What he found wasn’t pretty: leads that hadn’t been followed up, proposals that hadn’t been done and call reports that were not entirely accurate. He’d been given what the salesperson wanted him to see rather than the real story. The tragedy was that had the salesperson been honest with him (and he wasn’t honest with me, either), we could have done something about it.

This brings me to the subject line. I talk regularly with a number of business and life coaches – several of whom are also clients, and one common thread I hear is “If only I’d known…”

We’re only as good as the questions we ask allow us to be. When we learn to ask better questions, and listen to the answers, we’re better able to help ourselves and those we deal with.

My client hadn’t asked his salesperson the right questions about lead-time. In turn, he didn’t have accurate information about cash flow and as a result, we were unable to change things before it was too late.

Could this have been averted? Probably. What should have happened? The client should have explained the financial “facts of life” of his business more clearly to the salesperson and should have done it before he started. The client should have made the salesperson more accountable in his reporting and their prospect generation process undoubtedly should have been “cranked up” harder and faster – and sooner.

I guess the real truth is that nobody was prepared to ask the hard questions.

If you were to be brutally honest with yourself, what questions are you avoiding about what you do? If I were to call you up on the spur of the moment, what would you not want me to ask you?

Today is the day you need to ask them and, if you don’t know what they are, find someone who does. You only don’t know what you don’t know until you know it…

(c) James Yuille

Managing salespeople

Having spent close to 40 years working with, training and managing salespeople (and being one myself), I think I’ve earned the right to make a few observations about them. Here’s what I believe…

  • Not everyone is cut out to be a salesperson
  • Not every salesperson will succeed
  • Recruiting salespeople isn’t easy
  • Managing them can be very frustrating
  • Despite what they tell you, they hate cold-calling
  • Despite what they tell you, they’re replaceable
  • They hate filling out reports
  • They can, and often do, break your heart.

However, when all is said and done, if trained and managed correctly, they can be your greatest asset.

Why does someone become a salesperson? Frankly, it’s often because they couldn’t find anything else to do. Most careers have an entry path; try just becoming a dentist or a carpenter without doing some training first.

Yes, most salespeople enter the business because someone has told them, “You have the gift of the gab. You should try selling.” So, by fronting up for an interview and, because they can fog up a mirror, they get hired.

They’re given a pack of brochures, some business cards and a territory map and they’re off! Yes, this person whom you barely know is now charged with the financial future of your business. They are responsible for increasing your revenue, bringing new customers into the fold and managing your current customers.

You tell them you expect 20 calls per week; set them a target, maybe offer a bonus for achieving it and every day you watch and hope that something will happen.

Three months later, you’re facing the fact that they’re failing to produce the results you expected… lots of activity, many promises but not enough revenue.

What happens now?

Let’s take a timeout here and ask some questions…

  • What are they actually doing all day?
  • What are they actually saying to your prospects and customers?
  • How are you tracking your return on their wage?

You don’t know?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that something like 80% of Companies that employ salespeople have no formal inductions or training process for them. What’s more, they have no way of testing their competency either before or during the recruitment process.

They just expect that this new recruit knows what to do, knows what to say and will just make sales.

Let me ask you this; what would you do if you bought a fork lift truck that didn’t lift, an accountant who left you with an unexpected tax liability, a lawyer who didn’t protect your trademark or a receptionist that couldn’t take a message?

Yet you hold on to salespeople who don’t meet targets, who give you false hope and cause you nightmares.

Why? (more…)

Why trying to close a sale never works

I recently listened to an audio interview featuring one of the world’s top direct marketing authorities and one of the world’s (supposed) top sales training authorities.

I was shocked with what I heard.

The sales trainer, a man with a global reputation; author of several books and training programs, was boasting about a new way he had developed to close the sale. He explained that this new close was for advanced salespeople only, and shouldn’t be attempted until you had mastered his other 60 or so sales closing techniques.

He then delivered his new close. It was so corny it was almost laughable. It was totally manipulative, laced with tie downs and delivered with his usual smirk.

I was even more surprised that the direct marketing guru complemented him on this new discovery. Surprised isn’t the best word for how I felt; disgusted would be far better.

The close was written to be used on anyone who traditionally said “No” to a proposal. I tell you; if anyone tried this one on me, I’d short-shift them out of my office so fast their feet wouldn’t hit the ground.

Sleazy, underhanded and manipulative.

If I hadn’t been out walking and listening with headphones, I would have stopped the recording then and there. I’m glad I didn’t because as the interview continued, I was able to focus on the real issue – why were they doing this?

They’re perpetuating the myth that closing techniques work. They need to do so in order to justify continued sales and dependency. Think about this… (more…)

A refreshing approach to sales training

This may sound simple, but when it all boils down to the basics, business is simple – it’s about selling a product or service for more than it costs you.

Selling anything can be broken down to a three-step process:

1. Finding a hungry crowd
2. Persuading them to buy
3. Persuading them to buy again

So where does all this persuasion come from? It comes from your marketing message and from those charged with making the sale.

This is where it goes wrong!

The big mistake made by Companies, from the smallest one-man band to the largest Corporate, is that they don’t persuade, they tell. Ads and websites tell how good their owners are. Salespeople tell me all of the technical features of their products. Neither give me reasons why I should buy or, if they do, they use 70’s style manipulative, shady closes that should have been left in the books and cassettes where they belonged.

I’ve lost count of the number of times in recent weeks someone has used a tie-down close on me. Give me a break! I stopped using tie-downs in 1975; they didn’t work then and they don’t now.

And what about having salespeople cold-call for heavens’ sake. Who still requires their salespeople to cold-call?

Your salespeople are the most vulnerable people in your business. Why have them waste your money sitting on a phone cold-calling? Generate them leads and get them talking to people who have an interest in what you offer.

Without a doubt, the weakest link in business today is the lack of training provided to salespeople.

You would never employ an unqualified accountant, engineer, or lawyer. You would not hire an IT manager without checking their qualifications. You wouldn’t hire a PA who couldn’t use Word. Yet 87% of companies that hire salespeople have no formalised induction of training process for them. Nope; just give them a couple of brochures, the keys to a new car and let them loose.

What are they actually saying to your prospects and customers? How do you really know of the likelihood of the sale actually being made – how accurate is their reporting?

If you’re like most people, you rely on the time-honoured mantra “Selling is a numbers game” and use an arbitrary percentage allocation of likelihood as the process develops. If this is how you do it, I have news for you: It doesn’t work.

Here’s the problem – and the solution…

Your prospect is at the stage where initial investigation has been completed, a product demo has taken place, a detailed proposal has been presented and is going to the Board tomorrow. It’s a big sale; maybe 70% of your monthly budget and you’ve been told it’s a goer. Your projections are based at a 95% chance of it proceeding which, when their Board says “No”, suddenly leaves a dirty big hole in your projections.

What process do you have to identify why the sale wasn’t made? Was it anyone’s fault? Does someone get fired?

The marketing process works like this:

An advert has one job; generate a response. The salesperson’s job is to identify their interest and convert that interest into revenue if indeed it is possible.

Marketing isn’t only about awareness. That’s a fallacy. Here’s why: What brand of petrol did you last fill your car with, and why?

Was it because Ferrari use it; because your engine runs smoother and quieter with it, that it was environmentally friendly – or was it because the location was convenient, the forecourt quiet and the price was below $1.50? And they had double fly-buys on Mars Bars at the time!

When you last bought sports shoes, did you buy them because Michael Jordan or David Beckham wears them, or did you buy them because they fit and felt comfortable?

Selling is about the transfer of emotions. About identifying with people and solving problems. About building relationships of trust.

Salesmanship today is a sophisticated process using skills that takes time to learn and develop. It’s not something one tries; it’s not a job you give to your mate because he’s unemployed, or to a support supervisor because your customers like her.

Salespeople need to be trained and coached on a daily or weekly basis. They need to be monitored exactly as you would an investment because that’s exactly what they are; an investment in your two most vital assets. You see, they are responsible for the maintenance and growth of your revenue stream and your customer database.

And you want to leave that task to someone who is untrained and working on their own with no system and no process?

I can hear you answering with a glib comment like “And so what if I train them and they leave?” Worse still, what if you didn’t and they stayed!

Train your salespeople and treat them with respect. And remember; you’re charging them with the maintenance and growth of your biggest asset – your customer database.

(c) James Yuille

6 Quick Tips For Effective Public Speaking

To improve your skills as a public speaker these are six quick tips you can use to improve your skills and get more ‘buy in’ from your audience…

1. Smile

2. Pause

3. Use your eyes to connect with everyone in your audience

4. Dress appropriately to your audience.Remember if you are at the front of the room you are an authority. Make sure your appearance supports this. 55% of communication is visual! Give yourself the edge, tailor your appearance to your message and the audience you are presenting too. Girls; audiences look first and then listen, it’s just how it is! Guys; your audiences aren’t quite so critical. If you look awful they will draw conclusions that may not be the ones you want.

5. Remember to Never Ever miss an opportunity to speak!I received this piece of advise very early in my speaking career (young teen) and it has served me well, you never know where the next opportunity will come from!

6. Avoid fidgeting – that includes nervous hand movements and pacing. (I recently watched a speaker who took 3 steps back after every new point introduced, was he backing away from his message?)

These are just 6 of the many topics we cover when you attend Speaking and Selling From Stage

(c) Debra Yuille

Three quick tips to becoming a better sales person

Most novice or untrained sales people make the same three mistakes. In brief, they are;

1. They don’t identify their target market and end up trying to sell to anyone and everyone

2. They are in too much of a hurry to show off their product

3. They try to “close” the sale without establishing if the prospect is even interested

Now we know the common mistakes, here are three quick tips anyone can use immediately to improve their sales performance…

1. Make sure that the person you’re selling to has some interest in what you offer.

The easiest way to do that is to ask “What problem does what I offer solve, and who has both the problem and the willingness to pay me to solve it for them?”

Once you’ve answered that question, approach people you suspect have that problem and ask them if they have that problem, and if so, would they spare a few minutes for you to discuss your solution with them.

You may not see as many people; nevertheless, the ones you see will be interested in talking with you so you won’t be wasting either your time or theirs.

2. Now you know that they have the problem and are open to a solution, ask them more about the problem and how it impacts on them. Get them to explain it to you in detail by asking open questions.

3. Once you understand the issues and how they impact on your prospect, you can tell them how your solution will help them move forward. Explain the costs or fees so it shows they make a financial gain by engaging you or buying your product.

All you have to do now is agree to a timeline for implementation.

Simple, isn’t it?

(c) James Yuille