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November 2012

Remembering Zig Ziglar: Keys to Sales Success


Yesterday we learned that Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86. Below are a few of my favorite stories Zig shared with me over the years.

Zig’s First Sale (in His Own Words)

“It was on a hot August afternoon in 1947. It happened on Adelia Drive in Columbia, South Carolina. I'd been knocking on doors all afternoon, and nobody would let me in. I made a solemn vow that if I didn't at least get into a house by the time I got to Devine Street, I was going to quit. I'd been working 10 days and had not sold anything.

“I knocked on the door of Mrs. B. C. Dickert, and she said, ‘Well, you know, it sounds interesting, but my sister-in-law, Mrs. J. 0. Freeman, lives next door, and I know she'd be interested. Why don't you go talk to her, and if she looks at it, just call me over.’

“So I literally ran next door – that was the first word of encouragement I'd heard all day – and I talked to Mrs. Freeman. She said, ‘Well, I'd want my husband to see it.’

“So I said, ‘Well, I'll come back tonight.’ So I got back that night, and Mr. and Mrs. Freeman invited Mrs. Dickert over. I finished the presentation, and I can tell you that it was set number 541, that it cost $61.45, that the down payment was $16.45, and that when I sold the Freemans, I was so enamored and excited that I just flat forgot that Mrs. Dickert even lived. I just ignored her.

“And finally Mr. Freeman said, ‘Mr. Ziglar, I believe that if you were to talk to Mrs. Dickert, she might buy a set.’

“And so, with considerable sales technique and skill, I said, ‘What about it, Mrs. Dickert?’ She said, ‘Well, I don't have my checkbook, even.’ And again, with considerable diplomacy, I said, ‘Well, shoot, you just live next door. Go get it!’ And she went next door, so I made two sales that night.

“We lived in a little upstairs apartment, and I didn't hit more than two steps on the way up that night. [My wife] knew that something had happened. I tell you, we were just elated! We jumped up and down and laughed and celebrated by buying two quarts of ice cream.”

Zig’s Four Secrets to Closing More Sales

1. Have an absolute and total belief that what you're selling is worth more than the price you ask for it. Your belief in your product should be so great that you ought to be using it.

2. Mentally prepare yourself. Review your product knowledge and selling skills before every call. Try to write down your presentation, and you'll discover that you are using too many words, that you drift away from the point, or that you are not specific enough. Writing will remind you of something you've forgotten and help you generate better selling ideas.

3. Use emotion and logic in your presentation. Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act. For example, in selling cookware, we would take the logical approach and explain that, according to USDA, the average shrinkage of a 4-pound roast in the oven or in the ordinary pot was 1 pound, 7 ounces. Cooking it in our method, you lost 5 ounces. Logically, you could say, "If you had a cook that stole one pound of your roast every time he cooked one, you'd fire him. No hesitation! Here you've got this old, beat-up pot that's been stealing from you for 20 years. I think it's time you fired it. Fire that old pot and get a new one. And it's not going to steal from you!" That would make sense logically. Then we would say from a practical point of view, we are what we eat. If the food you put in your body is short on nutrition, then eventually you are going to pay for it. Sometimes I'd say, "Our set of cookware will help your baby grow up with a better chance at good health."

4. We combined the logic on the dollar and the emotion on the good health for better results. You need to balance these keys. If you use all logic, you end up with the best-educated prospect in town. If you use all emotion, you make the sale, but tomorrow you'll have the buyer's remorse and a canceled order.

Zig’s Five Keys to Motivation

1. We can't graduate in self-motivation. It's like eating; we can't graduate in eating. We need to continue to make choices about what level of self-motivation we want to maintain.

2. The likelihood of motivating yourself is greatly increased with positive relationships. Positive relationships create a feeling of closeness and become a source of strength.

3. To succeed in selling, use emotion and logic in your sales presentation. Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act. If you use only logic, you'll end up with the best-educated prospect in town. If you use only emotion, you'll end up with a canceled order. Balance these keys and you'll sell more.

4. If you feed your mind with positive thoughts and are selective about the things you choose to read, look at, or listen to, then you are taking effective action against negative thinking.

5. Success is measured not by what you've done compared to others but by what you're capable of doing. 

My Favorite Zig Video Clips

1. How to Train Fleas


2. The Round TUIT


My 10 Favorite Zig Ziglar Quotes   

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

There is no traffic jam on the extra mile.

Money can buy you the best mattress in the world, but it can’t buy you a good night’s sleep. 

Don’t be distracted by criticism. The only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you. 

If you go looking for a friend, you're going to find they're very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you'll find them everywhere.

The tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you.

You must be before you can do, and you must do before you can have.

It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.

Failure is an event, not a person.

You can have everything in life you want if you will help enough other people get what they want.


Please share your favorite Zig Ziglar story. How has his life impacted yours? 

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Three Trends that Will Affect Territory Optimization in 2013

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.


Last year alone, quota attainment plummeted by 25 percent, even as quota targets rose by 33 percent. Several factors likely contributed to this statistic, but doubtlessly, unrealized territory potential is one of them.

Your approach to territory planning has a significant impact on your sales team’s performance – particularly if you’re planning to increase your sales quotas and head count in 2013, expand your product road map, or attempt to penetrate new verticals.

Historically, territory management involved distributing responsibility and revenue potential across different geo-territories to manage your sales force’s incentive potential and overall cost and productivity. But sales territory design is no longer what it used to be. Here are three current trends in sales that will dramatically impact how you can optimize your sales territory plan in 2013:

  1. Social proximity is replacing geographic proximity for territory planning. As the importance of personal connections fuels the meteoric growth of such companies as LinkedIn (an Xactly customer), the effectiveness of preassigned geo-territories shrinks. Buyer 2.0 wants to do business with people he or she knows and trusts, whether directly or indirectly. Expect to see social territories grow in popularity and ROI at the same time that geographic territories disappear.
  2. Mobile devices are now the norm, not the exception. Fewer than five years ago, one in every 10 people owned a smartphone. Today, we’re surprised when one person in 10 doesn’t own one. While this trend represents an unparalleled opportunity for your sales team to provide concierge-level service anywhere at any time, it also signifies your sales team’s expanded expectations, which include the ability to view their up-to-the-minute sales performance and exactly how they stand to benefit from potential deals. What are you doing to meet those expectations?
  3. Transparency is fueling demand for smarter incentive planning. As leading organizations embrace increasingly flat org charts, social media tears down the walls between the executive boardroom and the sales bull pen. In the same way that sales leaders must meet increasingly aggressive revenue targets, sales reps expect big incentives more than ever as payback for star performance. You need to allocate your territories to distribute incentive potential equally across your team.

Follow these three steps to harness these trends and integrate them into your territory strategy.

  1. Know which territories you’re making the most money in and why. Examine your territory performance and drill into the best practices of your top performers, your product mix, incentive structure, and more.
  2. Know the impact of possible changes before they go live. There’s a lot to be learned from your historical quota attainment. There are also big potential payouts if you reorganize your territories around what-if scenarios that you test before you implement big changes.
  3. Understand your sales-data story. Using robust, real-time sales data, you can test and troubleshoot different solutions before you implement them.

Of course, reorganizing your territories for these trends is no easy task, but with the right strategy, you can prime your sales team to land on its feet and not on its face.

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Remembering Zig Ziglar – America’s # 1 Motivator

This morning we learned that Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86.

Zig ziglar psp

Zig Ziglar has been a positive thinker and professional motivator for many decades. His electrifying speeches had a reputation for drawing standing ovations and leaving audiences spellbound. And he relished every single word of his famous punch line, “You can get everything in life you want if you help other people get what they want.”

During our first interview I realized that Zig Ziglar was more than a motivator. He was a person with a strong, well-established guiding philosophy, one that had enduring value for everyone. Ziglar was his own best success story. It began in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was born one of twelve children. His father died when he was five, leaving his mother with five kids too young to work.

He became one of the most successful cookware salesmen of all time but quit knocking on doors when he recognized his ability to motivate others. Here is a transcript of my first interview with Zig that was originally published in Sept 1982.

Q: In one of your speeches you mentioned that negative thinking is as common as the cold. Did you find a cure for negative thinking?

Ziglar: If you feed your mind with positive thoughts, if you are selective about the things that you choose to read, look at, or listen to, then you are taking effective action against negative thinking.

Q: So you are saying that there is a direct link between negative thinking and negative input and that people can become more selective about the input?

Ziglar: Absolutely.

Q: What is your definition of success?

Ziglar: I believe that you're successful when you've dealt with the physical, the mental and the spiritual man successfully. If I made millions and destroyed my health in the process, or if I become the best at what I do but neglect my family, I wouldn't call that success.

Q: One of your claims is that your attitudes in life determine ultimately how successful you become.

Ziglar: Yes. Dr. William James said the most important discovery of our time is the realization that by altering our attitudes we can alter our lives. There is also a Harvard University study that points out that 85 percent of the reason people are hired or get ahead in their jobs is directly related to their attitudes.

Q: I once read a magazine article about motivational speakers that stated, "Speakers are superficial on the subject of motivation - like cheerleaders at a high school rally. Thin on content, heavy on performance." How do you respond to that?

Ziglar: I think they are right on the button. A lot of people do leave without any real meat. Excitement, yes, but nothing they can chew on the next day.

As you know, the Bible is my great source, because God's plan deals with this dilemma: He never makes a promise unless he gives you a plan. This translates into the principle that motivation without direction is very frustrating. You need to have a plan in addition to the motivation. Motivation without a goal doesn't get you anywhere. Personally, I never make a promise in a book, a speech or a recording unless I give a plan so my reader or listener can achieve the promise.

Q: What is your theory of self-motivation? How do you develop it?

Ziglar: When I build a fire in my fireplace, it will burn for a while. Then I notice that there are no flames. It has died down. I get up and take my poker and shake up those logs. All of a sudden, we've got bright flames. Now, all I did was just poke them, which created some motion. The motion creates a partial vacuum and new air is pulled into the fireplace. With an additional supply of oxygen, the fire ignites, and now we've got a flame. If I hadn't done some poking, there would have been no flame.

Now, this business about all motivation being self-motivation is only partially true. You can choose among many different sources to rekindle your motivation. In other words, the environment you select and the people you associate with become large contributing factors.

Q: Do positive input and the positive attitude need to be supplemented with a sound business plan and professional skills?

Ziglar: Absolutely. Positive thinking is an optimistic hope, not necessarily based on any facts. Positive believing is the same optimistic hope, but this time based on a sound reason. Here is an example. It would be positive thinking if I said I could whip George Foreman. It would be an idiotic action if I tried to do it.

Q: I've heard many sales managers express doubts about the lasting value of a motivational seminar.

Ziglar: They're absolutely right! Motivation is not permanent. Neither is bathing. But if you bathe every day, you're going to smell good. Fifteen minutes a day of motivation from a good audiocassette or a book can make a tremendous difference in your life and give you a motivational lift every day.

Q: You said once that life is simple but not easy, and that too many people are looking for quick and easy solutions.

Ziglar: Right. I firmly believe that the best work is often done by people who don't feel like doing it.

Q: Why do you recommend that salespeople listen to your books on tape 16 times to completely absorb the full message?

Ziglar: There are several university studies revealing that two weeks after you've learned anything new, unless it's reinforced, you only remember about 4 percent of it. That's the first reason. The second reason is that while we are listening we may experience a certain mood, and our minds will seek out messages that relate to that particular mood. On another day, let's say you just made a sale; you'll be in a different mood, and a whole new range of messages of the same recording will become clear in your mind. So by listening 16 times, the odds are that you will have absorbed the entire content.

Q: Let's say I've listened 16 times to your tapes on motivation. Do I know then how to motivate myself?

Ziglar: Yes.

Q: Do I master the skills sufficiently so that I become independent of your recordings?

Ziglar: Only if you've been practicing the things we've been advocating. It's like driving a car. You don't learn to drive a car by watching.

Q: Can I graduate in self-motivation, ever?

Ziglar: I don't think so, and I don't think I've graduated, because I constantly read and constantly study. I think you could draw an analogy with eating. You can't graduate in eating. You need to continue to make choices about your input. The same is true with self-motivation. You need to continue to make choices about what level of self-motivation you want to maintain.

Q: Many salespeople have a tough time in this economy. What thoughts can you offer to approach these tough challenges more positively?

Ziglar: A good friend of mine, Calvin Hunt in Victoria, Texas, said, "You know, Zig, it's an absolute fact that when we are in an economic slump, 50 percent of all salespeople literally slow down rather than speed up their efforts. They are not motivated to do something. They lose that enthusiasm.

"Now," he continued, "when that happens, it simply means that if business is down 20 percent, but 50 percent of the salespeople are not nearly as active, your own personal prospect list is considerably higher than if there was no recession."

Q: And the winners still keep winning.

Ziglar: Absolutely. It's their discipline, their commitment to maintain a high level of motivation and their sense of direction that gets them to the top.

Tomorrow: Zig’s Keys to Sales Success and his most memorable quotes

Who Made Our 2012 Top 10 Sales Training Companies List?


Graur codrin train tracks image
Image via graur codrin/

Many B2B sales leaders could use a crash course in reality when it comes to developing their sales talent. 

Companies should not be selling to yesterday's buyer. They should be selling to the digitally empowered customer. Yet countless sales organizations continue to let their reps use old approaches that don't map to the way customers think -- or, most important, to the ways they buy. 

The purpose of a company is to serve the customer, and if you cannot speak to your customer, engage your customer, and persuade your customer, you will quickly become irrelevant.The best sales-training companies provide insight that helps reps make a real impact with Customer 2.0. To help sales leaders make smarter choices about training and developing their teams, we put together the Selling Power 2012 Top 10 Sales Training Companies list. Presented in alphabetical order, the companies are: 

The Brooks Group

Carew International


Forum Corporation

Fusion Learning

PJF Sales Training

Profit Builders

Sales Performance International (SPI)

Sales Readiness Group

ValueSelling Associates 

We believe that each of these firms has demonstrated an excellent awareness of the skills and tools that sales professionals need to succeed and remain competitive. I encourage you to download our free feature article, “Sales Training that Works: How to leverage the best sales training methods to help your team win," to learn more about how these companies might help you attain your goals in the coming year. 

5 Factors that Affect ROI on Sales Training

Behar 146 (2)Today's post is by Norman Behar, Managing Partner, Sales Readiness Group, Inc., a leading professional sales training company that develops customized sales and sales management programs for business-to-business sales organizations.




What can a sales organization do to maximize its ROI from a sales training initiative? Start by focusing on the following five factors that create sustainable changes in behaviors.

1. Motivation

Without motivation sales professionals won’t invest the effort required to change behaviors. There are many ways an organization can help participants develop the motivation to learn new sales skills, including conducting pre-training skills assessments and establishing professional skill development plans, or coupling the training with some form of post-training certification and recognition program. Of course, perhaps the most powerful motivator is having management at all levels within the organization lend their presence and authority to the training program.

2. Customization

A common characteristic of unsuccessful sales training programs is using off-the-shelf curriculum that does not address the specific needs of the sales organization. As part of the sales training development process, the training must be linked to the goals and objectives of the organization, closely align with the sales professionals’ development needs, and customized for company and industry-specific needs. 

3. Spaced Learning

The most effective sales training occurs when the delivery is spaced over a period of time rather than within a concentrated training event. The idea of spaced learning is based on the simple yet powerful insight that training participants learn, apply, and retain new skills more effectively when training is divided into manageable chunks of content that are delivered over time. To leverage the benefits of spaced learning, many sales organizations have adopted virtual instructor-led training (VILT) as their primary method of training delivery and rely on a combination of VILT and eLearning for reinforcement. Both of these delivery methods are generally more effective, both from a learning and cost perspective, than traditional event-based training.  

4. Reinforcement

According to one study, approximately 50% of learning content is not retained after five weeks, and after 90 days, 84% of what was initially learned is lost. In order to maximize the investment in sales training, companies should implement a fully integrated reinforcement program that includes one or more of the following: (i) ongoing reinforcement sessions, (ii) sales coaching by the frontline managers, (iii) on-demand reinforcement using eLearning, and (iv) sales tools and job aides. 

5. Measurement

Measurement ultimately means holding participants accountable for changing their behaviors and adopting new skills that drive sales results. Such measurement can be done through a combination of assessments, skill simulations, and field observations. Ultimately, frontline sales managers are in the best position to observe members of their team to assess skills adoption and, based on these observations, determine if change has taken place, if it is relevant to the desired outcomes, and if it is sustained. 

Incorporating these five factors into a comprehensive sales training program will result in more sustainable adoptions of new skills and behaviors, and, ultimately, increased sales.

Are Your Managers Hanging On to Bad Sales Reps?

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.


One of the benefits of collecting detailed data is the insight you can glean about your company's training needs. Armed with information that clearly highlights each field rep's strengths and weaknesses, sales managers can devise training plans that are tailor-made for each individual.

Great plan!

But while so much coaching advice focuses on field reps, another group has been all but overlooked: the sales managers themselves.

This year, Xactly enlisted researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help us analyze some of the 200 million transactions we handle each month,  and some interesting patterns emerged when we looked at sales managers and their relationships to field reps. In the coming months, we'll report on our findings in more detail.

We're still interpreting the data, but our hypothesis is that many managers, if on the borderline of attaining their quotas, tend to keep low-performing salespeople on the books for too long. Those managers would rather keep underperformers on the books to generate even a few sales rather than the guaranteed zero sales they'd get if they fired the bottom tier.

That can have worrisome implications for company leadership. It doesn't do your company any favors to have bad salespeople representing you. They can tarnish your hard-earned reputation, blow solid leads, anger potential customers, and lose a lot of deals.

How did we come to this supposition? Through a lot of digital legwork. Our extensive study looked at data from

  • 22 million transactions
  • 7,492 sales managers at 244 firms
  • 61,092 of their immediate subordinates
  • 134 million events on which an individual is credited
  • 5,897 distinct incentive plans

Here's some of what we found regarding sales managers:

  • When managers were on target to hit their quotas, sales-rep turnover was 22.2 percent. If the managers are on track, there's no benefit to keeping salespeople who aren't up to snuff.
  • When managers were clearly going to miss their quotas, turnover of sales reps was 18.6 percent.  If there's no advantage to keeping poor performers, managers will go ahead and cut them loose early.
  • When managers were on the margin of making quota, when every little bit counts, sales-rep turnover was only 5.6 percent. The sales managers held on to bad reps if they considered them essential to achieving their own quotas.

The message here? You want to monitor your poor performers to determine if you should be coaching them or letting them go. But along with that, be sure to monitor the managers who might be protecting them. You don't want to waste good leads on bad salespeople.

This is just one facet of the data MIT is analyzing with Xactly. Look for more as we develop it further and create benchmarks beyond single companies. Our use of the most current technology, multitenant SaaS, allows us to gather this information across companies and industries.

We'll use this information to help us – and you – learn more about quota attainment and quota-setting trends, and learn more through benchmarking.

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Sales and Golf

Clip_image002Today's blog post is by Steven Comfort, VP of business development at Radius Intelligence Inc. His golf handicap is 2.

Most of us have heard the adage, “The big deals get done on the golf course” (or sometimes, “on the 19th hole”). A lot of selling happens on golf courses, but the sport teaches its players many of the qualities that are shared by the best salespeople. Here are a few of them.

It’s Just You

Because the golf ball doesn’t move before it’s struck, whatever happens to it is your doing. Your opponents are on the same course playing in the same weather conditions.  

In sales, your opponents want the same deal as you do, and the economic conditions (weather) apply to all. It’s up to the salesperson to decide on a strategy (club choice, shot direction, mechanics) and execute it.

If you chose the wrong clubs (company or product) or executed poorly, there’s only you to blame. Conversely, when you do well, success is overwhelmingly because of your individual effort.

There’s Always a Better Player

Soon after establishing a playing index in golf, you’ll want to lower it.  Despite your initial improvement, you’re forced to face the fact that you have a lot of skills to work on if you want to keep making progress and lowering your index. There’s always another shot to learn or improve on – and golf is a lifetime sport.

Salespeople typically have some natural strengths (presenting to large groups or prospecting, for instance) and other areas that they’d be well served to try to improve (perhaps writing, active listening, or entertaining). There’s always another trick to learn from your fellow salespeople, but you’ll never know it all, just like no golfer can master all the shots.

You Have to Be Able to Scramble

Good golfers can hit good shots in good conditions. Great golfers can hit passable shots in horrible conditions. Golf games are honed on the practice range, where the ball’s lie is always favorable and conditions are consistent. Scoring in match play depends largely on the golfer’s ability to scramble – to come up with a decent shot when the conditions are conspiring against him or her (for instance when a tree branch is blocking your path to the pin, or when your ball is stuck deep in a sand trap, aka “a fried-egg”). These are the scramble shots that are rarely, if ever, practiced.

In sales, the call rarely goes just the way we anticipate, and of course, sometimes things really go awry. Keeping your head about you when things get wacky is the key to escaping a disastrous call with a chance to win the sale. The best salespeople can scramble on a call and almost take a perverse pleasure in dealing with unforeseen obstacles (e.g., facing strong objections).

The Truth Comes Out in Time

There’s a saying that states if you really want to know about people, play a round of golf with them. Within the course of a round, you’ll be able to watch how a player competes, interprets the rules of the game, socializes, and performs. By the end of 18 holes and about four hours of play, you’re going to have a general sense of the person’s character: Does this person cheat? Is he or she loosey-goosey with the rules, gracious, calm under pressure, fun to be around?

In sales, the truth about you also comes out in time: Do you make good on your promises? Are you strategic, consultative, relevant, fun to be around?

There’s no faking in golf or in sales; the truth always comes out. But because these are both lifetime sports, you can always hit the range and the putting green to work on your game.

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