Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

The Ultimate Sales Machine - by Chet Holmes

The Ultimate Sales Machine - by Chet Holmes

Amazon page for details and reviews.

After reading E-Myth Revisited, this is the best book I’ve seen on how to turn it into real results, step-by-step. Not ambiguous. Very “do it like this”.

my notes

Mastery is a direct result of pigheaded discipline and determination.

Becoming a master of karate was not about learning 4000 moves, but about doing just a handful of moves 4000 times.

Market data can motivate purchasing when people might not even feel they need the product.

** TIME MANAGEMENT SECRETS OF BILLIONAIRES

No one should have more than six direct reports.

Be an absolute expert in managing your own time and have the systems in place to make sure that everyone in your organization is skilled in time management as well.

Break the company down into (9) "impact areas" and hold weekly one-hour meetings in each area. An impact area is any part of your company that has a direct impact on the bottom line. Your impact areas may include sales, customer service, project development, marketing, for example. In order to improve and perfect each of these areas you need to give them a dedicated one hour per week when everyone involved can focus exclusively on improving that area.

To-dos, tasks, and deadlines must be assigned after every meeting, but don't ask for too much to be completed.

Police these six simple steps throughout your entire staff:
#1 : Touch it once
If you touch it, take action. Don't open that email or letter until you're ready to deal with it.
#2 : Make lists
List the 6 most important things you need to do, and get those things completed each day.
#3 : Plan how much time you will allocate to each task
If one or more of the items on your list is too big to accomplish in one day, then write down how much time during that day you will dedicate to it.
What important initiatives are you just not getting to because they take too much time? Do them in small chunks of time.
#4 : Plan the day
Write out an hour-by-hour schedule, and stick to it.
#5 : Prioritize
Put the most important task first
Get your people productive by examining how they're prioritizing and planning their day, every day.
#6 : Ask "Will it hurt me to throw this away?"
80% of all filed or stored information is never referred to again. So why hold on to it?

When something interferes with your schedule, deal with it and then go back to your schedule!


** INSTITUTING HIGHER STANDARDS AND REGULAR TRAINING
Only 10% of the population has "the learning mind-set", that seek out and enjoy learning.
The other 90% will not look to improve their skills unless they have to as part of their job requirement.

Make classroom-style training programs with policies and procedures for everything.

Improving and advancing the skills and professionalism of every person in your company is an ongoing process, and formal training sessions should be regular and nonnegotiable.

Does your company pass this test?
+ All employees perform each aspect of their job with a high degree of excellence and consistency
+ Results are somewhat predictable because training and skills are consistent
+ Each supervisor would give a similar answer for each question or problem
+ Each employee would give a similar answer for each question or problem
+ Client treatment is similar, no matter who the client deals with in our company or department
+ All staff members know what is considered good performance or attitude.

Let's not have people making up what they're going to do in a crisis or in any other situation in your company or department. Have them know what to do in every situation because you address it weekly.

Constantly teach the same information again and again until the skill is permanent.

To begin a training session, people should be told what to expect:
* - What will be covered
* - How long it will take
* - How the information will be covered
* - The objective of the particular session
* - The obtained skill or knowledge you hope they will gain

When people have a clear understanding of what they are about to hear and see, they will be mentally prepared and focused for the training.
It's important to create a training environment that is conducive to learning. Make it fun!
People should look forward to it because they know it will be interesting and stimulating.

We retain the most information if we are actively involved, role playing or other learning exercises.
It's good to mix a few methods:
- Lecture Format
- Group Questions
- Group Discussions
- Demonstration Training
- Role Playing
- How Seats
- Case Studies
- Test Before and After
- The Spot Quiz
- Workshop Training

Do ongoing and continuing technology training, so that all employees know how to use the technology they have in the fastest most efficient way possible.

What's your training plan?
What kind of training are you going to provide?
Who? Which departments or people need what kind of training?
Why? What's the impact going to be?
When are you going to conduct the training?
How? What methods will you use and why are they best for the material you'll cover?

Developing a regular and consistent training program will enable you to effectively and systematically accomplish the following:
- Train new employees who can hit the ground running
- Upgrade knowledge and skills of existing employees so that everything they do works better, smarter, faster
- Provide continuous professional development so your staff becomes more and more effective
- Solve any and all problems that come up in your organization


** EXECUTING EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
Constant attention to the 3 Ps : Planning, Procedures, and Policies
Hold regular, highly productive, workshop-style meetings dedicated to improving every aspect of your business.
In each of these meetings, focus all of the relevant people on fixing just one small part of the business.
Together, brainstorm plans for how to improve this specific area, draft procedures to test, and ultimately create carved-in-stone company policies that everyone will be trained to follow.

Have systems in place that would make hiring 50 people every week a breeze.
This makes the difference between success and failure.
A company that thinks like a small company remains small.
A company, even a one-person army, that thinks and acts like a big company is going to grow faster, smarter, and better.
"What if I were hiring 50 people next week and I wanted all of them to enter the business and quickly be able to perform at peak levels? What kind of a training program do I need in place to do that?"

Here an entire side business has been born : selling telephone follow-up to dealerships that can't figure how to properly manage that practice internally.

Don't dictate what the follow-up should be. That is a mistake most executives make. Have meetings where these things are discussed and developed. Have great follow-up procedures, but the folks in the trenches can help develop them. They will buy in much better to procedures that they themselves helped to create.

A typical problem : The CEO believes he has to think of all the solutions to every problem.

If you have a good staff, the only thing you need to bring to a meeting is your judgement.

Work together on a problem, developing the ideas and insights to propel the company forward.

The ideas you generate as a group are light-years ahead of what any one of you, including the CEO, would have created on your own.

Ask every person to give 3 examples of how to improve some aspect of the company or department.
The group will work together and each person will be listened to with respect.

Once you have a list of things you need to work on to improve your business,
each one of those items needs its own workshop to solve the problems or remove the obstacles.

Post-workshop memo says new procedure developed as result of meeting. ("Here are 9 things you can do when a customer is unhappy.")
That goes into a procedure book that becomes a training manual for all new people.
Save the dailies, too, and at the end of the year you will have 50-100 pages that document a year's worth of workshops.

Develop a hierarchy of solutions the customer service reps could offer to keep a customer happy. Each rep is authorized to offer a solution. If the customer is still unhappy, the rep can offer another solution. If customer is still unhappy, a 3rd solution. Only then if all those fail does the rep need to get a supervisor involved.

Great workshop question : What is something else you can offer the buyer at the point of sale?
One out of 3 people will buy something else if offered at the point of sale.

Have participants in the group write down every single idea that comes to them. Give everyone a few minutes to work on this. Don't let them call out ideas. Leader must participate as well. 2 minutes should be enough.

Vote on which ideas would work best. People's opinions change as collective intelligence of group is shared. Get consensus. Look at all, then rank #1-3.

TEN STEPS TO IMPLEMENT ANY NEW POLICY:
1. Get everyone to feel the pain
2. Hold a workshop to generate solutions
3. Develop a conceptual solution or procedure
4. Leader personally performs procedure or task
5. Set a deadline for testing the conceptual procedure
6. Document step-by-step procedure or process
7. Have show-and-tell role playing
8. Have another workshop on how to improve
9. Monitor the procedure directly
10. Measure and reward the outcome

"What if it took a little extra work in the beginning to gain this learning curve, but once you had it, would dramatically reduce many if not all of these challenges?"

People respect what you inspect.
Rewarding comes last.
Set very specific criteria for rewarding your team.
Make a big deal out of the reward process.
People work even harder for recognition than money.


*** BECOMING A BRILLIANT STRATEGIST
A strategy is a carefully defined and detailed plan to achieve a long-term goal. In business, a strategy is the overall impact, the ultimate position you would like to achieve in the market. To think like a brilliant strategist, you will design and combine your tactics with the long-term strategy in mind. You'll constantly ask yourself and your team, "How many strategic objectives can we accomplish with each tactic?"

90% of CEOs are "tactical" : only looking at making today's sale. No strategy.
9% of CEOs are "strategic" : developing high-level strategy, creating concepts and strategies that almost never develop. but not good at tactics and implementation.
Be the 1% : The executive who thinks both tactically and strategically can develop the big ideas and the big strategies and also use discipline and determination to see those brilliant strategies implemented at the tactical level.

The strategist looks at every challenge as an opportunity to out-think the competitive approaches.

EDUCATION-BASED MARKETING:

The purpose of buyer education is to create brand loyalty : a large and loyal following of customers who automatically come there first.

People will pay more if they perceive there is a greater value or deeper reason for buying from one provider over another.

If most of your buyers are not experts at what to look for in your product or service, this opens a gaping strategic opportunity for the brilliant strategist to capitalize on.

Every buyer can be taught how to be a better buyer of your type of product or service.

Who is the ideal person in your audience? Who is in your stadium, for your stadium pitch?
If you say, "I'm here to tell you why we have the greatest office equipment in the world", you're going to have 90% of the audience leave.
Re-think the stadium title.

This approach of offering some education of value to them gives you a significant opportunity to attract more buyers and build more credibility.

You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them, than by trying to sell them your product or service.

Offering an education that helps the buyer is giong to get more buyer interest.

If the information is actually good and useful, it automatically repositions you in the mind of the buyer as much more of an expert than your competitors. You're teaching them things about their own business that they might not know.

If you think and plan strategically, you will find a way to weave that information in such a way that ultimately sells your service far better than you could ever sell by simply flat-out pitching your product.

When you sell, you break rapport. When you educate, you build it.

Train every single salesperson with a massive amount of information.

Data makes your information work harder. The more complex your product or service, the better the opportunity to appear as an expert.

Your competitors will be more concerned about selling product than about positioning themselves as experts.

List your strategic objectives. For each, what would make you more respected? What would position you as an expert in the eye of the buyer?
Keep track of everything you find (in the news, etc) that could be of value to your customers.


*** HIRING SUPERSTARS
People who are eager to please, always looking for more to do, always wanting more responsibility, always wanting to know more than you think they need to know. They're worth every penny if you properly channel their energy.

List 3 initiatives that you'd love to hire someone to execute in which the reward could be great if the person did an excellent job for you.
Write down what it would mean to have a superstar in that position. Write down what you could afford to pay them if they performed.
Based on that, put an ad in the paper using the highest possible figure as bait.
Write down the personality profile you think would make someone succeed in that job.
DISC personality profile : Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance.
Ad : "Superstars only. $50k to $300k. Don't even call unless you are an overachiever and can prove it. Come build an empire within our company."
Background is not relevant. Someone "has the stuff" or doesn't. (?)
INTERVIEWING: (NOTE: THIS IS MOSTLY AIMED AT FINDING SALES PEOPLE!)
First thing you do is reject them. You're looking for the unique personality profile that becomes more effective in the face of adversity.
A superstar will start to question your reasoning - and may even tell you that you're wrong.
Prescreening call : Say, "The ad said don't even apply unless you think you're the best. So why should we interview you?"
You can do this even before telling them what the job is. Test their ego.
Once they start talking, say, "I'm not really hearing superstar. I'm not hearing top producer."
The good ones should disagree, and tell you why they are.
The idea candidates will try to qualify you just as they would a prospective client!

Step 1 : Relax
Ask them to write down 5 questions you want to be asked in the interview, that will show your best side.

Step 2 : Probe
Explain that your company hires based on personality profile rather than background and ask them directly, "Do you agree this is more pertinent?"
When they say yes, say that you'd like to find out what shaped them, and start with their childhood. Get OK first.
Probing childhood is essential because self-confidence is shaped early in life.

* Background:
"What events or influences from your childhood shaped who you are today?"
"What are some of the biggest challenges in your life? They need not be work-related."
"What was the toughest sale you ever made?"

* Areas of accomplishment - how much of an overachiever in any area:
"Tell me about a time in your life when the odds were stacked against you, but you overcame them and succeeded."
"Tell me 3 or 4 things of which you are most proud."
"Have you ever practiced and reached a high level in any area beyond just getting by in life?"

* Empathy and ability to bond with others:
"How would your best friend describe you?"
"Of everyone you know, who has the most faith in you? Why?"
"What are your best memories?"
(look for long answers who try to win you over with tales of their past)

* Ask candidates to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 in these areas:
Ambition
Confidence
Ability to face rejection
Establishing rapport
Qualifying skills
Ablity to create desire in others
Closing skills
Time management
Presentation skills
Strategic thinking
Market knowledge
Self-improvement
Getting around gatekeepers
(top producers will rate themselves high in all areas, but so will dreamers who are trying to hide insecurity.)

* How do they measure themselves against the best of the best?
"Who is the best salesperson you've ever met?"
If they say themselves, they're hired. If they say someone else, ask what differentiates them from the person they named.

* How dedicated are they to self-improvement?
Ask what the last self-help book they read

* Go through their résumé:
Why did you leave your last job?
Were you unhappy? Why?
Tell me about a disappointment or disagreement you've had with a boss and what happened.
Name two weak points of previous bosses.
Name two instances when a supervisor criticized you.
(Don't react negatively to anything they say, or they'll shut down.)

Step 3 : Attack
Say thank you this is all wonderful, but I don't really get the impression you're a superstar.
Be tactful, but not soft, when looking for salespeople. Don't say something weak like, "You haven't convinced me yet."
Superstars never crumble. They have tremendous faith in themselves.
They have to really believe you think they don't have the stuff.
Make all candidates sell themselves at least a little for every position.


As long as you're willing to pay, even just on performance, you might be shocked to find there's someone perfect who will build your company for you as long as you share the wealth as they do so.

The key to keeping superstars is never say no to them. Instead, redirect their energy or give them a few hurdles to jump in order to get what they want.

The more you challenge superstars, the more you encourage them to overachieve. But don't forget to compliment them when they meet and exceed your challenge.