Category Archives: Sales Articles

Sales Presentations: The 7 Deadly Sins

By Mike Aoki

In my presentation skills seminars over the past 10 years, I’ve observed that great salespeople have “habits” while ineffective salespeople commit “sins.”

When doing a sales presentation have you ever been tempted by:

1. Sloth:

Being lazy and using the same generic presentation with every prospect. Instead, a great salesperson customizes their presentation so it’s easier to close the sale.

2. Pride:

Being a “know it all” when answering an audience’s question. Instead, great salespeople admit when they don’t know something and commit to finding the right answer.

3. Greed:

Being preoccupied with your sales commission. Audiences can sense that. Instead, a great sales presentation outlines the benefits to the CLIENT.

4. Envy:

Being jealous of someone else’s sales territory, product lineup or “easier clients.” Instead, a great salesperson makes the most of their chances. Delivering a sales presentation is one of those opportunities.

5. Gluttony:

“Padding” sales by pushing unnecessary items during your presentation. Instead, a great salesperson knows if you do good work, more sales will follow.

6. Wrath:

Blaming the client, competitors or the economy for poor results. A great salesperson focuses upon fixing the problem, not fixing the blame.

7. Lust:

Falling in love with the sound of your own voice. Some people feel they can talk anybody into anything. But, a great salesperson asks questions. They listen. They customize their sales presentation to satisfy their client’s needs. No wonder great salespeople close more sales and make more money!

Avoid the temptation of these 7 deadly sins during your next sales presentation! Instead, use the techniques of great salespeople to boost your sales results.

© 2010 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article gives 5 tips for traveling speakers, trainers and presenters. This related story shows if you want to be a great speaker, be passionate! Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.


Sales: Networking Skills Article in Money Magazine

By Mike Aoki

I just read a great article on networking skills from Money Magazine’s online site. Although the article is geared to job seekers, it also applies to the sales profession as well.

I liked their tip on arriving early to a networking event. In addition, I’d suggest you put yourself into the role of “unofficial” greeter, welcoming people and starting a conversation with them. Since most people are nervous when they arrive, a smiling face and friendly conversation will help them feel more relaxed.

For example, I arrived early at a RYZE Toronto networking event five years ago and met another early attendee. We had a great conversation. It took place before most of the other attendees had arrived. Five years later, this person has become a good personal friend of mine. We’ve also referred business to each other on several occasions.

So, arriving early and acting as an unofficial greeter can be the start of some great relationships.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

Related tips:
This related article shows you how to “work a room” using five techniques for effective networking. This story gives tips on how salespeople can determine the cause of a slump. Here is a list of some popular sales training workshops at

Computers Versus Live Instructors: Which One is Best?

By Mike Aoki

speech_practice_sm1In my opinion, the difference between computer based training (CBT) versus facilitator led training is like the difference between a written driver’s license test and the actual road test.  Both are quite useful, as long as they are used appropriately.

On the one hand, there are wonderful computer based training (CBT) programs. This software is great at teaching facts, such as a product’s features. These programs can also incorporate multiple choice or ‘true or false’ tests to check for understanding. Computer based training is an excellent tool for teaching your sales and customer service people the facts about new products and services.

But passing a CBT test is similar to passing your written driver’s exam:  you may understand the rules of the road, but you haven’t proven you can physically drive a car.

On the other hand, facilitator led training is the best way to teach “soft skills”, such as how to interact with an actual customer. A skilled facilitator uses techniques such as simulations, group discussions and role-plays, to help participants learn from each other. It’s like taking driving lessons, where you get to practice driving a real car, in a safe environment like a parking lot or a quiet street.

Both computer based training and live training are good. The important thing is to use them appropriately:  If you want to teach facts, use computer based training. If you want to teach interpersonal skills, use facilitator led training.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

Related tips:
This article gives 7 tips to reduce your fear of public speaking. This related story shows how to setup your meeting room for success. Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.

Customer Service: How Much Is Too Much?

By Mike Aoki

I had a root canal earlier this month. Why am I bringing this up? Because my root canal experience highlighted an important rule of customer service: ASK the customer how much detail they want to hear.

Here’s what I mean:  my dentist gave me a lot of detail about the root canal/dental crown procedure. He drew a diagram of my tooth, showed me the X-rays and thoroughly described what he was going to do. I loved that!  I’m a very detail focused person. Being a geek, I even went home and Googled “root canal” to find out more about it.

During the procedure, my dentist gave me a running “play by play” of each step. I appreciated his commentary since it kept me involved in the process.

On the other hand, my wife, Jana, said she would never want that much information. It would drive her nuts! She just wants to hear about the end result, plus any decisions that need to be made.

How does this scenario translate into a customer service situation?

Well in some situations, you may be required to give mandatory details or disclose certain rules. Obviously, you must obey that edict.

But in situations where the details are optional, give a general description to your client. Then ask, “Would you like to hear more?” If they are an analytical type, they will ask for more detail. If they are intuitive, they may only want the big picture.

So, adjust your customer service style to suit each client’s needs. Give them the information they need to hear, with enough detail to make them happy.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

Related tips:
This article gives 12 tips to improve your call center sales results. This related story shows how to train the Generation Y (less than 30 years old) employees in your call center. Here is the link to a list of some popular call center training programs.

What is the most appropriate level of detail?
(Take our poll and compare your answers with the poll results)

Build Your Network Before You Need It

It's never too late to build your network

It's never too late to build your network

By Mike Aoki

I just read a great article on networking called, “You May Not Like It, but Learn to Network.” It’s at the New York Times web site at:

Personally, I’ve found the key to networking is building mutually beneficial relationships.  To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what the other person can do for you, ask what you can do for them.” In other words, don’t go to a networking event looking directly for a job, or a sale.

Instead, your intention should be to meet interesting new people and start a long-term relationship. Look for ways to help other people, and they will naturally be more open to helping you in return.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

Related tips:
This related article shows you how to “work a room” using five techniques for effective networking. This story gives tips on how salespeople can determine the cause of a slump. Here is a list of some popular sales training workshops at

How to Work a Room: 5 Techniques For Effective Networking

By Mike Aoki

Ever heard of the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” How do you meet people in your profession? Well, one method is to meet people at industry seminars and conferences.

Imagine being in a conference ballroom filled with people. How do you start a conversation with a total stranger?

Before you even begin, think of what you can offer.  That’s what networking is all about.  Give first and goodness will come back to you.

For example, at a networking session in 1998, I met a woman named Michelle who was looking for a training manager’s job. I put her in contact with a friend of mine who hired her. Years later, Michelle let me know of resources that helped my business.  She wanted to help me because I had assisted her first.  People want to return kindness.

Here are 5 techniques to make it easier and more comfortable to network:

Technique #1:  Whom do I approach first?

At one of my recent presentations skills seminars, I watched attendees attempt to network during the lunch break.  But, they hesitated because they did not know whom to approach first. Here is the secret: approach groups containing three people. While two of them are chatting to each other, the third person will usually start talking to you (and probably feel relieved since they were the “odd person out” in the group of three.)

Technique #2:  How to respond when people ask, “What do you do?”

When someone asks you this question, use this simple formula:

“Have you ever_____?  Well, I ______?”

For example, when people ask me what I do, I respond, “Have you ever sat through a boring business presentation?  Well, I train business people on how to give more dynamic presentations that motivate people to action.”

Stating the problem first i.e. “boring business presentations” shows you understand the problem. Stating a solution shows how you can fix the problem.

Technique #3:  How to handle business cards

Here is a tip:  use two suit pockets or two compartments in your purse.  Have your own cards in one pocket and use the other pocket to store cards you have received from other people. The benefit is you will never get confused and accidentally give out someone else’s card by mistake.

Technique #4:  How to keep track of all the people you meet

Bring a pen.  After meeting someone, make a note about any key points they have made or any way you can be of assistance to them. If you have committed to help someone with information, write it down so you can follow up later.

Technique #5:  Offer to help

Ask them about their biggest need or challenge.  Then think of a resource to help them.  It may not be something you do. But you may know someone who can help them with their challenge.

Networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships.  The more people you help, the more people will want to help you. So, use these five techniques to meet more people at your next business mixer, seminar or conference.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

10 Tips to Create a Sales Focused Call Center

By Mike Aoki

Are you struggling to turn your call center into a sales focused area? One of my clients recently had the same challenge.

This electronic supply company’s call center was originally focused on customer service only. Since call centers require a large staff, work stations, and expensive call routing equipment, the call center was viewed as a “cost center” by senior management. In other words, they were a drain on the company’s budget.

So, call center management decided to transition to a more sales focused role. They asked Agents to suggest additional products to customers. They trained their Agents to “up-sell” new services during inbound calls.

And it worked! By generating add-on sales, the call center became a area that made money, instead of being an expense.

If you want to make this transition, here are 10 steps to create a sales focused inbound call center.

1) Have a good Service Level:

You must take care of the customer’s initial inquiry in a timely fashion to earn the right to up sell. If you can not take care of the initial enquiry fast enough, you should not be trying to further dampen service levels by attempting to up sell.

2) Change the call center culture from a “service” mind set to a “service AND sales” mind set:
Often, Agents are resistant to change. As one Agent said to me during a training course, “I’m a service person, not one of those ‘sales people.'” It is crucial to transition the call center’s culture to a sales mind set to reach full potential.

3) Update your hiring practices:
In your recruitment program and in your job interviews, find people who are service AND sales focused.

4) Train your Agents on how to sell:
Sales people are not born, they are trained. Your Agents deserve to be properly trained on sales skills so they can succeed.

5) Train your Team Managers on how to be a SALES coach:
Call center sales coaching is a different skill than call quality coaching. So, your Team Managers deserve to be trained on the new skills required in a sales focused call center. Coaching must be a priority to reinforce the sales culture.

6) Set clear sales targets and communicate them to your Agents:
It is not enough to mention sales goals once in a meeting. You need to reinforce those objectives repeatedly through team huddles, rallies and performance appraisals.

7) Strike a balance between call quality and sales results:
Good sales calls are efficient calls because a well-trained Agent knows how to ask questions, listen for answers and close effectively.

8) Measure and update each Agent on their results:
Give them a goal and let them know how they are progressing. What gets measured, gets done.

9) Show how call center sales targets affect the “big picture”:
Let your Agents and Team Managers know why sales are important and how they help the bottom line. Educate them about your business. People will work hard if they know they are making a difference.

10) Reward individual and team success:
Have contests, give out prizes, do team rallies and reward days. Change your compensation or bonus structure to reward top performers and encourage further sales success.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada