Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mackay: Book offers street-smart business tips

A buddy of mine dubbed my newest book, "The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World," "Harvey Mackay's economic stimulus plan." It's custom-tooled to boost the take-home pay of sales pros, from novices to veterans.

Right now, war is raging between the old school of pound-the-pavement sellers and New Age techno-mavens. Should you still smile-and-shoeshine your way to prospects? Or do you poke the traffic of today's 200 million tweeters? The truth is you better master both. And this book lays out the two worlds with 100 percent ease of access.

Coaching legend Lou Holtz, who wrote the introduction, calls me a "playing-field psychologist without rival." Outdo Lou? Not a chance. But this I can promise: Every competitive tip I've learned from Coach and titans like him are squeezed between the covers.

When galleys of "The Mackay MBA" were mailed to lecture-circuit colleagues, I asked these experts which 10 tips they thought readers would find most valuable in the book. They came back with these picks:

Nothing can beat a hungry fighter with a positive attitude. Success is 90 percent mental, and your attitude determines your altitude. Sir Winston Churchill nailed it: "I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else."

The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly right and doing it exactly right. Selling is a skill, and it takes practice to perfect it. Practice makes perfect ... not true. You have to add one word: Perfect practice makes perfect. The Beatles performed together live 1,200 times before their 1964 breakout success.

Confidence can do, well ... almost anything! "I will" beats IQ nine times out of 10. Believe in yourself or no one else will.

Do your homework. "The Mackay 25" checklist zeroes in on how prospects communicate. Know the channel of choice. Some cellphone hounds are strictly texters. If the customer is a company, do you surf the Internet for breaking news? Are you tracking the vast resources of the invisible Web?

How many salespeople thumb a magazine in the reception area of a prospect company? Can you really afford to ignore that video on the firm's new product launches? Those softball trophies are statements of company pride. The speech, pace and apparel of employee passers-by are a case study in company culture.

Salespeople who choke in the clutch almost always think too much. Gifted pros closing a hard-fisted negotiation will visualize the effortlessness of a perfect golf swing. And stay true to yourself at your very best. You can't play outside your range. At the Super Bowl, play the game that got you there.

Older salespeople can't make 50 their psychological speed limit. Surf the Net, stream videos, eyeball a lecture on the Web. When you call on Generation Y execs for your account, don't be rattled. Your pitch is bound to compete with endless smartphone interruptions. Gen Y'ers are being their normal multitasking and, not infrequently, multimillionaire selves.

Person-to-person contacts remain the single most reliable way to build a durable sales base. If you translate that to simply cranking up the ol' boy network, oh, boy, are you in trouble. Nearly half of the undergraduate student body at tech bastion Massachusetts Institute of Technology is female. Don't gender-gaffe!

Learn the new one-two punch of sales. Master the one-on-one, in-person sales closing. But use giveaways like webinars to woo and prequalify prospects. Precisely designed prequalification programs allow you to create a range of pitch-perfect approaches to reach the total market.

Recognize that a stint in sales is essential experience for more and more CEOs. In all businesses and organizations, everyone is a salesperson of one sort or another. Mind the new twist to the old sales stereotype: Rather than being flamboyantly egocentric, modern sales successes are listening-driven and customer-centric. And because many products are so complex, more sales are the work of well-oiled teams.

Sales mastery isn't just a profitable business skill. It's also a great tool for living life well. Salespeople learn resilience is indispensable. They know failure is not falling down, but staying down. "The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World" is my legacy book, with advice you can take all the way to the bank.

Mackay's Moral: You can't direct the wind, but you sure can shift the sails.

by Harvey Mackay - Oct. 31, 2011 12:00 AM

Mackay: Book offers street-smart business tips

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