“Want a recession-proof job? Think direct sales”

"Want a recession-proof job? Think direct sales"  — that was the front-page above-the-fold cover story in USA Today a while back.  Seemed a story that really should be touched in this blog, so I clipped it and put it in a file . . .  and, as you may have guessed, forgot.

Anyway,  better late than never, here's the link:


Second careers: reinventing yourself

Did you see "Second Careers: Pushed by the recession, millions are making dramatic job changes" — the lead story on USA Today last weekend?  (July31-Aug2, 2009) or this link:


Several case studies of laid-off workers who have either reinvented themselves, or taken advantage of career retraining programs. Among the stories, a former auto-worker who retrained as an intensive care nurse, a Wall Street financial whiz training to be certified as a math teacher, and a real-estate broker moving into computer network administrator.

Telephone selling skills: getting past the prospect’s gatekeeper or secretarial screen

Over the course of the next few posts, we'll be examining some telephone selling skills, specifically tips on how to get through (or past) the screen, also termed "gatekeeper,"  around the prospect (or decision maker within a larger organization, abbreviated as DM). This screen may be a secretary, receptionist, executive assistant, or perhaps a security guard.

Whether you choose to cold-call or to phone ahead for appointments, you still need effective telephone selling skills in order to get past the gatekeeper or screen so you can talk directly to the decision maker.

Here's the first of these telephone selling skills and tips to get you started, useful both in phoning and cold-calling. (The same tips apply if you meet the screen face-to-face while making a cold call).

Continue reading Telephone selling skills: getting past the prospect’s gatekeeper or secretarial screen

Lee Child’s good life after being fired

I discovered Lee Child's Jack Reacher thriller series this spring, and, unusually for me, read three in a row . . . in part because they were so good, and in another part to try to find why they were so unusually gripping.

Turns out that Lee Child hadn't always been writing thrillers— fact is, he took it up only after being laid off unexpectedly from a job he loved, and had expected to hold till he retired.  This from his article in Parade Magazine last Sunday.  http://www.parade.com/news/2009/07/26-my-good-life-after-being-fired.html   Here's how he put it, and I think that resonates with a lot of readers of this blog:

"For 13 more years, I was happy as a clam.

"Then the management changed.

"We were always profitable, but the new guys wanted more. They got it by cutting costs to the bone. I was a cost. I got cut.

"I felt a lot of things. First, anger and frustration. My “family” was getting trashed. It was like watching an uncle getting kicked to death by a mob and being unable to intervene.

"Second, I felt betrayed. Not by the people I had worked for—they went in the very first wave. I felt betrayed by my own naiveté. The modern world had snuck up on me, and I hadn’t seen it coming. The rules had changed, and I hadn’t noticed. My fault, basically.

"Third, I felt scared. Remember that old saying, “one missed paycheck from disaster”?  That was me."

He doesn't say in the article whether he ever wishes he had the old job back, but I kinda doubt it . . . not after that "tough break" propelled him into a new career with 13 best-sellers to date.

My point?  Sometimes what seems like the worst thing can turn into the best thing that ever happened . . .if we're flexible and open. And if we can envision ourselves in a new role and sell that vision to others.

Telephone sales skills: if you encounter voice mail

Voice mail, or answering machines on either land lines or cell phones, works as another kind of screen or gatekeeper keeping you from talking directly to the prospect in organizations both small and large.

Here , as part of our series here on telephone sales skills, we look  at five key rules that apply when you encounter the Prospect's voice mail.

Continue reading Telephone sales skills: if you encounter voice mail

Sales Presentations–Contents: Some of the practical selling skills you will develop


The crucial “must-do” before you invest any time in preparing to conduct a sales presentation or demonstration, or to invest time and effort in any other kind of proof source — including offering free trials or free samples.

Why and how to begin working out what both you and the prospect expect from this early: why it’s very smart to ask the Prospect to “invest” before you invest your time and effort.

“Decision influencers” are people who may not make the decisions, but they are key allies. How and when to work with them early-on.

Checklists on setting up the logistics of the presentation or demonstration.

A sales demonstration, presentation, or trial offer is a PROOF source, so what you cover and your key messages flow from what exactly needs to be proven in order to close the sale. The Prospect’s role in shaping the plan.

Mental strategies in preparing — not just what you’ll say, but where you’ll stand, where you’ll position the Prospect, how you’ll get the Prospect’s team actively involved in the meeting.

Preparing key visual aids, handouts, and other paperwork.


In Section A we cover essential preliminaries to be handled on the day of the presentation or demonstration.

This section B guides your sales presentation or demonstration through the six key phases. These include early confirmations of purpose, conducting the body of the session, handling questions and objections, and closing for action.


As the old saying puts it, “Words alone are not enough.” The words you say, and the Prospect’s words — questions and objections — that you respond to are, of course, crucial.

But research indicates that only about 7% of the messages transmitted during fact-to-face communication are carried by the words that are said. Let me underline that: the words alone total only 7% of the whole communication

Which means that 93% of the messages back and forth during presentations and demonstrations are conveyed non-verbally . . . via indicators such as posture, hand gestures, movements, voice tone, eye focus and facial expressions, even how people choose to sit or stand, or how they sit in the chair and then draw back or move forward.

In the first section of this part of the book, the focus is on how to shape and discipline the subtle and non-verbal messages that you as the sales person sends TO the prospect and others.

The second section of this part focuses on interpreting and responding to the clues and messages coming FROM the Prospect and other decision influencers sitting in on the demonstration.

Some of these are signs of interest, some are signals of readiness to buy. Some may be warning signs that the Prospect is tuning out. We examine what these signals mean, as well as how to react to them in order to keep the selling momentum going forward.