Many salespeople have a tenancy to be selfish. On to the next sale, the next big score, the next milestone, the next nicer car/house/boat.

I have a different opinion. Please don’t think I’m soft, because I have a high level of commitment to my clients, and a huge drive to win. I love the rush of closing another deal just as much as you do (maybe more) but the way I get most of my clients may be much different than the way you get yours.

I serve others, and enjoy it. It leads to sales, which allows me to serve more, which leads to more sales. Simple huh? AND IT WORKS.

As an example, I was helping out a friend on one of his projects Sumner Shortcuts. It’s his take on our local community, presented in a slightly (ok, maybe a little more than slightly) sarcastic way, and also provides helpful tips on ways to save money, or get better service in northern/middle Tennessee.

Jeremy had a booth at the “Festival By the Lake” this weekend, and needed some help. I went there, took my kids and hung out at his booth, recruiting people for his video game tournament, and mingling with Festival goers. I met two guys that know my boss and had good conversations with them, saw 3 of my clients in a relaxed setting and while talking to someone about the tournament I got a question about the hat I was wearing. “What’s Keystone Business Solutions?”

“Oh, we sell websites, newsletter marketing services and blogs among other things to help you market your business successfully on the internet.” The gentleman gave me his card and asked me to call him (which I am about to do).

This practice works when I am serving on the board of Sumner County Medical Manager’s Association, or helping with the Boyscouts, or simply being an available technical/business/listening resource for friends and church members.

Getting new business doesn’t always rely on how many cold calls you make. The way you serve others delivers benefits both ways!

Who are you serving?



The company I work for recently won an award for Business of The Year. It may be because we had a great troop drive where we shipped about a ton of ‘items from home’ to our troops overseas this spring. More likely, it’s because we give our clients great customer service. We offer inexpensive solutions that help them promote their businesses through e-mail newsletter marketing, websites, blogs and search engine optimization… Also we are all teachers at heart, and this helps our clients become more productive.

That is why it was a shock to get a call from our “Member Coordinator” from the Better Business Bureau, requesting our presence at an arbitration regarding a website we built. Our client refused to pay for a site, and we disabled it on our server. He had snagged a copy of the ‘site files’ and had another company put those up online, giving him a website. They didn’t get it exactly right, but it was obvious he had stolen the files he refused to pay for. (Good enough to steal, but not good enough to pay for??).

My boss appeared before the arbitrator with a signed consulting services agreement, a signed hosting agreement, and some e-mail documentation. The client apologized, paid us what he owed us and is still a client today.

The point is, if I we did not have a process in place to deliver and collect these documents, we would have been in rough shape during the arbitration. Overall it was a good learning experience. I would have preferred to work this out prior to arbitration, however my client he wasn’t interested in anything but being angry…

The takeaway is this: Have a good process to protect yourself, even if you trust every one of your customers. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, and without contracts in place, it’s simply your word against theirs. I tend to be trusting, and I would prefer to do business on a handshake. However, I have learned the hard way that the one with the best documentation wins.


The Gospel Truth About Marketing

Q & A With Susan DePue, known to her loyal followers (and now to you) as The Marketing Evangelist!

Contact Susan with your questions!

Read more about Susan here.

Dear Evangelist: It is happening more and more than when I call my prospects they want to meet with me but do not have the time. What can I do?

Answer: Well, first remember that you are not alone. “I don’t have time” is one of the most common barriers put up by potential customers. Typically we can’t make the appointment due to 3 roadblocks: The client feels that there is no urgency, they have no need, or they have no money to purchase what you are selling. Let’s start with urgency. Tell them a story. Here are a couple of examples:

This example is for a technology sale:

“Wow, it does sound like you are swamped. You know I find that my successful customers are so busy. Yet, many times after we meet and updated their current technology, they find that they spend less time prospecting and more time making sales. It could be that I could save you time and make your life easier as well. You know what Einstein said, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different results.’ Let’s meet soon to see if we can’t make business easier for you. How much is it costing you NOT to update the way you currently do business?”

This example is for a benefit sale:

“You know I understand. In fact the more successful, busier people find my services actually save them time. We take some of the everyday questions and interruptions and let our team handle those for you. Let’s meet soon to see if we can’t make life easier for you. How much time is it costing you not to have a service team like ours behind you?”

Dear Evangelist: I am hearing that times are so tough and my clients can’t spend money on marketing. I sell advertising what can I do?

Answer: This is the age old excuse that there is “no money.” You will need to build a repertoire of real stories of how your clients have increased sales through your particular advertising product. When things are tough we need to spend more on bringing qualified buyers to our business. You might want to use alternative ways to help your clients. Group all the merchants in an area together and give them a break on their ads, or have an event paired with the ads. This is time for you to get really creative and help your clients understand how much they need you and your service.

After many years of success in the insurance business, Susan DePue felt the calling to share her experience with others. She began coaching business owners and sales professionals. Eventually, Susan was certified as a coach through Coach University and completed specialized training to become a Guerrilla Marketing Certified Coach!

Contact Susan with your questions, or to arrange a free consultation on improving your sales environment. Read more about Susan here.

Recently, one of my clients was disputing his bill. After discussing his issues on the phone, I set an appointment to meet with him. I remember years ago when I was in the staffing business, the owner of our company said that when he started his business and got behind on his bills, the people he paid first were the ones that came to see him.

This technique has served me well in my 14 year sales career.

I was well prepared for our meeting with documentation and I knew what my goals were. Our discussion went well, and I understand his frustration a bit better. His biggest disappointment was that he had to pay for a missed appointment (a small portion of his overall bill) which we agreed to split.

In business, periodic financial disputes are inevitable. Being well prepared and having a goal is extremely important in a financial negotiation, and whenever possible, I would highly recommend having these discussions face to face.


Guest Author John Ingrisano has a few strong opinions regarding negative people.

I’ve walked out of meetings when some train-stopper started saying, “yeah…but!”

These clowns can kill innovation, cause more problems than they solve, bring a mood of excitement to a screeching halt.

What to do: Stop them dead in their tracks. Send them out of the room. If the deal killer is a client, sit this reactionary bozo down and (as gently as possible, of course) explain that this project will only work if we look at what we CAN do, not at what we CANNOT do. If that doesn’t work, take the miscreant and shoot him or her. — jri

“I have observed problem-solving groups
reduced to absolute silence because they
have allowed themselves to be sucked
into the Negativist world view. They
sit staring at the floor, baffled by a
negativistic person who has firmly and
repeatedly announced…. ‘It will never
work; don’t you remember, we tried that
last year and nothing happened.'”
— Robert M. Bramson, Ph.D
Coping with Difficult People

Now Available:

John R. Ingrisano’s

The Back to Basics Book of Selling: A Guide to a Successful Sales Career

25th Anniversary Edition

Learn the art, science and skill of becoming a better sales professional. Then spend a lifetime reaping the financial, professional, and personal rewards.

To order your signed copy, send a check for $22 (which covers shipping & handling) to

John R. Ingrisano
204 Lakeview Drive
Algoma, WI 54201

Or click on the title above to order (an unsigned copy) directly online.

Client selection is very important to a small business. Typically your small businesses will ‘follow the money’ during ramp-up.  As you grow and build a reputation, you can be more selective about choosing who you work with.

Here are 4 suggestions for selecting great clients for your small business.

1) Make sure your clients have a good feeling about you already. I can already hear your response. “How do I get them to like me?” Our clients come to us through a handful of referral sources. We have found that the clients that turn out to be challenging, come from a Yellow Pages call or someone doing hunting for our services and comparing us to 15 other companies. If we can’t establish some form or trust and mutual like/love between us, I try to move on. When I get tempted by the deal, and just try to follow the money, I end up bringing in a client that is going to potentially cause problems with my team mates. My team does that actual work on the project, so I need to keep them happy too.

2) They can afford you.
When we have a company that starts out a conversation with “You need to cut me a break”. Or “well, we’re going to have LOTS of work later on down the line” we do all we can to hand them off to another company. “We’re just not the right fit” I’ll tell them. Recently, one of our clients asked for a discount on hosting, in the first 5 minutes of our meeting. I gave it to him, because he had just sent a payment into his old hosting provider and I wanted to offer him a small gesture of good faith. It was a small discount, but EVERY call I have had since, has been wrought with him asking me to ‘shave a little more off’ or ‘can’t you cut me a break, I’m a small business’. All of our clients are small businesses. We need to work with companies that value us and can pay for good service.

3) Remember what business you are in. I talked to a company this morning that had some Mac computer issues. They mentioned the programs that they were using (very old) and the problems they were having. I am confident that we could have helped him, but our strength is NOT Mac consulting. There may have been a learning curve on the part of our technical team. I focus instead on getting projects where our expertise is strong, and our skills are valued

4) Trust your instincts. There have been 3 occasions this year when I walked out of a meeting, looked at my team and said “this person is going to be difficult to deal with.” I was right all 3 times, and even if I look at the fairly large amount of money we made, I would give it all back to have said “I don’t think we are the right fit for you.” The hassle wasn’t worth the money. Difficult clients can really affect morale, and I have seen arguments spring up internally about a situation with a difficult client. Most of the time it’s either a communication breakdown somewhere or misunderstood expectations on our part. However, I can smell a potential problem client, and I’ll bet you can too.

Take a little more time up front to screen your clients. Your reputation depends on it.


Sales Leads for $12

People shouldn’t burn bridges. Sales People should always be building them. J. Scott

I got a car wash the other day. I view it as a luxury item, and if my vehicle hadn’t been bombarded by a flock of diuretic birds, I wouldn’t have been there.
I was having trouble getting the automated machine to accept my five dollar bill, and the digitized female voice kept telling me to make sure the corners were flat, (they were). So I tried the other stall, and a different machine with the same results. My 10 year old daughter suggested that I just ‘use the $20’ in my wallet. Good idea. I put the $20 in, and got credit for my $8 wash, and a receipt that said something like “we’re sorry for the inconvenience, call this number, we owe you $12”.

I could tell by the number that it was from someone that lived in the Clarksville area, which is about an hour away from my home in Hendersonville. Steve (the owner) answered the phone and apologized profusely. He told me that the software in his automated machine doesn’t accept the new $5 bills yet, and the machine had apparently run out of smaller bills that day.

He said he would be in town the next day and would call me around noon to give me my money back. I thanked him and hung up. A week and a half had gone by (and I thought “so did my $12”) I hadn’t heard from Steve.

Two days ago he called me and apologized again. He told me he works full time at a company in Clarksville, and the carwash is his ‘small business on the side.’ He has been having some unexpected problems with his machines, and if it was alright with me, he would load up a car wash card for me (worth far more than the $12) and drop it in the mail. I told him I understood the challenges that many small business owners face, thanked him and gave Steve my address. We then talked about gas prices, the economy and what I did for a living (help small business promote themselves by selling them websites, search engine optimization, e-mail newsletter programs and blogs.)

He told me his wife worked for a company that just set up a new website, but when they typed the name of the company into Google, the site wasn’t coming up. I gave him some suggestions, and he asked me to call his wife and give her the same info. Our conversation turned into a proposal and may become a sale.

What could have been a frustrating situation ended up with a positive outcome because I wasn’t a demanding jerk to this guy. He’s a small business owner working in my town so there’s always a potential for business, but even more important than that, he’s a human being.

This is an example of how I develop business relationships. I want to help people, engage with them, have conversations not sales pitches. I want people to have a good experience with me, and not dread the thought of calling me if they need something else.

You never know where your next lead will come from. It may arrive through a neighbor, a friend, or a complete stranger… Perhaps, it will come from a busy, hard working entrepreneur, that owes you $12.