Posts by: Robb Ryerse

The Two Things You Can Control: Attitude and Activity

There are a lot of things that impact a salesperson’s life that are simply outside of his or her control:

3482ac5A client’s schedule.

A client’s budget.

A client’s fears and motivations.

A client’s decision making process.

A client’s organization skills.

A manager’s personality.

A manager’s leadership style.

A manager’s decision to change the compensation plan.

A coworker’s effort (or lack thereof).

A coworker’s attitude.

And on and on the list could go.

It is tremendously common for salespeople to get focused on these things and lose their motivation for their work. 


Stephen Covey in his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggested that we all exist with two spheres in our lives: the sphere of concern and the sphere of influence. There are things that are of concern to us. Important things. Things that impact our lives. Things that matter. They keep us up at night. They are our concern. And then there are things that we have some influence over. They are the things we can impact, control, and effect. Successful salespeople have learned to spend their energy and resources on things that are within their sphere of influence.


I’ve identified two primary things that are within the control of a salesperson – your attitude and your activity.



It is easy to let our mood or attitude be determined by the things that are happening around us. If we get a “yes” or have a really productive meeting, we can be positive and upbeat. If someone is rude to us or we disagree with a management decision, it can ruin our whole day. For many of us, having a positive attitude is easier on sunny days. But Covey suggests that really effective people “take their own weather with them.” They don’t let their circumstances dictate their attitude. 

This is not an area of sales or life that I have mastered by any stretch. I have made some progress on making my days great, which I write about here.



The other thing that every salesperson can absolutely control is their activity. Even if your attitude is miserable, you can still keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the job. Make the phone calls. Send the emails. Do the drop-by visits. Nothing but your own reticence is keeping you from doing the work. You can absolutely control that, even when you don’t feel like it. In fact, more than once, I’ve been struggling with a bad attitude but forced myself to keep up my activity … only to have a positive interaction with a prospect or client that immediately changes my attitude and outlook. There is no substitute for activity, and there’s no really good reason to stop.


bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Today’s there’s a double-feature. Make sure to read the article about making your day great.


The Single Most Important Character Trait of a Successful Salesperson: Resilience

Not long ago, I spent the better part of my day calling on roofing companies. The result? I was unable to get a single meeting scheduled. A few weren’t interested at all. A few weren’t available at the time. A few want me to call again later. It was one of those frustrating days of putting in the work with little results … days that every single salesperson has had.

churchill (2)When we experience those kinds of days, it is easy for us to simply want to give up.

There are many things about being a salesperson that make giving up a real and present temptation. We’re all wired differently, but the biggest things for me are these three things:

Fruitless Prospecting – I get excited about an idea and hit the streets, only to hit a brick wall. It’s discouraging.

Answer Limbo – I make a great presentation, but then they’ve got to decide. I wait on pins and needles, usually way longer than I want to. It’s maddening.

Micromanaging – Most of the time, my sales job affords me the kind of freedom in which I thrive, but when over-the-shoulder watching begins, I have tendency to shut down. It’s deflating.


Whenever I start feeling this way, the most important thing I can do is remember what makes a truly great salesperson. It’s not product knowledge. It’s not flashy PowerPoint presentations. It’s not years in the business. It’s not charisma.

The single most important and desirable character trait of really successful salespeople is resilience.

Resilience. Perseverance. Stamina. Endurance.

We can’t give up. When we’re doing the right thing in the right way, we’ve got to keep doing it until we get the right results.


Here are five things I do to keep my motivation when I feel it slipping:


Make a plan for tomorrow.

If today sucked, it’s easy to feel like tomorrow will suck too. But researchers have found that when people end today by making tomorrow’s to do list, they are more likely to get things accomplished. On a particularly discouraging day, I like to make a plan for the next day so that the funk doesn’t have the chance to take root. If I already know what I’m going to do when I get to my desk the next morning, I’m much more likely to hit the ground running.


Do some four-legged calls.

Making cold calls with a colleague is often the shot in the arm I need when I get down. We end up laughing together. We feed off each other’s energy. We learn from each other’s techniques. An afternoon spent with a trusted coworker is a great way to keep my motivation up.


Take a great client out to lunch.

It’s easy to let the bastards grind you down. When that happens, why not give some special attention to one of your favorite clients? Take them to coffee or lunch and spend some time rehashing what has worked. Brainstorm ideas for their business and see if it might spark some energy that spreads to your other clients and prospects.


Get a good night’s sleep.

There is nothing quite as important for our overall demeanor and outlook than a good night’s sleep. The day just looks different after you’ve been able to get the restorative rest you need. So, do whatever it takes to make it happen, but see if some “sweet dreams” don’t help your be more motivated.



In our house we say that sometimes everybody needs a “mental health day,” a dedicated time of self-care that is about resting and relaxing so that you can get back at whatever task is before you. People of faith call this a “sabbath.” Enjoy a good cup of coffee. Take a walk. Smoke a cigar. Intentionally give yourself permission to decompress from the pressure of sales. It will make a world of difference.


Stay after it. There is no substitute for activity. Don’t give up. Be resilient.


bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article about the two things you can control as a salesperson.


4 Dots You Must Connect for Your Clients: Selling Strategies

Salespeople live, eat, breathe, and sleep their products and solutions. We think about them all the time. In advertising sales, I feel like I’m never off duty. I’m looking at billboards, watching commercials, examining digital ads, and watching for new local businesses everywhere I go. It’s the water I swim in.

connect-the-dots (2)When as a salesperson you get so immersed in what they do, it’s easy to assume that your prospects and clients have given the same amount of thought to your services as you have.

You took good notes in your CNA with the client. You’ve been researching and strategizing how you can help. When you meet with the client again, it’s easy to jump right in and assume that the client remembers everything they said to you.

But they probably don’t. They probably haven’t been spending every waking moment in the past week thinking about how you can help them. They have so much already on their mind.

To be effective, salespeople need to use their sales presentations to connect the dots between the stated desires and needs of the client and the proposal they are making. To do so, you’re likely going to have to talk less about products and features and more about four important factors – solutions, value, ROI, and motivation. These are the dots a salesperson must connect.


The Solution Dots

One of my managers is fond of saying that when someone is shopping for a drill, they don’t need a drill; they need a hole. To be able to connect the solution dots, you must have uncovered the pain points and needs of the client in your CNA. In your presentation, focus on the aspects of your offering that addresses those. For instance, I recently met with a client and started by saying, “Last time we talked, you said you were having trouble in two areas – identifying potential clients with this particular profile and getting potential clients to take this particular action on your website. I’ve put together a plan to do those two things. Here’s how …” I went on to talk about the parts of my solution that would do the two things he’s struggling with. I left a lot of bells and whistles unmentioned, simply because they weren’t relevant to the needs of this client. My priority was to connect the solution dots for him.


The Value Dots

The products and services I sell are not usually the cheapest in the market. Bargain shoppers can often think that they are getting a better deal somewhere else. Because of this, I’ve got to make sure I connect the dots related to the value of my offering. Many times, I’ll just admit this upfront. I’ll say something like, “I know we might not be the cheapest proposal, but I think we’re the best.” Then I might tell a personal anecdote about how I’ve bought something more expensive because it was better. If they’ve got a Mac computer on their desk, I might point to it as an example. Most of us will spend more money if we’re convinced that the value justifies it. My responsibility as a salesperson is to connect these dots for the client.


The ROI Dots

No client has an unlimited budget. To spend with you, they’re going to need to see how their investment will pay off. If you’ve asked good questions about profitability and margin in your CNA, you should be able to connect these dots for the client. How many new customers are needed to pay for their campaign? How will making this change reduce their costs? How are you going to provide the lift the client is looking for? These are all the kinds of questions you need to be prepared to address. To do so, I’ve started using a one-sheet Return On Investment calculator that shows the client in black-and-white numbers how buying from me will help them. But be careful – there is nothing worse than promising the moon and not being able to deliver. Make sure you’re conservative in your estimates so that you manage the client’s expectations.


The Motivation Dots

People have their own reasons for buying. You’ve got to have a sense of what is motivating them if you’re going to be able to advocate well for your solution. Recently, I was meeting with a client who is tasked with increasing sales for the brands she manages for a particular retailer. I took in a proposal to her that would benefit two of her brands. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned that one of those brands was much more heavily stocked at a retailer she doesn’t work with. It’s a part of her company, but not part of her primary concern. She doesn’t care about increasing those sales nearly as much. Immediately, I pivoted to the other brand and adjusted the proposal to emphasize the other brand and added a specific way we could address sales at the retailer she’s tasked with managing. As soon as her motivation became clear, I had to connect the dots between what I was proposing and those motivations … or risk losing the sale.


Just because it’s all crystal clear to you, don’t assume it is for your client. Connect the dots for them, and you’ll see your closure rate increase.


bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Next week, we’ll be talking about the psychology of sales – how to maintain a good attitude in an up-and-down job..\


Be Memorable – Tell Good Stories: Selling Strategies

When I was in college, one of my buddies bought a “Mega Memory” course from a late night infomercial. After we stopped laughing at him, a few of us were curious enough to try it out. For a couple of weeks after that we gathered in my dorm room to listen to the tapes. We dreamed of never having to study again. It didn’t quite work out like we had hoped.

storytelling-infographic (2)But … there was one technique that has stuck with me. Basically, the idea is that if you have a list to remember, you need to connect each part of that list with something you can’t forget in a very memorable way.

The course taught us to, for instance, “peg things to your body list.” So, if you had to remember a grocery list of eggs, milk, and bread, you’d imagine something outlandish with eggs and your toes. Then, you’d imagine something crazy or painful about milk and your calves. Then, you’d think of something connecting bread and your knees. When you get to the grocery store, you can just start moving up the parts of your body, which you’re not going to forget, to remember what you need to buy.

The key was to create a story for each item – the more emotional, painful, or fun, the better. Stories make things memorable.

Hubspot recently shared a great article about the neuroscience of storytelling. It dovetails nicely with the sales mantra that “facts tell but stories sell.” Hearing a story actually stimulates more parts of the brain than hearing facts and figures. That’s why we remember stories better.

Here are some stories that every salesperson needs in their arsenal:


Personal Anecdote

When I first began selling digital advertising solutions, my manager at the time used to tell our team over and over again about how his wife would shop for shoes online and then he would be served tons of shoe ads when he was online at his house. He told the story so often that I could tell it too. But you know what he did? He demonstrated the effectiveness of our product by telling a personal anecdote that all of us could relate to.

Think about a way that your product or service has helped you or a family member or a friend. Have a personal anecdote that a prospect or client can identify with. Include it in your presentation naturally and in a way that invites them to admit that what you’re offering works. Follow your story up with a question that begs an affirmative answer like, “That’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it?”


Success Story

Many – but not all – of your buyers will be concerned that what you’re offering has been effective for someone else. Can you tell a success story that is industry-specific and replicable?

Here’s an even better idea – use your iPhone to record your client telling the story themselves. When you’re doing your presentation, whip your phone out and play it for them, or embed it in your PowerPoint, or email it to them later. This allows you to double-dip, getting a reference and a success story all at once.

If you’re new to your sales position, it’s completely acceptable to borrow a success story from a team member. Just be honest about it. Say something like, “One of my teammates was working with a client, and they were able to …” The point is to tell the story in such a way as to demonstrate how you can meet your client’s needs the same way another client’s needs were met.


An Illustration that Makes the Complex Simple

There is probably some aspect of your offering that can be a little difficult to understand. Instead of hammering your prospect with facts and figures, come up with a story that illustrates your point.

Let me give you an example. In advertising sales, we talk a lot about reach and frequency. It’s important for a high number of people to see an advertisement a certain number of times. But a discussion of reach and frequency can easily turn into a bunch of numbers that make people’s eyes glaze over. Instead of going through the numbers, I’ve started saying something like this:

What we want to do is make you a regular with a particular audience. For instance, if I take my wife out to a new restaurant every week, there’s no guarantee about what we’re going to get. The service might be good or not. The food might be good or not. We just don’t know what to expect; we’ve all been there, right? That’s a much different experience than what we have every Saturday morning. For the past two years, my wife and I have been having breakfast at Susan’s Restaurant. We’re at the point now where we don’t have to look at the menu. The waitresses know us and our kids. We’re regulars. We want to make you a regular with this audience.


Pop Culture Reference

Sometimes, movies or TV shows or some other aspect of pop culture do your job for you. If you see a scene that makes your point, use it. In season 2 of Better Call Saul, Jimmy shoots a TV commercial for a lawsuit he’s pursuing. He uses great creative and a targeted strategy. It’s a perfect illustration of what I try to do for my clients. I can lead with, “Do you watch Better Call Saul? Do you remember the scene …” Don’t force it, but if you find one that works, use it. People remember the stories that entertain them.


Salespeople need a few good stories that will help make our presentations more effective. If you work with a sales team, brainstorm good stories together. People aren’t likely to remember the facts and figures we drop on them. We’ve got to tell stories to be memorable.


Here’s the full infographic Hubspot shared:



bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article about the dots we absolutely have to connect for our clients..\


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