Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

Orders for the next ten years. Get ready. Get ahead.

March 23, 1992. Ten years ago I wrote my first column. I just reread it. It stunk. In fact, it espoused philosophies that I have altered or done away with. I read a few more. Surprisingly I still agree with most of what I wrote. But the quality of writing left a bit to be desired (I’m being kind to myself).

The good news is, I have developed the self discipline over the last ten years that has forced me to create new ideas, new thoughts, and new strategies to help you sell better, serve better, be better and earn better.

And they have helped me too.

The other day someone asked me how I do it. I responded, “I don’t write an article, I just collect ideas. I keep my eyes open, I pay attention to all that is around me, I keep my attitude permanently set on YES. And I write things down as fast as I see them.” Do I ever get writer’s block? Well, for the first ten years, no. Reason? I just told you, I don’t write, I collect ideas.

But, you don’t care about me. You want to know what’s in this column for you. Since this is the beginning of my second decade, I thought it would be fitting if I gave you a glimpse of what I believe lies ahead of you.

This column will not be about how to make sales now, rather, it will be about how to make sales forever. They are a collection of my best ideas and concepts for sales superiority. And they work. At least they work for me.

I recommend that you read it twice and then save it in whatever space you have where your goals are made and your game plans are delineated. Every one of these trends, I believe to be essential to make you the salesperson that you have to be in order to earn what you hope to earn. What you DESERVE to earn.

I recommend that as you read these trends, that you rate yourself by jotting a number from one to ten next to each item, so that you rate yourself as to where you are in the mastery of each trend. I further recommend that you not be kind to yourself in your own self judgment, remember I’m talking about mastery, not simply doing.

Okay, here they are. 12.5 trends to make you the leader:

1. Wireless everything you can as soon as you can. From telephone to e-mail to internet access, your ability to receive and send information is no longer ,”I’ll wait till I get back to my office” valid. In the time that it takes you to get from where you are to get back to the office and retrieve your messages or emails, your competition may already have the order and be in the process of delivering it. ACTION: Look at every communication device you have and determine how to increase the wireless capability of it. Ignore cost, it’s an investment.

2. Speed of Response. Your co-workers, your customers, your prospects, your spouse, and your children expect an immediate answer. Anyone who calls you and needs your help expects that you will call them back within a moment or two. And I’m not just talking about 9-5. I’m talking about 24.7.365. Have a way to be accessible at all times, or you will lose to someone who is. ACTION: Ask yourself what would happen if someone called you five minutes before work starts, and wanted to place an order for $100,000. After you stop choking and swearing, fix it.

3. Be ready for business all the time. This means accessibility before, during and after business hours. Beyond the minimum personal requirements, your internet access must serve your customers in every way that they may need help. Not just an order, but scheduling an appointment, requesting service, checking status, and any other answers they may need. ACTION: List the 25 reasons why customers call you, and determine when these requests can be answered. Your goal will be to get every customer need addressable 24.7.365.

4. Answer live. Press one if you know your account number, press two if you know the extension of the person your are dialing, press three if you want to kill the person who invented press one and press two. Everyone will press three. “Everyone” includes all of your customers. If you have automated attendant, or what is known euphemistically as CRM, your best bet is to rip it out of the wall and start over with the word “hello.” “Your call is important to us” makes me puke when I hear that. The amount of money that you lose because of frustrated customers, poor word of mouth advertising, lost loyalty, and lost business far exceeds the amount of money that it will cost you in human kindness. I guarantee you that if your competition all of a sudden goes back to live human being, you will be cursing them. Why not make them curse you? ACTION: Call you own number once a week and be your own customer. Do this until you are so frustrated that you hate yourself, then maybe you’ll change.

That’s it? Four lousy trends? Nope. There’s lots more, but the trend of 750 words per column has yet to change. The rest are next week… meanwhile I have given you a few things to chew on — and act on.

Thank you for your readership. I appreciate your support. And I appreciate what you, and the publication you are reading have done for me. You have helped me build a career beyond my dreams.

Free GitBit…Want to read my first column? It’s written about what you say when the customer says I want to think it over. Sure you do. Just go to www.Gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word FIRST in the GitBit box.

CELEBRATE the next ten years with ACTION!

Last week, in celebration of my first decade of writing my weekly column, I started to tell you the trends for the next ten years and ran out of room. Let me repeat the concept: This column will not be about how to make sales now, rather, it will be about how to make sales forever.

At the end of each trend I have an ACTION. Take it.

Here are the rest of the trends you better be AHEAD.

5. Differentiate by something other than your price. If your customer perceives no difference between you and your competition then the sale will boil down to “How much it costs”. You must be able to create a perceived value differentiation so that your prospect or your customer knows that buying from you will not only create a relationship but that they can count on you to help them build their business and their profits. ACTION: Make a list of everything that is “Value different” between you and your fiercest competitor. You’re probably staring at a blank sheet of paper, so you may want to start by fixing that now instead of lowering your prices.

6. Partner for profit. Your customer does not want to buy your stuff, they want to make money. Your stuff may be part of making money but in order to ensure that they buy from you, you better be certain that you are helping them make a profit, not simply selling an item. ACTION: Make a list of five things that you could begin to offer your customers that would help them make more profit from the products or services that you provide. Arrange a conference with your top ten customers. Ask them where they need to profit the most over the next ten years. Combine your ideas with their needs.

7. Customer satisfaction is over, customer loyalty is all that matters. Customer “SAT” statistics are management’s empty cry of accomplishment. The only thing that matters in your business is: Will your customer do business with you again, and will they proactively refer someone else to do business with you? ACTION: Begin measuring your company’s success by the number of reorders you get from existing customers and begin documenting where your new business comes from. If 50% of your new business does not come from your existing customers’ referrals, something is drastically wrong.

8. Concentrate on your competitive advantage, not your competition. To sell more and serve better. Competitive advantage is defined as: Something your customer considers extremely important at which you excel. Read that again. If you have it and your competition does not have it and your customer doesn’t need it then who cares? ACTION: Discover the ten most important needs of your top ten customers and develop a world class expertise in each of those areas.

Okay. That’s the business side. Now let’s go a little deeper into the personal side. What trends do YOU need to follow in order to be perceived as leader and resource rather than salesperson and pest?

9. Personal branding. Salespeople are full of blame when they should be full of responsibility. Do you have your own personal website to serve your customers? Make your appointments? Communicate your ideas and answer questions? If you don’t, get it today. As a salesperson, you are responsible for your own fate and your own fortune. By investing in your own website (I recommend you use your own name.com) you will establish yourself as a person of value and a person dedicated to the service of others. ACTION: If your personal domain name is not taken, register it tonight. Go to my website, www.gitomer.com and click around until you find where to do this. While you’re at it, register your children’s name and hope that your competitor’s don’t have the same names and have already registered theirs. NOTE WELL: If you don’t have your own web site to communicate and serve your customers, you will lose to someone who does.

10. Ezine your way to their thought process and loyalty. Twenty-one weeks ago we began a free sales newsletter, “Sales Caffeine.” It is the single most powerful tool I have stumbled upon in the last ten years. I give sales tips, I answer questions, I have information from other experts, and I have quotes. In short, I’m providing an additional weekly dose of help to my customers and readers. Almost no one cancels and our list has grown by 25% in the first five months. ACTION: subscribe to my newsletter and see what I’m talking about. Then figure out a way to communicate “help” to each of your customers and prospects every week – forever. Make it so good that your competition hates your guts – forever.

It’s not over yet, baby. But this part of it is. Next week is the final (third) part of trends. Ten down and 4.5 to go. Stay tuned…

Free GitBit… Want two more powerful selling trends? Two trends in that will keep you ahead of the creepy competition. Want them? Sure you do. Just go to www.Gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word TRENDS in the GitBit box.

Are you ahead of the curve, or whining about the bends?

Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of concentrating on the “moment” or the “quota” rather than taking a step back to see the big picture.

Interestingly, the big sales are in the big picture. And that picture is where the prospect will buy. Meanwhile the “quota mongers” are busy trying to sell. The fact is: People don’t like to be sold, but they LOVE to buy. I’ve been trying to tell you that for the past decade.

Some people get it. Some don’t. The difference is following trends and the ability to stay ahead of the curve. The plugger is out making sales calls and cold calls. The thinker and planner is strategizing ways to get a qualified customer to call and buy.

Hey, if you gotta sell, you gotta sell. BUT it’s 100 times more powerful when they want to buy. Problem is that takes hard work over a long period of time and most salespeople won’t do the hard work that makes selling easy.

Writing this column week after week is hard. But it makes sales easy. People (like you) read it, like it, and call with questions or wanting to buy something. A book, a training program, a seminar. It’s been TEN YEARS since I’ve made a sales call to sell something to someone I don’t know. They call me and want to buy.

Please don’t think I’m bragging. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the accomplishment, but what I’m trying to convey is the power of the process.

Here are the rest of the trends I believe will drive sales and customer loyalty (the second sale and referral) for the next decade.

11. Learn on the run. Everyone is out of time, including you. But everyone needs new knowledge, new answers and new ideas, including you. Learning must be done in chunks. Five, ten, twenty-minute intervals. Use your laptop (wireless of course), use your desktop (okay you can plug that one in), use your automobile, and use your walkman. If you wait until you are sitting in a classroom, you will probably wait forever. ACTION: Three ten-minute lessons a day will give you over a thousand lessons in a year and you can still have Sundays off. You need to stay one thousand chunks of knowledge ahead of your competition.

12. Read an old book a month. All the information you need to succeed already exists. The problem is you haven’t exposed yourself to it. If you know me, you know that I tend to read old books to gain new knowledge. ACTION: Start with the classics. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie is the obvious place to begin, but you might also benefit from reading “The Little Engine that Could” or “Green Eggs and Ham”.

13. Guard the fort. Guard the hen house. Since there is less business to go around, there will be more stealing. The fox is hungry and hunting. Your competition will be coming at you harder than ever, trying to lure your customers away in any way that they can. If you get into a battle of pricing, everyone will lose. Now it the time to begin to build the value, build the partnership, build the relationship, and build the differentiation, so that your competition will be laughed out instead of invited in. You will only lose your customers if you are vulnerable to lose your customers. ACTION: List the last ten customers you lost. Call them and discover why. Eliminate every why (or continue to lose customers).

14. Build the relationship in a personal way. Your business relationships must evolve into personal friendships in order to ensure that your customers will be truthful with you, will trust you and will communicate with you in times of need. The old sales adage, “All things equal, people want to do business with their friends, all things being not quite so equal, people still want to business with their friends”, is more true in these times than it has ever been. ACTION: Schedule a retreat or conference with your top ten customers. Spend a half-day of business and a half-day of pleasure for two straight days. We just did this with our staff (internal customers) at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina and I consider it to be one of most significant business actions I have ever taken. I’m scheduling the same event next year, for my staff and my top ten customers.

14.5 Take new actions or lose to someone who does. The abused word “change” needs to be thrown out of the English language, or only used when you tender a dollar for a seventy-five cent purchase. The operative word is opportunity. The more opportunities you seek, the more you will be rewarded both in loyalty and in profit. ACTION: Make a list of ten things you wish you were doing. Start there. Turn wishes into realities by taking achievement actions. Spend one hour a day on opportunities. At the end of a month, this will give you twenty hours of opportunity achievement actions. That should be enough to stay ahead of your competition and establish yourself as a leader.

I have purposely spread this information over the last three weeks, so that only those who are interested in leading the field will have had the patience to capture the trends and potentially put them in into action. I promise you that these trends are the new reality of what sales is going to become and that reality will lead to your reality of success of failure. I wish you success and I thank you for being my customer.

Free GitBit… Want two more powerful selling trends? Two trends in that will keep you ahead of the creepy competition. Sure you do. Just go to www.Gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word TRENDS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com

2002 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer o 704/333-1112