Sales RepsHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Were you as amazed as I was at the will, focus, fortitude, and dedication of the 2016 Olympic athletes? What if we could apply those same traits to our sales careers?

Take, for example, Michael Phelps, who’s won 23 gold medals for the U.S. This picture from the 200-meter butterfly semifinals says it all.  South African swimmer, Chad le Clos, taunted him before the race. That might have been another swimmer’s undoing, but not Phelps’. He was focused on one goal: winning. Le Clos was focused on Phelps. Big mistake.

The message for sales leaders: Ensure your sales reps learn about their competition but focus 100 percent on winning.

Learn about fortitude and commitment in this month’s blog posts on referral selling:

Social Selling Isn’t a 24/7 Job

I got blasted on social media. Someone critiqued me because I write about social selling and the importance of staying in touch with prospects, clients, and colleagues, but I didn’t respond to his comment immediately. Mea culpa. It might have been one of those weeks when I was traveling, on deadline, or just plain exhausted. Here is the response I did send: “My communication may not be as timely as some, due to client work and other deadlines. I take vacations and unplug. Weekends are family time. I make these choices intentionally.” And then we began a productive exchange of ideas. Others built on our discussion and shared similar perspectives. That’s one of the powers of “engagement.” We don’t have to agree with one another, but it’s important to share our perspectives. However, we all agree it’s a balancing act. Staying connected with others is important, but so is occasionally disconnecting from technology. (Read “Social Selling Isn’t a 24/7 Job.”)

Think Sales Reps Will Become Obsolete? Think Again

You’ve heard it. Television will kill radio. Video killed the radio star. And social media and the internet will eliminate the time-consuming, face-to-face aspect of sales. Um, no. What’s the best way to reach, communicate with, develop, and sell to your key audience? If you think back over your most successful business deals, I bet face-to-face, person-to-person, high-touch communication—a phone call, a video conference, or (best of all) an in-person meeting—accelerated your sales process time and time again. Yes, we’ve all heard the predictions that technology will eventually replace sales reps. Buyers can now learn everything they need to know about a company online, so why should businesses continue employing expensive sales forces? Because machines still haven’t made us obsolete, and I doubt they ever will. (Read “Think Sales Reps Will Become Obsolete? Think Again.”)

Curiosity and Discontent: Words to Live—and Sell—By

Many years ago, a high-school girl competed in a state speech competition for members of the forensics club. Participants competed for the best original speech as well as for the best speech written by someone else. This young girl chose a speech entitled “Curiosity and Discontent: The Value of a College Education.” It was originally delivered by Charles Brower, executive vice president of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc., to the members of the class of 1957 at the freshman assembly at Rutgers University. It’s incredibly difficult for adults to stand before a group of people and deliver a presentation. Imagine a shy 16-year-old girl in that same scenario. Ultimately, she came in second. Was she disappointed? Of course. Did she keep competing? You bet. Did she internalize the message? Yes. In many ways, it directed the course of her life. And by now you’ve probably guessed that I was that shy, 16-year-old girl. Now I’m sharing the contents of that speech for all of you to read, internalize, and pay it forward. Reading it now reminds me that my life has always been about curiosity. And yes, some discontent. I hope it sparks the same in you. (Read “Curiosity and Discontent: Words to Live—and Sell—By.”)

How Referrals Close the Buyer Divide

Many buyers dislike salespeople. In their eyes, we’re the epitome of the used-car salesman—pushy, arrogant, in-your-face, and promising they’ll only get the best price if they buy today. Much of that perception is justified. If I were to judge solely by the cold emails and phone calls I receive from sales reps about why I should watch a demo or spend 30 minutes listening to their pitches, I would feel the same way about our profession. The key to changing that perception is working through referrals. (Read “How Referrals Close the Buyer Divide.”)

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a study on referrals, and I need your help. Please take my 14-question Referral I.Q. Quiz. The questions are mostly “Yes/No,” and it should take less than four minutes to complete. Rest assured, it’s completely anonymous, with no forms to fill out.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be bounced over to a results page, where you can see the aggregated answers from everyone who has participated.

Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz now.

My goal is to get a 1,000-person sample, so please invite your network to take the quiz as well. Participation is anonymous, and I promise you won’t be added to any lists. Thanks in advance for your support!