Author Archive

Sales Is Simple
June 6, 2011

People often attempt to make a relatively simple issue more complex. At the end of the day, sales is pretty simple. I’m not saying anyone can do it, but I’ve been doing it my whole life so that fact alone means there must be some simplicity to it!

People want to buy “stuff,” and we want to sell it to them. If we just get out of our own way and listen to what they want, we are much better off.

One of my first ever sales calls (not counting the days as a kid when I would go out with my dad as he visited clients in his territory) found me walking into a prospect’s office where he pulled out a little hourglass from a board game. He then said to me “OK kid, what do ya got?”

I had no clue what to do. My sales training had not prepared me for a lunatic with a mini hourglass. There was no time to go over everything we could possibly do for him so I responded the best way I knew how, by saying “I don’t know, what do you need?”

The prospect put away the timer, smiled at me and commended me for being the first person to “answer his question correctly.” He was the client, it was his money I wanted in my pocket, so I had better understand his needs AND THEN determine if I could HELP him, not waste his time by showing him all of the ways I wanted him to sell him.

I still have a business relationship, and a friendship, with him today.

Talk to the right people at that target company, listen and understand what their needs are and determine if you can help them. While you are at it, it might not hurt to make sure they have the budget to implement your solution, and the time to actually do it.

It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Advertisements

April Showers Bring May Flowers
May 11, 2011

As they say, April showers bring May flowers. That always reminds me of when I first started selling right out of college. I worked for a company that expected their salespeople to literally walk the streets and cold call companies. My favorite days were the rainy ones because there were fewer people out there knocking on doors, so there was a better chance of me actually seeing a decision maker. It also helped that as a kid in my early 20s walking in with a wet overcoat on, many a receptionist took pity on me and helped me to see a decision maker—heck, whatever helps get you in the door!

You don’t see as many salespeople canvassing industrial parks anymore. It is an art that has lost favor in lieu of the phone, email and social media. It does remind us however, that no matter how you find that new prospect, you do need to continue to cultivate the relationship and allow it to grow much like the April rain that helps the flowers to grow and bloom in May.

What have you been doing to help cultivate and bloom your own flowers (or prized accounts?)

Don’t worry, we can help you. Whether it is reaching out to the prospects that your sales team just never seems to have time to reach, following up with prospects from a trade show that your team went to, or covering an open territory while a sales rep is being hired, we can work with you to cultivate those relationships that will give you the flower garden you always wanted.

A Few Additional Thoughts on Executive Leadership
May 1, 2011

I’d like to start this post by thanking Russ Riendeau for his great stories and lessons, and for his contribution to our blog as our first guest blogger. We appreciate it, and hope he is not our last.

Now, here’s a few thoughts of mine on Russ’ lessons.

  1. Missionaries get paid well, at best, for a short period of time. If you and the client are not on a same page, no matter how much they pay you up front, it will most likely not be a beneficial relationship for either of you.
  2. Solid referrals are more profitable than weak prospecting. I say this only hours after meeting with a referral from Russ (who is hoping to need him in the next few months as things continue to grow) who also referred me to another client. Referrals that are well thought out and make sense are worth their weight in gold. Referrals for the sake of looking like you know people end up being a waste of three people’s time. I’ve had people call me who were going to a “leads group” and needed to make a referral so they asked me if I knew of anyone who might need a printer: BAD REFERRAL. The ones Russ gave me of companies who want to increase sales and take some of the initial relationship development work off of the plate of their salespeople: GOOD REFERRALS. Also, prospecting with a purpose is a great way to find new clients as well. Ask yourself, what do the people you work with all have in common besides the things you can search for on Reference USA? What makes you great and a great fit for them? Searching them out as well as telling your referral sources are very effective ways to build a great client base. Buying a list of people who are not in your target…probably not the best use of resources.
  3. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a doubter. This is the hardest thing for a salesperson to do. We talk to salespeople all the time and ask if they have done everything they could. Did they listen to the client’s needs? Are they just not the right fit? Do they just not get it? Is it time to simply walk away?
  4. Have good data and documents to shore up every statement you make. We spend most of our time telling prospects what we did for a similar company and asking questions about them, rather than telling them how great we are. They can find that out on their own. We are a much better resource if we understand their needs and show we have similar experience before trying to sell them something.
  5. It’s not the price. It’s their lack of perception of your value, and it’s your duty to point out the real costs they’ll incur if they don’t use your services.ABSOLUTELY! If they see how the solution will make them money, or save them money, they usually can find a way to buy it.
  6. It’s really fun and empowering to say NO to working with someone that you can feel will be a struggle. It boosts self-confidence and gives courage to believe in yourself and abilities. NO IT ISN’T…just kidding, I was testing the strategy…I feel more empowered already.

April, My Favorite Month of the Year
April 7, 2011

April is my favorite month of the year. Spring is finally in the air (and hopefully the snow is finished for Chicago), baseball season has started, we’ve had our first softball practice of the spring, and there are two very important birthdays coming up: mine and Randolph Sterling, Inc.’s.

My long time friends will tell you that I generally begin celebrating my birthday sometime around April 1 (even though it is not until the 25th) so as much as I act like a 5 year old when it comes to my own birthday, I think I am even more excited about the company’s birthday.

On April 22, 2003, I officially incorporated Randolph Sterling, Inc. Back then, it was just me and an idea that I could help some local Chicagoland companies by acting as a part time sales manager, although I had always had the idea that I could grow the company into something more than that, which is one of the reasons why the company is named Randolph Sterling, Inc. and not Rich Burghgraef Incorporated (although as a baseball fan, I guess I could have called us RBI).

Our goal has always been to help our clients grow. Over the years, we have added additional people, additional offices, and additional services to be able to help more companies in more ways. We still provide sales management services which include the work I originally did when the company first started out, but we now do so much more including:

Thank you to our clients, friends, and supporters for eight great years, we look forward to many many more helping you grow because right from the beginning one thing has remained constant—YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR BUSINESS!

The Luck of the Irish or the Luck of Having Lisa Pickens
March 9, 2011

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner I tend to hear a lot this time of year about “The Luck Of The Irish!” I never thought that it was the 1/4 of me that is Irish that made me particularly lucky, and not specifically during March. I had thought it was hard and smart work.

Trust me, I have had my share of good luck as well as bad. One of the strokes of good luck for Randolph Sterling was hiring our inside sales manager, Lisa Pickens almost 6 years ago. Lisa is an incredibly valuable member of the team who not only does a fantastic job with the clients she works with directly, but has also helped us to find some other very talented members of our team, as well as manage them so they continue to grow.

The running joke in the office is that no matter what opportunity comes up, Lisa has experience in that industry. Between having a varied work experience before joining Randolph Sterling (ask her one day about her days as a professional billiards player) and having the opportunity to work on so many projects for us over the past 6 years, she brings so much to the table both for the team at Randolph Sterling and for our clients.

Lisa has been so successful in working with clients that many times she is requested specifically to work on their project. Unfortunately, she can only work so many hours in a day so we can’t always accommodate that request. The bright side of that is that Lisa is also an accomplished manager and has done a fantastic job in showing the rest of the staff the “Randolph Sterling Way.” We found this to be just as effective and a lot less expensive than investing in human cloning!

Welcome to February Everyone, the Month Known for Love and the Hope of an Early Spring!
February 8, 2011

I am very excited about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in a couple of weeks. The winter, so far, has been long, gray, and cold, even if business has been very positive. Since mid-December we have taken on 6 new clients and our team is doing very well in assisting them to build up strong relationships with the right clients.

So what does this have to do with Spring Training?

I was having a conversation with a colleague last week and was asked what I feel is the best trait that I have that allows me to do my job well. My response was my ability to play baseball. Those of you who know me know that I make a lot of parallels between baseball and sales so before thinking that my goal here is to make Randolph Sterling a professional baseball team…hmm Burghgraef Field, what about Sterling Diamond? Has a ring to it…Ok, I’m back. Read on.

I have always found that playing a game where even the best fail 7 out of 10 times has been great preparation for a career in sales. It has allowed me to learn from everything I do as there is always room for improvement in the quest for perfection that the law of averages says simply will not come. It has also given me a short memory so when it is one of the times when I don’t get a hit, I don’t let it linger too long. It also helps me not to rest on my laurels when good things happen. This reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite baseball movies, Bull Durham, right after “Nuke” LaLoosh strikes out the side:

Crash Davis: “Your fastball is up, you are hanging your curveball; in “the show” they would have crushed you.”

Nuke: “What’s wrong with you, man? Can’t you just let me savor the moment?”

Davis: “Moment’s over!”

We only have 28 days this month, so savor every moment but keep on looking forward and keep selling!

Website Under Construction
February 4, 2011

We recently decided to make a few adjustments to our website to show more services and to further assist our clients. In the mean time you can reach us in Raleigh at 919-439-3387 or in Chicago at 847-305-3710 if you have any additional questions or we can be of help.

Also, for fans of our blog, you can check it out our latest posts both here and at http://richburghgraef.wordpress.com/

Randolph Sterling Welcomes Monica Rosales
January 17, 2011

Monica went to college in Guatemala City and graduated as a Bilingual Secretary in 1997.  She did an internship at the Canadian Embassy for six months in the Public Relations Department, while keeping busy taking different courses like Hotel and Restaurant Administration,  Public Relations, and Ethics.  After she finished her internship she went to work at the airport at TACA airline as a manager of the Baggage Claim Department. After nine months she got a proposal to be the general manager for Mexicana Airlines in the Baggage Claim Department. She worked  there for almost two years while going to the University for Environmental Science.

After three years Monica received her technical degree in Agroecology ( agroecologists may study questions related to the four system properties of agroecosystems: productivity, stability, sustainability and equitability).

While going to school, she applied to work for the government in Guatemala City  in the Environmental Chamber  doing environmental inspections for different companies that were not meeting the requirements established by the government, and presenting several options for them to implement so they would not violate the environmental laws in that country. She completed her five years and graduated as an Environmental Engineer in 2003 (Bachelor of Science).

Environmental engineering involves waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, environmental sustainability, and public health issues as well as a knowledge of environmental engineering law. It also includes studies on the environmental impact of proposed construction projects.

Monica met her husband while going to school 1998 and married him in 2001.  He also graduated as Environmental Engineer.

In January 17th 2004 Monica had her beautiful daughter Megan and in 2006 her son Matthew.

Welcome 2011, A Year to Work Smarter and Grow the Right Way!
January 3, 2011

Since most of my November and December articles talk about how you shouldn’t stop your sales efforts during the “holiday months” because you will be behind your competition come the start of January, I am sure that all of you are expecting me to be writing something along the same lines. Well we are very busy and I am proud to say that all of your clients heeded our advice this year and are reaping the benefits as phones are ringing off the hook this week (do people still have phones that “hook?”) however that is not what this article is about.

I first want to thank everyone who helped Randolph Sterling, Inc. help more clients than ever before in our history in 2010. From clients to staff to referral sources to friends and supporters, you made our success your business so as President and CEO of Randolph Sterling, Inc., I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So what does 2011 look like for you? OK, so it is only days into January so I figured I would take my crack at being an Economics expert (I’m sure my Economics 201 professor from Pace University is glad he retired and happier that I am not using his name here). The economy works in cycles, we all know that. We have been on a downward cycle for awhile, but things have been getting better as we are seeing more companies in more industries looking at opportunities.

I know, you are thinking: “Wow, Rich, great insight. The last time I got insight like that, I at least had dessert from the eggroll I had just eaten!”

We work with several different companies that sell to different industries, from accounting to manufacturing, from healthcare to plumbing and marketing. What I see is an economy filled with smarter decision makers who understand who they are, what they do, and who they serve. More and more people working smarter, not harder. I attest this due to a lot of people who really shouldn’t be in business not being able to survive.

With all apologies to the many good people who have lost jobs or are having trouble finding jobs in this economy, the majority of the people I saw who went out of business (and as a result, many of my clients are now working with their past clients) were people who didn’t realize what value is. They either tried to sell on price or not provide the quality that others in their industry had been doing all along.

We have been spending the last several months asking clients and prospects “What makes you great?” Not good, not OK, not cheaper, but great. It’s OK to say it out loud. Heck, if you don’t think you are great, why would a prospect think so? What do you bring to the table that nobody else can? Who wants it? We have been asking ourselves and our clients to dig deeper so we can help them form the right relationships with the right people for the right growth. My prediction for 2011? Companies will continue to work smarter and grow the right way. There is no easy fix to the economy, just good, old fashioned, SMART work.

Happy 2011 everyone!

 

Here We Are
December 1, 2010

Here we are…at the beginning of the 12th month of the calendar. Boy has 2010 flown by. It seems like just yesterday when I was writing about the start of a new decade (which is actually this year, but I’m not going to start that conversation again). So much has happened in our world and in the world over the past 11 months. It seems as though the economy has taken a turn for the better, thanks in large part to many of my friends who own small to mid-sized businesses. To paraphrase George Bailey from my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, it is the small to mid sized business who does most of the living and working and purchasing and dying in this world. We didn’t need a bailout, we just needed our entrepreneurial spirit to help us continue to grow in tougher times.

Of course, I did mention that it is the beginning of the 12th month on our calendar, not the end of it. We at Randolph Sterling are very busy with new projects starting every day, and we are seeing clients busier and busier throughout the month of December. Working smarter has definitely prevailed.

Speaking of working smarter, every Monday, we have an internal sales meeting with our inside sales team. We discuss the projects we are all working on and discuss how we can help each other to provide the best possible experience for our clients. We ask our clients to tell us what makes them different from their competition and how can we use that to help find more of the people they should be working with. We also look at the responses we receive in the rather lengthy conversations we have with prospects to see what they are telling us about what they are looking for and how our clients can help them. We are all about developing relationships for our clients, but it needs to be relationships of value to them.

Working smarter does include an amount of fun, as our resident social media expert, Daniel Nuccio, found time to develop two contests this December, one asking you about your favorite holiday song and another trivia contest from the previously mentioned It’s a Wonderful Life. Between developing budgets for next year and making those last few sales of the year, be sure to check them out!