Category Archives: Top Ten Principles of Selling

Who’s driving the train, anyway?

Just because you are not the one talking, does not mean you are not guiding the sale!

In fact, it is USUALLY just the OPPOSITE! Guiding the Sale - Who's Driving the Train?

Today a magical and truly wonderful thing happened!

I was in a meeting with an SVP of a Fortune 100 company…and MAN was HE talking. He was so enthusiastic about his company… he was so proud of the work they were doing an new opportunities on the horizon. He loves the brand. He told me everything from the way the founders started out in the Depression…all the way up to the new (and – shall we say – controversial?) CEO they have.

He talked. And he talked. And he talked.


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I listened to every word as if it were gold — which it turns out — every word was.

When he finally got around to asking me details about what I do and what my company offers, I had everything I needed to know to tell him how we could help. And he had said everything he needed to say, so there wasn’t anything in the background distracting him.

I told (short) stories back about how are companies’ philosophies and directions were aligned.


Know what he said next?

“Send me the contract. We need to get this going right away.”

Guess what I did! I STOPPED SELLING!

I said, “GREAT! Will you be signing it?”

– yes –

Then, I thanked him for his business. Asked him if there was anything else he needed. Said our pleasantries and ske-daddled.

He did the talking. I drove the train. I won the business.  FUN!

Love the talkers UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

Dear Irreverent Sales Girl – Ready to GET STARTED!

Dear Irreverent Sales Girl - Ready to GET STARTED! I got this question today from someone just finishing their insurance exams – ready to rock the world! While *some* of it applies to Insurance, specifically, most of it is spot on for ANYONE who wants to be a great salesperson in any industry.

Thanks for the questions! Keep ’em coming! I will make YOU famous, next!

“Dear Irreverent Sales Girl,

I am just finishing up my insurance exams and I am READY TO GET GOING! Just wanted to learn what you know about selling insurance and getting going quickly!

– Ready to GET STARTED!”

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Dear Ready to GET STARTED!

Congratulations on finishing your exams!

Here are my thoughts on being successful in the Insurance Industry (and most others, too, BTW!)

First: Seek to understand
Second: Recreate what your customer told you so you make sure you have it right
Then: Ask permission to share your ideas.

WARNING: Insurance is powerful. You can certainly help people with it, but you can also seriously HURT people.

If you learn your products all-the-way-through and sell them to people who TRULY benefit, you will be blessed.

(HINT: You will be taught a lot of ways to sell the wrong products for people’s needs. Be careful of this. FIRST look to see where the product is a BAD answer and find the place where the model breaks down – THEN determine if it does work. This requires using your brain, which I imagine you have, since you asked the question!)

I also know that the going can be VERY tough at the beginning.

Network well with estate planning attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors. Show THEM that you know how to use products in their clients’ best interests. Nurture these relationships and refer people to them as often as you can. Look for opportunities to refer people to them. Eventually, ask them what it would take for them to refer to you.

As you build your clientele, focus on designing systems to keep in touch with your clients often. Over-communicate. Check in to make sure that their insurance portfolio is serving their current (and changing) needs. Even if you simply send a mailing once a month with one of your favorite inspirational quotes or pictures, you will be touching their lives with your personal signature brand.

FUN FACT:  82% of insurance salespeople with the top companies quit.

It takes something amazing to be one of the top 18% (earning on average $65,000/year) and something EXTRAORDINARY to be the top 5%, which is where the real wealth happens.

FINALLY, (and it should probably be first). Always be on time. Always send a hand-written thank you note. No one can beat you if you keep this at the heart and soul of what you do.

Insurance can be a beautiful career, because clients who stay with you will pay their premiums over-and-over and your influence and resources will grow. Take care to build a solid foundation and the rest will take care of itself over time.

AVOID ROOKIE MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE…Never spend your commissions until your client is outside of their right-to-rescind period (30 days?). If they rescind, you owe the money back!

Love it UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl


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Swing and a Miss! My EPIC FAIL!

Swing and a Miss! My EPIC FAILSometimes even the best salespeople completely WHIFF an opportunity.

This happened to me yesterday. While it is SO embarrassing, I just have to share it with you. Perhaps I will save you from your own EPIC FAIL!

Also known as: How to Violate 10 Sales Principles in Less Than 30 Minutes.

Here’s the story:

I had a call set up with a company I have wanted to close for about a decade now. They are AWESOME and would be a huge feather in our cap. My manager really wants this deal.

The President of this company had reached out to me to set up the call with her trusted employee, Amanda.

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So, YAY! I have the opportunity.

BONUS: I did not DROOL on myself, so THAT was a victory (about the only one.)


When we get ATTACHED to a sale, we do some wonky stuff. In my case, I did some really weird things. First, I got myself really worked up and nervous about the conversation.


“What?”, you say? “Isn’t preparation a great thing?”  Well, it IS when you come from the context of caring about what they are dealing with. But, sometimes two things will happen when you over-prepare.

First, you may get  intimidated by the person you are speaking with. Their background and the way they show up on LinkedIn and Google may freak you out. That happened to me on this call. (Of course, this is ridiculous – I speak with CEO’s, Executive Directors, and BIG DEALS all the time – something just got me on my back foot. Hmmmm….)

Second, you may make assumptions about what the person wants or needs based on what you have read on their website. I did this exact thing. I really did not know what  Amanda wanted to talk about or why we were having the conversation.

THIRD VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I assumed I knew what they needed and what they were dealing with. 

So, I went into the conversation making comments rather than REALLY getting into Amanda’s world and asking tons of questions.


SHE had set up the meeting with a dial-in number and Webex. She was 7 minutes late. So, I called Amanda at her desk to see if we were still on. She said “Yes, why don’t you just call my land line and we’ll talk”. So, I did and now I was worried if we would have enough time to cover everything.

“What?”, you think. “What’s the problem with that?” Well, this one is very subtle. By tracking HER down, I lost two things.

First, I lost the opportunity for Amanda to get in touch with me to right the ship. (Remember that RECIPROCATION is a powerful thing – when they OWE you because they messed up, you gain power in the conversation). She DID apologize and was gracious, but I had lost that magic moment.

The thing to do was wait 10 minutes, hang up, email Amanda and apologize if I may have messed up the time. THEN, SHE has to call me or email me and I can suggest that we re-schedule for a time that works better for her OR we can acknowledge that time is now short. And, I get to be GREAT with her.

Second, I lost my ability to participate as an equal in the conversation. By tracking Amanda down, I communicated to both of us that her time was more important than mine. I was on my back foot.

FIFTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I violated my own emotional space.

(And this one is just TOO embarrassing, but I am going to give it ALL to you – even when I would rather not)

As we were getting re-related, I shared with Amanda that I was actually NERVOUS to be on the call with her because of how great and accomplished she is. (CAN YOU IMAGINE?) Yes, on one hand it looks like “being authentic”, but ONCE again, I communicated to both of us that she is more important than I am.

SIXTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: I did not seek to understand before trying to get HER to understand what I had to say. 

To kick off the call, Amanda mentioned that the contract with her current vendor was coming due and that she might be looking to make a change. Even though she knew a lot about my company already, Amanda admitted that she was sure that our services must have evolved since she last took a look. She asked me how we had evolved and how it might make a difference for her now.

Oooh, this is golden, but I massively WHIFFED here. I shared a couple of things that were new and exciting about the ways that we were helping other companies. Both TOP things I shared, she had no need for. So, the conversation was basically dead and Amanda now has mentally checked us off as not relevant.


What I COULD have done INSTEAD was say, “Well, there are TONS of new and exciting things, but I would really have to understand a lot more about why you are thinking of making a change and what is important to you. Do you have time to lay those things out for me and then, if we both feel it makes sense, I can tailor a demonstration to our conversation and we can get on another WebEx and I can show you around?” Then be quiet.

Nope. Didn’t do that.

SEVENTH VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: Make the same mistake twice in a row.

Amanda went on to say that while we might not be able to help with the first project, she and her President also thought that we might be able to help with another project they were working on.

AGAIN! I assumed what she needed and I launched into “selling” the way we help companies do similar things and I laid out some examples. Her new program did NOT have similar needs (because AGAIN I hadn’t asked her to be more specific – I ASSUMED based on my research, what they would want).

AGAIN, she marked me off as irrelevant for this project, too.


It continues to get more embarrassing. We were nearing the end of the conversation and I made one last assertion. “Well, I DO think, based on the things you have shared with me that it would be valuable for us to get on an online demonstration to further explore”.

That one landed like a BIG LEAD BALLOON. “Yeah”, she said. “Maybe.” “Let’s stay in touch because there may really be a way for us to work together, I just don’t see it now.”


It seems that I have virtually NO way to recover now. I will have to come up with some ways to seduce Amanda into learning more or giving me a chance to learn more if I want to keep this conversation alive. Right now, I am mostly just licking my wounds, but TOMORROW, I will call my mentor and get some good ideas. That is always a winning move.

NINTH NOT-VIOLATED PRINCIPLE: Always seek the wisdom of others when you get stuck! 

I will let you know what we come up with and what actions I take now. There are TWO qualified opportunities here and I will have to learn and grow myself to put myself in a position to try again! I would love your insights, too. Please comment!


Even though I am mortified, I will not let myself NOT learn the lessons here AND Amanda and I are not both convinced that there is not a way for us to work together. We will graciously follow it all-the-way through.

Even though I would rather crawl under a rock and just let this one go.

So, there it is!


Today, I saw this quote on Facebook from Michael Jordan. It made me realize that, even though I massively WHIFFED on this call, I can be satisfied that I keep giving it my all and failures are a part of my success. I hope you enjoy it, too!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan

Love your WHIFFS UP! (And give me YOUR ideas about how to salvage the situation).

The Irreverent Sales Girl

Watch your language!

Watch your language! I was giving a cold-calling training yesterday and my participant told me that her boss wants her to come up with two scripts….one for talking to a GATEKEEPER and the other for talking to the DECISION MAKER.

Oh, those words he is using! Gatekeeper? Decision Maker? Seriously?

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Let’s talk about Star Wars for a second.

Remember those Storm Troopers – dressed from head to toe in armor and tinted face masks? (If you don’t I’ve included a picture).

Know why they dressed them this way? Well, I might not really know why, but what I’ve HEARD is so that the audience didn’t HUMANIZE them. So, it was OK to kill them. No one would feel a shred of conscience about rooting for the Rebellion to take them all out! Dead!

Watch your language!  Now look.

What does this have to do with my revulsion to the words GATEKEEPER and DECISION MAKER? 

Yup! It takes the HUMAN out of the mix. So, NOW, when you are talking with one of these people, you sound like a GREAT BIG DORK, because the foul language you are using automatically puts you at cross purposes with the HUMAN on the other end of the phone.

See, if you call the person who can connect you to the person you really want to reach, and you call them the gatekeeper….right away you start strategizing ways to get past this nasty person. Kind of like trying to get past the bouncer at a popular club. And, all of your efforts sound disingenuous and HUMANS can smell the stink of  disingenuous from about a mile away!

DECISION MAKER is a little more subtle, but it still conjures up images of a person who is going to pass judgment on high about whether you are going to meet your goals or not. It’s brutal!

So, what language could you use instead? 

Well, for starters, you MIGHT get interested in their name. I’m just sayin’. Then, you might get interested in the role that person plays in the company and why they would even want to talk to you.

If you can’t figure out why they would want to talk to you, then I suggest you don’t pick up the phone in the first place. You will just embarrass everyone in the process (YOU, mostly).

The people who answer the phone are your best friends. They KNOW what the company is up to and they know how to get your call through to the right person … if they care enough to. And, keep in mind, they are interested in doing a good job! They want to do the right thing. Those people have a big fat sniffer for someone who is trying to GET PAST them. Wouldn’t you?

The people who make the decisions are your access to a green light. Right?

So, NOW what do you see? 

All of the people you talk to in your sales process care about something. If you are relating to them as the enemy, they will do their best to keep you out … and out you shall be!

Your job is to leave everyone you speak with feeling that you added value to their day and, even better, feel like a ROCK STAR because they talked to you.

This is where “cold-calling” becomes fun! 

You now are someone that EVERYONE wants to talk to because you care about what makes them successful.

It takes relating to a human being on the other side of the call and making their day.

Now, YOU get to be a DAY-MAKER (instead of a nasty ol’ salesperson) and THEY get to be ROCK STARS!

Think you can do it? 

Love ’em ALL UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

You can’t bamboozle your customer! PUH-LEEZE!

You can't BAMBOOZLE your customerI was in a sales training and the sales trainer LAMENTED that times have changed.

It USED to be that the salesperson had the inside scoop

NOW, the buyer can find everything they really need to know on-line.

WAIT! He was LAMENTING this?

Is that really who we’ve become as salespeople? The ones who can sell if our buyer doesn’t have enough information? UGH!

It reminded me of a keynote I heard from the CEO of Seventh Generation. 

He said that his company POSTED a list of the DEFICIENCIES of their products.

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Which, initially, had their salespeople shaking in their boots.

Sure enough, the competitors would come in with the printed list of Seventh Generation’s Self-Admitted deficiencies…..

But, you know what happened? The customer would turn to them and say….”where is YOUR list?”


Your customer is smart and informed. If you can’t deal with it, go sell something that can stand up to scrutiny. You’ll have more fun!

Love ’em UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

The seduction technique…an age-old winner!

Are you more attracted to that woman you can’t get, the one who makes it seem like it’s all available The seduction age-old winner! to you, but you’re not sure you’re up to the challenge? Or are you interested in the woman who STALKS you? (Fill in gender as it makes sense for your situation!)

People want what INTRIGUES them!

And they run away from things that chase them.

Find a way to attract your customer!

Very few of us have a product that we are not willing to sell to just anyone who’s willing to buy it. Fair enough. But, I invite you to think a little bit differently.

Where does your product or service become available to only the “exclusive” ones?

I have a very good friend who is a wildly successful representative of a Brand-Name investment group.

When she sells her product like any old investor can come work with her, she grinds it out and doesn’t get many interesting and cool clients.

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When she positions herself as if “Are you the kind of investor we would take? Worthy of our services?” business sky-rockets.

Take a look. How can you make YOUR customers feel like they are in the pool with the “cool kids”? Figuring this out is your ticket to unquestionable wealth.

When you DO get the “cool kids” to sign on, make sure you service the hell out of them and let them know that they are the “in-crowd”. They will be references for you like crazy.

CAVEAT: To do this strategy well, you must be three things:

1) The best at what you do
2) Relentless in delivering an experience once someone has climbed on board
3) Make sure your “cool kids” stay the “cool kids”. Keep reminding them that they are in THAT game!

Ready to seduce? I promise you, it is much more effective than chasing.

(Remember prom?)

Love your “cool kids” UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

If you ain’t buyin’ it, they aren’t either!

Even the BEST salespeIf you ain't buyin' it, they aren't eitherrson in the world can’t sell just ANYTHING.

Take for example, my very good friend. He loves the product he sells and there are some add-ons that make sense for the right buyer.

But, there is one service his company offers that he thinks just ISN’T worth the price. Now, his fellow salespeople can sell this service with ease. AND the support team recommends it as a way to guarantee success.

He just can’t seem to spit the words out of his mouth. “This service is important AND it costs THIS much!”

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So, guess what! He never sells that service. At a huge cost to his company, himself, and sometimes a dis-service to his client.

What did he do?

He started talking with people who USE this service and started to see the value for himself.

Now, he can sell that service to the right people with ease.

And the house, can I tell you about the house?

A wealthy friend of mine has an absolutely beautiful and unique property to sell. It is in the millions. It is spectacular.

it has been on the market for FOUR YEARS.

Turns out that the house just “isn’t his agent’s style”. She can’t sell it. Why? She doesn’t “buy” it.

The owners are re-listing with an agent who “gets it”, AND raising the price to match the special nature of this property.

Guess what!

I bet it gets snatched right up!

Moral of the story

If you can’t “see” it selling, you won’t be able to sell it.

Either stop pretending that you can or will OR get interested in WHY someone can or will.

Love it UP!

The irreverent Sales Girl


A Guest Post by Little Ol’ Me on Selling Fearlessly!

A Guest Post by Little Ol' me on Selling FearlesslyI am delighted to announce that Robert Terson has agreed to allow me to guest post on his site today.

While you’re over there, take a look around. Robert has some STELLAR articles with some great stories.

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What do you think of THAT?

Love it UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

The unlikely celebrity…YOU!

The Unlikely Celebrity ... YOU! Wanna be a celebrity?

(Of course you do!)

Here’s my observance….

We THINK that the people who are celebrities were somehow “meant to be” iconic celebrities.

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But, it’s not that way.

People FIND their own particular passion..and then they do it with NO reticence.

They find their own passion and then they do it with NO reticence.

They give up anything “safe” and they are ONLY them … at any cost.

And then they become fabulously famous!

Are you ready to BE ONLY YOU?

What will it cost? (Everything! It will be worth it).

Love your celebrity UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl

It’s first quarter, baby!

It's first quarter, baby! You today have 31 days to meet your first quarter goal. Are you confident you will get there? If yes, go read something else,

If you are a “maybe” or completely “not confident” keep reading:


If you are maybe, take the time and map it out. What needs to happen in the next 31 days? How much looks like it’s going to happen? Make sure you have at least 2x Business committed to closing this month. What activity to you need to generate? Put the admin stuff aside…KEEP TALKING TO THE PEOPLE YOU EXPECT TO CLOSE … get people on the “closinig” track. Play to close it ALL – it will allow deals to fall out!

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Not Confident

Call your sales manager FIRST THING tomorrow and let them know you are worried about meeting your first quarter goal and start to brainstorm together (if your sales manager doesn’t LOVE you for this, find a new job). Create a plan and WORK IT.


Go for it! Make sure you are looking at reality and not fantasy.

Love your SUCCESS UP!

The Irreverent Sales Girl