sales training consultant and business coach


Strategic Rapport

A new member of our team was surprised to get an invite to a meeting, so asked: “Why am I here?” Bob said “You are in charge of strategic rapport,” He said, “Great, what’s that?” I said, “You and the client both know Ken Smith, your job in the first few minutes, is to talk about Ken Smith." Like clockwork, within minutes, our colleague was engaged with the prospect about their friend Ken Smith. That small seemingly unimportant piece of planned conversation worked like a charm. It built rapport and helped us land a decent sized chunk of business.

Which team members should get your coaching time?

When Upgrade Performance ( goes into a business to evaluate the sales force, we look at the previous six-month results and categorize sales or customer-service people into four groups.  

The top 20%
The bottom 20%
The middle 60%
The high potentials

The Top 20% crush it all of the time.  They are the most consistent performers; managers know they can rely on these top producers month in and month out.  

The Bottom 20% are at the opposite end of the spectrum.  They are also consistent, just not in a good way.  This group sets low standards for themselves and then fails to live up to them.  Some work well when cornered like rats in a trap; others only get motivated when written up.  

 The Middle 60% are the worker bees.  They know the business and bring in results.  The best thing about them is most want to get better.  They are open to coaching, will take advice and will do their best to improve.  

 The High Potentials are the best of the middle 60%.  They are tomorrow’s top 20%.  They are not only open to coaching but have the chops to become stars.    

Managers can use this information to change their year right now.  

Think about it, where do managers spend their time?  If you said "The bottom 20%" You are right, and trust me, it is hard work.  Pushing them to engage, to learn, to care, and ultimately to improve is a very tough row to hoe. Alternatively, the manager will be spending their time with HR discussing the individual and ways to help them out of the business.  

Our advice; Forget the bottom 20%, they are dead to you.  Let them sink or swim.  The only time you should pay attention to them is if they are new.  The longer tenured low performers, cut them off.  (Make sure HR knows your strategy and are cool with it, but you get the point – spend less time with this group.

 Your growth is going to come from high potentials, so give them more of your time and energy.  High potentials understand the products and systems, they are good at selling, and may just need a few tweaks that will lead to massive performance improvement.

 Here are some simple action steps you can do today:

Categorize your team members and decide which ones are high potentials
Identify the one skill that would have the biggest impact on a high potentials business. Work with them on the skill until it is part of their D.N.A
Have high potentials watch your top 20% in action.  Afterward, ask them to send an email and give you three things they learned and will put into action immediately.

One Simple Way To Get More Of Your Team Selling Like Top Performers

I have a dream…too dramatic?

I see a world where…..too much?

OK, I think sales training could be better and should be better, here is my manifesto

Sales training should not mean sitting passively in a room staring at a screen listening to a talking head

Sales training should never, ever include eight hours of PowerPoint.  Adults do not learn by watching; they learn by doing.

Sales training should create energy and lead to engagement, collaboration, participation, interaction, entertainment and yes fun.  Fun is officially the best thing ever invented, at Upgrade Performance we have found people learn best in playful environments.

Sales training should be less about the trainer and more about the participants.

Sales training:

Should give people a chance to work with and learn from their co-workers.
Should include practice of real life scenarios and teach relevant skills that will help attendees show up better on the very next sales presentation
Should challenge people, make them think and force them (in a nice way) to work on their skills, so the best version of themselves shows up more often and on purpose

I see a time (Martin Luther King voice, please) when people look forward to attending sales training because they will leave with new skills leading to more commission. 

I am on a mission to change the way sales training is delivered.

Join the revolution

Stuart Chant is a Sales Trainer and Facilitator on the cutting edge of behavioral change. His classes are 90% interactive and receive incredible reviews because of the way he teaches skills and the fun that participants have. 

Clients include AAA, AT&T, B of A, Charter, Christian Mingle, Comcast, Cox, Google, JDate, Mercury Insurance, MetLife, Overstock, Rogers and University of Phoenix to name a few.  He has helped thousands of salespeople learn new sales and customer service skills and taught managers all over the world how to coach even more effectively. 

Whether teaching frontline staff how to build rapport and sell more products or how to calm down an angry customer.  Stuart uses his sense of humor to connect with his audience, his experience in business to teach new ideas and repetition to embed the skills, so they become part of their D.N.A. 

Stuart has been recommended by his clients over 115 times on LinkedIn, a feat not repeated by many.

 You can reach Stuart at 818 422 3626

What not to say at the start of a sales call

Sales Training Manifesto

How poor word choices cause prospects to switch off and stop listening?

When the phone rings if I do not recognize the number, most of the time, I ignore it.  Earlier today, a call came in and in a moment of weakness, I answered.  I soon realized it was a sales call and was busy admonishing myself for picking up when the salesperson said; “I am just calling…..” and with those four wonderfully self-defeating words, I stopped listening.   I am not sure why but the salespersons word choice told me everything I needed to know about the call. 

Another favorite of mine is “I am just checking in” another totally useless, weak way to start a call.   Why not just say:  “Apologies for bothering you, I am a poor pathetic waste of space, I sit here in the call-center, a toilet of broken dreams, every moment of my existence, my maker weeps a fresh tear of regret as they ponder my creation, I do not believe in the product I am selling and feel bad for contacting you. I know that you would rather stick pins in your eyes than listen to me drone on.”  Too much? I do not think so; this is the message we receive from the sales person.  I switched off as soon as the caller said: “I am just calling.”  Sales is show business, and I think sales people need to be on, and the start of their calls should be strong and positive.

 Here are some weak things I hear sales people say all the time:

Just giving you a call

Just checking in

Please call me back

I would love to get thirty minutes of your time

Looking forward to talking to you (when the client has not agreed to talk to you)

All of these are weak and put you at a disadvantage by negating whatever else you say.

Think about it, if your living depends on your ability to engage and convince prospects, your first few words should be a bit more positive than; "I am just calling." Often the only part of the call you can control is the first 20 seconds, so be more intentional and have the best version of yourself show up more often and on purpose. 

Here are some more positive examples of things you could say:

“I am giving you a call.” is better than “I am just giving you a call.”

“You can reach me at” is better than “please call me back.”

I am calling to let you know that one of our clients in Utah was struggling with X and did x and now is seeing much more success… is better than I am just checking in.

“I have an idea I want to run by you that may help you with X, X, and X.” Is better than “I would like to get thirty minutes of your time.”

This week: Take stock of the words you use and make sure your word choices are helping and not hindering.