Why sales deals aren’t closing?


I’ve had times of greatness and times of not-so-greatness.  Times where deals close when you want them to and deals that continue to fall out of the sky and you continue to close.  Opportunities that come up and opportunities that you can never find.  The life of sales is like a wave:  when it rises high up you’ve got to catch it before the next crash and if you catch it right, what a great ride!

What if, however, your sales aren’t closing?  Do you change your strategy?  Listen to Dan Lok, who gives fantastic and innovative advice on why people don’t buy and how to improve your strategies!


Here’s another article by WorldLeaders that gives more reason’s why you might not be selling or closing.


Let’s go through the scenarios one-by-one……

  1. Not working with real decision makers. Are you calling high enough up the food chain or dealing with lower staff that don’t have budget?  I think all of us have fallen into this trap and it comes with the territory because often times you just don’t have access to the top decision makers.
  1. Is there a strong business case? If you are selling on feature and function, most likely you are not giving the decision maker enough ammunition for the business to make the investment.
  1. Quotes instead of proposals. Are you providing enticing proposals with justification to the business or just price quotes with how much it costs to purchase?  You need to make sure your proposal is rock solid.
  1. Submitting instead of proposing. Emailing a proposal instead of presenting it.  Not good.  You need to meet face-to-face and present it.
  1. Not asking for the sale. You have to ask and ask continuously!  You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t ask.
  1. The customer will inundate you with objections. Just human nature.  Be prepared for a stall or pricing objections.  On either front, you need to come armed with redirection and ways to engage in meaningful discussions that involve the value to the business and what they are about to buy.

Tony Bilby

Humor in the workplace and with customers!

I just recently watched Will Ferrell’s USC Commencement speech and felt his story telling combined with identifying and encouraging his audience to dream big and push through obstacles was awesome.

When I was younger I employed humor all the time at the workplace.  Not only as a motivator for people I worked with to complete tasks or work in partnership to do a better job, but also as a way to break the ice and keep customers.  Somewhere along the lines, over the course of many years in the business, I lost it.  Or, I forgot it.  Perhaps I became so focused on closing deals that I forgot about the people involved.  Maybe I became disconnected after life challenges started to mount.

Either way, I’m going back to it.  Nothing relieves the daily stress and the daily grind better than a laugh, building a connection with someone, and sharing an amusing story that people can relate to.

In the Forbes article regarding “Why Humor is a Key to Success at Work”


they talk about how humor tends to have an edge and therefore often encouraged to be toned down at work.  I get it – make sure your humor is mild, appropriate, tasteful, and not offensive.  From my perspective, once people engage in humor they tend to let their guard down which in many cases increases creativity and productivity.  As mentioned, if humor becomes a natural part of anyone’s style it can be harnessed and leveraged!

As the Robert Half International Survey cites, 91% of executives believe in a sense of humor to advance one’s career and 84% believe that people with a good sense of humor helps facilitate career enhancement.  They go on to talk about the most important career traits are a strong work ethic and sense of humor.

To summarize:

People will want to work with you:  don’t make work miserable.  People don’t want to work with someone that takes everything and everyone seriously all the time.

Humor reduces stress!

Humanizing aspects:  Yes, 100%, humor brings everyone together whether you are a warehouse worker or the CEO of the company.

It puts others at ease.

Ha ha brings the aha moments:  As mentioned, it brings creative thinking.

It builds trust.

Boosts Morale.

It makes you approachable:  There is no question if people know that you are willing and able to have a good laugh or they’ve seen you having fun at work, they are more inclined to approach you.

Humor helps the company stand out!

It increases productivity.

Tony Bilby

Networking and how to master the art!


Zig Ziglar’s shares the obvious, but important to be reminded, and perhaps not reminded enough, regarding the necessity of being a King or Queen networker.


Dress to be the best:

Zig talks about how dress has become so casual that business owners are starting to underestimate the importance of it.  In Southern California I find it fairly rare that people wear ties, however, I do wear a good suit or sport coat when meeting with executives and important decision makers, especially for the first time.

Business cards:

Always have them, ready to go along with brochures.  I do this out of habit, whether I’m at lunch or during an evening social event.  Inevitably someone will ask for your card or ask what you do.  If you have a business card and brochure, at the ready, your potential client or business partner will be even more impressed.

Negative conversations:

Yes, avoid them at all costs.  In a relatively negative world, people want to hear things that make them happy.  Positive and uplifting comments or what I like to call my “dark humor” goes a long way.  If I’m thinking something negative I turn it into a joke or a witty comment to make the person laugh.  It’s just common sense.  Any person, that includes a customer or business partner, will want to see you more if you make them laugh, make them feel comfortable or at ease, and are helpful towards their mission.

Body language: 

Smile, nod, and act appreciative.  People want to talk about themselves.  Customers with big budgets don’t care about you or what you have to say about yourself because they already have a million vendors trying to convince them to buy and do what they want.  So, give it a rest.  Listen to them, their lives, their concerns, and their work challenges.  Problem solvers and listeners get paid.  If you are talking over someone, speaking one-uppers, and trying to convince someone your point of view is more correct then you should consider getting out of sales.

Following up – the little things that go a long way: 

Hand written thank you cards with a personal note.   I continue to try to do this on a regular basis, but given the high tech age with social media, email, texts, twitter, and more, a good old fashioned hand written note goes a long way!

Tony Bilby

Best Habits for Sales Success

beautiful woman writing a business concept

Business Concept

I read a lot about sales techniques and how to harness the most productive strategies.  As a sales consultant I want to be the best and at the top of my game.  Brian Tracy, and his article “The 7 Sales Training Tips of Sale Success”


provides the most fundamental guidance I can think of:

  1. Get serious – That means studying, certifying, and most importantly, getting out in front of key decision makers with real value propositions and great technology services and offerings.
  1. Figure out what is holding you back – identify that weakest skill and then set your mind to making it better.  For me, as with many salespeople, sometimes I lack the best organizational skills to consistently manage my time the most effective way possible.  As a salesperson you should be focusing on the most important tasks, which usually revolve around customer meetings, follow through, and post sales customer service.  If you’re spending your days updating reports and spreadsheets and emailing other people internal to your company, you might want to focus more on prospecting and touching base with customers that have budgets.
  1. Get around the right people – This is 100% true!  If you are spending time around people that complain, make excuses, and generally want to do things other than be productive you are not flying with the Eagles.
building a great team

Build a Great Team!

  1. Take care of your health – this is a critical one for me that I really need to work on as well.  There should never not be not enough time in the day to focus on the most critical aspect of your life – your body and your health.  Stress, overwork, lack of exercise, poor diet, and bad habits like nicotine and alcohol can turn your life upside down if your body decides enough is enough.  Figure out a time to exercise, eat right, and do things in moderation.  As Mr. Tracy mentions, you will be dealing with constant rejection and discouragement throughout the work week, so find a way to deal with it positively and productively.
  1. Imagine yourself at the top – try to visualize success.  I have the hardest time with this as the mind most naturally will gravitate towards the negative and it becomes an easy habit to harbor negativity when customers consistently say no rather than yes.  Turn it around.  Visualize the win and visualize a year and years of abundance and success!
  1. Practice positive self talk – absolutely.  Do it.  Never get down on yourself as you are the designer and creator of your destiny.  If you can’t be positive about yourself then others won’t gravitate positively toward you either.
  1. Take positive action towards your goals – be action oriented and move quickly.  Get out there in front of customers all the time. The more customers you meet, as Tracy mentions, the more chance to sell.  Make seeing customers, moving quickly, and talking to decision makers a top priority.

Tony Bilby



Propulsion, Sales, Tony Bilby

Space Shuttle

Propulsion. Seth Godin recently published the blog post, “Hot: A Theory of Propulsion.” A bit abstract, it seems to largely concern the fact that, in this day and age, stationary things fall by the wayside. We need action to acknowledge something as significant. We spend our lives guided by interactive screens that present breaking news, interactive games, and moving GIF’s. While I do not necessarily desire to speak to the current state of contemporary society, I do think the application of “propulsion” to sales is to say the least, significant.

As a salesperson, you need to take initiative. Very rarely, if ever, will you make an effortless sale. You need to propel yourself, to show action in closing a deal. By establishing authority in conversation by way of talking, you are affecting change. One way to do this is skillfully mentioned in Diane Lamont’s blog, “The ‘How’ of Asking Sales Questions”.

While yes, as the sales associate, you must be the one to provoke and prolong conversation, there is a delicate line to toe. You want to involve your prospective customer in a dialogue that does not feel forced but rather fluid. There should be a light atmosphere and casual air surrounding the conversation as statements and replies seamlessly complement each other, building to the foregone conclusion of a closed sale.

One way to facilitate this is through asking questions. Questions illustrate curiosity and care so long as they are asked with deft ability. Inquire about customers’ interests if you know them, and allow them to speak on their passion. Ideally, this will warm the waters and reduce any awkward tension arising from potential social insecurity. Conversation is similar to exercising, and a warm-up lets you ease your muscles into the work-out before lifting heavier weight. The same goes for talking. Warm up a bit and present a friendly image rather than that of the pushy salesman.

Of course, implementing personal questions is easier said than done, like everything else. One must properly balance questions throughout the dialogue and illustrate a sort of active listening. Display that you are listening to what is being said while it is being said rather than just mentally queuing up your next question. One way to do this is by repeating the information back at your customer, like “If I’m hearing you correctly…” or “it is my understanding then, that…”. By displaying comprehension, you are displaying that you care about the customer, because you clearly care enough to listen to what the customer is saying.

Propel yourself forward. Take action. Be active even in seemingly passive activities like listening.  Propel your presence and make the sale!

Selling – The Early Days

Selling for a living is a tough game.  Well, it depends really.  Small sales or the average salesperson working for the big firm, all right, not so tough. Big sales where you make big commissions, now that’s entirely different. I’ve met a ton of salespeople in my career. Many are average. Some, the best ones, the multi-millionaires, now those are some of the most persuasive people I’ve ever met. As you get into multi-million dollar sales the stakes go up and the game gets tougher. If you want to close big deals, make big money, you’ve got to be better than the best. You’ve got to study, know your product and industry better than everyone else, you’ve got to learn the angles and work every strength you have. Know your stuff. Learn your trade. Prepare, be disciplined, call high, and never “wing” a sales call. My favorite sales movie: Glengarry Glen Ross. ABC: Always Be Closing.

I landed my first sales job when I was seventeen and from then on I was hooked. Sales is in my blood. It’s what I do and I’ve been doing it for a long time. That first sales job I sold vinyl windows, roofing, and siding door-to-door. We went to rich neighborhoods, middle class, and poor. The poor ones were the toughest and dangerous. I was young, foolish, and I should have been scared. I thought I was invincible, maybe because I was mostly a loaner. At thirteen, I’d spent much time away from home. I’d experienced hours in bars and pubs in Europe, unfortunately, at too young of an age. By seventeen I’d already had the great fortune and opportunity to have lived and traveled around Europe, Turkey, Greece, and other parts of the world mostly with just one other friend. So, I guess I felt, whether naïve or not, old enough to handle an American city.

Those early days selling on the streets were my first encounters with capitalism and business. It was an unbelievable experience. I witnessed people making money and those without money. I witnessed the inequalities that exist in America, the stark division between rich and poor that is the inevitable result of our capitalist system. In Germany, when I was a boy, they had three schools that students were required to test into at a young age. If you tested well, you were put on the University bound professional track. If you scored mediocre you were placed into schooling for craftsman and specialized labor. If you scored low, you were placed in the remedial schooling. Their paths were chosen at a grade school age and once in the track it was very hard to get out of. Another example, and even more extreme, is the Caste system in India.

Not in America. In America you have the chance, regardless of your background, to rise above and achieve. I was fortunate enough to be an American citizen at the American schools in Germany so I didn’t have to conform to those rigid European standards. In fact, much of grade school was very difficult for me and I was riddled with learning disabilities. I was fortunate, again, to have a German born mother who wouldn’t stop home schooling and tutoring until I got it right. I remember many summers stuck in the kitchen reciting grammar and math exercises with my mother while the other kids were outside playing. I hated it at the time, but I realize how blessed I was now to have someone teach me and instill discipline when I was young.

At seventeen, though, I was selling on the means streets. I was the young tin man. “Hello sir or maam,” I said, “have you ever considered an estimate for home improvements regarding your windows, roofing, or siding?” I got the door slammed in my face. That was a common objection. I got all kinds of objections selling. My favorite objection was the very polite “do you have some literature you can drop off? If I’m interested I’ll get back to you.” I should have carried For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sound and The Fury, or The Great Gatsby in my back pocket and handed it over to them: “here’s some literature.”

One day I was really upset. I’d been hit with a million objections and I’d probably been threatened once or twice as well. When I went back to the office I mustered up enough courage to ask my boss why the hell he’d sent us, yet again, into the ghetto. “That’s my old neighborhood and where I grew up……fool,” he told me irritated. “I used to live there and you want to complain to me about visiting? Maybe you aren’t tough enough to handle this job and I got a million kids to replace you if you can’t.” That about summed it up. What was I going to say? In reality, if my mother had known about the visits to dangerous neighborhoods she would never have allowed me to continue the job, but I was up for the challenge. I was independent, strong, and I had to prove myself!

Dave was a young successful business owner that had worked a number of years in home improvements, learned the business, and then started up on his own. He was a shining example of a young black man succeeding in America despite his background of adversity and severe challenges. Dave was a few years older and a great role model for me. I was impressionable and I didn’t want to let him down. Not only was he managing his own business and putting himself through school, but he was also providing assistance for his parents as well. Unfortunately his brother was shot and killed in a drug related incident years prior and that, he shared with me, was his motivation to get out. Dave was the ultimate salesman. He could talk the talk. He could convince anyone to do anything and he was smooth as silk. It seemed like a different beautiful woman was walking in and out of our office every week. Always asking for Dave. Dave would smile and off they would go. Dave was the boss, he knew it, everyone knew it. He was the ultimate player, the big time baller, the boss.

Dave hired a pit bull as his lead salesperson. Tim was a huge guy, a body builder, and most likely used steroids or various drugs to boost his physique. He was aggressive, in his early twenties, and when he charged into the office barking orders at the rookies that set meetings for him I wanted to hide under my desk. You didn’t want to set a non-legit appointment for Tim. Our job was to generate enough interest and set an appointment so the senior salespeople could meet with the homeowners and discuss the home improvement offerings we provided. Once, a rookie set a bogus meeting for Tim. Tim came back, with his fresh crew cut, bright red face, and veins bulging. “Your lead was crap, rookie,” he screamed as he confronted one of my co-workers. I thought for sure he was going to grab him by the neck, but Dave caught him right before it got out of hand. Dave and Tim would often go at it in the office. Egos were big and our office was diverse, to say the least, and the yelling, ribbing, and verbal assaults were part of the norm. It was a relatively young start up company so it wasn’t the most professional environment.

Those were my first experiences with sales. A bunch of men stuck in a small office filled with bravado and testosterone and an aggressive commission only environment. If you weren’t closing you were out. If you didn’t sell you were out. I learned the ropes quickly and it didn’t take long for me to set quality meetings and close deals. Soon I was making more money in high school than I knew what to do with. Like I said, I was hooked.

Glengarry Glen Ross – Not for the faint of heart!