Sales Trainer Jeff Shore Discusses Finding Your Business Stride During the Holiday Season

As a salesperson or business owner, it is easy to get discouraged during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, as business slows for many. This is why it is important to manage your energy during this time—but you might be asking yourself how? On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Jeff Shore, sales trainer, keynote speaker, author, and Founder of Shore Consulting, to walk you through bringing your best energy throughout the holiday season.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us once again, Jeff, on the show.

Jeff Shore:
Always good to spend time with you, Jim. Let’s do this.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as I said. And yet, there are a lot of salespeople that are, wow, this wonderful time is sucking the air out of the room. It’s killing me. A lot of salespeople don’t love working around the holidays because people are distracted and traffic and leads go down, and you actually think there’s an exciting opportunity at this time of year. Tell me more about that.

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. Well look, here’s the deal. It is true that people get distracted. We know that. There’s a lot going on around the holidays that keeps them in a lot of different directions, but I would look at it this way. The amount of business that you have to do, the amount of people you have to talk to, that might decrease. But what increases? And I would argue that the stories get way better, right? So even if the number of opportunities that I have go down, the stories for each opportunity get just much, much stronger. There’s a reason that people who are still distracted, they’re still busy, but they’re out there trying to pursue something. They’re trying to purchase a home or a car or golf clubs or printing services or whatever it is for their business. There’s a reason they’re doing that now.

Jeff Shore:
I remember having a conversation with a car salesperson on this, and he had told me he had early on, he got … he drew the short straw and had to work Christmas Eve. And he was down about that. And he admitted, he only saw a couple of people. But man, the couple of people that he saw, they had stories. And one story was that the guy had just totally screwed up when it came to Christmas shopping, and this is how he was going to make up for it. And the other story was somebody who had totaled their car two days before, and they needed to have something right away. And so yes the opportunities might lessen, but the stories get better. I think if we can lean into that and look at it and say, how do we really enjoy getting to know our customers at a deeper level? It could be a really enjoyable time.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
And when you refer to stories for the people that are watching, you’re referring to a really strong lead. I mean, a really qualified lead. Somebody that’s ready to do business now. Right? Versus you’ve got quality versus quantity.

Jeff Shore:
Yeah, that’s right. Everybody has a story, right? It’s a matter of how intense that story is, but there’s no question about it. When you think about strong leads, we normally think about it in sales in terms of urgency. How urgent is this person? Well, you got to look at it and ask the question, what’s their problem? Because the single greatest predictor of urgency is not that the fuse on your deal, the terms are going to go away in 48 hours. I mean, we’re not saying that that doesn’t have any weight at all. The single greatest predictor of urgency is dissatisfaction. It’s what’s wrong in my life that needs to be fixed. And as we figure out what’s wrong, that’s where the story comes out, and these stories can be really, really interesting.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah. Oh, there’s no question about it. You write and speak about emotional altitude quite a bit. Define that term and why it’s important.

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. Emotional altitude. The way that I define is that it’s the level of positive, emotional engagement that a customer has in the process of shopping. And it’s critical because we are emotion based creatures. We make emotion based decisions. Throughout the sales presentation that or more specifically the buying process, the emotion can go like this because at the same time I’m thinking about making a big decision, a high dollar decision, let’s say a life going on and there are the distractions, and there’s competing sales people who are trying to get to me.

Jeff Shore:
And so the question is as the sales professional, as the business provider, how do I sustain that emotional altitude all throughout the process? So even in what I think about follow up, I might have an initial presentation. I might not get the sale right there. But if I’m going to follow up on that, the purpose of follow-up is to sustain emotional altitude. And in the absence of any follow-up, then that emotional altitude just falls off a cliff, and people do not buy in times of high emotional altitude. They buy when the emotional altitude is very, very strong.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Right, right. What happens to emotional altitude when business is slower?

Jeff Shore:
Well, what’s interesting about that, Jim, is that we would look at it and say, well, people are distracted and therefore their emotional altitude goes down. I don’t really see it that way. I see the biggest danger is when business gets slower and opportunities are fewer, it’s the emotional altitude of the sales professional that goes down. And this is really, really difficult because it’s really quite impossible for a customer to outpace the emotional energy of the salesperson. So if I’m just operating at a neutral emotional level, I mean, I don’t have to be negative. I’m just not all that into it. It’s difficult from a customer’s emotion to eclipse that. So if we want to bring the emotional altitude along for the customer, it means that we have to be displaying it ourselves. And that doesn’t mean we have to be happy and peppy and drink a lot of Red Bull.

Jeff Shore:
It’s not about high energy. It’s just about being our best, most positive self that we can into the organization or into the operation and then letting the customer adopt that energy level. And there’s a test for that for salespeople. You’re about to talk to a customer. Just ask yourself the question, would I want my customer to adopt the level of energy that I have right now? Or am I just sleepwalking into this? Because your customer always … There’s a whole branch of neurolinguistic programming about energy matching that we could not get into today. But the idea here is that we just naturally do this. We naturally respond to the energy levels of the people around. We do it in stores and restaurants, even in our own homes. Certainly happens in the sales environment.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
I couldn’t agree more. And salespeople and business owners and, and such, they’ve got to be so careful around these times cause you bring up a great point. We first sell ourselves as sales professionals. I use the term lightly in some cases, but as sales professionals that December’s a wash. People are only thinking about Santa Claus. They want to get through it. They don’t have the money. They’re spending money on gifts and such. And they just want to get into January. And therefore December is just a complete wash. So for those customers that do come into your businesses, we do make that mistake where we’ve already made the decision for the customer almost that they’re not going to buy anything today. So you just go through the motions, right?

Jeff Shore:
That’s a real problem because that customer has a story and the story is impactful enough for them to want to be out shopping even though they are distracted themselves. And yet what happens is if we’re not careful like you say, Jim, we are going to lower down that energy level. That’s not doing anybody any favors at all.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s right. And I will tell you, I’ve gone into businesses myself, and maybe you’ve realized this too where the sales … You go in with the intent to buy. You say to yourself, I’m going in, and I’m either going to buy this big TV or I’m going to buy this car. I’m going to buy this boat, whatever the case might be. That is my mission. If I buy it today or if I buy it tomorrow or at least this week, but I’m going, I’m setting out to buy this product. And often I’ll get turned around by the salesperson that has now convinced me this isn’t necessarily the right time to buy this particular item. Or why don’t you wait until the spring? Or boy, we are really busy right after the holidays when the biggest sales take place.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
And you think to yourself, is this person really want to sell their product right now because they’re now pushing me off to another period of time when you walk out of the store thinking to yourself, I can’t believe this just happened. I wasn’t even asking about a sale or about a special interest rate or about a rebate or about availability of a number of different models. I wanted to walk out of there with a big screen TV or a new car or with a boat or bicycle, whatever the case might be. And it was the salesperson that killed sale.

Jeff Shore:
Drives me nuts. I’m actually going through this right now. I’m about to turn now, I guess I don’t want to tell you what age, but there’s a zero involved in it and-

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Me too.

Jeff Shore:
Okay. And my wife said, “Hey, you know what? You’ve never had custom fitted golf clubs. Go get custom. Just whatever.” And I’m not a great golfer at all. She said, “You’re golfing more. So go get custom kit, get the irons, get the woods, get whatever you want.” And I’m like, I got a hall pass. This is great. And I went into a golf store and I was just like you were just saying, I was just like, this is so cool. And I wanted to get fitted for clubs. And the first thing that I hear from the salesperson is, “Okay, I just need to set the expectations. You’ve heard about what’s going on in the world and shortage of supplies. The golf clubs that you may want to get, they may not be available for a long, long …” This is how he started the presentation.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Wow. That’s unbelievable.

Jeff Shore:
What I really wanted was somebody to say, “Dude, your wife gave you a haul pass, right on. Let’s load you up.”

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Let’s get this done right now.

Jeff Shore:
Exactly. Yeah. And as it turns out, we had a very clinical conversation and I left and I went, ended up getting fitted at another place. Well, all told, what’s it cost for new irons, new woods, hybrids, bag, shoes, the whole nine yards? Moving into this thing for two gees easy.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
I was say, 1,500—

Jeff Shore:
I did go with the guy who just would not elevate my emotional altitude.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
And it’s so sad because I think salespeople don’t realize that in themselves. It’s almost as if they were, if you had the opportunity to videotape that entire scenario, and then they were able to watch it back, you know those people would say, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe I did that.” Now looking at it from the outside looking in to this scenario. I just can’t believe I’ve done that. And then times that by three times a day, 20 times a week, 80 times a month that you might end up having done that with consumers or customers or prospects, hot prospects that have come in. And then of course at the end of the month, you go, “See? December’s a wash. You can’t do anything in December.” So it really becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Doesn’t it?

Jeff Shore:
It really does. It’s interesting. I just recorded a video on this for my five minute sales training. Comes out every Saturday morning. It’s free five minute sales training.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
We’ll show all the information right here. That’s great.

Jeff Shore:
There you go. Thank you very much. But I just recorded a video on this and here it is, the second golf reference here. But I recorded a video on something called the pre-shot routine and it’s all about what professional golfers do before the shot. And we all think that it’s about the shot, but what happens just before the shot is critical to are that they are 100% laser focused on exactly what they want to do. And those routines look similar shot after shot, after shot. And I think every sales professional should have that same pre-shot routine in their mind. This is how I make sure that I am 100% engaged, fully focused, ready here to be able to elevate the emotional altitude, meet the customer where they’re at and bring my very, very best energy to this. My concern is that too many sales people look at that conversation as a transaction. “They’re a buyer. I’m a seller. Let’s see how this goes.” You can’t. You got to take that time upfront to make sure you’re 100% engaged.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s what I was just going to ask you. My next question was, how do you get up for the ups, which is I … That’s a great term right there. How do you bring your best energy, self to a presentation when you’re just not feeling it?

Jeff Shore:
Yeah. I learned something interesting from my mom. She was for many, many years of her life, she was … she worked in pediatric intensive care. A pediatric intensive care, you’re cut out of some other kind of cloth than mere mortals if you’re going to work at —. That’s a very, very different place. And she had to deal understandably with tragedies and you would have to be nonhuman not to be affected by this.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Jeff Shore:
And I remember asking her years later, “How did you deal with that? I mean, you had just a tough loss.” And she had a motto that she carried around and her motto was, who do I serve next? Who do I serve next? And I thought that was such a great way for her to get outside of herself even though she may have been coming off a really negative experience. And I think that that holds true to sales professionals as well. You might have a difficult conversation. Maybe you thought you had a sale and it blew up on you in the end, or you had a angry customer or you’re back ordered, and you got to give that bad news. And you’re just not feeling it. But if you get outside yourself and you ask the question, who do I serve next? What exactly does that look like? I think that gives you a little bit of perspective to be able to say what I’m doing here is first and foremost, it’s not primarily about me. So how can I lean into this and serve well?

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. That’s right. We all know your mom’s got a great motto there, and she’s doing God’s work. That’s for sure she was doing that. But I will tell you that, and see if you back me up on this. Sometimes the toughest customers in the world can be the actual buyer and end up being your friend later on. When the easy ones that come in to say, “Hey, whose turn is it? I’m going to buy the product today that you’re selling.” Whether it be a car, a bike, a boat, whatever it might be. “I’m not leaving until I buy one.” And then an hour later, two hours later, whatever the case might be, you realize that the credit department says, “Hey, put a net over those people because everybody’s looking for them.” Right? They seemed so easy. They seemed so nice. But those were the ones that couldn’t buy. The toughest ones were the ones that have got the incredible credit rating, or they’re going to pay cash. And the reason they’re tough is because they have the money, and they don’t want to waste their money.

Jeff Shore:
That’s right.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
It was funny. When I was in the auto sales business early in my career, the one, the customer that came in and said, “Who’s up is it? I’m buying a car today.” All of the salespeople would duck underneath their desks and go, “There’s one person that’s not buying anything today.” But give the customer that comes in and says, “I’m not buying a car today. I’m just looking.” That person is a buyer. And I think so many salespeople make a mistake on that. Right?

Jeff Shore:
There is no question about it. One of my early mentors, the late Bill Kinard. He said, “You know what? Everybody wants to work with the nice people, the corner of nice people is already taken. Go work on the tough people. Those are the ones.”

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Jeff Shore:
And I will say, anecdotally too, one of my best friends in the world for now over 30 years, we vacationed together. I met him. He was a buyer. I was a salesperson. And that guy was tough as nails. And early on, you would look at him and say, that’s just not a good guy. He is actually one of the great guys on the planet. And I think Jim, even you and I would, we’re nicer people at a cocktail party than we are when we walk into a sales situation that might be high pressure. The defenses go up.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Jeff Shore:
It doesn’t mean we’re not a buyer. It means we are a buyer.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
I 100% agree.

Jeff Shore:
That’s what gets missed so often, no question.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah. There’s no question about it. Hey, on a different note, what are some of the long-term effects of the pandemic on the sales industry? How will the business be different when we’re done with all of this?

Jeff Shore:
That’s an important question, Jim. And I think it’s a question that sales professionals should be asking themselves a lot, because we are going to find the other side of this. It is going to be different, and we got to figure out what that’s going to look like. I think that the single biggest change that’s taken place is the way that buyers, that shoppers have become so resilient and so brave in making significant decisions without talking to a salesperson. And that doesn’t mean that a salesperson is now obsolete. I don’t believe that at all. But the customer has now advanced so much further down the road before we meet them for the first time. And so anybody who says, “Well, I’m just looking, or I just started looking.” I’m sorry, that is just simply not true. It just means that they just started talking to you, but our customers are more informed than they have ever been. And I don’t think that that’s going to stop.

Jeff Shore:
So as we look forward into the future, we ask ourselves, how do we give our customers more credit for being better prepared and therefore closer to a purchase decision? I think the number one effect post-pandemic is that our buying cycles already short are getting shorter and shorter. And when you look at car sales right now, just look at the average number of visits that it takes to buy a car has just compressed dramatically before COVID, now even more so.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Jeff Shore:
So we should absolutely assume with every conversation that our customer is well down the road. And anybody who says, “I’m not in a position to buy today,” that’s a smoke screen. It’s a defense mechanism. But if you take that at face value, you’re sunk. You’re going to have a very short career.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
I agree. The other thing I think that it has done as well and I agree with everything that you just said, is that it allows salespeople today to sell more than they ever have before because of the internet, because of the pre-shopping and all of the information that buyers have gathered and the research that they’ve done. So now you’ve taken that sales process and you’ve shortened it so much that it frees you up to actually take on more prospects. Is that a fair statement?

Jeff Shore:
I think that that is true. We’ve found tremendous efficiencies in what it is that we are doing. And my core industry has always been real estate. And if people are now clicking on buy now buttons on a website to buy a home that they haven’t seen-

Jim Fitzpatrick :
We bought one online.

Jeff Shore:
There you go. And it’s happening every single day. And so if people are willing to do that for homes, surely they’re willing to do that for just about everyone. And therefore there will be more and more virtual sales where we still need sales professional people to walk us through, to help us with the issues. That’s all going to be important. But what that does mean that if you’re a sales professional, you better be really comfortable on video, on video conversations. You better make sure that technologically, you are right at the front of the pack because that whole aspect of virtual shopping, it is just dramatically.

Jeff Shore:
You know what? One of the interesting statistics is that when you trace people who are seriously shopping for a big ticket item, okay, when you look at homes, cars, whatever it is. If you go back to 2019, what happened? People were shopping. You saw big web surges in the evenings, on weekends and at lunchtime.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right.

Jeff Shore:
And those surges, especially at lunchtime were on the phone, right? Everything was on the phone. Yeah. Well, now those surges are takin place all throughout the week, but they’ve shifted to a computer, which means that people who are working from home are actually doing all kinds of research from their desk-

Jim Fitzpatrick :
I agree.

Jeff Shore:
… during work hours. The amount of energy and effort that’s going into shopping these days is, it’s insane. It’s insane. Which tells me customers are ready to buy by the time they talk to a salesperson.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. This is the good stuff. I just saw a report this morning on CNBC that said retail sales last month were up 2%. So we hear so much about inflation and the price of gas and all of the costs of things going up. It hasn’t slowed down today’s consumers. They’re out there spending on all types of items. Whether you talk to an automobile dealer that says, “Hey, I have a two day supply of cars, but my profits have never been greater.” So it hasn’t even slowed down what they’re paying for a car. So the economy continues to roll along. And of course we do have this inflation situation. And some people think it’s temporary while others saying, “No, we got to be careful of it.” But nevertheless, the buyers are out there in force. These are the good times right now. Right?

Jeff Shore:
I agree. Find the dissatisfaction and it doesn’t matter what’s happening with inflation. You find somebody that has a … When my wife says, “Go get whatever clubs you want. I don’t care about inflation. I don’t care about the economy. I don’t care who’s in the White House.”

Jim Fitzpatrick :
You’re just celebrating the fact that—

Jeff Shore:
Exactly. I just want golf clubs. That’s all I want is my own golf clubs. That’s all I want. And that’s the thing. That’s why I said. We started with this, Jim. If you can get to the story, the stories get better. Just get to the story. Once we figure out the story, everything else diminishes in its importance.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah. There’s no question about it. One salesperson at a dealership that I spoke to recently said, “Well, what would you rather do? Sell 25 cars a month and make $10,000 or sell 10 cars a month and make $10,000?” He said, “Because the latter of the two is what we’re doing right now in the showroom floor.” And he said, “Business has never been better, and we’re actually working less because of it.” And to your point, people are doing so much more but online, which you said has added an incredible advantage to the entire sales process, and has really lowered the amount of time that-

Jeff Shore:
It’s a great time to be in sales if you’re in front of this. Right? If you’re getting dragged behind, because you still want to do business like it’s 2019, it’s not 2019. It’ll never be 2019 again. If you can get in front of this, man, the sky’s the limit.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. You too will have a white that says, “Go out and get the clubs that you want.” Right?

Jeff Shore:
How great is my wife, huh?

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s right. She is a keeper. That’s all I got to say.

Jeff Shore:
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
But thanks so much. Jeff Shore, sales trainer, keynote speaker, author, founder of Shore Consulting. I want to thank you so much for joining us here on the show once again. Our viewers and subscribers get so much out of your visits, so thank so much.

Jeff Shore:
Always a pleasure, Jim. Thanks for having me.


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