Susan's Blog

Become a Trusted Guide for Your Clients

When you work in Sales, you must act as a “guide” to your clients and ensure you’re demonstrating the skills and attitude they require to trust you. Developing the foundation for a long-lasting, solid relationship is crucial and sets the tone for the interactions you have with your clients; these simple tips will help you grow a strong connection with the people you do business with.

When you meet with clients, encourage them to speak openly about their challenges, needs, and concerns. Ask leading, open-ended questions that tease out every detail of every problem as well as their perceived implications. You can’t earn your client’s trust and serve as their guide without first knowing where they think they need to go. Listen and be patient. You’ll soon get your chance to shine!

On the mountain, guides are masters of planning and preparation. The same is true in sales. Carefully map out all of your questions well in advance of the meeting. Make sure they address every individual’s specific concerns, roles, and responsibilities. But don’t stop there. Practice your questions so you can focus on listening, not speaking. Take careful notes. Make the meeting count.

In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler recommends you spend time acknowledging your client’s perceptions and initially show restraint in expressing your own ideas, although you may be nearly ready to explode with proposed solutions! In doing so, you’re establishing the groundwork for a sturdy relationship based on mutual trust.

De-Clutter to Climb to the Top

If you’re in sales, you know that clutter and a lack of organization in your life can lead to superfluous stress; the steps to declutter and prioritize seem easy, but as various tasks pile up, so does the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious. However, there’s a simple way to prevent the clutter from deterring you from focusing on your goals of generating revenue and reaching the top as a successful salesman.

In mountain climbing, there’s no ambiguity about the need to travel light. The more weight you carry, the harder your journey will be.

In sales, this takes on another meaning.

We’re living in an age of information overload. As salespeople, we’re burdened with blizzards of e-mails, endless meetings, and countless demands on our time. It can be all too easy to become overwhelmed. Suddenly we may look up and discover that our best-laid plans to focus on revenue-generating activities have been derailed. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to success is to de-clutter both our personal and professional lives. In short, we have to take some of the weight out of our backpacks!

How can you do this? The first step is to jettison everything that stands in the way of your ultimate vision of blowing away your quota and becoming a top performer. That means setting priorities every day and then completing every task needed to fulfill them as efficiently as possible.

Start every morning by carefully assessing which activities must be accomplished that day, which can wait, which can be delegated, and, best of all, which can be eliminated entirely.

“I do that already,” you may be grumbling to yourself as you read this. Every day, you diligently compile a “to do” list of everything that’s on your plate. But, if you’re like many salespeople, your list is an unstructured collection of tasks that don’t reflect the priorities required to achieve your vision or provide a realistic time frame for completing them. Lists like these simply don’t work.

As salespeople, we should think of our “to do” items as physical objects that we place in our backpacks to help us achieve our daily mission. We must pack with care and purpose. We must delay, eliminate, or reassign any activity that doesn’t help us ascend “Mount Quota.”

High-priority tasks are usually the most difficult ones, so they create the heaviest loads. These are the phone calls we don’t want to make, the industry research we need to conduct to understand a new client’s business requirements, or the meeting with a prospect who now seems to be leaning toward a competitor.

If you’re like most salespeople, you may find yourself focusing primarily on easy tasks. You probably devote too much time to doing busywork, attending unproductive meetings, and in general, reacting to other people’s priorities. Just think how many sales you could have closed if you had spent that time meeting with prospective clients instead.

In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler encourages you to take a step back and focus on the heaviest, most difficult tasks that are sitting at the bottom of your pack first. Once you start putting energy into those, that debilitating load that’s been on your back since you initially scribbled down your to-do list will disappear and you’ll be one step closer to meeting your goals and climbing to the top.

No Short Cuts to Success

No Short Cuts to Success

This video finds the Everest climbers at the base of Lhotse, which is part of the Everest Massif. Here, Phil, the group’s guide, speaks about climbers’ desire to take short-cuts up the mountain—whether it’s by skipping acclimatization, or by taking a dangerous path up the mountainside rather than zigging and zagging to keep it safe and manageable.

Leadership speaker Susan Ershler, who has climbed the Seven Summits—the world’s highest mountains—has also reached peak performance in the business world. During her keynote speeches to Fortune 500 companies, Susan describes the importance of creating a plan for success that allows you to practice and optimize your habits—and the importance of not trying to take “short-cuts” to the top, leaving yourself vulnerable for costly missteps.

Successful climbers know they must “approach the trek with Intention.” They carry sufficient weight to prepare for the physical demands ahead and make sure to acclimatize their bodies gradually to the changing altitude. Most importantly, they begin the mental transition from trekker to climber that prepares them to summit the highest mountains in the world. Sue and her partner John arrived at Base Camp healthy, fit, and prepared for the challenges ahead. Thanks to their yearlong process of projection and preparation, they were ready to execute climbing Everest.

You must get to a mountain before you can climb it. In sales, prospecting is the trek that takes you to an opportunity. Traditional prospecting methods, such as cold calls, mailings, and special events, should be considered, depending on the types of products and services you’re selling. It’s also helpful to devote time each day to developing new client relationships. But, don’t forget to reach out to your existing clients too! You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into developing these relationships and these clients are your best source of new business. Yet too often, sales reps overlook this simple fact, focusing almost exclusively on finding new clients while neglecting existing ones.

A little excerpt from Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: “Top performers work hard to strengthen their relationships, connecting with their clients on an ongoing basis to ensure they understand their emerging needs. They update their Account Plans so they can anticipate and pursue new sales opportunities. They know that maintaining a high level of customer touch is a surefire way to meet and exceed their quota.”

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day! On our third climb of Kilimanjaro together, highest mountain in Africa, 19,340’, eight women were on our climb. Whether in your 20s to 60s, all women were strong and fun.

Susan Ershler - International Women's Day

The truth behind the afternoon slump. Understanding THIS principle can reenergize you.

The truth behind the 3pm slump

Don’t fool yourself. Afternoon fatigue is not necessarily caused by a lack of caffeine. It’s caused by the debilitating load that’s been on your back since you first scribbled down your “to do” list that morning. You’ve been hauling around an anchor all day. Your heaviest, most difficult tasks are still right there, lying at the bottom of your pack.

In climbing, there’s no ambiguity about the need to travel light. The more weight you carry, the harder your journey will be. In business, this takes on another meaning. Continue reading “The truth behind the afternoon slump. Understanding THIS principle can reenergize you.”

How to get the business results you want—every single time.

Susan Ershler, How to get the results you want—every single time.

Once you have the vision, the drive, and you understand what you need to do in order to meet your goals, you need to assess where you are and create a plan to get where you want to go.

Self-assessment can be a tricky business. We discovered this when—in the early stages of planning our Seven Summits campaign—Phil turned to us and said, “you don’t even know if you can physically go that high.” What did that mean? Of course we could go high! We worked out every day. We had climbed smaller mountains. We would work really, really hard! Continue reading “How to get the business results you want—every single time.”

Everest Dreams

An excerpt from Together On Top of the World: http://amzn.to/1Or5zTl

After Phil’s health issues, we went for our first hike on Mt. Si, a “puny” little 4-mile, 3,200 climb. He warned me as we started off that he wasn’t going to try to push himself or race up.

We set out at a slow pace. It was a cold gray day and the bottom of the mountain was shrouded in fog, but it felt so good to be outside on a trail with Phil.
Susan Ershler, Phil Ershler, Everest, Climbing, Health, Physical TraingingA little way up, the trail steepened. I leaned into the hill and breathed in and out more deliberately. Behind me I could hear Phil’s steps on my heels. “How’re you doing?”

“Fine.”

“Sure we’re not going to fast?”

“Just keep walking.”

We moved on up the path. On either side, the towering first were covered with wet lichen. Underfoot the ground was spongy. Since Phil was staying right behind me I figured I could pick up the pace. He matched his pace to mine. “Gosh, Phil, you’re doing great!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. Just keep walking.”

A little later I picked up the pace again—and once again he stayed with me. ​Man,​ I thought, ​he’s amazing.​ So I speeded up again, and then again, and every time he matched me. Soon I was climbing Mt. Si as fast as I ever had, and Phil was still on my heels.

We were almost at the top when a thought occurred to me.

“Phil,” I said, stopping and turning around, “what have you been doing at the gym?”

He shrugged. “Weights, treadmill, a little step mill.”

“Step mill! Since when do you work out on a step mill?”

“Since I haven’t been able to climb.”

I looked at him suspiciously. “You never mentioned the step mill.”

“No? Well, you know… We started talking about this little hike and I just figured I’d start getting ready.”

“You trained for the training hike?! You never told me!” He got a sly grin on his face, bent his knees, and put both hands out in front of him as if her were holding a waterskiing low bar.

“You cheater!” I said.

On the way down, with Phil still on my heels, I couldn’t help my mind from racing. He’s going to climb again! He’s going to guide again! Maybe… “Hey, Phil,” I called, “Everest in 2001?”

“Sure,” he said behind me, “just keep walking.”

Climbing, Business, And The Influence of Experience

Sue's First Climb, Sue Ershler, Phil Ershler, Mt Rainier, Rainier, 1992, mountain climbing, hiking

How has my climbing experience influenced my business life—and vice versa? Here’s an excerpt from Together on Top of the World that perfectly illustrates it.

“…We had topped the Cleaver. We all dropped down on our packs too tired even to find our snacks or talk. Phil came over and put his arm around me. “You’re doing great,” he said. “The sun’s coming down; you’ll be amazed how your spirits lift.”

“I don’t know, Phil. Maybe I should go down.” Around us the guides were forming new rope teams, separating the customers who would be turning around. Phil had reminded people that they should continue only if they were sure they had the strength to get to the top and back down.

He looked me pointedly in the eye. “You don’t quit when you hit a rough patch at work, do you?” He watched me patiently as if he already knew what I would do.

A few minutes later we started up again. The path was less steep now, and less exposed, and indeed, the mountain began to lighten. The Ingraham Glacier sloped away behind us, and up ahead the mountain rose in a jagged patchwork of dark and light. At one point Phil stopped and yelled something, pointing over my shoulder, and when I turned and looked, there was the orange ball of the sun, so huge and close I thought I could touch it. After that, my spirits did lift.

Pictured above: The first climb of my life, Mt. Rainier.