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1 Bill Brooks, Founder of, wrote a small but powerful book called The Universal Sales Truths 101 Sales Truths to Guide Your Career, many years ago. This short publication has proven to be a bestseller, and it s been reprinted many times. What we re going to talk about in this session are 15 of The Most Essential Truths from that book, as they relate to retaining people in the Air National Guard. We ve got a lot to cover, so let s get going. Okay. Here s number one: Unit members Pay Attention to Retainers They Believe Have Something Important to Say to Them. Let s get behind this to discuss it a bit. What this statement says is you must be well positioned in your retention program to achieve maximum success. If, in fact, you are thought of as a retainer who is very knowledgeable about the Air National Guard and its opportunities, people will pay attention to your message. So, let s reverse the thought, and let me ask you a question. How could a retainer be perceived as someone who doesn t have anything of importance to say to someone? Wouldn t that be somebody who has not visited their assigned units, has not asked the right questions, has not kept up with changes in the Air National Guard program and then basically just gets in front of a unit member and says, Okay. Here s what we do? Let s be even more basic than that: How about a retainer who shows up late? How about a retainer who makes a commitment but doesn t meet that commitment? How about a retainer whose uniform is a mess? Or, How about a retainer who really comes across as someone who doesn t have much else to do, but kind of drop in and simply chat about irrelevant subjects? All of these position you as a retainer who doesn t have anything better to say or do. You must absolutely position yourself as being the retainer who possesses unique: Knowledge Page 1 of 8

2 Wisdom Presence Persona Interest Advocacy So that what happens is, they see you as having something important to say to them. Otherwise, you have no impact. Poor retainers have absolutely no impact on anyone. People don t even remember talking to them! They sort of blend in with the crowd of all the other retainers they ve talked to because they may look and act the same. So you have to have something important to say and just as importantly you have to be perceived as being someone who has something important to say. Alright, let s get to the next one. Number 2: People Remain In the Air National Guard for Their Own Reasons Not for Yours, or Mine. It s interesting the reasons why people remain in the Air National Guard. You know, you get it in your head as a retainer Well, these are the top reasons why these particular people re-enlisted. So I m going to communicate that to this unit member. Consequently, when you meet all of your Guardsmen, you may start to download on them a whole bunch of features or benefits that you think are most important. Why? Because in the past you ve discovered that these are common reasons a lot of your unit members chose to stay, or simply because you liked certain benefits associated with being a member of the Air National Guard. But the truth is that you have to hear from your unit members what they perceive as their reasons for staying in the Air National Guard. As they say, One person s trash is another person s treasure. The third truth we re going to discuss is as old as the hills but it really is a truth. People Do Not Want to Be Sold, But They Do Want to Buy Something. Page 2 of 8

3 You know, people don t say I m going to go out and be sold to today on the idea of staying in the Air National Guard. They go out and they say, I m going shopping for the best opportunity, and I ll remain in the Guard if they offer me what I m looking for. So what happens is the real subtlety here is that you have to make it their idea to remain in the Air National Guard. And you must do it in such a way that they feel good about their decision to re-commit, and they must believe it s their decision, not a decision forced on them. So it s all nuance and subtlety and the psychology of persuasion. And an understanding about asking the right questions and creating value. It s interesting, you know. When somebody goes out and has a very positive buying experience they say, Look what I bought! But if they have a negative buying experience, either with the salesperson or the actual product or service itself, they say, Look what they sold me. And they reverse it. People like to take ownership if it was a good purchase. But they ll put the blame on somebody else if it was a bad purchase. Truth four is an interesting one. When a Retainer and a Unit member get Locked into a War of Wills The Retainer Always Loses. Have you ever been locked in a war of wills with a salesperson? In those cases, the salesperson seems to have forgotten that you are the customer. And the bottom line is, you really don t care what his or her will is you re the one that s paying. The same principle applies to the world of retention. Your unit members are going to feel the same way. They re not interested in getting a hard time from someone who s supposed to help them make one of the biggest career decisions of their life. After all, they are the ones who are paying by making a commitment to continue serving. Number five: Buying Is Basically an Emotional Response No Matter What You re Selling. Page 3 of 8

4 Now, when we say that it s no matter what the price tag of the product or the length of the Air National Guard commitment, no matter whether it s a big ticket or a small ticket item the decision to buy is always driven by emotion and justified with logic. For example a mid-career unit member might be a very concerned about the personal and family sacrifices associated with re-enlisting for six years, but he or she may justify their decision by reminding himself or herself about benefits like the extraincome they need because they want to put their son or daughter through college. Now if emotion played no part in the decision-making process, you wouldn t need human interaction for commercial selling or Air National Guard retention. Years ago when all the dot com (.com) craziness started, people were saying, Well, computers are going to replace the human touch and the internet will drive salespeople completely out of the world. No! It s a human interaction process that occurs, and no technology can replace that. The bottom line is, selling is emotional. That s why it s very important to always be working on the inter-personal. Because what happens in the final analysis is it s emotion that rules not logic. Let s look at number six: Being the Sort of Retainer People Enjoy Doing Business With is an Invaluable Asset It s kind of like this: Unit members don t want to do business with retainers they don t enjoy being around. All things being equal, if I can enjoy being around someone I m more likely to want to associate with that person. Now the real problem here is some people confuse like with trust. When it comes to selling the Air National Guard opportunity, you have to be trustworthy. If you are an honest person with whom people enjoy doing business, the trust you ve built becomes an invaluable asset. One of the key questions that you should ask yourself is, How easy is it for a unit member to work with me? How enjoyable is it for a person to discuss their career options with me? If you re in a foul mood, the best thing that you can do as a retainer is not get on the phone or in front of somebody Page 4 of 8

5 that day, because it s very, very difficult to keep that anger or aggression, or chip on your shoulder from coming through. And it s very easy to get agitated in today s world. There s a great, classic book by Og Mandino called The Greatest Salesman in the World. A line in the book says, Approach everyone with love in your heart. It really means be trustworthy and approach your unit members and influencers in positive way. You see? All of this stuff ties together. Live each day as if it were your last. You know, have a sense of humor and don t take yourself too seriously. You have to be the type of retainer that people enjoy doing business with. That s an invaluable asset, because again, it s the humanity that rules. Now, let s take a look at number seven. If You Don t Retain Enough Unit Members You Won t Make a Living as a Retainer. This one s obvious but very much a truth. You are not a professional visitor or a professional host. In the final analysis it s relationships, it s asking the right questions, it s selling value but in the real, real final case, the bottom line is: If you are either reluctant to or incapable of asking someone to take action you re never going to be a good retainer. Now, we re not talking about prematurely pushing someone we re talking about asking them to re-commit. One of the problems we have sometimes is that people think if you do the first five steps of the IMPACT Selling System correctly, you don t have to actually ask someone to take action they think people will just volunteer to remain in the Air National Guard! Well the truth is, if you don t ask someone to take action they aren t going to do anything! And if you don t keep those unit members in the Air National Guard you won t make a living as a retainer for very long. Number eight: Unit Members Must Believe You Before They ll Commit to Staying In the Air National Guard. Page 5 of 8

6 And that s a lot tougher to do than you think it is. You see, all things being equal, many people fundamentally don t believe retainers. They mistrust retainers because they believe retainers have something to gain from the transaction. We ve all seen or heard about some pretty manipulative, pretty bad salespeople or retainers. Most of us are simply jaded by the experiences we ve had in the past. And so what happens is you absolutely better make sure that people believe you before you ask them to re-commit. You must provide things like: Social proof Third-party validation and The option to talk with happy, satisfied Guardsmen whom you ve worked with and helped previously All of these actions are absolutely even more critical than ever in today s Air National Guard retention environment. Alright. How about number nine You Can Only Convince Others of What You, Yourself, Believe. The first thing that probably popped into your mind when you heard that statement was likely related to the value of remaining in the Air National Guard. Here s the truth about it if you don t believe in what the Air National Guard has to offer its unit members your unit members certainly won t either. You re going to come across as hollow and without conviction. If you don t believe in the mission of the Air National Guard, the value of your features and benefits, the quality of the people who serve in the Guard, your skills at making correct recommendations, your ability to follow up on every detail and the credibility of the Air National Guard to live up to its promises, you can t be an effective retainer. You re certainly not going to be able to convince anybody else, if you don t believe in yourself. After all, aren t you really asking your unit members to put a lot of confidence in you? Page 6 of 8

7 Number ten! A Strong, Positive Self-Concept is The Most Valuable Personal Attribute Any Retainer Can Have. What do you think we mean by that? When we say self-concept, we re really asking, How well are you positioned with yourself? When you look in the mirror not when other people look at you but when you look in the mirror, how strongly do you feel about the person that looks back at you? Because, guess what? That s the same person your unit members and influencers are going to see every single day. Number eleven: The Air National Guard Determines The Cost or Length of the Re- Commitment, But Only the Unit member Can Determine it s True Value Now, what does that mean? That means that you as a retainer, have to be in a position to understand what each unit member perceives as value, and then be able to construct and communicate your recommendations in the exact terms that specific unit member wants to hear them. This way, they can then internalize your proposal, that Yes, this is a valuable opportunity for me and I m prepared to re-commit to it. Number twelve: Show People What They Need Most in a Way They Want to See It And They Will Move Heaven and Earth to Get It But the bottom line to this is people don t buy what they need, they buy what they want. What you need to be able to do is to position and sell the Air National Guard opportunities in the way in which your unit member want to perceive it. Number thirteen: All Values Are Equal Until Someone Points Out The Difference. Now, what that means is: a truck is a truck; a car is a car; a computer is a computer and the branches of the military are all the same until someone points out the difference. Virtually everything the Air National Guard offers its members can be matched, or in some cases surpassed, by other reserve components. Therefore, it s up to you to educate your unit members and influencers to point out what makes the Air National Guard different and better. Page 7 of 8

8 Number fourteen: It Is Always Easier To Sell To a Unit member s Perceived Need Than It Is to Create a Need In Their Mind. Have you ever said to yourself, Well, I m going to go out create a need for people to join the Air National Guard.? If you believe that s easy, you re in for a rude awakening! The fact is, you actually want to be in a position of being in front of someone who already has a need for what the Air National Guard has to offer. For example, someone who already knows they need money for college, technical training, extra income, or the desire to keep the many other tangible and intangible benefits that go along with being a member of the Air National Guard. How much harder do you think it is to create a need in someone s mind when they don t know they need what you can offer? Much harder. And that s why prospecting, positioning, and being in the right place at the right time is so critical. All of those actions are critical to your success. Finally, number fifteen: The Secret To Successful Selling Is Not In The Selling At All. Instead, it s in The Accurate, Consistent Science of Prospecting. Well, retainers live and breathe by the number of qualified unit members they have in their data bank, don t they? Don t you find your job a lot more enjoyable when you have lots of qualified unit members ready to meet with you? Absolutely. We want to end this particular session with that, because it is so absolutely critical. Remember! The secret to successful selling is not in the selling instead, it s in the accurate, consistent science of prospecting. And you ll notice we said science that when practiced correctly, becomes an art. That s it the 15 Greatest ever. As we said earlier, there are plenty more, but building your retention program around the 15 truths we just talked about will go a long way in making and keeping you a success. Page 8 of 8

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