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John Graham

John R. Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a monthly eNewsletter, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” He can be contacted at 617-774-9759, by email at or at

Articles by John Graham

Making Your Sales Proposal a Winner

From start to finish, preparation to presentation to follow-up is a seamless process that can make your proposal a winner. Here is what to do before, during and after presenting.

Don’t Let Low-Hanging Fruit Hold Back Your Sales

Choose to pursue this and fall into the trap of competing for business in the piranha-like pool of customers who treat every type of sale the same: price trumps quality, reliability, and guarantees. There’s a better way.

Strategic Changes for Closing More Sales

What we first learn in our early training indelibly sticks with us for guidance. But new demands and expectations call for different ways to keep up and stay relevant. Here are five changes to consider.

How to Make the Right Reputation

In today’s highly competitive workplace, reputation makes a difference. It needs to be shaped and managed to reflect the way you want to be viewed. When all is said and done, your reputation is what you make it.

How to Get Ahead Faster – and Stay There

Getting ahead shouldn’t depend on lucky breaks, favoritism, or even hard work. It should be in our control . . . and here are some certain behaviors that will help you stand out from the crowd.

How to Avoid Making Stupid Mistakes

Most mistakes are just plain thoughtless, unintentional – and stupid. But once the genie is out of the bottle, the damage is done. What do we do about it? Here’s how to avoid making stupid (and possibly harmful) mistakes in the first place.

Think Your Way to Success

It’s all about using your head: Success depends on being among the few others count on to get the job done right – and that takes thinking. Here are some questions that can serve as a guide to thinking your way to success.

Sales Pitches That Don’t Sell

Thoughtful salespeople and marketers are aware of the words they use with customers. Do they send the right message? Are they helpful in closing more sales? Or are they repeated endlessly without thought or meaning?

How to Make Customers Feel Valued

Most businesses do a fairly good job of “pleasing” customers, but that bar isn’t nearly high enough. Far too many believe that giving them a good deal or schmoozing them is all it takes. But customers spend their money where they feel valued, not on businesses they like or where they’re treated nicely. Here are some ways to meet the major challenge of making your customers feel valued.

What Stops Salespeople From Moving Forward?

In sales, there’s nothing as valuable as gathering and putting together pieces of intel, making the connections, and discovering the patterns. While a positive mental attitude is always good, it takes something more to propel salespeople forward. It takes the right actions.

The Big Job Is Keeping Customers — Happy

The challenge of keeping customers happy may be the single most pressing task in business today. It takes all the skill, energy, and smarts we can muster to meet that challenge. But it can be done.

Why Are We Still Telling Customers What To Do?

Nobody Believes Us: Here’s why telling customers what to think and buy holds us back and blinds us to what we can learn by aligning our actions and messages with what customers really want and need from us.

Misreading Customers Means Missed Sales

Misreading customers costs sales. To prevent this from happening means doing battle with our assumptions, particularly those that influence how we think about customers and what we expect from them.

Making Selling Easier

Ideas For Combating Complacency: Being different from others in sales means having conversations with customers, asking questions, clarifying issues and being as transparent as possible. Customers today need salespeople who are competent diagnosticians, who have developed expertise at identifying what needs to be fixed and how to go about doing it.

Closing Sales Means Making Sense to Customers

Selling is easier said than done. Cutting corners is best left to the amateurs and those who think they can talk or manipulate their way to success. It takes the entire sales process for consistent positive results.

Our Minds Can Play Dirty Tricks On Us

Beware of these seven tricks the human mind can play on those who are in marketing and sales. They can trip up otherwise bright, experienced people and cause them to miss significant opportunities.

Ten Sales Strategies For Taking Charge of 2015

It isn’t how well known salespeople are that makes the difference; it’s how much help they give that counts. When it comes to lasting results, these sales strategies can make a real difference.

How to Get (Really) Good at Business Communications

It takes a near miracle to get clear, correct, and compelling written or spoken business messages across today. Whether emails, letters, memos, presentations, or reports, most create confusion, cause mistakes, and waste time. These suggestions can help you tackle the problem.

Are We Getting What We Want from Our Marketing?

With the near collapse of traditional marketing channels and the uncertainty created by the explosion of new ones, many businesses are unsure what to with their marketing. Should they try something new that’s largely untested and take the chance of wasting both money and time?

The Real Marketing Revolution

Reject the idea that marketing is something companies do and, instead, embrace the view that the business of business is turning customers into marketers.

Business Ideas That Drive the Right Results

It happens every time someone says, “We’ve got to get this out now or else.” Or else what? Or else we’ll look stupid, wrong, or embarrassed? Whether it’s a product, a plan, a project or anything else, getting it right is the only test that counts.

Twenty-Three Tools to Build Your Brand

If your customers aren’t learning from you, they’re vulnerable to attack from your competitors. This is why you must focus on emerging trends, dangers ahead, product use, reducing costs, and solving problems – and why your brand must resonate all of these things. Here are the tools to get it done.

Business DNA: Get What You Need From Your Company’s Marketing

Companies, like people, can become so preoccupied with themselves that they fail to see themselves as they are. When you think about it, getting the most from your company’s marketing has less to do with ads, sponsorships, events, websites and press releases than it does with applying the analytical capabilities and insights of marketers to a company’s basic business issues.

Of Course You Should Be Cynical About Marketing

Marketing is too important to allow company CEOs (or anyone else of that ilk) to get their hands on it. Inevitably, they will try to shape it to fit some notion they have inside their heads. And it will be wrong. 

Business Ideas to Challenge Our Thinking

Too many businesses are stuck in an “idea rut,” lurching from one gimmick to another to move ahead. But nothing works. What businesses need to do is challenge their thinking. Here are the three ways to do it.

A Listener’s View: We Are Our Presentations

This article isn’t about how to make a presentation because, in spite of all sorts of presentation training, few are effective. Instead, this focuses on how to understand what you’re doing when you are presenting, big or small –– to close a sale, to motivate your sales team, to engage your employees on the shop floor, to direct your management team, or meet with your bankers about a new loan for your business –– this is about how to keep your listeners front and center, where most presentations fall horribly short.

Tip the Scales in Your Favor

Every salesperson knows the job is tougher than ever, not for the faint hearted or those who feel the world owes them a living. But salespeople also recognize the importance of having an extra edge, of standing out from the crowd. Here are some ideas that can make a difference.

How to Act Like a Salesperson

In spite of what we may say or think, it’s actions that determine the salesperson’s destiny. Here are eight certain “actions” that may reap far more robust sales results.

Stop Business Crises Before They Create Havoc

Let’s all give thanks for the entreprenuerial spirit that drives our industry. And with that thanks, just in case, here are some nuggets that might save the corporate neck of some entrepreneurs.

How to Avoid Messing Up Your Marketing

There is no place to hide: In today’s world, all of your marketing, advertising, social media and public relations messages are fully exposed and claims are challenged. Here are six ways to avoid embarrassing and harmful marketing actions that can menace your company.

It’s Your Questions that Make the Sale

The task of today’s salesperson goes way beyond product knowledge and even “solutions.” It’s to help customers discover possibilities they may not have considered or even thought about. Here are examples of how your questions can make the sale.

Seven Qualities that Produce Star Performers

Is productivity destined to be the domain of a few or is possible that star performance can be achieved by looking beyond the right skill sets? It may take a combination of job competencies and certain personal qualities to drive top performance. Here’s why.

Putting More Pull Into Your Marketing and Sales

Stop Pushing and Start Pulling: When it comes to sales, push is the problem, perhaps the biggest problem those in sales face today. Here are six important ways to pull customers to you.

The Seductive Sin of Marketing and Sales Certainty

There is no place for certainty in a business world that is in a constant state of flux. Doing everything right today in marketing and sales offers no comfort . . . because the needs and opportunities of tomorrow will be even more demanding.

It’s No Time to Trip

Avoiding the Dangers: How easy it is to trip when we’re blinded by our beliefs. Unless we pay attention to the dangers inherent in our fast-paced business environment that are waiting to bring us down, it’s easy to trip at the most unexpected moments.

Why “Elevator Speeches” Defeat Sales

There are few offenses in business worse than challenging the validity of the near sacred “elevator speech,” that one-minute message verbalizing the unique qualities of what a salesperson does or sells. But here is why engaging conversation – though more demanding – is much more effective.

Staying One Up: New Ways of Doing Business

It is useless to worry about whether the economy is getting better or worse. Instead, focus on out-marketing your competition. Here are several effective ways to do just that.

The Biggest Job in Business Today: Turning the Tide in Your Favor

Today’s good news in manufacturing can disappear as quickly as it appeared, so it may be a good idea to prepare for even more demanding conditions. Here is a series of strategies that may help gain a prospect’s attention and solidify a customer relationship.

The Art of Making Sales from Those Who Do It Best

It’s possible to teach people how to sell, but it’s also possible to learn how to make sales from those who do it successfully. They are true experts and their real world experiences as practitioners of the art makes them valuable. John Graham of Graham Communications examines four salespeople whose stories clarify what selling is all about, and make it easy to see why they are successful.

Six Business Lessons from this Recession

Recession Education: People are rightfully paying so much attention to the struggling economy that they risk failing to realize what they can learn from the experience. Here are six clarifying lessons we can learn from the state of the economy.

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