The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 25-28

This week, we talked about talent trumping desire, how to increase referrals, how winning is everything, and what's changed (and what hasn't!) in sales this century.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • Tuesday, Dana Bojcic told a story about taking up tennis with her husband, and how she learned that talent trumps desire, every time.



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Topics: Digital, Management, inbound marketing, Talent, Sales

21st Century Sales: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t

21st_Century_Sales_What’s_Changed,_What_Hasn’tApproaching new prospects with a customer-needs focus used to be the smartest thing you could do. No longer. 

Today it’s the only thing you can do, the only way to win an appointment with a decision influencer. 

Rewind back to the 1990s. It was that recently that prospects needed to meet with a salesperson to learn about the products and services that company was offering. Yes, there were brochures, and sometimes a company would make a brochure available by mail to prospects, but to get questions answered and to learn about specific applications, buyers knew they needed salespeople.

Today, that notion is downright quaint. Product information, answers to most questions, insights into specific applications via case studies, and user reviews/raves/rants are all found online. Prospects learn almost everything they need to know faster, and with more accuracy and reliability, on the web than they do from salespeople.

They can make a buying decision quicker, easier, and with less annoyance without a salesperson than with one!

As a result, it’s pretty rare these days that a salesperson can get an audience with a buyer to talk about what he or she is selling. What used to be the path to a weak deal at a dirtball price—talking about what you’re selling—is now even worse: It just gets your email, your voicemail, and you deleted.

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Topics: Sales

Winning is Everything! How to Stay Motivated in a Long Sales Cycle

winning_is_everythingFor many high-performing salespeople, winning is everything! Coming out on top is always the goal and there are no points for second place. They are laser focused on the prize and the title. They keep score, they know where they stand, they feel the deep agony of defeat, and they know the incredible high that comes with each and every victory.

For this highly competitive kind of salesperson, winning is like drinking a Red Bull—it gives them a piercing jolt of energy that pumps their adrenaline and fuels their performance. To clarify, I should note that this focus on winning does not mean they have a “win at all costs” mentality. That is something entirely different. 

How do these highly competitive salespeople deal with a complex sales environment and those long sales cycles?

Closing a deal is a definitive win, but in many businesses there isn’t the opportunity to score like that every day, sometimes not even every week. So competitive salespeople find other ways to keep score, other ways to ensure they are consistently winning. Finding ways to measure and document little wins and incremental progress is critical to keep the competitive type of salesperson engaged and moving the sale forward. Bringing a prospect from just-a-lead to done-deal can be a very lengthy journey, requiring discipline, focus, integrity, responsiveness, expertise, commitment, collaboration, and consistent thoughtful engagement. Real-world factors beyond the salesperson’s control often lengthen the sales cycle; finding ways to stay motivated can spell the difference between success and failure.

Here are three areas in which highly competitive salespeople find ways to win during a long sales cycle:

1. They set specific goals for each and every interaction with their prospect.

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Topics: Sales

Talent Trumps Desire and Dedication Every Single Time

Talent_Trumps_Desire_and_Dedication_Every_Single_TimeSeveral years ago I decided to take up tennis. I have always considered tennis to be the sport with the cutest outfits and I was excited to learn! The tennis courts in the neighborhood my husband and I had just moved into were beautiful and we thought tennis would be something fun we could do together.

We approached the sport with a sense of enthusiasm and excellent intentions. We invested in some equipment; scheduled time to practice together and even signed up to play on a few beginner teams. I thought it would be perfect: We get to spend time together, we get exercise, we get to hang with friends… it was an excellent plan!

There was only one problem: My lack of tennis talent. And it proved to be a big problem.

Neither of us had ever played in a league, yet we noticed a huge difference immediately. Denis had a talent for tennis. I did not.

Everyone has talent—for something. Every single person in the world has a short list of things they are really good at. These are our talents and they define who we are, what we do, how we work, where we succeed, and why we’re valuable.

Just as all of us have a short list of talents, we also have a long list of non-talents. Whenever possible, we should avoid doing things that require talents we don’t have, and other people would be wise to avoid asking us to do them as well. When it came to tennis, I was asking myself to use a talent I didn’t have.

You Can’t Fix Weaknesses in Business or in Tennis

The key point here is that people do not succeed based on their weaknesses. That may seem obvious, but it’s important to reiterate: We will never progress or get ahead by leaning on our weaknesses—or by trying to fix our weaknesses.

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Topics: Talent

How to Build a Referral Machine in Five Steps

referral-machineWord of mouth (or referral marketing) is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. I can't tell you how many times in my personal and professional life I've talked with someone simply because a person I trust sent a recommendation my way. It's important to keep referrals coming in, but how? Simply build a referral machine!

Imagine if there were a machine that, once built, churned out ten or more referrals a week. Would you build it?

Find out how to build a referral machine below.

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Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 18-21

This week, we wrote about nonprofits, and how they're not so different from us. We focused on individual focus meetings, discussed where vs. what, and we broke inbound marketing into pieces that even a five-year-old could understand.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up



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Topics: Digital, Management, inbound marketing, Talent, Sales

Inbound Marketing: Explain it to me like I’m 5

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

I think Albert Einstein was onto something with that statement.

If you’ve ever found yourself trying to explain something technical or complex to someone who isn’t familiar with the topic, you know what I mean. Perhaps you work in finance or real estate and are all too familiar with the puzzled looks from your clients when you try to explain mortgages, stocks, or investments. (This is where all those “______ for Dummies” books come in handy, right?)

As an inbound marketing consultant, I get the confused look pretty often. It’s easy for me to assume everyone knows what inbound is. After all it’s a big “buzzword” in the digital marketing world. But the reality is it’s still a relatively new topic and those in other industries don’t always understand. Sure, maybe they’ve heard the term, but they don’t really have a good grasp of what it is or what it looks like. In fact, I have friends in sales, management, and even some working in traditional (outbound) marketing that are still giving me that quizzical look even after I provide them with the general definition—and these are people that should know. They’re the ones who can really benefit from it.

It’s at this point where I typically recall (and laugh about) the scene from The Office, where Steve Carrel’s character is trying to understand an explanation of their budget but doesn’t get it. After briefly pretending to understand, he finally asks his coworker to, “Explain it to me like I’m 5.” And, ever since then, I’ve found myself thinking this same thought when someone is trying to explain something complex or technical that I’m not familiar with, or when I need to explain something of similar nature to someone else.

Here’s our official definition of inbound marketing:

The process of attracting the attention of prospects, through content, before they are even ready to buy; the best and most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

But, again, what does it really entail? What does it look like? Complexities and technical jargon aside, of

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Topics: inbound marketing

3 Steps to Improve the Dreaded Individual Focus Meeting


improve-individual-focus-meetingSalespeople and sales managers universally loathe the individual focus meeting. That's too bad, because it's a wonderful way to connect with your employees, act as a resource, and let them know you trust them and are interested in their success.

Everyone gets busy, that's for sure, but you shouldn't get too busy to sit down with your salespeople once a week for one-on-one time with each salesperson who reports to you.

Follow these three steps and make your individual focus meetings more effective and productive.

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Topics: Management