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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Get Better at Giving and Receiving Feedback + More


It's Friday, and time to share the Top 5 blog posts, articles, and resources we've found online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. How to Get Better at Giving and Receiving Feedback — Inc.

It's not easy to give feedback. Will the person take what you say the right way? How can you communicate your message so that the person will understand? And receiving feedback often isn't much easier. This Inc. post explains how effective feedback strengthens relationships and improves performance, and it offers practical ways to both give and receive constructive feedback. 

We'd add to this list that when managers give feedback to their team members, it's best to do it in light of their individual talents. For example, if a salesperson struggles to use mini closes while making an in-person presentation because he or she has softer Command and Persuasion talents, your feedback to the salesperson will be more successful if you suggest building mini close statements into written proposals. This person is much more likely to use a mini close if it’s in writing than if he or she has to do it in person.

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Topics: inbound marketing, Sales, Wrap-up

Coaching Salespeople: Handle with Care!

Coaching_SalespeopleHave you noticed that almost everything you interact with throughout the day comes with recommended care instructions? Some are simpler than others, but for the most part, there is a certain way that everything must be treated in order for it to thrive.

I may not always do it, but I know that I am supposed to:

  • Wash wool sweaters on cold and then lie them flat to dry
  • Change my AC air filters every 3-6 months
  • Wash my workout clothes without fabric softener in warm water and then dry on low
  • Run 48 ounces of undiluted white vinegar throug
    h my Keurig every 3-6 months
  • Feed my puppy ¼ cup three times a day, and make sure there are no meat by-products in her food
  • Keep my orchids in bright, but indirect, sun although they require some time in the shade

But, I’m the first one to admit that I have ruined more than one delicate garment by accidentally throwing it in on hot and drying it until it shriveled like a raisin. As a matter of fact, an unfortunate number of my possessions have passed through my hands as if disposable because I didn’t read the care instructions—or even more likely—I was just moving too fast to be able to give them the totally customized care they needed.

Of course I’m not writing this article to teach you how to wash your delicates. Let’s agree, a silk top is a silk top. It can be replaced. But what if we’re talking about a person? It’s not so easy, or inexpensive, or even humane to replace a person because you failed to know how to care for him. That’s a whole different league of handling with care!

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Topics: developing strengths, Talent, Sales

Sales Training: The Illusion of a Quick Fix


These days, you can find a quick fix for almost anything. There’s the 21-day fad diet, the 3-step skin care plan, and the 24-hour credit repair. We’re impatient by nature, and we want the kind of solution that turns everything around now. While some of these quick fixes may work in the short-run, most are not sustainable and they leave you in worse shape than you were before.

Ironically, the quick fix delayed the real solution.

The best sales performance solutions combine a jump-start plan to deliver immediate results together with a long-term plan to assure sustainability. And, the long-term plan must include three fundamentals: 

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Topics: sales management, Sales, sales training

Are Long Sales Cycles Messing with Your Pipeline? (Part 2)


In Part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed some of the reasons why the sales cycle is getting longer for many deals (sales cycle is the term that describes the time that elapses from the first contact between salesperson and prospect to a done deal). These longer cycle times are gumming up the sales pipeline for many companies, postponing revenue, adding expense, increasing uncertainty, and making life miserable for a lot of sales executives.

Some of this slowdown in the sales cycle is unpreventable. But that’s no reason to overlook the many things salespeople can do to counter the trend and speed things up. Here are some ways that smart salespeople keep opportunities moving:

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Topics: Sales, sales pipeline, sales cycle

How Marketing Can Increase Customer Lifetime Value + More


We've found several excellent thoughts and ideas online this week, and now it's time to share them with you! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. How Marketing Can Increase Customer Lifetime Value — SBI

It's much easier to sell to a client than to sell to a prospect. Customer loyalty makes marketing and sales easier, lowers costs, and increases customer lifetime value (CLV). So how can you make it happen? This post from Sales Benchmark Index digs into how to create loyal customers who continue to buy from you again and again. 

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Topics: inbound marketing, Sales, Wrap-up

Your Communication Sales Strategy: Nice to Know vs. Need to Know


My job includes constantly searching for industry and consumer trends, so I subscribe to a voluminous list of trade and news publications… more than I could possibly read thoroughly on any given day. However, I’ve taught myself to speed-scan the headlines rapidly, and separate the important stories that I need to know from the merely interesting stories that might be nice to know (if I had more time).

Chances are, you do precisely the same thing as you’re checking email, your Facebook page, or your Twitter feeds. At rapid-fire speed, you visually sift through hundreds of messages… “Junk, junk, junk, junk… Oh! This one looks like something I should read!”

I don’t raise this issue because I care about the way you prioritize the information you consume. I raise it so you’ll stop and think about the information you send.

When your client or prospect receives your message, logic tells us that it resides among hundreds—perhaps thousands—of other messages and issues that are screaming for that person’s attention.

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Topics: email, customer focus, content marketing, sales strategy, inbound marketing

So You’ve Hired Some “Green” Salespeople. Now What?


All sales managers know that it’s important to have a full staff of salespeople in order to hit your goals. But you know how risky and ineffective it is simply to hire anyone who can fog a mirror. It’s essential to hire only the right people. 

When searching for the right talents, skills, and experience, strong sales managers recognize that talent is primary. If a salesperson doesn’t have the talent, he or she can’t be highly successful. Once onboard, the right coaching will turn those talents into skills. That leaves experience. Research tells us, and it’s kind of counterintuitive, that experience is the least accurate indicator of future success—which is why many good sales managers hire some pretty green salespeople. 

But just because prior experience (even lots of it) doesn’t guarantee success doesn’t mean that lack of experience isn’t going to be a problem. Of course, it will be. Talented newbies are still newbies. They’ll be great one day and your decision will be very smart in retrospect, but you can’t wait 12 months to see if they’re going to make it. You need to play a proactive role in their development so they gain the needed experience as quickly as possible. 

Many companies we work with have a pretty good onboarding plan, yet nearly every manager wants to know if there is something more they can do to get these rookies productive sooner. The answer is yes. Here is what I recommend to help those new to sales ramp up quickly.

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Topics: sales management, Sales, sales training

How Measuring Success is Different in Digital


Measuring the results of an ad campaign or a marketing push is important. How else will you know if the effort was a success, and if the investment produced a profitable return? In the old-media days, it was often tough to measure, causing uncertainty and frustration among both buyers and sellers.

In the digital age, I could argue that it’s gotten too easy.

It's Not All About Clicks

Clicks are insanely easy to count. The click-thru-rate quickly became a new gold standard, and the abbreviation CTR made it seem so official and valid. But what was it really measuring? And what does that metric have to do with the marketer’s goals? These are the issues I often find myself discussing when I lead digital-media workshops, but these questions are not discussed as often as they should be with prospects.

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Topics: digital marketing, metrics, measurement

Improve Your Proposals, Improve Your Performance


Salespeople too often rush to deliver their proposal to the prospect, often believing that the sooner they deliver it the sooner they’ll get the order. Maybe—but only if it’s the right proposal, fully vetted.

Instead of being in a hurry to hand off the proposal, be in a hurry to uncover all the possible objections. Ensure that the vetting process happens by finding all the decision-influencers, running the plan past them, and looking for problems. When you’re present for that vetting, you can fix the problems and switch thumbs-down opposition to thumbs-up support. If you’re not there, you won’t know the issues and you won’t be able to do anything about them.

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Topics: Proposal, Sales