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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How Is Your Customer Satisfaction?

How_is_YOUR_customer_satisfactionMost of us can think of a few great customer experiences we’ve had… and maybe a few bad ones that range from totally frustrating to completely hilarious. But for a minute, don’t think of customer satisfaction from the customer’s point of view; think of it from the seller’s perspective.

Are you satisfied with your customers?

Do you invest way too much time for the ultimate revenue that account will generate?  

When you pick up the phone to call them or get in your car to head to that appointment with them... are you stressed, or excited?

Topics: Sales

Two Words Seldom Spoken That Your Clients Love to Hear!

Two-Words-Seldom-Spoken-That-Your-Clients-Love-to-HearFollowing is a letter of thanks that makes me feel good just reading it!

Thank you for trusting in me, and thank you for allowing me to get to know you and help you grow your business the past few years. I truly appreciate the opportunity to work with you; it’s obvious that your team feels the same way. You’re a great leader and while I know our partnership has played a part in your company’s growth, it’s because of your vision, your dedication and your ability to motivate and inspire your people that your company is thriving. 

While the competition in your industry has been fierce, you’ve succeeded in creating a culture that attracts high performing employees, one that promises to promote and support the continued growth of each individual person. Your turnover is remarkably low, and you’ve experienced record sales over the past two years. Those achievements were not reached by accident! I value your business and I value the friendship we’ve forged over the years. It’s because of circumstances like this, and people like you that I forget I’m “doing my job.” Working with you has never felt like a “job.” It’s a partnership that continues to motivate and inspire me. It’s why I get excited to get up each morning, and for that I’m truly grateful! Thank you!

As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s natural for us to reflect on what we’re thankful for. 

Topics: Sales

8.5 Content Ideas That Will Help You Attract New Prospects

8.5_Content_Ideas_That_Will_Help_You_Attract_New_ProspectsIf you’re in the position of needing to attract new and better prospects to your business, then I want to let you in on a little secret. While you may have your sales team busy cold calling or your marketing team putting together outbound marketing initiatives – both which can be extremely useful and effective when done correctly– there is still a world of B2B decision makers that are not hearing, seeing, or noticing your message. 

So, where are they? They’re in the same place you are right this very second. They’re online… searching for information, seeking solutions to their problems, and researching options for their business. The question then is, are they finding you when they search online? Or are they finding your competitor? Does your company website have valuable content that represents your areas of expertise while delivering a thought-provoking and resource-rich experience? Or is it just an online brochure of the services you offer? 

While original, keyword-rich, and relevant content written for your best prospects is what every B2B company needs in order to compete in the online world of search and social media, it’s not always easy to come up with that all-important content on a regular basis. So, here is list of 8.5 content creation ideas that you can start working on today:

Topics: inbound marketing

Hiring Salespeople: You Can Mess It Up or Do It Right

Hiring_Salespeople_-_Mess_it_up_or_Do_it_rightFinding the right person for an open position can be really hard, and it can be very tempting to rush through the process or take short-cuts when possible. But, making the wrong hire can cost your company up to five times their annual salary – and once you finally get rid of them, you’ll find yourself back at square-one, sweating over your hiring process again.

If you don’t have time now to do it right, when will you have time to do it over again?

Save yourself the headache and do it right the first time!

Here are five sure-fire ways to either mess up your hiring process or invest a little time to do it right instead:

Topics: Talent

Five Big Things Happening in Social Media Right Now

Five_Big_Things_Happening_in_Social_Media_Right_NowSocial Media continues to change the way consumers and marketers connect. Marketers are getting smarter about how to use social media to interact with consumers and influence the path to purchase, but the landscape is ever changing. Keeping up with those changes, whether you sell digital media or use digital media to market your business is critical to success. 

Here is a look at some of the most recent changes that you should know about: 

Topics: Digital

Focus on the Outcome, Not Just the Income

Focus_on_the_outcome,_not_the_incomeWhen it comes to crafting a proposal, there is a very real temptation to include whatever one thinks can be sold. C’mon. Fess up.

Let's Be Honest

At one time or another, most sales folks have considered tossing something into a package that may not actually contribute to solving a client need. This temptation is driven by too much focus on income, whether to the organization in the form of revenue, or to the seller in the form of commissions or other incentives.

Topics: Sales

For the Best Results Don’t Wing It. Follow A Process!

For_the_Best_Results_Don¹t_Wing_it.__Follow_A_ProcessHave you ever tried to make chili by throwing all the ingredients together in a giant pot, stirring and then slow cooking all day? If you had, you’d know that is NOT the best way to cook chili! First you brown the meat, if you were an onion lover like me then you’d add onions during this stage… to get the most flavor. 

After the meat is browned and fully cooked you then drain the fat (if healthy eating is important to you) and then you add the chili seasoning followed by the rest of the ingredients, which could vary depending on where you’re from and personal preferences. If you were to rush through the process and skip browning the meat first, you’d find the results are remarkably different. 

When you change the process, you change the results.

When you cook, whether it’s chili, key lime pie, chicken noodle soup, etc., there is a necessary sequential process that is recommended to follow to get the best results. Typically, that process is provided with the recipe and cooking instructions.  When you change the process by skipping or rearranging steps, the results also change. This logic also applies in B2B sales.

Topics: Sales

Deliver on the Denominator to Deliver Real Value

Blog_post_newsjacking_the_MediaPostRaise your hand if you’ve ever been put on notice by a prospect—right up front—that they won’t be buying unless they get a terrific price.  (I know every hand went up… I’m clairvoyant.) “Right up front” is the key phrase that guaranteed all the hands would go up, but more on that in a moment.

Ready for a Fight

It’s not that every prospect acts that way, but enough do so that every salesperson has heard it. Many of you tell me you hear it every week!  A lot of prospects think it’s their duty, their job, their role in the great game of negotiation to announce up front that nothing is more important than getting a low price or a good deal. Their purpose, not unlike a boxer’s, is to put you off-balance and make you more vulnerable to their next punch. But it’s not every prospect, is it? It’s telling which prospects typically make these threats and which don’t.

Topics: Sales

You Join the Company, but You Quit Your Boss

Talent_Blog_-_You_join_the_company,_but_you_quit_your_bossI’ve written about it before, but it’s worth repeating: The most common reason that employees give for quitting their last job is that their boss didn't care about them. 

Even though they may want to advance their careers, earn a living, support their families, and contribute to society – if an individual does not believe they can trust their manager to have their best interests at heart, they usually can’t keep doing the job.

Relationships Take Work 

Relationships are important and they don’t happen by accident; you have to actually do things to create and maintain a strong relationship with others. But rest assured, your efforts will be rewarded in many ways!  

Strong relationships at work:

Topics: Talent

Leadership Development Through the Eyes of Mark Twain

Leadership_Development_through_the_eyes_of_Mark_TwainFacts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable,” Mark Twain. An interesting quote I chose to reinforce the importance of metrics and accountability. It made me laugh because of some of the funny math I have seen sales managers use over the years. You know what I’m talking about!  Facts are stubborn and that’s a good thing for all of us. As you look ahead to the coming year, be sure you are clear on what is most important to measure and then avoid the practice of funny math. 

Topics: Management

Award Winning Effort

Award-winning_effortCleaning out the proverbial attic, recently, I came across a box of childhood memories that my mother had gathered over the years. There were diplomas, ribbons from a few track-and-field events, and a number of professional citations for excellence in my work.

Among the least of these:  A button celebrating my perfect attendance during the school year.

Really?

Seriously. They gave me a pin… for showing up.

Topics: Sales

An Inexpensive, but Powerful Investment You Can Make

An_Inexpensive,_but_Powerful_Investment_You_Can_MakeA few years ago when I was teaching a program for managers one of the participants came up afterward to share a point of view. Don had spent a number of years as a manager in a well-known, Fortune 500 company whose name I will not mention here. We had just finished a discussion about the important role powerful relationships play between managers and their direct reports. 

A Real Story

Don said, “You know, Jim at X Company we always believed that any interaction between a manager and a subordinate should be net gain to the manager.”  What an interesting comment. I was so taken aback I had to confirm that I had heard him correctly. “So, Don, you are telling me that every time I interact with you as my manager, you gain and I lose?” In essence, he said yes. 

Topics: Management

The Secret Formula for First Quarter Sales Performance

The_Secret_Formula_for_First_Quarter_Sales_PerformanceI bet you’re pretty busy right now. Seems like everyone I am talking to is slammed. You have pressing things to do to wrap-up 2013 and at the same time do what is necessary to get 2014 off to a great start.

Topics: Management

Writing for Humans AND Using Keywords? It Can Be Done – Here’s How!

Writing_for_Humans_AND_Using_Keywords_It_Can_Be_DoneWhen you think of SEO (search engine optimization) do you think of keyword stuffing, poorly written content, or irrelevant links? If you do, then you’re not alone, and that’s because many people out there have tried (and failed) at trying to trick the search engines into giving them credit in search rankings that they don’t necessarily deserve. And if there’s anything search engines have taught us with their constant upgrades and revised algorithms, it’s that they don’t like being tricked, and for good reason. 

Search engines such as Google want to deliver the best, most useful content to their users. They want to answer our questions quickly and efficiently, and they have a variety of ways they determine exactly how to do that. I won’t get into those details today, but I do want to share with you how, when used correctly, keywords can help you not only get found in search engines but even more importantly… help you create content that humans (and specifically your target persona) want to read, and ideally share with their friends and colleagues. 

If your marketing plan includes a content strategy focused on publishing useful, informative, shareable content (which it should!) then unethical SEO practices simply go against everything you’re striving for. However, this doesn’t mean SEO should be viewed as a dirty word.

Topics: inbound marketing

Is Your Sales Strategy Leaving You in the Shopping Cart?

Is_Your_Sales_Strategy_Leaving_You_in_the_Shopping_CartResearch has shown that 70-80% of online shoppers are abandoning their purchases in their shopping cart. This started me thinking about how many salespeople are also being left in the shopping cart as their prospects decide to “think it over” and ultimately never buy.  

The Marketing Mind Blog did an excellent job of covering the retail marketing implications of this trend. The research cited that a consumer can have many reasons to wait to complete an order including shopping anxiety, comparison shopping, and wanting to read reviews. Looking at some of the reasons consumers are hesitating can help you understand why your prospects may not be completing the sale. 

Here are a few lessons that can be applied to B2B salespeople in closing the sale:

Topics: Sales

The Fit Factor

Fit_Factor_8-27-13_Blog_WIP_DocumentHow does “FIT” enter into your decision making when hiring salespeople?

Does this sound familiar? “This is a GREAT candidate!  He has wonderful experience in the industry and he has so much in common with me and with my current sales staff!

You liked them!

You both grew up in Southern California!

You both love College Football!

You enjoy the same music!

You both traveled to Italy this year!

Your kids are in the same soccer program!     

We all enjoy spending time with others who share our interests and/or our lifestyle. It is easy to fall into the trap of allowing familiarity to dictate how a potential candidate seems to FIT with you and with your organization

As a Talent Analyst for The Center for Sales Strategy, my job is to measure the talent of candidates for our clients. Our Talent services help you as an employer select people with the best innate sales and management related talents, using very measured and scientific methods.  While we can help you to frame your needs, the responsibility for sizing up the FIT of a potential employee falls to the sales management within your organization. 

Topics: Talent

Leadership Development through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln

MANAGEMENT_BLOG_ON_LEADERSHIP_DEVELOPMENT

The point you press, the importance of thorough organization, is felt, and appreciated by our friends everywhere. And yet it involves so much more of the dry, and irksome labor, that most of them shrink from it... from a September 1, 1860 Letter to Henry Wilson.

I love the way Lincoln spoke. He is clearly acknowledging the importance of organization and yet laments that many will not have the resolve to do it. This principle of course holds true in many areas beyond organization. Deficiency of execution will more often cause you trouble, not the deficiency of knowledge. Planning for the coming year and having the discipline to take a look at your sales structure and process are good examples of things that are easy to talk about, but take some resolve to actually do.

Planning for Next Year

This is the second in a series of four blogs designed to help you work on your planning for the coming year. The concept I introduced in the first blog was our Performance Prism.

You will see things more clearly in your sales department if you break down the components or disciplines that lead to strong sales performance—in the same way that a prism breaks a light beam into its various colors. There is great value in looking at each area separately.  

The four components of the Performance Prism are: 

Topics: Management

I Just Deleted Your Email... No, I Don't Want to Chat!

NO_Im_NOT_open_to_Chatting_DeleteThat was exactly what I thought and then did after reading an email I received from a salesperson trying to sell me something. In fact, just to add perspective… here is what the email said:

Demrie,

Just wanted to reconnect with you. The organization is experiencing very exciting growth and I would like to update you. Would you be open to chatting tomorrow?

When I opened this email I immediately thought about a conversation I recently had with a client about how his salespeople seem to ‘just check-in’ with their prospects. He told me they don’t call them with a valid business reason nor do they offer any real value… or in other words, a compelling reason for the prospect to believe that having a conversation with them would actually help their business. He said his salespeople tend to call prospects and say something like: “Hi, I just wanted to check in with you to see how things are going? Is there anything new going on that I can help you with?”

If you want your prospects to take time out of their schedule to meet with you or talk with you, you must make them believe you can add value to their business.  

Topics: Sales

Not All New Business Is Created Equal

NOT_ALL_NEW_BUSINESS_IS_CREATED_EQUALWhen I first started selling media, I had a sales manager whose mantra was to always get new business. So one of his expectations was that each week, each seller would make 20 new business calls.  Even as a new seller, I knew this was not the best use of my time, so I asked how he would determine these calls would be completed. His solution was that we deliver a business card. Simple enough.

Topics: Management Sales

I Panic When You Say "Wing It"

Feedback_blog_-_specificI was recently coaching a very talented seller who was having some communication issues with her sales manager. Before getting into the specifics, it is important to understand how this seller is “wired.” She is extremely strong in her organizational skills and her attention to detail is off the charts. She is exact, structured, and precise – in fact; she is a complete perfectionist and ALWAYS has a plan. 

During her last individualized focus meeting, her manager gave her some feedback on her performance. He told her that although she was doing a good job, he would like for her to “loosen up” and “wing it” more. 

A Full On Panic

Topics: Talent