<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=585972928235617&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Great Leaders Focus on How to Turn Talent Into Performance

Great_leaders_focus_on_how_to_turn_talent_into_performanceAll of us here at The Center for Sales Strategy have much to celebrate as we close out the year. We celebrated our 30th Anniversary in 2013 with much to be thankful for. We appreciate all of the clients who allow us to play a part in their success. We are particularly gratified when we have a chance to play a role in helping someone improve—because they come to understand more clearly the importance of talent or the power of a sales process focused on creating specific value for clients.

Topics: Management Sales

Top Ten Blog Posts from The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Top_Ten_Blog_Posts_of_2013As 2013 comes to a close and we reflect on the blog posts that we have posted throughout the year, it’s always enlightening to see which were the most read and shared. Since we blog regularly about digital, inbound, management, sales and talent there are a lot of blog posts that could make this top 10 list, but of course, only 10 could make our list of top viewed blog posts of 2013.

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

Eight Ways you Are Awesome

8_ways_you_are_awesome_(and_how_to_take_advantage_of_your_awesomeness)Think of the thousands upon thousands of sales associates out there; those you compete with directly, as well as those who sell in a product or service category outside your own.

And you want the prospect to meet with… you. 

How to Take Advantage of your Awesomeness

Seems like a daunting request to justify, especially when dozens of those other sellers are clamoring for the appointment you want. Placed in that context, it is easy to understand why—just like any other product or service—it is important that your brand stands out in comparison to the other alternatives. So let’s think of a few ways you’re special (just for starters):

Topics: Sales

Five Steps to Convert Your Inbound Marketing Leads into Customers

Youve_Got_Leads_Now_What_The_5_Steps_to_Convert_Your_Inbound_Leads_into_Customers-1Most inbound marketers think the hardest part about their lead generation plan is actually getting the leads to come in, and while this is no easy task, it’s equally important to strategize and prepare for the process of following up with your inbound leads. With these five steps you’ll be able to more effectively determine whether leads are worthy of sending to sales and ultimately increase your likelihood of converting leads into new customers.

Topics: lead generation inbound marketing

Do You Roll the Dice for Sales Talent?

Roll_the_DiceAre you a gambler? I have never been a big risk taker myself, but every once in a while I have fun at a dice game or maybe a little Blackjack. I do know people who love to gamble though, and there are a lot of opportunities to do that these days.

Is recruiting and hiring salespeople one of them?  We do not think so! Games of chance do not mix well with finding, qualifying and vetting good potential sales candidates.

Keeping your Talent “Pipeline” filled with good, potential salespeople is important to your continued success as a manager but we know sales recruitment is challenging. As a Talent Analyst with The Center for Sales Strategy, my job is to use our validated talent instrument to measure the innate talents of potential sales candidates before our clients make their hiring decisions. They don’t want to take chances – and they don’t have to!  Neither do you.

Topics: Talent

Plan on a Happy Holiday Season!

Plan_on_a_Happy_Holiday_SeasonRegardless of race, religion or creed, people all over the world are celebrating during this holiday season. It’s a magical time of year for us all to reflect on what’s important to us, celebrate our beliefs, and join in festivities with our friends and family! 

In sales, this time of the year is also the season for forecasting, budgeting, annual planning, and closing out the year with a bang! Sales directors, managers and salespeople must plan and focus if they’re going to successfully finish out the year, develop their growth strategy for the following year, AND enjoy the holiday season.  

Topics: sales strategy Sales

I Bet You Didn’t Think About This With Native Ads

I_bet_you_didn’t_think_about_this_with_Native_AdsIf you work for a media company that sells digital advertising, you no doubt are following the buzz around Native Ads. There is an important point for all salespeople related to Native Ads that I don’t want you to miss. The dictionary shows several definitions for the word native. A few that are relevant for this conversation are; belonging to a person since birth, living or growing naturally in a particular region. 

Topics: digital marketing Digital selling digital advertising

The “To Do” List, and the “To Dump” List

The_To_Do_list_and_the_To_Dump_listI don’t know how you use your email inbox, but here’s how I use mine. Nothing gets filed until I have responded to or acted on the message in some way. Then, it’s placed into a folder where I know I can refer back to the note later. Usually, I try to keep my inbox down to under fifty active conversations or tasks. 

Recently, I’ve had a hard time getting my email inbox down to a manageable level. In fact, I’ve been hovering near 100, even at the end of the day. It occurred to me that I had several messages that were not pressing at all. They were just interesting, and I told myself, “I’m going to reply to this note or use it in some way when I get time. Eventually, of course, notes like these wind up at the bottom of my email stack (I sort my messages by most recently received). 

Topics: Sales

Inbound Marketing as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Inbound_Marketing_as_Easy_as_1_2_3Recently after writing a blog post about how inbound marketing isn't rocket science, a few clients asked me to boil down inbound marketing to its most simplistic nature.

So here it is… inbound marketing as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Create Content

The most common form of content creation that we are used to with B2B is blogging. So, the first step is to create a blog and start blogging. Yes, you need a plan and yes, you need to create content that's relevant to your persona... but don't hesitate to get started writing blog posts and doing it consistently 2 to 3 times per week, EVERY week! 

Topics: inbound marketing

Three Big Trends in 2013 That Will Be Even Bigger in 2014

3_Big_Trends_in_2013_That_Will_Be_Even_Bigger_in_2014Another new year is quickly approaching and 2014 will be here before you know it. Each new year produces a multitude of predictions around what trends to be aware of in the next year. This is not that blog – instead of giving you a list of potential trends to be on the look out for, here are three big trends that started already and will continue to stick around in 2014.  

1. Online Video will continue to grow

According to Adapt.tv’s report Q4 2013 State of Video Industry, 86% of brands plan to increase their budgets by an average of 65%, while 91% of agencies plan to increase their online video budgets by an average of 28% in 2014. These are big jumps and while some of the increases will be incremental a good portion of the dollars will come at the expense of traditional media.  

Topics: Digital

My Confession as a Salesperson

Confessions_of_a_Former_Media_Salesperson_and_What_I_Would_Do_DifferentlyI have a confession to make… I absolutely hated cold calling. It’s been over a year and a half since I was in outside sales but I still have flashbacks to some of my worst cold calling experiences. You know the ones where you’re treated like a complete nuisance, talked down to, or hung up on. 

Necessary Evil

Like most salespeople, cold calling for me was a necessary evil. It was evil because of those nightmare experiences, though pretty rare, but it was necessary because sometimes cold calling actually worked – especially if you did it often enough. Some of my best clients started with a cold call, or 10. While it was a numbers game, I found that the better I got at identifying the potential of a prospect and utilizing valid business reasons, the more success I would have. 

However, despite the “wins” that occurred on occasion – I spent a lot of my precious time cold calling, and if you’re in media sales or many other B2B sales industries then you probably do too. The downside to that was the fact that I wasn’t great at cold calling, I was great at selling. I was great at identifying needs, creating customized solutions, developing integrated marketing campaigns, and building relationships – yet I had to spend at least a quarter of my time doing the former. 

Topics: Sales

Don't Use "Calling On Better Prospects" as an Excuse!

Dont_Use_Calling_OnBetter_Prospectsas_an_ExcuseSpending time with fewer, more highly-qualified prospects is generally a good strategy. Better prospects who meet your Ideal Customer Profile deserve more time, energy, and creativity in your approach because they have such strong potential. In fact, you probably already know the monetary value of such a high-quality appointment with the near-perfect prospect.

Peter Drucker says "Concentration is the secret to all economic success," and concentrating your appointment-setting activities on ideal prospects always pays off. If you make 40 new business approaches a week, you will accomplish more by communicating five times with eight strong prospects than one time with 40 prospects. Studies show prospects don't even begin to notice you until you make five approaches and many appointments are set after seven touches. Most salespeople give up way before that.

Quantity or Quality?

But sometimes we see salespeople using the quality paradigm as an excuse to make fewer new business calls. New business activity should not diminish because you are calling on fewer prospects. In fact, it may actually increase compared to the scorched earth approach of just smiling and dialing. Under this approach your work is directed toward your best prospects and the work is more likely to secure an appointment.  

Topics: Sales

Never Give Up

Never_Give_UpSeven years ago my wife and I were blessed with our second child, who came by helicopter from a war-torn Lebanon. Because of the craziness surrounding her arrival, we spent several years weaving our way through the bureaucracy of her citizenship. In 2011 at the age of five, she finally received it two days before Thanksgiving; in a cheerful twist she played a pilgrim in her school’s play that very same day.  

Game On

So – after that 5 year haul toward citizenship, you can imagine our surprise when the US government denied her passport application! We were more than shocked.  We were panicked because the family trip to Canada that we had already planned and paid for was quickly approaching. With no time to waste, we rapidly tried many different ways to fix this problem, and every time we hit a roadblock. Needless to say, we could not accept “no” for an answer, and my wife was fired up to make this happen. Thankfully, she was persistent, polite, and strong… and had a strong sense of purpose. She never gave up.

Topics: Sales

It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Inbound Marketing

Its_Not_Rocket_ScienceRecently while attending a meeting with a prospect and explaining the 7 Step Lead Generation process to them, and how they start to generate leads with inbound marketing, they made the comment that “inbound marketing is like understanding rocket science.” This comment stuck with me and made it more evident than ever that to some, inbound marketing is not as easy to grasp as some experts make it appear.

Why is Inbound Marketing Difficult to Some?
If you understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing, and website design and have a great team of writers on staff, and have someone that can dedicate 10 hours a week or more to publishing blog posts and creating landing pages for your premium content, it’s not really that challenging.  

What? You don’t have those skill sets within your company or the resources to dedicate to inbound marketing?  It’s okay… for those companies that don’t have this expertise but are still interested in generating leads through inbound marketing there are plenty of ways to make the process easier and doable even for the smallest of companies.

How to Make Inbound Marketing Effortless
Well, you can’t really make it effortless but you can do a few things to help supplement the resources you have available. Here are 3 steps to make inbound marketing easier: 

Topics: inbound marketing

Moving Your Client Forward: If I, Will You?

Moving_Your_Client_Forward_In_the_Sales_ProcessIn Memory of Melissa Kelly – My First Sales Manager

I dedicate this blog in memory of my first sales manager, Melissa Kelly, who taught me so much. She lost a hard fought battle to breast cancer last year at the age of 53, but she NEVER lost a sale.

Here’s one of the main reasons why: In every stage of the sales process she used a very simple phrase, “If I (fill in the blank)?, Will You (fill in the blank)?" 

She made sure that every step she took when working with a client was a collaborative effort. Therefore, she always knew she was on the right path towards her next desired outcome in the sales process. Some examples:

Getting the Appointment

Melissa: “If I am able to share some capabilities I have to help you drive more sales from your website, will you allow me to spend an hour with you to really uncover your marketing challenges so I can determine what solutions might work best?

Topics: Sales

Leadership Development Through the Eyes of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Leadership_Development_through_the_eyes_of_Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_dh_11.20.13“Every artist was first an amateur” …Ralph Waldo Emerson. This quote perfectly describes how anyone achieves greatness in sales—or in life. You can't be a great artist, unless you have artistic talent. But we all start as amateurs, even in areas where we have natural ability. We need to develop our talents so that they become strengths.

To become an extraordinary leader, you must appreciate the importance of natural talent and also the power of developing that talent. I have seen managers who have little regard for the importance of sales talent. They tend to think they can hire anyone and just show them what to do and if that person works hard, they will be successful. That's not true.  Not if you are trying to shoot for excellence. It works to some degree, if you are shooting for average or slightly above average. Conversely, you can't hire great talent and then do nothing to develop them and expect greatness.  Again, you will likely get average.

Topics: Management

Seven Simple Steps That Put Prospects in a Better Mood

Seven_Simple_Steps_to_Put_Prospects_in_a_Better_MoodMany good salespeople open their meeting and immediately get down to business. Good and efficient, right? As their sales manager, I’d often watch them sitting on the edge of their seat, eagerly waiting to jump right in and show the client or prospect what they had to offer. 

Building rapport doesn’t need to take long. A recent study at the University of British Columbia, found that a simple chat with the cashier at a coffee shop put customers in a better mood and gave them a sense of belonging. Not a surprise. But what can you do to help put your clients and prospects in a better frame of mind to meet?

Next time you interact with a client, watch yourself. What is the first thing you do? Is it down to business, or are you setting a better mood?

Topics: Sales

Don't Step Over a Dollar to Pick Up a Dime

Dollar-dime_blogAs a former Sales Manager and General Manager, December was always an interesting month. And the reason why: it was BONUS month. It was the month to prod, cajole, incentivize, and yes even beg the sellers to get out there and close the year strong!  

2013 is Over

There was only one problem with that. The year was over. Yes, I know, empathize, and frankly agree that if you are only a few dollars short of getting your year-end bonus, you should do everything within your power to do so.

However, the fact of the matter was most years I knew it was highly unlikely, improbable, and even impossible to reach that year-end bonus money. But even if that was the case, we should do everything within our power to squeeze every dime we can out of the year. Right?  Wrong!!

Topics: Management

Sales Secret: What If and Why Not

Sales_Secret_What_if_and_why_notAnyone paying attention to the news these days can find both encouraging and discouraging signs all around us.  The same is true in business. I see this in the conversations I have with sales managers about how to drive performance in their sales departments.

Topics: Sales