This is going to sound way over-simplified, but that’s okay. The way to avoid a sales wreck is the same way you avoid a crash on the highway: Avoid distractions, pay attention to the highway signs, and follow the rules. In sales, you and the client establish the rules early and often (this is called contracting and partnering). But you also have to avoid distracted selling, and pay attention to the signs your prospect or client is giving you. Even when you’re supposed to be the one who’s presenting.
You would never get almost all the way to your destination, and decide it would be okay to stop steering your car. You can’t just focus on the instruments of your dashboard and hope to arrive alive; you have to keep your eyes on the road, and even drive for the other guy, at times, to make sure you get where you want to go.
Take off your seller hat just for a minute and put on your buyer (consumer) hat. You walk into a Verizon store to check out all the new tablets available. The salesperson calls your number (because you had to wait your turn). Instead of asking you about how you plan to use the tablet and showing you some of the options available on the two contrasting tablets they think are most suitable to your needs, they take a different approach. They ask you how much you make, how you currently spend your money and start to brainstorm things you might consider doing without so you can afford the tablet. That would be an odd approach don't you think?
Beth Sunshine, on January 27, 2014
If you are familiar with The Center for Sales Strategy, then you know that our reason for being is “Turning Talent into Performance.” It’s at the core of everything we do.
Showing up to work with that clear purpose every day, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the only way you can effectively turn talent into performance is if the talented people you are working with are also engaged in the process. Otherwise, it’s a losing battle.
Over the past couple of months, I have read numerous blogs and articles regarding the increased focus from marketers on proving ROI in 2014. The stories have ranged from specific advertising platforms to overall marketing efforts. The demand to prove a positive return on investment is high and difficult. Part of the challenge is that while marketers are looking at individual metrics for each platform they are utilizing, the consumer is typically being influenced and engaging with multiple platforms in their path-to-purchase.
So how do you help to prove ROI in a world where consumers are more connected than ever?
Steve Marx, on January 23, 2014
Lots is written every year about corporate culture. And yes, every corporation has a culture—they may not have built it purposefully, they may not be proud of it, it may hold the organization back rather than propel it to success—but there’s always a culture and it always impacts performance.
Don’t look to a mission or vision statement hanging on the wall to discern the culture of a given organization. Just watch what the people do. Despite what the pretty prose might say, the actual culture is revealed in how the company’s people interact with each other and with the outside world, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day. Say it either way: The culture—values, attitudes, beliefs, priorities, expectations, attitudes, taboos, unwritten rules—is demonstrated by the aggregate behaviors of its people. Or the people define the culture by how they act.
Beth Sunshine, on January 22, 2014
Our recently published report The Biggest Challenges of Media Salespeople and Sales Managers turned up a finding that surprised nobody around here!
When media sales managers were offered a list of 14 challenges that might give them sleepless nights… 14 problems that, if even partially solved, would generate a big payoff, they voted more often for Finding great salespeople than for any other item on the list. Indeed, this #1 finisher scored more than half again as many votes as the #2 finisher.
Brittany Ransonet, on January 21, 2014
Until recently, when sellers asked for my help it typically involved creating a strong valid business reason to help secure a first meeting with a prospect. But over the past few weeks, I’ve had multiple people seek help with preparing for a meeting they’ve already secured (which is just as important). Yes, it seems that more and more people are realizing the cold, hard truth – preparation no longer ends after you get the appointment (did it ever?). That first needs analysis meeting is a critical part of the selling process so “winging it” should never be your strategy.
Good salespeople ask a lot of questions, but the most effective salespeople ask their questions and get out of the way. I was reminded of this in a recent post shared on LinkedIn Pulse. The article was comparing two interviews with the same newsmaker (billionaire Elon Musk championing the colonization of Mars) and demonstrated how one interview was clearly more insightful than the other. The key difference was how they asked the questions.
John Henley, on January 17, 2014
January creates challenges and opportunities all rolled into one. It's challenging to leave the holiday break in the rearview mirror and get back to business. It wouldn’t be so tough if you just wanted to get back into your normal routine. But you know that just getting back to your routine isn’t enough. You have new ideas that you believe will lead to stronger sales performance, and January is the time to put those plans in motion.
Mike Anderson, on January 16, 2014
I came across an interesting quote the other day: “Instead of trying to explain how valuable you are, demonstrate how you add value.” That sounds like a simple nuance, but it is at the heart of what we teach at The Center for Sales Strategy: Instead of preaching about why to buy your product or service, you should focus on how a prospect should use—and extract maximum value—from it.
So what is value? Who decides what is valuable? And what determines how valuable a valuable thing is? If you answered, “The Customer,” I like you: Your heart is in the right place.
But you’re wrong.
John Henley, on January 15, 2014
Our recent release of The Biggest Challenges of Media Salespeople and Sales Managers has attracted a lot of attention and drawn a lot of comment. One thing people are chatting about is what sellers and managers agree on, and where they see the world differently.
Dani Buckley, on January 14, 2014
If there’s one thing every inbound marketer should do in 2014 to ensure they’re set up for success, it’s incorporating a content calendar into their inbound marketing strategy. And for those who currently use one, I suggest you take it one step further and make sure you’re taking full advantage of this beneficial planning and tracking tool.
A content calendar is your key to making sure you are consistently publishing strategic, unforgettable, and share-worthy content.
Early in my career there was a sale I never made that, after 15 years, still drives me crazy. It was a six-figure deal where I “felt” I had done everything right. But when phone calls suddenly weren’t being returned from a client with whom I had a “great relationship” (after all, we had a fantastic lunch with lots of laughs a few weeks earlier) I had a panicked feeling in my stomach. I realized I had done many things wrong. Instead of spending enough time learning about his business, I spent too much time developing the personal side of our relationship. Instead of developing a customized solution, I developed a proposal that focused on why my company was a great fit. The reality was I never had a shot, and what was worse I didn’t realize it until it was too late. The day the contract came rolling into my competitor I vowed I would NEVER put myself in that situation again with this client or any other client.
Mike Anderson, on January 10, 2014
We all know the goal of a needs analysis is to uncover a need the customer has… not just fill-up a precious appointment with a long list of questions. But when a need first reveals itself during the client needs analysis, should you change course and immediately pursue the revenue opportunity that first need might represent?
Not so fast.
John Henley, on January 9, 2014
If you read a lot of blogs and do some writing yourself, you are very familiar with headlines like “The two things a business owner should never do,” “Five reasons why Facebook is a bad investment,” or “Six steps to success.”
I use titles like those all the time. I do it for the same reasons others do it, to gain attention. Given the volume of information coming at all of us, we make split second decisions to engage or not. A good title can make all the difference. Sometimes these intriguing titles are supported with great information. Those are my favorite blogs. Other times, these pithy titles turn out to the best part of the blog (like a great trailer for a bad movie).
Jim Hopes, on January 8, 2014
We can’t remember the last time someone published a reliable answer to the question,"What Keeps Media Salespeople and Their Managers Awake at Night?" So we fielded a fairly ambitious piece of research to find out.
We started with 65 one-on-one interviews in which respondents were asked open-ended questions. We analyzed their responses, and characterized and aggregated them to produce a list of challenges faced these days by sales managers and salespeople in the media. The items on those lists—one list for managers, one for sellers—were then tested among a much larger sample.
As we welcome the New Year, a few of us at The Center for Sales Strategy were discussing some of our favorite blog posts from 2013.
We thought a great way to capture this information was to survey several of the contributors to The Center for Sales Strategy blog and asked them to provide their top posts from our blog as well as their favorite post from other blogs. It was a difficult decision as we blog 4 to 5 times per week and cover multiple categories: Digital, Inbound, Management, Sales and Talent.
We would like to share these results with you so that you can see what’s on our mind and what we think will be important heading into 2014.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading The Center for Sales Strategy blog.
There are millions of salespeople around the world… and every one of them is impacted by the simple law of supply and demand. When supplies are low and demand is high, prices are forced upward. When the supply of a product or service is plentiful, buyers on the demand side start chiseling you on price, which has the effect of turning your offering into little more than a commodity.
So how can you adjust your sales strategy when the supply of almost everything is limitless?