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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: May 26-29

Four-day weeks always seem to fly by. We took a long weekend, then came back on Tuesday, and hit the ground running! Now that we're officially in summer mode, we're reading our books outside on the patio and generally spending more time in the sun.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • On Monday, many of the employees here at The Center for Sales Strategy weighed in on their favorite business books they've read in the last year. I don't know about you, but I put in my Amazon order!

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

3 Steps to a Successful Compensation Plan for Salespeople

compensationI get asked regularly by my clients to help them create compensation plans for salespeople and others in their sales operation. They want to know how to make sales compensation effective for the salespeople and good for their bottom line. I generally start my consulting by suggesting they break the process up into the following three steps:

1. Define Each Position

For each member of your team, answer the following questions: What is the primary job to be done? Is it to set up appointments with new prospects, upsell current clients, develop new prospects into large customers? Start with a one or two-sentence summary of the job.

2. Determine Which Performance Metrics to Track

What are the most important measures you will use to evaluate success in this job? Generate a list of five or six and then narrow them down to the most important three, or at most four, metrics.

Topics: Management

What to Do When Life’s a Blur

blurDoes it ever seem like life is moving so fast that everything’s a blur? I can help you with that by sharing this one simple law of physics: You cannot focus on everything. So of course, when you try, everything’s going to be a blur. 

A few years ago, I took a photography course. One of the early assignments was to focus on a fast-moving object by keeping the camera trained on the subject, regardless of the background. That’s why this picture of a car moving down the highway is in focus, but the road and everything else around it is blurry.

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Topics: Digital

Summer Reading List: Books We've Read and Recommend

summer_reading_listToday is Memorial Day. A day to remember those who have given their lives for us, and a day to be with friends and family. To celebrate togetherness, and (hopefully) eat something fresh of the barbecue.

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. The weather is warmer, and if you're anything like us, you find yourself winding down outside instead of in front of the television.

But what should you read? I asked my colleagues about the best business book they've read in the last year. Here's what they had to say. 

Jim Hopes, Chief Executive Officer

Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story

The premise of the book is that the most successful communicators are those who are adept at telling stories.  The business environment is replete with facts and figures thrust upon us by seemingly un-ending Power Point slides and voluminous presentations.  But research indicates the most effective way to connect, persuade, and to gain genuine interest in other people is to be an effective story teller.  Don’t tell me why I should do something, rather illustrate the impact of what you have to sell has on real people in real situations.  Tell me about how you changed a life or solved a pressing problem for someone.  People want to hear your story, not your data.

Dani Buckley, Inbound Marketing Consultant

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life

You can be much more effective professionally (and personally) when you learn how to break goals down into manageable tasks and to be more focused when you work. I’ve learned some great new ways to do this, as well as some tried and true tips on how to create and maintain new habits. It’s an easy read and very applicable!

Emily Estey, VP/Senior Consultant

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

The book is about a lot of things, but mostly about vulnerability. Vulnerability is where innovation and creation begin.

Topics: Management inbound marketing

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: May 19-22

This week was busy! We launched a new self-directed online course called Brand & Connect, which is a really powerful way to learn how to establish your profile online. People are searching for you as soon as they know your name -- you can guide them on what they find.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

12 Questions and Answers About Why to Brand & Connect

Here at The Center for Sales Strategy we work remotely, which means our professional lives are contained on the internet. I was excited to find that my colleague (and crosstown neighbor!) Greg Giersch was working on launching a new self-directed online course we’ve just published called Brand & Connect, so I asked him to meet with me.

This new course is one of Greg’s important recent projects, so I came to lunch loaded with questions about Brand & Connect.

linkedin-11. What was the impetus behind Brand & Connect? Why did you start it in the first place?

The short answer is that today potential clients are researching salespeople online before they ever agree to meet with them. Salespeople are being judged and graded before they ever meet a prospect.

The longer answer is that I've been building this product for years. In 2006 when Twitter first came out, I was an early adopter. Everyone in the office thought, "what is a sales manager doing on Twitter?" They thought I was just "playing online," but I was fascinated by how much you could learn from the early thought leaders and use social media to connect with other professionals around the world.

2. What will Brand & Connect teach us?

The first half of the course is about building your personal brand—figuring out who you are and what you have to offer. What benefit do you bring to your clients? The second half teaches you how to connect with people, especially prospects. There's an old saying that a good salesperson can sell anything to anyone, but that's not really true. A good salesperson provides the right solution to the right customer.

3. Doesn’t everyone already know his or her skill set?

Surprisingly, often they don't, so we help them consider their brand from three perspectives:

  1. What people who don't know them think.
  2. What people who do know them think about them.
  3. What they think about themselves.
Topics: Digital

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Salespeople

get_the_most_out_of_your_salespeopleSales managers are so busy these days that it is easy to get caught in the everyday shuffle of dealing with all the tactical and urgent items on their to-do list. It makes it very easy to forget what your real job is: managing salespeople and maximizing the talents of your sales team.

Here are five strategic ways to get the most out of your salespeople:

1. Identify Their Talents

After working with your salespeople over a period of time, you probably have a pretty good idea of where they excel and where their limitations are. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we have a talent assessment that can tell you their talents without having to wait months to determine that on your own.

2. Talk to a Talent Analyst to Determine Ways to Maximize Those Talents

Topics: Management

Do You Dangle Your Product—or Your Process? Building a Better Sales Relationship

There are only two kinds of prospects who agree to see you: the ones with lots of extra time on their hands and the ones who are tantalized by what you have to offer. The former are tough to find these days, and when you do you often discover that they don’t have any spare cash to go with their spare time. 

And so our task as salespeople is to tantalize the prospect enough that he or she will be motivated to carve out a block of time in their busy schedule. Salespeople who ask for only a sliver of time, instead of an ample block, set themselves up for failure by positioning themselves as unimportant and inexpensive and by leaving themselves too little time to launch a successful relationship. If you need plenty of time with the prospect, figure that the prospect will need plenty of tantalizing before agreeing to invest that time.

Most salespeople attempt to tantalize their prospects by dangling their product in front of them. Fewer tantalize their prospects by dangling their process. See which one is more like the approach you use…

Topics: Sales

Is Your Personal Brand Keeping You From Getting That First Appointment?

get_into_shapeThe numbers are turning increasingly negative for salespeople: more people are competing with you to get a slot on the prospect’s calendar at the very moment when more available information has plenty of prospects convinced they don’t need to see salespeople at all. If you want to meet your goals in an environment as tough as that, your approach needs to be very together, very tight, very toned. But most salespeople have an approach that could only be described as weak—often because their personal brand is flabby.

Not to fear! I will be your personal brand’s trainer. One of my specialties is helping B2B sellers get into shape, and I can help you, too. (Note for those who dread working out: don’t worry, no sweat will be involved in this process, but you will get results if you put in the work.)

Your Personal Brand is More Important Than You Think

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: May 10th - 14th

This week was a great one for us. I especially liked Matt's post about how to determine the ROI of your inbound marketing program. It can be hard to measure, especially if you can't easily connect your inbound efforts to your sales pipeline. The rest of the week had valuable information as well, both on our site, and around the web.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

Lead Intelligence or Lead Stupidity? Which Category Does Your Company Fall Into?

24418861_sAs an inbound marketer, I download pretty much every piece of premium content I find. (Premium content? That’s the material for which you need to fill out a form or you can’t download it, a form asking for your name, email, phone number, perhaps job title, and the like.) For me, it’s purely research on marketing trends, learning how to do inbound marketing better, and of course, checking out the competition.

I find it very interesting that even though I sometimes use my gmail account (not my work email) that I constantly get calls from companies where I downloaded some premium content, and they’re trying to sell me marketing automation services. It's not hard to do a search on LinkedIn to find the few Hasenbauers that are out there. It's not like my job title and my company are hard to find. Most anyone can see that I work for a company that does marketing automation and inbound marketing.

So why do these companies bother calling and following up on leads that have no chance of converting? Great question.

Three Questions to Ask Before Making the Call

Before any inbound marketer picks up the phone and calls a lead, there are three questions they should ask themselves:

  1. What is the history of this lead with my company?
Topics: lead nurturing inbound marketing

Finding That “One Thing” to Improve Sales

cowboy_hatI recently introduced my 14-year-old daughter to the movie City Slickers, the movie about a mid-life crisis plagued man, played by Billy Crystal, who was searching for purpose in his life. One of the characters in the movie, Curly, advised him to focus on “one thing” to give him purpose.

When I work with b2b salespeople, I often think of Curly’s advice. While it certainly takes a lot of focus and work to find the right clients to approach and the right valid business reason to secure an appointment, I often find that when the salesperson gets in front of the prospect they come away empty handed, not understanding the “one thing” his or her client needed. I coach these salespeople to go into a meeting with a desired outcome in mind.

Finding That "One Thing"

The “one thing” is to understand the prospect's or client’s key business challenge. I explain that the key business challenge is the foundation for developing a solution. Without it the client and salesperson are both guessing and it is nearly impossible to develop an impactful solution.

When I am dealing with my clients that sell marketing solutions for a living, I encourage them to uncover the following:

  1. A need or opportunity
  2. A goal or expectation
  3. A timeline of when the goal or expectation will happen
  4. Who the prospect or client is trying to reach 
Topics: Sales

The 8 Talents Every Salesperson Needs to Succeed

27689226_sDid you hear about sixth-grader Katie Francis, who set a new world record by selling 21,477 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies? On weekdays, Katie put in about seven hours every day selling cookies. So she rested on weekends, right? Nope. She put in 12 hours a day on the weekends! She’s certainly got stamina and focus.

"I actually decided last year I wanted to beat the world record, and at the beginning of my sale my goal was 18,100. When I got to that goal, I raised it to 20,000. And then when I got to that, I went on to 21,000," she explained to a national TV audience. So Katie’s a goal-setter—and reaching a goal just motivates her to set a higher goal.

To be successful in sales, Katie quickly learned you can't take "no" personally. So this young lady has a solid ego that rejects rejection along with an agile mind that readily learns and adapts.

If you think she was taught all that—all that stamina, focus, goal-setting, inner motivation, healthy ego, rapidly learning, not to mention that ability to persuade and close—it’s time to reset your coordinates. These are talents, and talents are innate. Katie was born that way, and fortunately, her talents were fostered not quashed. Katie is exceptional, as are all talented people.

No parent, no teacher, no coach can train someone to behave in those ways. Talent cannot be taught or learned, but it can be identified, measured, and fostered. That’s what the best managers do.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: May 5th - 8th

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We had another evenful week. How do you measure the success of your week? Do you look at your scratched-out to-do list and see how much you've accomplished? Do you reflect on your week? Do you plan next week on Friday afternoons?

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

Where Most Sales Pipeline Problems Spring a Leak

garden_hoseIt’s springtime in the United States. The birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and we’re hoping our long stint of April showers is about over. It’s time to plant the seeds that will become your summer garden. When you plant a garden, the final step is to pull out your garden hose and give the ground a good soaking.

If you spring a big leak in the hose, near where the faucet is, what you just planted is not going to get much water. If you spring a leak at the end of the hose, that water is just going to leak out onto your new seedlings and your garden will grow nearly as well. It’s easy to see that a leak near the beginning of the hose (pipeline) is the bigger problem.

A Leak in the Sales Pipeline

Topics: Sales

5 Ways for Salespeople to Not Suck at Social Media

socialIf you’re a salesperson, you probably understand the importance of having an online presence and building a valuable personal brand. Even if you aren’t doing a very good job of managing it, you still understand how important it is, right?

A big part of that brand includes your social media presence. Sure, Facebook is great for sharing cat videos with your old college buddies, but I’m talking about the professional side of social networks—for example, using Twitter to showcase your expertise and knowledge in a particular area and using LinkedIn to “meet” prospects long before you actually meet them in person. If you’re not yet using LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google+ effectively to interact and engage with prospects, customers, and other industry thought leaders, don’t worry… this post is written just for you.

Here are five easy ways salespeople can start using blogging and social media to increase your sales performance and grow your personal brand.

1. Share content from your personal or company blog. 

Do you or your company have a blog? This is the best source of content you could possibly have to share with your network and stand out against the competition. Share old and new blog posts, share links to landing pages to download ebooks, and invite others to subscribe. 

Take it one step further by including a personal takeaway. Don’t just share the link – add a line about why you think this article is important or useful or a quote from it that you found memorable. 

Topics: Digital inbound marketing

How Do You Coach Salespeople Who Are Not as Competitive as You Are?

competitive_businessmanI recently attended my son’s fourth grade championship basketball game. They had a great season and fought hard, but they just couldn’t pull it out.

Losing the fourth grade championship game is disappointing for sure, but what I found most interesting were the different levels of disappointment from the players. Some were okay with it. They had a good season and enjoyed their time on the team, so losing was no big deal. They walked happily over to the snack area just like they did after every other game. Others were a little more ruffled. They were more visibly disappointed and somber, hanging their heads a bit and walking a little more slowly to the snack area.

Then you have kids like my son, who was devastated. I could see tears in his eyes and his distress was palpable. He talked incessantly about the game for three full days. He analyzed every play, every move, and he asked himself what could have happened differently. He sulked and stewed right up until soccer practice started and the new season of challenges began. 

Topics: Talent

Make a Choice to Grow by 10x Instead of Just 10%

finding_flowI love my job. I have a manager who knows, understands, and develops my talents, and I get to spend the majority of my time doing things I’m naturally wired to do.

When you use your natural strengths, you are happier, more engaged, and you feel strong. However, some people are not the right fit for their jobs. Their talents don’t match up with what’s expected of them. They make up a considerable portion of the people who dread going to work each day.

Think about the one thing in your job you do best, maybe even better than everyone else. Now think about the one thing in your job you do most.

Do the two match up?

What if you spent most of your time doing what you do best?

When people use their talents, they can experience exponential growth—yes, they can get 10 times better, 10 times more productive.  But when people are called on to use their non-talents, they experience very limited growth, they struggle to get even 10% better..

I wish I could sing, but I’m a terrible singer. I just can’t carry a tune. If I took voice lessons and practiced every day, I may get a little better, but I will never be a famous vocalist—or even an adequate chorus member—because I don’t have the talent. On the other hand, I love cooking and I’m pretty good at coming up with my own recipes. I love to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients, and prepare interesting dishes for people to enjoy. Now, if I took cooking lessons, I would likely experience tremendous growth, because I already have a knack for it.

You shouldn’t waste time trying to fix one of your weaknesses, but instead come up with a plan to manage the weakness so it doesn’t get in your way. Then spend the majority of your time developing your precious talents.

How do you know if you have a talent?

Topics: Talent

What We Wrote, and What We Read: April 28 - May 1 Weekly Wrap Up

Can you believe it's May already? At this rate, the year will be over before we know it. We're excited for the summer preview weather we've been having, but if you're in a part of the world where summer preview means tornado season, we hope you're staying safe.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

How to Sell Inbound Marketing to Your Boss: The Complete Guide

You’ve been reading our blog for a while, and you’re convinced that your company should start an inbound marketing program. But there’s one problem: You can’t get your boss to sign off on starting an inbound marketing program.

Maybe it’s because your boss is unfamiliar with the terminology, or worried about the amount of work it’ll add to your already-full plate. Maybe she needs more information about what, exactly, she’s approving before making a final decision. Maybe she just doesn't know how inbound marketing works.

This post is for you, to show your boss. It’ll walk through the foundations of inbound marketing, and show the benefits. It’ll detail the level of work involved, and offer tips on how to streamline the process.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the process of drawing the attention of prospects to your expertise, thought leadership, helpfulness, and reliability, before they are ready to buy. The best and most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

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How Inbound Marketing Works

The benefits of inbound marketing are often misunderstood, leaving management to scratch their heads. The common perception of inbound marketing is that it’s all about writing blogs and lead generation. As you will see, inbound marketing is much more than that. It offers numerous benefits beyond lead generation.

Topics: inbound marketing