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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: June 23-26

This week's posts touched on a lot of things: easing writer's block, helping with our online brands, mosquitos (!!!), and the reason people won't give us the time of day. Enjoy the variety!

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

 june_26

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

Why People Won't Give You the Time of Day

time_of_dayThe short answer:  There’s never enough of it.  (Time, that is.)  But the more elaborate answer will help you get prospects to make time to see you.

It’s important to understand that people don't grant appointments based on whether they have the time.  (Not the ones worth seeing, anyway.) They allocate their time to people who they believe have the capacity to understand and help with their priorities.

So the question becomes, how can you figure out, in advance, what some of those priorities might be?  Their company priorities are likely to be conspicuous at the company website (look on the home page, the press/news release page, and in the annual reports or investor section of the website, if that applies to this prospect).  You might find some insights as to the prospect’s professional priorities by snooping around on their LinkedIn profile, or other networking sites.  And perhaps their personal priorities might be clear when you look at their Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites.   Finally, dig around for some industry news or consumer trends that might be relevant to this prospect… and dig for other research that speaks to challenges they might face or opportunities they may have.

If the prospect matters, it’s worth your time to figure out what matters to the prospect.  Find their priorities, and they’ll find the time of day.

Topics: Sales

Why Great B2B Salespeople Think like a Pregnant Mosquito

mosquitoOnly pregnant mosquitos bite people. They bite to suck the blood, which feeds their eggs. The female mosquito needs the additional nutrition found in blood because it provides the protein and iron necessary for her eggs to develop. 

As a salesperson, you need to keep the mindset of a pregnant mosquito. The “blood” you need is new customers with needs. Many b2b salespeople move into this mindset only when they need to—when they lose a big account or get behind budget. If you want to be the best, this month, next month, and every month, stay on the hunt for new blood customers—not occasionally, but all the time. You always need fresh blood.

Topics: Sales

3 Things That Build or Batter Your Reputation Online: A Lesson in Professional Branding

social_media_connectionsAre you trusted and valued by your clients? What about your prospects, how do they feel about you? Right, they don’t even know you yet.

Or do they? 

Good prospects are busy professionals. They want to reduce the risk that a meeting might be a waste of their time. You can be almost certain they’ll research you online before agreeing to connect, and especially before agreeing to meet. 

What they find in a simple search online is how they will determine if you can be trusted and valued. Not as a business partner, not just yet. They’re determining if you can be trusted and valued enough just to call back or to accept your invitation to connect.

There are three main areas online in which what you do will either build or batter that reputation you seek as a person who is trusted and valued:

1. Your Profiles:

The first few things to show up in search will be your social media profiles. Are you sharing how you offer value to your clients? Do you have a few testimonials from happy clients? Or are you positioning yourself as the top hunter on the sales team with your clients as the prize?

Topics: Digital

How to Come Up With Lead-Generating Blog Post Ideas

How_to_Come_Up_With_Lead-Generating_Blog_Post_IdeasAll inbound marketers can agree that one of the toughest parts of running a successful online lead generation program built on publishing great content for your target persona… is actually producing great content on a consistent basis. Furthermore, it can be even more challenging to make sure this content isn’t just fluff, but is actually delivering relevant information your target cares about reading.

This is why I’ve put together some tried and true ways to develop lead-generating blog post ideas and content that will not only attract new readers to your blog, but will enhance your thought leadership position and increase the likelihood of actually converting visitors into qualified leads.

1. Look at your keywords.

If your target audience is searching for certain phrases or asking particular questions online, then this is a green light to create a blog post providing the answers they’re looking for. Having a solid keyword strategy in place that incorporates branded terms (like your company name) and broad terms (like “sales performance” and “inbound marketing”) as well as a plethora of long-tail, niche terms (like “how to start a company blog” or “how many times should I contact a lead?” will ensure you are covering all of your bases when it comes to search queries by your prospects and customers.

Tip: Higher search volume for any keyword phrase means people are searching for those answers often so that’s a good place to start writing. However, many of the more long-tail keywords won’t have high search volumes but can be tremendously impactful in driving more qualified traffic and leads to your site.

2. Think about what your prospects and clients are asking.

Topics: inbound marketing

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: June 16-19

This week's posts

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • On Monday, Mike Anderson told us we're all in positions to be disrupted. It's our choice whether we want to be on the side of the disruptors or the disrupted.

 june19

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

What's a Marketing Qualified Lead? What's a Sales Qualified Lead?

qualifiying_leadsWhen does the marketing department’s role end and the sales department’s role begin? Very specifically, when should a lead be passed from marketing to sales?

This is a tricky question, and as with most marketing and sales best practices… it’s not always black and white. Every organization is different and it’s important that you work with your Inbound Marketing Consultant to customize a marketing and sales agreement plan that enables you to effectively qualify, distribute, track, and ultimately to close your leads.

One of the first and most important steps is determining how you’ll classify leads and determine when they are ready to be contacted by a business developer (if you have someone in the role) or by a salesperson, or whether they should be nurtured via automated email marketing before reaching out. You need to develop your company’s definition of what is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and what is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). That decision should evolve from discussions among leadership and staff from both your marketing and sales departments to ensure everyone is in agreement and expectations are clear.

Topics: inbound marketing

Accentuate the Positives When Coaching Salespeople

positivityIt happened in sixth grade, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. Another student said something mean to me about the way I looked, and it stuck. I will never forget it. I can remember times at work when I felt hurt by something someone said as well—such as the time when a manager at a previous job told me my idea was stupid, but didn’t explain why or suggest a different approach, so I had no idea which direction to go. But I have a hard time remembering as vividly the times when people have praised me. I think I’m pretty normal in this respect.

Have you ever received criticism you just couldn’t shake? It probably won’t take you long to remember a time when you got negative feedback that really hurt. That’s because we’re actually hardwired to remember the negatives.

The Negativity Bias

It is scientifically proven that bad news makes a much bigger impact on our brains than does good news. Scientists call it the brain’s “negativity bias.” It’s an important survival skill that helps us stay away from dangerous situations, but it also causes us to easily recall criticism and the unpleasant things people have said to us.

I often coach sales managers to provide salespeople with regular feedback on performance, and I encourage them to make it a top priority to give both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Both forms of feedback are extremely important because managers who give only negative feedback are likely to have more disengaged and demotivated salespeople.

The Happy Hour Rule Conquers Negativity When Coaching Salespeople

Topics: Management Talent

How to Know if your Industry (or Career) is About to be Disrupted

only_person_who_still_listens_to_CDsLook at the calendar. If it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday—or sometimes even Saturday or Sunday—your industry and your career are likely going through or preparing for a disruption. No one is immune.

Ask anyone who used to sell compact discs containing recorded music. Ask the guy who used to sell those phones that were tethered to a wall. Ask the staff photographers at the Chicago Sun-Times. Ask the guy who puts lug nuts on the wheels of every Ford that comes off the assembly line (oh, no, wait… that guy’s a robot now). If you think you’re not going to experience a disruption in your category or career, you might be crazy or have a serious case of denial.

If you’re reading this blog, you are likely employed in sales, management, or marketing. So how do you survive disruption and thrive in a new era? There are two ways. First, you can be the disruptor (that one’s easy to say but not so easy to do).

Topics: Digital

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: June 9-12

This week's posts were all about introspection. Look within to lead. From personal branding to finding talent, it was all about asking the right questions.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

june_12

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

What Do Your Salespeople Think of You as a Sales Manager?

survey_sales_teamDo other people really see you for who you are? Do they recognize your potential and appreciate your strengths? It’s often hard to know!

I recently worked with a sales manager and helped him get to the bottom of how he was perceived by his sales team. It was an incredible discovery and I think you will find the story both interesting and useful.

This manager, who was fully dedicated to coaching and developing his people, reported that he was finding it increasingly difficult to earn and keep their trust. At the same time, his revenue numbers were dipping so it was more important than ever to get his team fully engaged and back on track. Determined to right this ship, he came to us for a much-needed Talent Insight.

Topics: Talent

How Well do You Know Yourself? A Lesson in Personal Branding

look_in_the_mirrorA while back, there was an entertaining story about a tour bus in Iceland that had pulled over so passengers could inspect a volcano field. One of the passengers stepped into a nearby restroom to freshen up and change into clean clothes. Upon her return, she found the rest of the passengers frantically looking for a woman that had gone missing. She joined in the search, of course, but neither she nor the other tourists could find the lady matching the description of the person who had wandered off.

Topics: Digital Brand and Connect

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: June 2-5

This week's posts went in a variety of directions. Although the posts varied wildly in topic (we had everything from lions to McDonald's to Pete Carrol!), they all related to looking out at the world around us to look inward. You'll see what I mean below.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • On Monday, Dana Bojcic wrote about how an injury turned her son into a caged lion, and warned managers not to cage the lions on their team. Are you caging your lions? Are you a lion that need
  • On Tuesday, Mike Anderson told us the common connection between McDonald's, Mercedes, and you, which was a post about professional branding. Your brand is the thought that comes to mind when someone says your name.

june5

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

How am I Supposed to Know Which Keywords to Go After? Developing a Keyword Strategy

If you find it a bit daunting to develop a keyword strategy, you’re not alone! Many people don’t fully understand which keywords they should go after, and they don’t know how to find out. The concept seems simple. We want our website to appear when someone searches for a solution to a problem we can solve. But it can be hard to get started.

confused_businesswomanHere are a few simple tips to help you get in the mindset of finding the right keywords.

1. Start with your target personas in mind.

Think about what problems you solve for them. What are their needs? What are they likely to type into a search bar? The keywords will come naturally.

2. Use long-tail keywords.

Thanks to Google’s release of its Hummingbird algorithm last fall, long-tail keywords have taken center stage. Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that usually consist of three or more words. For example: “how to fix a leaky faucet.” They’re more specifically relevant and tend to have less competition, allowing you to rank higher. Long-tail keywords are also more likely to reflect what your buyer personas are typing into their search bar, giving you not just any visitors, but qualified ones. It’s important to remember that you’re no longer writing for search engines—you’re writing for humans. Search engines want to match your content to what people are searching for.

Topics: inbound marketing

A Lesson on How to Manage Millennials from Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

football_50_yard_lineI know, I know, everyone has an opinion about Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, winners of the 2014 Super Bowl. Since I live in the great state of Washington—I'm a fan. 

I was reading an article titled "Player development propels Seahawks" with the subtitle "Carroll's patience helps rookies improve faster." 

Topics: Management

Professional Branding: The Common Denominator between Mercedes, McDonald’s, and You

mcdonaldsWhen you hear the word Mercedes it is likely that a visual image of a luxury German automobile pops immediately into your mind. Likewise, when people hear McDonald’s it conjures a specific image almost immediately. You might picture a restaurant with golden arches somewhere near your home or your favorite menu item. You might see a logo, hear the company’s jingle, or recall an experience you had at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Such is the power of branding. From FedEx to Kleenex, from Macy’s to Applebee’s. Having a brand means that an image pops immediately to mind when you hear or see the name.

And the same is true of you. You have a brand.

Topics: Digital

Keeping Talent Under Wraps: Are You Caging Your Lions?

caged_lionWe are dealing with a broken elbow in our house. My 9 year old son had a moment of misguided confidence and felt “certain” he could slam dunk a basketball. He is a 54,” 58-lb fourth grader and learned quickly that he cannot dunk.

It is a nasty break and very close to his growth plate. So my extremely active “Let’s go 250 miles an hour all the time and never sit still except to eat when mom makes me” boy has seen his activity level come to a screeching halt. Doctor’s orders: No basketball, no soccer, no field day, no recess, no jumping, and no running… to put it in perspective the weekend before he did his first 5K in 23:15 and now his doctor is telling him he can “walk slowly.”

Unfortunately, I am no stranger to broken bones. My younger son broke his leg on a trampoline a few years ago—a very different break, and a very different child. He loved taking it easy! He watched more Scooby Doo than I should admit as a parent, he colored pictures, watched some more TV, and the healing time passed relatively quickly for him. It was more natural for him to relax. He is a more easygoing kid to begin with.

Topics: Talent