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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 25-28

This week, we talked about talent trumping desire, how to increase referrals, how winning is everything, and what's changed (and what hasn't!) in sales this century.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • Tuesday, Dana Bojcic told a story about taking up tennis with her husband, and how she learned that talent trumps desire, every time.

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

21st Century Sales: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t

21st_Century_Sales_What’s_Changed,_What_Hasn’tApproaching new prospects with a customer-needs focus used to be the smartest thing you could do. No longer. 

Today it’s the only thing you can do, the only way to win an appointment with a decision influencer. 

Rewind back to the 1990s. It was that recently that prospects needed to meet with a salesperson to learn about the products and services that company was offering. Yes, there were brochures, and sometimes a company would make a brochure available by mail to prospects, but to get questions answered and to learn about specific applications, buyers knew they needed salespeople.

Today, that notion is downright quaint. Product information, answers to most questions, insights into specific applications via case studies, and user reviews/raves/rants are all found online. Prospects learn almost everything they need to know faster, and with more accuracy and reliability, on the web than they do from salespeople.

They can make a buying decision quicker, easier, and with less annoyance without a salesperson than with one!

As a result, it’s pretty rare these days that a salesperson can get an audience with a buyer to talk about what he or she is selling. What used to be the path to a weak deal at a dirtball price—talking about what you’re selling—is now even worse: It just gets your email, your voicemail, and you deleted.

Topics: Sales

Winning is Everything! How to Stay Motivated in a Long Sales Cycle

winning_is_everythingFor many high-performing salespeople, winning is everything! Coming out on top is always the goal and there are no points for second place. They are laser focused on the prize and the title. They keep score, they know where they stand, they feel the deep agony of defeat, and they know the incredible high that comes with each and every victory.

For this highly competitive kind of salesperson, winning is like drinking a Red Bull—it gives them a piercing jolt of energy that pumps their adrenaline and fuels their performance. To clarify, I should note that this focus on winning does not mean they have a “win at all costs” mentality. That is something entirely different. 

How do these highly competitive salespeople deal with a complex sales environment and those long sales cycles?

Closing a deal is a definitive win, but in many businesses there isn’t the opportunity to score like that every day, sometimes not even every week. So competitive salespeople find other ways to keep score, other ways to ensure they are consistently winning. Finding ways to measure and document little wins and incremental progress is critical to keep the competitive type of salesperson engaged and moving the sale forward. Bringing a prospect from just-a-lead to done-deal can be a very lengthy journey, requiring discipline, focus, integrity, responsiveness, expertise, commitment, collaboration, and consistent thoughtful engagement. Real-world factors beyond the salesperson’s control often lengthen the sales cycle; finding ways to stay motivated can spell the difference between success and failure.

Here are three areas in which highly competitive salespeople find ways to win during a long sales cycle:

1. They set specific goals for each and every interaction with their prospect.

Topics: Sales

Talent Trumps Desire and Dedication Every Single Time

Talent_Trumps_Desire_and_Dedication_Every_Single_TimeSeveral years ago I decided to take up tennis. I have always considered tennis to be the sport with the cutest outfits and I was excited to learn! The tennis courts in the neighborhood my husband and I had just moved into were beautiful and we thought tennis would be something fun we could do together.

We approached the sport with a sense of enthusiasm and excellent intentions. We invested in some equipment; scheduled time to practice together and even signed up to play on a few beginner teams. I thought it would be perfect: We get to spend time together, we get exercise, we get to hang with friends… it was an excellent plan!

There was only one problem: My lack of tennis talent. And it proved to be a big problem.

Neither of us had ever played in a league, yet we noticed a huge difference immediately. Denis had a talent for tennis. I did not.

Everyone has talent—for something. Every single person in the world has a short list of things they are really good at. These are our talents and they define who we are, what we do, how we work, where we succeed, and why we’re valuable.

Just as all of us have a short list of talents, we also have a long list of non-talents. Whenever possible, we should avoid doing things that require talents we don’t have, and other people would be wise to avoid asking us to do them as well. When it came to tennis, I was asking myself to use a talent I didn’t have.

You Can’t Fix Weaknesses in Business or in Tennis

The key point here is that people do not succeed based on their weaknesses. That may seem obvious, but it’s important to reiterate: We will never progress or get ahead by leaning on our weaknesses—or by trying to fix our weaknesses.

Topics: Talent

How to Build a Referral Machine in Five Steps

referral-machineWord of mouth (or referral marketing) is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. I can't tell you how many times in my personal and professional life I've talked with someone simply because a person I trust sent a recommendation my way. It's important to keep referrals coming in, but how? Simply build a referral machine!

Imagine if there were a machine that, once built, churned out ten or more referrals a week. Would you build it?

Find out how to build a referral machine below.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 18-21

This week, we wrote about nonprofits, and how they're not so different from us. We focused on individual focus meetings, discussed where vs. what, and we broke inbound marketing into pieces that even a five-year-old could understand.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

From Where to What: Asking the Right Questions About Hiring Salespeople

Where_vs._What_Make_Sure_You’re_Asking_the_Right_QuestionsHave you ever gone to the grocery store hungry and without a shopping list?

Do you make strategic and wise choices or do you bounce around from aisle to aisle frantically looking for “something to eat” and realize later that you picked up some things you didn’t really need?

Topics: Talent

Inbound Marketing: Explain it to me like I’m 5

Inbound_Marketing_Explained_to_a_5_Year_Old
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

I think Albert Einstein was onto something with that statement.

If you’ve ever found yourself trying to explain something technical or complex to someone who isn’t familiar with the topic, you know what I mean. Perhaps you work in finance or real estate and are all too familiar with the puzzled looks from your clients when you try to explain mortgages, stocks, or investments. (This is where all those “______ for Dummies” books come in handy, right?)

As an inbound marketing consultant, I get the confused look pretty often. It’s easy for me to assume everyone knows what inbound is. After all it’s a big “buzzword” in the digital marketing world. But the reality is it’s still a relatively new topic and those in other industries don’t always understand. Sure, maybe they’ve heard the term, but they don’t really have a good grasp of what it is or what it looks like. In fact, I have friends in sales, management, and even some working in traditional (outbound) marketing that are still giving me that quizzical look even after I provide them with the general definition—and these are people that should know. They’re the ones who can really benefit from it.

It’s at this point where I typically recall (and laugh about) the scene from The Office, where Steve Carrel’s character is trying to understand an explanation of their budget but doesn’t get it. After briefly pretending to understand, he finally asks his coworker to, “Explain it to me like I’m 5.” And, ever since then, I’ve found myself thinking this same thought when someone is trying to explain something complex or technical that I’m not familiar with, or when I need to explain something of similar nature to someone else.

Here’s our official definition of inbound marketing:

The process of attracting the attention of prospects, through content, before they are even ready to buy; the best and most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

But, again, what does it really entail? What does it look like? Complexities and technical jargon aside, of
course. 

Topics: inbound marketing

3 Steps to Improve the Dreaded Individual Focus Meeting

 

improve-individual-focus-meetingSalespeople and sales managers universally loathe the individual focus meeting. That's too bad, because it's a wonderful way to connect with your employees, act as a resource, and let them know you trust them and are interested in their success.

Everyone gets busy, that's for sure, but you shouldn't get too busy to sit down with your salespeople once a week for one-on-one time with each salesperson who reports to you.

Follow these three steps and make your individual focus meetings more effective and productive.

Topics: Management

It Takes More Than a Good Heart

It_Takes_More_Than_a_Good_Heart"It takes more than a good heart."

These were words spoken to me by the Senior Pastor at my church when he was convincing me to take a major role in the upcoming capital campaign. He was right. You know yourself in today’s competitive fundraising environment that it takes more than a staff with a love for your cause to secure a major gift from an individual or a corporation. It takes talent to be a successful development officer.

Talent is different than skills. Skills can be learned. Talent is innate. So if you are facing a big increase in your fundraising budget this year or next, the most important thing you can do is employ fundraising professionals with the innate behaviors that will allow them to ask for and receive major gifts from a wide variety of donors.

But what talents, what innate behaviors, should you look for? Based on research with thousands of professionals whose role is to seek commitment, we suggest strongly that you look for these eight key talents:

1. Intensity for the work effort.

Getting in front of key donors is hard work and uncovering their underlying needs and goals for giving requires effort as does fashioning a tailored solution. The best fundraising professionals love to work and go about their work in a very focused manner. They work hard, they work smart, and they work long.

2. Discipline.

The very best have standards for excellence and produce quality work. They can manage details easily and spin multiple plates, rarely dropping a single one.

3. Successful development officers are not afraid to ask.

They have a certain command about them that allows them to persuade and convince naturally. They are very comfortable with the notion that they must bring others around to their way of thinking.

4. The very best are great problem solvers.

They gather more information, they ask better questions, and they devise more creative solutions.

5. We see that top performers have a positive outlook.

For these people, the glass is always half full, they deal with change well, and they have a wide circle of people who like them.

6. The best are also blessed with a “sixth sense” that allows them to pick up on how someone is feeling at the moment.

This genius-level empathy allows them to know how and when to proceed. Donors feel a real sense of being cared about—because they are.

7. In order to ask for big donations, you have to feel as though you deserve a big donation.

Top people see themselves as significant, worthy of sitting with high-net-worth individuals and top corporate officers. They can make a “big ask” because it lines up with their self-image.

8. If you are going to meet a goal you have to think in terms of measurement and winning.

Top performers are constantly striving to best last year’s, last month’s, and even yesterday’s performance. They think in terms of winning, and when they are winning for your cause, everyone wins.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 11-14

This week, we learned about how to know when leads are ready to be contacted, got inspired by leadership quotes, brushed up on in-field coaching, and were reminded that everyone in the company is involved in sales support and customer service.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

 August-11-14

 

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

Everyone in the Company is in Sales Support and Customer Service

Everyone_in_the_Company_is_in_Sales_Support_and_Customer_Service_In this job, there’s never a shortage of unusual travel experiences. And many could be considered “teaching moments.”

The gate agent for a recent flight said my name over the intercom. (Nothing else, just my name. No instructions, such as “please see me at the desk,” just my name.) As I walked up, she was looking down at the notes on her desk. I said, “Hi, my name is Mike Anderson, and you just paged me.” Then, without so much as looking up from her desk, she slapped a new boarding pass (first class!) on the counter and shoved it my way. She did not say, “Hello.” She did not smile. Nothing.

Here’s why this matters: Airline upgrades just don’t happen as often as they used to. And if you travel a lot, they’re kind of a big deal. (More room to open up your laptop and get work done, and better snacks and beverages.) As often as gate agents have to deliver bad news to the traveling public, you would think she might have savored this opportunity build on the goodwill an upgrade to first class represents. It would have made the trip—and the airline—more memorable and enjoyable.

Nothing went wrong with this experience. It just didn’t go nearly as right as it could have.

Topics: Digital

12 Quotes About Leadership

4e0149f5-70aa-41c9-bf4b-7827a3439371Last month, all of us at The Center for Sales Strategy attended our annual summer company meeting. In preparation for the meeting, a small group of people were given the responsibility to bring with them a leadership quote that they really liked and that they could share with all in attendance at the meetings. The quotes were fantastic and lead to a lot of great discussion. We liked them so much that we thought we would share with you. Feel free to share this blog post and we hope you enjoy these quotes as much as we did.

12 Quotes About Leadership, from The Center for Sales Strategy's Annual Meeting

1. There are no traffic jams along extra mile. -Roger Staubach Click to Tweet!

2. Excellent firms don't believe in excellence only in constant improvement and constant change. -Tom Peters Click to Tweet!

3. There are a lot of people who touch the customer. -Roger Staubach Click to Tweet!

4. At a car dealership the seller is the hero, but if the service department doesn't service well, the customer doesn't come back. -Unknown Click to Tweet!

Topics: Management

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: August 4-7

We're heading into the dog days of summer. The days are warm, but the leaves are starting to change. We wrote about all kinds of things this week: what to do after you finally get that first appointment, how to secretly find talent, ways to achieve client satisfaction, and how LinkedIn's tools can harm your efforts.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

 

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Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales

How LinkedIn's Prospecting Tools Can Hurt Business Development Efforts

How_LinkedIns_Prospecting_Tools_Can_Hurt_Your_Business_Development_EffortsIf you've been online lately, you may have noticed LinkedIn's prospecting tools geared to help salespeople. Some of those services include tools to efficiently prospect within LinkedIn's network, premium services that allow greater depth and information on those you wish to contact, and even a Reference Search where you can get a list of people in your network who can (if they choose) provide a reference for someone you want to connect with.

These services may interest you and may be worth $24 a month or more, but don't attempt to let technology and social media do the prospecting or networking for you. LinkedIn claims that a premium account will help you find and contact the right people but what you say when you approach a prospect will make all the difference—it will either make that subscription fee worth it or make you feel like you've wasted your money. 

Unfortunately, I come across more salespeople who feel they wasted their money than those who actually make progress. And here's why: No amount of additional services can take the place of your own ability to attract quality prospects through empathy, expertise, and problem solving capabilities. There are plenty of other salespeople prospecting and requesting to connect on LinkedIn every day. You can either be seen as one of many who letting the technology speak for them—or as one of the few who know how to approach a human prospect. 

Topics: Digital

4 Ways to Achieve Client Satisfaction

iStock_000024857086_SmallHere at The Center for Sales Strategy, we strive to make our clients happy. In fact, we pride ourselves on client satisfaction and retention. Read below for four ways to achieve client satisfaction as a B2B salesperson.

Now, you know the keys to making sure your clients are happy. Are you holding up your end of the bargain when it comes to client satisfaction?

Topics: Sales

How to Spot Sales Talent Without Asking Questions

How_to_Spot_Sales_Talent_Without_Asking_QuestionsRecently, my husband and I went to a birthday party for a friend who we had not seen in years. His whole family was there, and we spent a good part of the evening catching up on old times with our friend’s father. He talked a lot about his three sons and their careers, and he mentioned that looking back now, he remembers noticing behaviors in them when they were young that led them to the career paths they choose.

As a Talent Analyst, I know how to spot sales talent, and as a parent I thought, “Wow, if sales managers could spot talent like parents can they would hire more superstars and better coach their sellers.”

We all have a certain set of innate talents, the strengths that define who we are. As parents it’s often easy to recognize those talents in our children. They may have a talent for singing, sports, dancing… even arguing!

Talent is Seen at an Early Age

Our friend’s father said two of his sons were big-time arguers from an early age. They would push back on everything and got a kick out of taking the opposite stance just to start an argument. But the third son was wired differently. He was nothing like his brothers and he did not find it fun to argue with everyone. In fact, he didn’t like arguing at all. Instead, he was analytical, curious and extremely observant, noticing things that no one else saw.

Topics: Talent

You Got the First Appointment. Now What?

You_Got_the_First_Appointment._Now_What_A young account manager asked my advice recently about how to handle his first meeting with a particular prospect. It was memorable because the seller who got the first appointment admitted  he was surprised this big prospect gave him an appointment at all… and now he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it.

I started by asking what Valid Business Reason he used to gain the prospect’s interest and attention. Turns out the VBR was “okay,” but not great… focusing a little too much on the product the seller was hoping to pitch, and only slightly on a community service initiative that he thought might appeal to the prospect. But it was the latter that got the CEO’s attention and got the salesperson this appointment.

So, we went online to explore the prospect’s website and learned what we could about the organization’s community involvement. Studying their efforts led us to understand the prospect’s passions. We spent a little time browsing the site further, for other press releases and to get an idea of what the company’s priorities were (based on the way the website was designed). Then a quick stop at LinkedIn revealed some of the CEO’s additional accomplishments and a visit to his Facebook page shed light on his personal interests.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: July 28-31

This week, we wrote about flipping generally held beliefs upside down, putting on our shoes, misconceptions about talent, and the keys to sustainable sales performance. We ran the gamut! Get a cup of coffee, and cozy up to read these, if you missed them.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

July-31

Topics: Digital Management inbound marketing Talent Sales