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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Best Defense is a Killer Offense

keeping-track-of-target-accountsToo often, we define “new business” as the business a competitor once had until we stole it. Here’s the bad news: They often think of new business the same way. Thus, competitors engage in a constant war of churn, where quite often there really is no “new business” at all; just an exchange or recycling of clients as if sales was nothing more than a tennis match, and the client is the ball.

Topics: Sales sales process

Don't Put Comfort Over Doing Good Work

the-right-way-to-argueThis was another great week in terms of engaging content. We found a lot that made us think.

Here are the five articles that piqued our interest:

1. Why arguing at work is okay, and the right way to to it {Inc.}

Brené Brown discusses the value of being uncomfortable when giving feedback, and why you shouldn't put comfort over doing good work.

2. How to write content that drives traffic for years {Top Dog Social Media}

Focus on your topic. What would your target persona find most valuable? This article also goes into the best kind of title/topic for evergreen content.

3. Be careful with email automation {SK Murphy}

Topics: Wrap-up

Five Ways to Create a Sales Culture

sales-cultureWhat is your sales culture? Do you even have one? I frequently hear from sales managers the need for a “sales culture,” but often they don’t really know what their own sales culture is or how to build one.

Topics: Management sales culture Sales

Make Your Information Useful in Your Sales Appointments

be-more-usefulDon’t just inform. Organize. 

When was the last time you arrived at a sales appointment, and the decision maker said, “Glad you’re here! I know our appointment was scheduled for only 15 minutes, but as it turns out, I have an extra hour and a half today!” 

Doesn’t happen.

More likely is the meeting where you encounter this rushed greeting: “I know our appointment was for an hour, but something has come up so I only have about ten minutes.”

Happens all the time.

That’s why I want you to think of the daunting task of the Google mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Of course, Google has more than one singular focus, and serves more than just a user who wants to do a quick search to find a quick answer or fascinating fact. They serve consumers who are shopping, companies who are being shopped, and marketers who are into metrics. I get all that. But focus on that beautiful, simple idea: 

“To organize the world’s information… and make it useful.” 

Blog Comments on Your Company Blog… And Comments on Comments

blog-commentsPart of my job has me visiting different websites every day. I am always impressed with those organizations that have an active company blog and use it regularly to influence, educate, and build their brand and their thought leadership position. But so often I notice there are no comments left on any of the blog posts I read, or if there is a comment it’s usually just one—and then there is almost never a response from the writer to engage the person who took the trouble to comment.

Why would a blogger go through the entire writing, editing, designing, linking process to publish something they thought would provide value and then ignore the people who took time to visit the site, click through to the blog, read a post, and comment? I hope you’re not that someone.

Topics: inbound marketing

Why Every Salesperson Should Insist on an Inbound Marketing Strategy

calling-warm-leadsThe most successful sales and marketing organizations are ones that set their sales teams up for success. They give them the tools and resources they need to get the job done as efficiently and profitably as possible. The best ones actually solicit input from their salespeople, asking what they need in order to be more successful. 

If you’re a part of such an organization (and even if you’re not), you should insist that your company design and deploy an inbound marketing strategy. If they ask why, no problem! Here are a dozen reasons you can share:

Topics: inbound marketing

Does Font Matter? Turns Out, Yes!

typeface-font-mattersThis was another great week in terms of content. We found a lot to love.

Here are the five articles that piqued our interest:

1. The Healthiest Typeface {The Atlantic}

If you're trying to convince people to do something, choose your font carefully. The font you choose to convey information is nearly as important as the information itself, according to these studies.

2. Turn Meeting Confirmations into Selling Moments {Spiro Technologies}

This one makes some great points about confirming upcoming meetings—not just to confirm, but to advance the sales process.

3. 7 Habits of Highly Successful Startup Entrepreneurs {Inc.}

Topics: Wrap-up

Manage the Big Rocks: How to Become a Time Management Pro

manage-the-big-rocksIs it just me or does there not seem to be enough time in the day to get things done?

I knew it wasn't just me!

My life has been going 1000 miles an hour lately, and I've been asked how I get it all done.

Manage the Big Rocks

I have a method that I follow religiously to get things done, and it doesn't really have anything to do with time management.

Topics: Management time management Sales

The One Question You Haven’t Asked (But Your Client Wishes You Would)

one-question-you-havent-askedLike many of you, I try to prepare very carefully for every client interaction. Your preparation will dictate whether you are granted face time for that first appointment (and subsequent appointments), and it will dictate how much information you are allowed to gather in a needs analysis meeting. But the nature of sales often leads us to focus on our own objectives when preparing; we want the appointment, or we want to learn about a specific objective a client might have that we know can translate into a selling opportunity.

If your customer-focused approach is sincere, there is one question—a simple question that can be asked a multitude of ways—that can help you gain even greater respect and revenue from this customer.

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales sales process

Which Is More Important—Product Training or Sales Training?

Product focused training and sales skill training - both are important to increase the knowledge and expertise of a sales team, but which is more important? Which has the larger impact? Before I answer that question, let me define the differences between the two to make sure that we are all on the same page.

Product Training

product-training 

Product training focuses on the nuts and bolts, on educating your sales force on the features and benefits of what you sell. What the product (or service or solution) is, what problems it’s intended to solve, how it actually works, what it costs in its various configurations, how you handle it internally to ensure the client gets what they bought, and everything else you might need to talk about the product. Most product training is delivered in a classroom environment where the facilitator is doing most of the talking and answering questions along the way. 

Sales Training

Topics: Digital Training Topics

Want to Take Sales Coaching to the Next Level? Get the Owner’s Manual!

business-woman-readingI grew up as the only girl with three brothers in the house—and a lot of laundry! That machine ran non-stop and I was always enlisted to help.

It was simple enough: Load the clothes, add some soap, turn and pull the big knob, and presto!—the clothes are getting washed. Sure, once in a while I put something red in with the whites and had a problem, but, for the most part, is was simple enough.

Well, I recently bought a new washer and dryer… and oh, how times have changed! That big knob you turn and pull? Gone. These new appliances look like space machines loaded with the latest technology. Aquajet! Sensors! Steam! A bedding setting! There’s even a function called “waterproof.” Whoa. It’s complicated.

Topics: Talent talent dashboard

Should Journalism Worry About Content Marketing?

working-remotelyThis was another great week in terms of content. We found a lot to love.

Here are the five articles that piqued our interest:

1. Should Journalism Worry About Content Marketing? {CJR}

Corporations are getting into the news business. Is this something journalists should worry about? Or can companies like Chevron and Coca Cola be trusted to create unbiased content?

2. Do You Really Understand How Your Customers Buy? {McKinsey}

This is a great in-depth article about the buyer's journey, and how it has changed over the last several years.

3. 7 Habits of Highly Successful Startup Entrepreneurs {Inc.}

Topics: Wrap-up

How to Conduct a Nearly Perfect Interview

job-interviewFinding the right person for the job often takes time—time you don’t have—so you may find yourself dreading to make that next hire. 

No need to drag your feet any longer! These interview tips and questions will help you uncover the information you need to determine whether a candidate might fit the bill. Follow them consistently and you will find that you speed up the selection process and make it much less painful.

Topics: hiring salespeople Management Talent

5 Ways to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

thought-leadershipWe've talked a lot about thought leadership, and what it means for you and your business. Positioning yourself as a thought leader will not only bring more people to your website, but it'll present you with new business opportunities, invitations to speak at conferences, and more.

Topics: thought leadership inbound marketing

The Key Steps to Reduce Account Attrition Now

Reduce-Account-Attrition-1Can you have too much emphasis on new business?

I submit that’s not a crazy question. There’s a scenario, more common than you think, where an excessive emphasis on finding new clients can mask a significant problem growing inside your organization. Ask yourself: What role is that new business playing? Is it fueling your sharp growth curve? If so, congratulations.

Too often, the answer is that new business is playing a very different role—that new clients are coming in the front door just fast enough to replace those who are leaving by the back door. The emphasis on new business development in your organization might be coming at a high cost—not placing sufficient emphasis on satisfying, retaining, and growing your existing accounts.

Or you might not even be breaking even: You could be working harder than ever to find new revenue that is failing even to cover the losses you’re experiencing due to attrition. It reminds me of the classic line from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

Topics: Sales sales process

Leaders: Are You Hearing Problems? Are You Seeing Problems?

Great leaders don’t spend all their time-solving problems, but they’re smart about how to find problems and how to fix them. I see the best managers position themselves to hear problems and to see problems.

Hearing Problems

leaders-hearing-problems

Hearing problems means being open to the problems your people bring you. If your people aren’t bringing you problems, that’s your meta- problem, or should I say your mega-problem! There are two explanations, and they’re both ugly: They think you cant help or you dont care. The can’t help scenario isn’t easily remedied, but the don’t care explanation is fixable. 

Topics: Management leadership

The Best Tools for Growing a Smart Business

freelance-writers-help-with-contentThis was another great week in terms of content. We found a lot to love.

Here are the five articles that piqued our interest:

1. The Best Tech Tools for Growing a Smart Business in 2015 {Inc.}

There are some great tips here. Note: item #4 is only available for Google Calendar as of right now, but you can go to their website and enter your email address, and they'll let you know when an Outlook calendar version becomes available. We love #5 (of course!), and if you're interested in one of HubSpot's free tools, check out Marketing Grader.

2. This NYC Startup Just Raised Another $3M in Record Time {Alley Watch}

PuzzleSocial is a daily digital celebrity crossword. It's clearly something consumers enjoy. How can you use the celebrity crossword concept in your campaigns?

3. Quotes For Entrepreneurs {IMG}

Topics: Wrap-up

Is the Road Too Narrow or Are You Too Fat? Leadership from Twitter

road-too-narrowArjun Basu writes (very) short stories on Twitter. He calls them “Twisters.” You should follow him at @arjunbasu. Here’s one: 

The road narrowed. I said, Im too fat for this road. My wife laughed, but I was serious. I was not happy with my weight. Or the road itself. 

The road keeps changing, doesn’t it? In business, it seems as if at least half our roads are under construction or subject to detours—all at the same time. Has your road to success narrowed? Or are you just too fat to fit? Those are entirely different questions. Or should I say, those are entirely different ways of defining the problem or even of looking at the world. If you see the road as the problem, you let yourself off the hook—but you also condemn yourself to whatever the road has in store for travelers who are too fat for the new road. If you see yourself as the problem, even grudgingly (because you don’t have to love that new road to recognize it, acknowledge it, and deal with it), then success opens up for you.

Leadership Lessons from This Quote

Topics: Management leadership

Ten Ways to Increase a B2B Salesperson's Productivity

The job of a sales manager is a challenging one. One of the biggest challenges that they face is how to keep a team of sellers motivated and producing quality results.

Some of the best ways to make salespeople more productive don't include spending a fortune or sending them through another training class. A few of the best ideas are ones that help to reduce administrative burdens and increase time in the field or on the phones. 


The following are 10 ways to increase a B2B salesperson's productivity:

1) Make Sure They Have Up-to-Date Technology

Topics: Management developing strengths sales performance

4 Winning Approaches for Writing a Cold Email

writing-a-cold-emailYou found someone's email address online. Someone you've been looking to get in touch with for a long time. Now, it's up to you to write an email that'll get opened.

Writing a cold email can be much more effective than picking up the phone to place a cold call.

Follow these four approaches and you'll increase your chances for success:

1. Create a Compelling Subject Line

The subject will determine whether your recipient will open your email (or whether they'll delete it immediately).

Here are a few that work:

Congratulations

Topics: email Setting Appointments Sales

The Proven 7-Step Process to Recruiting Top Salespeople

best-way-to-recruit-salespeopleWhen it comes to recruiting superstars, some people just seem to have the magic touch! I have the pleasure of working with quite a few sales managers who have this gift, but one, in particular, stands out of the crowd. She rarely misses!

Topics: hiring salespeople Talent

How to Protect Yourself From a Not-So-Great Valid Business Reason

How_to_Protect_Yourself_From_an_Idea_That’s_Just_Not_That_GoodThe other day, I was writing what seemed like a pretty smart piece for The Marketing Mind blog. That’s the site where we capture a wide variety of consumer and industry trends.

Our goal is to convert topical issues into valid business reasons to help sellers get appointments, and needs analysis questions that lead to meaningful challenges they can help their clients solve.

Topics: valid business reason sales process