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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Get Better at Giving and Receiving Feedback + More

giving_and_receiving_feedback

It's Friday, and time to share the Top 5 blog posts, articles, and resources we've found online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. How to Get Better at Giving and Receiving Feedback — Inc.

It's not easy to give feedback. Will the person take what you say the right way? How can you communicate your message so that the person will understand? And receiving feedback often isn't much easier. This Inc. post explains how effective feedback strengthens relationships and improves performance, and it offers practical ways to both give and receive constructive feedback. 

We'd add to this list that when managers give feedback to their team members, it's best to do it in light of their individual talents. For example, if a salesperson struggles to use mini closes while making an in-person presentation because he or she has softer Command and Persuasion talents, your feedback to the salesperson will be more successful if you suggest building mini close statements into written proposals. This person is much more likely to use a mini close if it’s in writing than if he or she has to do it in person.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Are Long Sales Cycles Messing with Your Pipeline? (Part 2)

Sales_Pipeline

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed some of the reasons why the sales cycle is getting longer for many deals (sales cycle is the term that describes the time that elapses from the first contact between salesperson and prospect to a done deal). These longer cycle times are gumming up the sales pipeline for many companies, postponing revenue, adding expense, increasing uncertainty, and making life miserable for a lot of sales executives.

Some of this slowdown in the sales cycle is unpreventable. But that’s no reason to overlook the many things salespeople can do to counter the trend and speed things up. Here are some ways that smart salespeople keep opportunities moving:

Topics: Sales sales pipeline sales cycle

Are Long Sales Cycles Messing with Your Pipeline? (Part 1)

sales_cycle

Most people define sales cycle as the time that elapses from the first contact between salesperson and prospect to a done deal. The sales cycle varies radically for different types of products and services, for different prospects, for deals of different size and scope, and for quite a few other variables.

Topics: Sales sales pipeline sales cycle

How Marketing Can Increase Customer Lifetime Value + More

Salespeople-1

We've found several excellent thoughts and ideas online this week, and now it's time to share them with you! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. How Marketing Can Increase Customer Lifetime Value — SBI

It's much easier to sell to a client than to sell to a prospect. Customer loyalty makes marketing and sales easier, lowers costs, and increases customer lifetime value (CLV). So how can you make it happen? This post from Sales Benchmark Index digs into how to create loyal customers who continue to buy from you again and again. 

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Your Communication Sales Strategy: Nice to Know vs. Need to Know

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My job includes constantly searching for industry and consumer trends, so I subscribe to a voluminous list of trade and news publications… more than I could possibly read thoroughly on any given day. However, I’ve taught myself to speed-scan the headlines rapidly, and separate the important stories that I need to know from the merely interesting stories that might be nice to know (if I had more time).

Chances are, you do precisely the same thing as you’re checking email, your Facebook page, or your Twitter feeds. At rapid-fire speed, you visually sift through hundreds of messages… “Junk, junk, junk, junk… Oh! This one looks like something I should read!”

I don’t raise this issue because I care about the way you prioritize the information you consume. I raise it so you’ll stop and think about the information you send.

When your client or prospect receives your message, logic tells us that it resides among hundreds—perhaps thousands—of other messages and issues that are screaming for that person’s attention.

Topics: email customer focus content marketing sales strategy inbound marketing

So You’ve Hired Some “Green” Salespeople. Now What?

Green_Salespeople

All sales managers know that it’s important to have a full staff of salespeople in order to hit your goals. But you know how risky and ineffective it is simply to hire anyone who can fog a mirror. It’s essential to hire only the right people. 

When searching for the right talents, skills, and experience, strong sales managers recognize that talent is primary. If a salesperson doesn’t have the talent, he or she can’t be highly successful. Once onboard, the right coaching will turn those talents into skills. That leaves experience. Research tells us, and it’s kind of counterintuitive, that experience is the least accurate indicator of future success—which is why many good sales managers hire some pretty green salespeople. 

But just because prior experience (even lots of it) doesn’t guarantee success doesn’t mean that lack of experience isn’t going to be a problem. Of course, it will be. Talented newbies are still newbies. They’ll be great one day and your decision will be very smart in retrospect, but you can’t wait 12 months to see if they’re going to make it. You need to play a proactive role in their development so they gain the needed experience as quickly as possible. 

Many companies we work with have a pretty good onboarding plan, yet nearly every manager wants to know if there is something more they can do to get these rookies productive sooner. The answer is yes. Here is what I recommend to help those new to sales ramp up quickly.

Topics: sales management Sales sales training

How Measuring Success is Different in Digital

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Measuring the results of an ad campaign or a marketing push is important. How else will you know if the effort was a success, and if the investment produced a profitable return? In the old-media days, it was often tough to measure, causing uncertainty and frustration among both buyers and sellers.

In the digital age, I could argue that it’s gotten too easy.

It's Not All About Clicks

Clicks are insanely easy to count. The click-thru-rate quickly became a new gold standard, and the abbreviation CTR made it seem so official and valid. But what was it really measuring? And what does that metric have to do with the marketer’s goals? These are the issues I often find myself discussing when I lead digital-media workshops, but these questions are not discussed as often as they should be with prospects.

Topics: digital marketing metrics measurement

Improve Your Proposals, Improve Your Performance

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Salespeople too often rush to deliver their proposal to the prospect, often believing that the sooner they deliver it the sooner they’ll get the order. Maybe—but only if it’s the right proposal, fully vetted.

Instead of being in a hurry to hand off the proposal, be in a hurry to uncover all the possible objections. Ensure that the vetting process happens by finding all the decision-influencers, running the plan past them, and looking for problems. When you’re present for that vetting, you can fix the problems and switch thumbs-down opposition to thumbs-up support. If you’re not there, you won’t know the issues and you won’t be able to do anything about them.

Topics: Proposal Sales

How User Experience and Content Quality Affect SEO + More

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It's Friday, and it's time for our Top 5 favorite news articles and industry blog posts from this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. UX, Content Quality, and SEO — Moz

Just how do UX design and content quality affect your SEO ranking? This video from Moz explains how your site's user experience and content quality influence where your pages appear in the search results. 

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Gen X is Entering the C-Suite: What It Means for Salespeople

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As Baby Boomers are retiring, Gen Xers (those born from about 1965 to 1980), now with several solid years of experience, are moving into decision-making positions. A few days ago I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how this shift is affecting the culture of companies and how they’re run. The article explained a few shared characteristics of these younger bosses. 

Topics: Sales lauramacpherson

Wise Advice on Empathy in Sales—2,000 Years Before the Word Empathy Was Invented

Empathy_in_Sales

"If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words." — Marcus Tullius Cicero (c. 106-43 B.C.), Roman philosopher, lawyer, and orator

Empathy may have been too touchy-feely a concept in Cicero’s day to have been awarded its own word. In fact, the modern word empathy is a 19th century creation in German (einfühlung), migrating to English in the early 20th. 

But as soon as a concept is given its own word in Webster’s (the lexicological equivalent of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame?), the word takes over. It can take on all sorts of meanings never intended at its creation or denoted by its creators. 

Today, for most people, empathy is pretty indistinguishable from sympathy, from the concept of wanting to comfort others in whatever distress they may be experiencing, of being, well, touchy-feely. The drive to comfort another may be useful in sales from time to time, but true empathy—the ability to project yourself into the other person’s shoes—is essential to the success of anyone who is trying to sell almost anything.

How to Fix the #1 Mistake that 94% of Sales Professionals Make in Negotiation + More

Sales-Negotiation

Throughout the week we're reading news articles and industry blogs, and Friday is the day we share our Top 5 with you. Here are this week's "best" from around the web.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

How to Position Yourself—Not Just Your Company or Cause

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Defining what position your own professional brand should take is hard work. Which is why most salespeople and development officers are still talking mostly about their company, their products, and their causes on their LinkedIn profile.

It’s important to be proud of your company. If you are, you might even say you’re blessed, or damn lucky, depending on your point of view. But when someone is deciding whether or not they want to take time to meet with you, it’s about you.

Topics: professional branding personal brand

Order Up, with a Side of Social Media

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The movie Chef, starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, and Sofia Vergara was in the theaters last year, and is now available on Netflix and for rental.

Some called it “the feel-good movie of the year” — and I agree — but it’s also a GREAT way to get up to speed on Social Media!

Topics: Social Media Digital

Do You Have a Sixth Man, Ready To Be Your MVP?

Sales-MVP

I am a big NBA fan and I really enjoyed watching the Finals this year. It was amazing to watch Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors emerge as the MVP. It’s not because I like to see LeBron get shut down (although I do enjoy that!). It’s because Iguodala became the first player in the history of the NBA to win the Finals MVP award without starting every game of the series.

He wasn’t a starter when the Finals began, which partially explains why the Cleveland Cavaliers went up 2 games to 1 before Golden State got their groove. In the course of the series, which the Warriors turned around and won 4-2, Iguodala went from being the first player off the bench (their sixth man, in basketball jargon) to becoming a starter and ultimately the MVP.

Topics: Sales salespeople

What to Do When Your Campaign Isn't Converting

Inbound marketing campaign

Each week we gather up the Top 5 (in our opinion!) posts or articles we've read online, and share them with you. Here are this week's "best" from around the web.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Call Prep Beats Winging It Ten Times Out of Ten!

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After 40 years of sales managing, sales consulting, and sales training, I have seen nearly everything. But I never cease to be amazed at those salespeople who pound their chest like Tarzan, have supreme confidence in their ability to wing it, and therefore don’t prepare adequately for upcoming meetings with prospects. They must think good prospects abound, that if you bust an opportunity there’ll be another one just as good right around the corner.

In the real world good prospects are precious, and blowing it because you weren’t prepared is unforgivable. A capital sin because it’s so preventable. The kind of mistake that should prompt your boss to show you the door.

Topics: successful sales meetings Sales