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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Grow From Your Strengths + More

 

Here we are at Friday, the end of another week, and we're sharing the top articles and resources we've read this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. Grow From Your Strengths — strategy + business

Most companies want to grow. But as this article points out, you can grow profitably and sustainably only from a position of strength. The author explains how to chart a course toward sustainable and profitable expansion by combining four approaches to growth. 

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

5 Ideas for Running Successful Sales Appointments

Successful_Sales_Appointments

When a sales manager asks, “What does the client or prospect expect from this meeting?” too often salespeople say something like, “I don’t really know, but I definitely need to ask them some questions about their business.”

We spend so much of our time working to get the appointment, and then we fail to make sure the appointment will produce a successful sales meeting. What a missed opportunity! 

Topics: setting expectations new business development Sales

How You Can Get Ten Times Better at What You Do

Improve_Sales_Basketball_Analogy

John Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of basketball, summed up one of the most powerful takeaways in strength management in one simple sentence: "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." That gem of an observation extends far beyond the court and deep into each of our lives.

As the head coach at UCLA, Wooden won 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row. No other coach or school has won the NCAA tournament more than two consecutive years in a row so I’m sure we can all agree that the guy knew talent! He knew how to spot it, recruit it, and he certainly knew how to coach it.

John Wooden understood that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. And for every one of us, our weaknesses greatly outnumber our strengths. Whether we are talking about sports superstars, famous musicians, groundbreaking scientists, successful entrepreneurs, or people in your sales department, our weaknesses comprise the mountain that looms large over the tiny molehill of our strengths. 

Topics: Talent

I Don’t Know, Let Me Get Back to You 

Sales_Questions

You've spent weeks trying to get a meeting with an important prospect, you've gotten past the gatekeepers and have given him or her a valid business reason (VBR) to have a meeting with you. You're halfway through the presentation that you worked on for hours over the weekend, and your prospect stops you dead in your tracks with a question you have never heard before. What do you do? Do you fake it? Do you dance around the question and minimize it?

If you are truly looking to better yourself as a salesperson and to make a solid and lasting client relationship, you don’t do any of those things mentioned above. You stop and turn to your prospect and say, “That’s a great question and one I have never heard before. I don’t know, let me get back to you."

It might not work on a test in college or in politics, but admitting you don’t know the answer to a question in business can work to your advantage in 3 ways. The first way is that it gives you the opportunity to follow up with your prospect after the meeting with information the person is interested in receiving. Secondly, it gives you a chance to display your expertise in a well-thought-out manner. And lastly, it helps you build credibility and trust (especially if you follow up in a timely manner). Let’s look at how each of these ways can benefit you.

Topics: Sales brianhasenbauer salespeople

Deliver Feedback That Sticks + More

 Giving_Feedback

We've come to the end of the week, and we're sharing the top articles and resources we've read this week. Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. Deliver Feedback That Sticks — Harvard Business Review

The secret of effective feedback is making it feel like the message is coming from an ally, not an adversary. But this is easier said than done. This article offers practical steps to make sure you're delivering feedback in a way that shows you're on the same team.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

When Is the Last Time You Presented a Bright Idea That a Prospect Loved?

Big_Idea_Sales

One of the most exciting things in selling is when a prospect leans forward with excitement and says, "Tell me more." To put yourself in that position, you must first get a clear assignment (something the prospect wants help with) and then you must define the problem or opportunity well. 

Once you’ve done that, you can come up with possible solutions and turn one into a bright idea (with the prospect's help). The foundation of this is coming up with the right problem statement. As you are interacting with a prospect, float some potential problem statements and ask them to pick the one that could yield the most interesting ideas. 

Why 75% of Proposals Will Never Close, and 10 Ways to Improve

Proposals

These days it seems like every time I ask someone in sales how they’re doing, I get the same response: “I’ve got a lot pending!” This has become so prevalent in every market I visit, I could easily be convinced that compensation plans have changed so radically that people are now getting paid on pending! Because I know this is not case, I also know we have a problem. 

500 Proposals Don’t Lie

Over the last 6 months, I reviewed over 500 proposals from a variety of B2B sales organizations. These were all legitimate proposals, actually presented to a prospect or client, and they have provided me with some valuable insight that I am going to share with you today. 

Topics: Proposal Sales

Sales Signals: Sometimes You Have to Take the Extra Step

Sales_Signals

Most times when you find yourself at a crosswalk, you simply stand in front of the "don't walk" signal, and the light will eventually say "walk." Sales can be a lot like that. You just show up often enough and someone eventually buys something.  

At important, busy intersections, corners where some extra caution is required, you can walk up to the crosswalk and watch the lights cycle through for the cars over and over, but you just keep getting "don't walk." After a while, you'll look behind you and see there's an extra step you need to take to get across: there's a button you need to push to get the "walk" signal you want. It's an easy thing to do, but if you don't notice it, you could stand there all day waiting.

Topics: Sales research

It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office + More

Dollar_Growth_Sales

It's Friday, and it's time to share our Top 5 articles and resources from this week's readings. Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office — The Wall Street Journal

In many offices, it's rare to hear "Thank you," or "I really appreciate that." But in a 2013 survey of 2,000 Americans, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, 80% of professionals agreed that receiving gratitude makes them work harder. And when researchers at the London School of Economics analyzed more than 50 studies for a 2011 paper that looked at what gets people charged up at work, they discovered some interesting findings. They concluded that we give our best effort if the work gets us interested and excited, if we feel that it’s providing meaning and purpose, and if others appreciate what we’re doing. This article digs into the details of why appreciation is such a strong motivator.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Don't Delete Me! The Sales Email Subject Line

Sales_Email_Subject_Line

If you depend on email to grab a prospect’s attention and nail down that elusive first appointment, you should spend as much time honing the subject line of that email as you spend fine-tuning the entire body of the message.

Your competition is doing exactly that. If you do a Google search on "email subject line research" you'll find that myriad studies and tests are being done each year. And make no mistake: The big-time emailers out there may not be trying to make an appointment to sit down with your prospect, but in the email Inbox, they’re your competition. 

Some marketing gurus tell us that writing a good subject line is like—and as important as—writing a newspaper headline. Fact is, the email environment is much tougher, much bloodier. When your prospect sits down with the daily paper, he has usually committed himself to 20 minutes or more of reading, perhaps with a cup of Joe or a glass of wine readily at hand. Not so when he’s reviewing the latest avalanche of messages to arrive in his Inbox! On email, he’s in constant triage mode, ready to hit the delete button, allowing himself only 2.7 seconds to determine if there’s a good reason he shouldn’t. 

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development lead generation Sales

What You Need to Know to Effectively Grow Sales Performance

Growing_Salespeople

When my husband and I first moved to Dallas almost 25 years ago, I bought a Mary Engelbreit magnet for my fridge that said, “Bloom where you’re planted.” It was a daily reminder for me to make things happen in my life, wherever I was.

As a Talent Analyst, I am highly invested in helping others to bloom where they’re planted as well, working to maximize their natural strengths and help them grow as a result. This is fairly easy as long as the right people are planted in the right places. When they’re not, all of the nurturing in the world won’t help them thrive.

Topics: Talent salespeople

This Week, I Became a Salesperson’s Problem

The_Gatekeeper

This week, it occurs to me that I’ve become the kind of person many of our clients find most challenging. You see, there’s this guy—I’ll call him Doug—who’s been reaching out to me by email, asking me to tell him who’s in charge of printed materials at The Center for Sales Strategy.

Over the past few of weeks, he’s sent me several notes, each one demonstrating another degree of persistence. Most recently, he came out very directly and said, “I going to be even more persistent than you are busy,” as if this was a war of attrition that he would eventually win. So I sent him a response, but not the one that he wanted.

I sent him a note explaining that my lack of response had less to do with how busy I am than the fact that his email did not earn a response. He found my name, and somehow, my email address. Other than that, his notes demonstrated little knowledge of my company and zero knowledge of my role in it. I wrote to him that he was asking for a referral, in a way, that he had not earned… asking me to identify the person in charge of buying printed materials for my company. (We don’t really have anyone in charge of that. We print our own.)

In his emails, he claimed that he could help, but offered little understanding of how he could help. I couldn’t tell if he was selling printers, printer ink, or printing services. So I responded to his email, but not in the way he was hoping. Instead, I explained why I wasn’t getting back to him and what he’d have to do to change that outcome. (I gave him a free coaching session on VBRs, I suppose.)

Before you click “Send” on your next introductory message, please scrutinize it with these kinds of questions:

Topics: Sales sales leads

Insanity or Innovation? How to Navigate the Changes in Media Sales

Innovation_in_Sales

In case you haven’t noticed, things are changing in media sales. Almost faster than we can keep up with. More and more local accounts are now being handled by the national rep. Technical dollars, those that we have little control over and are basically bought just on your ratings, are declining. There is little a local staff can do with strictly technical dollars when the salesperson doesn’t even know what the out-of-town buyer looks like, much less have a relationship with him or her.

Topics: Sales media

5 Reasons Your Social Media Campaign Won’t Bear Fruit + More

Social-Media

We've come to the end of the week, and now we're sharing our favorite articles and resources from the last few days. Here are our "best" from around the web.

1. 5 Reasons Your Social Media Campaign Won’t Bear Fruit — Social Media Today

With over two billion people worldwide having an active presence on some social network or other, businesses now understand the importance of being on social media. But many companies are disappointed with the results they're seeing from their efforts. This post details a few reasons why companies aren’t seeing the results they’d like.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Could Something Be More Important to Sales Success than Having the Right Strategy?

Sales_team_culture

It turns out there’s something much more important.

Let’s start by acknowledging the essential nature of strategy to the success of any venture, old or new, commercial or non-profit. Strategy is the grand plan, how your solutions fit with the problems they’re intended to solve, your path to market, your role in the competitive landscape, and the relationship you seek with customers. Important? Heck, yes. We built the name of our company around that word. 

Too many sales organizations don’t have a strategy, don’t believe their strategy, don’t understand their strategy, and/or don’t follow their strategy. Their daily activities are a mish-mash of ill-fitting, often contradictory, tactics, programs, projects, and promotions—Band-Aids to cover the gaping hole where strategy is supposed to be. They create a “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get” environment that wears everyone out and leaves the organization well short of its dream, its potential, even its short-term goals, quotas, and budgets. No wonder Sun-Tzu, writing 3,000 years ago in The Art of War, called tactics without strategy “the noise before defeat.”

Topics: sales strategy sales culture Sales