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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

5 Ways to Nail the Needs Analysis Conversation

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Once you have an appointment with a strong prospect, it’s time to prepare for a successful needs analysis so all the effort you spent getting the appointment isn’t wasted. You want to make sure that you have a strong and thorough needs analysis—because understanding your prospect's business, specific needs, challenges, and expectations is essential to developing a solution that will achieve results.

Topics: Needs Analysis successful sales meetings Sales

When Is The Last Time You Asked For A Referral?

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Go ahead and fill in the date here ______________.  If the answer is yesterday, congratulations. If you can’t remember any time recently, you should stop and figure out why you are not doing this.

Think about it. When you are looking to hire a professional what do you do? Of course, you ask people you know and trust who they would recommend, right? Well, a referral is an implied recommendation. Clients who give you the name of someone to contact feel comfortable about the expertise you bring to the table and its potential to help the business or person they are referring. So, again, how often do you ask satisfied customers for a referral? I bet you are thinking, “Not often enough.”

Topics: referrals Sales

5 Great Ideas for Sales Meetings Your Team Will Look Forward To

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Looking to climb out of that waste-of-time-sales-meeting rut and grab everyone’s attention with your highly productive and engaging meetings? 

It is no secret that the weekly sales meeting has plummeted to the bottom of the priority list for many salespeople. In many offices, it has become a routine exchange of housekeeping issues that could have been shared over email instead. Don’t get me wrong, you need to go over housekeeping issues from time to time, but taking an entire sales staff off the streets is a costly way to cover these items on a regular basis. Take a minute and do the math. How much does a one-hour sales meeting really cost you? That number will probably frighten you into ratcheting up the quality of your weekly get-together, so let’s get started.

Here are five powerful ways to jump-start your sales meetings and bring them to a whole new level:

Topics: successful sales meetings sales management

10 Time Management Hacks for Sales Reps + More

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We hope you've had a great week! It's Friday, and today we're sharing what we've been reading online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

110 Time Management Hacks for Sales Reps — HubSpot

We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” This is especially true for salespeople. Time management is one of the most challenging disciplines for salespeople to master. Reps always have several important tasks competing for their attention at once. Short of adding more hours to the day, a few solid time management hacks can help reps boost productivity. Here are 10 that you may not be using yet.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

In Your Sales Strategy, Are You Psyched Up For the Close?

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Will that “moment of truth” be looming in the next meeting with your prospect – the meeting where you look him or her in the eye and ask for the order? Or, will the next meeting be the one where you confirm the details to implement your plan... because, the prospect already knows most of what is in your proposal (they helped you build it), the price range, and most of what it’s going to take to buy your solution? I hope it’s the latter.

Topics: Proposal valid business reason Needs Analysis sales strategy sales performance Sales

Why Now Is The Time To Incorporate Analytics Into Your Sales Coaching Process

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The statistics surrounding the effectiveness and prevalence of sales coaching are quite startling. Research indicates that reps who have access to highly effective coaches perform 19% better than others on average. Yet surveys also indicate that approximately 25% of sales managers don’t employ any kind of coaching process.

Topics: sales management coaching

5 Reasons to Give the HubSpot CRM a Try

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We talk to businesses all the time who don’t have CRMs, but know they need one. I’ve written about this exact topic in the past (read 5 Reasons Salespeople Aren't Using CRMs Effectively here). While there are many obstacles to overcome when choosing any kind of new technology, the CRM seems to be an exceptionally tough one. This is due to a huge variety of options in the marketplace, a lot of previous bad experiences, fear of new technology, costs, and the potential risks involved like lack of adoption, technological barriers, training, and so on.

I get it. These are all great reasons to take this decision very seriously, but that shouldn’t get in the way of taking action.

There are just far too many benefits to having and using a CRM that can’t be ignored. Luckily, our partner, HubSpot, has made the decision a heck of a lot easier. And to help you even further, I’ve put together these five reasons why you should consider giving the HubSpot CRM a try right now:

Topics: sales pipeline HubSpot crm

5 Steps to More High-Quality Appointments

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Raise your hand if you wish you had more quality appointments each week? My bet is that nearly 100% of you raised your hand. Almost every salesperson and sales manager that I speak to these days is talking about how difficult it is to get the quality appointment. Ironically, at the same time that getting quality appointments has become perhaps the most important activity for growing business, it has also become one of the most challenging parts of the sales process. The reasons for this are nearly the same in every market. They sound like some variation of the following.

Topics: Setting Appointments Sales

Two Mistakes Salespeople Make When Sharing Insights

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Sharing insights as part of the sales process is getting a lot of press these days. It makes sense that prospects are looking for relevant insights that will impact their business in world of abundant information. 

But there are two mistakes I see salespeople making when sharing insights. Insights have to actually be relevant to the prospect and be truly insightful in order to speed up the sale. The mistakes I see most frequestly are:

  1. Sharing a deck of random facts and thinking they are insights. 
  2. Sharing an insight and not turning it into an interesting conversation.
Topics: Sales

5 Highly Effective Ways to Respond to Pricing Questions + More

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We hope you've had a great week! It's Friday, and today we're sharing what we've been reading online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

15 Highly Effective Ways to Respond to Pricing Questions — HubSpot

You’re meeting with a hot prospect for the first time when they hit you with the dreaded price question. How you respond could make or break the rest of the conversation. Here's how to nail that response.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Increase Your E-mail Open Rates and Avoid the Trash with These 10 Subject Lines

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Okay, here’s the scenario. You’ve done your due diligence on a prospect and your extensive research tells you that:

Topics: email Sales

3 Steps to Make Sure Individual Focus Meetings are Never Mediocre

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Every week or two, in nearly every sales organization across the country, sales managers and salespeople sit down together for their regularly scheduled individual focus meetings.

You’re familiar with these meetings, so let me ask you... in your opinion, do your salespeople look forward to them? Are they anxious to share valuable information and discuss next steps in order to ensure they are moving business forward? For the most part, would you say they are a good use of everyone’s time?

Many will answer, “No.”

In my experience, both salespeople and sales managers often find themselves dreading these one-on-one meetings because they feel as though they are a waste of their time.

Topics: sales management Talent coaching

Is Your Hunger Greater Than Your Fear?

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If you are in sales, you have to learn to effectively battle your fears. Fear of a big client leaving. Fear of a big deal falling through. Fear of your company making a change. Fear of the marketplace changing. Fear of the new boss.  

Topics: Sales

5 Biggest Interview Pitfalls—and How to Avoid Them

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Interviewing salespeople is tough! Screening, uncovering, and selecting top talent takes a lot of practice and a reliable process. And it is essential to avoid the most common pitfalls along the way.

As far as interview questions go, the best are the ones provided in a validated scientific talent instrument used (toward the end of your selection process) by a certified Talent Analyst. The next best interview questions are those you yourself can ask each candidate to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—to determine whether there is enough evidence of talent to invest more time in them.

I often work with our clients to help them improve their interview techniques and become better at moving the right people forward in the funnel. Those who are the very best at recruiting and selecting top talent know that strong screening in the beginning leads to a much more talented candidate pool every time. Those that don’t commit to that kind of consistent practice tend to get stuck in one of five common interviewing traps and often find themselves disappointed with the underperformance of those they’ve brought on board.

In order to better take advantage of every golden interview opportunity that comes your way, you need to know these traps welland then avoid them.

Topics: Talent

Offline & Organic: The Two Rivers That Feed Modern Local SEO + More

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We hope you've had a great week! It's Friday, and today we're sharing what we've been reading online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1Offline & Organic: The Two Rivers That Feed Modern Local SEO — Moz

Local companies that lack a basic understanding of how customer service works in the offline world won’t be fully equipped to consult with clients who may need as much help defining the USP of their business as they do managing its local promotion. This post shows how the two work together and howt o maximize them both.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

There is Only One Place to Coach Salespeople

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I remember when I took private pilot's lessons there were two places learning took place. The first place was ground school. We learned how airplanes are constructed, how they fly, which radio frequencies to use, and how airports are laid out – literally hundreds of  topics one would need to know to pilot an airplane.

Topics: Management

Improve Your Sales with Hot Coals

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It's time to pull out the fire pit and get those spring fires burning. You need the right wood to keep a strong fire burning, just like you need the right talent to improve your sales.

Every client I am working with is telling me the changes in business are creating a need for a new breed of salesperson. In this good business climate, there is opportunity everywhere, but taking advantage of that opportunity requires stronger talent than in the very recent past.

This has everyone looking for great new sales talent to bring into their organization, and this pursuit of talent has leaders evaluating their current culture. You need the right culture to attract top talent.

Topics: sales culture Talent

8 Steps to Improve Your In-Field Coaching

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I know about coaching. 

When my twin daughters were learning to drive, I spent countless hours working with them as they practiced behind the wheel. I owed it to all of you to do my job well!

On my quest to mold them into great drivers, I learned one certain truth: this kind of coaching can only be accomplished from inside a moving vehicle. You cannot teach someone how to drive a car by handing them a book, suggesting an informative video, or lecturing them on safe driving techniques.

(The same is true for sales, but more on that later…)

Our learn-to-drive boot camp did begin with some classroom-style learning. The girls read the information booklet provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles from cover to cover and they attended formal driver’s education classes to ensure they obtained the knowledge required to pass their written exam. They squeaked by on that exam which then earned them a driver’s permit so they could legally join the rest of us on the road as long as they have a family member in the car. Me.

Another certain truth: just because someone passes a written test does not mean they drive well. 

Topics: sales management Talent

5 Ways Automation Enables Deeper Relationships Between Prospects and Salespeople

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For most sales reps, the benefits of employing automation tools are manifest. Who wouldn’t want to hand over humdrum tasks to digital systems so they could spend more time on activities that are fulfilling. Studies have shown sales professionals typically spend only 11% of their time actively selling, which is doubtless something many workers in the profession would like to change.

However, many of these same salespeople live in fear that reliance on automation will damage their ability to build deep and meaningful relationships with their clients. It makes sense because often times we associate the word “automated” with the impersonal. Although it may sound counterintuitive, many of the processes facilitated by sales automation software actually make it easier for sales reps to dedicate additional resources to enhancing client relationships.

Topics: Sales automation marketing automation

How to Craft Meetings People Love (Really) + More

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We hope you've had a great week! It's Friday, and today we're sharing what we've been reading online this week! Here are our "best" from around the web.

1How to Craft Meetings People Love (Really) — strategy + business

At their worst, meetings are like short prison sentences that have you counting the minutes until your release. Yet there are meetings that are useful and productive, and even invigorating and enjoyable. This article looks at three types of meetings that exemplify variations on best practices and are worth emulating.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

5 Tips to Building a Strong Social Media Strategy

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The average American social media user spends an average of 3.2 hours a day with social networks according to research by Ipsos. With that much time being spent on a social network, businesses who have not developed a social media plan as a part of their marketing strategy are missing out on a lot of opportunity.

What’s the solution? Use social media! Sounds easy enough, and building a page on social media is simple. But posting once a day and tweeting is not enough. To effectively use social media for marketing, marketers need to build an audience and create engaging content that resonates with that audience.

If you are currently using social media to market your business, or you offer digital solutions and are looking to help your clients build and enhance their social strategy, here are five things to consider:

1. Start by determining which social media network(s) is the right social network.

Social networks are not all the same. They all have different audiences that engage with the content in different ways. To understand which social network(s) you should be active in, first identify your target persona. Learn how they use social media, which networks are they most active in, and which content they engage with most on your website.

Topics: Digital

The Five Common Misconceptions of Sales Talent

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I love the ah-ha moments in my job! You know that feeling… when you are talking about something you passionately believe in and then–bam–you can practically see the light bulb go off for the other person. That’s a highlight for me and one I was able to enjoy just this morning. Talking with a new client who has never been exposed to the concept of strength management before, I was struck by how differently we each perceived the talents of the young seller we were reviewing. He was stuck in the old management paradigm of fixing people and hoping for improvement with additional experience until it all finally clicked. While this salesperson had quite a few strong talents, her account list and project responsibilities required her to lean heavily on areas of weakness. The fit was all wrong! 

Topics: sales management sales culture Talent Sales

Three Sales Coaching Steps to Recruit Quality vs. Quantity

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As a sales manager, I often felt like my office needed a revolving door when recruiting. I was always looking for talented candidates to keep my talent bank full. When reviewing resumes, I sometimes looked beyond people currently in sales to help develop new talent, and often times these candidates would leave as fast as they came in. This wasn't because I scared them or asked them to leave but because selling is tough. The candidates decided for themselves after asking questions about the positions I was hiring for, that a career in sales wasn't for them.

Topics: Digital inbound marketing Talent

Are Your Best Salespeople Leaving Money on the Table?

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Top salespeople are often the veterans. They have deep relationships, and when there is an RFP (request for proposal) or a big contract up for bid, they know just how to zero in on that transaction and bring home the biggest share of the business.

The prospect has already decided they are going to spend that money for your product or industry. It's the "money on the table" or the low hanging fruit, and the issue was always about beating the competition.

Transactional business is critical to secure, and the big wins take hard work. But those successes can blind even the best sales reps from rocking the boat enough to look for more opportunities.

Topics: business relationships sales culture Sales