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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Take a Vacation and Still Hit Your Number + 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 Take a Vacation and Still Hit Your Number — HubSpot

Taking time off to recharge is important, but too many salespeople don't get away because they're worried they'll fall behind. Taking a vacation without missing quota is possible with good planning and collaboration. This article shows you how.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Don’t Forget this Proven Sales Strategy to Get an Appointment

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Anyone in sales knows that it can be tough to get that first appointment with an ideal prospect. You might have to leave a voicemail, send an email, try to connect on LinkedIn, show up at their house, or volunteer to clean out their garage!

When trying to stand out, don’t overlook the option of sending a business letter. 

You know what we’re talking about right? A short message on your letterhead, placed in an envelope and sent via the Post Office.

If you decide to use this as one way to get in front of prospects, here are some guidelines to follow:

Topics: business development valid business reason Setting Appointments sales strategy Sales

What Do Top Performers Have in Common?

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The results from the most recent State of Sales Survey conducted by Salesforce reveals some interesting insight into what the best salespeople do to close more deals and make lots of money. 280 salespeople as well as clients were surveyed.

Topics: sales performance Sales

Seems Like Everyone is Under Investigation

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If you are paying attention to the news, you may have noticed that lots of people are under investigation from both sides of the political spectrum. The dictionary definition of investigation is “a formal inquiry or systematic study.”

While running a workshop last week, I was reminded of the power of a salesperson when they slip into investigation mode. That systematic process is the key to building trust and demonstrating value in the early stages of a relationship.

No matter what you are selling, you should go far beyond just needs analysis or selling features and benefits of your product or service. You want to have a business conversation, looking for a desired business result that you can help them accelerate. 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

21 Habits to Become a More Effective Salesperson + 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.

121 Habits to Become a More Effective Salesperson — HubSpot

What behaviors makes for an effective salesperson, and by extension, a team of effective salespeople? This list, gathered from observing the habits of top salespeople, will help you improve your game.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

How to Use LinkedIn to Find Your Next Superstar Salesperson

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Sales talent is tough to find. Those who are great at what they do aren’t usually spending their time on job boards. According to a survey from The Adler Group, 15 percent of employed professionals are active candidates pursuing a new opportunity — another 68 percent are open to listening to new opportunities, but aren’t actively looking. So how do you find those talented salespeople you need?

Topics: Talent salespeople

Quickly Determine What’s Helping or Hindering the Sale

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Some sales go from step to step and lead smoothly to an agreement and an order. Other times, things stall and you’re not sure why. It might happen at one of the three tipping points in the sale process. There are many reasons a stall can happen, and there’s a quick way to determine what is helping and what is hindering the process.

At some point in our life, we’ve had someone tell us to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, and write all the pros for a decision on one side and the cons on the other. The formal name is a “decision balance sheet.” Ben Franklin was known to use them. What makes this simple exercise effective is that it helps us put on paper what we already know — but haven’t thought enough about. 

Another variation of this process is a force-field analysis. It’s used in social science. Our founder Steve Marx applied it to the sales process. The force field approach looks at the forces that are influencing a situation. It looks to see if they are driving movement toward a goal (helping) or blocking momentum toward a goal (hindering). 

Topics: Sales sales process

The #1 Reason Why You Will Fail At Selling Digital Marketing Solutions

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It’s a pretty strong statement to say there is one thing that will influence whether you succeed or fail at selling digital marketing solutions. But that’s what I’m saying.

Pete Pitcher and Connie Consultant both work for Mel Manager at Digital Solutions Inc. Pete Pitcher learns about one new digital product each month that he can sell. He approaches new prospects and current clients with a one-sheet on why his new digital product is a perfect solution.

Pitching the "Next Great Thing" vs. Finding Ideal Prospects

Before Pete can finish pitching the new product to his list of 75 targets, his manager holds a meeting to “roll out” another great digital product. Pete is so excited because he feels that all the businesses that buy this new product will have great results. Pete’s plan is to approach all the targets on the list that didn’t call or email him back last month with this new, latest, and greatest digital offering. 

Topics: Digital

4 Things to Do If You Want to Increase Your Closing Percentages

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If you’re in sales then you know its extremely important to close deals, right? That’s kind of an easy question, but I ask it only because it seems as though many salespeople think their job is to have a lot of business in “pending.” When I ask salespeople how things are going, what I typically hear is "I got a lot out there.” While I get why having "a lot out there" feels good, it's not the most important thing and may or may not be a good indicator of the customers you will earn. Closing the deal, earning customers, and helping them to have success is far more important. 

Topics: Sales

9 Strategies for Using Customer Testimonials in Your Content + 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.

19 Strategies for Using Customer Testimonials in Your Content — Content Marketing Institute

We look for and act on (even if subconsciously) social proof in all areas our life – including how we behave and the purchasing decisions we make online. Testimonials are a type of review and social proof. They serve the same purpose (guiding potential customers and helping overcome objections), but they’re different in one big way: Testimonials are sought and selected by you. This means you have full control over which testimonials are used, as well as where and how they are displayed. Here are nine ways to leverage testmonials in your content.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

Three Industries Well-suited for Inbound Marketing

3-Industries-for-Inbound-MarketingInbound Marketing has proven effective for just about every kind of business. Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C). Companies with simple solutions or ones with complex multi-decision-maker sales processes.  

Just about every business type representing multiple segments has had success generating leads and improving sales performance by deploying inbound marketing best practices. As Director of Client Solutions at LeadG2, I provide guidance to organizations who are exploring the potential impact inbound marketing can have on their growth objectives. Recently, a lot of my discussions have been with executives from three specific industries – Media, Staffing & Recruiting, and Professional Services. They are particularly well suited for inbound marketing.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales

Personality Traits of Top Sales Performers

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Reading the Harvard Business Review just makes you feel smarter, and you are because of the insights you’ve gleaned. An article written by Steve W. Martin, called “The 7 Key Personality Traits of Top Salespeople,” was published on June 28, 2011. 2011 seems like a lifetime ago, and many studies have been done since then on the subject of talent themes of of top performers. The results seem to be similar and timeless.

When a successful salesperson is questioned on what makes them stand out above the rest, most don’t have specific answers. The reason seems to be because these high performers are doing what comes naturally to them. These are not skills that can be taught or learned. It’s about behaviors that “fire naturally” in client-facing sales situations.

Specific traits are sales accelerators. Mr. Martin gave 1,000 uber-successful salespeople a personality assessment. The purpose was to measure five traits:

Topics: hiring salespeople sales performance

You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Buy It

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Salespeople are hired to sell. When a salesperson can’t close a deal with a prospect, it can seem as if they’ve failed. The often-quoted idea that a good salesperson can sell anything to anyone is rooted in one of those lingering old-school, outdated ideas that the selling process is a contest to be won at any cost.

It’s true that in every sales process, someone is going to be convinced to say "yes." Either the prospect will say, “Yes, I’ll buy this” or the salesperson will say, “Yes, you’re not going to buy this.” But what gets so many salespeople off-track and spinning their wheels on lousy prospects is the belief that the only right answer is the prospect saying "yes." 

Topics: sales management Sales

Don’t Jump to the Finish Line When Hiring

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When you have openings on your staff, it's easy to get enamored with a candidate and jump to the finish line. That will always cost you in the long run. Every organization I know takes longer than they should to remove non-performing salespeople. It's just a fact. So you need to hire tough, so you can manage easy. If you hire easy, then you have to manage tough (threaten, push, and poke to get them to do what they should be doing).

Topics: hiring salespeople sales management Talent

How to Win Against the Competition + 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 Win Against the Competition — HubSpot

Salespeople and prospects rarely want to talk about the same things. You want to talk about the buyer’s budget, timeline, and role in the decision making process, while the buyer wants to talk about pricing and the nuts and bolts of the product. This conflict is especially clear when your prospect brings up the competition. It would be great to keep the focus elsewhere, but if you say too little (or nothing at all), you’ll miss an opportunity to differentiate. Say too much, and you typically come across as insecure or desperate. To walk this line and ultimately win the deal, follow these six guidelines.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

How to Deal with a Weakness

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No one ever became successful because of their weaknesses.

Think of any successful person and you’ll realize they became well-known for a single area of strength in spite of the many more weaknesses they had to manage and work around on the way.

When we maximize our talents we find success, and in order to do that we need a very clear understanding of what those talents are. Only then can we match talent to task and put people in the position to do the things they are naturally good at in their job.

Our partnership with Talent Plus—and their extensive research of top performing B2B salespeople and sales managers—has allowed us to clearly define the specific behaviors that separate the best from the rest. This allows us to guide our clients to make smart selection decisions, and then to coach those they hire to maximize their talents and continually increase performance.

But those darn weaknesses… they won’t just go away.

But don't worry! There are three ways to effectively deal with a weakness:

Topics: Talent

3 Words You Should Never Say in Sales

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While the business of sales is selling, and selling consists of closing business, I cringe when I hear salespeople use internal selling terms in front of clients. Three words that are crucial to your business could kill your process in front of a prospect. Be sure to avoid these while speaking to a client or prospect:

Topics: sales strategy Sales

The Hottest Way to Capture the Attention of a Prospect

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Nearly everyone agrees it’s tougher than ever to get prospects to respond to your approaches, and all sales professionals know that if there is no appointment there is no chance for a sale. In today’s world, salespeople have many means and methods to try to get a quality appointment and all have a place. In fact, we strongly recommend you use multiple messages in multiple media to break through. We outline that in our Don’t Give Up process.

But, let me point out a tool seldom used, which is proving to be very effective in the appointment setting process: sending a letter – in the mail. Yes, I am talking about snail mail. You may be chuckling right now, but before you dismiss the idea think about it for a minute. How many emails do you get a day? (Most people have a three-figure number here.) What happens if you don’t spend time cleaning out your inbox? You know, you are deluged quickly. And when you clean out that inbox, how much time do you spend with emails from people you don’t know, especially one who looks like a salesperson? I thought so.

So, here is another question for you. How many pieces of mail do you receive at your office every day? Hmm. That’s what I thought. Now you can see why something sent in the mail can stand out, right?

But, it’s not as simple as sending a letter. Content matters. Here are some suggestions:

Topics: Setting Appointments Sales

Selling to Learn: New Knowledge Makes You More Competitive

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When you first start out in sales, you spend a lot of time learning to sell. After you have been in sales for a long time, you need to flip that and focus on selling to learn. I encourage you to be on the lookout for ways to learn. All the time.

John Wooden once said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." In the fast-paced, always-changing world we live in today, you need to take this seriously. 

Topics: Sales

8 New Ways to Rethink Failure + 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.

18 New Ways to Rethink Failure — HubSpot

If you want to be great at sales, you need to get comfortable with failure. Selling requires you to constantly put yourself on the line: From requesting referrals and calling new prospects to pursuing a whale or entering a highly competitive situation. The more chances you take, the likelier you are to occasionally fall flat on your face. These eight perspectives will help you see your failure in a positive light.

Topics: inbound marketing Sales Wrap-up

You Can't Coach Talent from the Locker Room

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Can you imagine Bill Belichick, head coach for the New England Patriots, calling the plays, encouraging his players, and developing star athletes like Tom Brady from inside the locker room? Of course not! So, why do sales managers try that approach?

Topics: Talent Sales