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Lead Generation Toolbox

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Jim Hopes

Recent Posts

The Remediation Myth and How to Coach for Real Improvement

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Most of us got to where we are by being pretty good at solving problems. So, when we eventually ascend into the management ranks, that problem-solving behavior naturally stays with us. The problem is, when it comes to people, you can’t really fix most weaknesses using those same skills.

The traditional model most managers follow is to assess what people are not doing well and give them training so they can do it better—the competency model. While skill training does certainly have value (it’s a big part of what our company sells), it only works well when you are teaching skills that match a person’s natural strengths (their innate talents).

For example, you probably know by now whether you can sing or not. If you’re like most people, the answer is not. Do you believe you could be on American Idol if you took enough voice lessons?

We both know the answer, don’t we?

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Topics: Management

Two Unexpected Traits of Leaders Whose Teams Experience Success

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There are myriad ideas and theories out there about what makes a great leader, and many are useful. They give some insight into those characteristics that define effective leaders—strategic thinking, strong focus, a sense of mission, passion for customers, innovation, hard work—the list goes on. But there is one trait strong leaders often exhibit that is not often discussed. It is the innate ability to build powerful relationships with the people who work for them. It’s critical, and it correlates to long-term success for the leader for several reasons:

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Topics: Management, leadership

What If You Never Wrote Another Proposal?

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What if you never wrote another proposal? Outlandish statement? Maybe not.

Most people are anxious to get a proposal in front of their prospect as soon as possible. After all, the sooner we ask them to buy something, the sooner we will get an answer right? Correct. You WILL get an answer sooner when you ask a prospect to buy sooner. So, why not crank out those proposals?
 
Here’s why:
 
The quick answer you get is far more likely to be “no” or a “Let me think about it.”  Which you know eventually winds down into a “no." A woodpecker bangs its head against a tree a thousand times a minute. Is that how you see yourself?
 
So, what about this?
 
What if by the time you presented your proposal, you and the prospect had already confirmed that you are working on the right needs? Needs that warrant attention and a solution sooner rather than later?

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Topics: Proposal, setting expectations, Sales

A Silver Bullet Needs Analysis Question

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A few months ago I was working with our client in Los Angeles and the managers were telling me they had a feeling their salespeople were not unearthing all the needs they should in their client needs analysis process. They cited a number of instances where the Account Executive did go deep enough and huge opportunities emerged for both the prospect and my client. They wanted to see that happening more often. After exploring the problem in more detail, I made several recommendations. One of those turned out to be particularly impactful.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

Trouble is Your Friend

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Last weekend I set out on mission to Home Depot. Lately, I have found myself involved in a number of short projects around the house, and I had come to two conclusions:

  1. Having a portable light would be very handy.
  2. Even though I have a portable light, it requires a wall plug and I’d rather not haul around a bulky light with a large orange cord and then seek an outlet.

I knew from keeping a casual eye on technology that LEDs and even some of the new efficient fluorescent bulbs put out plenty of light on battery power that lasts a long time. Sure enough, I accomplished my mission. Ten minutes and $31 later, I had my problem solved. I have already used it twice and it works well!

I bet this story doesn’t surprise you at all. You set out to solve problems in your life all the time, and often find good solutions, right? So when it comes time to approach a prospect, why do so many of us forget one of the most fundamental rules about capturing someone’s attention? It begins with identifying a potential problem within the business that needs attention. Otherwise, why would the prospect pay attention to you? The bottom line is that people only buy when there is a discrepancy between what they need to happen and what is actually happening. Motivated prospects are usually in one of two modes:

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales, prospecting

The Two Biggest Problems B2B Salespeople Have With Proposals

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1.  They don’t hear “yes” often enough.

2.  They don’t hear “no” often enough.

When you talk to salespeople all time as I do, it’s easy to see the biggest problem with many proposals is that they seem to fall into a black hole, an abyss, where salespeople don’t hear either "yes" or "no." That’s a problem.

It’s better to hear “no” than nothing. As a result, salespeople feed pending information to their managers each week, which includes proposals still hanging out there, and sales managers continue to miss their projections with faulty data. Experience shows that each week that goes by between presentation and getting an answer, the chance of closing a proposal goes down. In fact, the closing percentage on proposals over 30 days old is usually less than 10%, far less than what the salespeople are projecting. The reality is a no answer is usually a “no” answer.

So, how can salespeople avoid having their proposals drop off the face of the planet, never to be heard about again? Here are some steps that should be useful:

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Topics: Proposal, Needs Analysis, Sales

Three Essential (Often-Overlooked) Metrics Sales Managers Should Track for Better Performance

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I surely hear a lot of talk these days about success in setting new-business appointments. Sales managers often say with a degree of pride, “Our team set 28 appointments last week.” Or, “We had a very good appointment-setting session and got 31 new appointments in only two hours.”

These numbers are impressive, and the logical sequence of events from there would be a steady increase in new business volume. But, too often, when those new business metrics come in, the cause and effect doesn’t exist. New business does not spike as one would expect after four straight weeks of appointment setting. 

So, what is wrong?

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Topics: Setting Appointments, Sales