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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Jim Hopes

Recent Posts

5 Ways for Salespeople to Activate Lagging Prospects

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In our consulting practice we often talk with salespeople who are frustrated because a proposal they have in front of a prospect seems to be going nowhere. Typically, the prospect has said positive things about the plans in the proposal and seems to indicate they have interest in implementing the plan at some point, but still the decision wallows and there’s no sale. So how does one best deal with this scenario?

Here are five ideas to help you activate lagging prospects:

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Topics: Sales

Show Me Your Portfolio Of Work

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If a prospect asked to see your portfolio of work, what would you show? Information about your product? Data about how it’s better than the competition? A brochure that shows you are attractively priced? If this is your portfolio of work, then your role in the sales process is mostly to provide access to the product. That’s a problem. The reality is that most of the information a prospect needs about your product is readily available online these days. 

Let’s rethink this a bit. If you were hiring a…

  • Graphic designer, would you look for a portfolio of the work they have done for other clients? Of course you would.
  • How about a landscape contractor? You know that answer. Show me the pictures!
  • How about an investment professional? Would you look for evidence that she or he has solved problems for other clients and produced better-than-average returns? Yes, you would.
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Topics: Sales, salespeople

What the Ancient Greeks Taught Us About Hiring for Talent

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You might be surprised to learn that someone who lived in the early 300s BC had something to say about the role that talent plays in productivity, and that someone was none other than the Greek philosopher Plato.
Here is what he said: 

“More will be accomplished, and better, and with more ease, if every man does what he is best fitted to do, and nothing else.” 

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Topics: Talent

An Inconvenient Truth In Coaching Salespeople

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Most managers who have been around for a while understand that if salespeople are going to grow their skills they are going to need some coaching. If you think about it, every endeavor that involves performance against a standard, winning or losing, or rising to significance, begins with a talented performer coached by someone who provides accurate feedback and helpful coachingfrom athletics, to music, to business. If you watch how real coaching actually happens, you see the coach is always in a position to observe the performer first hand. Athletic coaches coach their people on the field, not in the office. The same goes with any other disciplineexcept for sales. 

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Topics: sales management, coaching

Once The Issue of Price Is On the Table, the Selling is Over

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Too often, I see salespeople attempting to mix selling activity with negotiation activity as though customers and prospects seamlessly flow between the two processes. In reality, they don’t. If you want to be successful in sales in the long term do your selling first, and when you have a prospect who is ready to negotiate a deal you should engage in the good negotiation practice knowing it is largely too late to do any significant selling. I see salespeople trying to make last-minute persuasive appeals to buyers in an attempt to show value and preserve their price during the negotiation. There are a number of reasons why that falls flat: 

1. A professional sales process requires a free flow of information throughout.

Needs are identified, the prospect shares views and concerns, and the salesperson shares expertise and solutions. This is as it should be and most times results in a proposal both buyer and seller have crafted. But when it comes time to negotiate price and terms, parties have a tendency to begin holding back information—the buyer trying not to make it seem like they absolutely need your solution and the seller being careful not to reveal information that might give the buyer an advantage in the exchange. Power is the key element in negotiation and neither party wants to hand more of it over to the other during the haggling phase.

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Topics: Sales

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