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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Jim Hopes

Recent Posts

The Danger Of Breathtaking Proposals

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You gotta know that modern software and a bevy of specifically-trained digital layout specialists is lifting the tide for everyone when it comes to creating absolutely gorgeous proposals. Who knows what tomorrow’s technology will produce for us. Perhaps 3-D versions of a proposal delivered by hologram, featuring the best-looking and best-sounding salesperson technology can conjure up.  Intriguing to think of, isn’t it?

Despite the fact that very few proposals are unattractive these days, I hear from salespeople that it seems fewer of them actually get read—or if they are delivered in person, not enough of them are being sold. So what is going on? What the high-powered graphics packages don’t take into account is that a proposal must me more than a pretty face. CONTENT trumps appearance 9.9 times out of 10.  A plain-looking proposal with strong content is more likely to sell than a graphically appealing production with weak or generic content. 

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Topics: Proposal, Sales

Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen

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Everybody’s got one. In fact, ideas are not only cheap and plentiful, but their overuse often obscures the work we should really be doing—gaining an understanding of what the prospect is trying to get accomplished. I see so many salespeople (and sales managers) default to premature ideas that end up nowhere.

The temptation is to vomit an idea the minute we see or hear a possible need in the customer’s business. Bad practice. Ask a few more questions and dig a little deeper about what business results the prospect is looking for, what problems exist for them in the marketplace, what opportunities are out there for their category of business they have yet to realize, or what conditions are specific to their category of business. 

Keep in mind that all your competitors are talking about ideas as well. The prospect has heard it all before. What makes an idea valuable is that it addresses a very specific need in that prospect’s business.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

What Does “Sales Strategy” Mean Anyway?

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I hear managers and execs talk all the time about the importance of sales strategy. “Strategy” is one of the words that gets used a lot. (In fact, Webster’s Dictionary says it is in the top 10% of most popular words.) After all, who gets heat for talking strategy? C’mon!

The problem I see in the field is that most sales “strategies” are not really strategies at all. If you look at that definition of strategy, you see, “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal, usually over a long period of time.” That means a strategy doesn’t change (or if it does change, this doesn’t happen very often), is long-term, and describes a set of consistent behaviors. Many sales strategies I see are more like tactics: making more calls in a defined period of time, approaching a new group of prospects, or introducing new offers to move the market forward. I am not saying these things are bad, but I am pointing out they are tactics, not strategies. Tactics can be helpful IF they support a strategy.

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Topics: sales strategy, Sales, goals

The Language In Your Proposal Might Be Holding You Back

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Recently I had a conversation with a manager where she was expressing concern about the language she was seeing in their proposals. In reading them over, the words were crisp and highly descriptive. The problem was, the language and terms were those they use in their own internal discussions—their industry jargon. This is a problem. 

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Topics: Proposal, Sales

You Can Get Anything You Want in Life, If…

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Do you know the rest of the quote? Well, here it is… "you just help enough other people get what they want." So, who said this? Perhaps you might think this came from the leader of a social services organization, or perhaps from clergy or some Eastern philosopher. But that's not where this quote came from. It actually came from a long time, well known motivational speaker in the sales arena. That's right, some of you know it was the venerable Zig Ziglar who said that. Pretty heady words from a guy who got his start selling pots and pans door-to-door, eh?

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Topics: customer focus, Needs Analysis, developing strengths, Sales

Much Of The Feedback Sales Managers Give Is Useless

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Sales Managers have a hard job. Above them, executives are very clear about what they expect them to achieve—usually expressed as a dollar goal for the department. But, the Sales Manager is the person who has to convert what the company expects into how to accomplish it. Not easy. If the company expects the Sales Manager to reach a million dollars in sales this month simply sending that message down the line to the sales team is of little or no value. We all know certain things roll downhill with little result. 

So what kind of feedback does the Sales Manager provide to translate the what (the monetary goal), to the how (the method by which we will accomplish the goal)? Here are some ideas:

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Topics: sales management, Sales

When Approaching Prospects You Probably Give Up Way Too Soon

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So, what is the line between persistent and pest when it comes to securing appointments? Two calls? Three calls? Six? When have you crossed the line between getting noticed and risking arrest for stalking? Well, a national study published in the Harvard Business Review recommends at least six approaches. After six approaches is when 90% of appointments are set. So, how many salespeople make six approaches? About 4%. Yes, 4%. The majority of salespeople give up after two. To put that into perspective, making six contacts will give you a 70% increase in new appointments. Would that change your life?

So, why are so many approaches necessary? Think about your own life. Are you busy? Yes. If I am approaching you for an appointment, do you know about my company? Probably not. What do you know about me? Likely nothing, except you know I want to sell you something. What do you know about my track record in helping people like you? OK, so I have a job to do.  And, so do you. 

The numbers are very compelling but you also have to think about how to communicate your concern for indivduals as customers, the expertise you and your company bring to the table, and your problem-solving capabilities. We recommend you follow these steps: 

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Topics: Setting Appointments, Sales, sales process

You Can Get Anything In Life You Want If…

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. . . you just help enough people get what THEY want. I heard this truth many years ago from the legendary Zig Ziglar. It’s so simple and so powerful, it should be the basis for everything a sales professional does. But, simple and easy are two different things. Most sales professionals are so wrapped up in their products and services that nearly everything that comes out of their mouths sounds either like a monologue about features and benefits or a manipulative question designed to get the prospect to say they have a need which the salesperson’s product magically fills. 

But, what if you made this statement the basis for every move you made? If you really believe you can get anything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want, how would that change… 

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales