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Sales E Books

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Mike Anderson

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Recent Posts

This Week, I Became a Salesperson’s Problem

The_Gatekeeper

This week, it occurs to me that I’ve become the kind of person many of our clients find most challenging. You see, there’s this guy—I’ll call him Doug—who’s been reaching out to me by email, asking me to tell him who’s in charge of printed materials at The Center for Sales Strategy.

Over the past few of weeks, he’s sent me several notes, each one demonstrating another degree of persistence. Most recently, he came out very directly and said, “I going to be even more persistent than you are busy,” as if this was a war of attrition that he would eventually win. So I sent him a response, but not the one that he wanted.

I sent him a note explaining that my lack of response had less to do with how busy I am than the fact that his email did not earn a response. He found my name, and somehow, my email address. Other than that, his notes demonstrated little knowledge of my company and zero knowledge of my role in it. I wrote to him that he was asking for a referral, in a way, that he had not earned… asking me to identify the person in charge of buying printed materials for my company. (We don’t really have anyone in charge of that. We print our own.)

In his emails, he claimed that he could help, but offered little understanding of how he could help. I couldn’t tell if he was selling printers, printer ink, or printing services. So I responded to his email, but not in the way he was hoping. Instead, I explained why I wasn’t getting back to him and what he’d have to do to change that outcome. (I gave him a free coaching session on VBRs, I suppose.)

Before you click “Send” on your next introductory message, please scrutinize it with these kinds of questions:

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Topics: Sales, sales leads

Your Communication Sales Strategy: Nice to Know vs. Need to Know

Email_Communicaton

My job includes constantly searching for industry and consumer trends, so I subscribe to a voluminous list of trade and news publications… more than I could possibly read thoroughly on any given day. However, I’ve taught myself to speed-scan the headlines rapidly, and separate the important stories that I need to know from the merely interesting stories that might be nice to know (if I had more time).

Chances are, you do precisely the same thing as you’re checking email, your Facebook page, or your Twitter feeds. At rapid-fire speed, you visually sift through hundreds of messages… “Junk, junk, junk, junk… Oh! This one looks like something I should read!”

I don’t raise this issue because I care about the way you prioritize the information you consume. I raise it so you’ll stop and think about the information you send.

When your client or prospect receives your message, logic tells us that it resides among hundreds—perhaps thousands—of other messages and issues that are screaming for that person’s attention.

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Topics: email, customer focus, content marketing, sales strategy, inbound marketing

Two of the Most Important “To Do” Lists for Salespeople are Hidden in Plain Sight

Needs Analysis and The Critical PathThere is a seemingly endless variety of business books out there that promise to reveal the next profound truth, invent the next strategic angle, or inspire the next great idea. Most focus on some exciting concept that makes for a great read, but fail to address the major problem most salespeople face: Figuring out what’s important and getting it done.

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Topics: sales management, Sales

The Writing on the Wall

the-writing-on-the-wall

Several years ago, I was walking with my daughter through a memorial park like the one that might be found in almost any patriotic American city. Inscribed in the black granite were the names of people from that community who had served and sacrificed. She was very young at the time and filled with questions.  But one of those questions sticks in my mind, still today.

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Topics: holiday, Sales

The Ad Industry Has Been Giving Clients The Wrong Impression

ad-industry-wrong-impressionMy three-year-old grandson led me to a meaningful epiphany recently. We were sitting at the kitchen table playing with some Play-Doh when he watched me sink my thumb into a small ball of the clay. He pointed to my thumbprint and asked, “What’s that?”

I answered, “That’s an impression.”

Like most three-year-olds will do, he followed my answer with a question: “Why?”

“Because when I touched the Play-Doh, I left a mark on it.”

He proceeded to copycat the procedure, pressing his fingers and handprints into several lumps of clay; after each masterpiece, he would attempt to form the new word he had learned: “Look, Grandpa, I made a ‘preshun’.”

“I left a mark on it.” 

I had been to a marketing conference earlier in the week, where much of the focus was on falling CPMs, and rightfully so. Once upon a time, the cost of access to consumers was high, thanks to the relative scarcity of media. There were only one or two newspapers in most major metropolitan areas, and only a couple dozen radio and television stations (even fewer in smaller markets, of course). The law of supply and demand favored companies who distributed advertising messages, where the supply of big audiences was (comparatively) limited, and the demand was high. 

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Topics: Digital, selling digital advertising

Are You in Sales or Service?

service-and-sales-chocolate-and-peanut-butter

I can still see it in my mind—the old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Two people would run into each other, and then exchange accusations: “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate.” “No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.”

You should think of selling and customer service in the same way. It’s not one or the other. They should work together. That was always the case, but these days it is even more dramatically true: selling and serving should be inseparable, and nearly indistinguishable.

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Topics: Sales

How to Solve the Stage Fright of New Business Development

stage-fright-salesperson“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…” 

- William Shakespeare

An account manager recently sent me a note with this cool compliment: “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I always feel so confident after we speak.”

That last line stopped me in my tracks and brought a smile to my face. Confidence is such an important aspect of what we all do. With it, great things can be accomplished; without it, few things will even be attempted. So I reflected on the conversation that led her to make that statement. Why did she reach out to me? And what, exactly, happened during our call?

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Topics: new business development, Sales, sales process

SQUIRREL! Helping Clients Stay Focused in a World of Distractions

squirrelA colleague was recently lamenting the proliferation of competition he was now facing. “Customers have so little loyalty anymore. They jump around from one new thing to another, and the result is that they have a much less cohesive operation and lack overall direction.” His business is sales and sales management for a digital and legacy media organization, but his problem is not unique. All kinds of businesses are facing all kinds of new competitors… and it is likely that you, too—whatever your business—are finding loyalty more difficult to come by.

When you find yourself in this “Squirrel!” sales environment, it’s important that your degree of objectivity prevails over your level of frustration. That new company you see as an emerging threat or competitor? Your customer sees it as a new option. When that option is attractive to your customer, the reasons are usually pretty simple. Some of these issues you absolutely can control, some of them you can’t. And sometimes, these sales challenges are found somewhere in the middle of the influence spectrum, meaning you are neither in control… or without it. So why do customers look past you, and beyond your product line?

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Topics: Sales, sales process

The Best Defense is a Killer Offense

keeping-track-of-target-accountsToo often, we define “new business” as the business a competitor once had until we stole it. Here’s the bad news: They often think of new business the same way. Thus, competitors engage in a constant war of churn, where quite often there really is no “new business” at all; just an exchange or recycling of clients as if sales was nothing more than a tennis match, and the client is the ball.

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Topics: Sales, sales process

Make Your Information Useful in Your Sales Appointments

be-more-usefulDon’t just inform. Organize. 

When was the last time you arrived at a sales appointment, and the decision maker said, “Glad you’re here! I know our appointment was scheduled for only 15 minutes, but as it turns out, I have an extra hour and a half today!” 

Doesn’t happen.

More likely is the meeting where you encounter this rushed greeting: “I know our appointment was for an hour, but something has come up so I only have about ten minutes.”

Happens all the time.

That’s why I want you to think of the daunting task of the Google mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Of course, Google has more than one singular focus, and serves more than just a user who wants to do a quick search to find a quick answer or fascinating fact. They serve consumers who are shopping, companies who are being shopped, and marketers who are into metrics. I get all that. But focus on that beautiful, simple idea: 

“To organize the world’s information… and make it useful.” 

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