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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

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

Sales Strategy: How Preparation Speeds Up the Sales Process

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New business efforts are full steam ahead! As I am helping execute new business sales drives for different sales organizations from all over the country, I am uncovering a significant difference between how management feels this should be accomplished versus the salespeople charged with generating the revenue.

First, here's what management wants: to hit an aggressive new business goal in a specific amount of time from the very best prospects for their industry, which has been strategized to meet overall growth objectives. This is good; sales organizations need to think this way to grow and compete.

Now here's what salespeople want: to hit that number by calling on as many prospects as they can, so they hopefully get enough first appointments set, so they can complete the rest of the sales process, and hopefully close enough new business. This is NOT good because this philosophy leads to choosing and spinning your wheels on lousy prospects and hasty approaches to getting first appointments. Both of which will certainly impede any salesperson trying to hit their numbers.

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Topics: Proposal, new business development, Needs Analysis, 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

Making the Most of a First Meeting with a New Business Prospect

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Getting that first appointment with a new business prospect is rarely an easy task. In fact, there is usually a direct correlation between how long it takes to get an appointment and the spending potential of a prospect. Simply put, quality prospects take more time! 

Because so many hours are spent persuading a prospect to meet, it makes sense to get the most out of the meeting. World-class salespeople use the first appointment to uncover business challenges that lead to cash, instead of wasting the opportunity pitching, pitching, pitching. 

After getting comfortable and socializing a bit with the prospect during the opening minutes of the call, try the following steps to get the most out of the opportunity:

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

Five Tips for a Successful Digital Needs Analysis

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You finally got an appointment with a strong prospect. Now, it is time to prepare for a successful needs analysis to make sure that all the effort you spent getting the appointment isn’t wasted. You want to make sure that you have a strong and thorough needs analysis—because understanding your prospect's business, their specific needs, challenges and expectations is imperative to developing a solution that will achieve results.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Digital, integrated media solution

A Datapoint is Not an Insight

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There has been a lot written over the last few years about a new approach to selling. This approach has some characteristics that have been used in selling for years—relationships and asking great questions are examples. But this new popular approach has a few differences. For example, instead of approaching a customer to do a needs analysis starting from scratch, the salesperson is told to share an interesting insight and then use that to challenge a prospect with tough questions to get a provocative conversation going.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

To Improve Sales Performance, Remember To Switch Your Hat!

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To improve sales performance, remember to switch your hat... and only wear one at a time! Let's talk about the difference between educating and presenting. There is no doubt you are aware of the products, or capabilities, you have to sell. Most of your clients are aware of your "heritage" products, but when it comes to some of the more complex products you are capable of delivering, your clients and prospects need to be educated about what they are and—more importantly—how they can use the products to achieve their business goals.

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Topics: new business development, Needs Analysis, 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

What is Your Sales Strategy—Pitching Proposals or Providing Solutions?

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The best B2B salespeople follow a sales strategy that includes the use of a needs analysis meeting with new business prospects or existing customers. Do you?

Without a needs analysis the sales process breaks down transforming salespeople into peddlers—pitching, hoping and praying… pitching, hoping and praying… pitching hoping and praying! 

A better approach involves a conversation with customers and new business prospects to uncover business problems or opportunities. 

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Topics: new business development, Needs Analysis, sales strategy, Sales