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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Stop Working so Hard! And Sharpen your Axe.

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” Honest Abe and I see eye-to-eye on this, but as I’ve often said, simply knowing what to do is never enough. It’s the matter of actually doing it that makes all the difference.

After speaking with a sales manager last week, I wondered, “How would Honest Abe’s philosophy apply to sales management today?” I’ll let you decide. Here’s what this manager said when she was talking about quality prospecting: 

Topics: new business development Management Talent Sales

Think Spring! A Sales Strategy to Nurture Leads

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Lead nurturing is a bit like gardening. Most often leads or new business prospects are not ready to buy immediately. If you take the time to nurture the leads you generate now, they will bloom like daffodils in the spring.

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development lead generation Sales

Prospecting is Dead… Long Live Prospecting

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Did you know that your chances of making a sale go up a gazillion percent when the prospect actually asks to be contacted by you? Of course you knew that! So how do you make this happen?

Topics: content marketing lead nurturing new business development inbound marketing

Generate More and Better Sales Leads in 7 Steps!

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According to a State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research before they meet with a salesperson. Your prospects are looking online before they agree to an appointment. And if they're finding information and assistance from your competitors instead of you, who do you think they're going to meet with?

Topics: internet marketing Setting Appointments new business development inbound marketing Sales

5 Ideas for Running Successful Sales Appointments

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When a sales manager asks, “What does the client or prospect expect from this meeting?” too often salespeople say something like, “I don’t really know, but I definitely need to ask them some questions about their business.”

We spend so much of our time working to get the appointment, and then we fail to make sure the appointment will produce a successful sales meeting. What a missed opportunity! 

Topics: setting expectations new business development Sales

Don't Delete Me! The Sales Email Subject Line

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If you depend on email to grab a prospect’s attention and nail down that elusive first appointment, you should spend as much time honing the subject line of that email as you spend fine-tuning the entire body of the message.

Your competition is doing exactly that. If you do a Google search on "email subject line research" you'll find that myriad studies and tests are being done each year. And make no mistake: The big-time emailers out there may not be trying to make an appointment to sit down with your prospect, but in the email Inbox, they’re your competition. 

Some marketing gurus tell us that writing a good subject line is like—and as important as—writing a newspaper headline. Fact is, the email environment is much tougher, much bloodier. When your prospect sits down with the daily paper, he has usually committed himself to 20 minutes or more of reading, perhaps with a cup of Joe or a glass of wine readily at hand. Not so when he’s reviewing the latest avalanche of messages to arrive in his Inbox! On email, he’s in constant triage mode, ready to hit the delete button, allowing himself only 2.7 seconds to determine if there’s a good reason he shouldn’t. 

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development lead generation Sales

Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Saved the Sales Rep

Ask-Questions-in-Sales-MeetingsHave you ever noticed how many questions little kids ask? Every parent has a story to tell about the funny or embarrassing questions their kids have asked at the most inopportune times, all those occasions their child has scrunched up their little face and asked, “Why is Grandma so wrinkly?" or "Why do we have to go to school every day?" or "Why do I have to eat those gross green things?” If you don’t take control of the conversation, the third degree can go on indefinitely—because the curiosity in children is limitless!

Somewhere on the journey from childhood to adult professional, though, much of that unfettered curiosity gets left behind. I would argue that we have become a society of head-nodders where people are often afraid they’ll look dense if they ask a question. You’ve seen it—people nodding in agreement, as if they completely understand, when you are certain they don’t. Their fear of losing the respect of others actually keeps them from learning. 

As we grow up, we naturally become more self-conscious, so much of this may be related to those normal insecurities. Or, who knows, maybe all those times our parents said, "Stop asking so many questions!" curbed a bit of our inquisitiveness. Or maybe expressions like "curiosity killed the cat" have actually impacted our innate desire to pry.

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

Sales Contests Don't Work. Target Drives Work.

sales-contests-dont-work-target-drives-workHere's the deal. Sales contests don't work. At least not the same way they once did. Of course I've seen some sales contests work in my 20+ years in sales and sales management, but none with consistency, and none with the level of success I felt necessary for growing my business.

Topics: new business development Management Sales

Don't Call on the Person in Charge of Buying

calling-warm-leadsCall the person in charge of selling, not buying! Sound crazy? Not if you’re developing new business. The problem with calling on the person in charge of buying when you’re trying to develop new business is their focus is on your product, how expensive you are, and other technical aspects of your delivery. People in charge of buying are trained to compare products and dismiss you, or to pit you against your competitors to get the lowest price.

If you want a solid sales strategy, and you want to develop new business for your company, why not call on the person in charge of selling? There is a director that runs a smoking cessation clinic in your city. He has a quota to make. There is a regional manager for a group of health clubs in your market and she has numbers to meet. There might even be someone in charge of indirect distribution for one of your wireless providers–someone who has to figure out how to get more phones and more contracts out of mall kiosks and other retailers they sell to.

Topics: new business development sales strategy 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?

Topics: new business development Sales sales process