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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

What Can You Do Here and Now, with What You Have

What_can_you_do_here,_now,_with_what_you_haveDecades ago, I was involved in some emergency response training that—even though I did not pursue a career in the field—sticks with me today. They dropped a group of us off at a road-side ditch where a fake car accident had been staged, complete with actors and dummies representing the victims. The challenge was simple:

“What would you do right here, right now, with what you have to work with?”

What a great question, challenging each of us to improvise… and take action.  

We live in an age where there are all kinds of new technologies and tools that are supposed to make our lives easier, our work more productive, and our time more efficient. So it’s easy to want all of those awesome tools!  But just as your household budget does not expand with every wish and desire that crosses your mind, your company must invest according to priorities and available resources. 

So you can't always have every new computer, tablet, app, or piece of office equipment you’d like. You can’t go to every educational conference you’d like to attend, and you aren’t allowed to donate a bunch of “bonus inventory” to every client who’s asking for a better (no, cheaper) deal.

Here’s how the strongest professionals WON’T respond to those situations (insert whiny voice here):

Topics: Sales

Five Characteristics of an Inbound Marketing Culture

Building_an_Inbound_Marketing_Culture_at_Your_CompanyThe best inbound marketing programs and the ones that create the most leads are not necessarily the ones that develop the most content or have the prettiest infographics.  The most successful inbound marketing programs are the ones that embrace inbound marketing throughout the organization, and understand that in order to succeed it will take more than just the efforts of one person.  An inbound culture differs from an outbound culture in that the expectation within an inbound culture is that the company’s website and blog will be sought out and found by our prospects, because of the great content that’s created rather than having to utilize outbound methods to attract prospects to their website.  

In a very basic sense, an inbound culture understands that the very core of their existence is based upon trying to solve their prospect’s needs and explaining to them in a non-sales oriented way how they can do that for them.  

There are several characteristics that successful inbound marketing organizations share and we have listed our top 5 below.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

Is Your Client Going to Renew Next Year?

Blog-Retention_ChecklistThe Greek Festival of Dallas, where 20,000 food and culture lovers gather every year, just concluded.

Every year I work with the Festival Team to make the purchasing decisions for marketing, food, and a plethora of other items that make the Festival run smoothly. This year we dealt with almost 100 vendors and all of them were thrilled to get our business.  Many of them, however, didn’t take the time to understand our business or have followed up on this year’s results. Next week the Festival Team will be meeting to review everything we purchased to determine what was a good investment and what could be eliminated. 

The fate of a vendor’s renewal for next year’s festival will primarily be determined at that time. Those who understood our business and had suggestions to get better results next year will not only be renewed but probably get more money from us.

Topics: Sales

Leadership Development Through the Eyes of Winston Churchill

Leadership_Development_through_the_eyes_of_Winston_ChurchillWinston Churchill said “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” There is a sweet spot you need to find as a leader.  You can’t spend too much time dreaming about a future you aren’t sure how to get to, but you also can’t fail to set goals and develop plans that will improve revenue performance.  Churchill is encouraging us not to look so far ahead that we set our eyes on a destination for which we have no clear route in which to get there. This is very important advice! 

As the calendar moves toward the end of the year and you look ahead to the start of another, it’s time to evaluate how your sales department is doing and determine changes you will make in the coming year.  We have a tool we use for this process that is called the Performance Prism.  The metaphor is this… “Just as a prism separates light into its component colors, our Performance Prism separates a sales organization into its components.” This approach will force you to break down each important area (like the prism separates light) and search for opportunities for improvement. It will also prevent you from looking too far ahead, but instead will help you focus on the next link in the chain that will move you along the desired path.

The key areas of the Performance Prism are:

  • Goals & Values
  • Structure & Process
  • Metrics & Accountability
  • Talent & Skill

Outbound Marketing + Inbound Marketing = Simply Genius!

Outbound_Marketing_Inbound_Marketing_GeniusFor several years The Center for Sales Strategy has been saying that the combination of outbound marketing plus inbound marketing is the exact sweet spot where marketers can earn the greatest results. This is a reality because it's how the consumer wants it, and when it comes to achieving results that's what matters most. 

It happens all the time when you hear or see a commercial message; it sparks an interest or a thought or an idea and while you might not be ready to be a customer at that exact moment, you are interested enough to want a little more information. So what do you do?  Nowadays most people take out their phone and google it! Or if there is a memorable (vanity) URL they might even go directly there. And if the marketer has done their job correctly, when the consumer arrives to the site, it will be the perfect landing page optimized with responsive design and presenting the exact information the consumer is looking for. 

What happens next?

Topics: Inbound Marketing

There is No Such Thing as Time Management

There_is_no_such_thing_as_time_managementTomorrow is going to have 24 hours, whether you like it or not. And just as this very hour is slipping by as you read this article, tomorrow’s hours are going to drift away, too.  There’s nothing you can do to “manage” time.

Topics: Sales

Digital Marketing Strategy Question: Would You Rather Get Stung by a Bee or Hit by a Car?

Digital_Marketing_Strategy_question-_Would_you_rather_get_stung_by_a_bee_or_hit_by_a_carIf you work for a traditional media company (TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.) you likely have a wide range of tools to help clients reach consumers.  You have all your traditional assets and a growing set of digital capabilities.  When put together, you can create powerful tailored solutions—better than you could before digital came along, and better than a company that only has digital capabilities.  And if you are an advertiser, looking for a partner to help you reach the consumers you seek, give serious thought to how a local media company can help you achieve your goals. 

Topics: Digital

One Magical Trick to Upgrade Your Writing Skills

One_magical_trick_that_will_make_you_a_better_writerMost of us have had the experience of staring at a blank sheet of paper or empty document on our computer… and struggled mightily to come up with those first few words.

The screen stares back at you… empty. Taunting you.  Laughing at you.  You know that if you could just come up with the first few words, the rest of your document would flow onto the keyboard almost magically. But those first few words are nothing less than a logjam keeping the rest of your thoughts backed up.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

Three Consumer Trends That You Can Capitalize on in B2B sales

3_consumer_trends_that_you_can_capitalize_on_in_B2B_salesYou may be in B2B sales, but did you know there are consumer trends that you can use to your advantage? As a Consumer Behavior Analyst, much of my focus is on identifying consumer trends among various industries. 

Why? So businesses can better understand how to serve their consumers and ultimately, profit. Let’s not forget, we are all consumers – and it’s not something we can just turn off. Therefore, these trends may apply to consumers of your products and services (your prospects and clients).

Topics: Sales

Not Only are Meetings Expensive, They Can Be a Waste of Time

NOT_ONLY_ARE_MEETINGS_ARE_EXPENSIVEIn August, my colleague, Emily Estey, wrote about how expensive meetings can be. I am in complete and total agreement with her. I have wasted decades of my life in sales meetings, department head meetings, and promotion meetings. OK, maybe not decades, but you get the point. 

But let’s focus on sales meetings today. Sales meetings can be a useful tool for managers, if you follow these simple do’s and don'ts:

It’s a Key Account. Not an Annuity.

its a key account not an annuityThis week, one of our clients was talking about how she returns to the same car dealership every three years, like clockwork, and orders another upgraded version of the car she loves to drive. 

A co-worker turned toward her and said, “You’re not just a customer.  You’re an annuity.”

The statement was worth a chuckle, but it really got me thinking. The moment you begin to assume that a Key Account’s spending will always be there—when you start to take it for granted—that’s when the relationship is most at risk.

Long-term relationships can lead to mistakes. For example, you might think, “I’m going to be a few minutes late… but (Bob) will understand, because he knows how I operate.”

Topics: Sales

Five Tips For Using Your LinkedIn Account to Build Your Personal Brand

5 Tips For Using Your LinkedIn Account to Build Your Personal BrandWith social media becoming an increasingly important part of the business landscape it’s now more important than ever that salespeople have a good presence on social media. While there are a number of social media platforms to choose from including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn to name a few of the most popular ones, networking on LinkedIn should be a primary goal.   
LinkedIn, which has over 225 million users, is where most people go to research other companies and to make purchase decisions about products and services for their companies. If you are a salesperson and setting appointments is a primary part of your job, you can be assured that you are getting checked out online and on LinkedIn before a prospect says “yes” to your asking for an appointment.

Getting Started on LinkedIn

How do you get started using LinkedIn? It all starts with having a thorough profile.
There are some LinkedIn users that won’t accept networking requests from LinkedIn member that don’t have a profile picture.

When you get started using LinkedIn it’s very important that you make sure you have a complete profile including adding your past positions, recommendations and a good headshot or profile image. Without having a solid profile established, especially a profile image, whatever you do on LinkedIn won’t be as effective. So establishing a solid profile is important before you start to engage your network.

After you build your profile you are not finished. That’s just the start of what you need to be doing on LinkedIn. With what seems like more salespeople competing for the same accounts it’s important to not just have an account on LinkedIn but to actually USE your account on LinkedIn.
Topics: Digital

Is Talent Acquisition More Like Sewing a Quilt or Working a Puzzle?

Is Talent Acquisition more like sewing a quilt or working a puzzleLet me end the suspense for you right away. It’s both. The best sales managers I have known over the years are equally adept at recruitment and selection.

Make Yourself Irreplaceable… Before It’s Too Late

Make Yourself Irreplaceable… Before It’s Too LateThere have been several articles in recent weeks about the impressive growth of real-time bidding. A recent forecast by eMarketer has almost 20% of all US display dollars coming from real-time bids, which is up 73.9% from last year. This got me thinking about the changes this brings to the world of buying and selling display advertising. 

Topics: Digital

Keeping Your Prospect Your Focal Point

Get in your client’s faceI recently sat in on a sales presentation where the person doing the pitch spent all of their time looking… wrong. They were looking at their paperwork and, in a sense, reading aloud to the prospect.

Topics: Sales

The World of Vine and Digital Marketing

The World of Vine
Topics: Digital

Is “No Service” the New “Good Service?”

is no service the new good serviceMy wife and I recently bought a lawn tractor from a major big box retail store. It should have been a fun, easy experience, but it turned into a headache. The salesperson who was trying to help us with our purchase was repeatedly interrupted by other store personnel who had a wide variety of problems or questions. At times, other coworkers would interrupt just because they needed to use the young lady’s computer terminal. (Apparently, we were invisible customers or our near-$2,000 purchase was not as important as the other person’s issue.)

Topics: Sales

And the Truth Shall Set You Free

And the truth shall set you freeMost people go through their day telling people what they want to hear. They don’t consider it lying, just coloring the truth to make it more pleasing. As salespeople, you might color the truth about why you want an appointment. What if today, you told the client the real reason you want to meet with them? What if for one day, like the character played by Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar, you had to tell the truth? Would they be more, or less likely to want to meet with you?

Topics: Sales