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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Starbucks Shows that Ideas Drive Campaigns

Starbucks_Shows_that_Ideas_Drive_CampaignsIdeas are worth more than the media time or space used to distribute them. If you don’t believe me, take a closer look at the development of Starbucks' first branding campaign, recently released by 72andSunny, the agency responsible for the work. The campaign itself includes a mini-documentary-style film shot in 59 different stores, in 28 countries, using 39 local filmmakers and ten local photographers.

This project may be one of the largest in scale for any branding campaign, but where the idea came from is even more important. Starbucks’ branding campaign was sparked by its observation of how Starbucks customers were using social media—specifically the stories they were telling in YouTube videos that were shot inside Starbucks' stores. To watch, click here. Digital media wasn’t simply used to spread an idea, but to source the idea! In any medium and on any platform, it’s the idea that counts, the idea that carries most of the value and generates all the value created with its intended target. Ideas drive campaigns, now more than ever.

Topics: Digital

The Trap in Focusing on a Slow-Selling Line

the-trap-in-focusing-on-a-slow-selling-lineEvery sales organization has a product or a service—or an entire product line or category—whose revenue they’re not quite happy with. Management then proceeds to focus on it, to direct extra effort to increasing revenue related to that relatively weak item or category. Make sure you mention those widgets to every client and prospect, they’ll advise. Be certain at least one frammus is a part of every proposal, they’ll demand. Tweet to everyone you know about our skyhook service, they’ll request. Management will, of course, start closely measuring all activity and results related to sales of this particular product, publishing and distributing those metrics widely and frequently throughout the organization.

They’ll move the needle. Revenue will tick up, but usually by less than what they hoped, less than what they projected. Reasons for the disappointment are often plenty, but one will remain undiagnosed, and thus it will be repeated again and again.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: Sept 22-25

What a great week in the blog world! There are some great gems from our writers here, and wonderful news from around the web. Read on!

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • Monday, Mindy Murphy asked if it was possible to have too much work intensity, and gave us reasons why she thinks it is.



Topics: Digital Inbound Marketing Sales

What Do Recruitment and Selection Have to do With Shoe Shopping?

What_Do_Recruitment_and_Selection_Have_to_do_With_Shoe_ShoppingThose who know me well know I adore hunting… for shoes, that is. I absolutely love pursuing the perfect pair of shoes. But I know that finding the right shoes doesn’t “just happen.” It is the result of continuous and constant effort, of skill and dedication. I invest time shopping. I scour fashion magazines and rip out pictures of pairs I like. I look at shoes online and sometimes save them in my “basket.” I prowl and stalk the shoe departments of my favorite stores like a quiet lion might pursue its prey. I admire them from a distance, I court them, I negotiate price, I wait for special deals and eventually, when the time is just right… I go for it and make them mine.

Shoe Shopping is Like Recruitment 

I see a very big difference and a very clear division between shoe “shopping” and shoe “purchasing.” They are two very distinct activities in my mind… one is always happening the other happens occasionally. The same is true for Recruitment and Selection. Most speeches, books, and articles on this subject lump them together, as if “Recruitment-and-Selection” is a single process.  That’s a mistake. They are two very different activities.

Shoe Purchasing is Like Selection

Sales managers who are most effective also think of Recruitment and Selection as separate activities. Recruitment is something they focus on all the time (just like I am shoe-shopping all the time). Selection happens only once in a while, when the manager has a job opening. When they are thought of as one process, not two, both suffer and hiring mistakes follow.

Every Manager Should Use an Individualized Management Questionnaire


Why_Every_Manager_Should_Use_an_Individualized_Management_QuestionnaireA year ago, I wrote about my youngest daughter's first day at school. I felt her teacher did a remarkable thing by offering the class an opportunity to complete a series of questions allowing her to discover how her students would best learn. The teacher was able to identify potential strengths as well as potential weaknesses within each student, much like what a manager might do to discover sales talent using a sales talent screener.

The teacher did this using animal analogies and my daughter discovered she was an otter... a relentless, hard worker determined to complete tasks and projects but who may sometimes speak out of turn or be perceived as bossy by others.

This year, the same daughter is attending her first year of middle school. She came home again with a questionnaire! This time the questionnaire had three specific questions asking about what ways my daughter likes to learn, what she expects out of her class, and what she expects of her teacher.

Do You See the Awesome Outhouse? A Lesson in Perspectives


Do You See the Awesome Outhouse?.png

This past summer, my family was taking a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC ,and we came upon a restroom near an area called Graveyard Fields. Perfect. A few of us needed to use the restroom. From the outside the facility looked quite impressive (considering we were out in the middle of nowhere). My wife went first. When she came out, she warned me that what was waiting inside didn’t quite match the attractive outside appearance.

I took my turn and returned to the car. When my wife asked my opinion of what I found on the inside, here’s how I responded:

“Well, that was either one of the worst public restrooms I have ever been in or one of the most attractive looking outhouses I have had the pleasure to use.”

Topics: sales performance

Is It Possible To Have Too Much Work Intensity?

Is_It_Possible_To_Have_Too_Much_Talent_IntensityDo you have salespeople on your team who are too hard working? Sounds like a great problem to have, doesn’t it? I’m sure you know someone who has boundless energy. They never slow down, they’re constantly on the go, and even though you consider yourself energetic, it’s tough to keep up with them.

Does it feel productive or does it sometimes just feel hectic?

I have a friend like that and even though she is a lot of fun, sometimes she moves too quickly for people and lets things slip through the cracks. She has a natural tendency to take on too much. Busy feels really good, but sometimes her life is more hectic than productive.

It’s great when you have energy and the ability to work at a fast pace, but it is not good if you are running full steam ahead without a plan.

So is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: Sept 15-18

What a great week for reading! From dealing with the lone wolf salesperson to landing bigger deals, we have some great reads for you this week.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up



Topics: Digital Inbound Marketing Sales

Why Prospects Aren't Calling You Back (And What You Can Do About It)

why-prospects-arent-calling-backI wonder if the following scenario sounds familiar:

You call on several hot prospects and leave voice mail after voice mail, and yet... nobody returns your call. Was it a wrong number? Is everyone really that busy that nobody can find time to call you back?

But you know the answer. They're probably not that busy (not any more than everyone is always busy all the time), they just don't want their time wasted, and something you said on your voice mail indicated that talking to you might just be a waste of their time. Don't worry -- we can help you fix that.

Topics: Sales

Fresh Off the Presses: HubSpot Reveals New Amazing Sales Tools

Here at The Center for Sales Strategy, we are always looking for smart ways to drive and improve sales performance. As you know, we are a Platinum Partner of HubSpot, the all-in-one marketing software that allows you to do everything from website creation and blogging to emailing newsletters and scheduling social media posts, has taken things a step further with the launch of their CRM!

Topics: Inbound Marketing

The Key To Selling Bigger Deals

The_Key_To_Selling_Bigger_DealsThere is a pattern I have seen repeated over the nearly 20 years I have been involved in trying to help sales organizations improve their performance. A new product or service is launched, lots of product training is created to support the launch, and sales people are given incentives to sell the new offering. In most cases, sales start to happen, but after several months, overall sales are not reaching the lofty goals that have been set. This is often where I get involved and what I typically see is that a lot of sales have been made (often as many as the organization had projected), but the average sale is much smaller than they had hoped.

At this point, I look at the proposals behind the sales that were made. In nearly 100% of these proposals, the seller has done a good job of pitching the new product or service (good enough that they made the sale). But rarely is the proposal tailored to a need. Even great needs-based sellers tend to forget about this proven approach when they’re asked to sell the hot, shiny, new product.

Topics: Sales

How to Help the Non-Warm, Non-Fuzzy Salesperson

how-to-help-the-non-warm-non-fuzzy-salespersonVisualize the person on your sales team with the most relationship talent. Can you picture her? Your social butterfly? She cares deeply about other people. She knows all her clients like personal friends and can easily recite the names of their kids. She brings clients their favorite coffee “just because” and gets the order right every time. She genuinely wants to know these things and prides herself on it. She is good at building instant connections with prospects as well as creating long term meaningful relationships with clients. She spends time at the water cooler and knows her teammates. Everyone loves her.

Now, take a moment and picture the opposite. Visualize the sort of lone ranger salesperson. Do you see him? He is on a bit more of a solo mission. He does not “sense” how others are feeling and even if he thought he did he might be wrong. This seller does not run on emotions,. He runs on data, facts, and numbers. Ask him the names of his clients’ kids or how the client likes their coffee and you may be met with a blank stare. He doesn’t know and probably doesn’t really care! I don’t mean that he is a bad person or hates people—he just doesn’t feel the need to know the names of all their kids or whether they take cream and sugar in their java. He doesn’t care what you watched on TV last night, so it would never occur to him to ask. Does he work hard for his clients? Absolutely! Do they always feel like he cares about them and understands them as people, not merely as clients? Maybe not.

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: Sept 8-11

Happy September! We're fully embracing back-to-school season by brushing up on our sales skills! If you missed any of our great sales strategy posts this week, this wrap-up is for you.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • Tuesday, Kurt Sima told sales managers to ask themselves five tough questions when one of their salespeople is underperforming.



Topics: Digital Inbound Marketing Sales

Don't Obsess About the Decision Maker in Sales

Decision_Makers_and_Decision_InfluencersI just read this headline in a book I am reading:

"Obsess about the Decision Making Process, not the Decision Maker."

It stopped me in my tracks. 

The book is called Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to managers. The book highlights the sales process that Salesforce.com uses.

In the book, the authors suggest you lead with questions like: 

  • How have you evaluated similar products or services?
  • How will the decision be made?
  • Who is involved in the decision-making process?

The basic point the authors make is that when you are first approaching a prospect it’s more important to understand the decision-making process than it is to get an audience with the actual decision-maker. Part of the reason this is true is that there are often many people who can influence the decision—people the decision-maker invites into the process. You want to find out who these people are and what role they play. Often you will be more effective with the decision-maker if you have first invested time with the various decision-influencers.

We have been teaching for years about the role and importance of decision-influencers (in a piece called The Decision Maker and Decision Influencers), but this book brought the concept to life in new ways for me. The point that connects to what we have taught for years is the idea that there are many decision-influencers.  While these influencers may not be able to give the big Yes the salesperson is seeking, they can and do vote No—and the decision-maker in the corner office rarely overrules them.

Topics: Sales

Weekly Wrap Up: What We Wrote, and What We Read: Sept 1-4

The air is starting to cool, or at least we think it might soon, the leaves are changing, it's football season, and the kids are back to school. That's right, it's the unofficial start of fall! We talked about what to track, how to add tracking to stories, and the second round of how to spot sales talent without asking questions.

The Center for Sales Strategy Weekly Wrap-Up

  • On Tuesday, Matt Sunshine told us that if we only had to track four metrics for our salespeople, these are the four he suggests.



Topics: Digital Inbound Marketing Sales

6 More Sales Talents to Spot Without Asking Questions

6_More_Sales_Talents_to_Spot_Without_Asking_QuestionsIn a recent post, I observed how easy it can be for parents to see talents that are obvious (or conspicuous by their absence) in their kids. The article was inspired by a conversation with the proud father of three grown sons, two of whom were natural arguers as kids and became successful lawyers and the other of whom was the reserved, studious, analytical kid who became—you guessed it—an engineer.

Lawyers aren’t the only people who need to convince others and bring them around to their point of view. And engineers aren’t the only ones who need to find problems, pick them apart, and develop solutions. B2B salespeople need both those talents to perform at a high level. And they need half a dozen more talents as well (as we know from our research and our continuing success with our Sales Talent Interview assessment system). Let’s talk about these other six.

1. Work Intensity

One measures how hard someone likes to work, and the pace at which they work. That is the talent we call Work Intensity. To spot this talent, watch for people who are always busy, who have a lot going on, and who fill every waking hour with activity. They often walk fast, check their watch a lot, tap their pen, or seem impatient. They want things to happen now, and they have very clear short-term and long-term goals.

Numbers or Narrative? Making Google Analytics Tell a Powerful Story

Numbers_or_Narrative_Making_Google_Analytics_Tell_a_Powerful_StoryWhen I was about 10 years old, I was chosen to represent my school in a storytelling festival. I spent weeks rehearsing a story about a terrifying gorilla. I can still remember that nervous feeling as I began to tell my story to a room full of strangers. As I told my story, that feeling quickly turned to excitement and a sense of accomplishment. It was at that moment that I first realized the tremenous power of storytelling.

That power is more relevant than ever today—when salespeople are challenged to explain Google Analytics to their clients. And to make those analytics tell a powerful story.

Over the past few months, I have had a lot of questions from salespeople regarding Google Analytics. They want to know how website analytics can help them show the performance of the campaigns they’re running for clients. The answer is not just in the numbers, but also in how you use the numbers in a narrative that makes the performance come alive.

Website analytics are loaded with information, and with thoughtful analysis, insight as well. Simply communicating numbers from a client’s Google Analytics report might put your client to sleep, but you can strike gold if you can draw them in with a story of how the campaign is achieving results. In order to tell your story, you need to gain access to their analytics, of course, but equally important, you need to have a clear picture of what they want to accomplish with their campaign.  

For some clients, you can look to the basic metrics like site traffic, time spent on site, or bounce rate. These can provide a general understanding of the traffic that you might be driving to a website, or if visitors are spending more time on the site as a result of a campaign. But the lines begin to blur if there are multiple resources directing potential consumers to a website. 

So where do you start?  

Topics: Digital

Happy Labor Day from the Center for Sales Strategy

happy_labor_dayToday is Labor Day, the unofficial "end" of summer. We hope you're relaxing with your family today, and spending some time outside, before the weather starts to turn.

Topics: Digital