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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

John Henley

Recent Posts by John Henley:

Increase Your Closing Ratio by Adding This to Your Proposal

increase closing ratio by adding this to your proposalMost proposals follow a pattern of reviewing a customer need or desired business result and then presenting the solution that will deliver the desired result. I agree with that approach, but you will increase your closing ratio if you add a section in between those two. That section? Measures of Success. 

Topics: Proposal salespeople sales process

The Sales Pipeline is More Important Than Sales Activity

status of the sales pipelineIt seems like every sales manager I have talked to lately wants to talk about activity and how to enforce minimum activity expectations. It took a few of these conversations before a simple truth became obvious to me: Pipeline is way more important than activity.

Topics: sales performance sales management salespeople sales process sales pipeline

Burn Your Ships: A History Lesson About How to Be a Great Leader

ship at seaIf you are a history buff, you may know the story of Cortés and the burning of his ships. In the year 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in the New World with six hundred men and, upon arrival, made history by destroying his ships. This sent a clear message to his men: There is no turning back.

Two years later, he succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire. 

As leaders taking our people into new territories as unknown and potentially hazardous as did Cortés, we need to ensure those we are leading that there is no turning back. He knew how to be a great leader. We need to be certain there is no off-ramp our people can use to avoid the challenges of our own new business worlds. We need to burn the ships.

What Does Burning the Ships Mean Today? 

We’re long past the days of conquistadors, but the story of burning the ships is as relevant as ever. I bet you’re already thinking of some aspect of your company that needs attention right now, that needs your leadership. If you leave the ships in the harbor, your people will see that you’re not fully committing to the transition needed. If you’re not fully committed, why should they be? By burning the ships, by removing any available path back to the previous way, your team will become as fully committed as you obviously are.

Topics: Management sales performance sales management

Removing Roadblocks to Sales Performance

removing roadblocks to sales performanceI was driving around downtown Tampa recently during a convention and found many roads blocked off as I was trying to get to my destination. I know downtown Tampa pretty well, and knew exactly where I wanted to get, which made it even more frustrating that I couldn't get to where I wanted to go. I was tempted to get out of my car and remove the roadblocks. I didn't, and ended up going in circles, not making the best use of my time.  

Topics: sales performance

Replace HR with an HF Department

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I wonder if we could all treat people better if we replaced human resources with a department focused on human flourishing (HF). People are certainly more human than they are resources, but I wonder if there is a better way to think of them than merely resources. One of the dictionary definitions of flourish is "to thrive or grow luxuriantly." Pretty cool way to think of your people.

Topics: sales management Talent salespeople sales training

Your 2018 Not To Do List

2018 not to do listIt’s February. We’re well into the New Year, and your resolutions may have already fizzled out like most people. With a new year (or a new month), comes a time for new thinking and new habits. I suggest you start with a "not to do list." You might have one thing on it or a few, but the best way to make a meaningful change this year is to determine what you won't do and to make room for what you will do.

Topics: productivity

How to Deal with Price Competition

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If you are in sales, you can’t avoid price competition altogether, but you can take steps to reduce the focus on price. You need to behave in such a way that you are working with the prospect to create specific value, using your product or service as part of the solution. The alternative is that you present general value by pitching your product or service as the solution—inviting the type of product comparisons that lead to price negotiation. 

Creating specific value for each customer BEATS presenting general product value to every prospect.

Topics: discussing price Sales

The Lesson of the Bad Apple

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If you put a bad apple in a bushel of good apples, the bad apple won’t become good. In fact, when a bad apple starts to rot, it emits a gas that can indeed start to rot the good apples. But even if the bad doesn't completely rot the good apples, it's important to lock on to the fact that the bad won't get better by being with the good.

Topics: sales performance sales management

What Trait Do Great Sales Leaders Share With Pilots?

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Pilots learn that the best way to land a plane is to look long toward the horizon, not directly beneath them. Great sales leaders do the same thing. They focus on the horizon, not just what's right in front of them.

Pilots learn that when landing, you are better off looking down the runway at the horizon than the ground rushing up underneath you. You need to balance keeping your eyes focused on the horizon, while peripherally watching your height above the runway to achieve a smooth landing. We have all felt the runway slam when a pilot gets this wrong.

Topics: sales performance

Have You Noticed? Showing Appreciation Drives Performance

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An Accenture study, written about in Forbes, found that 43% of employees who are about to quit their jobs cite lack of recognition from supervisors as the reason they would leave. Every time I read that stat I feel convicted that I don’t always show as much appreciation as I should. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the individuals on my team, it’s just that I have so many things fighting for my attention. It’s easy to miss this key leadership responsibility. Many times managers don’t think about showing appreciation until it’s too late—until someone on their team leaves for another opportunity.  

Topics: sales performance sales culture salespeople