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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Stephanie Downs

Recent Posts by Stephanie Downs:

Recruit Top Sales Talent During a Hiring Freeze

Recruit Top Sales Talent During a Hiring Freeze

“Why interview if I can’t hire?” This is a frequently asked question this year and understandably so. Recruiting top sales talent takes time and energy, and it feels pointless if you’re a company experiencing a hiring freeze. Let’s pause there for a minute.

While not under a hiring freeze, college football teams are limited to the number of players that they can have on the roster. However, that doesn’t stop recruiters from scouting more players than their roster can accommodate in search of top recruits. They’re actively recruiting the best talent to build a winning team for future seasons to ensure the best replacement for this season’s graduating players. Plus, they know that not every player to whom they offer a position will accept.

In the business world, the same rules apply. Building a winning legacy depends on having top talent on your staff and top talent ready to join in a moment’s notice. Because we know turnover is inevitable. It isn’t a matter of if it will happen; it’s a matter of when.

Topics: sales performance recruitment sales talent

Is Your Revenue Problem Really a Culture Problem?

Is Your Revenue Problem Really a Culture Problem

Employee engagement, collaboration, talent retention, and client satisfaction are all essential elements of company culture. And studies show that each has a significant impact on revenue growth.

When performance numbers aren’t where expected, where do you default your thinking? Most sales managers agree that when sales performance suffers, they think more activity is needed, the right people aren’t on the team, or the processes are broken. Rarely does company culture come to mind.

What happens to revenue when your team lacks clarity and engagement?

Topics: company culture employee engagement

Do You Have a People Problem or The Wrong Sales Structure?

Do You Have a People Problem or The Wrong Sales Structure

How do you know if you have a sales structure problem? Too often, sales organizations are evaluated single-handily by their results. If your company isn’t hitting targets and sale goals aren’t being achieved, the blame falls on not having the right salespeople. But, is the source of lost revenue really a “people” problem?

Underperformance is easily blamed on salespeople because data often helps support the claims. However, while we always seek to improve the performance of sales teams, there are a few indicators that show you may have more than a people problem.

Topics: sales performance IMPACT

Finding Sales Talent to Fill Your Talent Bank

Finding Sales Talent to Fill Your Talent Bank

With the recent layoffs and furloughs, social distancing, and working from home, there’s more talent available on the market than ever before. “As a result of the pandemic, it’s become an employer’s job market,” states a recent Forbes article. “Candidates will have to get more assertive and creative in finding ways to help them stand out or get lost in the crowd.” 

While there has always been a need for a strong talent bank, now is the time to really start building one that will set you up for future success. Due to the current economic situation, you have a unique opportunity to find new talent that would have otherwise been unapproachable. 

How do you find top sales talent? Where do you look for sales talent? Who should you add to your talent bank? Keep reading for the answers!

Topics: talent bank sales talent

How to Ask Better Needs Analysis Questions

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Have you ever set a goal for yourself to run a race? Whatever the motivation, you decided to do it. It may have been on a whim, but nonetheless you realized there was more to it than showing up the morning of the race and running. You probably found a race that suited your ability, recruited a friend to join you in the adventure, set a training schedule, and off you went. By no means did you show up for registration the morning of with no prep at all. Well, I hope not anyway. If you did, it probably didn’t go as well as you would have liked. You may have looked back and asked yourself what you could have done differently to change the outcome. I’m guessing the answer is, almost always, more training so you were better prepared.

Running a race without adequate training is no different than showing up to a first time meeting with a new prospect unprepared. Yet, it happens. Preparing yourself to ask better needs analysis questions will help you not only finish the race, but to finish with the intended outcome: to get an assignment from the prospect.  

Where to start? Here are a few suggestions for how to ask better needs analysis questions.

Topics: Needs Analysis

Are you Serving Your Clients… or Just Servicing Them?

serving your clientsI’m sitting in a hotel lobby enjoying my dinner. But I’m only steps away from the front desk. I can easily hear people checking in. What surprises me is the number of arriving hotel guests being greeted by their first name—before they hardly get in the door. There are warm hellos, how is Jane (the wife of a guest), how is your mom doing, and this goes on and on the entire time I am eating (and working!).

I can’t help but wonder—are most salespeople this engaged with their customers? Have they built the kind of relationships this front-desk staff developed? These hotel guests don’t arrive with luggage every evening. Some may check in once a week, others probably once a month or less often, but wow, this hotel has it mastered. It’s amazing to watch. I can say that I don’t recall this level of service at most establishments, much less a hotel.

Topics: Sales

How to Craft a Proposal that Won’t Get Rejected

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"The end depends on the beginning (and everything in between)."

Yes, we have heard this a thousand times, but no truer words have been said when it comes to developing proposals. I had an epiphany pretty early in my sales career. I had been on a sales call to a restaurant, and they asked for a proposal. I rushed back to my desk so excited with the opportunity to get to present, only to stare at my computer for what seemed like an eternity. Crafting that proposal took a lot longer than it should have.

Later, when looking back, I realized it was because I didn’t have enough information. I had missed the mark on a number of things. Here's a little advice on how not to make the same mistake.

Topics: Proposal Sales

Was It Really a Good Meeting? How to Make Sure Your Prospects Call You Back

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“I had a really good meeting! But. . . I can’t get the prospect to call me back!” or “I had such a great meeting, but I never got an answer to the proposal.” I hear statements like these frequently when working with salespeople. They return from a meeting telling their manager how great it was, but then nothing happens. Wishful thinking sets in. Calls get made to the prospect on a weekly basis, managers ask about it in their weekly meetings, and salespeople start saying, “I don’t know what could have happened—the meeting went so well!”

What does “I had a really good meeting” really mean? For some, it means the meeting was long. For some, it means the prospect opened up and talked a great deal. For some, the client nodded and sounded interested. This list could go on and on.

Topics: successful sales meetings Sales

Are You, as a Sales Manager, Consistent and Predictable?

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I seem to regularly have conversations with sales teams where I hear managers talk about accountability, implementation, follow-up—all referring to a system, process, or new business development that is lacking. Most of the time, my response is: "let’s talk about your weekly meetings and your weekly sales plan."

Here is the tried-and-true guide to great one-on-ones.

Topics: Sales

Sales is About Teaching

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I recently overheard a telephone conversation when traveling, and it concluded with the person saying, “Sales is all about teaching.” Well, having been in outside sales, sales management, or consulting sales organizations my entire adult career, I stopped and pondered this. My gut reaction, was "No it isn’t," but then I thought, "Well, it is." I concluded, it’s both. It depends on what filter you are looking through.