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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Stephanie Downs

Stephanie Downs

Recent Posts by Stephanie Downs:

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.

Becoming the Company of Choice

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In working with companies large and small and in cities large and small, the number one thing I hear most often from managers is how hard it is to recruit. There is no doubt that it can be challenging, especially if there isn’t a clear strategy in place to tackle it. Most managers don’t make recruiting a priority until when? Yep, you guessed it: when there is an open position. That is exactly the wrong time to do it (or to start doing it).

Topics: hiring salespeople Sales

Can Your Clients Live Without You?

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Have you ever thought about changing banks? I’m guessing most of us have. Either because of a poor experience, or relocating, or because of better rates and lower fees at another bank. If you are like me, you quickly realized what an incredible and daunting task that would be. Auto drafts, direct deposits, checking accounts, savings accounts, home equity lines, home mortgages and the list goes on and on. So, what did you do? You stayed put. Well, I did anyway. I couldn’t bear the time and the energy it would take and the fear of forgetting to transfer something like my electricity bill (aka my internet bill).

Topics: sales strategy Sales

How to Make Your Weaknesses Irrelevant

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Weaknesses. We all have them. But we all have strengths as well. Which do you focus on? 

Human nature leads us to naturally focus on our weaknesses, but it is a proven fact that we can be significantly more effective when we do the exact opposite! 

In sales coaching, you can get a 10x lift from a salesperson if you focus on their strengths. This is the most highly effective use of your coaching time when you consider that you will only be able to improve people in an area of weakness by about 10%.

Yes, easier said than done at times, so here are some suggestions on how to accomplish that.

Topics: sales performance Sales

Can the “7 or Higher” Rule Drive You to Greater Success in Sales?

Success in SalesAnyone who has ever brought a first baby home from the hospital knows how it changes your life. The days of being a childless couple suddenly seem distant, almost alien. You may have thought you were busy back then, but with a new baby in your life, you have discovered what busy really is!

The "7 or Higher" Rule

This very scenario popped on a TV show I was watching recently. The new parents were finding themselves pulled in a thousand directions and unable to give as much attention to their friends as in the past. To try and explain this to their friends, they would tell them about their “7 or higher” rule. If something wasn’t a 7 or higher (on a 10-point scale), they probably wouldn’t even consider carving out time for it. And if a friend were to approach one of them wanting to discuss something or seek some of their wise counsel, that friend was likely to be greeted with the “7 or higher” question: My time is really limited these days, but if you tell me this is important, that it’s a 7 or higher for you, I’ll make time for it.

Topics: Sales

What I Learned Again about Sales—from the Guy Who Poured My Wine

learning-about-sales-from-the-guy-who-poured-my-wineAnybody who knows me knows I enjoy a glass of red wine. I am not a connoisseur by any means, but I do love a good glass of Cabernet. 

While traveling recently, I requested a glass at dinner and the server went above and beyond the call of duty. Instead of serving me the house Cabernet (honestly, I would probably have been fine with that), he immediately asked what I liked. Full bodied? Heavy? And then he proceeded to pour me three samples to choose from. The dollar-per-glass charge for samples became a moot point. I knew what I was getting and that I would enjoy my vino with dinner. What service!

This server also called most customers by name when they entered, poured their “usual,” and asked about their kids and pets. Oh, to have more servers like this….

What was the sales lesson I was reminded of as I watched this genius server in action?

Topics: Sales sales process

How to Get Upgraded to First Class—in Sales!

first-class-upgradeI recently read an article on how to get one of those choice seats in the first-class cabin. One suggestion was to be nice and smile at the gate agent. Gee, I don’t think so! Yes, I should be courteous and warm, but no, there is darn little chance that being sweet will get me upgraded. I know the computer makes those decisions based on the passenger’s status in the airline’s loyalty program, how much they paid for their ticket, when they bought it, and numerous other factors. Rarely does the gate agent have any discretion as to which of us weary travelers gets that last first-class seat.

But the article did have value—because it made me think about how salespeople get “upgraded” in the minds of our prospects. In that realm, there’s no computer and no algorithm. And while smiling probably won’t make much of a difference, how we behave totally determines how we’re perceived and whether the prospect gives us first-class treatment (an appointment) or not.

Topics: Sales

Parenting and Coaching Salespeople: Two of the Same

coaching salespeopleLife teaches you things that you just can’t learn by being told or by reading in a text book. I believe very much in coaching salespeople to their fullest by utilizing their natural strengths. It doesn’t mean we ignore their weaknesses; it just means that we have to find other ways to get things accomplished sometimes.

Topics: Sales

How is Being Hospitalized Like the Sales Process?

sales strategyAs it turns out, there are several similarities! After a recent 48 hour stint in the hospital, I had a number of observations on how the selling process is perceived from the prospect or customer's point of view.  

Topics: setting expectations sales strategy Sales