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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

5 Books Sales Leaders Should Read This Summer

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

At least once a week, I get asked by a sales leader if there is a business book I would recommend they read that will help them improve their game. That is a tough question to answer, because there are so many very good books out there, and depending where you are in your career (or your current business situation, or what you have already read) the right book for you could be one of several. So instead of picking just one book, I thought I would provide a list of five books that would make for great reading this summer.

Topics: Sales leadership

A Sales Process that Matches the Buying Process

sales process to match the buying process

Some say that the holy grail of sales is consistent and predictable revenue. Many are on this seemingly never-ending quest, but find it both elusive and always just out of reach. A strategic sales process is the only thing that will help you reach your goals.

Topics: Buying Process Sales sales process

10 Things the Best Salespeople NEVER Do: The Un-Checklist

salesperson-technology-451709-editedEDITOR’S NOTE: This post is by the late Steve Marx, and was written and published in 2015. To keep it current, we’ve updated the content to be relevant, but preserved the knowledge that Steve shared.

There are countless lists of what the most successful salespeople actually do. It’s time for a list of what they don’t do.

Let’s call it "The Un-Checklist"—the list you review when no one is looking over your shoulder (so you can be entirely honest), and where you hope that your honesty doesn’t force you to check off any of the items.

Get out your pen, ink, or virtual notes. I hope you won’t need to use them.

Topics: Sales salespeople

Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Saved the Sales Rep

Ask-Questions-in-Sales-Meetings

Have you ever noticed how many questions little kids ask? Every parent has a story to tell about the funny or embarrassing questions their kids have asked at the most inopportune times, all those occasions their child has scrunched up their little face and asked, “Why is Grandma so wrinkly?" or "Why do we have to go to school every day?" or "Why do I have to eat those gross green things?” If you don’t take control of the conversation, the third degree can go on indefinitely—because the curiosity in children is limitless!

Somewhere on the journey from childhood to adult professional, though, much of that unfettered curiosity gets left behind. I would argue that we have become a society of head-nodders where people are often afraid they’ll look dense if they ask a question. You’ve seen it—people nodding in agreement, as if they completely understand, when you are certain they don’t. Their fear of losing the respect of others actually keeps them from learning. 

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

The Problem is Not in the Proposal or the Sales Funnel

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Frustration sets in when you look at all the pending business you have sitting in your sales funnel and realize that a good portion of it has been there for weeks! Those prospects you were sure were going to sign off on your proposal right away are instead sharing reasons why they’re not ready or telling you they need more time to think it over. You know that with every week that passes, the chances that any of them will turn into a sale diminishes greatly and you’re kicking yourself because you are now reduced to emailing your prospect with the subject line "Checking in" since you really have no other options left.

Are you experiencing this uncomfortable, bloated feeling right now?

That bloated pipeline isn’t just uncomfortable . . . it’s frustrating and, ultimately, very expensive. Yes, it can sometimes feel rewarding to say you have “a lot out there,” but we all know that pending business is only good if it ends up closing. 

Spoiler alert: This is not an article on how to close your pending deals. It’s way more valuable than that. 

The problem is not in the proposal or the funnel, but rather with the process.
Topics: Sales sales process sales accelerator

Lack of Leads Hurting Your Revenue? 5 Reasons Why You Need a Lead Generation Strategy

lead generation strategy

The hardest job in sales these days is getting an appointment with a new prospect. As a sales manager, it's fairly easy to stand up in the sales meeting and tell your salespeople that they need to do a better job prospecting or that they need to just commit more time and energy to getting appointments. But they already know those things, and they're facing huge hurdles that their counterparts of a few years ago didn't face.

Here are five of those hurdles. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section below.

Topics: lead generation Management Sales

"Follow Up Next Week" Does Not Mean You Have an Appointment

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One of the leading indicators for sales success is to look at the number of appointments that a salesperson has each week. (This is not the only leading indicator that you should be tracking, but it is one of them.) The idea is that if a salesperson has a significant amount of appointments each week which involve finding needs, getting assignments, presenting solutions, or delivering a proposal, that this quality sales activity will lead to good solid revenue performance.  

I think it’s fair to say that everyone in sales or in sales management would agree with this, so I’m not really going out on a limb having made that statement. But here is where I think there might be a flaw. I think many salespeople are confusing "I'll follow up with you next week" with "I have an appointment." To be clear, "I’ll follow up with you next week," does not mean you have an appointment.

Topics: Setting Appointments Sales

Manage the Big Rocks: How to Become a Time Management Pro

become a time management proIs it just me or does there not seem to be enough time in the day to get things done? I knew it wasn't just me! My life has been going 1,000 miles an hour lately, and I've been asked how I get it all done.

Manage the Big Rocks

I have a method that I follow religiously to get things done, and it doesn't really have anything to do with time management.

Topics: Management time management Sales

Selling Techniques for Getting that First Appointment

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You called. Left a message. "Maybe they're busy," you think. Or, "maybe they just don't return calls." Perhaps it's neither of these. Maybe it's on you.

Maybe you just haven't given them a compelling enough reason to call you back.

If you want people to call you back, you need to give them a reason. If the reason you are providing is something along the lines of, "I have a really great idea to share with you," then you sound just like the other 25 calls they've received.

Your prospect doesn't want your ideas. They want solutions to their problems.

Topics: Setting Appointments sales strategy Sales

Inputs vs. Output: Do You Know What’s Really Driving Your Sales?

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One of the most common debates in sales is how to best measure performance and other sales indicators. While some organizations prefer process-oriented KPIs, others have an outcome-oriented bias. Both ends of the spectrum are invaluable for powering your sales, but when it comes to prioritizing inputs vs. output, the “i’s” have it.

Topics: Sales metrics