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NEW – Why Sales Coaching Is So Crucial and How to Get It Right

Sales coaching is a leadership skill that develops each salesperson’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise, along with social, communication, and questioning skills to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities to break through to new levels of success.

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Driving Your “B” Players to the “A” Team

Top performers make a company work. It’s more than their impact to the bottom line; it’s the way they work for an organization as a whole—whether it’s by taking on a leadership role or developing honest relationships with customers.

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Prospects That Are Worth Your Time

It’s easy for a sales rep to get trapped into thinking that the one, or two, highest-dollar opportunities sitting in their funnel right now can get them over their quota. And since sales professionals are constantly constrained with limited time and resources, it’s possible that their stubborn focus to chase those “pet deals” is distracting them from other opportunities that might prove to be more profitable for you and your company.

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Discounting is NOT Negotiating!

First the good news: You worked the lead, made the sale, and closed the deal just in time for quarter-end. And, you have verbal assurances of further business from the customer. Now the bad news: You did all that work for zero profit. The customer negotiated a price so low that your only justification for going forward was the hope of a long-term relationship that will pay off later.

Bad news, part 2 ……..

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Sales Talent: Challenges and Opportunities

The landscape of sales performance is shifting, and not necessarily in a positive direction. Sales figures have been on a multi-year decline, while buyer expectations continue to soar. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges facing sales organizations today, it’s clear that talent plays a pivotal role in any successful transformation.

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Developing Your Sales System: Where Do You Start?

Before you can create the best standard procedures for your sales system, you must take time to analyze your current sales system. This step is crucial. It helps you understand what you do that already works and which areas you can change to enhance your profits.

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Everyone in Your Company Needs to Sell

In the competitive business landscape, the term “sales” often conjures up images of a dedicated sales team making cold calls and closing deals. However, in reality, the art of selling is not confined to a specific department. Instead, it should be an integral part of the DNA of every successful company. Whether you’re a startup, a small business, or a large enterprise, fostering a culture of sales excellence can lead to increased revenue, enhanced customer relationships, and overall business growth.

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Sales: Art or Science? Why Sales Needs a System

Pressure on sales leaders to be close to each and every deal is stronger than ever. The challenge is determining where sales leaders should focus their attention to provide the greatest value. In short, sales managers must prioritize. I’ve put together a list of the top five things sales managers should be watching for as they review the opportunities being worked by their teams. Providing focused coaching to keep the sales team managing toward a closed sale will help sales managers make the biggest possible impact on results.

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Top 5 Priorities for Sales Leaders

Pressure on sales leaders to be close to each and every deal is stronger than ever. The challenge is determining where sales leaders should focus their attention to provide the greatest value. In short, sales managers must prioritize. I’ve put together a list of the top five things sales managers should be watching for as they review the opportunities being worked by their teams. Providing focused coaching to keep the sales team managing toward a closed sale will help sales managers make the biggest possible impact on results.

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Nailing Your Pricing Strategy

Pricing is a critical element of the sales process for every business as it directly impacts revenue, customer perception, competitive positioning, demand generation, profit margins, and the overall success of your business. Effective pricing strategies align with market dynamics, customer needs, and business objectives, enabling companies to achieve their sales goals and drive sustainable growth.

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The Changing Sales Landscape

The world of sales is indeed evolving rapidly, and SMB (Small and Medium-sized Business) sales teams need to adapt their strategies and tactics to stay competitive. Here are some key approaches that can help SMB sales teams keep up with the changing landscape:

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7 Traits That Make a Great Sales Leader: Unlocking Success in Your Sales Team

Sales leadership plays a pivotal role in the success of any sales team. A great sales leader not only drives revenue growth but also inspires and empowers their team members to achieve their full potential. While sales skills are important, there are specific traits that set exceptional sales leaders apart. In this blog, I will explore the key qualities that make a great sales leader and how they contribute to the overall success of a sales organization.

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Pros and Cons of Industry Expertise in Sales Leadership

Industry expertise has long been regarded as a valuable attribute for sales leaders. However, like any other characteristic, it has its advantages and disadvantages. While industry expertise can bring numerous benefits to sales leadership, it is essential to acknowledge and evaluate both the pros and cons. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of industry expertise in sales leadership to gain a comprehensive understanding of its impact.

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Unleashing Your Sales Manager’s Potential

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the pressure on companies to not only maintain but also increase their market share has never been greater. Amidst this pressure, one key factor that significantly influences a company’s success is its sales team. More specifically, the leadership of that team — the sales manager. I would like to draw your attention to a critical yet often overlooked aspect of your organization’s success — investing in the coaching and development of your sales manager(s).

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Is Your Company the Best Kept Secret in Your Industry?

Being the best kept secret in your industry can be frustrating, especially if you know you have the skills and knowledge to excel in your field. But fear not! There are steps you can take to raise your profile and become more recognized for your contributions. Here are some tips on what you can do:

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Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile

Creating an ideal customer profile is an essential step in any successful marketing strategy. By understanding who your ideal customer is, you can tailor your marketing messages to resonate with them, target your advertising efforts more effectively, and ultimately increase your sales and revenue.

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The 5 Pillars of Sales Success

Sales success is the ultimate goal for any business or sales professional, but achieving it requires a combination of several factors. There are several components that are key to building a successful sales strategy. In this blog, I discuss the five essential pillars of sales success. They are Relationships, Process, Messaging, Metrics, and Technology.

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Benefits of Working with a Fractional CSO

A Fractional Chief Sales Officer (CSO) can be a valuable asset for small to midsize tech companies in several ways:  Cost-Effective Solution, Strategic Guidance, Sales Process Optimization, Sales Team Coaching & Training, and Flexibility.

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Is Sales Going to Hell in a Handbasket?

In the Good ol’ Days, IBM, Xerox, ADP, and Pitney-Bowes, trained the American salesforce. Sales management training was also a staple of these companies’ learning and development programs. As the saying goes, “Forget about the Good ol’ Days, you’re lucky they lasted as long as they did.

Said another way, long, intensive rep onboarding and Front-Line Sales Management (FLSM) development programs are from a bygone era. This doesn’t mean the need has gone away, only the programs. Today’s training and coaching is more about getting up to speed quickly, often with self-pacing online tutorials, microlearning segments, and more recently, with AI-enabled coaching.

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Common Reasons You Won’t Make Your Sales Numbers

The fourth quarter is upon us, and most sales professionals know where they currently are— and where they need to be by year-end. According to some studies, 60 percent of sales professionals will miss quota. Learn some of the common reasons for this and what you as a business owner can do to help change the outcome.

Your Funnel and Forecast Are Not Realistic

Your team has been in sales situations where they felt it necessary to “fluff” the numbers in order to please their managers but as they get toward end of third/beginning of fourth quarter, they know they are not going to hit that number. To avoid relying on this doomed practice …

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Hiring Salespeople: 3 Keys to Getting It Right

As the world of complex B2B sales becomes more intense, competition for top talent is increasing, and will continue to increase in the coming years. In the United States alone, Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 15.6 percent increase in new wholesale and manufacturing sales positions will be created over a 10-year period, a net increase of more than 223,000 jobs. Industry experts believe that trend will extend worldwide.

With 70 to 80 percent of the total cost of sales tied up in personnel, pressure to hire salespeople who fit and can be trained to excel within your organization must rank high in every talent management strategy. Ramifications of getting it wrong spread beyond lost revenue. Your company’s credibility and your personal reputation are on the line.

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Not All Sales Opportunities Are Created Equal

In order to focus on your best opportunities, your salespeople need to prioritize their selling time more effectively to increase close ratios. The following opportunity pursuit checklist provides some questions you should ask your sales team about an opportunity to decide if it’s worth pursuing:

  • Is this a good match to our ideal customer profile? Stop and think about your customer list. Which customers do you wish you had a thousand more of? What makes these companies your best customers? Who are the customers you’d like to fire? When you’ve finished making your list of characteristics, you’ll need to prioritize. Which five traits of your best customers would you replicate? Using this formula to pursue new prospects will keep you focused on those companies more likely to do business with you. Better yet, you will stop wasting time pursuing prospects that have a low probability of closing.

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Taming the Sales Roller Coaster Beast

The Sales Funnel: Senior Leadership’s Silver Bullet? Business owners live and die by the accuracy of their funnel. Of all the data analysis features available to leadership—top customer billings, product reporting, lead conversion rates, YTD performance to plan—the most useful dashboards for senior leaders are those that bring clarity and visibility to the sales funnel, making the sales funnel the most important reporting tool:

 Anatomy Of a Sales Funnel – The typical B2B sales process looks like a funnel. At the bottom are those deals nearest to being closed. In the middle are other prospects in the works, and above the funnel are the numerous promising leads that warrant further investigation. Each of these three areas requires different activities:

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The Right Way to Make a Price Concession

Even though we may not like them, price concessions are a natural part of the buying process. Procurement departments around the world are funded based on their ability to wring the most value from every dollar, peso, yen, or pound. Conversely, it is the sales professional’s job to protect the price of the solution to maximize the return for their company

Does this natural conflict mean that sales professionals are destined to be at odds with their customer’s most price-conscious buyers? Or, that discounting is a way of life that we just need to accept if we want to sell to certain accounts. Not necessarily, so long as the sales professional understands how to raise the value of their solution in the eyes of the customer.

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Do You Need a Chief Sales Officer?

So, what is a Chief Sales Officer? The Chief Sales Officer or CSO oversees all teams and processes related to Sales generation within an organization. This executive position ensures sales and marketing alignment, identifies opportunities for long-term sales growth and maximizes profitability.

The CSO enables collaboration among the teams listed below towards a unified goal of Sales generation over a sustained period of time:

    • Sales, sales enablement, and sales operations
    • Marketing
    • Customer support and customer experience
    • Account management
    • Product management

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Sales Funnel Management Best Practices: Part 1

Chances are you’re already familiar with the concept   of a sales pipeline, or “funnel.”  The funnel is a useful  tool for organizing specific sales opportunities by their probability of resulting in a sale.

At any given moment, nearly 35 percent of prospects  you’re pursuing could be wasting your time. Without putting the right opportunities into the top of your funnel, you can’t possibly hope to achieve Win-Win outcomes at the bottom.

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Sales Funnel Management Best Practices: Part 2

Opportunities in your funnel that aren’t going anywhere may keep you from reaching your quota this year. Here are three things you can do today to keep those sales opportunities moving forward.

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Get Your Customer to Move the Sale Forward

In the world of complex sales, there are multiple interactions with your prospects for a given opportunity. Good sales meeting management ensures that each contact with potential clients, whether it’s actual face-to-face time, a zoom call, a phone conversation, or email, is managed to move an   opportunity forward.

Before you go into a meeting, think through the agenda and prepare to ask your Buying Influence(s) to do something to advance the sale. Decide on the best action you can hope for and the least you’re willing to accept to keep investing your time in this opportunity. Here are a few guidelines to help focus your requests to keep the customer engaged and committed.

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Pursuing Prospects That Are Worth Your Time

It’s easy for your sales professionals to get trapped into thinking that the one, or two, highest-dollar opportunities sitting in their funnel right now can get them over their quota. And since as a sales professional, they’re constantly constrained with limited time and resources, it’s possible that their stubborn focus to chase those “pet deals” is distracting them from other opportunities that might prove to be more profitable for them and your company.

READ MORE….

 

Winning Starts at the Top of the Sales Funnel

Research data from CSO Insights indicates B2B win rates are only 47.9% in 2021, lower than the 49.3% odds of winning at craps in Las Vegas. Playing the games, you know you can win at, dramatically increases the odds of winning and increasing win rates is one of the best ways to improve sale performance. Increasing your win rate by 5% would have a significant impact on top line revenue growth. For this reason, it is important to qualify leads and prospects before sales professionals expend their time, energy, and the company’s resources in pursuing an opportunity.

 

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Make Your Prospects Earn Proposals

Do you give out proposals and quotes like one of those people standing on the street handing out flyers? “Here, please take one!”

There is a cost to giving out proposals too soon – your prospect doesn’t value it, or your time and you lose the chance to set up a specific next step that would help them earn the proposal.

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Being Customer-Centric in Your Sales Approach

Consultative selling comes down to having a fully customer-centric approach to sales. In my sales system, the customer is at the center of everything we coach on. It means putting your customer’s needs, challenges, and aspirations at the heart of everything you do, be that doing your research, prospecting, setting a meeting, or having a sales call. It also means thinking about how you can add value to your prospect first, rather than thinking about how much you can sell to them.

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Busting 7 Myths About Top-Performing Salespeople

Myth # 1: It’s easy.

Myth # 2: It’s natural.

Myth # 3: They want to see everyone else fail.

Myth # 4: They only care about making money.

Myth # 5: They are pushy and intrusive.

Myth # 6: They are self-centered and egotistical.

Myth # 7: They are driven by rewards and recognition.

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5 Steps to Achieving Your Year-End Numbers

2020 has been a year of unprecedented turmoil on so many fronts. Faced with uncertainty, businesses have put the brakes on as deals stalled or vanished. Many companies have instituted layoffs, as priorities have shifted to maintaining revenue and/or just surviving. Others have faced incredible manufacturing and supply chain pressures.

The way people are now allowed to interact has fundamentally changed as well. Most direct sales reps have been sidelined from visiting their clients, and video calls have become the norm. For most, offices are now in unique spaces within homes, and the line between work and personal life is blurred. But the one constant that has not changed, is the need to still drive numbers.

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Catapulting Revenue Growth in 2021

Traditional sales tactics are falling short, and CEOs and business owners around the globe are starting to realize that their playbook is out-of-date.

Buyers are changing how they buy, faster than sellers are changing the way they sell. Buyers are saying that sellers aren’t making the grade when it comes to their recent experiences, resulting in this interesting data below:

  • 62% of buyers say their sellers ‘Meet’ but don’t ‘Exceed’ their expectations
  • 77% of buyers don’t see sellers as a resource to solve business problems
  • 68% of buyers don’t see much difference in sellers among the sellers they work with
  • 70% of buyers seem to engage sellers later in their buying process

So how does your sales organization catch up?

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Are You Your Industry's Best Kept Secret?

A compelling value proposition is a vital characteristic that distinguishes world-class sales performers from all others. World-class performers know their company’s capabilities and how their solutions add value to the customers. They can clearly articulate this value. The same way. Every time.

 Your solution may deliver the most compelling value in the market, but if you cannot communicate it to your prospects and customers, it does not matter. Your sales team needs to be able to deliver your value proposition consistently when dealing with your customers.

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Qualifying Strategic Sales Opportunities Using a Scorecard

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, everything seems different, but sales fundamentals have not changed that much, if at all. Foundational selling and questioning skills are more critical now than in the past. Sales organizations that implement a formal lead qualification strategy will find themselves allocating their time more wisely, so they can get the highest return on their investment of resources. And the cornerstone of a formal lead qualification strategy is the strategic opportunity quality scorecard

Our scorecard for qualifying strategic opportunities has three key uses in sales organizations:

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Selling in a Pandemic Economy

Experienced executives all know that markets are cyclical. Downturns are followed by upturns, which then eventually lead to another slowing of business.

During a down economy – typically, when revenues decline by 10 percent over the previous year for two quarters in a row — sales organizations tend to hunker down. Managers implement a hiring freeze and might even lay off staff. Moreover, they cut back resources, for instance, reducing sales training or eliminating it altogether. All this seems natural and sensible. As that old saying goes, you need to tighten your belt when times are lean. It all makes such good sense, right? Wrong!

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COVID-19 Crisis: 12-Step Pre-Recovery Checklist for SMB CEOs

When we begin to see a positive turn in the COVID-19 pandemic, the No. 1 responsibility for business leaders will be to prepare a game plan towards full recovery. But who believes the ground rules will remain the same? Or that the marketplaces we’ve served won’t have shifted?

We’re going to need to quickly, but rigorously, assess our current relevance to our customers, understand our competitive exposures, and re-tool our offerings and go-to-market strategies to get back on track, and capture new ground, in a landscape rich with potential new opportunities for our businesses, employees and communities.

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Does Your Sales Team Have Performance Issues?

The most important decision we make as salespeople, managers, and leaders is how to connect with our customers. Are we effectively engaging with our clients? How your sales team performs in front of customers is crucial, since they (usually) only get one chance. Successful salespeople know the importance of preparing and strategizing before meeting with customers and prospects. Bypassing the warm-up and instead jumping right into the sales pitch can be a costly mistake for the inexperienced salesperson (e.g., “Here’s what our product can do, and here’s why it’s great. How many should I order?”)

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Do You Understand How Your Customers Buy?

People want to buy but not be sold to. Customers are people, and all people tend to go through a similar decision-making process, which means that sales need to be in lockstep with where their customers are in their decision process and keep it top of mind that it’s about the customer’s needs and timing, not theirs.

Below are some questions you might want to pose to you own sales organization:

  • How well do you understand how your customers buy?
  • Who/what is driving your sales process?
  • Is your selling process aligned with your customer’s buying process?

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What is a Fractional CSO? The Short and Long Answer

The Short Answer:  A Fractional/CSO becomes a trusted advisor and business partner to the Chief Executive Officer of a small to midsize business, providing strategic sales and marketing support for the business on a less than full-time basis.

The Longer Answer:  A Fractional/CSO becomes an interim or part-time Chief Sales Officer who is contracted for specific, strategic revenue support. I am highly skilled, seasoned senior executive with a background that spans multiple decades of sales, marketing and operational experience. I become an integrated part of the management team, bringing better sales understanding to everyone on the team in virtually any industry.

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B2B Sales Forces are Hiring

I have been intrigued by predictions popping up that the number of B2B salespeople will be decimated over the next few years, replaced by an “ecommerce will rule the world” mentality. Clearly “buying” is changing, but does that really mark the end of B2B selling? On June 2, 1897, American writer Mark Twain, published the above statement in the New York Journal in reaction to newspaper accounts that he had died. Fast-forward to today, and those same words might well be applied to the forecasts regarding the death of B2B salespeople. Here is why.

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How to Measure Successful Sales Management

Sales management is probably the most critical role that influences the success of any organization. So, it’s often tempting for sales managers to step in and close the sale themselves. I would submit that this is not the best use of a sales manager’s time. High-performing sales organizations win business by putting processes in place that allow the sales manager to produce results not by doing things themselves, but through their sales team.

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Sales Methodology + Technology = A Winning Formula for Closing Deals

In all my years as a senior executive and consultant, I have never heard a sales professional say, “My CRM helped me close that deal.” Why? Because CRMs weren’t built for the seller, they were built for sales managers and senior leadership.

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THE SALES TALENT SHORTAGE: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Sales organizations worldwide compete to attract and keep top performers in their ranks. Most CEOs and business owners know this truth, despite the swings in any given economy, the sales talent shortage is real and ongoing. They also know that the loss of a top performer can impact their company’s revenue for years.

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Implications of a Vacant Sales Territory

Understanding the impact of a vacant sales territory is important. Even in the very best organization, salespeople come and go. By their very nature they are typically hungry for a better deal for themselves.

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Should You Recruit Competitor's Sales Superstar?

I am often asked by my clients to recruit a competitor’s super star sales performer. What I have found from past experiences, this can be a very risky proposition.

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Don't Fire That New Sales Rep So Fast!

We all know the game. It’s all about growing revenue. Your sales leaders are charged with hiring new sales reps but they soon find out that there is a shortage of really good sales talent out there – the struggle is real

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13 Must-Knows About Sales for CEOs & Business Owners

#1 Articulate the Sales Process. In Fact, Make It Crystal Clear. • Define stages in the sales process and map it to customer buying behavior so it’s easy to understand the “why” • Associate activities with each stage—and keep it simple • Crystalize the leading and lagging indicators of success for each stage • Arm sales managers with high impact questions that ensure positive adoption and execution • Clearly recognize the sales manager role as a multiplier for success.

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