Companies are only dedicating 10% of their training activities in improving sales. Should this number increase? A recent report says yes.
The Case for Sales Training
According to the 2019 Learning and Development (L&D) Report from findcourses.com, of the 70 plus L&D professionals surveyed, only 10% reported sales as a top training priority. A whopping 57% of respondents reported leadership and management development as their primary training focus, with customer service, sales and communication rated far lower. The report found links between learning and innovative business practices, diversity & inclusion training and financial growth, and current financial growth with increasing L&D investment.
L&D training is a key facet of running a successful and growing business. But with sales training being overlooked in companies’ L&D plans, businesses are missing out on fostering their growth in the long term. On top of revenue growth, sales teams impact brand recognition, brand reputation, and building long-term customer relationships. By strategically increasing investment in L&D, you can maximize your potential for revenue growth, while cementing the sales team at the center of your business’ success.
With only 13% of salespeople producing over 87% of total sales in a typical organization, what L&D strategies will help more sellers become more effective? If you’re a new or struggling seller, practicing L&D professionals have identified some key training insights to boost sales and encourage innovation.
Invest Upfront, Reap the Rewards
Cost-based functions can always be vulnerable to budget cuts and L&D is no exception. But, home assistance provider HomeServe has proven that keeping L&D a budget priority produces results. Awards for Best L&D Team, Learning & Organizational Development and Leadership Development all went to HomeServe at the 2018 HR Distinction Awards. For HomeServe’s Director of Learning & Development Rebecca Edwards, it was an upfront investment in L&D that illustrated its long term impact. In response to findcourses.co.uk’s 2019 L&D survey, Edwards explained that “When times are tough, it’s easy to forget about training and development, the more you invest in it upfront the longer-term benefits will be.”
Nonetheless, not everyone has access to the right sales training within their organization. Looking outside company walls for guidance and external sales training providers will further your opportunities for growth while fostering a culture of innovation. “You can influence innovation when you’re living it,” finds the head of U.S. Learning & Talent Development at Bayer Karen Bicking. Partnering with external training providers opens the doors to innovative practices that transform your conception of L&D.
The Future is Now: Innovation and Virtual Reality
Technology continues to form the baseline of innovative L&D practice. Companies with revenue growth are more than twice as likely to use innovative technologies such as game-based learning and augmented reality in their L&D offerings.
With beginnings at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, VR coaching company STRIVR’s Chief Strategy Officer Danny Belch has seen the impact of VR on L&D in real-time. “With VR, because of the on-demand nature, the real-life experience can be fired up at the click of a button … it’s not role-playing. You have this beautifully free space to practice, to stumble upon your words,” Belch observes. He finds that putting the information presented in training into a real-life scenario gives you the repetition needed to get it right.
Technology doesn’t replace quality training however, and Belch explains that while tech innovations like VR can be useful, they should always be complementary to existing L&D materials. “The companies that have jumped in usually have one champion who really believes in it – the forward thinkers who jump in while everyone else is waiting,” finds Belch. Companies with growing revenue are three times more likely to predict an increase in their L&D budget. By taking the plunge into innovation in collaboration with L&D professionals, you can maximize growth potential through sales training, and ignite a culture of innovation across your organization.
Staying Agile to Avoid Complacency
Technology can be a direct way to encourage innovation, but it is by no means the only way. Keeping your L&D program agile and personalized to your sales division will help new and struggling sellers adapt faster to the lightning-fast shifts any business may require. Findcourses.com’s 2019 report found that 19% of L&D teams are challenged by employee’s lack of time. Techniques for tailoring training to the present and future needs of your employees and your business like training on optimizing your sales team’s territories helps trainees personalize their learning experience. Personalization can make the L&D process more efficient for all involved, leaving more time for selling!
While these insights can all function as key ways to boost sales and encourage innovation, consistent evaluation and recalibration are the best ways to keep exceeding expectations. Tiffany Poppa, Director of Employee Experience at Bonobos explains that “Focusing on what’s right with people makes for an inclusive environment where people can openly express themselves, their ideas and even their challenges.” Cultivating a working environment and an agile L&D culture that encourages openness is the first step to inviting innovation to your office, and to keep it there.
If you are a new or struggling seller or have a burgeoning sales team ready to hit your market, investment in sales training L&D will provide the tools to maximize your sales team’s success. Making that upfront investment in L&D, looking outside your organization for inspiration, researching the latest trends in technology and innovation and keeping your training agile and personalized are all techniques practicing L&D professionals have found successful. Boosting sales training is no small feat, but the research shows that investment in L&D is by far the best place to start.
Max Maccarone is a content editor for the higher education portal educations.com and professional development search engine findcourses.com. Originally from Canada, Max relocated to Stockholm after graduating from York University in Toronto. As an avid traveler, Max is dedicated to creating diverse and engaging learning and development content for a wide range of publications.
You’re probably always looking for ways to expand and grow your business.
If you’re a smaller company, that can be especially hard when you’re working to seem bigger than you are. But you can’t get bigger without competing against others in marketing efforts. So how do you accomplish that?
You enable yourself to put together quotes that are accurate and efficient as well as on par with the big guns. You implement useful software called sales quote software, or a configure, price, quote solution (CPQ).
This kind of solution enables you to quote faster and to use templated approaches, which are easily readable for customers.
This graphic explains what that looks like and what you need to know.
There’s no greater gift you can give to a seller than leads so we’ve uncovered 3 core SEO principles to help increase your inbound sales.
We’re working to unite the two warring departments of sales and marketing. Kyle Carney has a passion for helping businesses grow and he does that with principles that help organizations earn inbound leads as fuel for growth.
Lead generation mistakes
Many businesses chase after the wrong keywords in their SEO efforts. They know their industry and their target market but they pursue vague SEO terms. If, for example, I search for “new homes,” that could suggest that I’m looking to buy, or to build, or to discover what a new home costs.
Businesses can improve by being more strategic in their efforts. So instead of searching for “new homes,” they can work to rank for “new home builder in Colorado.” That strategy is crucial for online success because that generates traffic that has qualified itself before the conversation even begins.
Google knows everything. It knows where you are, so if your website indicates the area that you’re serving, it will figure that out.
One: Get your website right
The messaging on your website has a huge impact on your inbound sales. We must make sure we get the right message in front of the right clients so they qualify themselves prior to beginning the conversation.
When we do, the work becomes like fish in a barrel because prospects come to you and say, “I saw this on your site and it’s exactly what I need.”
Building a website with proper messaging for the right audience allows your prospects to move themselves down the funnel. #SEO
Improve your site
Sellers wear a lot of hats and sellers have the ability to influence anyone. If we want to increase our bottom line, it’s in our best interest to connect with the marketing people and convince them of the importance of a smooth website.
Work toward a mobile-friendly site. Most sites are, but there are small tweaks that will make your site operate faster. If the site isn’t designed correctly, it will run slowly which will affect your rankings.
Identify the things your customer wants by understanding how they find you. If they find you online, ask what they were searching for. You’ll discover actionable information that will help you refine your website.
Find keywords that match what you do. Strive for specific, clear intent.
Be data-driven. Find the search volume for keywords to help you decide on your messaging.
Rank for the right things
Most of the data about search content is freely available using tools like Google Keyword Planner. Initiate a conversation with the marketing department to ensure that you’re ranking for the right phrases. If you’re ranking for phrases that no one is actually looking for, it will do nothing for you.
Once you’ve got the website functioning smoothly, you’ll focus on converting those prospects using content.
Two: Generate content
This isn’t a reference to a basic 300-word blog. It’s quality content that focuses on answering their key questions and includes every type of content.
If every seller would create videos to provide information, the potential would provide to be unreal. Create videos. Write blogs. Answer frequently asked questions.
Block out 15 minutes to create content daily, even if you have to do it during lunch. It’s arguably one of the most valuable exercises a salesperson can do.
Write down every question people ask you and rank them from the most common to the least. People frequently ask “How long does it take for SEO to work?” SEO is kind of a nerdy topic that many businesses don’t think about. Once they address it, they often want to know how long the results will take, so he wrote a massive article breaking the process down.
He didn’t intend to sell anything, but rather to provide quality information. Within a couple of weeks, people reached out to him asking if they could share it. Then, he landed on a list of 25 top Internet marketing articles worldwide, and he was surprised by the fact that people were even able to find him.
Kyle points to The Go-Giver as a book that changed his perspective and motivated him to enrich the lives of the people who engage with his content. Now he uses the article during conversations as a source of information he can share with people.
The article set him up as a thought leader and authority on the topic of SEO.
Think long term
SEO is a long-term game. It’s a process that won’t happen overnight. If you use it effectively, you’ll see results.
The challenge, Kyle said, is that many sellers have huge lists of content they’d like to create but because they have big deals on the line, they have to prioritize those deals because that’s money in the bank. It’s difficult to prioritize stuff that doesn’t pay off immediately.
In the long run though, you’ll make so much more money if you can generate content and videos consistently.
Kyle is a big proponent of YouTube but he recommends doing whatever is easiest. Just do something. It’s much better to do something than to wait forever for the perfect opportunity. Use whatever you currently have available.
If that means starting from scratch, YouTube is a great place to start. It’s a massive search engine all its own. Your videos don’t have to be long, and you can even hire people to create them for you.
Three: Make quality connections
Kyle points to the hybrid approach as the best method of conversion. Provide gated content as well as free, accessible content. Create, for example, an amazing guide to the top 10 things to know about your business, and then ask for an email to access it. Connect that to your CRM so you’re providing something valuable that benefits your audience. You’re getting something and they are getting something in return. You’re getting a warm lead and you have an opportunity for a simple follow up.
“I saw that you downloaded our guide. I’d love to answer any questions you have or hear any insights you had from a business owner’s perspective.”
Then, use your CRM to determine what pages your visitors are seeing on your site. If you can track where they are going on your site and determine what things they are reading, then you can ask them to use this information in your sales process.
People are thirsty for knowledge, so if you can be a resource that answers their questions, it will build a foundation of trust.
Give your prospects something specific they can apply to their own situations. In my case, I might ask prospects to try sending five emails to see what kind of results they get, or to test LinkedIn connections. Keep it simple. Don’t ask them to read a 500-page SEO book. Give them a quick win.
Leverage your connections
As you’re out in the world networking, you’re developing key partnerships and mutually beneficial connections. Leverage those opportunities.
If you’ve written something valuable, ask the people around you to share it. Then, offer to serve those connections as well by volunteering to write an expert blog post on their site. Tell them you’re only asking for a small linkback. It involves writing and proactive outreach, but the payoff is huge.
The Internet is a popularity contest, and Google works the same way. When more websites talk about your website, that suggests to Google that there’s something valuable for its searchers there. Google will bump it up in the rankings.
It isn’t glamorous work but it can be very impactful. Instead of working to leverage random contacts, you’ll focus on the ones you’ve already built.
Social media can be powerful for reasons beyond those that we already know about. If you give someone a shoutout on social media, that doesn’t necessarily improve their online visibility, but if you’re an influencer within your network, it provides credibility and it may drive people to visit.
Write down the questions that people ask you every day and then provide answers to them. Provide the information people are looking for. Don’t hide behind a curtain and don’t keep trade secrets.
“3 core SEO principles”episode resources
You can connect with Kyle at FirestarterSEO.com or on LinkedIn. He calls himself an open book and says he’s happy to educate people about SEO. If you simply have a question to ask, reach out to him on social media.
You’ve heard us talk about the TSE Certified Sales Training Program, and we’re offering the first module free as a gift to you. Preview it. Check it out. If it makes sense for you to join, you can be part of our upcoming semester. You can take it on your own or as part of the semester group.
If you and your team are interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us. Call (561) 578-1729 to speak directly to me or one of our team members about the program.
This episode is also brought to you in part by mailtag.io, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link.
As a savvy seller, you’ll want to continue learning, and you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial, complete with a free audiobook, on Audible. They have thousands of books to choose from and you can begin your free trial today.
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I truly appreciate you and appreciate your reviews and your subscription, and your willingness to tell your friends and anyone you know that’s in sales about the podcast.
Two months ago, I was put in charge of managing my company’s sales pipeline.
Goodness, did I have a lot to learn.
The health of a company’s sales pipeline is critical in generating, understanding and predicting revenue. For a small, yet fast-growing company like mine, this affects not only the roles of the sales team but leadership throughout the organization as they seek to pre-emptively forecast capacity and hiring needs. For larger companies, the implications are just as important.
The sales pipeline is one of the most crucial fountains of data that any company has and is an important indicator of the health of the company’s growth engine. To manage it poorly would be unwise.
During these last two months, I’ve spent hours diving into research, evaluating data sets, reviewing platforms, and consuming as much information as I could stomach. By no means do I believe I have mastered the art of pipeline management, but I would love to share a few key insights I have learned from others, as well as a few I have found to be true from my own personal experience.
Without further ado, below you’ll find eight best practices for managing your sales pipeline.
1.Simplify Sales Stages
If it seems obvious, it’s because it is. Yet numerous teams struggle with this tactic. In order to most effectively manage your sales pipeline, and to simplify your team’s jobs as effectively as possible, it’s essential to keep your stages as smooth as possible. There’s just no getting around it!
Changing structures and systems is difficult in any organization – especially if leadership has a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. But simplification of the sales pipeline is too valuable to brush aside.
With each unnecessary stage, your leads and opportunities are increasingly prone to stagnation and distraction. Not only so, but with extra fluff in the sales process, there is a risk of flawed perspective from the salesperson. What I mean by this is, if the stages aren’t stripped down to accurately align the decision-making process of the buyer with the internal selling process, the salesperson can easily become too caught up in the steps themselves and forget to focus on what really matters – guiding the prospect to move forward. And, as many of us have experienced, prospects tend to pull away with the slightest hint of misalignment.
All of this – stagnation, distraction, and misalignment – translates to lost dollars. And that is a language everyone can understand.
Note: While researching the alignment of sales stages with the buyer’s journey, I found an interesting alternative to the traditional stages used by most companies. The stages were flipped to entirely reflect the stages of the buying decision rather than internal processes of organizations. The model, created by Mark Sellers, is geared more towards B2B companies.
Another key reason to simplify your sales stages leads directly into best practice number two….
2.Shorten Your Sales Cycle (Within Reason)
As a general rule of thumb, shorter sales cycles are more desirable. They lead to revenue faster, allow for increased sales velocity, and are far less of a headache for everyone involved. Everyone is striving for a shorter sales cycle.
And it makes sense inherently.
People prefer transparency over the obscurity, structure over chaos, and the concise over the drawn-out. But, the length of your sales cycle should never be secondary to the quality of the touches within it. Speed should not be forced upon the sales process, but rather should be a natural byproduct of having your stages simplified to the mere essentials ( Point #1).
In the wonderful world of B2B sales, cycles move at a pace that put glaciers to shame. Speeding up processes, therefore, needs to be done with gentle care. The metric, I believe, should be based on competitive standards.
If we are adopting a different mentality, it’s imperative to always consider what the buyer is experiencing. Then, we must be aware of the fact that they are likely going through similar sales processes with other companies. If we speed up our processes too much, we may begin to seem less credible than our competition and lose valuable trust.
Let me explain. In my case, we offercustom proposals that include a detailed audit of our prospects’ websites and a high-level, tailored solution. This is the next step after our “intro call.”
Typically, it takes a couple of days after the intro call to build out this strategy and present it. If I wanted to speed up the sales cycles just for the purpose of speeding it up, I could put other things on hold and knock out an audit the same day. But, my assumption is that that wouldn’t help. In order to build out a solid game plan and thoroughly understand the search engine landscapes our customers exist in, we must spend an appropriate amount of time doing our research. By the same token, our suggestions and recommendations would doubtfully be taken as seriously with a significantly shorter turnaround time.
Further, if your prospects are exploring 3-4 different companies (which they are), then you might be left with a lengthy “in limbo” period after you’ve completed your proposal and the customers are waiting for other proposals to come through.
It is a best practice to keep sales cycles brief, but only by keeping the stages to the essentials. Don’t overhype speed over the process.
3.Add Value at Each Sales Stage
I cannot stress the importance of value enough. At any point in the sales process, your prospect should know what the next action is, and what they are going to GET from taking that action.
Value is a principle in marketing, as well as in sales, and is rooted in human psychology. I like to think of it as the “exchange factor.” Humans make moves when they see the benefit for them. They are willing to give when they get. Basic stuff.
However, in order to get to the primary exchange (i.e. the sale itself), there must be a pattern of “micro-exchanges” along the way. On an introductory call, the client GETS valuable information about offerings that help them move along in making an educated decision.
In the proposal stage, the client GETS a free audit to help them wrap their heads around their current search marketing tactics. You get the picture. Without a clear understanding of what is to be received at each step, people are unmotivated to move forward.
And unmotivated prospects are lost deals.
4.Analyze Sales Performance by Stage
According to a study byVantage Point, only 23% of sales managers analyze the efficiency of pipeline movement specific to individual stages when evaluating sales reps’ effectiveness.
What is the sales pipeline if not a sum of all its parts? In order to truly get an understanding of strengths and weaknesses in a sales process, you must be observing from the perspective of stage-to-stage movement, in addition to the movement as a whole.
It is in the granular detail that we see trends for which stages happen to be the most stubborn, which stages the majority of your clients fall off during, or which stages are causing trouble for the cycle as a whole.
In order to make the necessary changes, you need to understand exactly where the breakdown is and what is causing it – something that is difficult if you’re only looking at the cycle as a lump sum.
This granularity in separating stage performance also makes way for the next best practice…
I am a salesperson surrounded by marketers – and I couldn’t be more thankful. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the team here, it is the understanding of the value of testing. No decision our team makes is ran on a whim.
EVERYTHING is backed in data.
But, in order to accumulate data, we must run rigorous tests. And in order to improve at a steady pace, we need to run numerous and strategic tests. Which we do. All the time.
My goal for myself in this new role is to treat the pipeline with the same level of dedication and professionalism that our clients expect of us. In order to make educated, data-backed decisions, I need to be running rigorous tests as well. Breaking down performance at a stage-by-stage level provides great opportunity to test theories at a smaller level and get quicker insights into the results of those tests.
Currently, I am running a test on the impact of bringing in department directors on my proposals. Last week, I began testing the floor for minimum pricing to find any psychological thresholds at different dollar amounts.
Keep in mind, there is always a test you can run to better your sales efforts. And it’s okay to overlap tests. Many aren’t going to be conclusive after one week. Heck, many aren’t going to be conclusive after a month! However, keep testing so you can keep learning and adjust to find exactly what your targeted audience is looking for.
6.Know Your Numbers
Similar to the running tests is being able to understand and interpret data. Data is the foundation of success in the modern day. As boring as numbers may seem (I’m a right-brained person, myself), you just have to know how to work with them.
What is your lead qualification rate? How long does it take a lead to go from qualification to proposal given? How long does it take a deal to close? What is the lifetime value of an average customer? These numbers are absolutely crucial in understanding and predicting revenue implications from a sales pipeline.
Software companies have caught on to just how valuable this information is, and there are now plenty of choices for sales software to help in understanding and visualizing data. At Directive, we use a platform calledRekener, which has been a solid implementation for us (no, this isn’t a paid plug).
This tool allows us to see the pipeline movement by stage in terms of percentage moved and days required to advance from one stage to the next. We can also see overall “scorecards” for the performance of an account executive based on criteria we tell it to track. Additionally, it shows average close rates and helps us build solid projections for expected revenue won, which is crucial information for the data-driven sales professional.
7.Make Lead Scoring a Priority
In larger organizations, lead scoring is absolutely essential. You can get by without automated lead scoring as a smaller company, but once your leads start flowing from all that SEO you’ve been doing, you’ll want to check out a lead scoring solution.
In the end, all of the sales data in the world will tell you that the most effective sales teams prioritize certain prospects over others. You’re not going to turn every lead into a deal, so why not help yourself out by spending your time where it will make the most impact. For an incredible read on the subject, check out this article byFrancis Brero.
8.Monitor Your Activity
Last, but certainly not least, get in the habit of monitoring where your time goes. This is one of the hardest things that I have had to do since starting this job. I consistently felt that the days were vanishing before me, and although the entire day felt stacked to the brim, I could rarely tell you how much of my time was spent where.
It’s a difficult thing to quantify, but time is the backbone of success in any role – especially sales. Without tracking how much time goes where, it is impossible to set benchmarks for activity, prioritize high-impact activities, and truly know where your reps should be investing their energy. Luckily, there are tools to help. A couple I discovered in my research areSuperOffice andSalesmate.
Honorable Mentions – Additional Tips to Keep in Mind
Below, you’ll find additional tips I’ve discovered to be helpful. They didn’t make the official list, but they are definitely worth trying out for yourself.
Don’t be an island! One of the best ways to maintain consistent performance in your sales pipeline is to get as many eyes on it as possible. Have weekly meetings or daily check-ins with your sales team and review the state of the pipeline together. Take ownership of training all parts of the sales team in best practices throughout all stages to make sure that everyone is working towards a common goal.
Strongly encourage post-sale follow-up. It’s been proven time and time again, sales reps that keep in touch with their closed deals end up selling more deals in the long run. People change jobs all the time and having a good relationship with internal champions goes a very long way. In my eyes, it should almost be another stage in the pipeline.
Creating, refining, and managing a well-oiled sales pipeline is a battle that is fought daily. However, with a mind armed with data, a spirit ready to test and conquer obstacles, and a team united in a singular pursuit – it’s a battle that pays big bucks to fight.
Author Bio:Jonathan Verstegen – Account Executive at Directive
Jonathan Verstegen, along with his colleagues, seek to develop a consistent, repeatable model for sales development for leading B2B and enterprise search marketing agency, Directive, headquartered out of Irvine, CA. Jonathan is motivated by competition and the never-ending pursuit of personal development.
Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM that can revolutionize the way to conduct marketing campaigns. With Salesforce, companies have a platform to consolidate campaign data, analyze results, and provide a better customer experience. It helps to understand Salesforce better to be able to use it to its maximum potential. Alternatively, you can use Salesforce support services such as SalesFix.
Marketing campaigns are multifaceted entities. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to organize, observe, collect, collate and analyze all the information regarding and gained from a campaign.
Regardless of whether the marketing campaign is on a small or big scale, there is always room for human error, or at the very least room for better data analysis. Here is where Salesforce comes in and it has been making life so much simpler for organizations.
The best ways for an organization to use a Salesforce campaign effectively
Once a business has incorporated Salesforce into its system, these five steps will aid in its effective use in campaigns.
Use the Salesforce Marketing Cloud: The Salesforce Marketing Cloud is an excellent tool for marketing campaigns. With this feature, companies can track all relevant information pertaining to the target audience. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud enables a company to link all campaign data or segregate it into categories if necessary.
The tool can also be used to collate date from previous campaigns for comparison. With the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a business can see how a campaign impacts the target audience and use the data to better customize the campaign.
Customize Salesforce for maximum impact: When companies have a Salesforce Campaign for marketing, they can choose the parameters they want to observe. For example, if they want to track conversions across four different types of campaigns like email marketing, Instagram advertising, a live event, and print marketing, Salesforce can be useful.
They can customize the platform to pull up conversions data and show them a clear comparison. They can also compare last year’s live event’s data to this year’s and so on.
In this way, an organization can tweak their campaigns depending on what works best and what doesn’t.
Add members: Salesforce allows a company to add members to a campaign. They can add contacts to several campaigns and then link all those campaigns to data relating to the contact. They can also check which members responded to what type of campaigns and then customize their approach when reaching out to them in the future.
Salesforce helps to customize campaigns for members for a better customer experience. The cloud-based platform also enables businesses to give members access to certain campaign details with their specified login credentials.
Identify opportunities using Campaign Influence: A Salesforce Campaign can prove very useful in identifying opportunities. Market data can be collected and analyzed to help a business know exactly where marketing opportunities lie. To help take sales to the next level, a business can use this valuable information to design a campaign that plays to its strengths.
For example, if a new organic soap brand is being launched, data can be collected on existing soap brands in the market and where they fall short. If the other organic soaps fall short when it comes to environmentally responsible practices, the marketing campaign can promote the new brand as an all-organic, environmentally safe soap.
Salesforce can help companies use opportunities to their full advantage.
Integrate various tools: One of Salesforce’s most useful features is its ability to be integrated with other marketing tools like email. Anyone who is developing a marketing campaign can add the email marketing feature to help with sending out emails to all contacts, checking for open-rate, and to check for response rate. Leads can also be automatically updated to lists so that no potential conversion falls through the cracks.
Updates on email statuses are invaluable when analyzing the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign. Using the data, companies can create new lists that have a great open-rate and a better chance of conversion.
Salesforce has been developed as a CRM, but when used in marketing campaigns, it can be a powerful tool. The several advantages that Salesforce confers on businesses can be utilized for more effective and customized campaigns. Better designed campaigns, in turn, result in a higher conversion rate and help increase business profits.
Emma is a passionate digital marketer with a focus on lead generation and CRM
First things first: your company needs a CRM. But before you leap into something new, keep in mind these 7 considerations when choosing your company’s CRM.
Your company’s CRM extends through the entire organization. Without it, you won’t be able to communicate effectively, and the disconnect will affect your customers’ experience.
The CRM you choose will allow you to centrally maintain important data that every department in your company requires access to: marketing, sales, HR, and accounts payable. Without it, the challenges are enormous.
Unfortunately, many small businesses discount the importance of CRM and use Excel spreadsheets to track their activities. Some keep notes in a variety of different silos that make it difficult to track all the efforts that have been made.
If you don’t already have an actual CRM, you need one.
When you’re in the market for a CRM, don’t make the mistake of choosing the cheapest or simplest option. Even if it’s your first time choosing a CRM, use this list to help you choose the best one for your company.
1. Your CRM should be customizable.
The sales process looks different in every industry. Your buyers will buy differently and follow a different buyer’s experience than buyers in other segments of the market.
You must be able to customize your CRM to match your buyers’ needs.
Customization allows your team to organize their sales processes, and their KPIs, based upon the way your buyers buy. It also speeds up your close rate significantly because your salespeople can carry out activities in the order that makes buyers most comfortable.
Additionally, if you can add fields that are relevant to your industry, it often gives your team ownership in the process and increases the chances of successfully adopting the CRM. It isn’t always the best idea to buy a CRM that is specifically designed for our industry because the program might limit your capabilities.
When you can find a CRM that is agnostic and provides flexibility to the users, it helps the team perform better and sell more.
2. Choose a CRM that is easy to use.
It seems self-explanatory that if your CRM is hard to use, your team will avoid it. If the process slows them down unnecessarily, it may be difficult to convince them to fully embrace it.
Does your CRM have drag-and-drop capabilities?
Is it easy for your team to add notes or information?
Is there a mobile application so you can access information virtually?
Can leaders create reports easily?
Your team must be able to record important information gathered during appointments, so they must have an easy-to-use CRM that allows them to record information quickly, from anywhere.
When you have to make important decisions about your prospects and your sales funnel, your CRM must make it easy for you to gather what you need.
3. Your CRM must allow integration.
Fortunately, many CRMs offer integration capabilities now that allow you to combine the power of all your sales tools. These may be native integrations, or they may be powered by Zapier.
If a CRM doesn’t allow integration, it won’t work effectively for your team. Your CRM should allow your team to send mail through Gmail or Outlook and those communications should be automatically added to the deal or contact.
Integration is a huge time saver for your team given that most of our communication with prospects happens via email.
Additionally, you should be able to integrate into your marketing platform. This capability will help your marketing team make important decisions about buyer behaviors.
Who is the ideal customer?
How do they interact on our website?
Can we use lead scoring to our benefit?
How can we convert marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads?
This capability will help develop effective marketing campaigns as well as making sure the sales team gets the right leads.
Finally, your CRM should integrate with sales automation platforms like prospect.io and LeadIQ. It should integrate with your financial software and with other crucial software you use to run your business. It should allow you to add custom APIs.
4. Find a CRM that offers training.
Although it’s important to find a CRM that is easy to use, it’s also important to find one that offers some level of training, such as online videos, webinars, FAQs, or customer service reps who will help your team get started.
If your CRM sits on the shelf unused, it isn’t helping your company.
Can the company work with your sales team to get you started using the CRM as quickly as possible? The time that your company invests into learning the CRM represents time taken away from the business.
Consider a CRM that doesn’t require you to reinvent the wheel but that can give you the shortcuts and guidance you need to use it effectively.
5. Consider how your management will be involved with the CRM.
If management doesn’t use your CRM, the sales team will be less likely to use it. Your management must be involved with the CRM.
Leaders must take an active role in using and referring to the CRM. This will give them a pulse on the sales process and will help them understand the health of the clients and the performance of the sellers.
This information will be crucial as leaders seek to coach sellers to perform to the best of their abilities.
6. Your CRM should be user-friendly for all departments.
Your sales success depends on the team’s ability to use your CRM well. If Client Success needs to post the close of a new deal, how easy is the transition from prospect to customer?
What milestones exist to ensure that onboarding is successful?
Is there a workflow process that will track payments?
Can marketing monitor the success of the client to later use for testimonials?
Organizations realize the need to break down silos and improve communication through the entire organization, and the CRM can play a major role in that capability.
7. Your CRM must be able to grow and scale.
As your team grows, you must have a CRM that allows you to purchase additional licenses as you need them without having to purchase more than you require.
A CRM that requires you to purchase more than you need is wasteful.
Additionally, you must have the ability to retract licenses as well. When people leave your team, you must be able to deactivate their licenses, ideally without having to involve customer service.
Consider your industry.
These aren’t the only important considerations when choosing a CRM, and the requirements will largely shift based upon your company’s industry and needs.
These are simply guidelines that most companies should consider as some of the most common needs companies have in their CRM.
To be sure you’re getting the right one, gather your end-users and department heads to seek their input about capabilities and features. Have a discussion about workflow and the buying process.
Is there a single CRM that can help you maximize your success?
As a sales manager, you’re tasked with increasing your outside sales team’s productivity. One way to do this is by designing a sales territory plan. You can ensure your sales force is being fully utilized by assigning specific customer groups to individual reps.
However, sales territory plans are not one size fit all. It is important to take manageability and balance into consideration when you establish your territories. A well-balanced plan will lead to an efficient usage of resources and time.
According to the researchers Andris A. Zoltners et al., sales can be increased by 2 – 7% through sales territory optimization – without using additional resources or changing the current sales strategy. So, even if your sales team already has a sales territory plan in place, it’s a subject worth revisiting. Every sales manager should rethink present territories to ensure that work is being divided evenly and sales reps are reaching their full potentials.
Territory metrics like geographic location, customer names, sales history, and competitive activities can be leveraged to increase potential earnings. Additionally, the distribution of territories across your sales team influences your reps’ abilities to meet their quotas. Thus, you can determine if your sales territories are optimized by examining your sales team’s results.
Read on to see if your sales team’s results are indicative of an optimized sales territory plan. Also, if your team’s results could use some improvement, learn how to optimize your territories.
Top 4 Results of Optimized Sales Territories
1. Better Customer Satisfaction
Every interaction your sales reps have with customers impacts customer satisfaction and the perception of your company’s product or service. Therefore, a good sales territory increases your sales reps’ interactions and familiarity with customers.
You can achieve this by focusing on your customers’ geographic locations in relation to your sales reps. A good sales territory should reduce travel time and costs, allowing your reps to spend less time on the road and more time interacting with their customers.
Your plan should also ensure that customers are being followed up with by the same sales rep. If reps are selling to customers they have experience and expertise in dealing with, they can better present a relevant value proposition to them and foster strong relationships.
Have a closer look at your reps strengths and abilities to make sure they are servicing the “right” set of accounts. For example, a sales rep who has a history of success with closing large and high complex accounts should be in future given more of those.
In the end, increased selling time as well as creating targeted sales rep and consumer relationships will result in improved customer satisfaction rates. The result will be that customers will feel encouraged to repurchase your product or service and refer their peers to your company. According to a case study by InfoQuest, you will get 14 times more earnings from a ‘totally satisfied customer’ than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ one.
2. Improved Market Coverage
A balanced sales territory improves market coverage and avoids the cannibalization of customer accounts between your reps. To create balance, you should focus on the quality of leads when planning your sales territories.
Of course, you never plan for a territory to be poorly balanced. A sign that one of your territories is unbalanced is if customers are being under – or over – serviced in that area. This can occur when salespeople don’t spend enough time on good leads, and only focus on conveniently located, easy to talk to, or familiar leads.
They might be spending the majority of their time on low-potential accounts that would be better spent on high-potential leads.
Meanwhile, other reps might spend too much time on low-potential accounts because they don’t have enough good opportunities in their territory to stay busy. Again, this is wasted time that could have been utilized to close more attainable sales.
By factoring in the quality of leads when designing sales territories, you can better balance the efforts of your sales force. Gaps in customer coverage will also become more noticeable and sales reps can be reassigned accordingly.
In the event of market changes, rep turnover, acquisitions, mergers, product launches, etc. you will be prepared to react while maintaining customer relationships and securing optimal market coverage.
3. Heightened Productivity
Sales managers and reps are constantly striving to boost productivity. Many sales teams have to compete with the previous year’s results using existing – or even less – resources. Fortunately, optimized sales territories are a low-cost way to increase sales productivity.
One way well-planned sales territories can boost the productivity of your reps is by cutting down on time spent on the road while they travel to their customers. This reduces travel costs and increases the time your salespeople can actually spend selling.
A study by CSO Insights finds that sales teams often have low rates of lead conversion – with 60% of opportunities leading to “no decision.” A balanced territory structure will give your reps more time with their customers and more opportunities to learn about their clients’ pain points. This knowledge helps reps to add value to their sales conversations, meet their clients’ needs, and achieve a higher conversion rate.
Additionally, a territory structure that offers optimal customer coverage will help your team to prioritize work, reduce travel time, and maximize motivation. Your sales territory plan can raise motivation among your team by facilitating a fair compensation plan that does not under – or over – reward reps for factors they cannot control – such as whether or not they have a “good” territory.
4. Increased Employee Satisfaction
All sales reps want to work in a territory that they have the potential to succeed in. Then, they want to be recognized and compensated for their achievements. Balanced sales territories help you manage your sales reps fairly. In turn, employees will report better employee satisfaction
Poorly balanced sales territories are likely to result in unfair compensation among your sales team. A rep with a “good” territory with high-potential accounts may benefit from higher pay without putting in extra effort while other reps with “bad” territories have to work much harder to hit their quotas. This happens because common metrics used for determining compensation tend to be determined more by geographical location – a factor that cannot be controlled by reps – than by a reps’ actual performance.
Optimized territories will make performance metrics more accurate since they prevent unfair conditions. They are a good foundation for building fair compensation plans which promote motivation and job satisfaction among your reps.
Making sure each that each of your reps’ territories stays balanced is hard to manage on top of your own tasks. Luckily, mapping various applications for sales territory management provide reports on your sales team’s weekly performance.
For example, Badger Maps is a mapping application that allows your reps to create check-ins and appointment notes in the field, following each customer visit. All check-ins and notes are logged and compiled in a weekly report that allows you to track your reps’ job performance. Check-in reports record customer details, meeting notes, and the time since your reps last visited their accounts. You utilize this data to give your reps advice on how they can increase productivity.
With the right balance of workload and sales potential, your sales reps can be more efficient with their time, address opportunities in their territories, and focus on their most valuable clients. Ultimately, optimizing your sales territories results in more sales, happier customers, and more fulfilled sales reps.
Often when we are in a sales position or career, we tend to focus all of our attention on the product, service, and clients. All of these are good and important. In fact, if you don’t know your product or service well, you won’t provide the value that your customer needs. If you do not focus on the needs of the clients, understand their pains and wants, you may miss an opportunity to have a sale. However, one of the ways you could be missing out on a long-term relationship with a customer is by not sharing your story with them.
I don’t mean your life story from beginning to end, but rather part of your personal story with some meaningful aspect of your life. Most people choose to purchase from an individual because they trust them. Two salespeople might have equal projects, services, and prices but the one thing that wins every time is trust.
When I used to own a gym my sales team members would often tell me, “I am very trustworthy and customers like me.” Don’t be fooled, being liked is not the same thing as being trusted. Being charismatic is nice in the moment, but trust beats charm in the long run. Trust will take your sales relationships farther and grow your reputation and your reach. I want to provide you with 5 simple tips that can help you gain trust with your potential customers without being sleazy, salesy or dishonest.
Your story is about sharing who you are, your truth. It’s not just storytelling but sharing enough of who you are so that people feel like they know you. They may not ask, but they want to get a glimpse of the real you beyond your products, services or your brand.
Confidence comes from owning who you are. Being vulnerable means being okay with being silly, if that’s who you really are, being soft-spoken or even boisterous if it suits you. When you allow your true personality to shine people connect with you on a more personal level. You don’t need to be like Joe Salesman who effortlessly talks to everyone. People will sense if you are putting on an act and that’s the moment they start to judge you and decide whether or not they trust you. Vulnerability has to do with accepting your unique qualities and letting yourself shine.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Some salespeople forget that listening requires asking questions, listening to the response and then going deeper and asking “is there anything else that needs to be heard?” and listening more. Don’t assume that the first thing that customers or potential clients say is what they mean. Listen to the stress, their doubts about the problem and repeat to them, in their exact words what you heard. Once you listen you will know which part of your story will resonate with them. Their doubts fears and joys can be reflected in your truth.
Share About Your Struggles
Some people shy away from their weaknesses when speaking to potential clients, but understanding your humanity can really help to put people at ease. When I was trading in my car, the salesperson tuned in closely when he heard me speak about my transition to becoming an empty nester. With my kids being grown and out of the house, I no longer needed an SUV, which was the reason I was at the dealership. It felt like a loss to be selling the family vehicle.
While many customers would be celebrating the sale of their car, the salesman sensed my struggle and engaged with honesty. He could have said, wow I bet that is difficult, but instead he asked questions and said he was having a challenging time making sure the time he spent with his kids was quality since he separated from his wife. His honesty struck me and when he asked what was the one piece of advice I had for him about raising teenagers, I sensed a willingness to listen. This type of connection, honesty, and vulnerability builds empathy and also trust. Although it seemed to be a small gesture, I felt better about selling my SUV that day and I haven’t forgotten the salesman or his story.
Don’t Shy Away From the Truth
When you don’t have the answer to the question your prospect or potential client has don’t try to B.S. your way to the right answer. People can sniff out dishonesty. Some people try to glorify that they are a good “B.S. Artist” but the truth is they are afraid to be real, so they just lie and try to fool others. Don’t let that be you. Honest people make the most long-term customers, sales and relationships that bring in more money and opportunity, which ultimately leads to bigger returns. Be honest and let people know if you don’t have the answers to the questions they are asking. Just be diligent and get answers for them in a timely manner. They don’t need you to be perfect, just professional and committed to helping them.
Make a Personal Connection with An Authentic Story
People who are looking to buy are constantly talking themselves in and out of the transaction every minute you are selling to them. They are weighing the features with the cost, the drawbacks of the investment vs. the benefits. You can’t control this, it’s human nature. The ultimate decision will be how much they feel like you understand them and how much they know you. Tell them about a time you remember when you were making a decision like this one, where there seemed like there were too many choices or that you weren’t certain which choice to make. Don’t make the story up, be honest. Maybe it was a simple purchase, such as a first car, or a move that you made or a leap into a career.
You just need to show your understanding of the human need to struggle through a tough choice but ultimately feeling great about it. If you are truthful about the decision whether you regretted it or loved it, they will trust your empathetic view. Tell about a time when you were young or a teenager. Just give them a chance to focus on a real experience rather than bouncing in and out of which choice to make.
Ultimately, selling is about being human, about connecting to the very nature of the person on the other end. Serve them better by being authentically yourself. Be vulnerable and listen to what they have to say. Don’t worry that you don’t have all of the answers all of the time. Engage people with your honest truth and your sales will come from the relationships you cultivate much more powerfully and more often than by way of “slick” stories, tricks or other sales gimmicks. Your story and your authenticity are not to be wasted. Use your truth in connections with others and watch your business and reputation grow along with your confidence.
About the Author: Azul Terronez is a best-selling author and has helped authors turn their book idea into a reality. Azul has also coached seasoned writers like Pat Flynn, of Smart Passive Income, and others find their story and execute it well.
Work-related stress is at an all-time high and progressing steadily. It has been estimated that 75-90% of patient visits to primary care practitioners are due to stress-related illness.* Stress and busy have become synonymous; while being touted as a badge of honor.
We have become a society that is always connected to technology, never taking a break for fear of missing out on something (FOMO anyone?). We have businesses to build, sales to make any connections to create. Who has time to stop and relax? The ironic part is that without the rest, our best efforts are ineffectual.
Stress causes fatigue, sleeplessness or over-sleeping, feelings of lethargy and depression, weight gain, headaches, muscle pain, digestive issues, low libido, increasing symptoms of PMS and menopause, irritability, poor skin and tissue health, hormone imbalance, chronic sickness, and the list goes on and on.
So if a person is suffering from these symptoms and has an inability to manage stress, how effective can they be in their daily work? We simply can’t do the great work we are passionate about when we feel terrible every single day. The question then becomes, how do we manage stress and prevent ourselves from burnout so that we can continue to build business and increase success?
Here are five strategies that will get you on the right track:
Have a plan
Most people that struggle with feelings of overwhelm and stress don’t necessarily have a plan of action on how they will tackle the day. We may stroll into the office and get sucked into the email matrix for hours on end, responding to email, sending email, reading more email, responding and sending a bit more. Instead of doing the deep work that moves the needle in their business, we become daily email managers.
When working without a plan of action, it’s easy at the end of the day to wonder what in the world we accomplished. The best sales reps have a distinct plan each day. They know who they are talking to and the purpose of the conversation. There are outcomes from each activity that lead to achieving goals. To manage your day, use these tips to create a plan that will have you working with purpose.
Work with intention
Use a calendar or planner to stay on target for the day, week, month, and year
Work with an objective in mind
Plan each quarter backward from your goals.
Prioritize your to-do list
It’s very easy (and normal) to brain dump all of the things we need to do each day and week on a list and hope for the best when it comes to accomplishing the tasks we listed. When the list is arbitrary and without focus, it’s hard to feel productive and easy to feel pressured. In order to conquer the overwhelm, start with three tasks on the list that you feel will push your business and success forward, rather than simply “busy work”. Getting caught in the paperwork matrix distracts us from the deep work that generates revenue. While I could organize my desk over and over or arrange files and pens (ROYGBIV is how I roll), it doesn’t replace the activity of actually getting on the phone to talk to prospects or creating content for my programs. After I prioritize my to-do list, I use these prompts to move forward:
How much time is needed (realistically) to complete the task?
Add the task with the given time to my daily schedule to make sure that I have the dedicated time per task.
Focus on one task at a time (no multitasking) to maximize my attention and effort. The best work comes when the distractions are minimal.
As a first-born, I have held onto my responsibilities in a very serious way. Because let’s be honest, nobody can do things the way I can do them. I take pride in my work, I am very detailed and thorough. It just never occurred to me that someone else could help ease my burden. At the same time, I have felt resentful that I am doing all of the work. While in college, being assigned to a group was a nightmare for me. I loved being in charge and I took on way too much because I couldn’t leave my grade in the hands of a stranger.
Then I would be stressed out because I had so much to do. Change the scenario to marriage & family. I relish the systems I have in place and border insanity if someone in my family veers off from the way I do things. I want my kids to put the clean sheets on their beds yet when the bed covers aren’t as taught as I like them, I have to fight the urge to re-make the bed! Friends, if you are nodding your head right now in understanding, here is some sage advice. STOP IT. Seriously, save yourself from unnecessary anguish. There are people who love you and want to see you succeed; they want to help you in any way they can. Let them help and feel the burden of your tasks lighten.
Ask for help (and let out a sigh of relief)
Work to your strengths- these are things you should hang on to! This is your voice and your addition to your work
Pass things on which don’t require you personally to be accomplished-these are things that aren’t necessarily your strengths and can be better handled by someone else.
Manage your health
This is the part that most business people push to the back burner, especially if you are pretty healthy, to begin with. When we get busy and put our heads down in our work, the last thing we think about is how much exercise we can get in and how many whole food meals we can consume. Yet, this is the part of our life that we should take the MOST serious. I have seen way too many executives that are on the verge of burnout because health has just not been the priority. Success is on the rise, so we continue to push harder towards greater success. Or maybe the numbers are not in alignment with the goals, so we drive ourselves to do more.
We start work earlier and stop later. We start losing sleep, become dependent on caffeine and sugar to keep ourselves awake, eat food on the go and at our desk or in our cars. It doesn’t take long to feel the energy drain and the chronic fatigue to kick into high gear. What you may not be considering when you tell your health to please hold, is that your health is what drives success. If you feel terrible, you can’t possibly do quality work. You don’t think clearly, you don’t have the extra drive to give when it matters, you miss details, you aren’t prepared or organized. You allow the competitor to have an edge because you are not at your best. To prevent the burnout, health must take priority. The good news is that wellness doesn’t have to be complicated:
Plan exercise at least three times a week (do anything you enjoy)
Plan your meals ahead of time-minimize sugar and processed foods
Sleep at least 8 hours a night
Schedule your wellness exams each year
Write in a gratitude journal each day, highlight things from your day that you are thankful for or which brought you joy.
Rest and Restore
Rest is necessary to recover and revitalize. Planning rest time is just as important as planning your time to prospect. Make time in your calendar each week to do absolutely nothing that resembles “work”. How each of us experiences rest will differ so try out new things and see how you feel. Some people love tackling home projects while others like to be outdoors to experience nature. Try these on for size to recover during your week:
Read a book
Work on your hobby
Take a walk, a nap or a bath
Have lunch with a mentor
Take a day trip or plan a long weekend
Grasping these five points will give you stronger business acumen and push burnout to the outer edges. Let’s take charge of our success by managing our stress and letting go of the standards that society says we must have in order to gain success.
About the Author: Erika Eller is a women’s wellness consultant. She leads women who struggle to find the balance between fitness, faith, family, and their career. Ericka empowers and encourages them to turn their fears into confidence while they slay that comparison monster. Learn more at www.erickaeller.com
If you haven’t seen “The Greatest Showman,” consider this: it’s much more than a movie or musical. As an entrepreneur and a seller, I took away many great principles.
The movie has many more lessons in entrepreneurship; a how-to guide for those looking to grow their careers; a study in sales, and the things that will help us succeed.
Watch for these 6 lessons when you see the movie:
1. Identify your “why.”
P.T. Barnum came from nothing. His wife hailed from a wealthy family, and Barnum wanted to provide the kind of life she had always known. He also wanted to prove himself to her father, who doubted his abilities. Proving himself became his “why.”
My own family was without a home for a period when I was in high school, so we stayed with friends and family. I watched my mom scrape money together to buy the things we needed, and that experience created in me a drive to succeed. I’m no millionaire, but the desire to provide for my family pushes me to work hard every day.
What gets you out of bed every morning? Knowing your “why” will help you persevere when challenges arise. As an entrepreneur this is critical.
2. Work beyond “no.”
Barnum was repeatedly rejected but he found creative ways to work around it. When he was fired from his job because his company’s fleet of ships sank into the sea, he took the deed from one of those sunken ships and used it as collateral to secure a business loan.
Be ethical, but be creative. When one opportunity dies, work to find another option.
Barnum’s daughter suggested his idea for a wax museum might work better if it featured live people, and his idea for a circus was born.
As an entrepreneur, do you allow rejection to derail your plans or do you find creative ways to work around it?
3. Determine how much is enough.
Barnum was obsessed with the idea of being the best in the world. He allowed it to consume his life to the exclusion of everything else.
The drive to improve is a good thing, but you must maintain your priorities. Don’t allow your drive for success, sabotage your relationships.
Have a number in your mind that represents “enough” and be willing to stop striving when you reach it. If you believe there will never be enough, ensure that your drive to achieve doesn’t cost you your family.
Consider delegating tasks. Work smarter, not harder.
How much is enough for you?
4. Add value.
P.T. Barnum encountered a young man who was dwarf and asked him to join the emerging circus. The young man refused because he didn’t want to be laughed at. Barnum pointed out that people were already laughing at him; at least this way he would be earning money.
Barnum was so focused on his own agenda that he failed to see what the young man wanted. No one wants to be ridiculed no matter how much money he or she will get.
Sales professionals make this mistake all the time. We sell customers what we want them to have instead of creating value for them.
Eventually, Barnum realized the young man wanted to be respected and admired instead of ridiculed. He discovered that the young man wanted to be a soldier, so Barnum offered him a chance to lead the circus on horseback, dressed like a soldier, wielding a sword.
Suddenly, the young man was engaged because Barnum offered something he wanted.
What matters most to your customers? How can you add value to them?
5. Never lose focus.
Distractions surround us. Anything that doesn’t move us toward our goals can be considered a distraction.
At one point, Barnum became so focused on gaining acceptance from the aristocrats that he neglected his family.
It happens to all of us, but when we recognize it, we can move back on track.
What distractions are interfering with your goals? As a seller or entrepreneur, how are you handling the shiny object syndrome?
6. Lead more often than you sell.
Barnum recruited people that society rejected; people whose differences made them “freaks.”
Barnum initially failed to realize that he had created a family for them. They were finally accepted by people because of their entertainment value. He made them part of something bigger than themselves. He inspired them.
If you find yourself focusing on numbers, look at the people around you. Find out what they need or want most. Share your vision. Develop followers.
Are you inspiring people to take action and become part of a cause bigger than themselves?
Barnum’s lessons are timeless, and they apply to all industries and experience levels. He chased his dream and learned from his mistakes.
Set goals and do everything in your power to achieve them. Refuse to be diverted from your path and inspire others along the way.
As an entrepreneur or seller, strive to be better every day and be intentional about the things you do.
Over the course of 2017, we saw a lot of trends. We saw new technologies launched, big company mergers and acquisitions, a greater presence of personal branding through social media, and new terms like Account-Based Sales and Account-Based Marketing become our everyday lingo.
And there is, even more, to watch for in 2018.
Sales is a changing landscape. And if salespeople do not evolve as well, they will become endangered and lose to the competition. Kind of like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
So what exactly is a trend and which ones should you be keeping an eye out for in 2018?
Trends and trending are words we see when a hot topic takes over our social media news feeds, thanks to the hashtag (#2018SalesTrends). But really a trend, according to the dictionary, is a pattern of gradual change in a process, or a general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time.
Generally, we see an emerging trend and we are skeptical. We even think that there is no way will it become the norm or mainstream. Just think about Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat. Some of the newest, biggest, and most “disruptive” solutions out there were once seen as a “fad” and are now the social norm.
When does a trend become mainstream?
The law of diffusion of innovation tells us that if you want mass-market success or acceptance, you cannot have it until you achieve the tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration. Simon Sinek spoke of the law of diffusion of innovation in one of his most popular Ted Talks to date, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
Trends are important to watch and we typically see a trend launch through early adopters and risk takers before accepting it for ourselves.
Here are some 2018 sales trends to watch for, and even implement into your own strategy if you want to stay ahead of the pack.
If you haven’t already noticed, video has continued to grow in popularity and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
Here are a few stats about video marketing that WordStream put together:
YouTube has over a billion users
More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day
45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week
Over half of video content is viewed on mobile
Over 500 million people are watching video on Facebook every day
90% of Twitter video views happen on a mobile device
Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined
Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs
51% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI
You might have also noticed, that LinkedIn launched the ability to record and post videos directly to your LinkedIn newsfeed.
No longer is video marketing for the big and powerful brands. We will now continue to see more personalized videos be produced by people simply recording themselves from their iPhones.
Now more than ever, it’s a fight to win over a prospect’s time so we will continue to see video prospecting on the rise. Video prospecting gives salespeople the ability to stand out in a sea of content and cold emails. It will require more time to create, but video will be more personalized with a higher ROI rate.
AI and Sales
How does Netflix know what recommendations to make?
How does Amazon know what I want to buy?
How come Facebook keeps showing me puppy videos?
Artificial Intelligence is the reason, and it will continue to penetrate the B2C and B2B sales marketplace.
We can confidently say that Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, but not here to replace. AI is here to support sales and eliminate monotonous tasks.
We have more data than we have ever had before. Sales technology and automation have certainly changed the way sales reps prospect, track, manage, and close deals, but that doesn’t mean the robots are eliminating the need for real live human sales professionals.
What AI does mean is that when implemented and used correctly, sales professionals can optimize their efficiency with the ability to focus more on selling than on administrative tasks.
MIT Sloan Management Review published a study revealing that 76% of early adopters are targeting higher sales growth with machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are enabling sales professionals to be proactive versus reactive. With more insight, sales professionals can optimize every stage of the funnel. We now have more knowledge around our buyer’s “intent” before even speaking with them.
Artificial Intelligence and automation cannot be a sales professional’s only tool. Remember, AI is only helpful if it is moving you to hit your objectives and improving sales productivity. The sales tool is only as good as the sales rep.
In 2018 we should continue to see a balance of both personalized selling and automation.
Over the last few years, we have heard the buzzwords Account-Based Sales and Account-Based Marketing, but Account-Based Revenue really defines this targeted movement.
Account-Based Revenue bridges the marketing and sales gap that is widely discussed. This term aligns both departments to ultimately drive more revenue.
I first heard this term coined by the brilliant Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group. Account-Based Revenue is to execute a strategic go-to-market approach that personalizes marketing, sales, and customer success efforts to land and expand named accounts.
Rather than focusing purely on a large pipeline, sales professionals can use personalization to target high-value accounts.
Customers expect more from sales and marketing. Now more than ever we have the ability to access and understand what buyers want and expect from us. Decision-makers need relevant and real-time information to help make purchasing decisions.
This isn’t for only new prospects, Account-Based Revenue is a strategy that should be executed with past and current accounts to grow and sustain customer retention.
Once again, personalization will win over generic mass email campaigns.
LinkedIn and One-Line Text-Based Posts
Have you noticed
a lot of those one-line
No matter how you feel about them, you can count on seeing more of them in 2018.
Even though videos and images are major driving forces in capturing attention, text-based LinkedIn posts are new effective traffic drivers for the platform.
It’s important to note, that these posts may rank higher due to the nature that they don’t have any external links, keeping users on LinkedIn. Therefore, LinkedIn’s algorithm may rank them higher on the newsfeed than posts with external links in them.
Salespeople are working harder than ever to win over a potential customer’s time. And we know that people’s time is pulled in a million directions and we can’t expect to capture it without providing excellent content and value.
Why are one-line posts a new trend?
They are engaging
They are genuine
They are easy to read
They are practical
They are relatable (a personal problem, question, or success)
They follow a storyline format
They ask for feedback
When done correctly, these posts won’t only boost your LinkedIn visibility, it should also boost your other web channels too.
I also recommend adding links in the comment sections of your text-only posts. And yes, it’s okay to like and share your own posts.
Recruiting and retaining top sales talent continues to be a top priority and challenge for companies. With unemployment at an all-time low of 4.1%, it’s become a job seeker’s market. Sales professionals have more options to selectively and passively search for their next opportunity.
This means that companies must work hard to attract, recruit, interview, hire, and retain top sales performers.
According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Report, companies are trying to optimize their hiring strategy to reduce candidate attrition due to a lengthy sourcing and interview screening process.
A recent study by Indeed found that 61% of recruiters expect hiring will continue to increase into 2018. About 56% of employers are hiring to support business growth.
Companies should look to increase their applicant conversion rate.
How many resumes do you screen?
How many hours are you searching?
How many candidates make it to the interview stage?
How many steps are in the interview process?
How many offers do you extend to acceptance?
No more debate around it, millennials are here. According to Pew Research, millennials have surpassed the Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. More than 2.4 billion people in the world are under the age of 30. They will soon make up over a third of the workforce.
Yes, there may be more discussion on recruiting and coaching millennials, but the fact remains that millennials have become vital members of the workforce. This wave of sales talent is already moving into senior leadership roles. This generation values purpose, technology, work-life balance, learning, and growth. Make sure your talent management initiatives align with millennials.
Millennials bring a lot to the table as technology and the way consumers absorb information has changed.
Millennials have also become one of the largest buying audiences. They make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases (over $1 trillion in direct buying power). They play a major role in the economy’s growth.
So stop the debate. Millennials are here and you need to harness their knowledge and skill. You also need to understand how to market to them.
Sales Development is the front line of the sales force, and the role has evolved from being strictly measured by call and email volume, to become a more strategic and complex sales approach.
In its early days, Sales Development was viewed as the first step in a sales career. It was about entering leads and building pipeline. SDRs were typically performing tedious and monotonous tasks, passing leads to the inside sales team, until finally they were promoted to a selling/closing role themselves.
Today with new technologies, streamlined efficiencies, and more informed buyers, more is expected from SDR teams. As a result, there has been a higher demand for qualified and experienced Sales Development Reps who are consultative in nature, making the role appear less “entry-level.”
Expect to see a greater emphasis on sales development training and implementing technology past the automation stage. This role may merge with the traditional full sales cycle role.
For transactional sales, we may see a decrease in SDRs and a rise in chatbots, messaging apps, and Artificial Intelligence.
Online reviews will continue to play a role in the decision-making process of the buying cycle. Reviews influence buying decisions. Just as referrals are one of the highest-ranking leads for sales, online reviews are a way to magnify your customer satisfaction ratings on a national/global level.
Before making a purchasing decision, almost all buyers are doing their research to make sure the company, product, and service fulfill their needs. Here are a few statistics around online reviews from RevLocal:
92% of consumers read online reviews when looking for a local business
42% of consumers won’t use a business with less than a three-star rating
68% of consumers will form an opinion about your local business after reading just 1-6 online reviews
Potential customers are researching products, services, and companies on Facebook and Google as well as growing review sites like Capterra and G2Crowd. Google enables customers to rate and review businesses, becoming a growing review site (63.6% of consumers check Google before visiting a business.)
It all comes down to trust and transparency. It’s become a buyer’s-centric market and buyers have more choices than ever, so how will your company stand out?
What are some other trends you are following?
Chelsey Canavan Brief Bio:
Chelsey Canavan is the Director of Marketing at Treeline, Inc., a national sales recruiting firm and #1 Best Place to Work. Chelsey runs the marketing department, creating content to help sales professionals land their next sales job, and to help hiring managers find their next top performer.
“Every entrepreneur and business owners have one most common burning question running through their head, “How can I improve my sales?”
“What’s your sales metrics (the average revenue per sale)?” I respond back to them.
Unfortunately, almost all entrepreneurs and business owners stare at me clueless, unable to answer my simple question, which is perhaps one of the most common reasons why their sales never increase.
You see, knowing your sales metrics is super essential to sales growth because once you know it, you can dramatically (or methodically) skyrocket your sales and your competitors will get left behind in the dust.
Here are five sales performance metric you must follow:
The number one metric that every website owners obsess about is website traffic – a total number of unique visits to your website.
Surely, website traffic is supercritical for a successful online business, and you can monitor this metric quickly by using Google Analytics.
Your website traffic is a good indication to know whether your website is growing, stagnating, or declining. You can also measure this sales performance metric to see the efficiency of specific promotional methods. Let’s say, for example, your website experiences a sudden traffic spike after posting a guest post on a popular blog, which should indicate to you that you should be doing more of the same in the future.
On the other hand, if your website’s traffic is in decline for a very long time, this tells you that you should change your approach and try new things because whatever you’re currently doing is not working. If you don’t do it fast, your website will fail.
Your Website Traffic Sources
In addition to knowing your website traffic numbers, you should also know where all those traffic are coming. Again, you can do this quickly by using Google Analytics (it’s free).
This free SEO tool breaks down your traffic sources into four different categories: organic traffic (traffic that comes through the search engines), direct traffic (traffic that types your domain into the browser), referral traffic (traffic coming from another website), and social traffic (traffic generated through social media).
Why should I care about all these traffic sources?
The answer is simple: each traffic source will tell you more information about your website.
For example, if 70% of your website’s total traffic is organic traffic, that tells you how well your site ranks in the search engine, which in turn will show you how effective your SEO strategy is. With over 40,000 searches per second on Google alone, today search engines have become one of the most important sources of traffic.
Referral traffic gives you an idea of a total number of visitors who come through other websites – perhaps you published a guest post, or a site linked back to content on your website.
If a lot of websites are linking to your site, your business can benefit in two ways: First, your website rankings will dramatically improve, and you’ll be less dependent on the search engines to drive traffic. Second, plenty of links referring your site means that you’re doing an excellent job and shows how valuable your content is.
Direct traffic is the total number of visitors who type your website URL into their browser – for instance, http://www.yourwebsiteurl.com. A good amount of direct traffic indicates a loyal following.
Lastly, social traffic indicates a total number of visitors that come from the social media sites. The more valuable, relevant, and shareable your content is, the more engaging it becomes on social media, and thus, more traffic you will get to your website.
Which traffic source is best for me?
Well, the answer isn’t simple. It all depends on the website type you’re running. However, one thing is for sure: it’s always beneficial if your traffic came from different sources as it will help minimize the risk of your website being slaughtered if your primary site traffic source shrink.
Your Website Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is another critical sales metric, which has a significant impact on SEO. It tells you how many people leave your website immediately after arriving. So the lower your bounce rate, the longer your visitors are staying on your site (enjoying your content) and converting.
On the other hand, a high bounce rate indicates to you that your visitors are leaving, immediately after they arrive.
But, this sales performance metrics don’t tell you why they are leaving. You’ll have to do the spy work yourself by digging a little bit deeper. However, usually, a high bounce rate include poor website design, slow load times, poorly targeted keywords, and broken websites.
With these things in mind, you can easily and quickly improve your website’s bounce rate by making your site look professional, function properly, and publishing valuable content regularly.
Your Best Performing Pages
Google Analytics also has a Behavior section that allows you to quickly see your top performing pages in regards to traffic volume.
Knowing which pages get the most traffic on your website is highly decisive as it helps you understand what your audience honestly respond to. If you publish different types of content on your site, this is when you can start to analyze what content type is working, and post more of those materials in the future.
However, traffic numbers aren’t the only way you can discover your “top performing” pages.
You can also look at the total number of social shares for a page, which is an indication of a high-quality article. Google Analytics doesn’t have this tool. However, there are plenty of other tools and WordPress plugins that displays this information, such as Social Metrics Pro.
Once you know which content is popular with your audience, the next step becomes even more straightforward: publish more of it!
Your Website Conversion Ratio
The conversion ratio is another top critical sales performance metric, or perhaps the most vital sales performance parameter of all because it can have a massive impact on your website’s profitability – if you can only improve your conversion rate from 2% to 4%, you can double your profits, almost overnight!
Conversion rate indicates how well you motivate a traffic to take the desired ACTION.
Here’s how to calculate your conversion rate:
Conversion rate = total visitors to your site/number of conversions
A website may have different conversion “goals.” For instance, if you’re running an eCommerce store, then you might have these three conversion goals:
Make a sale (number one priority!)
Ask a visitor to sign up for your email list
Ask a visitor to share your content on social sites (optional, but still highly valuable)
Understand this: if your website has high conversion rate, then whatever you’re doing is excellent. On the other hand, if it has a low conversion rate, either you are probably driving the wrong traffic, or your sales copy is weak, or your call to action isn’t powerful enough to drive conversions.
Because conversion rates can have a powerful effect on profits, you should spend your time and effort on optimizing your website for conversions, regularly. Even small changes can deliver a dramatic spike in your sales.
Annabelle Short is a writer in contentblossom and a seamstress of more than 5 years. Annabelle is a mother and she loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits.
It allows you to model already-proven strategies, shaving valuable time off your timeline.
So why not start close to home?
The following 22 people are entrepreneurs who live in our midst. They call South Florida home, and they have demonstrated success in their respective fields. Learning their stories and studying their techniques could translate to career and personal success.
Many of the companies represented below landed on Inc.’s list of the 5000 fastest growing companies, and some of them have been there for years.
Jorge Plasencia Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO of Republica, one of America’s leading and fastest-growing independent marketing and communications agencies. República is an international agency creating relevant, enduring connections between brands and people across culture, language, and technology. The Miami based company generates north of $15 million in revenue.
Brett Forman is the founder and CEO of Forman Capital, a real estate lender for bridge and commercial real estate loans. The Boynton Beach company generated $7.9 million in revenue in 2016, landing it at #4252 on the Inc. 5000 list.
Suzan McDowell is the president & CEO of Circle of One Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency with a tilt towards the African American and Caribbean markets. Circle of One has developed successful multicultural campaigns for a wide range of clients, across all types of media. The company generates about $2 million in annual revenue.
Maria Salazar is the Director of Sales at Azulle, #249 on this year’s list. Azulle, based out of North Miami Beach, boasts a line of mini PC’s, tablets, and the Quantum Access computer. The company seeks to bring affordable and innovative technology to businesses and families, generating $6.3 million in revenue.
Adam Mopsick is the CEO of Amicon Management in Miami. The real estate and construction company generated $2 million in revenue last year, earning it the #1232 on the Inc. 5000 list.
Niles Tagliamonte is the Vice President of Sales for Endosystems, based out of Fort Lauderdale. The B2B company distributes equipment and devices related to the aesthetic and wellness industry. Endosystems is #1412 on Inc.’s list, with a revenue value of $3.2 million.
Brian Scheel serves as the Vice President of Sales for Arrow Consulting & Design, a software development firm headquartered in West Palm Beach. With revenue of $10.3 million, Arrow has twice been named to the Inc. 5,000 — in 2015 and again in 2016.
Robin Tidrick of PaperStreet Web Design is Sales Director at the Fort Lauderdale-based company. With a 2016 revenue of $3.4 million, PaperStreet offers website design, internet marketing, SEO and content services. Founded in 2001, the company has served more than 1,300 firms since its inception.
Alexander Nygart and Gary Garth co-founded White Shark Media, a digital marketing company that tailors online marketing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. Ranked #786 on the Inc. 5000, the Miami-based agency had a 2016 revenue of $10 million and was included on the previous two years’ lists as well. White Shark Media was also ranked #18 on Inc.’s list of Top Miami companies.
Kevin V. Michael is the co-founder and managing partner of Invizio, LLC, a South Florida IT services and consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses maximize their use of technology. He oversees business development, strategic relationship development and client relations for the company. The company generates about $6.2 million in annual revenue.
Ron Green is the President and CEO of Greenlight Staffing Group, an IT staffing firm in Hollywood, Fl., that offers temporary, contract and permanent staffing to various industries. Greenlight has made the Inc. 5000 list for the past two years and generated $3.1 million in revenue in 2016.
Jessica Massad is the founder and CEO of Collateral Management, a network of appraisers that provides valuation services for both commercial and residential properties. This year’s #1589 ranking marks the third time the Fort Lauderdale-based company has made the 5000 list, and the company generated $10.8 million in revenue last year.
Eric Rhoads is the founder and CEO of Streamline Publishing in Boca Raton. In its 20th year, the company generated $5.6 million in 2016 and made the Inc. 5000 list for the third consecutive year. Streamline is anchored in the traditional printing of consumer and trade magazines and is also well-versed in digital radio and video products.
Richard Ticktin is the CEO of Synergy Labs, the manufacturer of dog and cat hard-goods in Fort Lauderdale. Synergy Labs earned the #1469 spot on the Inc. 5000 list with $8.7 million in revenue and 276% growth. Synergy boasts its own R&D laboratory and its own chemists, and it supplies more than 40 countries.
Henry Woodman is the President of ICE Portal in Hollywood, FL. ICE Portal is a technology company that helps hotels produce and distribute visual content to clients, generating $2.3 million in revenue in 2016.
Paul Rubenstein is the managing partner of Convert IT Marketing in Fort Lauderdale, an advertising, and marketing firm that specializes in internet marketing for law firms. The company earned the #1676 spot on Inc.’s list and generated $6.2 million in revenue last year.
Christine Phipps is the president of Phipps Reporting — a company that provides transcription, deposition and litigation services to the legal industry. The West Palm Beach company generated $8.6 million in 2016 and earned the #1915 ranking on the Inc. 5000 list. This year was the company’s fourth consecutive appearance on the list.
Sylvain Faber founded Eyevertising in 2010. The promotional product supplier, based out of Miami, generated a reported $2.4 million in 2016, and it holds six U.S. patents for its custom pinhole sunglasses.
Patrick Barnhill is the founder and president of Specialist ID, a distributor of photo identification badges and accessories in Miami. The company generated $3.7 million in 2016 and earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list for the third consecutive year.
Gary Vermaas is the CEO of Base4, a management company that assembles teams of architects and engineers to design resorts, theme parks, hotels, and hospitals as well as retail, commercial and institutional buildings. The company generated $5.7 million in 2016, earning it the #1607 on the Inc. 5000 list. Base4 also earned a spot on the list in 2016.
Nicholas Santillo is the president and co-founder of Fractl, a Delray Beach advertising and marketing firm that gets attention for clients through viral content and media mentions. Fractl generated $5.1 million in revenue in 2016, and it landed at #1053 on the Inc. 5000 list.
By definition, our job in sales is to influence other people’s opinions and behaviors: the people we work with, the people we’re selling to, and the people who work for us.
The problem is that we’re all hard-wired differently. We all have different strengths and tendencies, and those differences can make it difficult to understand one another.
Jim Jacobus, a veteran consultant, speaker and sales trainer, describes it this way: Imagine your world consists of four categories of people, and each of those groups speaks its own language. Now imagine that you’re tasked with communicating with each group, but you only speak one of the languages.
How will you communicate with the 75 percent of people who don’t speak the same language you do?
DISC Improves Communication
DISC profiling enables us to understand the four different languages people speak and to communicate with each group in its native language.
DISC profiling measures a person’s tendencies or behaviors using a series of questions to determine things like:
how the participant responds to conflict
how the participant solves problems
what causes the participant stress
what motivates the participant
The DISC profile distinguishes four different categories of behavior.
D= Dominance (how you handle problems)
I = Influence (how you influence people)
S= Steadiness (the pace at which you do things)
C=Conscientiousness (attention to detail or willingness to follow rules)
“DISC is a great tool for understanding communication styles, and for understanding how people go about doing things, how to manage them, and how to motivate them,” Jacobus said. “But if I’m going to understand your communication style I have to fully embrace and understand my own style. Once you understand what that looks like, then we can help you identify the style of the client.”
The value of DISC in serving the client has to do with understanding where the client is coming from, Jacobus said. It’s learning how to deliver the part of the product or service the client is most interested in. If for example, a client is a high D and you’re talking to him about how a product was made, you’re going to lose his interest because he’s more concerned with the bottom line and big picture.
“Once you’ve identified your client’s preferences, you can shift gears and present the product more effectively and communicate more effectively,” Jacobus said. “If I’m focused on selling what I think is cool all the time, 75 percent of the world couldn’t care less.”
The reality is that, with behavioral selling, there are all kinds of built-in conflict, because each profile approaches the world, and the sales industry, differently. There really is no right or wrong way to do it, Jacobus said. Rather it’s about identifying your strengths and learning to leverage them. Additionally, though, it’s about understanding the challenges of your style as well. If you’re a “my way or the highway” kind of person and the client is a consensus builder, the result can be conflict.
Highly technical personalities, for example, tend to be less relational. Talkative, outgoing personalities may not be great listeners. Each profile has its own challenges, but people can be trained to overcome their natural tendencies.
“I just love how understanding the different styles helps me better connect with my clients,” Jacobus said, “but not in a way that’s chameleon-like. I’m not seeking to manipulate them. I want to serve them better than the competitors do.”
He points out, too, that though people bristle at the idea of manipulating others, the entire sales industry is built on the premise of influencing other people’s opinions and behaviors.
Jacobus said he isn’t concerned with whether people think his behavioral approach is manipulative because he’s comfortable with his own motivation: to better serve clients and to better manage sales reps.
“If I care about you more than I care about my back pocket, them my back pocket will take care of itself,” he said.
DISC Improves Sales Effectiveness
The burning question, then, is how will DISC profiling help you make money?
From the management side, Jacobus said, your job is to sell your employees on doing what’s in their best interest and what’s in the company’s best interest. Understanding how to communicate effectively with the people you manage is a huge step in the right direction.
From a sales standpoint, Jacobus referred back to the four languages metaphor: If sales reps can learn to speak all four languages, it makes them four times more effective and creates a multiplier of four in terms of the ability to connect with and sell to the client.
“People want to buy from folks they can relate to,” he said.
So what if you’re cold-calling and you have no idea what category the client falls into? Popular opinion says that you should always default to the D personality type, but Jacobus prefers a more even approach.
“If you get an email from me or a letter from me and I don’t know your style, it will include one statement that hits all four personality styles,” he said. “It’s going to say ‘Jim Jacobus’ programs are step-by-step processes used by many of America’s top organizations to get results while attendees have a blast.’ ‘Step-by-step’ is technical, ‘used by many of America’s top organizations’ is a third-party endorsement for the high S, ‘gets results’ is for the high D, and ‘have a blast’ is for the high I.”
He explained that it’s possible to write a similar general statement for any business, but he pointed out that if he knows your specific profile, he’ll tailor his communication to your preferences. In the case of a client whose profile you aren’t sure of, Jacobus suggests shifting your focus.
“I am going to make sure right off the bat that you understand that I am here to bring you value,” he said. “I want to make sure we can exceed your expectations and that you can bring good value to our organization. I think communicating the fact that you intend to bring value to that organization is even more important than hitting the right style.”
Despite Jacobus’ enthusiasm for DISC assessments and their benefit for people in sales, he does not believe the tests should be used to determine whether a candidate would be successful in sales. He said that despite using similar tests in the past to assess candidates, he still found himself hiring candidates that looked good on paper but that were unsuccessful in sales.
“DISC does not, cannot, will not predict performance,” Jacobus said.
DISC and Practical Applications
He recalled being in a meeting with a high-D personality who halted Jacobus’ presentation to ask about the bottom line and the company’s ultimate return on investment. Jacobus recognized that the guy was a high D, and responded with the same kind of direct, decisive response that his personality type responds well to.
“I knew sooner or later he was going to do something like that and I knew I was immediately going to snap right back at him and go straight to the numbers and give him a good example of how I knew we were going to be able to do it.”
Every personality type has a different need that has to be met. Jacobus explains that when he does training for CPAs, for example, their technical backgrounds and IT experience require a different kind of training.
“If you and I go out and have dinner together, I’m going to be trying to figure out your style so I can more effectively relate to you while we’re at dinner.”
Jacobus said he finds the most reward when someone does a DISC assessment for the first time and begins to understand who they truly are.
“If you think about it, whatever quadrant we’re in, 75 percent of the world is telling us we’re doing life wrong,” he said. “All of the technical people say we should be more organized and be more detail-oriented. The high S people want us to be more laid-back. Maybe for the first time ever you look at that and see, ‘That’s who I am.’”
Jacobus said that he loves the personal transformation that happens to people even more than the sales improvements that often result from DISC assessments.
He said that DISC training transcends the work world and that he has effectively used it in marriage retreats and other settings.
“I love it when people accept how they were created; with strengths and with challenges,” he said. “I love it when they embrace how they were created and start trying to figure out how to get the most out of that.”
Jacobus said he has tremendous respect for professional salespeople who do their jobs well.
“I’ve bought stuff in the past I didn’t need because sales reps did such a great job.”
Jacobus recalls the time he took his wife and son to the boat store to buy a boat for the family. At the first two stores, the sales reps did the same thing: they talked about the selling points of the boat and all the reasons why the boat would make a great purchase.
The third salesman, Mike, was different.
“‘Jim, I’m going to get to you in just a moment,’ he told me. And then he turned to my wife and asked her what she was looking for in a boat, and proceeded to answer her questions for about 30 minutes. Then he did the same thing with my son. And I said to myself, ‘That’s my boat.’ That guy was a real pro.”
The DISC model originated with Dr. William Marston in 1915. After discovering a correlation between blood pressure and honesty, Marston built a device that would measure a subject’s blood pressure while the person was being questioned. This early polygraph gained the attention of the federal government, the courts, and the public at large.
It was Marston’s work in personality and human behavior, and specifically his study of consciousness, colors, and emotions, that led to the DISC model. Although Marston did not develop an assessment based on his findings, others did, because Marston failed to protect the work he had done as intellectual property. The DISC model is based on the 1928 book Emotions of Normal People.
The DISC questionnaire presents users with a series of phrases or statements to which they will register their agreement, disagreement, or indifference. Rather than measuring aptitude or values, it seeks to measure human behavior in specific situations.
The test identifies a total of four styles, which are the pattern of typical responses expected from a person. Each person is a combination of the four styles, and your DISC profile can change as you age and gain new experiences in life.
D profiles emphasize results and tend to be direct or blunt. They accept challenges, focus primarily on the “big picture,” and exude confidence.
I profiles emphasize influencing or persuading people. They are enthusiastic, optimistic, and they thrive on collaboration.
S profiles emphasize cooperation and dependability. They tend to be sincere, calm, supportive, and steady.
C profiles emphasize quality and accuracy. They are detail-oriented, independent, and they value expertise.
Each person is a combination of the four categories: higher in some and lower in others, Jacobus explained. Within each behavior profile is a midpoint. If your results fall above the midpoint, it reveals something different about you than if your results fall below the midpoint.
D above the midpoint handles problems head-on and tends toward a “my way or the highway” approach.
D below the midpoint favors building consensus and tends to be more cautious or reserved.
I above the midpoint prefers to use their own outgoing personality to influence people
I below the midpoint relies on facts, figures, data, and logic to influence people.
S above the midpoint moves more cautiously through tasks.
S below the midpoint moves quickly through tasks.
C above the midpoint values compliance with rules and attention to detail.
C below the midpoint believes in “close enough for government work,” and places less value on attention to detail and rule-following.
In fact, it’s more accurate to say that every DISC profile has advantages that lend itself to success in sales, and challenges that make success a struggle. A salesperson who needs to generate buzz about a new product will rely on the I-style. In order to demonstrate sincerity, he will rely on S-style. To make a compelling argument, C-style will suit him best. It is suggested then, that salespeople exhibit multiple DISC styles during the course of a sales cycle.
Furthermore, individual clients will respond differently to varying DISC styles. Some clients don’t like the sense that they are being “sold to,” and others resent the hard sell. Those individual client issues will necessarily determine what style the salesperson uses throughout the course of the sales cycle.
It is important to note, too, that because DISC profiles can change over the course of a career, a salesperson’s experience and background will also impact his effectiveness.
What’s most important, then, is to match the salesperson’s selling style with the buyer’s buying style.
Instead of high-pressure tactics, he refused to pressure his clients. If his customers had a specific need or want, he worked to get it no matter how difficult or time-consuming the process. Meanwhile, his co-workers laughed at him.
Within months, those same clients began dropping by the dealership just to check in. New clients dropped in having been referred by previous clients, and he was named Best Salesperson numerous times. Eventually, he became the sales manager and was eventually promoted to corporate headquarters to teach others in the company about effective sales.
By viewing his relationship with his clients as a long-term collaboration instead of a one-time event, he built partnerships. He matched his selling style to the clients’ buying style and he created a win-win situation.
Imagine you’re in a room with four people, and an open window is allowing a cold draft to blow in. Each of the four people represents one of the four DISC profiles.
The D profile will simply close the window. The I profile will convince someone else to close the window. The S profile will put on a coat to avoid changing the status-quo and the C profile will try to determine the rule that regulates closing windows.
While the generalization helps to explain the tendencies of each profile, it fails to consider that each of us is made up of all four of the profiles, with a high tendency toward two or three of them.
We may assume, for example, that managers are usually D or I profiles who are dominant and influential. The reality, though, is that many equally successful managers are steady and compliant. It is possible, too, that many managers who demonstrate tendencies toward the D or I profile have learned to operate well outside their natural tendencies, so they may not fit neatly into our preconceived notions of manager profiles.
Identifying the Least Comfortable Style
Very often, too, we find that it is easy to identify which style is most comfortable for a person just by interacting with him. We quickly identify him as a D or an S based on his obvious behaviors.
The truth about our DISC profile is that each of us is a combination of the four styles. Most of us are higher in two or three of the styles and lower in at least one. That means that at least one of the DISC profiles is well outside of our comfort zones.
In the case of people with blended styles, it may be more difficult to identify their primary profile, but that doesn’t have to be troublesome. Instead, we can try focusing on the style that seems to be least comfortable to that person.
In other words, though we may not be able to readily identify which of the styles she is most comfortable with, we can identify the one she is least comfortable with and avoids the interactions that appeal to that profile. If for example, she seems least comfortable with the D style, we can improve our communication with her by avoiding that style.
In short, we can avoid the behaviors that drain the most energy from those around us and engage in the behaviors that best meet their personal preferences.
DISC Profile and Generational Change
In previous years, the largest segment of the American workforce was made up of Baby Boomers, who were more likely to be S profile types on the DISC assessment. They tended to be steady, reliable, and loyal: the kind of employees that stayed in one job for 30 years or more.
After them, Generation X, born between 1965 and 1983, is largely the C profile type. Marked by a self-reliant and practical approach to life and work, this generation is more educated than the Baby Boomers and it tends to dislike micromanagement and structure. Gen X reflects a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and it is the first generation to grow up with computers.
The Millennial generation, defined as those born roughly between 1983 and the early 2000s, make up the largest group in the American workforce, about 34 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Millennials tend to be I profile types, which account for more than 40 percent of the group. (In comparison, 27 percent of Baby Boomers tend to be I profile types.)
Millennials are tech-savvy and energetic and they love to collaborate. They have embraced the idea of using technology to work from anywhere, and they tend to exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit. Millennials get bored easily and value fun in the workplace.
So what is the result of three generations and four DISC profiles in the workplace?
Author Hillary Pearl calls it style-flexing, and she says that recognizing the personality traits of each generation and respecting the DISC style of others around you is the key to bringing generations of workers together. Especially in cases where Millennials find themselves in managerial positions, it is important for everyone involved to learn to adapt and adjust to others around them. It’s also important to note that while the younger generation has much to learn from its predecessors, it also has a lot to offer them as well.
DISC and Team Building
Very often, in the context of the workplace, we assume that any group of people can function as a team. Faced with the need for a team, we often round up those with buy-in or anyone who might have something to contribute to the issue at hand.
Unfortunately, when we fail to address personality differences within the team, we unwittingly diminish the likelihood that the team will be successful. On the other hand, creating a team with the four DISC styles in mind greatly increases the odds of success because doing so acknowledges the natural allies and adversaries in any group. It’s also worth noting that different DISC styles function better in different parts of the team’s life cycle.
Choose the right leader for the team. Choose a leader whose DISC profile will complement the people you envision serving on the team. Choose someone the team will trust and follow willingly.
Determine the team’s size. Be intentional in your choice of team members, realizing that larger teams may function better because of more diverse skill sets, but they may also struggle in the face of different DISC profiles.
Create a Collaborative Environment. When team members appreciate and understand each other’s differences, they will be more willing to listen to other viewpoints. Everyone’s opinion should be valued and heard.
DISC and Worldwide Marketing
Bill J. Bonnstetter, Dave Bonnstetter, and Ron Bonnstetter, Ph.D., put DISC to work to analyze similarities and differences among ten countries: USA, Russia, China, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, France, and Italy.
Their study’s aim was to foster awareness of our cultural diversity and to encourage collaboration through a better understanding of our differences. Their findings were that different countries had different profile breakdowns among DISC results.
The results demonstrate that the notion that each segment makes up about one-quarter of the population was false in every case.
Russia had the largest percentage of D at 23 percent, while China had the smallest at 11.
The UK had the highest percentage of I respondents at 40. Russia and the Netherlands tied for the smallest percentage with 33 percent.
The Netherlands had the highest percentage of S response at 35. Russia had the smallest at 24 percent.
Russia had the largest percentage of C respondents at 20, while Australia and the Netherlands tied for the smallest at 12 percent.
They discovered in their study that even among the DISC descriptive words, different countries preferred different descriptors. The U.S. participants, for example, preferred “aggressive” and “challenger” as descriptors of the D personality while Russian respondents preferred “self-reliant” and “independent.”
The takeaway, then, was that comparing a U.S. workforce to a similarly-positioned workforce in another country is inaccurate, as the workforces are notably different across the world. Furthermore, understanding the responses of a target audience in the context of the country’s own norms is much more powerful than simply knowing the individual respondent’s preferences, because it allows for better message differentiation in product marketing.
Why It All Matters
Sales isn’t an individual effort. In fact, a 2015 study found that collaboration significantly improved success for sales groups. More specifically, the study found that teams with one-time collaboration saw 55 percent of their members make their quota, while teams with an information collaboration saw 59 percent meet their quotas. Among teams with formalized, ongoing collaboration, 76 percent met their quota — a 21 percent increase over the ad hoc crew.
It stands to reason, then, that avoiding collaboration likely means leaving some measure of quota attainment on the table.
Even better, research shows that buyers will close the deal 82 percent of the time when the seller’s personality type matches their own. In contrast, only 18 percent will buy when the salesperson’s personality type doesn’t match their own, making it well worth your while to modify your own approach to align with the buyer’s needs. As an example, 74 percent of buyers indicate they would be more likely to buy if the salesperson would stop talking and simply listen.
Acknowledging personality differences, then, can lead to better sales, more successful collaboration, and potentially long-term relationships with coworkers and clients.
Famous DISC Profiles
Even if you have never, ever wondered which famous people occupy the same DISC profile you do, it’s interesting to think of others who share your personal style.
An (Overly?) Simplified Way To Understand DISC
At least one online author suggested that perhaps an easy way to understand DISC profiles is by way of something we all understand: cars.
A D profile would likely choose a car that makes a statement about power. Most CEOs fit this profile, and a stereotypical sportscar would typically be the car of choice.
An I profile would typically choose a car that meshes with his social nature and his concern about what people think of him. Think Mini Cooper S.
An S profile would stick to the tried-and-true cars, and would typically avoid change. A perfect example is a classic car from the 1950s.
A C profile wouldlikelychoose a car that satisfies his analytical and practical preferences; something like a Volvo, which is safe and functional.
DISC and Commercials
Another writer suggested that understanding the different DISC profiles can help you identify the marketing techniques advertisers use to reach their target audience.
National Car Rental’s commercial titled “Mix Business With Business” leads with the line “You are a business pro.” The ad features images of businessmen on the golf course, scenes at a business conference, and portrays a businessman who edges his way into a coveted golf game.
The driver in the commercial can “choose any car and go,” and can even choose a large car while only paying for a medium one.
Chinet’s commercial titled “Rediscover the Lost Art of Getting Together” features a woman at a Lost Art Exhibit, walking wistfully through a display of family and neighborhood get-togethers safely protected behind a glass shield. A voice recalls a time when doorbells rang more often than cell phones, and “neighbors were more neighborly.”
She absent-mindedly runs her hand along the glass and eventually finds an opening in the glass that allows her to step into the scene where she’s handed a plate of food by a friendly woman.
Ancestry.com’s commercial titled “Box: Gemma Woolard” opens with a wooden box in a cozy looking living room. The box opens to a visual of a growing vine, budding with evidence of a family’s historical documents. The narrator recalls that her ancestry tree helped her find her way when she was lost.
The ad is full of historical images and retro-looking family photos with an audible reminder about coming home.
Apple’s ad introducing Siri features multi-tasking joggers, a driver seeking information about traffic, a woman checking the forecast prior to a trip, a woman seeking measurement conversions for a recipe, and a blind woman texting a friend.
All of them are using Siri to keep information at their fingertips.
Obviously these commercials are listed in order of the DISC profiles, but hopefully, the target audience for each ad helps you understand how marketers craft their message to the four DISC styles.
Allow DISC to Change How You Do Business
If you’ve never thought of conducting business this way, using DISC to change the way you interact with people may require a fundamental shift in your thinking. Instead of conducting a transactional business that focuses on a single sale, you’ll shift your thinking to helping clients solve problems. You’ll become a consultant and a problem solver who understands your clients’ needs.
The payoff is increased awareness of your own strengths and challenges, and possibly a dramatic improvement in your sales productivity.
There have been many articles and techniques revolving around Elevator Pitches. These are the pitches that you can make in a very short time as in the amount of time it takes an elevator to go from the main lobby to one of the top floors. This 30 to 90-second commercial is intended to get you more business and set meetings on the spot. There have been numerous approaches to this speech that include everything from a wow statement such as “I change the world, one student at a time”, to telling a story, to showing humor. There are even names for pitches, such as the Pixar Pitch wherein you pitch yourself the same way Pixar pitches their stories starting with “Once upon a time…”
Let’s be honest, would you want to be caught in an elevator listening to an Insurance Salesperson tell you that he protects your loved ones by providing your widowed wife and fatherless children security (i.e. money) after you die? Or a financial planner that can lower your tax rate, or the car salesperson that tells you he makes dreams come true?
This approach reminds me of car dealership commercials where the owner is yelling about his great offers while standing on top of his dealership building, or the furniture dealer that thinks using his kids and pets as props will make you want to run to the store to buy furniture.
These approaches are one-sided monologues full of sound and fury. They are all about pushing something on you that you may or may not need. There is the assumption that if you tell enough people the same thing, sales will flow. It also assumes that all people are equal. Everyone needs a new car, everyone needs to update their furniture, everyone needs to lower their tax rate. What if the person you are babbling to has just bought a new car, lives in a furnished apartment, and pays little or no taxes.
When someone asks me what I do, I usually tell them in one sentence, something like this: “I help companies grow their business.” Right after that statement, I ask “what about you, what do you do.?” There are a few things at work here:
I didn’t tell them what I do, but how I help companies
My answer was extremely short.
I switched the conversation back to them instead of going on about me.
My main goal is to build rapport, and see if there may be a potential need. I am not trying to sell them anything and I am much more interested in asking and listening than I am in telling. If it sounds like there may be a potential alignment of my services and their needs then I may see if they would like to meet for coffee or lunch to chat further. Frankly, I may also see if they want to meet simply because what they do is fascinating, or that they may be an extremely interesting person and someone that I would like to better get to know. You never know where these discussions may lead. Obviously getting business is important, but also hearing about a great book, hearing a great story, hearing about a business approach, or developing a center of influence also has its rewards.
About the author:
Harold (Butch) Frick is a Sales Consultant with Lockton Companies. Where he is responsible for the ongoing stewardship of client services for a group of clients as well as new business development. Lockton is a professional insurance and risk management services firm that provides full-service retail insurance brokerage, loss prevention, claims management, and alternative risk financing consulting to commercial clients that range in size from smaller local companies to international Fortune 500 businesses operating in many diverse industries.
Last week I saw an interesting infographic on social networks saying the following: “Something is happening, Facebook, the most popular social network, does not generate content. Airbnb, the large provider of accommodation, does not own properties. Uber, the big taxi company, does not own any vehicles. Alibaba, the biggest marketer, has no inventories…”
Well, this is already happening a long time ago. Generally, we think about products as tangible items, as physical goods with a set of attributes (features, functions, benefits, and uses) that are capable of meeting one or several needs and requirements. But the product nowadays can also be something intangible, which cannot be perceived by the senses previously, at least not until they are used, and in that sense the product can be a service, or may even be an idea, a concept, a philosophy, a story, that is also perceived by buyers as able to satisfy their needs or desires and therefore as subject of exchange.
A product can be a good, a service or an idea.
In fact, on most occasions is a set of all of them. A beauty treatment is a service, but the idea that sells is the desire of youth. There are companies that sell ‘experiences’, and that is something else than just a service. Ideas are also the religious ideas, political ideas, environmental awareness, and also the reputation of the seller. The salesman, the trust he can generate, his personal look, his charisma, are also part of the product that he sells. Other main and differential psychological attributes of the product are the Brand and Quality, which also add value to the product.
People buy more by ideas, by emotions, by feelings and heart. They buy benefits and solutions, they buy advantages and buy services that are intangible. And they buy the ideas they perceive from the seller, and in the seller.
Said this, we can better address the concept of the perceived value of the product which allows us to avoid entering price wars, allows differentiation and even to increase the price of the product.
The Perceived Value Formula
We should not compete just on price, which is an unproductive battle. The price is important in the purchase decision but should not be the only buying reason. If we do not have differentiating advantages, or when the customer perceives similar products or services, he decides just for the price. So that it’s needed adding new ideas and concepts, add value to avoid competing only on price. The salesperson needs to persuade with a value proposition, aggregate value to his offer to find advantages that differentiate him.
In short, we have suggested that the price is just one more variable in the perceived value scales of customers and consumers, and not the only component. It is best to explain it with a simple formula that everybody will understand:
Customers always perform a mental operation, sometimes more unconscious than rational, and sometimes very calculated, to know when buying is positive. To justify the purchase, they make a balance between benefits and sacrifices perceived in the supplier’s offer, and the perceived value of the customer is based on the difference between what they receive and what they give, something like this:
Perceived Value = Total benefits and/or advantages – Total costs and/or prices
In this formula, the first is the whole set of economic, functional, abstract, psychological (such as brand, quality, etc.) benefits and advantages of the product or service, and all the added and differential values. The second term includes all prices, economic costs, and also time, energy and psychological costs. It must be stressed that part of the costs are also the time that is used to make a decision, also the time spent in making use of the service, the psychological cost (e.g. against a particular brand, or stop using the usual product to change to another) and the cost of energy spent or effort for the purchase and enjoyment of the service.
The customer will also make this assessment with your competition:
If the perceived value of your product is greater than that of the competition, he will be inclined to your offer, and vice versa.
If the perceived value is negative, the price is the barrier, and generally, he will not buy. Or he will say that it is very expensive, he perceives nothing beyond the price.
If the perceived value is very small, the price and the consequent price war may be what decides if he buys from you or from the competition, he will buy the cheaper, or not buy.
On the other hand, if the perceived value of your product is very high you will sell more and better.
The value proposition
It is the seller’s job to increase this value, making the customer perceives and properly assesses the full set of benefits, including here all the factors, subjective and emotional advantages and added ideas to counter the price force. In this sense, the price and value of a product are not the same. And so we say that the price is not or should not be the only reason to buy, it is not the only element of the equation unless we do not make any value proposition.
When a customer is asked how they perceive the value of a product, they are actually being asked to compare it with their perception of other existing purchase alternatives. And therefore a product is not expensive by itself, the answer is: ‘expensive compared to what?’…
In short, the value proposition is to explain to your customer why they should buy from you and not to your competition. This must include the whole range of benefits and advantages of your product or service that solve their problem and meet their needs and your differential value. In other words, to provide a higher perceived value to the customer.
The dynamic perceived value.
The ‘problem’ is that this scale of customer values, this perceived value, is subjective, is abstract and it is a dynamic variable, changing, but not only from yesterday to today, but also from one day to the next. That is, the valuation of the customer is different before the purchase, at the time of purchase, while using the product, and after using the product. There is an initial, middle and final perceived value.
Furthermore, it changes with each client, it is subjective, so for each client, or customer type, each market segment or niche, you have to make a different value proposal, because ultimately we are people, and we value differently the same advantage, we have different sensitivities, as well as different economic capacities that will also affect the appreciation of those advantages. For the same product, different customer segments perceive different values.
There are also companies that play with the initial and final perceived value, looking to satisfy their customers by promising something they can deliver, and deliver more than they promised or surprise the customer with small details that were not in the initially accepted formula, values that were not expected. But also the opposite happens, disappointing the client with a final perceived value lower than the initial, and that is not what we want.
Lower prices are not the way
Well, despite being a formula, it is not accurate. That’s why the ‘easy’ way of that formula is to lower prices, but this does not always mean that demand rises, and it also generates another spiral of problems. Just like raising prices, it also needs to increase the perceived value of the product to be able to raise the price without problems. It is a Price vs. Value balance. In today’s competitive and changing world, the best way is to increase the value of our product, not to reduce prices. Rather, even to increase the price, if and only if, we increase our perceived value.
Therefore, companies and salespeople must deal with the perceived value of their product in the customer’s mind, which is a continuous job. Furthermore, building customer loyalty, as result from their satisfaction degree, will depend on the good or bad management by the seller and the company of that perceived value in relation to the initial expectations. That is, customer satisfaction and his loyalty will depend on the difference between the perceived value and the expectations. But that’s another story. One that is priceless.
Raúl Sánchez Gilo is a Spanish engineer, traveler, salesman, chess player, and writer. And not necessarily in that order. Thanks to his long experience in exporting technical products to more than 60 countries, throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Eastern Europe, the author now shares the secrets to success in sales in his first book: “Sell More and Better, Eternal Sales Techniques beyond Internet”. A must-read literary experience for the thousands of salesmen, entrepreneurs, sales managers, sales trainers and coaches, exporters, business owners and sales students, among others.
Your lead generation website may be optimized with all of the best tricks and techniques to lure visitors. However, if you’re not including lead validation among those techniques, you may be missing a vital component. Although Google analytics can tell you how many conversions your site is generating, that’s not the whole story. In fact, nearly half of all website conversions are things such as customer service inquiries, incomplete form submissions, and job applications. These are interactions that will not lead to increased sales for your company, but if you count them among your sales leads you could be in danger of making some bad decisions.
Lead validation combs through all of the conversions generated by your website, on the Internet, and over the phone. It not only lets you know which conversions are actual sales leads, but also the exact sources that generated them. Armed with this information, you can optimize your website to generate even more conversions and sales leads. Even though this process can be laborious and time-consuming, the results can be highly beneficial for your site. The following presentation goes into more detail about lead validation and explains why it needs to be a crucial part of your campaigns.
According to recent data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 48.4 percent of retail salespersons. Yet, despite this nearly equal representation, there is a distinct lack of women-centric sales training available (statistics up-to-date as of July 18, 2017).
You might assume that most sales training is gender-neutral, but that’s not true—traditional sales training was written for men, by men, at a time when men completely dominated sales roles. Most sales training has hardly changed in the last 40 years, failing to take into account the significant shift in demographics.
Not only do these training programs neglect to consider the unique characteristics, nuances, and strengths of saleswomen, but they also fall short in addressing areas where women are more likely to struggle than men.
With almost half of salespersons being female, it is not unfair to say that most current sales training is unfit for purpose. The great thing about sales is that it is a skill that makes the difference, not gender – but that doesn’t mean men and women have the same requirements for training. Businesses that don’t recognize this fact risk failing half their workforce and missing out on valuable income.
The Consumer Economy Is Female
There is a strong financial case for women-centric sales training. Statistically, women are more powerful than men in deciding where money is spent and what purchases are made. The BMO Wealth Institute reports that women control 51 percent of the wealth, and their influence over spending outstrips this—women report having control or influence over 71 percent of household spending, and some experts put this number closer to 80 percent.
This huge influence means that it is essential for businesses to hire, train and retain female sales staff who naturally better understand how women like to shop, and how to approach them and build relationships.
Building Upon Natural Strengths
If you’ve ever been to sales training, you’ve probably come across a teaching and thought “isn’t that obvious?” Typical sales training delivers a basic grounding in many areas for which women already have natural talents. These areas of strength, such as intuition, patience, and relationship building, are skills that may not come naturally to many men.
Spending time training salespeople in skills they have already grasped is not only a waste of time, but it is also a lost opportunity. Women-centric sales training gives businesses the opportunity to offer more advanced training in areas at which women already excel, building upon their existing strengths to take them to the next level.
Women Are Natural Networkers and Relationship Builders
For many customers of both genders, sales is an ongoing relationship rather than a one-off transaction. Women have strong emotional intelligence and excellent listening skills, both of which make them natural networkers and fantastic at building strong relationships with potential clients.
In particular, women shine when the sales cycle is slow enough to build up a strong relationship with the client. Women-centric sales training can help your saleswomen build upon their natural relational talents and apply them more effectively to the sales environment.
Traditional Training Can Play Down Valuable Strengths
One of the biggest problems with male-dominated sales training is that there is a focus on one particular sales strategy. Instead of trying to make every salesperson the same, businesses must take into account that salespeople of different genders (as well as cultural backgrounds, ages, and other characteristics) have different strengths—and that’s a good thing.
In many male-dominated industries, a woman salesperson has a distinct advantage. Not only does she stand out, but she brings a fresh approach that customers love. This advantage is lost when businesses try to train every employee to act like a traditional “alpha male” salesperson. There’s still room for that style of salesmanship, but many customers prefer a quieter, less intrusive approach, and your women salespeople can provide that.
Working on Weaknesses
Training designed for males does not address areas where women are (on average) weaker than men. Unless the women in your organization are catered to effectively, it is unlikely they’ll be able to reach their potential, and your business will miss out on the opportunity to profit from a top salesperson.
Women are less likely to put themselves forward for a promotion, pay increase or new opportunity. This has nothing to do with ability—men are simply more willing to pursue advancement, even when they might not be ready for it. In the case of a promotion, for example, a woman is more apt to wait until she is confident that she completely meets the criteria before speaking to the manager. Men, on the other hand, will often put themselves forward when they meet just 60 percent of the criteria.
Women-centric sales training can address this, helping women to see that by waiting to speak up, they are hurting both the business and their own careers. Businesses need confident, authentic women who will add their voice to the discussion.
This is also important when closing a sale; building relationships are important, but if you can’t give the customer a decision to make, your sales performance will be poor.
Dialing Down Perfectionism
Many women are perfectionists, and as a result, they often play it safe. No-one likes to be embarrassed or make a mistake, but playing it safe doesn’t make sales. Men are naturally more aggressive and more likely to take risks. In many cases, this alone will clinch them the sale.
With appropriate training, women can learn to take risks by first starting to do so in a safe environment. The results can be spectacular—your saleswomen will build strong relationships and simultaneously seek the sale.
When’s the last time you made a miscalculation on your sales forecasting? Sometimes the mistakes are positive—say, forecasting too slow of a growth period. But sometimes the mistakes can be costly, especially when you forecast too much growth, amp up production or staffing, and find yourself with too many people and too many goods.
There has to be a better way—right?
Turns out, there is. What too many business leaders do is take an isolated approach to sales forecasting. They also may not know how much of a positive impact accurate sales forecasting can have on a bottom line. But the best sales forecasts are done with a group-think mindset: involving different departments and different information so that each piece of the business puzzle has a vested interest in making sure that the forecasts are as realistic and achievable as possible.
Successful salespeople know it’s all about the bottom line. Bringing in new revenue streams, whether in the form of new clients or existing client expansion, is key to progressing your career and banking hefty commission checks. Turning a prospect into a viable lead presents multiple challenges. It’s possible for competition, pricing, multiple decision makers, and the client’s financial resources to all work against you. The biggest way to fail is to give up because of these obstacles. Don’t let those prospects you worked so hard to connect with disappear out of your sales funnel! Many salespeople make tons of money because they understand how to turn them into sales qualified leads. And, no, you don’t need a magic wand to do it. Just follow these five priceless tips.
1. Do your homework. The more you target your selling strategy to that particular buyer and company, the higher your conversion rate. Review the company website, the buyer’s LinkedIn profile, and run a search for recent news and events. Find information that you can use to successfully connect with the buyer and begin forging a beneficial relationship. 2. Offer value early. Yammering on about product features and contract specifics will sabotage your efforts. Offer up industry information, or an informative eBook, or invite them to a webinar where they can learn something they need to know. This serves the dual purpose of showing them you understand their industry, and sets you up as an industry expert, not just another sales person knocking on their door. You gain invaluable assistance with adding value if you…
3. Team up with marketing. A proactive marketing team helps a salesperson offer value and move the sale through the pipeline. Talk to marketing about email and texting campaigns, as well as value-add pieces like white papers and informative videos. Using marketing as a nurturing tool increases your conversion ratio and shortens the sales cycle. 4. Focus on solving a problem. Millions of people buy band-aids every year. How many people want a band-aid? None. Nobody wants a band-aid, but millions of people want to cover a cut or abrasion. That is their pain point. Transfer this philosophy to how you sell. What does the buyer want to accomplish? What is the outcome they seek? Asking well-planned questions uncovers buyers’ pain points, and sells by addressing them. 5. Consistently retarget undeveloped leads. A recent study by Gleanster Research reported that between 30-50% of leads that enter a pipeline represent future opportunities but are not yet ready to buy. Periodically circle back around to prospects who never moved forward, and try again. Involve marketing, and employ email campaigns to try to re-engage them. Business text messaging services are effective for retargeting old prospects as well. Even converting a small percentage of inactive prospects will add to your bottom line. Buyers have become more sophisticated, and a sales person’s approach must, too. By incorporating these ideas from clever sales pros, you will reap the rewards of more prospects being nurtured into sales qualified leads, and then customers.
Ken Rhie is the CEO of Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, advanced automation, enterprise, and cross-channel features for both mass texting and landline texting use cases. Mr. Rhie holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and brings 30 years of software, internet, and mobile communications background.
Recently I was interviewed by Eric Quanstrom of KiteDesk . Frequently KiteDesk has an interview series with sales experts. I was fortunate to have been selected for one of these interviews.
This was fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it the experience. Now, I won’t get a chance to share all of the interview here, but I do have a couple of the questions Eric asked below in this post.Feel free to check them out.
I have to admit it is always weird being the person answering the questions considering I’m usually the interviewer on my podcast.
Check out the full article here and catch up on some of the great interviews Eric has done. You will learn a lot from him and his guests.
But as promised, here are a couple of answers from the interview.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why are you so passionate about sales?
Ever since I could remember, I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs and really good salespeople. As I grew up, I naturally gravitated towards sales as a career. When I finally became successful at it and saw how people’s lives changed for good as a result of something I sold them, I was eager to continue helping others.
Another thing that was an amazing eye opener was coming to understand the critical role sales plays in a company. Without sales revenue dries up, cash flow becomes extinct, and companies wither away. Coming to understand the importance of my role in the overall grand view of a company also influenced my passion to take part in sales.
If someone were to say to you, “Becoming a truly successful salesperson is something that can’t be taught. It’s just something that you’re born with,” how would you respond?
I would say FALSE!!!! Though there are some natural skills one may inherit from birth, the majority of great sellers are taught. Even though everyone told me early on that I have a great “outgoing personality” for sales, I wasn’t successful.
I had my fair share of challenges. I was a young salesperson with a great personality but no money. It was frustrating. I started to believe that only a select few were good at sales: those who were born “sellers.”
It wasn’t until I received the proper training that I saw a transformation in the way I sold. This was the same for some of the other non-sellers in the program with me. After the training period, I came to realize that sales was actually simple and that anyone could do it. The only requisite is that one must have the desire.
Without the desire to become an effective seller, no level of training will help someone sell. However, if they are teachable, the sky’s the limit for the level of sales expertise they can attain – as well as the income they’re capable of earning.
To get access to the full article and learn more about Eric, check here.
If someone asked you to provide some quick sales analytics, what could you tell them about how your company is doing? Do you have that quick-take data, and what does it tell you?
A sales dashboard does just that: It gives you, at a glance, details specific to your company or your sales. It keeps the focus on your goals, and thus on the future. And the best thing is that your sales dashboard doesn’t have to look like someone else’s sales dashboard—it can information specific to you.
What should your dashboard do for you, and what can it contain? Find out with this graphic.
According to a Sales Benchmark Index report, only 13% of salespeople produce 87% of the sales in a typical organization. So what does this small pie of high achievers have that others don’t?
Here are the top 10 qualities of top salespeople:
Top salespeople are aggressive.
Top sellers are aggressive but not jerks. They are go-getters. They never fail to follow up with their clients. They are not just persistent, but also consistent. Rejection is not a word in their vocabulary. Instead, they see rejection as an opportunity for them to step up to the plate.
Top salespeople are optimistic.
Top sellers exude confidence and positivity. An optimistic person is someone who still sees a positive light even when surrounded by negativity. Sellers who are optimistic are solution-focused.
Top salespeople are empathic.
They build relationships and trust by being genuine. They listen well.
Top salespeople are curious.
Great sellers ask great questions. They ask intelligent questions that enable customers to discover the root cause of their problem and ultimately identify what they really need.
Top salespeople constantly keep in touch.
Successful salespeople stay in contact with their customers even when they’ve already closed new businesses. They realize they need to take care of and nurture their existing customers by keeping in touch with them either by sending thank you notes and birthday cards or sending email newsletters on a regular basis.
Top salespeople are ultra-focused.
Top sales performers set goals and accomplish each goal with systems and processes in place. Their discipline and determination to get the work done are unwavering.
Top salespeople are hardworking.
High sales achievers always come prepared. They make sure they know who their customer is by doing the research. They plan before each call and they have a script – not the one that’s simply uttered word for word but they customize and tweak it according to the flow of conversation. They always strive to be better than their best. They rise above mediocrity.
Top salespeople take responsibility for their decisions.
Salespeople with the highest caliber are not scared to own up to their mistakes. They take responsibility for them. They don’t make excuses. They do not blame other people and instead direct their attention on fixing the problem.
Top salespeople are fueled by passion.
Passionate salespeople don’t see their work merely as a job, but as something they know could impact other people’s lives. They believe in it so much that it reflects on how they carry out their tasks every day and deal with people.
Top salespeople bring value.
Successful salespeople do not sell. They offer great value to the table. They help solve their customer’s problem and help eradicate their customer’s pain points. The sales they get only comes as a bonus.
Not having these qualities does not mean you can’t learn them. It takes a firm decision to be good. It takes practice to get better. It takes consistency to be the best.
As a small business owner, you have a lot of things to worry about. One of the most important things is sales. Sales is the lifeblood of any organization. You have to bring in revenue to grow the organization, keep the doors open, pay people and put some change in your pocket. Without sales, your business will fail.
So why is it that most businesses have a hard time with the most vital part of their organization? Many times it’s because they don’t know what they’re doing. Oftentimes, they have never received formal sales training. Typically, the entrepreneur is the one who started the organization. She may have had a really cool idea and saw some initial success, but when it came to selling, she wasn’t able to do it. So she hired someone to come in.
This new salesperson had a great personality. The salesperson may have been a cousin or a friend, a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or maybe it was her hairdresser’s brother. Whoever it was, they too were inexperienced when it comes to sales and simply works off the cuff. Take it from someone who was that friend hired because of an “outgoing personality.” It doesn’t work!
Here are three of the most common reasons why selling suffers in small businesses
1. They don’t know who to go after.
As a small business, many times the entrepreneur or salespeople takes whatever they can get. I saw this in a particular company I worked for. Many times the customer wasn’t our ideal customer. But since we needed the money, we bent over backward and said, “Yup, we can do that.” We were chasing the dollar as opposed to chasing and developing solutions for our ideal customers. Because of that, the company never grew. We remained stagnant and, eventually, the salespeople left.
A lot of people were fired and horrible things happened. I saw another company actually shut down because of that problem. As entrepreneurs, you’ve got to make sure your business is focused ONLY on your ideal customers. But how do you find the ideal customer to go after? If you’ve made one sale to that ideal customer, then maybe you can go ahead and evaluate them. Question them. Do an interview with them. Take them to lunch.
Really understand their business and why they elected to go with your company. The other thing you can do, if you don’t have a customer, is to look at your competitor’s customers. Learn why they chose your competitor. Why did they have a need in the first place? How much do they earn in revenue annually? How many employees do they have? Start developing a customer persona.
The more you can understand, the better you will be at crafting your ideal customer and making a message to approach them. Make sure you understand how they make money and how your product or service helps them to do so.
2. The fear of rejection holds them back.
The fear of rejection holds a lot of salespeople back in small to mid-sized companies. It’s just the fact that they have never done this before. They’re afraid that people are going to say no. They are worried the product is not going to be effective. They are concerned that maybe they’re not the greatest seller in the world. All of this holds them back.
The other thing that you need to understand about fear is that it is not real. Fear is usually something that we put in our minds that has never occurred. But because we tell ourselves about this fear so much, that it’s so true, we paint this picture in our minds and we start to believe it. We then start to act upon it. The fact is if you think people are going to reject you when you prospect, then that fear is going to cripple you. So our solution is to role play — to practice.
Get rid of the idea of fear. Get rid of the false ideas in your mind by actually doing it. Go out and get someone who you can practice with, somebody you can practice selling with. A colleague, your spouse, brother, sister, whoever. Just sit down with that person and do a role play of the situation you fear the most. Role playing is a fantastic way to increase confidence. The more you can practice, the less fear is going to be there.
3. They don’t have a process to convert sales.
The third reason small businesses sales suffer is because they don’t have an effective sales process. They don’t have a way of converting prospects into paying customers. They don’t have a way of finding people. As I mentioned earlier, many entrepreneurs find an outgoing person and say, “Hey, come be a salesperson for my organization.” That person comes in and, since the business has no process or real training, does whatever he thinks is best. Again this does NOT work. However, here is a breakdown of an effective process that can help your organization:
Focus on getting the ideal customer.
Develop an effective message that will speak to your ideal customer about true business challenges which you can solve.
Make sure you are selling to the decision maker – the person who can say yes in the end. Find out if this person has the money or budget to buy from you. You’ve got to get all of that in your discovery.
Before you go any further, once you figure all that out – they have the pain, they have the budget, they are the decision maker – you can move forward with the process and do a demonstration of your product or service.
You then can create and present the proposal. Present it to them. Don’t just send it in an email. Work with them. Go through it with them. More than likely, if you did everything upfront, that deal’s going to close.
This is a very simple process and may sound too elementary. However, if you don’t follow it, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money. A typical salesperson will just go out and show a product. They demonstrate it. They don’t qualify the customer. And in the end, they have nothing to show for it. They will lose a lot of business. The key is to create an effective process.
As a small-business owner, sales are important to you. You can’t dodge that fact, or your business will not become successful. If you have someone else selling for you, do your best to make sure they succeed. Take time to make sure you and your salesperson develop an ideal customer, learn to overcome your fear, and develop a simple, effective process.
If you do this you will see success. I’ve worked with small businesses. I’ve been on management teams. I’ve been the “typical” salesperson. I’ve learned the things that make small businesses effective. I know how to make them become a lean, mean selling machine.
If you’d like to sit down and have a 30-minute session and bounce some ideas off of me, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to chat with you and assist in any way I’m able. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. As always, I want you to go out and DO BIG THINGS!!
Published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is a self-help, personal development book where the author got inspiration to write this from a suggestion made by business magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. Hill explains the philosophy of personal achievement and success condensed into 13 principles.
A classic bestseller. This is a compelling book that talks about the Fundamental Techniques in Handling People, 6 Ways to Make People Like You, 12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking, Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment, and 7 Rules for Making Your Home Life Happier.
This book talks about how a relationship is not the “be all and all” to make that sale. Instead, it talks about how the best salespeople do not just build relationships, but they also challenge customers. This book covers how you can identify the challengers in an organization and how you can model such approach and apply it into your own team.
Jill’s masterpiece helps you get your feet in the door of big companies so you can close more business while reducing your sales cycle. This book covers topics like positioning and differentiating yourself from other salespeople, targeting the right accounts, creating value propositions, overcoming obstacles and objections, and more.
This book teaches you how to get yourself in the right selling psychology by keeping strong confidence in yourself, avoiding resistance in sales, and improving your skill sets in a systematic fashion. This book also talks about attracting customers and maintaining their attention, presenting offers the best way possible, handling purchasing barriers, and closing the deal.
This book helps you get your sales and marketing engine into full swing as it dives deep into the power of having a process with a bold emphasis on focus. In this book, the late Chet Holmes presents 12 Key Strategies to create the Ultimate Sales Machine including topics like time management, hiring best practices, tactics for getting the best buyers, the 7 Musts of Marketing, client follow up, the power of positive thinking, and more.
In this book, Frank shares his experiences and sales secrets that practically turned his life from a failure selling insurance into becoming one of the highest paid salespeople in the United States. Frank shares his insights into overcoming fear, a quick win to confidence, 7 Golden Rules for Closing a Sale, the power of enthusiasm, and how to turn a customer’s skepticism to enthusiasm.
Written in parable style, this book contains tips and techniques to help turn your customers into raving fans who won’t hesitate to spend. This book helps learn to define your vision, what customers want, and incorporate effective systems to help you create a revolution in your workplace.
Would you like to win more of the deals you find yourself going after? Would you like to know what the winning sellers do different that pretty much guarantees them success every time? Well, Mike Schultz and John Doerr, bestselling authors and world-renowned sales experts, set out to find the answer. They studied more than 700 business-to-business purchases made by buyers who represented a total of $3.1 billion in annual purchasing power. When they compared the winners to the second-place finishers, they found surprising results. This is a great read for both entrepreneurs and sales professionals. Check it out.
In this book, Daniel points out how all of us are doing sales every day of our lives. He also talks about the 3 Rules for Understanding Another’s Perspective, the 6 Successors to Elevator Pitches, and the 5 frames to making your messages more persuasive and much clearer.
11. The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino This book relays the story of Hafid, a poor camel boy who soon lives a life of abundance. The book serves as a philosophical guide to salesmanship covering some key points on how you should live a good life; such as the power of laughter, greeting each day with love in your heart, the power of good habits, mastering your emotions, multiplying your value everyday, and living each day as if it were your last.
12. Sell or Be Soldby Grant Cardone In this book, Grant reveals strategies and techniques necessary for success in sales such as handling rejections, dealing with negative situations and how to turn them around, overcoming reluctance in calling, how to shorten sales cycles, how to stay positive despite rejection, and how to fill your pipeline with new businesses.
13. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatnessby Jeffrey Gitomer This book is packed with nuggets of information that would keep you handy along your sales journey. This includes 20 ways to beat a sales slump, 14 ways to create a personal brand, 18 ways to become a sales success, and 8.5 resources to tap in a pinch. This book is a practical guide to sales success where Jeffrey lays out the fundamentals of selling but with some elements of fun.
This book contains new real-life examples and techniques for confronting competition which you can readily put to use. The New Strategic Selling teaches us how to identify the 4 real decision makers in every corporation, how to avoid closing business you might regret later, how to avoid the single most common error when handling competition, how to make a senior executive rave about you, how to prevent sales sabotage, as well as some key points in effective territory management.
17. Secrets of Closing the Saleby Zig Ziglar In this book, Zig Ziglar unveils his secrets to has sales success as he offers over 100 closings for every kind of persuasion, painting word pictures and the use of imagination to generate results, and over 700 thought-provoking questions that will help you unearth new possibilities. The books also includes tips and pieces of precious advice from 100 of America’s successful salespeople.
18. The Power of Follow Upby Judy Garmaise Do you follow up enough? In this book, Judy explains why people do not follow up enough, or even at all. Judy also shares some tricks on how to overcome this common failure among salespeople as she reveals the secrets and techniques successful salespeople use in making effective and affirmative follow ups.
19. DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected: for professional sellersby Deb Calvert, Renee Calvert This book includes research, real-life examples, anecdotes, exercises, and role plays to help salespeople be more effective in each stage of the selling process. This book teaches you how to ask the right kinds of questions, drive the sales conversation, and show customers that you care in order for you to make strong connections.
This fictional book recounts the story of Eric Bratton, a copier salesman who wakes up one morning and strangely finds himself in a house without any knowledge of how he got there. The book features a dialogue of two main characters who share with each other the essential concepts critical in achieving sales success such as how to outperform 92% of the world’s salespeople, the difference between failing and failure, celebrating both success and failure, and how NO becomes the most empowering word for any salesman.
Now that you’ve seen the list, get out there and start reading. Let me know if there are any others that you would recommend that did not make my list. As always, remember to go out and do BIG THINGS!
I know it’s not throw back Thursday, but this was my very first sales tip video on the first TSE website. This was created in 2013! It’s amazing where we have come since then, but the principles shared are still the same. I wanted to share a simple, but powerful principle on how to know who to go after.
Here are some of the key take aways from this video:
Research and select the specific client type you want to target
Focus on your prospects needs
Learn how YOU can solve their problems and NOT create more problems
As always, apply what you have learned and go out and do BIG THINGS!
We all know what call reluctance is, right? It’s the inability to pick up the phone and make a phone call or just simply start working. Maybe this sounds familiar. You get into work at 8:00am and start dragging your feet. You know you should get on the phones and start making calls, but you start doing everything else to “prepare”, “settle in”, or “get comfortable”.
So you make a cup of coffee, check voice mails, email, snail mails, look at the news, review your pipeline, do some research, organize your desk, and catch up with your fellow coworkers on the weekend. The next thing you know it’s been two hours and you still haven’t made your first call. Sounds familiar huh?
For many sellers, this is a major factor that holds them back from performing at their peak level. I’ve been there before and I know how frustrating it can feel; but there is a way out. I had to look at what the reasons that held me back in order to tackle them. You may have more reason than this, but from the list I initially made, I felt for the most part all the reasons came down to these four.
1. Pure Laziness
This one is obvious. Maybe it was just the long weekend or the fact that I was just tired and didn’t want to get started on the phone. In my mind I created it as this grandiose task and made excuses as to why I could not do it. That I needed to prepare more by doing research or planning. The fact of the matter is, the best way to overcome this one is to just do it. Just pick up the phone and call. It’s also important to develop a “purpose” or a “why”. Something that will keep you moving even when you are tired. Maybe it’s to earn more money to take a trip, save for your children’s college, pay off student loan debt, help your mom purchase a home, or to become the best seller in your industry. Whatever it is, find it and just get to work.
2. Fear of Rejection
This is a tough one for many of us. It makes you vulnerable to put yourself out there to get rejected by perfect strangers. People you don’t know may yell at you, think you’re a sleazy sales person or nuisance for bothering them. Maybe they will hang up on me or yell at me. I’m sure no one wants to feel like this, right? The irony is that 9 times out of 10, my prospects never felt like this nor did they hang up on me. Again, it was all in my head. These were my limiting beliefs that held me back from performing well.
The way I overcame them were to literally write them all out on individual strips of paper and throw them in the trash. Physically throwing them away made it feel like I was getting rid of them for good. The most revolutionary thing that helped the most was when I learned the “Identity and Role” (I and R) principle. You can learn more about it here. But the idea is that we need to understand that as sellers, when someone says, “no,” they are not saying no to us.
Many times they are a perfect stranger and don’t even know us. They may be saying no to our company, product or service. No, because it’s not the right time. But not because they don’t like you or hate you. They don’t even know you. I personally think you don’t need to take it personal because you just need to move on to the next one. As I started applying these concepts in my selling, the fear of rejection dissipated and I was able to perform a lot better in my role.
3. Lack of Confidence in the Product or Company
Another factor that was a big stumbling block for me, when it came to call reluctance, was the lack of confidence in the product I was selling or the company I was working for. The number one reason sales professionals leave companies is because of management. Not because of more commission elsewhere or new cooler products. It’s management!
Without confidence in your company or your product, why would you want to eagerly get up everyday and go sell it? I don’t want to do that, not care to do that. I would feel that I’m deceiving myself and my clients. This has been the reason for me to leave certain organizations and it’s a factor that causes many sellers to drag their feet when needing to prospect call. If you don’t believe in the product or the company (management), you will have a tough time trying to persuade others to make a purchase.
So how do you overcome it? Well this is what I did. I either left the company if I didn’t agree with them or the product to find something else I believed in. If the company was good and the product had value, I would investigate that value so that I could gain my own conviction of it. I would meet with clients who use the product or use the product for myself to get a better understanding of the value in order to articulate it.
4. Did Not Know What to Do
Not knowing what to do definitely was another sure factor for my reluctance. What do I say when I call? How should I leave the voice mail? What questions should I ask? What product should I talk to them about for their problem? What is my value proposition? Not knowing what to do could be problematic. But just like everything else in life, there is a sure way to get around this.
To help me overcome this challenge, I started learning from those who were more experienced. I read books, listened to podcasts, took training courses, etc. If my company did not have a step-by-step sales process, I would make sure to first understand what the customer was looking for/needed and started trying different things to figure out a process. As I went forth with trial and error, I began to learn what to do and what not to do. The next thing I knew, my confidence increased and I started selling. Now that I knew what to do, I had a desire to get on the phones and help others.
As salespeople, we may all face call reluctance at some point in our career. The key is to understand why you are having them and discover ways to overcome them. The faster you can do this, the more successful you will be in the end; I promise. If you want to take in this content through another medium, listen to our podcast here. If you have other factors holding you back from prospecting and making calls, let me know. I want learn what others are up against. Send me an email at Donald@thesalesevangelsit.com. As always, I want you to see a difference and find success. I want you to go out and do BIG THINGS!
Now, when it comes to LinkedIn, there is no silver bullet that is going to make you stand out and gain tons of new leads and tons of new business opportunities with people flocking to you. However, what I’ve come to realize with LinkedIn is that there’s a lot of little things that you can do to be effective and it takes a bunch of these pieces to be put together to make you eventually stand out and to follow proper procedure.
One of the things that’s often overlooked with LinkedIn profiles is very simple. It’s the headline. This is a thing right underneath your name on LinkedIn. Most times, I see crazy, boring, stupid things like marketing developer, sales professional, Vice President, or CEO. Obviously, you do a lot more than just that. Think about that. What’s going to jump out to folks?
In two simple steps, I’ll tell you what you need to do to make sure your LinkedIn header stands out in the crowd.
Step One: Think About Your Audience
First, think about your ideal customer. So many times when we create a LinkedIn or any type of profile, we get selfish. We start thinking about ourselves. Well, news flash! The LinkedIn profile is not necessarily about you per se, it’s about the individuals that are going to come on looking for you. So whether that’s an employer, your prospect, potential vendors, or potential partners – who’s your LinkedIn profile geared towards? Or what different phase of your life that may be geared towards?
Obviously, this is not something that’s going to be set in stone. You can change over time. So say, for instance, if you’re trying to find a job, the things I write on my LinkedIn header will be tailored towards new employers or what I do, my skill set that’s going to help me stand out. Or if I’m looking for new customers and trying to network on LinkedIn, my LinkedIn profile needs to be geared towards my customers.
They need to be able to see, when they try to search for stuff, me pop up in there. So I need to think like them – what they want, what they are trying to look for, what they are trying to do. Think about things of that nature and you’ll be able become a little bit more successful with that LinkedIn profile.
Step Two: What Do They Need Help With?
Second, think about what they need help with the most. Your ideal customer or this new employer or the one’s you’re just trying to build strategic alliances with. When people go searching, what are they going to be looking for and why are they going to be looking for that particular thing. Now that you understand that, that’s going to be your keyword.
You take those keywords and you embed those into your LinkedIn header. And that’s number three. Be specific and descriptive. You can be specific and descriptive but you have to make sure that you use those keywords people are looking for. So say for instance, if I am an author, I might say, “New York Times bestselling author, storyteller, corporate speaker, and lover of the outdoors.”
In this particular situation, I was able to add specific keywords that people may be searching for. If they’re searching for a speaker, a New York Times bestselling author, storyteller.
And then the other thing that I added in there was a part of my personality which is number four. Don’t be afraid of adding your personality in there. If you’re looking for a job, trying to find vendors or partners, people want to make sure that they know who you are and they want to connect with you. So I give you an example for sales professionals since you are in sales. You may something like “HR Onboarding genius, restaurant operation efficiency expert, people-lover, traveling addict”
Now, doing something like this makes you stand out a little bit more. You’re different. Remember you only have 120 characters so you have to make sure you balance that out.
And the great thing about this is that you can change them anytime you want. You can try different things. See what works best. And the good thing is that you can tailor it according to your particular time. If you’re looking for a job or trying to find new clients, it’s important that you tailor it towards your client.
So overall, listen again, its not about you. It’s about your clients. What are they looking for? What are the challenges that they face? Use those as keywords in your headline and make sure it stands out. Be a little bit different. You can add some personality in there so that they can see that you’re a human being as well. You don’t have to be rigid every single time. So that is it. Go ahead and try it. Make sure you apply it. But most importantly, I want you to have success. I want you to go out and Do Big Things!
With the rise of social selling, LinkedIn has become a powerhouse for sales professionals to find potential business opportunities, business owners to find new employees, and professionals to grow their networks. Understanding the amazing potential of LinkedIn, over 330 million individuals have joined this business social network. With such an overwhelming sea of profiles, how do you distinguish yourself so opportunities can come to you?
One “powerful way” to do so, my fellow hustlers, is through LinkedIn recommendations. Here are several reasons why:
They showcase your expertise and validate what you claim to be good at
Offer instant reference and credibility
Elevates you for possible promotion opportunities
Helps you stand out to potentially interested parties
However, understanding this, the next obvious question is: “How do you get more recommendations?” Well, lucky for us, LinkedIn has made this very easy. All you have to do is write more recommendations! When you write a recommendation for someone, the recipient will receive a prompting to return the favor by writing you a recommendation. My experience has proven that most will write you a thoughtful recommendation, especially if yours was thoughtful.
So how should you write a recommendation? Here are the four main components of a powerful recommendation.
Just like with email or a blog post, it’s important to grab the attention of your readers right away! You want them to read your recommendation and not just pass over it. Well, have an amazing, attention grabbing, one-liner at the start of your recommendation.
Say something like, “Talented is an understatement when talking about Jim’s work.” or “One of the best designers I know.”
Identify who you are and establish your credibility:
Think like the reader. They are reading a recommendation that evaluates them. Since they may not know who is writing the recommendation, it’s important for them to know you are a credible source right from the beginning. They need to know the qualifications you possess in order to write this recommendation.
Mention if you were a colleague, mentor, previous boss, life long friend or vendor. The reader will develop a mindset of understanding who you are as they go through your recommendation.
“I had the honor of working for John while he was managing the North American division of Global IT”
“For 7 years, David’s company served as our IT vendor, while being an account executive for Mountain Ridge manufacturing.”
State a specific reason why you are recommending the person. Support your recommendation with a reason that tells a story:
There is nothing more disappointing than to read a recommendation, which is it expected to offer key information or insights, but leaves you empty because it’s bland and doesn’t have the suitable points of a recommendation. To avoid this, with recommendations you write for your friends and colleagues, make sure to incorporate the following:
Offer a brief story that gives meaning to your recommendation; people love stories!
Be specific and use metrics or statistics if applicable
Offer a glimpse of the personality of the individual you are recommending
Keep your recommendation short and concise (under 200 words)
The final part of your recommendation is to encourage the reader to take action on what you are recommending. However, remember, this is not a sales pitch. It is a simple, one-sentence encouragement. Here are a few examples:
“I thoroughly recommend, that if you think Barbara will be able to help you or your business; that you pick-up the phone sooner rather than later. You will not be disappointed!”
“I would recommend her to anyone looking to create a professional website.”
“If you are looking for a quality sales professional for your organization, I encourage you take a look at Richard.”
Now that you have a better understanding of why LinkedIn recommendations are so important and how you can do them, start writing recommendations to increase your social selling. The more you do, the better off you’ll be able to gain new opportunities and start doing BIG THINGS.