How to Get Two Giants to Play Nicely

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200328982-001Unity between sales and marketing can be difficult if the two departments do not have the same goals. Like giants clashing over territory and supremacy, they must work together. More than just talking in planning meetings, they have to develop an aligned strategy and execute accordingly.

For example, marketing may be incentivized by the volume of leads it provides the sales team. The sales department is incentivized on the volume of sales – whether gross sales or margins. One challenge is when the marketing team uses a low price approach to promoting their products. This generates more calls, emails, and web inquiries for the sales team to pursue. As a result, the majority of prospects generated from such activity may be outside of the ideal customer profile for the company.

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How a Handoff Can Save Your Largest Account

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handoffMost companies encourage their salespeople to take ownership of their accounts. That’s good and appropriate—to a point.

When a sales rep’s ownership of an account puts that account in jeopardy, the sales manager needs to step in and correct the situation.

Mitch was the sales rep on a major account and had a high level of customer contact. Although Mitch was great at new business development, he wasn’t so strong with account management. He often butted heads with his primary contact and—without meaning to—steamrolled right over others. His assertive behavior earned him a nickname within the customer’s office.

They called him “Sandpaper.”

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The Long Journey Back: 3 Reasons Why Sales Managers Return To Selling

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managerBryan was a consistent top sales performer. Senior management considered him a superstar. He exceeded his quota by 20% every month, he landed some of the most difficult (and profitable) accounts, and he won the annual Top Sales Achiever award at three different companies.

After several years of stellar sales performance, executives in his division decided that Bryan was ready for the next step in his career. They promoted him to sales manager and put him over a team of 10 experienced sales reps in a fairly productive territory.

Over the next 18 months, sales quota achievement and team morale systematically dropped, while customer complaints and employee turnover accelerated. All of this was confusing to the executive team who enthusiastically supported his move into sales leadership. Most of all, Bryan was devastated. He had never experienced failure in his entire sales career, especially at this magnitude. Continue reading

When a Prospect Says, “We’re Not Interested,” How Can I Save This Opportunity?

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not-interestedWhen (not “if”) your prospect tells you they’re not interested, you have to be ready to respond. But are you even sure it’s a legitimate opportunity? Start by revisiting your definition of “opportunity.” The issue may have little to do with the buyer.

For example, a prospect on a cold call may be an opportunity, depending on your definition, but they’re certainly not the same type of opportunity as a buyer who has invited you to their office for a first appointment.

When a gatekeeper says this to you on a cold call, your response needs to be quick and effective, because you have very little time to save the opportunity.

Here’s a good response that I like: “Most of our current clients in your industry were not interested when we first approached them either. Once they discovered what we offered and the timing was right for them, they became a customer. Here’s a list of some of those customers.”

When you’re on an appointment, you should have a little more time to respond. But, what you need is information. Here are a few self-reflective questions to help you:Continue reading

3 Unshakeable Beliefs Top Performers Possess

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Basketball PlayerSuccess begins first in the mind.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player… ever. How does a kid who gets cut from his junior varsity basketball team, win six NBA Championships? Read for yourself:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan
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5 Stellar Pre-Call Planning Tips

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Inside Sales TipsYou finally secured an appointment with the decision-maker and you want to be prepared. What are some surefire pre-call planning tips to ensure you conduct an exceptional sales call?

Use these five tips to get yourself ready:

1.    5-point check on LinkedIn. Check their LinkedIn profile to gather info and prepare talking points. Check their (1) work history, (2) hobbies, (3) groups, and (4) connections. Be sure to pay special attention to (5) recommendations that others wrote them. Since trust is critical, find connection points that will help build your credibility from the moment you arrive.

2.    Set your appointment objectives. Instead of setting an agenda (unless they asked you to do so), define the specific objectives you want to accomplish, according to the steps of your sales process. For example, if you’re qualifying, don’t try to sell—qualify first. Make a list of your objectives in the “if – then” format: If they’re qualified, then move on to the next step. Or your objectives might be to address a list of concerns the buyer raised in a previous meeting. Move on to the next step only if you resolve those concerns and then both agree to continue.
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6 Questions to Ask Every Underperforming Sales Rep

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Underperforming Sales Rep
Sales managers answer questions. They explain performance standards, job expectations, process guidelines, metrics, organizational structure, and so forth. They are the referees who clarify, interpret, and enforce the rules for the sales team and, as such, they are indispensable.

Sales coaches, on the other hand, ask questions. True, they partner with each salesperson with the objective of maximizing that person’s individual performance in accordance with, and as measured by, the sales manager’s rulebook. However, where a sales manager tells an underperforming sales rep what their performance gap is and what is required of them to eliminate it, the sales coach asks questions of the rep to stimulate self-analysis, create of an improvement plan, and motivate. 

Every coaching situation is different and your reps may have very specific needs that imply equally specific lines of questioning. A seasoned sales coach learns over time what questions work best for a given industry, company, and team. That said, you can uncover many issues behind disappointing sales results with a basic set of questions. Continue reading

Quantify Your Expectations to Meet Sales Goals

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Barrett Riddleberger Sales Goals

Almost every sales team has members that fail to meet their individual sales quotas. The gap often lends itself to multiple, even competing explanations—as any sales manager who has ever held a performance evaluation with a sales rep knows. But sometimes the simplest root cause can be overlooked—the sales rep understands the goals, but not the activities needed to get them there.

Often this results from an over-reliance on job descriptions. Sales leadership understands the connection between the job description and the sales goals so well—often because the sales leader contributed to both documents—that further explanations seems, to them, like overkill. Nevertheless, the importance of written job expectations in helping salespeople meet and beat their quotas can hardly be overstated.

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