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Back to the Future: AI and the Role of Sales People

By David Jacoby

 

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Last week I saw the future. Google demonstrated its amazing new Duplex technology that allows Google Assistant to make phone calls on your behalf and have natural, human-sounding conversations. Watch the demo here and listen to the Google Assistant first call a hair salon and book an appointment, and then make a reservation at a restaurant.

I was blown away by Googles’ Duplex technology, and it is obviously a major step forward in the ability of computers to understand and generate natural speech. This will dramatically improve the customer experience in communicating with automated phone systems. But what are the implications for the sales profession?

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How to Embed A Company's Culture in Sales Training

By Norman Behar

A question that often comes up in our conversations with clients: "How do you embed a company's culture in a sales training program?" It's an interesting question because culture is something that's intangible, but we kind of know it when we see it. 

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5 Step Checklist to Assess Sales Readiness

By Norman Behar

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As your company begins to hire new sales reps and looks for ways to accelerate their ramp-up time, while we would all like our reps to get on quota track faster, we have found that the “readiness” of the sales organization is critical to making this goal a reality.

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Sales Readiness: What does that mean?

By Norman Behar

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I’ve often been asked as the CEO and co-founder of Sales Readiness Group, what does “sales readiness” really mean. In today’s hyper competitive sales environment, companies are looking for their sales organization to consistently deliver great results. Sales readiness is the work that needs to take place up front so that your sales organization can produce those results. For a company to be “ready to sell” it must optimize numerous sales readiness factors. These include (i) overall sales strategy, (ii) sales methodology, (iii) integrated sales & marketing, (iv) performance management systems, and (v) sales organization and talent.

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5 Areas You Need to Focus on to Boost Sales Effectiveness

By Norman Behar

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Every sales executive is focused on how they can make their sales organization more effective. After all, we would all like to sell more, reduce our sales cycles, improve win ratios, and have more productive sales teams. The problem, of course, is that the concept of sales force effectiveness is so broad that it makes it difficult for sales executives to figure out what needs fixing.

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How to Better Engage Buyers in the First Sales Call

By David Jacoby

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Many sales leaders tend to over-focus on creating scripts for their sales teams. These include prospecting scripts, presentation templates, responses to common objections, and lists of questions to ask buyers. Scripts can be a great learning tool for your team to improve their selling skills, but you should use them with caution.

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How to Align Your Sales Coaching Program for Success

By Ray Makela

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It’s no surprise that high-performing sales teams have managers who spend more time coaching, as evidenced in our Sales Management Research Report.

There are numerous benefits to effective coaching, but despite the general acknowledgment that it’s a high-value activity, many managers don’t spend enough time coaching. Several reasons managers don’t coach include that they don’t know how, don’t think they have time, or don’t have a process to follow.

But here’s another piece of the puzzle that many sales leaders don’t want to admit.

One of the biggest reasons managers don’t coach is because the organization hasn’t adopted a culture of coaching. Changing the organization culture is hard. At a minimum, if the initiative hasn’t been made a top priority by the leadership team and there isn’t a process in place to manage the behavior change, it will be doomed to fail.

The six factors identified in the graphic below will help ensure your sales coaching program is aligned for success.

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How to Increase Your Team's Sales Prospecting Activity

By David Jacoby

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Ask any sales leader if their team is doing enough prospecting, and they’ll invariably say “No.” Ask sales reps if they should be doing more prospecting, and they’ll grudgingly agree that more prospecting would be better.

The benefits of sales prospecting are apparent; more prospecting equals more sales opportunities. So why aren’t sales teams doing enough prospecting?

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6 Benefits of Sales Coaching (And Why It Should Be a Priority)

By Norman Behar

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The battle cry for Sales Coaching has never been greater. Learning and development professionals and senior sales leaders continue to identify Sales Coaching as a top priority for their frontline sales managers. Yet, the frontline managers often avoid coaching for a number of reasons:

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How to Knock Your Next Sales Interview Out of the Park

By Ray Makela

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Attention prospective salespeople—here’s a hint. If you want to work on my sales team, you have to show me you can sell.
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WARNING! Approach Sales Enablement with Caution

By David Jacoby

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Sales enablement is booming. According to a 2017 survey of sales organizations conducted by CSO Insights, 59.2% of the respondents had a dedicated sales enablement function. This is up from only 19.3% in 2013.

Sales enablement is a catch-all term applied to any practice that attempts to increase sales productivity. It’s not uncommon to find sales enablement departments responsible for a plethora of disciplines such as strategy, sales processes, analytics and reporting, lead generation, training, tool selection and content management.

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Why Sales Managers Don't Coach (and What to Do About It)

By Ray Makela

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The evidence for the benefits of coaching is compelling. Not only can it help develop your reps and improve selling skills, but high performing sales teams tend to have managers who spend more time coaching, as evidenced by the 2017 Sales Management Research ReportIt’s a bit like flossing or going to the gym—we all know we should do it, but for various reasons, it doesn’t happen as often as we might like. So why is that? 

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3 Factors for Building Sales Relationships that Convert

By Norman Behar

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With the introduction of new sales enablement technologies and the shift to, technology-driven, inside sales reps, do relationships with customers still matter?

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How to Influence More B2B Buyers by Showing Your Expertise

By David Jacoby

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One of the core skills of successful selling is how well you can influence buyers. When you have influence, the buyer is more open to your message, respects your advice, gives you access to key decision makers, and, ultimately, buys from you.

One technique you can use to build your influence with a buyer (especially with b2b buyers) is by demonstrating your expertise—i.e., the depth of understanding you bring to the sales conversation.

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The Importance of Sales Coaching Models for Better Results

By Norman Behar

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In our 2017 Sales Management Research Report, 5 Hallmarks of a High-Impact Sales Organization, we found that sales managers at high-performing organizations spent significantly more time coaching their teams than average and lower performing teams.

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Six Sales Coaching Activities That Will Set You Apart As a Coach

By Ray Makela

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Sales coaching is one of the most important activities a manager can do to improve the performance of their sales team, as evidenced by the 2017 Sales Management Research Report.  Yet managers often confuse sales coaching with just having one-on-one meetings and telling their reps how to improve. At the heart of good sales coaching is a mindset that encourages the rep to take responsibility for their development and engage in a collaborative, positive process of improvement. This involves key sales coaching activities that are different than other things you may be doing to direct, manage or motivate your team.

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How to Make the Most of Positive Buyer Feedback

By David Jacoby

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When you’re making a sales presentation, it’s essential that you stay aligned with the buyer. That means asking your buyer to assess how well he or she believes your offering can address their needs, and if they have any concerns about your solution and its implementation.

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One Additional Question Salespeople Should Always Ask

By Norman Behar

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I was sitting down with our Chief Customer Officer, Ray Makela, and we were discussing deal coaching.  I reminded him of his blog post on 5 Deal Coaching Questions for Sales Managers to Ask and he made a very interesting point about a sixth question he now wants to add to this list; What's the decision making process? 

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Most Important Sales Metrics You Should Track Every Month

By Ray Makela

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How many new appointments does it take to hit your sales quota?
 
Sales Managers have access to more tools, reports, and data about sales performance than ever before. Yet with this proliferation of information, it's harder to analyze and extract meaningful insights.
 
As a frontline sales manager or leader, the first question you need to ask is, why are you tracking these things? What's the outcome are you looking for? What's the purpose of doing this?
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Four Behaviors to Building Trust in Sales

By David Jacoby

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“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Trust is essential to successful selling. When the buyer trusts you, the buyer believes your promises, gives you access to power, takes your advice, and gives you referrals. A buyer won’t buy from you unless he or she trusts you.

Think about a time when you were the buyer, and you thought the seller was not trustworthy. Why did you think that? Perhaps the seller made a promise and then didn’t follow through, or maybe the seller told you what you need before getting to know you. Whatever the reason, for most of us, building trust takes time, but can be broken in an instant.

Research suggests the following four behaviors are key to building trust in sales.

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Four Types of Value Added Benefits and How to Quantify Them

By David Jacoby

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Think of the last time you won a close, competitive sales opportunity. What tipped the scales in your favor? 

In sales situations where it’s difficult to differentiate your solution from the competition’s, you often win by offering your buyer extra services, or Value-Added Benefits. These are extra services above what you provide with your primary product or service at additional cost to the buyer.

Chances are you're already providing your buyers Value-Added Benefits, but you're not getting credit for them.

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How to Allocate Your Sales Coaching Time

By David Jacoby

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Research shows that sales coaching is a critical skill you need to master as a sales manager. When you do a great job coaching, your reps make quota more consistently; they learn how to solve their problems; and rep turnover rates go down as your sales people achieve greater success and see that you are committed to their development.

So, how much time should you spend coaching your team each week? 

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Navigating Complex Sales with the Access Sales Call

By David Jacoby

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In most sales situations, prospecting means setting the appointment while the actual selling occurs during the meeting. This distinction gets murkier when you're selling into a complex sales account. Here's why.

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Four Steps to Beat the Competition in B2B Sales

By Ray Makela

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If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles – Sun Tzu, 512 BC

B2B sales may not be quite as lethal as warfare, but getting beaten by the competition is always frustrating and sometimes even painful.

Losing is especially difficult when you feel like you have a better offering and should have won the deal. Though you may have (and should have) convinced yourself that you’re the best option for the customer, you may not have communicated that message clearly enough to your customer in terms that differentiates you from the competition.

Follow these four steps below to beat the competition every time.

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Sales Territory Management: Allocating Your Calling Efforts

By David Jacoby

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Imagine you’re managing a sales territory with hundreds of existing accounts to call. How should you best allocate your calling efforts? 

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Sales Objection: Prospect Asks "Why Should We Buy From You?"

By Norman Behar

On this episode, a sales rep asks: I always find myself facing this question from prospects “Why should we buy from you and not the competition?” A common sales objection, and in this video we share some ways you can tackle this challenge.

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10 Criteria to Assess if an RFP is Worth Your Time

By Ray Makela

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One of the most important decisions a sales professional can make is whether to pursue a deal. Chasing bad, unqualified deals takes up time, resources and distracts focus from more desirable deals that are likely to close. Yet many salespeople have "never met a deal they didn’t want to chase." Perhaps it’s ego, maybe optimism, but they find it hard to say no.

Great salespeople, however, are brutally honest about assessing whether an opportunity is worth chasing. This is particularly true about RFPs.

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Before and After the Sales Call

By David Jacoby

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Assuming you're a good sales professional, you already build rapport with buyers, ask your buyers thought-provoking questions, and then skillfully manage their objections. These are all skills you use during the sales call. But what are you doing before and after the sales call?

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Sales Pipeline vs. Sales Forecast: What's the Difference

By Norman Behar

Although the sales pipeline and sales forecast are closely related, they're not the same. In this Q&A, we explain the difference and best practices you can use to make the most of each.

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Sales Rep Turnover: Why It Happens and How to Reduce It

By Norman Behar

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According to an article in the July – August 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review, How to Predict Turnover on Your Sales Team, “estimates of annual turnover among U.S. salespeople run as high as 27%.”  This is an alarming rate especially given how challenging it is to hire top sales talent in a tight labor market.

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