Asking great questions is an essential skill every successful sales professional must master. That’s because when you ask open-ended questions, you transform the sales call. Your focus moves away from your solution to the buyer’s problems, goals, and concerns. As a result, your customer feels listened to, while you learn key insights about what’s important to the buyer.Read More
Imagine achieving phenomenal sales growth with no salespeople.
Well, Dropbox, the file storage company, founded in 2007, grew its revenues to $116 million by 2012. Its sales then rocketed to $1.46 billion by 2018.
What’s even more impressive is that for most of its short life as a company, Dropbox achieved this remarkable growth with no salespeople.
Dropbox has historically relied on viral growth, together with a referral marketing model, with more than 90% of its revenue generated from self-serve channels. See here and here for discussions of Dropbox’s business model.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of no salespeople. No headaches or expense dealing with hiring, training, managing, and paying sales reps.
So, did Dropbox discover a better (and more profitable) mousetrap?Read More
If you’ve ever run a sales meeting, you probably know that most salespeople aren’t thrilled to attend. Good sales reps prefer to spend their time selling, not sitting in a conference room. After all, they can’t make quota daydreaming their way through a boring meeting.Read More
In today’s crowded marketplace, it’s easy to forget how many choices your buyer has. Buyers have a difficult time differentiating your solution from the competition’s solution. What may be an obvious distinction to you may not be so apparent to the buyer.
So you need to explain why the buyer should select your solution instead of the alternatives. Skilled sales reps differentiate their solutions by highlight features that are important to the buyer where they're strong, and their competitors are weak.
If you're a football fan, you're no doubt familiar with the woeful tale of Johnny Manziel’s brief professional football career. Manziel was a star college quarterback who won the Heisman trophy as a freshman in 2012. The Cleveland Browns later drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, where he played for two injury-prone seasons in 2014-2015.
Manziel’s time at Cleveland was plagued by questions about his behavior, work ethic, substance abuse, off-the-field problems, as well as his inability to translate his college game to the professional level. The impact on the Cleveland Browns was catastrophic. They wasted a precious first round draft pick as well as lost time and money. Here is a description of how he hurt Cleveland as well as a litany of his bad behavior.
As a sales manager, you may not consider yourself a sales leader. After all, strategic leadership issues fall within the purview of senior executives such as the Chief Revenue Officer. But ask your sales team to describe your leadership qualities and you may hear comments such as “She knows how to communicate what she wants,” “He makes the right decisions at the right time,” “She’s very persuasive,” or “He works twice as hard as anybody else on the team.”Read More
To maximize sales results, a sales manager has to ensure that his or her team is operating at their peak level like a sports team. That’s where coaching comes in—it’s one of the most important things you can do as a manager to drive better sales results.
Coaching is the time you spend 1:1 with your team members to improve their ability to sell. The most common obstacle preventing sales managers from coaching their teams is time commitment. Coaching takes time and doesn’t have a “due date.” So often managers postpone or reschedule coaching to complete other time-sensitive management activities.
I have previously discussed how to allocate your coaching time. A good rule of thumb is that you should spend:
- 60% of your coaching time with your salespeople with medium skill levels,
- 15% of your coaching time with your salespeople with low skill levels, and
- 25% of your coaching time with your salespeople with high skill levels.
The idea here is that you should spend most of your time coaching salespeople with medium skills. These salespeople will provide the highest return on your time investment as you develop average performers into high performers. Low skilled reps may require too much of a time commitment to help, while high performers have some room for improvement, but don’t need lots of coaching.
But what do you do if you are extremely limited in your time available for coaching?Read More
We all have heard the old sales adage: “People buy from people they like.” And a significant body of behavioral science research supports this statement. According to famed psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini, liking is one of the six principles of influence outlined in his seminal book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”
When you have a strong relationship with a buyer, you tend to have more influence with that buyer. That means the buyer respects your experience and advice, they're more likely to value your contribution to the decision process, and there is a greater chance of such buyer becoming a “long-term” customer.
Follow these four strategies to build a strong relationship with your buyer, and you'll go a long way towards having an easier time closing more business.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
“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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
Imagine you’re managing a sales territory with hundreds of existing accounts to call. How should you best allocate your calling efforts?Read More
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?Read More
Let's take a moment to think about the kind of relationship you have with your typical client.
Do you have access to high-level decision makers? Or are you stuck talking to gatekeepers and technical buyers?
Do you struggle to differentiate your products and services? Are your buyers raising price objections?
In day to day selling, we're not thinking about the "kind" of relationship we have with our clients. But these can affect your sales performance, e.g. the length of your sales cycle, pricing pressure, and the number of companies with which you have to compete.Read More
No matter how good you're at selling at some point in the sales process, you'll get some objections. Common objections we all hear include price, quality issues, competitive comparisons, or concerns about terms and conditions of the sale.
Good salespeople know how to “overcome” these objections. But outstanding sales professionals can prevent objections in the first place.
Consider these common examples of objections that you may have encountered.
Selling is like walking through a minefield. Take one wrong step, and your deal can blow up in your face. Great sales people know how to navigate this minefield and successfully move sales opportunities to closure.Read More
In the sales profession, industry thought leaders and analysts periodically shine a flashlight on a particular technological tool and wonder whether salespeople or sales behaviors will be replaced by it.
This happened in the early 2000s when email marketing technology was first being adopted by large sales organizations. The promise was that this technology would, among other things, eliminate the need for salespeople to prospect. Of course, that didn’t happen. As everyone’s inboxes got flooded with similar sounding “canned” marketing emails, it turned out we still needed humans to generate authentic and engaging messages that prospects would actually respond to.Read More
When you hear the name Napoléon Bonaparte, valuable sales leadership skills might not be the first things that come to mind.
If you are like me, you largely remember Napoléon from high school world history class as the French military leader and emperor whose disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 eventually led to his downfall.Read More
There is a misconception among some salespeople that with the right closing technique, they’ll get a reluctant buyer to say “yes.” Let’s take for example two sales closing techniques with colorful names, the Ben Franklin and the Something for Nothing close.Read More
Last weekend a strange man knocked at my front door. It turns out it was a painter named Steve with a unique specialty: painting your home address on the curb in front of your house. Steve wasn’t looking for my business, in fact, he reminded me, he had already painted my address on curb a few years ago. No, Steve was looking for referrals.Read More
Imagine that you could go on an action/adventure vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Maybe a safari in Namibia, trekking in the Himalayas, or perhaps exploring ancient ruins in Peru. The possibilities are endless.Read More
Closing should be the easiest part of selling. It's the natural culmination of a sales conversation. You've helped the buyer identify a problem and then proposed a solution.
Nevertheless, I've met many sales professionals who in spite of having excellent selling skills are reluctant to ask for the sale. This reluctance can, of course, impair a sales career and be intensely frustrating to sales managers.Read More
Rejection is a normal part of selling. If you sell for a living, you'll hear the word “no” many times in your career. This is particularly true in prospecting where prospects offer up all different types of resistance.
The root cause of most resistance is that the prospect wasn't expecting your call. Chances are the prospect just wants to get you off the phone and continue on with his or her business. It's important to note that this resistance often has no bearing on whether the prospect is interested in your solution. In fact, most sales professionals have many examples of great customers originally starting off as challenging prospects.
Given the frequency of prospecting resistance, mastering these effective prospecting techniques are critical to your sales success.Read More