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Ray Makela

Recent Posts

How to Deliver Product Demos that Convert

By Ray Makela

On this Q&A episode: "Why most product demos miss the mark, and what can I do to improve my chances of success?"

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The Mindset of a Top Performing Sales Professional

By Ray Makela

On this Q&A episode: "What makes up the mindset of a top performing sales professional? What are the characteristics that help top performers stand out or that make them more effective?"

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How To Help Reps Keep Their Pipeline Up-To-Date

By Ray Makela

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Since the day the first contact management systems added features to enable Reps to keep track of their opportunities, there has been a constant struggle between manager and sales rep to keep the pipeline clean and “update the damn CRM.” Management wants a roll-up of their reps’ pipelines to enable better visibility and produce accurate forecasts, while reps are not motivated to spend precious selling time on administrative tasks and data entry that doesn’t help them close business.

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Selling Against a Competitor (When You Think They're Better)

By Ray Makela

On this Q&A episode: "What do you do if your competitor's product is better for the client?"

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How to Deal with Competitors Who Lie

By Ray Makela

On this Q&A episode: "What do you do when your competitor flat out lies? I'm not talking about a rogue salesperson making up fibs. I mean when their company market materials contain figures that are significantly inflated or entirely fabricated?"

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How to Prevent a Prospect Going Silent After Your Proposal

By Ray Makela

Don't let prospects go silent after responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP). In this Q&A we discuss strategies you can use to increase your chances of closing the deal.

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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 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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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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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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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 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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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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Best Sales Strategy with Accounts Undergoing Reorganization

By Ray Makela

One of your accounts is being reorganized. Your contacts were advancing an opportunity, but now everyone is entering a survival mode, the company freezes budgets, and all decisions are put on hold. What's the best sales strategy in these cases?

In this Q & A, Ray Makela challenges you to think of these situations as an opportunity to reframe the conversation and position yourself as a trusted advisor. Watch this video to learn how and don’t let these accounts fall through the cracks.

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How to Be Successful at Enterprise Sales

By Ray Makela

In this Q&A video, we lay out what it takes to be successful in enterprise sales and the best way to deal with procurement. You’ll also learn how to use a sales model to uncover stakeholders needs and the impact your solution brings to each of them.

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Sales Metrics You Should Track Every Month

By Ray Makela

On this episode, we discuss how to approach selecting which sales metrics to track, the importance of using leading vs. lagging indicators, and which key metrics you should focus on to improve the performance of your sales team.

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Managing a Healthy Sales Pipeline: Why Less Is More

By Ray Makela

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For many sales teams, a full sales pipeline is reassuring. It means their salespeople have plenty of potential deals to follow up on and lots of calls to make. It gives them hope that many of deals will close before the end of the quarter.

Yet, often at the end of the quarter, a good percentage of those deals haven’t closed— and everyone ends up disappointed. What went wrong?

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B2B Sales Prospecting: When to Persist (& When to Move On)

By Ray Makela

In this episode, Florin from Loopio asks How many "no's” are you willing to get from different people within an account before you give up on the account? I know this depends on who the "no" is coming from (i.e. ultimate decision maker) but at what point are you doing more damage than potential good?

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How to Effectively Follow-Up with Lost Sales Opportunities

By Ray Makela

In this episode, Gerardo Dada asks: What is the best way to follow up with lost sales opportunities? Ray Makela, Chief Customer Officer at SRG, discusses how to handle these type of conversations, primary objectives to accomplish, and how one time following up with a lost opportunity turned into a major contract.

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Six Questions to Coach a Gritty Sales Team

By Ray Makela

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I’ve written before about Angela Lee Duckworth’s concept of “grit,” which she discussed in her popular TED talk, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Duckworth defines grit as a winning combination of passion and perseverance, and she found that this quality is high among very successful people (including salespeople).

How do passion and perseverance manifest as behaviors among salespeople? As a manager, you’ve probably noticed the grittiest members of your sales team tend to do the following.

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5 Items to Improve Your Sales Meeting Agenda

By Ray Makela

On this episode, Kenneth Vogt, owner at Vera Claritas asks: What do you cover in your weekly sales meetings? If you have a weekly meeting with your sales team, what is regularly on the sales meeting agenda? What is useful to you as a manager? What is useful to your salespeople?

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Selling Value Instead of Price When Prospect Wants Discount

By Ray Makela

On this episode, we discuss how to respond when a prospect asks for a discount. Our Chief Customer Officer Ray Makela takes a deeper look about why the prospect may request a discount in the first place, and key questions to consider for selling value instead of price.

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Selling to Procurement: How to Get to Yes Faster

By Ray Makela

In this Q&A, Ray Makela, Chief Customer Officer at Sales Readiness Group, shares five recommendations to get synergy when selling to procurement and prevent your opportunity from getting stuck in the procurement process.

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Powerful Coaching Questions Every Sales Manager Should Ask

By Ray Makela

On this episode, Kumarasen Govender asks: What questions should I ask during the coaching process? Our Chief Customer Officer Ray Makela shares a three-step approach to creating a sales coaching mindset; and three types of powerful coaching questions to help sales reps improve their skills.

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Six Reasons Why Corporate Sales Training Fails

By Ray Makela

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Organizations in North America spend over $2.2 Billion dollars every year training their sales teams (source: Training Industry, ATD research reports). Unfortunately, many of these initiatives fail to achieve the desired business results.

Over the years we’ve captured many of the recurring themes and lessons learned from numerous prospective clients where their training programs haven’t produced the desired results they intended. Below are some of the common reasons why corporate sales training fails, and more importantly what you can do to mitigate these risks and set your training program up for success.  

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Dealing with Prospect Who Wants to Discuss Price Prematurely

By Ray Makela

On this episode, an IT executive asks: Recently we had a customer call us and tell us that they really like our solution, but they are about to sign with a competitor. Since we were not properly engaged, we did not give them the pricing and they closed the contract with a competitor. What would you have done? We often talk to developers who ask us about pricing for our solution when they don't even have the budget for sponsoring a lunch. How should we handle prospects who want to discuss price prematurely?

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The Problem with "Pushing" to Close the Sale

By Ray Makela

On this episode a sales training manager asks: Should a salesperson ever push to close the sale? I know many people say a salesperson should push to close the sale. I'm one of those people who, if you push me, you will almost certainly lose—I may buy eventually, just probably not from you. This is partly one reason why I hated salespeople for so long, even though, in reality, I was one too—I just never saw it that way!

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How to Improve Your Sales Hiring Process Success Rate

By Ray Makela

On this episode, Mary Ann, MBA asks: In today's business landscape constantly changing e.g. new products, competition, changing workforce (boomers retiring, millennials moving up) and pressures to achieve sales targets/company goals, how do you make more informed, confident hiring decisions?

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Top Producer Analysis: How to Clone Top Sales Performers

By Ray Makela

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I recently had the opportunity to hear Mike Kunkle, Senior Director of Sales Enablement at Brainshark, speak about Top-Producer Analysis (TPA). As usual, Mike’s talk was informative, thought-provoking, and memorable. This is information every sales leader and sales enablement professional should be considering if they’re looking to improve the performance of their sales team. I was left with several important takeaways:

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Cold Calling: How to Get Past the Gatekeeper

By Ray Makela

On this episode, CEO of ioFunnel Ankur asks: Often after dropping an email or LinkedIn message we try to follow up with a decision maker by phone. In most cases, we are greeted by a gatekeeper who politely asks us to drop the decision maker an email—we rarely get a response. How would you get past the gatekeeper to talk to the decision maker?

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