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Ray Makela

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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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Overcoming Seasoned Sales Reps Resistance to Training

By Ray Makela

On this episode, Muralidhar Rao, CEO, Executive Education, Regenesys Business School, India asks: How do you deal with the attitude of "I already know it all' among seasoned sales people and get them to learn new skills that are vital for dealing with a changing marketplace? Watch this video to learn how to eliminate friction from this common sales training challenge and get seasoned participants engaged in the training.

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What to Do When a Prospect Isn't Ready to Buy

By Ray Makela

On this episode, Daniel asks: A prospect has told you they’re interested in your product but not for a few months or quarters down the road; and they won't take an intro or first discovery call now.

What are some best practices in checking-in with the prospect to stay top of mind? Would that be a casual "hope all is well" email? Or case studies that are relevant to the industry?

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Why Sales Training Leads to Better Results, and How to Track It

By Ray Makela

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When we ask our clients about why they're embarking on sales training, we often hear that they "haven’t done it in a while", or because the “leadership team said we needed to.” Typically, it is tied to some goal of wanting to increase sales —but who doesn’t want to increase sales? While this is a valid reason, it is often difficult to determine whether the improved sales results are truly attributed to sales training or other factors. Is there a cause and effect, or is it just coincidence? 

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The #1 Trait to Look for in a New Sales Rep

By Ray Makela

Finding salespeople is easy but finding the right salespeople is a challenging task. Plus the cost of a bad hire is high. In this episode, Ray Makela talks about the number one trait to look for in a new sales rep, how to look for it, and how to develop it within your sales organization.

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How to Create a “Gritty” Sales Team

By Ray Makela

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Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines Grit as the combination of passion and perseverance. She studies Grit for a living. Her research suggests that Grit can predict success across many different types of groups; from inner city students and military cadets to sales professionals.

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5 Reasons Why Sales Management Skills Are a Top Priority

By Ray Makela

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Changing the skills, behaviors and culture of the sales organization is hard. Most sales executives, sales enablement experts and learning and development professionals will agree on this fact. Though challenging, organizations embark on this journey because the potential return on investment from improved sales performance is significant, if done correctly.

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3 Types of Negotiation Tactics and How to Respond

By Ray Makela

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In the Star Wars saga, “The Force” can be used for good or evil, depending on who’s wielding the power and how it's utilized. While types of negotiation tactics may not have the power to move heavy objects or control the mind, they can be instrumental in achieving a mutually beneficial outcome to a business to business transaction. They can mean the difference between successfully moving a deal forward and getting taken advantage of from a manipulative buyer.

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Sales Grit: It's What to Look for in an Employee

By Ray Makela

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It’s about Grit.

Grit is passion and perseverance to long term goals. According to Angela Lee Duckworth, “Grit” wins over IQ, EQ, raw talent, and education. In her fascinating TED talk, Angela outlines her research that looked at students, Army cadets, teachers and salespeople. Her findings are profound: Grit is a better predictor of success than any other factor.

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Effective Negotiation Techniques to Use in Your Next Big Deal

By Ray Makela

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"Begin with the End in Mind"

Over 35 years ago, Steven Covey identified this as one of the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. First create a vision of where you want to end up, then develop the steps needed to get there.

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Pay it Forward to Develop Great Customer Coaches

By Ray Makela

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In today's challenging and complex selling environment, having a great customer coach (or better yet, customer coaches) can mean the difference between winning and losing your next big deal. By customer coach we mean anyone inside or outside the organization who can help you and wants you to succeed. We’ve probably all had these coaches or advisors in the past, and once we identify them, they can be worth more than their weight in gold. 

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Effective Sales Negotiation Process to Increase Leverage

By Ray Makela

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In the “Art of War,” Sun Tzu stressed the importance of planning when he wrote, “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.

Preparation and planning have been shown to increase your chance of success – whether on the battle field, in a sporting competition or in a sales negotiation. In discussions during our sales negotiation workshops, we find that many sales professionals spend a significant amount of time selling and preparing the details around their pitch and proposal, but unfortunately they fail to develop the strategy and tactics needed to use that information to negotiate with their customer.

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How to Partner and Build a Long-Lasting Procurement Relationship

By Ray Makela

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Does negotiating with Procurement always need to be a struggle? Negotiating with Procurement is a topic that has received a significant amount of interest from our readers – from sales and procurement professionals alike.

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Four Critical Steps When Handling Sales Objections

By Ray Makela

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"Other times, you're doing some piece of work and suddenly you get feedback that tells you that you have touched something that is very alive in the cosmos." - Leonard Nimoy

Getting feedback is a gift – you can choose to receive it that way or not. As Nimoy’s quote suggests, feedback can tell you that you’ve touched a nerve – whether it is positive or negative it can be invaluable in helping to understand a person’s perspective. This is especially important when you are receiving feedback during a sales call, yet sales professionals are often so focused on giving the “pitch” that they miss the opportunity to really understand what the customer thinks about their solution.

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13 Tactics to Prevent a Heated Price Negotiation

By Ray Makela

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Discounting is expensive, yet in many sales transactions today it’s still the norm. All too often, sales people give discounts as a matter of course or they offer discounts as a last ditch effort to win the business. In either case, they destroy profit margins and, moreover, typically are not necessary to close the business.

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Why You Need to Become the Chief Training Officer of Your Sales Team

By Ray Makela

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One of the first lessons I was taught as a newly commissioned officer in the Navy was that the division officer (first level manager) was responsible for all the training and certifications of their crew members. This meant that it was my “job” to identify the training plan for my team and work with others to ensure that training was conducted (either formal or informal) to achieve the results. Or to quote my old Division Officer’s Guide“Division Officers are responsible for the individual training, counseling and education of their personnel.”

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Four Steps to Build an Effective Social Selling Program

By Ray Makela

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It’s time to stop treating Social Selling as a shiny new object in sales enablement

With the hype and promise around Social Selling programs, it’s no wonder sales organizations are quick to jump onboard the social band-wagon. Unfortunately, these programs are often treated as stand-alone efforts or one-time initiatives that leave the sales leadership questioning whether they are producing any tangible results for the business. To make social selling stick, it needs to be integrated into existing sales training and enablement programs. It’s time for social selling to move beyond the shiny new object phase and be treated as a foundational selling skill.

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If I Had More Time I Would Have Written a Shorter Sales Presentation

By Ray Makela

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One of my favorite quotes about writing has been attributed to many great authors, including Pascal, Cicero, Twain, Franklin, Thoreau, and others. Though it was said in different ways and different languages, the general premise is that “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”  

The common theme is that making your communications more concise and more impactful is difficult.  It takes effort to simplify your message to just the important concepts.

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Maximizing Your Negotiation Leverage with Power Sources

By Ray Makela

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We often hear the complaint in our sales training workshops that the customer has all the power and they really only care about price. Really? If that’s what you believe then your only option is to lower your prices, and you’d better be the cheapest option or you’ll lose. The other option is to work hard to develop a stronger value proposition than the competition and convince yourself that you have a unique offering that solves the customer’s problem in ways that no other solution can. Why else would the customer choose your product or solution? 

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Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Open Target Accounts

By Ray Makela

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Across our client base and in our sales training workshops, we are seeing sales professionals becoming more familiar with leveraging LinkedIn to prospect, conduct research and gain access to decision makers during a sales pursuit.

With new features and capabilities of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, these skills can be extended to even more challenging pursuits such as Prospecting into target (named) accounts and navigating complex organizations. Specifically, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has new features that help us research and gain visibility into accounts in ways that have never been possible, short of having an employee badge or a strong inside advocate. Three ways that LinkedIn supports prospecting into complex accounts include:

#1 Mapping the Account

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Why Reps Should Be Using LinkedIn for Sales More Often

By Ray Makela

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Updating and using LinkedIn has become a bit like flossing your teeth. We are encouraged to do it every day, it seems like a good idea, but the benefits may not be readily apparent.

It takes some discipline, habit and a little bit of time. I often hear from our sales training clients that they know they should be using LinkedIn for sales, but they don’t have the time, knowledge or motivation to leverage the tool.

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Advantages of LinkedIn Account Management

By Ray Makela

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I often discuss the value of LinkedIn as a way of mapping and researching new areas of the account, and I continue to hear a common theme from many of our participants: 

“I connect with people when I think of it, but I really should do more,” or

yeah, I connect but then I’m not sure how to use this resource in my account management program.

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Four Areas Where LinkedIn Can Improve Your Sales Process

By Ray Makela

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It may be time to get serious about using LinkedIn for sales, including prospecting. We all hear the buzz about social networks, and especially LinkedIn for business connections.

With LinkedIn network topping 200 million users, this represents a large group of prospects...and chances are good these days that your target prospect at a specific company is on LinkedIn.

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How to Plan an Effective Annual Sales Meeting

By Ray Makela

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As organizations go through process of planning their upcoming annual sales meetings, we thought we’d share a few thoughts and lessons learned we’ve picked up along the way from working with our clients

Two questions we like to ask of executive sponsors and meeting planners are basic ones, but all too often forgotten. The questions are:

What are you trying to accomplish with this meeting? 

“What do you expect the participants to think, feel and do differently as a result of this meeting?”  

Many times the goals of the meeting aren’t well defined – it appears as if someone is attempting to fill timeslots so that everyone is engaged for two or three days, but with no cohesive message or desired outcome.

While there may be multiple priorities and objectives that the meeting is attempting to accomplish, it is very important to consider which of the numerous objectives are realistic and attainable in a relatively short period of time. To assist with this prioritization, here is a helpful memory device: M.E.E.T.I.N.G.S.

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3 Steps to Improve Your Sales Forecast Accuracy

By Ray Makela

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Forecasting can be a challenging task. As a Sales Manager, you're asked to look into the future, predict the probable behavior of numerous sales team members and countless customers, and commit “a number” to your management team. 

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6 Key Sales Management Steps to Ensure Sales Training Sticks

By Ray Makela

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Organizations engage in sales training programs for numerous reasons. Despite best intentions, these programs too often fall short of the mark and fail to deliver the business results that the executive sponsors were originally looking for.
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How to Identify an Effective Sales Management Training Program

By Ray Makela

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Too often we see sales leaders procure their sales management training program only to find out that it is just a reconfigured version of the sales training curriculum that includes “managers” in the title.
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The Right Way to Onboard A New Sales Manager

By Ray Makela

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It is often hard for the sales people to make the transition to sales manager.  Part of this challenge is attributable to the inherently different job functions of a salesperson and a sales managers (individual contributor vs. manager of others). 

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Avoid Losing a Top Sales Rep and Gaining a Bad Manager

By Ray Makela

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The transition from Sales Professional to Sales Manager is often a difficult one and a topic that has been discussed in our previous blogs here and here.  Why is it that a large percentage of these promoted stars fail within six months?  Perhaps organizations are promoting reps based on their “performance against quota” and not for the attributes and characteristics that are needed to perform the new job as a manager. 

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5 Deal Coaching Questions Every Sales Manager Should Ask

By Ray Makela

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Deal coaching often gets a bad rap because it is frequently unstructured and often becomes a contentious discussion between  the sales manager and the sales person - with no tangible outcomes or benefit to either party.  Reps keep having to defend their deals, and managers keep wondering why there's so much dead wood in the pipeline. This is unfortunate since (when done correctly) deal coaching can be a mechanism for winning more deals and improving selling skills.

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