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4 Sales Activities To Do Today

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 24, 2016 8:42:00 AM

Do you want to make sure you end the year on a positive sales note?  Are you ready to get a head start on next year?

Sales Activities to do Today

Here are 4 things you need to do today to ensure your future success:

1. Get Ready to Sell Again

Most of the salespeople I know believe the summer is a hard time of year to reach people and as a result they don’t prospect that much in the summer. If that is the way you think, then what is the day we should begin prospecting again?  When is it safe?

On that day we’ll wish we spent these last few lazy August days preparing so we don’t have to lose time during the frantic “back-from-vaca” sales season, which is already in progress beginning in September. 

Now is the time to do some research in advance of our next meeting or initial outreach, apart from the obvious activities like checking out the customer’s website or if there were any recent press releases. Let’s learn something new about their industry, their market share, and their competitors so we can connect the dots to determine hot issues, budgets, and timetables.

Come out of this “get ready” stage with a plan to test a customized approach to your market broken down by thinly sliced audience segments. The more segmented and personalized, the better. You will need to get started now to be ready for September meetings.

2. Polish Your Presentations

By this point in the year, you have delivered your standard presentation template enough times to be able to do it in your sleep. But when was the last time you really looked at your own material with a critical eye?  Have you seen what the competition is doing?

No? Well, first it's time to give your presentation another look and make adjustments. What reaction are you trying to get from the audience when you present your material? To give yourself better insight, practice delivering the presentation in front of a co-worker or your manager. This way, you're rehearsing before you go live with a real, potentially paying customer.

It would also serve you well to do a little investigative work into what your competitors are doing and how they are positioning their solution. 

Take advantage of this time to optimize and practice your presentation. You'll be in good shape before the selling season starts. 

3. Get Ready to Defend Yourself

Your competitors are just as determined as you to win more sales. Even if you think you are selling the better solution for your customers and prospects, have you thought about the best way to position your solution against competitors? 

Practice answering these questions to give yourself a competitive advantage:

  • What is your solution?
  • How is your solution different?
  • Why would someone choose your solution?
  • What is the ROI of your solution?

Can you answer how your offering is different? Better? Better ROI?  Can you explain to a customer loyal to your competitor why they should consider your offering? Would you be able to close that deal? 

Between now and Labor Day, assume your competitors are practicing answering these very same questions and working on refining their sales “arguments.” To be safe, you should too.

4. Make January Easier on Yourself

So many salespeople work so hard to close out the 4th Quarter that they walk into the first quarter with nothing. It is much easier to get a head start and find January opportunities now than it will be if you wait till December or January. 

Right now, many customers are set or getting set for the remainder of 2016. But, the opportunity to look at something new in the new year is smart for the savvy customer and easy to agree to. 

Start reaching out now asking people about 2017 – you will have much more pleasant conversations because they will not be rushed like 2016 conversations will be.  In January, you will be glad you began that long process of finding those savvy customers in August.

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Topics: sales, sales activity, sales improvement

How to Use Deadlines to Achieve Sales Goals

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 22, 2016 8:25:00 AM

Deadlines. It’s a powerful word that strongly suggests we must meet the time limit that’s been set, otherwise we’re dead if we miss it.

Most people have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. In most cases, deadlines are set for us by other people and can make us do crazy things. Things we don’t normally want to do like: get up extra early, work outside our comfort zone, or stay up extra late. All because we have to meet the deadline.

The ironic thing is that nothing provides more focus on our priorities and time management skills better than setting a deadline. We are usually at our best when we are racing to meet the timeline that’s been set because we are determined and focused on completing the assignment or project at hand.

With this in mind, imagine what we could accomplish by not waiting for someone else to assign a deadline, and instead give ourselves deadlines for everything we need to get done. But how do you assign yourself a deadline that will actually stick?

We’ve outlined 3 simple, but not easy, steps to help you use deadlines to achieve your sales goals:

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Step 1: Commit

The first thing you must do is identify your goal and then commit to achieving it by a certain date.

Whether we are talking about a big or small goal, the best way to fully commit is by breaking down your goal into smaller steps that you can work on each day or week.

As a general example, let’s say you’ve just set yourself the goal of landing a new account with a large revenue opportunity.

In your experience as a seller, you understand there are a lot of internal and external factors that must be taken into consideration when mapping out your goal. And depending on your process and sales cycle, closing a large deal may take anywhere from a few months to a year.

That’s why we must break the larger goal down into smaller goals by creating a backwards timetable, like this:

deadline_aug2016-1.png

When you look at your goal this way, it helps you think about what sales meetings need to be scheduled and what activities you should focus on during the months leading up to your target close date.

Let’s break this down:

If you need to close a sale in August of next year, then you need the verbal agreement by Q2, let’s say June.

Before that, you need to present a proposal that outlines the right solution for the client. Keep in mind this is the time when negotiations may happen, which could possibly delay this step. But on average, let’s say this will take about 1 to 3 months.

Now, that brings us backwards to Q4 of this year when you want the prospective client to express their interest, timetable, and confirm they have a budget for your product or service.

Even before the prospective client can express interest, we must get a better understanding of their business goals and challenges by launching a discovery process to gather more information. That will take about 1 to 3 months.

Naturally, we had to have a number of first meetings and conversations with a variety of stakeholders throughout the organization before we could get to the discovery phase. And depending upon the number of decision-makers involved, getting these meetings scheduled could span anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

That brings us to now. It all starts with your outreach efforts and making the first contact. So, when is your deadline to get started? Today!  

Get committed and start thinking about: What do I have to do to make sure I hit the goal?

Step 2: Be Realistic & Honest

When it comes to setting and achieving an audacious goal, it’s important to consider timing.

Be realistic about your process and sales cycle in terms of knowing how long each part of the sale will actually take. If you started today, how long would it take to secure a qualified first appointment with a large sized account? And then once you’ve conducted the first appointment, how long after that would you get to the proposal stage?

Be honest with yourself about your time and priorities. Are you already working on a long-term project that requires a lot of your attention? Do you have anything going on in your personal life that could interfere?

More often than not, everything takes longer than initially anticipated due to the inevitable “things” creeping up and stealing your time. However, it's amazing to see how much harder people work when they are running out of time, as opposed to when they have plenty of hours to burn.

This is why the most successful salespeople set deadlines for themselves. It creates a sense of urgency and helps push you forward to completion.  Deadlines create determination and focus while discouraging you from delaying steps or becoming sidetracked on something else.

Step 3: Use the Power of Negative Thinking

Yes, you read that right. The power of negative thinking.

The idea here is that when things go well we seldom assess or analyze how we achieved the end result. On the other hand, when things go badly we suddenly have 20-20 insight into what we should have done.

Thinking about what might go badly, while you still have time to do something to change the outcome, will help you create a solid action plan outlining the right activities and behaviors to focus on.

So, leverage negative thinking by imagining it is August of next year and you missed your goal and didn’t close that big sale. What should we have done?

You should have filled your pipeline with similar opportunities. When you create parallel initiatives with several other potentially large deals, you put yourself in a much better position to reach your goal.

Remember, today is the last day to get that big sale you want to close next year. Today is your deadline. Don’t miss it, or you will push out the close date – possibly to 2018 unless you hurry. So now is the time to get committed, be realistic and honest with yourself about timing, and use the power of negative thinking to ensure you reach your goal.

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Topics: deadlines, sales tips, goal setting

4 Ways Coaching Your Sellers Improves Sales Activities

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 16, 2016 3:45:00 PM

As a sales trainer I believe that every salesperson, including myself, benefits from sales training. I believe most salespeople generally know training is helpful, but, like exercise, not at this moment.coaching_solution-1.jpg

However, even those sellers appreciate the advantage of coaching, especially 1-on-1 time focused on their unique needs. Today’s sellers aren’t getting enough training to support their ever-changing and increasingly competitive world.

So, without a coach how can today’s sellers improve these vital activities?

#1 - Emails

Today, most sellers prospect by email. But has a coach critiqued what you’ve written in order to improve your response rate? When I coach sellers, we look at the emails they send. What we learn together is their opportunity to be less frustrated and more successful.  Most of the “first” emails are not personalized, the word choice too rambling, the benefits too one-sided toward the seller when they should be focused on explaining what’s in it for the prospect or customer. However, it is the 2nd and 3rd follow-up emails that benefit most from an analysis and rewriting.  My coaching uncovers opportunities to redefine customer profiles, customize new email templates, and re-strategize timing and testing while strategically layering in phone calls. During coaching sessions, I help sellers leverage personal marketing via networking and social media adapted for their unique sales role and territory.  The result is that sellers can measure improvement immediately, especially an improved number of first conversations with prospects.

#2 - Presentations

Most everyone has created and delivered a presentation in a variety of live and virtual settings, but have you ever had a coach who helped you analyze how to handle each situation or how to improve your closing ratio? When I coach sellers, we look at both their delivery skills and their presentation. This exercise helps to uncover how most sellers deliver a one-size-fits-all approach to presenting their offering whether it's a live demonstration to a committee of people or a 1-on-1 through video conference. Oftentimes, PowerPoint can make it difficult to illustrate your point because you may have too many pages with too many words, which doesn't help direct the sales conversation. Coaching shows sellers how to adjust both the content of the presentation and how they lead the conversation in order to advance the sale beyond the presentation.

#3 - Prospecting and Selling with Confidence

Every seller gets stuck when they encounter certain objections or issues. Have you ever worked with a coach to give you new strategies or ideas to solve these challenges? When I coach sellers, we dissect each stubborn obstacle that blocks that salesperson from building a path to their goal. I find the best way to increase energy levels and confidence is to help them overcome objections by inventing new ways of addressing customer issues and concerns.  As a coach, I work with each salesperson to understand what they are really trying to say and together we find a better way to say it.

#4 - Getting Back on Track

We are all assigned goals to hit, but have you ever had a coach help you get focused on achieving big goals or refocused after missing goals?  In my role as a coach, I have observed countless occasions where salespeople are uncommitted to their goals or unclear about what they are really trying to accomplish. In other cases, they are simply too beat-up from past failures to have the strength or courage to dream big.  Some sellers stop themselves from stretching to reach big goals because of personal fears, while others are boldly going off without a solid plan. When I take a salesperson through my coaching process, we begin by getting very specific about both short term and long term goals. I help them create a plan with benchmarks that enables them to track the little wins needed in order to be properly motivated to take each next step of their journey toward success.

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Topics: sales activity, coaching, sales coaching

4 Tips to Help Your Team Build Sales Momentum

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 10, 2016 8:40:00 AM

Being a sales manager can be incredibly frustrating or extremely rewarding, depending on how the wind is blowing. To make sure your team is continuously headed in the right direction you need to put the wind in their sails by helping them build sales momentum.

Sail on a boat

Here are 4 ways you can talk to your salespeople about building and maintaining momentum:

1. Keep Score

When salespeople get to more leads, calls, emails, etc., they meet more people, learn how to optimize their approach more quickly, and end up making more sales, more often. However, most sellers miss their goals and many never even move in the right direction.

Why?

They spend too much time doing the wrong things. To consistently get the right things done they should begin by simply trying to get more things done.

You’ll need to carefully track the most critical activities that move the needle for your team: prospecting outreaches, customers spoken to, proposals sent, contracts out the door, etc. Then create a scorecard with a daily activity score to reflect the subactions within those categories and establish minimum daily standards.

Tell your team: The day can’t end until you take these actions, get these results, and get this score! You’ll help your team get to more things when you use this different kind of time management system.

2. Future Me

Make sure your team spends time each day helping the future version of themselves.

How many sales will that seller need to close each month/quarter? In order to consistently hit the goal they’ll need 3 kinds of sales to close on a regular basis:

  • the big sale,
  • the existing customer upsell,
  • and everyone’s favorite sale: (the ironically named) easy sale.

The third kind of sale is really easy - at the end. That’s the part where the customer contacts your company! The part before that is the hard part. That’s when the seller is doing personal marketing, combining social media, email marketing, phone prospecting, and networking.

Are your sellers managing their time to fit personal marketing into every day? To do this right they need to consider these questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What are they thinking about right now?
  • When they want to know something that’ll make their job, department, or company better, where do they go online?
  • Who do they talk with?
  • Who do they listen to?
  • What platforms, sites, blogs, or videos do they and their peers engage with?
  • How many inbound leads will future me need each week?

Before your team can personalize their personal marketing plans they need to make sure they are asking the right questions. It can take a year or more for some of those actions to percolate into inbound leads. Don’t regret not having your team start today.

3. Speed Dating

Nothing builds momentum like first appointments.

Psychologically the first appointment is a new chance to get things right, to find the right customer, to ask the right questions, and present in the best light. Arithmetically, more first appointments means more sales. Strategically, first appointments minimize the danger of getting too busy with unqualified prospects because having lots of first appointments forces the seller to get right to the qualifying questions.

So what can your team focus on to determine whether a prospect is qualified? It’s not that person’s need or budget, but rather their ability to make a buying decision soon.

Without enough appointments to sift through, your sellers will be tempted to promise everyone they meet a proposal. However, with enough appointments they’ll learn to qualify better and spend time with the right people while nurturing – rather than hounding, stalking, and wasting time with all the others.

4. Crazy Busy

Encourage your salespeople to get a CLEW by being crazy busy, without going crazy.

For me personally, this was the breakthrough. I realized that I need to get to 4 things everyday:

  • Critical things: a prioritized “to-do” list
  • Learning: things that have to be read or watched and understood
  • Exercise: physical activity to get the extra energy needed to maintain a faster pace and help problem solve
  • Writing: things that have to be written

Put it all together and it spells CLEW (pronounced CLUE), which is the report I look at every day.

Your sellers need to focus on the critical things, such as prospecting and administration. They should also continuously be learning more about the industry, what information prospects are looking for, news from your marketing team, and evaluating their own past sales efforts. Writing will help them improve their outreach and credibility in the industry. Set an example by keeping yourself accountable for these tasks as well.

When you share these 4 concepts with your salespeople you will see tangible results. If they try to adopt these principles---or they ignore them – either way, you will know right away. Make sure your entire team adopts them and puts wind in their sails (sales).

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Topics: sales tips, sales management

4 Mistakes Sales Managers Are Making

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 8, 2016 12:15:00 PM

Attention media sales managers: As you sit here in August, midst of the Olympics and months before the Presidential Election, 2017 feels far away.  But don’t let that feeling fool you. Next year will be here before you know it and if you aren’t planning for Q1 now, you may be too late.

Now is the time to ask: What will 2017 look like without the Olympics or an Election?  Am I prepared?  Are my sellers prepared?

Here are the 4 biggest misconceptions about preparing for 2017 and beyond:

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#1 Focus on passing the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification

Passing the IAB test should give a person confidence, it’s a challenging test that requires a lot of knowledge and experience.  However, no one has ever closed a sale – or even got a meeting – because they passed.  

Statistically, people who pass the test sell more digital.  But that is correlation, not causation.  

The only people who pass the test are the ones qualified to take it in the first place. 80% (or more) of every sales organization will not be qualified.  Of the qualified, only 80% will pass the test regardless of which “prep” course they take.  Why?  Because qualified people have worked on enough campaigns!

Specifically, they’ve worked on campaigns with performance issues. Over time, they have learned the many “technical problems” (pixel implementation, VAST tags, etc...) that, done wrong, can prevent a successful campaign.  They’ve learned these important principles from actively selling and working on renewal campaigns. Simply working for a company that has had a digital offering for the last few years, will NOT qualify you.

Time spent making sure your sales team passes the test in 2016 is time lost on preparing them for sales they will need in 2017.

Here’s my advice:

The best way to prepare your team is to help them focus on understanding the business and marketing goals of the advertisers and agencies in their territory.  Both local and national sellers will benefit from analyzing their advertisers and agencies. That means learning what they are doing digitally and what the digital opportunity really is before simply pitching inventory packages.

Specifically, salespeople will benefit from training that helps them close more business with the accounts they need most: Auto, Retail, Finance and all of the eCommerce and lead generation advertisers in their territory.

Digital sales training helps properly prepare your sellers to discuss digital opportunities during critical sales meetings.  The right training delivers insights from digital thought leaders and examples of successful and unsuccessful campaigns.  Otherwise, your pure-play digital competition selling auto-endemic inventory as well as specialty agencies providing paid and organic search in addition to social media are poised to take away your remaining budget from those major ad categories.

Do your sellers know enough about their own competition and their advertiser’s goals to hold onto traditional “linear” budgets and sell even bigger multi-platform budgets?  

If their strongest closing line is “a lot of people watch, listen, and read our great content – they have loved us for many years!” then your team is not ready for the IAB – or 2017.  But if your goal is to get your team to pass the IAB’s test, train them to sell more digital. Ironically, it’s preparing for those sales that eventually qualifies salespeople to take the test.

#2 Skip training because we are too busy with other initiatives

There is a common misconception about training – you may think it’s for teaching new things, but really, training is practicing.  

Sales training is about practicing so much that when a seller is under the pressure of deadlines and budgets, they get the right words to come out of their mouths during important meetings with decision makers. Sellers need training to ensure they are prepared when they are up against competitors who are also great communicators and have a compelling solution with even better targeting, reach, and inventory.

If you are not practicing those essential conversations, then you are practicing the art of winging it, which over time locks us into patterns and provides a false sense of confidence.  We forget how to learn new things and become increasingly more comfortable in doing what we’ve always done rather than what’s needed to adapt.

Here’s my advice:

Focus on training as a springboard to change.  When sellers know expectations are higher, and management supports these higher standards through training, they are open and eager to learn. Direct this eagerness and enthusiasm to topics that are critical to closing multiplatform business with new and existing clients.  Some ideas for topics that are practical and will move the needle on sales are:

  • Using research more effectively for sales preparation
  • Capturing the biggest possible deal for target accounts
  • Learning the advertiser’s goal(s)
  • Thinking like a digital marketer
  • Presenting a winning campaign strategy
  • Developing success benchmarks for more renewals and upsells

If you aren’t delivering this essential training to the troops, how can you expect them to grow? Train now for the skills needed in 2017 and beyond.

#3 Rely on internal training to meet all of our needs

The sales challenge is not to learn from the best and imitate their secrets.  It is to blaze new trails. Tomorrow’s successful salespeople will have to do new things and go beyond the surface level.

It’s a combination of things that few, if any, have ever done before like using not-yet-invented apps, research offerings, data visualization dashboards, and communication tools.   Whatever the future holds, salespeople must adapt quickly.

Even if you’ve hired the best, most knowledgeable person to train the troops the trainer quickly becomes part of the sales team, and with each passing day, the internal trainers get further insulated from outside influence.

On the other hand, an “outside or external trainers” like myself has the ability to bring in new ideas and a fresh perspective by sharing first-hand observations from across many industries around the world.   Internal trainers, by comparison, become experts on their company’s offerings and people in a way that is perfect for helping to extend the outside trainer’s message.

Here’s my advice:

Utilize your internal training to deliver ongoing reinforcement; but don’t expect them to develop and field-test the content too.  There are too many specialties, emerging subjects, and best-practices for an internal trainer to develop into workshops.  

However, a lot of outside training companies are now compiling this new information into workshops, webinars, and online training portals that internal trainers can tap into. By working closely with the right outside trainer or resource, your internal training team will help elevate your sales team to new levels.

#4 Recognizing you should have a digital strategy but thinking you have all the time in the world to develop one

No one is better at forecasting than eMarketer and even they didn’t see how fast mobile and programmatic would take off.   The perfect storm of programmatic/header bidding, video, social are all hitting our mobile devices at the same time.  There is a rising generation—across all age groups – of digitally savvy consumers who are and will continue to drive the economy.  

When does that change happen to the degree that every single advertiser has, if nothing else, a digital budget?  5 years?  2 years?  2017?  No one really knows.  But, I do know that if you wait until that year, your competitors with a better relationship advantage will prevail.

Your team needs to get there first and stay in front.  They need to be covering the marketplace and evangelizing your company’s message.  Not getting out there sends a very different message.  The media landscape is changing under our feet and doesn’t know to wait for us to get ready for it.

Here’s my advice:

Start now.  Break down the accounts in your territory to determine their true potential value – linear plus digital.  Branding plus performance.  Blended CPMs that back into benchmark success metrics.  

Find your new sweet-spot and build a business around that core. Start today by developing that plan to sell to your target list. Look at your competitor’s offerings. Proactively make something happen now before someone else proactively takes away the budget you were going after.

Today is the last day to affect the end of Q1 – make it count!

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Topics: sales tips, sales management, coaching

The Most Annoying Salesperson in the World

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Aug 4, 2016 1:15:00 PM

You know an annoying salesperson when you see one. They aren’t trying to be annoying and are most likely well-intentioned but they have forgotten the most important part of selling: Being helpful.

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Helpful salespeople take the time to understand their customer’s business. They have learned how to look at their own products and services from the customer’s point of view. They want to help the customer achieve their goals rather than push their own agenda. The helpful salesperson will make suggestions that are valuable and relevant to the prospect.

If and when you ever encounter times when it seems like you just can’t connect with the right prospects, don’t go into desperation mode because that leads to “annoying” sales behavior. Instead, focus on these three things to make sure you’re delivering an exceptional customer experience (1) Pay attention to timing, (2) Deliver the right information, and (3) Always be helping.

Timing is Everything

If we think in terms of the buyer’s journey, then it’s important to understand timing as it relates to making a decision. Now if you’re one of “those” salespeople, you’ll disregard this notion. But timing is everything.

According to Think with Google, there are 4 game-changing moments that really matter, which are: I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy.

These are the moments you need to be there for. Otherwise, your buyer will move on to someone who is delivering on these moments.

Thanks to the ongoing developments in sales technology and marketing software, it’s now easier than ever before to gather information and draw insights about your target audience.

If you’re utilizing a sales and marketing software, like HubSpot or Marketo, then you have the ability to see who, what, where, when, and how people are interacting with and engaging on your website. This information is extremely valuable when it comes to the timing of your outreach.

Let’s say someone just read, commented, and shared a recent blog post you wrote, then you could interpret this as a positive sign that that person sees value in what you’re saying. Use that blog post as your starting point for reaching out and it will help guide your conversation in a way that’s more useful to creating a relationship instead of focusing on just closing the sale.

On the other hand, if someone has just downloaded a case study, then it’s safe to say they are interested in learning more about what type of clients you work with, how your product or service is implemented, and what kind of return-on-investment you could deliver. This is a good opportunity to reach out with similar information like a client video testimonial or sample project plan to help them visualize what it would look like to work with you.

Deliver the Right Information

Everyone can relate to seeking out information when they need it. Especially when it comes to making a decision. We want to be knowledgeable and informed before we say yes or no.

As a seller and marketer, you need to deliver the right type of information at the right moment. While your buyer will go through different stages before ultimately making a decision, it’s essential to help them through each stage by creating content and messaging that matches their mindset at that moment. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the noise.

If you think about the type of information you would provide to a person who read, commented, and shared a recent blog post, there are a few things to consider before we decide what to share:

  • What was the topic of the blog post? Are there more articles on this topic to share?
  • What other actions have they taken on the website?
  • What kind of marketing campaign is set-up for this type of prospect? Are they enrolled?
  • How can I continue to deliver value?

Asking yourself these obvious, yet essential questions will help you optimize the path to purchase by creating and delivering the right content at each step of the way.  

Always Be Helping

While it may be easier to take a “one-size fits all” mentality by lumping all of your prospects together to deliver the same message, it’s not the most effective approach because each prospect is different. They have specific needs, challenges, and goals, which means you have an opportunity to personalize each and every message you send.

Sales is about helping. It’s about being curious, asking questions, understanding the other side, and providing relevant and useful information.

Effective salespeople are committed to learning as much as they can about a prospect. They want to understand the unique pain points a prospect is facing in order to tailor their message into a personalized plan that will solve the customer’s unique problem.

How do you make sure you’re always providing value to your audience?

Run your sales activities and interactions through a “helpful filter” by asking yourself:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What type of information are they looking for?
  • How can I anticipate what they will need next?
  • How can I continue to provide value?

Start gaining a competitive advantage and making a difference in the life of your prospects and customers by paying attention to the timing of your outreach, ensuring the delivery of the right information to the right person, and always doing your best to be empathetic and helpful.

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Topics: sales, selling tips, salespeople

If This, Then What? 10 Insightful Sales Filters for First Appointments

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Jul 27, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Great first appointments are essential to starting off the sales process on the right foot. They are also the foundation of building a solid pipeline.

Calendar First Appointments

Here are 10 if-then statements to help you establish a solid first appointment policy:

  1. If you are closing sales every month and want to avoid a slow month, then remember: scheduling a first appointment is the only way to replace a sale and a lost opportunity.

  2. If you want to increase your deal flow per month, then remember: first appointments shorten the time between sales.

  3. If you don’t want a gap between closing one sale and closing the next, then begin replacing opportunities 4 to 8 weeks before you lose them.

  4. If you need to decide how safe or strong to play a meeting, then look to your calendar for courage. First appointments are like trains in the distance delivering promise; collectively, they give salespeople their position of strength.

  5. If your calendar has a lot of first appointments, then believe in the system and take the time to qualify each appointment so you only continue having appointments with the opportunities which are most likely to close.

  6. If you need to get more prospects in your pipeline, then focus on the little wins. This can include scheduling meetings to maximize fact-finding and relationship building because you need to learn about your prospect, their business, their team, and their goals.

  7. If you want to increase your average deal size, then complete the “Biggest Possible Deal” exercise before every first appointment in order to properly evaluate the potential opportunity and identify the right starting point to collect the largest portion of budget.

  8. If you conclude a first appointment with a promise to send a proposal, then you are attempting to actively shorten the sales cycle. But, be careful…

  9. If you shorten the sales cycle too much by abbreviating the time between first conversation and proposal, then your proposal may reach them too soon -- before they are ready to make a decision.

  10. If you want to uncover what the prospect is really thinking, then don’t assume they only know what you tell them. What have they learned on their own? What is their history with similar products and services? Be sure to ask the right questions.

Familiarize yourself with these typical if-then cases for first appointments. With these in your arsenal, you’ll be prepared with crucial insights.

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Topics: sales tips, First Appointment

The Absolute Worst Thing You Could Do During a Sales Meeting

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jul 13, 2016 8:50:00 AM

Selling is all about communication -- whether it’s talking on the phone with a prospect or client, writing an email to your coworker, creating a sales presentation, or conducting an important meeting with your boss.

Plain and simple, if you’re a salesperson then you’re doing a lot of communicating in a variety of ways using different platforms and devices.

We’ve all come to know and love these forms of technology for the convenience and efficiency when connecting with others, however, what isn’t so apparent is how this device dependency could be sabotaging your sales results. Remember, salespeople do not merely present a message - they are the message.

Bored mistake

The absolute worst thing you could do during a sales meeting is to appear distracted, uninterested, or disengaged.

Why? Well, that should be obvious. If you’re not paying attention, then why should your prospect or client be interested in the conversation? Going through the motions of a meeting without concentrating or being in the moment results in missing a huge opportunity to pick up on subtle cues or buying signals. When it comes to selling, often what’s more important during a meeting is hearing what isn’t said.

The ability to read the emotions and nonverbal cues of another person increases understanding and elevates relationships. As a sales professional, this is especially important because your job is all about communicating, listening, and leveraging information.

Here are four nonverbal cues to pay attention to during your next meeting:

  1. Facial Expressions
  2. Tone of Voice
  3. Hand Gestures
  4. Body Movements

Facial Expressions

Often, people are unaware of how their facial expressions provide a window to their thoughts. For instance, if the reaction from a comment you’ve just made is a smile and a nod, then there is a good chance the other person is in agreement.

On the other hand, if you’re greeted with a solemn or disdainful look then there is a high chance that something you said isn’t consistent with their goals or ideas.

In addition, facial expressions help gauge interest and curiosity. If someone makes eye contact and raises their eyebrows, this may be a cue for you to continuing telling them more about that particular topic.

Tone of Voice

Considering what you say is important, but how you say it is equally important. Similar to reading facial expressions, listening to tone of voice will provide essential insights into how the person really feels about the topic at hand.

If you or the person you’re speaking to is monotone and speaking with a flat voice, then this communicates possible boredom. Also, speaking softly or slowly can come off as being uncertain, but speaking in a loud, fast-paced manner could negatively influence communication because you might be coming off as impatient or unwilling to listen to the input of others. When you’re in a meeting, you want to present a balanced tone of voice that comes across as professional and confident in what you're saying, as well as, the solution you’re presenting.

Hand Gestures

Hand gestures are a funny thing. You can either do too much or too little. Finding the right balance is the tricky part.

When you’re in a sales meeting, hand gestures should be used purposefully and with confidence. They are meant to emphasize verbal points and highlight key words or ideas. If your gestures and movements contradict your words or are inconsistent with your message, listeners will doubt the sincerity of your words and your pitch.

For instance, checking your phone, tapping your nails on the desk, or cracking your knuckles can be annoying and distracting to listeners. These fidgeting movements are signals to your audience that you are nervous, lacking polish, or outright unprofessional.

Being aware of these seemingly small signals from both a presenter and listener point-of-view aids in your ability to read body language and respond accordingly.

Body Movements

Imagine this: you just walked into a sales meeting and the potential client you’re meeting with greets you by saying hello, standing up from their chair, smiling, and then reaching out to shake your hand. What impression do you get?

Now picture the same scenario only like this: the potential client you’re meeting with greets you with a glance and a nod, crosses their arms, leans back and away, and just stays in their chair. Did you get a different impression from the first scenario?  

Most salespeople would prefer to meet with the person in the first scenario. They don’t call it the “cold shoulder” for nothing.

Take notice of your own body movements as well as those around you. Movements like standing or sitting up straight, hunching your shoulders, moving your legs, positioning your torso, and observing how leaning in or leaning out is reinforcing an interest or lack thereof.

All salespeople understand the value of good communication skills, but the most successful realize there are two conversations going on, and they stay equally alert to what isn’t being said.  The more you understand these types of interactions, the better you will be able to demonstrate confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism.

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Topics: sales tips, sales advice, sales meeting

4 Guiding Sales Principles for Managing Your Pipeline

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Jun 29, 2016 8:35:00 AM

Managing your sales pipeline can be a daunting task. Whole CRMs have been built around the need for the sales process to be tracked and managed. How can you make handling your prospects and pipeline easier?

Guiding Lighthouse

Follow these 4 guiding principles of pipeline management to help you get started:

1. Visualize

Envision the most realistic, yet best-case version of an ideal pipeline which is based on your own sales ratios and experience. This will help you create a picture of the sales pipeline you need.

Remember to aim for perfection, but keep it realistic to yourself and your industry.

While some sales have extremely short sales cycles, your particular business might have a significantly longer one. Be aware of this when creating your model.

Also, take into account your specific ratios.

If it usually takes you 10 first appointments to close a deal, don’t expect that you’ll be able to cut that number down to 5. Recognize any tendencies you have in terms of perhaps sending proposals too early in the process and be sure to address them in your pipeline standard.

2. Compare

When you look at your current sales pipeline, what do you see?

Can you identify your weakest spots? Is any stage currently empty? Do you have too few first appointments or maybe too many proposals still pending over the average sales cycle length?

Compare your actual pipeline to your ideal version every week. You’ll be able to identify any discrepancies between the two as well as define key areas of strength and weakness to better understand your sales cycle and process.

Be meticulous in your comparison. It could mean the difference between missing and exceeding your goals.

3. Be Tough

The tougher your inspection process, the more likely you will be able to shed the weak opportunities and build a safe and likely path to your goal. Be your own hardest manager and best coach.

Remember: Gently inspecting non-specific goals is like building a paper boat -- no matter how strong it looks, it will fall apart before it takes you where you want to go.

So be sure you have a realistic amount of first appointments in order to ensure an accurate amount of forecasted closes. Stop yourself from sending proposals too soon in the process. Realize the cut off age for when a deal is actually dead. Be meticulous in qualifying to confirm that prospects should even be deemed as an opportunity.

It’s easy to try and be optimistic, but learn to be hard on yourself. The more fastidious you are, the higher your chances of success will be in the long-term.

4. Listen

Learn how to use your pipeline as your decisive sales coach. It might be telling you that you need to change your skills, your leads, your qualifying questions, etc.

Your pipeline is trying to tell you a lot so be sure you learn how to listen. Don’t ignore the lessons it will inevitably teach you.

Maybe you’ll find yourself going back to your model pipeline and making adjustments from time to time. This is completely normal and should be happening as you evolve.

Involve your manager in helping you assess your pipeline objectively. As difficult as it may be, try to remove yourself emotionally and become analytical as you observe what’s actually happening in your sales process. Often sellers believe every opportunity is the “exception” when unfortunately all too often, it’s the rule.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up and try new approaches in your selling journey -- you’ll be able to more clearly identify what works and what doesn’t when you’re willing to experiment.

Use these guiding principles and this particular pipeline management technique to grow, learn, and continuously improve upon your sales process.

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Topics: sales tips, prospect management, sales advice

3 Tips on Selling the Power of Digital Video

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jun 23, 2016 4:00:00 PM

The digital marketing and advertising ecosystem continues to expand at a rapid pace. It seems as though every day a new media company or marketing technology provider is popping up out of nowhere with bigger and better offerings including a growing list of targeting, testing, and tracking capabilities.

Here are 3 tips on how to sell digital video more effectively:

video_tablet.jpg

Education

First and foremost, it’s your job as a salesperson to be knowledgeable so you can educate your buyers. You must help them understand and visualize how digital video will not only support but will enhance their current marketing strategy.

Many advertisers may be hesitant if they haven’t utilized digital video before and really don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities, performance benefits, or challenges.

For instance, with an increasingly mobile-first consumer, cross-platform measurement is a challenge as well as viewability, fraud, and ad blocking. It’s up to every seller to stay current and up-to-date on these issues in order to properly educate prospects and clients. You should be prepared to explain your company’s protocols and policies when it comes to video advertising fraud. Does your company offer refunds or credits if your reporting indicates fraudulent ad views?

Taking the time to really learn and know the answers to questions like this will enable you to change your sales conversations and strengthen your relationship with buyers by educating rather than selling.

Attribution

When it comes to visibility into attribution and reporting of digital video ads, the learning process can feel intimidating. Although we’ve been talking about attribution for years, 2016 has been labeled the year of attribution. So, let’s take a second to review: what is attribution?

Attribution is the process by which marketers quantify the contribution of various media in an ad campaign to the desired impact. Basically, it’s who gets credit for the sale or conversion.

There are many forms of attribution. Whether it’s measuring advertising served via a specific ad format or platform like desktop, mobile, TV, radio, print, outdoor, etc...it’s time to acknowledge the attribution maze is getting increasingly more complex due to the fragmentation of media consumption. For instance, mobile is changing the game by simply being another device in the mix as well as the introduction of mobile location data, not to mention the rise of automated ad buying and selling.

A recent study by Accenture Strategy focused on understanding the impact of video advertising given its increasingly prominent role in advertising budgets. The study reviewed cross-channel advertising attribution for two key categories: multiplatform TV (television-type programming consumed in various ways) and digital (search, display, and short-form video).

A key insight from Accenture’s research verifies what the industry has been talking about for a while but hasn’t fully implemented. Multiplatform TV advertising has a significant halo effect on digital advertising (search, display, and short-form video) within integrated campaigns. On average, 18% of the return on investment that’s typically attributed to these three channels actually should be credited to Multiplatform TV.

In your next sales meeting, encourage your buyer to consider the halo effects across all advertising channels—rather than siloed, channel-specific ROI—and then help them balance their media planning and budgeting accordingly.

Holistic Approach

It’s easy to fall into the trap of recommending the same old campaign strategy with the same old media mix. It’s convenient because you’ve used the strategy in the past and you’re comfortable suggesting it because you already know how to position and sell it. But will that be the most effective strategy for your customer? Probably not.

One size doesn’t fit all. Take a step back to truly understand what your prospect or client is trying to accomplish with their overall marketing strategy, then ask yourself: What advertising solutions would help this client achieve their ultimate marketing goal(s)?

While it’s important to know how to specifically position the most popular trends like buying ads programmatically or digital video advertising as a part of your client’s advertising approach, it’s even more important to consider the bigger picture by taking a holistic approach.

For instance, maybe you have a client who only invests in advertising on one platform but they are finally realizing they need to expand their reach to users across devices and channels. What do you do?

Start by asking our three favorite questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • How will you measure success?

Getting the answers to these simple, yet insightful questions will lead you to right combination of advertising formats and platforms.

Conclusion

What it comes down to is investing more time into your own knowledge and ongoing education. Making an effort to do this will not only help increase your confidence but will allow you to provide more thoughtful and effective guidance to your customers, which ultimately makes you a more successful salesperson. It’s a win-win!

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Topics: sales tips, digital sales, digital video