Let's Chat | Call us: 212-502-3066

4 Ways to Create Urgency in the Sales Cycle

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Nov 11, 2016 7:38:24 AM

As a professional salesperson, a common challenge is creating a sense of urgency with your prospects and customers.

Creating a sense of urgency without appearing aggressive or pushy is a learned skill based on conducting good discovery, understanding the needs of the prospect, and asking the right questions of the right people in the sales process.

Basically, it comes down to “training” our prospects to understand that if we plan to work together, then we must have a shared sense of accountability.

Some salespeople might resist the notion of creating urgency by saying it’s too difficult to “train” a prospect to think this way, but the truth is, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re selling. In order to create a mutually beneficial business relationship, you must set expectations at the beginning of the relationship.

We’ve identified 4 simple ways you can start building urgency and accountability into every interaction with a prospect or customer.

Creating urgency in the sales cycle

Guide Your Prospects

Your prospects can’t benefit from your product without acknowledging that they need it — so get them to see the big picture with open-ended questions that demonstrate where their needs are and how you can help solve them.

The challenge for a lot of people is putting a name to what they need. They know their challenges and objections, but they are not at the point where they are able to identify how they should go about solving their issues.

That’s where you, the sales rep, comes in. When you can help your target prospect recognize their needs, you will create urgency and increase the likelihood that they’ll take action.

And remember, your actions will affect how your prospect takes action. So make sure you “train” them to understand that time is crucial in the sales process, and if you see a sale lingering, then you must win some commitment for action like a scheduled next step meeting. Or, if you’re unable to get something set on their calendars, then you must decide whether the sale is really worth it, and if it’s not then you need to determine if it’s time to move on to a more qualified or ready opportunity.


Understand the Decision Making Process

Stop asking “Are you in charge of this decision?” Instead, go below the surface level of the conversation and try to ask questions that will lead you to understanding exactly how the decision making process works when considering an investment in your product or service. It’s also important to understand who is involved in the decision making process and what criteria they are specifically looking to fill.

If you can understand how they’ve made a decision about a similar product or service in the past, then odds are that the decision about your product or service will be made in essentially the same way.

So, if you learn that past decisions have always been made by a committee, then try to find a way to make your presentation directly to that committee so you can ensure you deliver the same information to the entire group. And if you find out the individual you're talking to has no idea how the decision was made last time, you are talking to the wrong person and should find a more appropriate person to guide you.


Listen More, Sell Less

Establishing trust and rapport with a new prospect or client takes time. It requires proactive communication, delivering valuable information, and most importantly, active listening.

Selling effectively means listening more than you speak.

The less you pitch your product or service, the more you’ll command the attention of your prospects by leading a two-way conversation. Of course, you will ultimately be trying to demonstrate your value, but the key to a successful conversation is simply lending an ear. Making the conversation primarily about them, as opposed to what you’re selling, will keep your prospect engaged — and you may be surprised at the urgency you can create by allowing your prospect to come to their own conclusions, as opposed to overwhelming them with sales speak.


Communicate Value

When you communicate value, you’re offering beneficial information that informs your prospects’ decisions and helps them in their daily role. Providing a piece of actionable information will be welcomed and helps you maintain communication while building rapport in the process.

Approaching your communication in this way will help you gradually build urgency for those prospects and customers not quite ready to make a decision yet. You worked hard to plant the seed with your prospect, now make sure it grows. Providing value with persistence is what leads to sales wins.

Do this by consistently keeping your prospects engaged with thoughtful and personalized notes, updates, relevant articles, case studies, eBooks and referrals. It only takes a few minutes of your time, and becoming a valuable resource while staying on their radar will keep your offerings a point of focus.

Try incorporating these simple steps into your everyday sales process, and you will not only create a stronger sense of urgency among your prospects, but help build the right expectations and level or reassurance that will ultimately make the buying journey a success for everyone involved.

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: sales, key sales questions, communication, sales cycle

Why Existing Customers are the Key to Increased Sales

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Nov 2, 2016 2:02:02 PM

Anyone who works in sales can appreciate how difficult it is to secure a new client.

If you think of acquiring a new customer in terms of the effort it takes to build new relationships with new people, prove your capabilities, establish credibility for yourself and your company as well as negotiate new agreements, then you can understand why your existing customers are your biggest assets.

When working with existing customers, the barriers of developing new relationships and proving the ROI of your product or service won’t necessarily apply since you’ve already established trust and have a direct connection with the client.

Prospecting within your current customer base offers many advantages and you can start maximizing your relationships with these 4 tips:Building relationships within exisiting accounts

Mapping the Account

There are usually very strong synergies between the needs of different departments and/or divisions within the same company. However, accessing them does not always come easily.

You have to research the structure of the organization and ask yourself: Is it silo’ed? De-centralized? Centralized? Run autocratically?

How do you figure this out? Well, this calls for a little investigative work. Consider using your current contacts within the company as well as getting help from other outside vendors and allies to piece together a map of the company’s structure.

You may have an organizational chart, which will give you a good starting point, but a company’s structure more often than not resembles a maze. You must figure out how everything is linked together so that you can eventually leverage the success you’ve had in one department or division and apply it to other parts of the organization.

Try this: Start mapping the structure of your major accounts. You can get started by creating a simple spreadsheet with column headers such as: Name of the department/division you’re targeting, how you know if they have budget authority, and how the department/division is connected to the part of the company where you currently have credibility and presence. Your goal is to learn as much as you can about the decision making process and what players are involved. This way, you can more easily penetrate the other divisions. 

Visualize the Sale

When you have a presence within an account, you are no longer starting from scratch. You can leverage your contacts and your company’s history to generate and accelerate new sales.

Now that you have mapped the account and have a better understanding of the structure, you can be more effective in scoping out sales possibilities by using your contacts and insights to look at each department/division in order to interact with key players to determine (1) if a sale is on the horizon, (2) if it matches your capabilities and strengths, and (3) how you would approach the sale if doing so differently from your previous sale(s) makes sense.

So, look for opportunities, but be ready to adjust your sales strategy based on a firm analysis of what would make the best selling proposition to the new contact.

Try this: Based on your experience within the account, visualize what solutions could apply to the other parts of the organization. For each different department or division, note what you think you might sell, how it aligns with the customer’s needs/situation, and any competitive threat. Once you’ve identified these things, consider how you would uniquely position yourself against the competition.

Go To the Top

When making an initial sale, you usually try to find the most logical person to whom your value proposition makes the most sense and to whom you have the easiest access.

However, once you are within an account, the conditions change.

Rather than starting all over again, calling at a lower level, you now go to the highest level of customer contact who would benefit most from your value proposition and who is in a position to approve your sale and accelerate the sales cycle.

When you do this, you capitalize on your past success and leverage it to gain better traction. The more adept you become at this, the greater your ability will be to sell within the account. But, the starting point is identifying these “top players” and determining their roles in a sale.

Try this: Review everything you know about the account. Then, note who the person at the top would be for your sale, their role in decision-making, and who you can work with (an existing contact) to gain access to the top player.

What will the Sale Be Worth?

Once you go through all the analytical and planning techniques covered above, you should be in a position to make an informed decision about which sale to pursue and with whom. When doing this, follow four criteria: (1)The highest revenue, (2) the greatest profit, (3) the lowest cost of sale (including resource, financial outlays, effort and time), (4) and the sale that best strengthens your overall position in the account.

Try this: Review your potential sales and select the one that best meets the four criteria above.


Selling doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. You can increase revenue and sales momentum by staying focused on cultivating current accounts and relationships. Don’t make selling any harder than it has to be, just remember to utilize the assets right in front of you by mapping each of your accounts, visualizing the next sale to the next department/division, identifing the top players and proper decision makers, and finally, consider what the sale is worth in terms of relationship currency, resources, time, and profit.
The Manager's Guide to Increasing Sales through Existing Customers

Read More

Topics: sales prospecting, sales manager, account manager, Penetrating existing customers

Rouse Your Silent Prospects: How to Craft Emails and Voicemails that Get Responses

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Oct 20, 2016 8:05:00 AM

Getting a prospect on the phone or receiving a reply to an email is a common challenge among salespeople. However, it doesn’t have to be.

There is a golden rule for getting a response from a silent prospect: if you want a response, ask a question the prospect can answer.

While this concept may seem elementary, there is an art to crafting emails and voicemails that will elicit a response from a qualified prospect.


Getting a Response to an Initial Call

If you are trying to set up an initial meeting with the prospect you are calling on, call and email the person. The effect of combining approaches will make your message bit more memorable, and easy to respond to based on individual preference. Some people may prefer email over voicemail and vise versa.

The key is to use the same wording for both messages and send them at the same time. Both the voicemail and email should include your name, phone number, company name, reason you are calling, and your phone number again.

The reason statement should be the shortest possible abbreviation of your lead source.

For example, if you received a referral from Roger Smith, your reason statement should be something like “regarding Roger Smith.” If you acquired the lead from a trade show, the reason statement would be “regarding the trade show.” If you met someone through a networking event, perhaps your reason would be “regarding our meeting last week.”

Shortening the message to a single word seems to work best, according to feedback from participants in my training classes who have tracked their conversion rates.

Another example would be if you are selling your product or service to insurance companies, you might leave a message for Insurance Company A that say “regarding Insurance Company B.” When they call back, and they will, you finish your thought by saying “we’ve done a lot of work with insurance companies like Company B and I thought we should get together to discuss.”

Avoid using emails as an opportunity to type your entire sales pitch or provide your manifesto to strangers. Instead, emails should read like reminder notes you leave for your spouse or roommate. So, the business version of “please don’t forget to pick up milk” might be something like “just confirming our appointment for Tuesday at 2pm.” You may even considering leaving out their name and all niceties such as “hope all is well.”

Just get to the point. Your busy, mobile-reading recipient will appreciate this more since they already have another 99+ emails waiting for them.

Asking Questions Prospects Can Answer

To avoid the brick-wall treatment, there are several steps you can take before you pick up the phone or start writing an email. The first is deciding if the prospect is qualified. If they are able and ready to by now and interested in you and your business solution, then they are qualified.

How do you know how interested they are? Before each meeting ends, see if they will schedule another meeting. If they don’t schedule another conversation within the next three weeks, they are not qualified.

They may be somewhat interested, but interested people don’t buy; people who are looking to address a need and are fascinated and reassured with how your solution can solve their problem are the ones who buy. And that kind of person will want to speak to you again soon if they are seriously considering buying in the near future.

By asking for and scheduling a mutually agreed upon next step appointment, you will eliminate the need to leave a message and you reduce the possibility of being stuck waiting for a call back.

If you have scheduled a follow-up meeting, but you’re still getting the silent treatment, then another factor may be at work that’s out of your control. The prospect may not be ready to buy. Or maybe their review process is taking longer than they expected and now they’re embarrassed it has taken so long to get back to you.

For example, there’s a good chance they had to check with five other people to get a better handle on their budget, resources, and priorities before they can move forward with the sale. It’s also possible they couldn’t reach their internal stakeholders as soon as they anticipated.

What’s that mean? It means you’re not being helpful by leaving a message that basically says: “Hey, just following up. I was wondering if you’ve finished thinking about my solution and if you’ve decided to buy yet?”

Chances are your contact won’t find that particularly useful. Instead, try asking a question that is easy to answer and take a more assumptive approach. Assume your prospect will buy and ask about the step after the next step.

For instance, after you deliver a proposal, wait a week and call to ask about the timing of delivery or implementation. You might say something like: “When would you anticipate launching the product or service?” They have not yet committed to the sale, but they can answer your question. And then when you speak with them next, their answer will help you determine where they are in the buying process. They may even outright tell you where they think they are in the process.

Key Takeaways

  • Short trumps long, for both emails and voicemails.
  • Make it easy to respond. Emails are easier to respond to.
  • Regardless of using voicemail or email, try to pique someone’s interest and curiosity by introducing something new and valuable to encourage a response.
  • Don’t paint prospects into a corner; if they are not ready to buy, don’t expect them to announce a decision just because you called today.
  • Always avoid the pointless, “just following up on the proposal I sent” messages. Instead, focus on simple, easy call-to-actions.
  • Be careful not to overstep boundaries. Asking a prospect you barely know to introduce you to their trusted associate or boss may be too big of a deal. If they don’t answer your request, back up a bit and ask something much smaller and easier for them to take action on.
  • The more they see you as a valuable resource and ally, the more likely they will respond to your emails and voicemails. Understand who you are talking to and what they are interested in so that you can position yourself and your messages accordingly.

So, the next time you’re having trouble getting in touch with a prospect, remember one of the golden rules for getting a response: ask a question the prospect can easily answer and/or share something useful that would provide value.

4 Steps for Improving Your Time Management and Sales Skills - Free eBook

Read More

Topics: silent prospects, sales questions, sales voicemails, sales emails

4 Sales Strategies to Help Managers Help their Sellers

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Oct 13, 2016 4:51:48 PM

Being a sales manager requires managing a lot of moving parts. When you manage, your role is to strategize, support, and sell the vision to your team. Every now and then, you need to take a step back and reassess where your sellers are focusing their time and effort.

Here are 4 best practice sales strategies for managers looking for ideas and strategies to implement with your team.



BEST PRACTICE:  One of the most effective ways to ensure that you are using your questioning skills to uncover complete stories is to keep in mind the total context of a story – beginning, middle, and end. When asking questions, don’t just focus on the here and now. Look into the past, into the beginning, and trace how the story developed from the initial point of contact through today and, potentially, where it might go tomorrow. This will give you a firmer grasp on the logic and history of a customer’s decision. As a manager, it is important to encourage your sellers to question the entire context of a story.

TRY THIS: Think of several accounts that you think have not been explored as effectively as possible by your sellers. Note what questions you wish they had asked.


BEST PRACTICESellers’ bad habits are the bane of the manager’s life. The reason those habits form is that sellers always find themselves in the same situations. So, they develop ways to deal with these situations and, over time, start applying these techniques to all situations, regardless of the specifics of each one. This means they stop thinking creatively and stop challenging themselves to do “something different” and become satisfied with the routine reaction so they can move on to the next sale. As a manager, your task is to look at the patterns of each seller and find ways to challenge them to think and act differently.

TRY THIS: Review your sellers and identify those who are in a pattern of passively waiting for a decision and who do nothing to accelerate the close. For each, note the questions you would have them ask to more actively get decisions.

You Make the Call

BEST PRACTICE:  Active involvement in accounts is a critical activity for the manager for several reasons:

  • It enables you (and the company) to “own” the account.
  • It establishes a pipeline for the customer to get back to you to discuss issues and concerns that the customer does not want to discuss with the seller.
  • It helps you monitor and assess likelihood of closure.

TRY THIS: Think of critical accounts where you think you should be more involved in the sales/relationship-building efforts. For each, note ways that you think would work when you make a relationship/thank you call post sale. Then, think of other accounts where you think the seller would benefit by your involvement. For these, note what topic you would introduce on a call you place with the seller’s agreement.

Age Bias

BEST PRACTICE:  An effective manager will periodically review all unclosed accounts in the sellers’ pipeline and determine which ones have been unclosed for the longest time. The effective manager will periodically update the metrics on what constitutes the normal length of time to gain closure on specific types of sales and will use these metrics to measure which sales are trending towards too much time. Using these metrics and activities, the manager can make critical decisions on either coaching the seller to improve closing performance or to move away from particular sales and move on to something more promising.

TRY THIS: Review the accounts in your pipeline against historical accounts that have closed. Determine the normal length of time it takes to close a sale. Then, apply this metric against all existing unclosed sales and see which accounts are trending too long.

Sales Training Consultation from DMTraining

Read More

Topics: sales strategies, sales manager, prospect management, pipeline management, steve bookbinder

3 Types of Sellers Who Need Coaching

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Oct 5, 2016 11:46:29 AM

Coaching salespeople, like most things in life, does not favor a one-size-fits-all approach. 

In theory, all salespeople are motivated by money. But when it comes to motivating and coaching sales reps into action, it’s slightly more complicated.

If you’re a manager, then you’re already well aware that each seller on your team has their own unique personality and quirks, which can be challenging when it comes to managing and coaching these individuals.

Your goal as a manager is to build purposeful relationships that matter to your team so you better understand who they are, what drives them, and then find creative ways to help everyone feel personally motivated to succeed.

But, how do we properly coach to the most challenging types of salespeople?  

We’ve uncovered three of the most common types of sellers who may resist coaching, but who need it the most: The Defensive seller, the Yes-You-to-Death seller, and the Poisonous seller.


Type #1: Defensive

You may already know the type.

You bring them into your office to talk about their prospecting, specifically their lack of consistent prospecting. And they immediately fire back with: “I don’t agree, just yesterday I called 20 people.”

To which you add “yes, but last month….” They cut you off with “last month I was busy closing that big sale –which would you rather I did, close or prospect?” 

My bald head is actually the result of yanking out all of my hair while having these kinds of conversations.

To solve this challenge, you first need to understand how this kind of person thinks.  They are convinced they are always right and feel under attack if anyone questions their decisions.

In this situation, the coach needs to move to the same side of the table as the seller, both figuratively and literally.  Direct the seller’s attention to the facts, ideally on a screen or piece of paper. Point out the data that led you to the conclusion that the seller’s problem is they are not prospecting enough.  

For instance, a manager once asked me to coach an extreme case of the defensive salesperson. This rep was consistently missing their goal and wasn’t open to getting advice. The manager and I walked into their office where the seller was waiting for the meeting to begin.  Their body language strongly suggested they were closed off and ready to attack.  Instead of sitting in the manager’s seat across the desk from this seller, I sat alongside the seller. Together, we looked at their pipeline. I asked them “If you were the manager and I was the seller and this was my pipeline what would you tell me?”  Even though they were trying to be defensive they couldn’t resist their overriding urge to be right – in this case, right about how clever they are at correctly diagnosing a pipeline that hardly had any prospects.  They told me “I would tell you to prospect more.” Bingo!

If you don’t start from the right point, there is no reason in having a coaching conversation. In the example above, I was able to reframe the situation because I knew what type of person I was dealing with and it allowed me to select a starting point that would ultimately lead to a more productive conversation.

Type #2: Yes-You-To-Death

While these people aren’t as infuriating as the Defensive type of salesperson, they are frequently underperforming. They always appear to be on the verge of success, but can never seem to win despite their willingness to do everything that is asked of them. That’s the curse. 

These types of people can be great to have around because they are so willing to help, but it becomes a hindrance when they don’t have a good handle on their capacity. Saying “yes” too quickly can lead to confusion about expectations and results.

While it’s important to keep the positive spirit alive, you must pay close attention to everything they do in order to make sure they fully understand what’s being asked of them.

For instance, I once had a “yes-you-to-death” seller who agreed to use a specific negotiation strategy. While at the moment it appeared they understood exactly what to do, it became clear they didn’t really know when I made them role play it out with another co-worker, while I observed. As I had expected, they either never really heard what I said or misunderstood, but judging from their role play we were not on the same page.

Similarly, if I ask a seller to send an email to an important account, especially an email that requires nuance and subtlety, I always ask to see their draft before sending.

As these examples show, you can overcome the challenge of coaching these types of “yes-you-to-death” sellers by positioning your coaching in a supportive way that emphasizes practice and repetition before “going live” to ensure the seller truly understands, and if they don’t, you’ve created a safe environment where they can ask questions to clarify the goal and expectations.

Type #3: Poisonous

These people have the ability to spread negativity throughout an organization like wildfire. They carry their pessimistic attitude wherever they go.

And in the worst cases, these people will even go as far as combining their negative attitude with the “know-it-all” syndrome. 

As you may already know, or can imagine, coaching this type of person is next to impossible. While you may have hired them for good reasons, the damage they are doing to the morale of the team is extremely detrimental.

While in some cases you may need to sever ties with this person, there are other cases where all hope might not be lost. There is a two-part strategy needed here. 

Part 1: Acknowledge the Obvious

Yes, that’s right, you have permission to directly address the “elephant in the room.” This is an obvious move, but not an easy one.

When we bring up the “elephant in the room” it usually revolves around addressing difficult people with hard-to-solve problems. It’s socially painful and can be a little stressful for people who aren’t comfortable with confrontation.

So, what usually happens is that everyone plays nice while never really identifying, discussing, or solving the issues at hand. Now the poisonous person, who knows meetings typically unfold this way, remains safe as no one ever confronts them. 

Stop giving them a pass. It’s time to ‘Acknowledging the Obvious’ by saying something like “…are you aware that every time I ask you to make a change you react in a way that makes it impossible for us to discuss the issue openly and honestly?”

Framing the issue in this way will allow you to start the conversation and bring the issue out into the open so that it can be discussed. However, don’t be surprised if the other person goes on the defensive. It’s a normal response when someone confronts an issue head on, because sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.  

Part 2: Remove the Poison

This is the part where we separate the poison from the other members of the team. 

The most obvious way of getting rid of this person is to fire them. But let’s say that’s not an option and we need to get creative. Here are two examples from my own experience:

At one point in my life I was managing a team of salespeople who were unionized and the poison person I wanted to get rid of was the shop-steward. Once I was determined to get this person off my team they dug in their heels and threatened to use the power of the union to stay put.  Rather than directly fight union, I found this woman a better job—one where should could excel.

In another instance, a manager told me he had a poisonous salesperson that was related to the owner of the company. Due to the circumstances, the manager felt he couldn’t fire the person. How did he deal with it? He “promoted” this person to what he called Group 2. The salesperson was stunned. They asked what this meant and if they were really fired. The manager assured them, “you aren’t fired, but you’ve been promoted to Group 2, which means you don’t have to attend meetings or training and no more paperwork. All that’s required of you is to try to sell, and if you close a deal, then you get commission.”  

This manager’s approach to preventing these negative, poisonous people from infiltrating the rest of the team was to keep them separated. While this may not work in your situation, the point is to consider your options before letting that person go.

Managers should strive towards having healthy, open relationships with every member of the team. In some cases it will be more challenging, while in other situations it will be effortless. Take the time to support your sellers, even the difficult ones, by remembering to reframe the situation and pick the right starting point, remain helpful while reinforcing your expectations of each seller, and finally, be patient and get resourceful when necessary.  

Need coaching? We can help!

Read More

Topics: sales, sales manager, coaching, sales coaching

Get a CLEW: The Daily Activity Dashboard You Need to Organize Yourself for Success

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 30, 2016 3:15:00 PM

No disrespect intended, but based on my personal observations, few salespeople are organized, and even the organized ones are seldom organized around the task of being successful.  This level of organization not only keeps you pointed in the right direction but has an empowering effect that will give you the confidence you need to tackle and overcome the challenges in your competitive marketplace.  

Let me be clear: in today’s world, there are tons of tools that will help sellers get organized from a “file stuff perspective” – from CRMs, Marketing databases, SFAs (Sales Force Automation tools), Dropbox, OneDrive (and other cloud-hosted solutions) to Post-it notes.  So, the problem of filing is solved but the real challenge is finding what you’ve filed.

Consider a busy salesperson who is always on the move using many different devices and typically only has a minute to find what they are looking for.

You’ll need to consider how you will file these documents so that it’s easier to locate when you’re in crunch time. That will save you tons of time and reduce stress levels. But, to be successful in sales, we need another layer of being organized. And that’s when you are organized around the task of being successful. But how?  

Here is my 4-part daily system to get on track, stay on track, and position yourself for long term sales success.


Create a Daily Dashboard

The name I use for my own Daily Dashboard is “GET A CLEW” (pronounced CLUE), which is really an inside joke to myself about giving myself a clue everyday as to what I need to prioritize in order to achieve my goals.

CLEW stands for Critical, Learning, Exercise, and Writing; and the “GET A” is an acronym that stands for Goals, Expectations, Timetable and Accountable – I will explain the significance of this below.  

OK, maybe you’re thinking: “Wait! If I’m not organized already, how will adding a new dashboard going to help me? That will just add yet another distraction and dashboard to maintain.” I used to think the same thing until I realized the consequences of skipping this step. Let me explain.

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution only to completely forget it by mid-January? Have you ever felt like you’ve been making the same resolution year after year? I call that swimming in circles.

The main reason you didn’t accomplish your goals is because you took your eyes off them.  You forgot to focus on them, you forgot to apply the big picture goals of your life to your daily activity choices. Instead, you reverted to old habits and patterns, which as we learn every year, brings us back to our original starting point.  

My CLEW report helps remind me of my business, family, and personal goals every morning before I start my day.

I begin each day by opening my CLEW report and re-reading my goals, which are broken down into short term and long term goals for business, family, and personal. This also gives me an opportunity to assess and refine when needed. The more specific your goals are, the more likely you will accomplish them.

Each morning, I’m able to re-commit to my own Goals by reviewing Expectations of myself, my Timetable (for example: deadlines, benchmarks, and time management choices such as ending the day with one more call or email to a prospect you’re working on), and finally, my report is a daily reminder of how I need to remain Accountable for my own success and happiness.

Get into the habit of looking at this dashboard every day, even if you’re just starting with the “GET A” part first, it will point you in the right direction and set your day up for success.

Now, let’s dive in to see how we can fully “GET A CLEW.”

C = Critical

Once you’ve completed the “GET A” part to starting your day, it’s time to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the first big task of each day:  aligning goals with daily activity.  

Making a “to-do” list sounds fine but by definition is merely a list, and is typically not prioritized or scored by importance. This results in unimportant tasks mixing in with activities that are crucial for achieving your goals. That’s why I look at my Critical list of items to get done, which are arranged 1 through 10 for both my personal and professional tasks. 

Every morning I cross off items done yesterday and re-prioritize the remaining items on my 1-10 scale. What a great feeling it is to re-examine my tasks every day to double check that I’m not missing anything and I’m working on the most important tasks to push me closer to my goals.

From a psychological point of view, it’s the little things that provide the greatest sense of satisfaction and empowerment: crossing items off and then adding new items to the list.

Remember that despite your level of organization, in sales there will always be more to do than time to do it. Each day you will not get to some things. Make sure you always get to the things Critical to achieving your long and short term goals by toggling between Critical and your calendar to make sure you have an appointment with yourself to do the most important things.

L = Leads and Learning

I’ve grouped these two things together because they are related.

First, if a salesperson is not spending at least a little time each day upskilling themselves about the latest trends impacting their industry, then they are falling behind.  Reading industry publications including comments on discussion groups and white papers is now a necessity – if only because we have to assume that both the customer and your competitors are reading – and interested – in learning more. 

Staying up-to-date works to your advantage in two ways: you’ll be the one informing your customers and prospects about the most recent or upcoming trends, and you’ll find new leads and opportunities in the process. An added bonus is that while gathering information you’ll gain greater insight into how to communicate the value of your offering.

So, to be organized around the task of learning, I work on learning in my off-hours. And rather than lose precious time deciding what to read I make a list of topics that I am interested in reading for both business and pleasure. Then, during my more relaxed times or in the early morning while transitioning from my first cup of coffee to my second cup, I review that list and select what’s on top. My goal is to “pleasure” read for an hour a day and “work” at least an hour a day. 

Learning is like exercise. Always a great idea, just not at this moment.  Everything in your day will pop up just in time to block you from getting to this important reading. So what’s the key to following through? Schedule time in your calendar, and stick to it!

E = Exercise

Regardless of your feelings about exercise, physical activity should be part of your everyday routine, even if it’s as simple as taking a walk around the block. Aside from the long list of health benefits, nothing will give you more of a mental boost than exercising.

In my case, I will think of the problem I’m working on and then I’ll swim for 30-60 minutes. When I get out of the pool, I come away with ideas to solve the problem. And you know what, every swimmer or runner tells me the same thing. Exercise an outlet. Are you using it to the fullest? Tell us what you think and your response may be included in an upcoming blog.

When I look at the Exercise section of my daily dashboard, I always remind myself of why I am exercising and what areas am I looking to improve? Reviewing what and why will help you stay committed to scheduling time on your calendar to exercise. A best practice of busy professionals is to exercise first thing in the morning because it helps fully energize and empower you to tackle the Critical tasks of the day.

W = Writing

While learning and reading are essential, writing is another piece of the puzzle that engages parts of your brain that push you to think harder and smarter.

In today’s world, sellers need to deliver impactful answers and examples to leave a lasting impression.  You need to reassure your prospects and customers with success stories while explain new offerings to people who may know more than you or less than you.  That’s why writing is a critical activity that will help you compile your thoughts, questions, and answers as you prepare for important meetings.

Spend time writing every day. What should you write?  Start by writing down your most common objections and then try turning-around each objection. Answer those hard questions like: What makes your solution different? Why is it better than the competition? How is it worth the money?

Assuming your improvisational skills will suffice is a dangerous bet – especially if your competitors are following my advice and staying organized around the task of beating you. And while spending the time working out the wording on “paper” may be painful, it will result in a more prepared and well thought out response, which leads to you sounding perfect when the sale is ultimately dependent on your answer.

So if you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage and not sure where to start, “GET A CLEW” will provide the framework to help you become more organized and create a daily routine that sets you up for success.

Finally Friday Newsletter Sign Up

Read More

Topics: sales, time management, organization

4 Essential Sales Skills to Focus on Improving

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 22, 2016 12:20:00 PM

As the competition gets stronger and the decision process more complicated, it’s important for sellers to get back to the basics of selling and concentrate on improving the skills needed to consistently reach and surpass their goals.

In 2016, the selling skills you should focus on refining are the ones that affect the buyer’s journey. While there are many sales skills needed for success, we’ve selected 4 of the basics that are essential to your competitive advantage.


1. Prospecting

Prospecting for new opportunities is just the first step in the sales process.

Whether you’re finding your own leads or receiving inbound leads from your marketing team, there’s a lot to consider before making a call or sending an email.

A lot of sellers are looking for shortcuts and how to be more efficient, but oftentimes that can end up hurting rather than helping your chances of winning a sale.   

You can become a more efficient prospector by practicing personal marketing, using targeted templates, and tracking your ratios.

Practicing personal marketing means that you are actively sharing resources and information of value to your network of connections or participating in discussions and other industry related events. This works to your advantage because it helps build your network and establishes your credibility.

Using targeted templates means segmenting by each different buyer persona and then taking the time to learn something specific about the person you’re reaching out to in order to tailor your messaging. This helps establish a more personal connection because it shows that you’ve put in the effort of learning about the individual(s) and company you're reaching out to.

Tracking your work and ratios as well as understanding how much time it takes to go from one step of the sales process to the other will provide insight into where you are spending your time and how you can improve. 

2. Leading Great First Meetings

Have you ever had the experience of walking out of a meeting and thinking, “I should have said this instead…” If you said yes, you’re not alone.

Selling is a performance art and you usually don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

When leading a first meeting, there are three different components  to consider, which are: (1) Research, (2) The Starting Point, and (3) Questions.

Research is needed at every step of the sales process, especially before the first meeting. The research you do before you conduct the first meeting should be more extensive than just looking at the company’s website. Consider taking a deeper dive into the website, but also think about similar companies you’ve worked with on a project like this so that you can provide examples and case studies. It’s also crucial to look into the person or people you’ll be meeting with to discover any personal or business interests that you may have in common.  

The starting point of each and every meeting is what sets the tone and opens the relationship. You should know before you go into the meeting how you are going to open, what questions you’ll ask, and how you will move the deal forward to the next step.

Finally, the key to having great first meetings is asking the right questions and being prepared to answer difficult questions. Questions create the right conversation, which is why they are so important to think about in advance of every first meeting.

For instance, as the seller you should be prepared to answer:

  • What do you offer?
  • What makes you different?
  • What makes you better?
  • What makes your offer worth our budget?

And you should be asking questions like:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this initiative?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What is your timetable?
  • Do you have a budget for this initiative?

And remember, you must continue to test and fine-tune both the questions you ask and answers you give in order to improve your skills and sales results. 

3. Presenting Your Solution

Once you’ve had the first meeting and have determined the prospect is the right fit for your solution, it’s time to have another meeting to present your offering.

Winning sellers focus their presentation on getting the prospect’s feedback about three main areas: the budget, the timetable, and the proposed solution.

The budget. Well, we know the prospect will eventually be alone with the proposal looking at your suggested price.  So if you proposed $X but they were thinking $Y, then that may delay the sale. However, you can give yourself an advantage by making sure you know their reaction BEFORE you put it in writing so that you can adjust on the proposal if necessary.

The timetable for delivery. Now, this is usually the least explored area of the sale but should be discussed early on in the sales process. Why? Because we need to understand their timing and communicate a sense of urgency to the prospect in order to prompt a decision. Typically, prospects will only make a decision when they have to but if you’re offering a solution that will move the prospect closer to solving their problem or achieving their goals, then you’re more likely to get a decision in a timely manner. 

The proposed solution must fit with the needs of the prospect and the goals of the individuals making the buying decision. They’ve looked into your service or solution for a reason and they want to make sure it’s the right fit for their organization. So, as you prepare your presentation, consider how you will tailor your message to resonate with your prospective buyer.

4. Negotiating & Closing

Negotiating, and eventually closing the sale, should not have to be some painful activity that comes up after you’ve already sealed the deal. Rather, it’s the culmination of the entire sales process.

When you get to this phase of the sales process, it’s critical to know what you’re up against so that you can anticipate the customer’s walk-away points as well as what the ideal solution looks like to them.

This is why the presentation meeting is so important. You must gain the reaction of the decision maker(s) so you know where you stand. The moment you can’t walk away from the deal, or sound desperate, you’ve lost. Always play from a position of strength so you can avoid negotiating against yourself.

The sales games has changed, and to keep up you need to continually be refining your prospecting strategies and tactics, leveraging the right questions to lead great first meetings, create the right reaction when presenting your solution, and play from a position of strength when negotiating and closing a deal. If you work on improving these skills, you’ll beat the competition in no time.

Need coaching? We can help!

Read More

Topics: sales, improving, sales improvement, sales skils,

4 Negotiating Strategies to Make You a More Efficient Negotiator

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 14, 2016 8:27:00 AM

Are you an efficient sales negotiator? If your proposals and your contracts are always the same number, then you’ve reached 100% efficiency. But that could also mean you are leaving money on the table, which is why the customer may have been so quick to accept.

When a sale gets to the point of negotiations, there’s usually a lot of discussion and debate around the elements included in the proposal as well as the total price, which is why sellers commonly lose value between the proposal and contract stages.

If you’ve ever been in that type of situation, here are four strategies to help you avoid losing value in order to reach 100% negotiating efficiency.

Negotiating Efficiency

1. Pick the Right Starting Point

How do you typically begin negotiation conversations? Do you offer to talk first? Or do you try to get the other party to talk first?

When we think about negotiation meetings, most customers are playing the same game about deciding who should begin the conversation. Why? Because picking the right starting point sets the conversational tone for the entire meeting.

A lot of sellers may start with a question like: “Do you have any questions about the proposal I sent in advance of our meeting?” Ideally, the customer says “Everything in the proposal looks great, we are ready! Where do I sign?”

If only making a sale could be that easy! Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way.

In a dramatic example of a powerful starting point, a recent negotiation began with the one party telling the other “…you know, I was going to cancel this meeting because I am not sure we’ll be able to come to an agreement.” That changes the meeting in a hurry and focuses both parties on identifying and, if possible, jointly solving the problem that will prevent the deal from happening. The first thing it does is get to the all-important reaction that will tell you whether the other side is truly interested. It gives them the out they need to quickly and politely back out of the deal if that is their inclination anyway. But, by agreeing to continue talking they are demonstrating a willingness to find a win-win.

If you want to be a smart negotiator, then you’ll consider the right starting point as well as the risk and reward of every outcome in advance of the meeting. The exercise of visualizing each likely scenario will help you operate from a position of strength.

2. Have Two Potential Buyers

In almost every sale, there is an element of limited resources.  

For example, in advertising there is limited inventory. In finance, there are limited number of hours you can book your analysts to talk to your customers. In software, there are limited number of installation-service teams or available training dates.

When limits are introduced, there is a new-found sense of urgency. Especially if there are two customers who want the same limited resource. I used this strategy to sell my house, when the market was down, in one week. By setting the right price, I received two offers on the first day of listing the house.

If I received only one offer, then the buyer has the upper hand. However, the power returns to the seller when they are “caught in the middle” between two potential buyers. All of a sudden, a typical buying process has been turned into a competition with an increased sense of urgency for both parties to try to “win the auction.”

3. Include Something to Remove

When two people or parties are negotiating, the sound of their conversation has a familiar ring. You can tell they are seriously negotiating when one party announces, “what if we take away this piece in exchange for an earlier start date?” This signals that one party is ready to make a commitment; they’re serious about finding a win-win solution.

The person who makes this suggestion is usually the one who is in control. They are being proactive. It's much better to boldly offer to remove something that is potentially a problem then it is to wait for the customer to ask you to remove it. If they ask and you cave in, then you look weak. If you suggest it first, you look strong and observant.

People who negotiate against themselves strip down the offer so much they never leave enough to spare for this strategy. To give yourself a negotiating edge, make sure you include “excludes.”

4. Sell the Dream, but Move Forward on Phase 1

Most salespeople try to sell the customer the biggest possible deal they can. The result? It takes for-ev-er to close.

When we expand the deal, especially the budget, we are making the consideration process longer and more complex. The odds of closing the sale is now reduced and the seller’s available time to prospect is gone. The result is no sale now or in the future. But, every so often, a huge sale comes in. And that is the validation needed for most sellers to continue swimming in this circle.

I, however, have found more value in closing the sale faster over getting the most money you can. Now, that doesn’t mean I happily leave money on the table. It means I am more interested in simplifying the buying process for the customer – and myself.  I want the sale to close faster and be worth more over time.

My strategy is to whet the buyer’s appetite about the future upside we can potentially deliver to that customer – over time. I then get on the customer’s side when we discuss budget where I ask them how they would rationalize spending that much money on that service. From that conversation, we discuss ROI benchmarks, sometimes aggressive ones. I maintain that we can achieve those results – over time.  Now that I know the benchmarks they will use for the “big” sale, I offer to scale the whole deal down to a much smaller budget, which I call phase 1. While phase 2 has hard goals against a big budget, phase 1 is a test with easier benchmarks that will serve as “proof of concept” supporting the decision to go to phase 2.  The entire time I am delivering phase 1, I am talking with them about examining performance, benchmarks, and how to optimze in phase 2.  This can be an effective strategy for Account Managers, but especially good for Hunters.  

Remember: it is much easier for the customer to go from spending $1 to $2 than it is go from $0 to $1.  First get the dollar, then grow the relationship.

Need coaching? We can help!

Read More

Topics: how to negotiate, sales tips, negotiating

3 Common Objections when Selling Digital Video

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Sep 7, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Handling objections shouldn’t be about arguing, it should be about understanding the other person’s response and then positioning your solution in such a way that it reassures the potential customer and entices them to want to learn more about what you’re offering.

So if you’re trying to sell more of your premium video inventory but you keep running into obstacles, then practice handling these 3 common objections to more confidently lead your next sales conversation.

Handling Objections

Objection #1: “We get our video for less money.”

If a prospect says this to you, then you should ask them if they know exactly what they’re buying.

The reason you should ask this is because it’s not uncommon for a buyer to believe they are getting only pre-roll when in fact they are also getting mid-roll, post-roll, auto-initiated video, and in-banner video.

For instance, many programmatic offerings don’t provide advertisers with enough visibility to know what they are really getting. In general, the lower the CPM, the less premium the inventory. And blended CPMs can mask a lot of undesirable inventory.

Without the right campaign visibility, there is no way for the advertiser to know exactly what they are buying. Turn this objection around by reassuring your prospective customer that working with you means having full visibility and access to superior reporting capabilities.

Objection #2: “We’ve tried it, but it didn’t work.”

Not exactly what we want to hear, but let’s take a step back and try to understand their response. What is their level of digital knowledge? Was it their first campaign ever? Or have they run other campaigns before they decided it didn’t work?

If you learn the “why” behind the objection, then you will gain greater insight into how to personalize your response while emphasizing the value your solution could bring.

If you get this kind of objection, then you could say something like: Let’s explore what didn't work together. I've heard many stories from other new-to-digital advertisers telling us the same thing. That’s why we’ve taken the approach of offering higher quality service enabling us to provide robust lead generation campaigns using a multi-platform strategy that includes: TV, mobile, social, and custom content integrations.

Take the time to ask and learn the past experiences of your prospective customer. Doing this will foster a better sales conversation as well as provide an opportunity for you to help educate your buyer.  

Objection #3: “We’re already buying inventory from you programmatically through an exchange.”

If an advertiser tells you this, then ask how they are precisely targeting the right users?

Depending on their response, you could position your solution as a complement or replacement to their current strategy. Basically what it comes down to in this scenario is data.

Whether it’s first, second or third-party data, the most important thing to understand is the difference between the data sets available, and how they are unique.

First-party data is your data. It’s data that’s created and owned by publishers and marketers themselves. This may include data from actions taken across your website(s); data you have in your CRM; subscription data; social data; or cross-platform data from mobile web or apps.

Second-party data is basically first-party data that you are getting directly from the source. This type of data gives you access to many non-endemic audiences you might not have previously been able to reach.

Third-party data, on the other hand, is generated on other platforms and often aggregated from other websites. Companies such as BlueKai, Peer39, and eXelate sell third party data. These companies are also known as DMPs or Data Aggregators.

The next time an advertiser says they already have access and are buying inventory from you through an existing programmatic vendor or exchange, you can combat this by focusing on the advantages of working directly with you. For example, you’re the only one that has access to your own site’s first-party data, so all other parties serving ads on your website are limited to third or second-party data.

You must utilize your knowledge of data by helping your prospects and customers understand that not all data is equal and then work together to create the right data set to maximize campaign results.

Start handling these common digital video objections more confidently by remembering to focus on the advantages of your solution in terms of campaign visibility, learning your prospective customer’s level of digital knowledge and past buying experiences, as well as highlighting your ability to leverage a unique data set.

Take Client Relationships to the Next Level - Start Here

Read More

Topics: sales, selling digital advertising, objection handling

4 Salesforce Mistakes Your Sales Team is Making and How to Fix Them

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 31, 2016 10:10:00 AM

As the lead trainer for DM Training, I work with sales teams across the globe and across a variety of industries. Here is some news from the front lines:

Today’s sales teams are making 4 preventable administrative mistakes that are costing them money and time.

Most of my clients use Salesforce as their CRM, which they have customized for their needs. Plus they have adopted workflows and business rules all intended to ensure a rich database of information that could benefit both the seller and sales management.

However, sellers are not doing the administrative part of their job right and the ripple effect is causing inaccurate forecasts, frustrated salespeople who are not closing enough deals, and managers without the right data to know how to properly coach their team.

Salesforce CRM

As a sales manager it’s time to take charge and get rid of those errors. Look to see if your sellers are….

1. Not converting leads into an opportunity or a first appointment

Leads should be converted into an opportunity or a first appointment the moment they are qualified or that meeting is scheduled. It’s not something that should be done after the fact.

Sellers often skip this crucial step until the opportunity is further advanced, presumably to save admin work until they are sure there is a real opportunity.

Here’s the problem: not properly tracking scheduled first appointments denies the seller and you as their manager from easily seeing critical CRM-generated answers to 3 questions essential to diagnosing sales behavior:

  • How many first appointments does this salesperson schedule per week/month (on average)?
  • How many first appointments do they have over the next few weeks?
  • How many first appointments should they schedule, given their personal first appointment to closed/won ratio?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, how does anyone know how many leads the salesperson needs to generate and how much time should they allocate everyday toward making new first appointments?

2. Not making a new opportunity for every new opportunity

Regardless of whether an opportunity begins with a scheduled first appointment or not, it needs to be logged in the CRM immediately.

When your sellers do this reliably, you can determine the actual sales cycle of closed/won sales because there will be an accurate “start date” stamp on every opportunity. Comparing every new sales opportunity to closed/won sales cycles is the most accurate way to bet on a winner and avoid projecting the wrong (long) sales.  

3. Putting tasks in the opportunity screen, rather than the account screen

Because of this seemingly innocent workflow choice, the seller will be less reluctant to kill the opportunity (that is, convert to closed/lost) both administratively and mentally, because they are afraid of losing the task notification.

That opportunity will remain open even as the opportunity ages out and is no longer following the closing pattern. The opportunity cost of spending and wasting time with those prospects is not spending enough time pursuing candidates which are statistically more likely to close.

4. Not parking stalled sales in a column reserved for stalled opportunities

Simply putting a prospect in a column doesn’t change the odds of closing that sale. But keeping prospects in a funnel intended for advancing prospects is misleading.

When a sale stalls it is no longer predictable. It may close later than you think, or not at all. If the salesperson is unable to control the timing then forecasting is impossible.

From the point of view of collecting data which will give insight into the most likely to close opportunities, it is smarter to convert stalled sales to closed/lost or move them to a column specifically designated for stalled opportunities. If and when they restart, your sellers can return them into the pipeline.

Don’t assume your salespeople are using Salesforce to everyone’s advantage. Help them make these 4 tweaks to put you all in a better position.

How to Solve 5 Common Problems in Your Sales Team - Free eBook

Read More

Topics: sales tips, CRM, common sales mistakes