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3 Strategies for Effectively Developing the Right Calling Approach

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 23, 2017 8:19:00 PM

Whether you’re new to sales, or an experienced pro, developing the right approach to making sales calls is a strategic advantage.
As a salesperson, oftentimes the first impression you make is over the phone. Whether that’s talking to a new prospect, building a client relationship, or maintaining contact with long term clients.
Developing an effective calling approach and phone persona is essential to your sales success. But how can you develop an approach that will consistently drive results?
Consider these 3 strategies as you develop, refine, and optimize your calling approach: 
sales call approach ideas

1. Personalize Your Message

Think about who you are calling and why you are calling them before you pick up the phone.

First, we must consider what kind of leads are you calling and what’s the right strategy for each?

For example, let’s say you were just assigned a new lead. This lead came in through the website as an inbound lead who downloaded your newest eBook. What’s the approach for this type of lead?

To start, we must do our best to research who the person is, what company they work for, why they might be interested in the eBook, and whether they’ve downloaded any other resources from your website.

Why are these things important?

Because each piece of information helps you paint a picture of who you are calling. The more you know about the company, the person, or the industry in general will set you up for success because you’ll be able to tailor your message by saying something that resonates with the lead.

In this inbound lead example, you could personalize your message in a simple, yet logical way by helping them identify the key takeaways from the eBook they just downloaded and offer ideas about how the information applies to their job, company, or industry.

Taking this approach helps you position yourself as an expert, presents your company/offering in a positive light, and lets you take the role of the helpful salesperson who is educating them on new information and solutions.


2. Build Your Sales Story

 Identifying the right approach for each type of lead is only part of the game. The next step is to build your value proposition by crafting a compelling sales story.

We often think that facts and figures are what motivate people to take action. But the truth? Facts and figures aren’t nearly as effective as telling a great story.

Let’s say you’ve got a prospect on the line and they want to learn more about your solution. Instead of rattling off numbers that will mean nothing to them, consider walking them through the story of how you’ve helped other companies, maybe even mention a competitor of theirs, and help them visualize how your product and/or service delivered results for that company.

For example, you could say something like: “We’ve had a lot of success with companies like yours who have experienced some of the same challenges you may be facing, so I’d like to learn more about what you’re doing, tell you how we’ve been implementing solutions for businesses like yours, and see if there’s a match.”

You’re not only going to get their attention fast, they’re going to want to know how they did it, when they started doing it, how far behind they are, and what they need to do to catch up.


3. Understand the Rhythm of the Call

Listening is the key to a great conversation. So when we are speaking with prospects and clients over the phone, we must listen to the rhythm of the call and make certain decisions based on the rhythm.

If you ask a question and the other person responds as soon as you finish speaking, this probably means they’re tuned in. On the other hand, if there’s a long gap and their response doesn’t really relate to the question you asked, they’re probably not connected to the conversation.

As sales professionals, our goal is to ask 2nd level questions in order to create a more substantial conversation. 2nd level questions, asked in the right context, encourage the customer to share relevant information needed to understand their true interest in our business solution as well as their motivation to help their organization acquire it.

This is the type of conversation when the customer reacts to the salesperson’s interest and capabilities by sharing relevant information about their background, biases, plans as well as their power, influence, and motivation to buy.

The best way to help them make more sales is to maximize their time with people most likely to buy and minimize their investment in time with the rest.  At the same time, sellers need to dig out opportunities that are not immediately obvious but lying just below the surface waiting for a skilled salesperson to uncover and close.



Remember these 3 strategies the next time you’re ready to pick up the phone, and you’ll be on your way to building a connection with your prospects and clients while creating a more open sales dialogue.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated.

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Topics: sales, tips, selling, sellers, prospecting, value, skills, sales tips, sales training, digital media training, cold calling, call, small business, improving, marketing, strategy, phone

4 Steps to Take When Closing Your Next Deal

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 2, 2017 6:30:00 PM

Closing a deal is the ultimate reward for all of the research, preparation, and follow up that goes into building new relationships and maintaining a high level of client satisfaction.

Every now and then, it’s important to remind yourself to go back to the basics of selling to ensure that you’re not simply closing a deal, but instead, opening a new relationship that has future growth potential.

So, when the time is right and you’re ready to close your next deal, remember these four tips: 


(SLA) Service Level Agreement

SLA stands for Service Level Agreement; in other words this is the document that outlines the timing and delivery of the products and/or services you will provide. This is a critical point in the sale because this is where all expectations need to be set and understood by both sides.

When you close a deal, it’s not enough simply to get the sale. You want to be able to leverage the sale in the future. To do this, you need to confirm with the customer that he or she feels your level of service is superior and that you did more than simply meet the minimum requirement. So, when formulating your close, review what the minimum deal is and then determine what else you can add. Be sure that you have added in enough elements to your deal to get that agreement.  


Review a sale you are closing now or have just closed. Decide what you can add (product, service, conditions terms, etc.) to enhance the service level without increasing cost to you.

On-Boarding Process

Sales continue even after the close.  As the seller, you are the “face” of the sale to the customer. So, the customer will always look to you to explain and validate every step of the implementation even after the close. Therefore, meet with your internal team and carefully review who does what, when, why and how. Then, repeat the process with the customer explaining who on your team will be taking over the implementation on your side. Be sure to always point out the value of each person taking charge of the steps in the implementation. This builds rapport and helps pave the way for future sales.


Think of a current sale and review your on-boarding process for the account once you close the deal. Use a tool like the following to think through all the steps in on-boarding. This will help you be ready to both explain the process to the customer and to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Future Opportunities

A single sale for a single deal may have a finite point. However, the superior seller knows that each successful sale leads to another... and another…. You can leverage past success into future success by ensuring that the job you do with the first sale is not only adequate but superior, beyond expectations – in effect, stellar. This way, you develop equity within the account and draw upon that equity to pursue one successful sale after another.


Review a current or upcoming sale. Review the terms of the offering. Find something that will help the sale exceed expectations – something you or your company will do, a “deal sweetener,” etc…

Strategizing the Right Time to Ask for Additional Business

 A major goal of the consultative seller is to position him or herself as the “conduit” of a range of products and services that address multiple functions within the account. This process is called “evergreening.” To successfully evergreen an account, you have to be extremely observant to what you see and hear and what you can deduce to identify opportunities all the time. Then, when you spot an opportunity, you move on to that one if your present sale is going well. This way, the present sale “evergreens” into additional business.  Account selling is not linear.


Review all your active accounts. For each, think of additional opportunities and note how you think you can transition from your present deal to the future opportunity even before you close the first one. Use a tool like the one below for your analysis.


Before closing your next deal, take these four things into consideration and utilize them to your advantage by ensuring that you: set expecations up front, properly on-board new clients by clearly outlining how your product or service will be implemented, understand what a future opportunity might look like, and strategize the timing of asking your client for additional business.

How to ask for the deal without sounding too

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, managing, manager, client, cold calling, building client relationships, strategy, deal, service level agreement, client on-boarding

B2B Cold Calling is Dead...So Now What?

Posted by Buff Parham on Jul 9, 2015 9:08:00 AM

In this new digital age, traditional B2B “cold calling” is a thing of the past. We define “cold calling” as one stranger trying to share sales information with another stranger, typically over the phone.

Newsflash: Information about any given product or service is easily accessible online.

Marketers are keenly aware of this “knowledge revolution” and are challenged to find new and compelling ways to connect with potential customers. The same holds true for a sales team.

Managers need to train and coach their salespeople on how to connect with target prospects in new and different ways.

Here are four factors worth considering:

network-networking1. Promote effective networking

Most salespeople agree that “who you know” counts for more than “what you know.” But how many managers evaluate their salespeople on the quantity and quality of their network of contacts?

Managers should regularly query their staff on how well they are growing and cultivating potential and current decision makers and influencers that can impact their book of business in a positive way.

It’s incredibly easy for any salesperson to get comfortable with his/her current network—it’s the manager’s job to make sure that those networks keep growing and improving!

2. Unleash the power of referrals and recommendations

Third parties that are willing to advocate on your behalf are incredibly valuable! The bigger and more important the endorsement, the more that the sales manager should be involved in making it happen.

Many times, protocol will require interfacing with personnel beyond the buyers that your salespeople deal with. Managers shouldn’t expect a salesperson to succeed at getting a critical referral and/or recommendation from a Senior Vice-President of a client company.

Managers should navigate this process and even help craft the specific message that’s desired from the endorsing company.

3. Identify critical problems and propose specific solutions

Sales managers should coach their salespeople on how to figure out “what hurts” with a given prospect, and then match that with a solution from their own offering of goods and/or services. Sales funnels should include pertinent information on critical “pain points” for all identified prospects.

The strategic dialogue between the sales manager and the salesperson can then address the potential solutions at hand. That “sample” solution can be conveyed to the target client through a variety of channels including email, social media, voice mail, etc.

A dynamic solution can be the icebreaker that prompts a response from a given prospect for a follow up conversation.

4. Demand a “map” for reaching every target prospect

Sales managers should expect that every salesperson has crafted a specific route to get in front of a potential client. It’s a discipline that will force salespeople to think about all of the moving parts it takes to make it happen.

It also gives the sales manager a tool for a tangible evaluation of the salesperson’s progress. Far too often, the prospecting process is too vague and much too unconstructed. Sales managers need to define and monitor this critical process.

Sales managers are challenged with replacing archaic B2B cold calling with a smart and measurable process that guides salespeople to connecting with potential new clients.

The “numbers game” that assumes that a significant number of cold calls will turn into a handful of new clients is counterproductive and a tremendous waste of time and effort. So it’s time to step up the game, and transform cold calls into smart ones!

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


About the Author


Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

Connect with Buff via LinkedIn 

Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com

Follow @BuffParham

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Topics: sales process, cold calling, b2b

How to Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling & Marketing

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on Oct 10, 2014 11:59:00 AM

You’ve probably known for a while now that cold calling is something everyone dreads - whether they’re on the initiating or receiving end. This past Wednesday an incredibly timely piece popped up on Mashable - Your Sales Strategy Shouldn’t Rely on a Cold Call - written by HubSpot’s CMO, Mike Volpe. And yesterday ClickZ posted an article about The Importance of Personalization. Although outwardly their messages don’t seem to be overly similar, if you’re a seller or a marketer, you should really take the wisdom they provide to heart.

Hopefully you’re ahead of the game and already putting the insight of these two articles to use in your daily work activities. If not, then it’s time to catch up. Let’s be honest: it’s almost 2015 and the internet and all of the information it provides about nearly everyone and everything isn’t just going to disappear anytime soon. So why are some of us not really making the most out of what we have? Why are we still punishing ourselves (and others!) with completely frozen cold calls and generic messaging? Surely we want to make our lives easier and have our potential clients and customers like us from the start. What should we really be doing?

ice_meltingFrom our experience, it’s completely fair to surmise that one of the main reasons most sellers struggle to meet their sales targets is because they’re having a hard time connecting with prospects to schedule first appointments. Even for the most outgoing, enthusiastic personalities out there it must make you feel just a bit anxious to pick up the phone and attempt to start a conversation with a complete stranger who almost certainly has a predisposition of utter contempt at the thought of picking up cold call. And for the rest of the population, well most of them will probably procrastinate picking up the phone unless their manager happens to be nearby. With the resources that are literally at our fingertips all day, it seems to be a natural conclusion that we should start utilizing them to make our daily outreach efforts more pleasant and overall much more effective.

Doing research via LinkedIn and a general web search can give you a general feel about almost anyone you may be trying to reach. Having some more information about them (just don’t get creepy!) can help you connect more easily and confirm that they are indeed the prospect you should be reaching out to. You need to do your best to find out enough about them to be able to make a strong case for why your product or service would specifically be of particular use or interest to them.

Reaching out through online social channels first can help you initiate contact rather seamlessly if you approach it in the right manner. By not giving them your sales pitch, you can earn their interest by offering some relevant information that is personalized to them about the industry, or solutions to the problem they might have (the one your product or service may eventually help fix). This first note will prime them for further connections either online or ultimately over the phone or in person, since they’ll hopefully now feel as though you truly have a personal interest in assisting them. Although it may take a bit more effort upfront, taking the time to utilize social channels instead of simply picking up the phone and dialing, will be more effective in furthering the sales process.

If you’re not the one selling directly, but taking on your company’s marketing efforts, it’s time to really get personal with your audience. It can be difficult to remember that actual human beings comprise your consumer base, not just the data that represents them. Undoubtedly extra customization and personalization will take more effort and resources than simply standard, cookie-cutter messaging. However, it can help your brand’s audience feel more reassured and confident that they’re actually special. Paring effective personalized marketing with appropriate social brand interactions can improve overall sales by building brand affinity.

Taking the time to find out what your prospects and customers really value and learning to position yourself in such a way that your genuine desire to help comes out and will ensure you never have to make a cold call again. Using more of that same personalization in your marketing strategy will also help increase consumer engagement and ultimately sales.

What is one of the worst cold calls you’ve ever made or received?

Make LinkedIn Work for You Infographic Download

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Topics: sales, cold calling, marketing, social selling

How to Eliminate Anxiety During a Sales Call

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Aug 26, 2014 1:27:46 PM

The daunting task of picking up the phone and actually calling someone can be frightening to some, heck it may even be terrifying. But, why let your nerves get the best of you? Eliminating anxiety is a common problem for salespeople who are faced with budgets, pricing, legal, marketing, and a slew of other things.

How can you conquer your anxiety and become the sales superstar you were born to be?

1. Be the man (or woman) with the plan

What would you say you do here?Preparation is a key element to creating and developing essential conversations that will enhance your deal flow. The best types of conversations are organized into parts so that the listener can fully comprehend the material being presented. This gives both parties the opportunity to fully take in the material being presented.  

How should you start this plan? Make a list of the questions you need to answer. A great way to do this is to have a series of questions which lead into another; a domino effect. One question like “What kind of challenges do you face with your sellers?” may lead into “How often is this challenge faced?”. Soon enough you will have all the answers to the questions you need to know.

2. Breathe!

http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6wusg6ppI1rziwwco1_400.gifWell you should already be doing that, but incase you’re convinced otherwise this can have a major impact on your voice tonality while over the phone. Relieving your shoulder muscles and clearing your throat is vital to ensure you get off on the right note.

Hesitation in your voice will lead to hesitation from your prospect. This could lead to early warning signs and red flags to why your prospect may not want to further the conversation with you. Your confidence is vital towards grabbing their attention and closing sales!


3.  Make a Case & Point

I-love-you-man-awkwardIdentify why you’re contacting them for this sales call. Validating this will help ease awkward introductions and follow-ups. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are: Where are they in my sales pipeline? Am I nurturing them through the sales funnel? How am I building next steps into my call? This will help remind both the prospect and yourself of why this conversation was initially started.

But what is the point you are trying to make? The point is to get your message across, effectively. By asking yourself the questions mentioned earlier, you can identify material, tactics, and strategies for them depending on where they are throughout the sales funnel. Your sales funnel will help identify next step solutions for a prospect.  


4. Bring in the Backup


When the going gets tough, it’s time to call in backup. You may want to bring your Sales Manager in or a coworker who would be willing to help you out in a jam, in order to make delicious jelly of the situation. Having a “3rd wheel” to fall back on absolutely makes sense for both parties. A coworker on a call could provide reassurance, and further explain some parts of the product you may not fully understand. From the prospect’s point of view, it shows them you are really interested in their business and encourages mutual engagement towards finding a solution that best fits.

Follow some of these tips and you’ll be sure to conquer your anxiety and get to sales superstar status in no time! How do you eliminate your sales call anxiety? Please leave a comment below!

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Image: Tumblr, guh-gifgarden
Image: hyperventilating into bag

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Topics: prospecting, sales tips, cold calling, closing sales, selling tips, phone, sales advice, sales meeting

Can I Have an Appointment for Wednesday at 1?

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 10, 2013 9:30:00 AM

The FOUR MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW about handling objections when you're prospecting over the phone are:

  1. Advocate the advantage, not the argument
  2. Interest and curiosity
  3. Customize
  4. Passion


Let's start with 1. An advantage, not an argument. Salespeople can face many struggles when they are on the phone trying to get an appointment. Often times, the reason they struggle is because they’re looking for an argument, and at first, they may not even be aware that they're doing this.

Trying to find a flaw or hole in the other person's logic is looking to start an argument and win. This win-at-all-costs mindset is very helpful for self-motivation and perseverance purposes, but when you’re trying to make an appointment, be careful not to let this aggressive front overwhelm your prospect.

Never say things like:

"Well, how much do you really like your copier vendor?  Do you think your vendor’s really giving you the value that you’re paying for?  Let me put a shadow of doubt in there."

You really dont want this call to be about an argument.

If you had said to yourself, before you even picked up the phone, "Okay, what is it that our product really does well?" then you would know exactly what you DO want this call to be about. Whatever it is that your product, service, or solution, excels in doing, that's precisely what you want this conversation to be focused on.


 And here’s a secret that I want to share with you: You’ve got to believe in that value to make a good conversation happen.

You've got to believe, deep down in your gut, that your products and services really do help your best customers get value out of working with you.  If you don't believe in your advantage, why make the call?

Once upon a time in a kingdom you call the office, your best customers weren't customers at all. They were leads, just like the leads that you're calling now. And isn't that why you're calling these new people in the first place? To determine whether or not there's an opportunity to deliver the same kind of VALUE and REASON that your best customers enjoy working with you?

On this call, you want to find out ways to talk about how you can make your customers' current assets even more valuable, how you can help them find new revenue streams, and how you get your customers across the finish line first.

Let’s forget about all those argumentative questions that are supposed to prove that the person made a mistake by working with someone else. Instead, ask the questions that point the conversation toward the positive VALUE you know you are delivering to your happiest customers, right now. That's where your advantage is.

Here's what that might sound like:

Jason Jones: "Steve, don't get me wrong, you sound like a very nice guy, but I really don't have any interest in this."

"Hey, thats okay, because I know a lot of people, like ABC Company, who were telling me exactly the same thing ... but that was before they saw how we could help them get more value from their current resources and reduce their downtime by 37%."

Notice that I am not trying to win an argument but rather focusing on my advantage.

"Anyway, all I was calling for was to schedule a meeting so we could sit down together and see whether we could deliver those same kinds of results for you. I'm looking at the calendar, and I'm free Wednesday at one. Is that a good time?"

Next, establish 2. interest and curiosity. 

Curiosity piqued the cat’s awareness level and gave it a long prosperous life. Whenever you start to ask questions that sound like you really care about what the other person is saying, you will be much more likely to make a good connection. 

In fact, if this is someone that you have never spoken to before, your most important job is to communicate that you are truly interested in that person.  That's what communication really is at this stage: proving your interest.

What will your specific curiosity-demonstrating questions be?  First of all, what does this customer in particular do to solve the problems that you typically help customers solve?  So you're going to ask about that. When they say to you, "Could you just email me something or mail me something?" Use your legitimate curiosity about what they are doing to drive the response.

Consider saying, "Well, actually, just to save us both some time, Id much rather figure out whether we should be talking at all than send you something that isn't right for you. I'm curious, what you are doing now to hold on to the most productive members of your sales staff?"

"Right now we are implementing the Yada Yada Yada program to do that."

"Aha. That's very interesting, because that says to me that we really SHOULD set a time to meet. A lot of our very best customers, like ABC Company, are working with us AND with Yada Yada Yada to improve their sales production numbers over time from their key people. In fact, ABC found that the two programs actually complement each other. Now,  I'm looking at the calendar, and I'm free this Wednesday at one. Is that a good time for you?"

Always be curious about what they are doing and when they are doing it because the best opportunity to make an appointment arises with a company who is about to change. If you’re changing something, you’re more likely to be considering changing vendors. 

In dealing with objections to making an appointment, look to ask questions that show your concern and curiosity, "When are you going to be doing something in such and such an area? Are you going to be doing anything soon?"


First Appointment Structure






About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, affordable, value, skills, digital media training, cold calling, call, business, consumer behavior, marketing

Inbound Telesales: 4 Strategies to get from Hello to Suggestion

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Mar 7, 2013 4:26:00 PM

By Steve Bookbinder, CEO, Digital Media Trainingtelesales

Inbound telesales is all about telling your story from the customer’s point of view. It means carefully considering and really understanding the customer/client. There are four strategies we want to focus on, which are: attention, adjust, help, and personalize.  

1. Attention
When someone first calls us, do we really have their attention? It may feel like they are listening and that we must have their attention, but we need to consider the opening moments of the call. The caller may not have been able to reach us right away and when they’ve finally connected, they may be uncertain as to if they’re calling the right person, right department and if we’re able to help. Think about what you say and how you say it.  Often times, inbound telesellers are classified as not being able to actively listen, unwilling to help and really not that professional. If you’re an inbound teleseller, the next time you receive a call try adding a smiling and brightness to your voice. This approach will make it sound like you actually want to be there and we will be more likely to get their attention.

2. Adjust
As an inbound teleseller, we must learn to adjust. We might start off the call by asking how we can help, then we begin to answer, they listen to the answer, and now we want to ask another question. The next question should help us gain insight into why the person is calling. For example, a question like: “what made you call today?”  is not only short and easy to answer, but it reveals they're underlying motivation and their urgency that will help us present our offering in a more compelling way.

3. Help
Inbound telesales is all about helping people find the right information. Often times, if we offer help in the right way, people are open to it. But if it’s done in the wrong way it can come off as unsolicited advice. But what's the difference?  In order for the other person to be open to listening and accepting our help, we must first ask, listen and learn. Consider starting off by saying, “before we begin…” which will allow us to position our help in a friendly and conversational manner as well as to ensure we are both on the same page. When asking for help, most people are concerned that the person offering the help doesn’t really understand them, their goals, or anything about the considerations they're making.  

4. Personalize
Tell your story from a customer’s point of view. When we’re delivering answers, asking questions or explaining our offering, we should be sure to include comments like: “Let me tell you what my other customers are saying.” “Here's what a lot of other customers are thinking about, and these are the types of questions they’ve been asking.”  By sharing relevant examples that the person can relate to, we are personalizing the call in a way that they’re more likely to listen to our answers and buy our offerings.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, selling, skills, sales tips, sales training, cold calling, small business, strategy, leads, telesales

4 Ways to Improve Your Communication

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Feb 19, 2013 1:01:00 PM

Want to improve your communication? First, focus on improving your relationship.
How? This will help improve both your professional and personal communication as well as your relationships: Focus on the quality, not quantity, of the time you spend with the other person. Time quality has 4 dimensions:

1. What you talk about- Spend an hour talking to someone about the weather and it may be worth only about 5 minutes of quality time (unless you are a professional weather reporter interviewing for a job).  But 5 minutes spent talking about something that is personally and/or professionally important to both of you will feel like it’s like an hour of quality time.   

2. The number of times you speak – You may speak with a person once for 60 minutes and yet still feel like strangers. However, after you have spoken with each other on occasions for 20 minutes each time, both parties may really feel like they know the other.  Sometimes you can’t delve into the important topics until you have already had a few conversations.

3. Where you are when you are speaking - People relate to their space in interesting ways.  If a seller walks into the prospect’s office, he or she is now in someone else’s kingdom and tend to behave in kind. If a seller walks into a big lecture center, he or she almost yawns in anticipation. On the other hand, if 2 people meet in a neutral site (a restaurant, for example), both parties are on an equal footing.  

4. Checking that you both understand each other - You are showing people the most sincere form of attention when you seek to understand another person.  Who doesn’t like that form of attention?

So, how do we incorporate relationship-building/ communication-improving strategies into our training so that people finally learn?

  • Regarding what you talk about: Make sure the trainees are getting their training in the clearest, shortest, most relevant, most engaging format, told to them in a high-level > low-level explanation model.  It works to break down “obvious” points into subcomponents: for example, when describing a skill as part of your training, try focusing on what to do before, during, and after that activity.  This format reveals insights and makes people more aware of the importance of things they may be skipping.

  • Regarding how often you talk: To sit in an 8-hour training workshop and fully absorb all of the content and turn it into a long-term habit is not only challenging, it is the rare exception.  Most people need to be introduced to a topic and revisit it with regularity over time in order for the information to sift into their brain and to “turn the ship” and cause the changes the training is supposed to achieve. Training is not what happens in the workshop. Training is what happens when a person starts using a new skill and then receives further training, to which they are now more receptive.  For example, most of us didn’t really pay enough attention during Salesforce.com training—until we had to use it.  All of a sudden, we are all ears.

  • Regarding where you are when you speak: When the trainees are in someone else’s kingdom (the training room, etc.) they are not as relaxed as they are at home, in their cars or in their offices. They are usually more relaxed in neutral sites like restaurants and airports than the boss' office, the training room, or conference rooms. So, if some of the training can take place in these settings, the trainees will be in the right frame of mind to read, listen, watch, and learn. This is why an M-learning reinforcement strategy is so important — how else to train them then when they are in their comfort zone?

  • Regarding Checking:  Obviously, this includes asking “checking questions” during training and quizzing people on training content but it doesn’t end there.  For most business skill training, the only real measurement that matters is how much better the trainees are able to perform their job.  For example, if you are conducting sales training, you should be looking at sales KPIs in your CRM.  Ideally, you can see a dashboard of who received what training and what measurable effect it is having on their job performance.  

The challenge of training is really knowing when you are getting through.  You need the right dashboard so that you can optimize your training with real-time feedback. In the same way that digital advertising campaigns are optimized in real time as advertising impressions are served based on immediate feedback about how people react to the ads, sales trainers need real-time data about the training’s effect on sales KPIs.  Otherwise, your training campaigns are never optimized and the trainer is only guessing what works. You may be teaching, but are you training?  Teaching is about covering the content; training is about getting trainees to improve their skills, abilities, and confidence.


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.


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Topics: sales, training, tips, selling, sales training, managing, manager, digital media training, team, digital, client, cold calling, micromanaging, small business, marketing, strategy, digital marketing

Affordable Sales Training for Small Business

Posted by Kevin Kiriluk on Feb 5, 2013 9:37:00 AM


By Steve Bookbinder


What is the solution? Well, big companies address these challenges by increasing their spending in training, marketing and hiring the right people.  

But, what can small companies do to increase sales?

The answer is training, but not necessarily expensive training.  In theory you could fire everyone who is underperforming against your ever-increasing goals and hire increasingly more skilled people who are just right for your newest sales challenges. In reality, you hired the best people you could.  

But, what small companies can focus on that will have the biggest impact are these 4 skills, called The Big Four:

1. Prospect Management –  Without the right inventory of real, advancing sales opportunities at the right stages in the sales process, sellers will either miss their goal this month or hit this month, but suffer ups & downs of sales in the coming months. Most sellers simply rationalize shoving everything they can into all the columns of their pipeline. That is not the same as managing their prospect base.  True management means determining your ideal pipeline then working your time and territory management, sales strategies and tactical execution of each phase of the sales process from first email to final thank you letter so that your real pipeline matches your ideal client.

2. Great First Meetings How do you convert more qualified first meetings into scheduled next step meetings? Training on Great First Meetings. This is the most important meeting of the entire sales process.  If this meeting goes well, we have a new opportunity. If we don’t qualify properly we may invest too much time in a sale not worth it. Most sellers end their first meetings with a promise to send the prospect something. Keep them entertained and wanting more.

3. Presenting your offer At some point you need to present your offer. Most likely your competitors, who are pitching almost exactly what you are pitching, simply outperformed your seller.  What is the right way to correct that?  Training on that particular skill set; from pre-meeting planning, verifying information in advance of a presentation meeting. Presentation skills and steps that follow the initial presentation.

4. Negotiating and Closing Sellers should measure the gap between the amount of money they are asking for in their proposal and the amount of money they settle with on contract. How do you close the gap? Training in Negotiation.

But, here is the thing to remember. True behavior change that produces more sales begins with training focused on the one of (or all of) the Big Four, each one of which incorporates a range of tactics, disciplines and best-practices.  But it doesn’t end there. 

Apart from the right content, the training delivery needs to be:

1. Ongoing
2. Focused
3. Supported by coaches

So, you want to make more sales?  Focus your training on The Big Four.  But, make the training investment pay better returns by reinforcing it.

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Topics: sales, training, tips, affordable, sales training, managing, manager, digital media training, team, digital, client, cold calling, micromanaging, small business, marketing, strategy