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How to Develop Competitive Sales Skills

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 9, 2017 4:22:00 PM

Developing competitive sales skills focuses on being prepared to perform under pressure, in any type of situation or environment.

Sales professionals who have competitive sales skills are the ones who think of sales in the same way professional athletes think of their jobs: with confidence about their own abilities and fear of their equally skilled competitors who may be better at using their abilities.

Confidence, born from focus, attention and ongoing skill development is the chief ingredient for success, no matter what industry you are in.

So, whether you’re training yourself, or your team, it can be challenging to determine specific areas of development that are important to focus on.

 That’s why, in addition to the insights shared by Steve Bookbinder in the video above, there are 4 important lessons that you must also focus on in order to gain a competitive advantage and own your success.

Approach big challenges differently than you do day-to-day challenges

Thinking about the future tends to cause our brains to minimize the obstacles we'll face and instead focus on desired outcomes. We look at goals differently based on whether they are a short-term or long-term goals. For instance, 3-months ago when you booked a trip home to see your family, you were focused on abstract ideas like “quality time with my family and friends” or “downtime.” But I would imagine when it came time to actually leave for your trip, you were more concerned about your immediate needs like: "what should I pack" or “how am I getting to the airport?” It is only when goals get closer and more immediate that people start to think about them more concretely. So, focus on making small, incremental lifestyle changes that may feel less glamorous, but will have a much greater chance of creating real change in your life.

Always be realistic about your starting point when facing a big challenge.

There is no advantage in exaggerating your abilities or skills; it’s more productive when you acknowledge areas in need of development and then set out to improve upon those areas in order to achieve your goals. Asking the right questions will help lead you down the right path. But that requires being honest with yourself, and not coming up with an unrealistic plan that you’re overwhelmed by, instead aim to take stop steps each day. And remember, play within your own abilities, and recognize constraints of your product, your company, and the marketplace.


Focus on identifying everything that can go wrong, rather than blindly trusting optimism.

While it is good to remain positive and confident that you will prevail, that is not the fuel that will help you prepare fully and give you the confidence you will need to overcome your biggest fears. Fear makes most people stop. But we can use our fear and feeling of being uncomfortable to propel us forward. Consider holding yourself accountable by involving a friend, co-worker, or partner to hold your feet to the fire. When we have support as well as keep pushing ourselves forward by stepping out of our comfort-zone, those are times that test our abilities and help us grow and gain a better understanding of our own work styles.

Don’t stop until you reach your goal.

The competitive sales professional will stop at nothing. They are driven, focused, and persistent.

Whatever you’re selling, you’ve got competition. Somebody besides you is selling to your clients and customers on a regular basis.  Assume that it’s a zero sum game, which means that if someone is getting “more”, then someone else is getting “less.” While we can’t control all of the factors involved in making a sale, we can certainly take all the right steps to properly prepare.

In a competitive situation like a playoff game or a race, every player wants to win at the start of the game --- the consistent winner isn’t the person who wants it bad enough at the starting line; it’s the person who was willing to prepare on all of the days leading up to the big game day!


Competitive salespeople beat their competitors as well as their own best records from previous years by focusing on all four of these lessons.

To develop your skills as a sales professional, you must work towards understanding yourself and equally as important, you need to understand your competition.

The best competitive sellers are willing to do whatever it takes and they ask themselves:

  • What are my competitors doing that I should be doing? Or shouldn’t be doing?
  • How many prospecting calls will they make?
  • How will they prepare for their sales meetings? Oh and by the way, these are sales meeting that are with the same type of people you want to meet with.
  • How will they handle objections?
  • How will they answer the tough question: “how are you different from your competitors?” How will they make their offering sound compelling and ROI+?
  • What are they doing to prepare for a successful year that includes beating you at your game?

Unless you consider these questions — even if the answers scare you — you will not as likely prevail like a competitive salesperson. So gather your confidence, skills, and go out there and conquer the sales world!

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

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Topics: training, sales tips, sales training, goal setting, how to be your own coach, Investing in Sales Training, salespeople, high performing salespeople, sales tools, competitive selling, how to, confident, confidence

Getting Started with an ROI Based Approach to Sales Training

Posted by Buff Parham on Jan 20, 2015 1:47:00 PM

Does sales training really work?

An ROI based approach must start with the end in mind. What does success look like 12 months from now? How will we know that we've actually accomplished anything significant from embracing a robust sales training program? An ROI approach demands a monetary value to be achieved by the end of the target revenue cycle.

Doing the math really matters! There's a formula for success here that must be determined by management to get the process started. While it's relatively easy to assess the current or historical output of each salesperson, it's more of a challenge to project what each person's output will be after rigorous sales training. But that process simply must be undertaken. What's the "plus" on each and every salesperson on the team? While using the same arbitrary "bump" for everyone is convenient, it's simply not realistic. The payoff in terms of improved performance will vary dramatically from salesperson to salesperson. Spend some time figuring out what the number should be for each person respectively.

Effective sales training will help salespeople with both existing and potential clientele. If that's true, then calculating each person's upside potential should be reflected in both the expansion of current accounts as well as the development of new accounts. Far too often, sales managers assume that sales training focuses solely on new business development. That assumption ignores the opportunity to empower salespeople to perform better with their existing clientele. As additional products and/or platforms are added to the sales portfolio, it's crucial that salespeople know how to sell those through where they already have solid relationships!

Effective sales training should automatically raise accountability. An ROI based approach will take a lot of the "mystery" out of the sales process. "How?" and "How many?" are equally important questions in any analysis of enhanced sales performance. Benchmarking current activity should include number of calls, number of existing and new accounts, average spend per account and any other relevant metric that will give a clear picture of the starting point. Those will become the key performance indicators (KPIs) that define the quantified goal for each salesperson as well as the team.

retro-car-dashboardTruly relevant KPIs also guide day-to-day progress. More than likely, we've all been exposed to "dashboards" that monitor the sales process. But how many sales managers really use them? Too often, it's an "out of the box" application that may or may not be a good fit for a given operation. The right answer here is to build your own dashboard of KPIs that supplies the critical data for success with your particular team. It's not a complicated thing to do, but it simply must be done. Embarking upon a critical journey without a reliable compass is unrealistic!

Selling new and additional platforms requires both effective sales training as well as specific revenue goals for them. Corporate finance can and will generate a "hard" expense number for those new platforms. The ROI for those platforms will be significantly enhanced if resources are allotted for effective sales training as well. The "fringe benefit" of that training is the upside performance on pre-existing platforms and the traditional "core business." Effective sales training takes even the best sales people to a higher level of performance and accelerates the growth of those with less experience. In other words, all boats rise when salespeople are better equipped for success!

Investing in Sales Training


About the Author

buff_parham-1Buff 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 started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.

Buff 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, training, sales training, ROI, Investing in Sales Training

Does Sales Training Really Work?

Posted by Buff Parham on Jan 15, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Sales training only works if we really want it to! Far too often, sales managers will give “lip service” to sales training, but never really do what’s required to make it worth the time and effort. Merely “checking the box” on this critical piece of any sales operation is simply not enough. Both managers and salespeople must perceive sales training as an integral part alike—it must be an important component of the culture of the organization, and not something that’s either “optional” or “extra.”

tablet-chart-graph-upEffective sales training must have a clear objective. What’s to be accomplished by taking on this effort in the first place? In the best seller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Dr. Stephen Covey’s second habit says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Where is this journey going to take us and how will we know when we get there? Clearly defining and stating the objective of sales training to all involved parties is absolutely essential. We need to describe the desired end product in very tangible terms. Broad descriptors such as “getting better” or “improved performance” are too vague and subjective. In order to get the necessary buy-in from both superiors and subordinates, spelling out the objective in no uncertain terms is the necessary first step!

The nature of the commitment will impact the nature of the outcome! Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies…if management doesn’t display a serious tone about sales training, then no one should be surprised if things don’t work out very well. It’s one thing to declare a specific objective, it’s quite another to project a consistent and urgent attitude to getting it done. This is where weaving sales training into the “DNA” of the operation becomes so important. Short term and long term planning must indicate to all that sales training is at the same level of importance as other activities that are part of the operation’s routine.

Effective sales training must have adequate resources. It’s often difficult to secure the materials that are necessary, but trying to do well without them is almost not worth the effort. Needed resources may require managers to go beyond their immediate realm. Qualified and successful outside sales trainers can bring a more objective approach and discipline to the table. There may be digital curriculum and/or specific reading assignments that are needed. It’s highly unlikely that a sales manager can do his/her best job of training without additional resources. Sales managers also tend to train salespeople “in their own image” which may not be sufficient in a rapidly changing media sales landscape.

ROI is the key metric for evaluating the result of sales training! The primary objective of any sales training should reflect a very tangible and measurable return on the investment in “hard” and “soft” assets that are to be expended. Along with the tangible resources that will be acquired, we should also figure out the value of the time invested by all participants in the process. Establishing the total value of the investment will reinforce the importance of the undertaking and will give superiors a clear and quantifiable set of expectations. More than likely, sales managers will be asking for significant material resources—justifying those requests on an “ROI basis” is the best way to go.

Effective sales training doesn’t just happenit needs to be clearly defined, seriously committed to with adequate resources and justified on an ROI basis. If all of those criteria can’t be satisfied, then the chances of achieving lasting success are seriously compromised!

Competitive Selling

About the Author

buff_parham-1Buff 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 started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.

Buff 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, training, sales training, Investing in Sales Training, sales training mistakes

Your Company Needs Training - Here’s Why

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on Nov 5, 2014 9:50:00 AM

training_cloud-374275-editedWe’ve probably all seen the endless reports about employee disengagement, unemployment rates, and the seemingly unrectifiable skills gap. Maybe you yourself are feeling disengaged or seeing too much turnover and having problems with finding supposedly qualified individuals to fill open positions. If your company has been making excuses for too long and essentially punishing its profits, as well as its workers, it’s time for change. Realizing the importance of educating and training employees and then actually implementing effective programs is the only way to long term company success.

So why does your company need training? What are its true benefits?

Improved Performance

Employee education and training is designed to give your people the proficiency and tools they need to learn new skills and refresh old ones. It’s key in every industry to stay on top of new trends, timesaving technologies, and how to stay competitive. Providing training will make sure the entire team is fully competent and can help you set clear expectations with regards to new goals. Whether the company’s output is struggling or already doing a stellar job, training will only help to increase its performance further and deliver a great return on investment.

Higher Engagement

It’s no secret that unhappy, disengaged, and uninspired employees can eventually become less productive. Ensuring employee happiness with appropriate benefits and perks is only one part of the formula. Keeping them truly engaged by cultivating their specific skills further, as well as, providing education in the areas where they aim to improve, will increase their interest in their work and new projects.

Higher Retention Rates

Re-engaging employees through training and further education will improve their overall job performance and satisfaction. They’ll be less likely to let their eyes wander for other career opportunities since they’ve increased their skill level and hopefully intend to conquer new challenges. Investing in your company’s employees helps to show them their value, potential expertise, and the company’s focus on maintaining a long-term relationship with them. Having higher retention rates will decrease the huge costs often involved in employee turnover. Making the small additional effort to train your current employees will save your company the headache of later trying to replace them.

Cohesive Onboarding

If your company has been expanding and adding to its staff then you’re probably already familiar with the difficult task of getting new members up to speed. If not done properly, you may later experience many unforeseen problems and confusion. Thinking ahead and providing onboarding training to your newest employees will help eliminate future turbulence due to unclear expectations and potentially unfamiliar methods. It will also convey the company’s desire to engage with and improve upon the skills new workers bring to the table.

Elimination of the Skills Gap

Some companies are having trouble finding the right people to fill open positions. Closing the skills gap is something that your company can do with training. Whether there’s a current employee who has shown incredible potential and just needs some more knowledge to transition into the open position, or a prospective hire that’s promising if it wasn’t for their minor lack in a certain area, why shouldn’t you just train them? It’s unrealistic to believe that if you’ve already been waiting for months, that if you just wait a little bit longer, the perfect, ideal, absolutely spectacular candidate will come along. That’s not to say you should lower your standards, but accepting that you will most likely have to teach anyone coming into the role a thing or two, why should you contribute to the growth of the skills gap if you could just rectify the situation and start training?

Reduction of Skill Fade

Do you remember everything you’ve ever learned? Of course not. Even the most dedicated and skilled employees will eventually start losing grasp of things they learned decades, years, months, weeks, or even days before. Having regular training sessions or better yet - ongoing training - will help reduce the previously inescapable skill fade-out phenomenon. Reinforcing previously learned material will ensure employees are always current with their knowledge and continue to increase their performance.

What is your company’s biggest excuse for not training their employees

Does your company need sales or digital media training?

At Digital Media Training we provide a variety training programs to help companies increase their competitive sales advantage, as well as, learn about the digital media landscape. Our live training sessions, mobile reinforcement, and learning libraries can be used to help your company boost sales, get familiar with the digital space, or even prepare sellers for the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification exam.

Digital Media Landscape Training

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Topics: training, bite-sized training, Investing in Sales Training

10 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Training [Free eBook]

Posted by Molly Depasquale on May 7, 2013 8:10:00 AM

"20% of the sales force in many companies delivers 80% of the revenue"according to Salesforce.comWhy not aim to help 100% of your sales team achieve its potential? 

Many companies consider training their employees but question whether or not they are investing in the the right type of training for their specific needs. It is important to ask the right questions when considering training.

This eBook was written to help you concisely tailor a training strategy, outline what you should take into account before investing in your next training initiative, and help simplify the next steps.

In this eBook, we look at:

  • 10 Must-consider Objectives
  • Expert Opinions from Top Trainers
  • The Key Questions To Ask Out Loud

You know that the competition grows stronger and that goals are set higher every year.

Access the eBook below to help stay ahead of the competition.


Free eBook



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, value, skills, eBook, Investing in Sales Training, strategy