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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

3 Tips to Help Managers Coach Sellers More Effectively

Posted by Digital Media Training on Jan 13, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Managing a sales team can be challenging.

Sales managers are responsible for a range of diverse tasks, including managing a sales pipeline, coaching their team, forecasting, hiring new sales representatives, strategic planning, and sales administration.

Additionally, managers are held accountable for hitting sales quotas and responsible for a target list of accounts. Not to mention dealing with a variety of independent and strong willed salespeople who establish their own process with little to no daily contact with their managers.

With all of this in mind, we want to help make your job easier, so here are three things to focus your seller’s attention on:



Every year, salespeople are presented with new challenges. The challenge of selling in a more competitive marketplace, hitting a higher quota or goal, and all the while gaining more responsibilities.

As a manager, your job is to enable your seller’s success through coaching and support.

The first step is helping your sellers identify what metrics they should be tracking.

For example, each rep should know how many:

  • Open opportunities are in their pipeline
  • Closed opportunities (both won and lost)
  • Average deal size
  • Average sales cycle length

Once you’ve determined the key performance indicators important to you and your team, then you can create a dashboard that tracks and measures progress against these metrics.

Your dashboard can be as simple as using the CRM you already have in place, or creating a separate spreadsheet to track everything outside of the CRM. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a platform your team can easily and consistently update.

When you have an understanding and baseline of your performance, it’s much easier to reverse engineer what it will take to hit your new quota or goals.

The First Conversation

The first meeting or the first conversation with a prospect is a crucial point in the sales process. It can either make or break the deal, which is why it’s vital to your sales team’s success.

You need to help your sellers strategize the first meeting in terms of:

  • Have you done your research? What do you know about the company/industry/person your meeting with?
  • What’s the goal of the meeting? (from their perspective and from ours)
  • What is this prospect trying to accomplish?
  • What do we need to learn? (Budget, timing, authority, etc.) What questions to ask?
  • Does our solution fit their needs?
  • What’s our next steps?

When you encourage your sellers to prepare for and consider in advance what the first meeting will look like, your reps will increase their confidence and ability to start the right conversation that leads to having a great first meeting.

Is it Worth It?

As a manager, you need to help your sellers prioritize their time and understand the difference between opportunities worth pursuing vs. dead end leads. To do this, analyze and refine your qualifying criteria.

Qualifying is one of the most important conversations a salesperson can have with their prospect. This is where you learn whether the prospect is a good fit for your solution and if it makes sense to move forward together, or go your separate ways.

HubSpot has put together this comprehensive guide that will take you step-by-step through the fundamentals of qualification, five different frameworks you can use, how disqualification works, and conversational tip-offs to listen for.

As you work with your salespeople, help them establish a measurement mindset in order to track their progress, emphasize the importance of the first meeting, and finally, work with your team to assess and refine your qualifying questions and criteria in order to maximize time spent with the right opportunities.

seller_Vlog 1_cover.png

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Topics: sales, training, sales tips, managing, sales coaching

What’s the Cost of NOT Training Your Salespeople?

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Dec 15, 2016 2:05:00 PM

Well, let’s just say it’s costing you a lot more by NOT training your sales team.

You’ve probably all seen the endless statistics and reports about employee disengagement, unemployment rates, and the seemingly unrectifiable skills gap. Maybe you yourself are feeling disengaged or seeing too much turnover and not enough qualified individuals to fill open positions.  

Well, if you or your company have been putting off professional development and training for far too long, then it’s time for a change. Because realizing the importance of educating, coaching, and training employees and then actually implementing effective programs is the only way to achieve long term company success.

So why does your company need sales training? Consider asking these questions:

  1. If we raise the seller’s goals, do we expect them to hit their goals without improving skills, strategies, or tactics?
  1. If we haven’t hit the goals that our competitors have reached, what does that say about our previous forms of training?
  1. If your company invested in training last year but didn’t achieve the intended results, did anyone reinforce that training or was the expectation that the effect of training would be like a tattoo on each seller’s brain?
  1. If last year’s skills are the best we can hope for, what will that cost us this year?

While some sellers and managers may view sales training as “optional” or as a “luxury,” that thinking is short sighted and unrealistic. Simply “checking the box” on training won’t cut it anymore. If it actually worked, then everyone would do it that way.

Professional football teams would take the week off before a big game and then just sort of warm up before each game. Actors and actresses on Broadway would meet a few weeks before the show so the director could hand them the script and say “obviously you’re a professional, so you know how to perform the script. No need for rehearsal, see you opening night…”

But this doesn’t happen. And there’s a reason professionals make a habit of practicing and fine-tuning their skills.

When people are training all the time, they develop a "muscle memory" and get really good at processing information.  They become accustomed to finding something that resonates and then they are able to apply it to their daily activities. But when people rarely attend training, their skills fade and they struggle process and apply the training information.

Benefits of Sales Coaching and Training

Okay, so now that we’ve covered a few key considerations and reasons why you should invest in sales training, let’s look at some of the 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 it comes down to is that sales organizations must redefine what training and learning means to them. Success in sales means being prepared, nimble, and continuously developing the right skills that will have a positive impact on the entire business.

What is your company’s biggest excuse for not training their employees? Is it too expensive to train them? Or is it a bigger expense if you DON’T train them?

The 12 Days of Selling - Free DMTraining eBook Offer

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Topics: sales, tips, sales training, managing, digital media training

3 Steps to Get Your Sales Team Performance Ready

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

As a sales manager, you’re investing lots of time into your team and essentially betting on their continuously improving performance.

How can you be sure that your investment pays off?


Here are 3 ways to implement performance tests and clean up your team’s act:

1. Acting 101 - Mastering the Audition

Can your team perform their “elevator pitch” in front of their peers?

Most salespeople complain that they find role playing in front of their peers harder than doing the same thing in front of their real prospects and customers.

While that may be the case, the only way to ensure that everyone on the team is incorporating everyone else’s best ideas is for the entire team to watch and listen to their colleagues while they perform the “song” that comes up in practically every sales meeting.

There are shorter and longer versions of an elevator pitch, from the short version you use at networking events to longer versions used in full-capability presentations. Salespeople need to be able to perform each variation in a way that consistently produces the same great audience reaction.

2. Acting 102 - Handling the Crowd

Can your team handling the most difficult, worst-case-scenario objections, questions, concerns, and issues in a sales conversation?

Every salesperson can handle any sales conversation when the customer is agreeing with everything said. But to wrestle new business away from competitors and inspire existing customers to buy more, sellers have to be great at this skill when they are under pressure.

How good is your team under pressure?

Carve out some time during your next sales meeting and play the “They say…,I say…” game. Make a list of the top 5-15 objections (They say...) and ask the team to work together to craft and then perform the best turnarounds (I say...).

Pay attention to how quickly your team thinks of all of the objections, but how slow they are in deciding on the best turnarounds, which is evidence that they never really worked together on this important shared skill. Then measure how long it takes your sellers to actually get the turnaround words to come cleanly out of their mouths---evidence of how badly they needed to have this objection handling workshop.

Managers who make their teams frequently conduct this exercise find their new hires ramp up more quickly, their experienced veterans get used to sharing best practices, and the rest more quickly adjust their words to reflect the best thinking on the team.

3. Acting 202 - Uncovering the Story

Can all of your sellers lead a sales conversation with questions that reveal the most important information about the customer’s goals, buying patterns, priorities, and budgets?   

You can probably can spot the absence of this skill through poor closing ratios, long sales cycles, and low renewal rates. Look at your team’s sales KPIs and see if any of the following is true:

  • 50% or more of the proposals they submit don’t close because they don’t address the customer’s real needs
  • Sales cycles take longer because customers aren’t confident that the offering presented is right for them or don’t have a budget ready
  • Account Managers don’t learn the customer’s most vital benchmarks to be used for renewal decisions—until it is too late

A great exercise to address this is to study the sales notes from recent meetings that didn’t result in a closed sale. Ask your sellers to come up with a list of qualifying and clarifying questions that in retrospect, now that we know what actually happened during those sales attempts, they should have asked—or asked differently.

Chances are, upon examination, the team will discover one or two opportunities to ask better questions.

Use these tests to determine if your team is performance ready to deliver the right elevator pitch, handle negative comments, and lead the sales conversation toward closing. Implement these team-building, role-playing exercises into your sales meetings as soon as possible to ensure your team is ready to perform.

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

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Topics: managing, sales management, sales team

4 Questions to Help Managers Motivate Change

Posted by Buff Parham on Sep 22, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Almost all sales managers are now expected to transform their respective teams in order to succeed in a rapidly changing market environment.

But how?

It begins with the sales manager’s mindset.

You can “manage” the status quo, but you simply must “lead” change.

It’s moving you and your team from certainty and comfort to uncertainty and discomfort. As painful or difficult as that sounds, it’s also necessary.

Any sales organization that is not changing is actually dying, because the status quo can make you more irrelevant with each passing day.

Hand writing "Time for change"

Here are 4 critical questions that will help make change happen:

1. What will successful change look like?

Rushing headlong into the process without having a clear idea of the desired result is a bad idea.

It’s critical to ask and discuss with your organization’s key leaders exactly what they’re looking for.

Their responses and input will provide you with obvious guidance, but also give you some buy-in from them to support the process.

Don’t go about this alone—it’s bigger than you, and you need sanction from higher up the chain of command.

2. What do I need to change about myself first?

If you plan to be the exact same person in the new environment, you’re probably being a bit naïve.

Think about what specific aspects of your own skill sets need to be upgraded before asking the same of your staff.

The bottom line is that change is about performing better and differently on both a collective and individual basis.

No one gets a “free pass”, and certainly not the sales manager. As a manager, I have always lived by “never ask a salesperson to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.”

That’s especially important when you’re trying to bring needed change to the team.   Since salespeople are keen observers of their managers, whatever changes you make in yourself will be apparent to them almost immediately.

3. Do I have the “horses” to get this done?

Yes, this is a hard one. Common sense (and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution) says that not everyone on your team is necessarily capable of succeeding in the new environment that you need to create.

Recognize that sometimes painful fact sooner rather than later.

While each member of the team should be given the chance to “make the cut”, there will likely be a few that simply cannot.

I have always addressed this situation by being explicit with everyone about what we’re about to do.

Tell them what the demands are, and what’s expected of them in the new environment.

Quite often, those who know that they are incapable of pulling it off will depart on their own. In reality, that’s a win for the sales manager and for the team too.

4. How do I convey what we’re about to do?

At our nation’s military academies, future officers are taught the importance of “commander’s intent.”

In a nutshell, it is the requirement that everyone under a given officer’s command can describe the mission and its outcome in no more than a couple of simple sentences.

Eliminating any confusion or misunderstanding of what’s expected from the team is essential for a successful outcome.

Far too often, sales managers fail to “spell it out” when it comes to leading change. Salespeople are left confused, anxious, and even angry about what’s going on.

Your team members need and deserve a crystal clear picture of what’s expected. I’ve always done this in a meeting with everyone present, and asking repeatedly if anyone has any questions about what I’ve stated.

Never underestimate the importance of clarity at the very beginning.

Leading change is a challenging and often uncomfortable process.

Enhance your chances for success by answering these questions with solid answers before you get started.

3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Training 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: managing, Motivation, leadership

5 Essentials for Managing a Remote Team

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on Sep 17, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Working remotely is becoming increasingly popular as companies begin to realize that in many situations they can grow their business by going virtual.

There are many benefits to being able to work from anywhere. Employees usually enjoy the sense of freedom and generally report being more productive. Companies also reduce their overhead and can expand to accommodate talent that would previously have been out of their reach.

With all of the positive aspects of working remotely, there are also coinciding challenges. Managing a team can become more difficult since there is no longer a traditional way of managing in a virtual space.

How can managers who direct remote teams ensure success? Here are the 5 essentials:

Building trust

1. Trust

Trust is the most important factor in managing a remote team. If there are members of the team who aren’t trustworthy - it’s time to seriously reconsider their positions.

Being able to have complete confidence in your team and their abilities to manage their own time and productivity is crucial.

Knowing that the entire team can rely on one another is also key in a remote working environment. If one person isn’t consistently pulling their weight - it will become even more apparent to other members of the team.

Being able to know with full confidence that they’ll stay productive without you or anyone else peering over their shoulder in the office is one of the most important pieces of making the situation work for everyone.

With trust, your team will begin to appreciate their freedom with the ability to work from anywhere and as the manager, you will have peace of mind knowing that it’s not necessary to micromanage and overextend yourself into their work.

2. Communication

Have you ever had an in-person meeting where it seems as though everyone’s speaking a different language since apparently no one understands one another?

Working remotely can easily magnify that feeling.

However, if mutual trust exists in the team and everyone is consistently putting in a concerted effort into communicating with each other, then communication shouldn’t be an issue.

As a manager, it’s imperative you take initiative in being transparent with your communication and expecting team members to do the same.

You never want anyone to feel as though they’re out of the loop, since that’s one of the quickest ways to have them disengage from their work.

To keep the communication personal, make sure it’s not only via email, chat, or phone. Throw a couple of face-to-face video calls in during the week to keep the human interaction element high.

Finally, don’t focus all the communication on business matters - take the time to really connect with members of your team on a human level and provide everyone with a sense of an office culture where it’s acceptable to discuss sports scores or share new recipes by the virtual water cooler.

3. Tools

With new technology popping up each day, there’s an endless array of tools to help remote workers collaborate and communicate.

No one needs any more emails cluttering up their inbox - so instant messaging apps like HipChat, Slack, or Google Hangouts are great alternatives for quick updates or check ins.

Other collaboration and organization tools that could become indispensible are: Dropbox, Google Drive, and Trello.

Screen sharing and video conferencing software like Join.me, GoToMeeting, or even Google Hangouts will also become staples.

By using tools that seamlessly fit into an efficient work process, meetings and collaboration can start to become even more successful than those in a traditional office setting.

4. Routine

Keeping a routine and encouraging your team to do the same is an important way to keep your productivity levels high.

It’s always easy to connect with someone when you know they’re already at their computer by a certain time or that they have a set hour everyday when they’re not available.

It’s also crucial for your own sanity to institute some kind of schedule so that you’re not spending too much time each day simply figuring out what to work on.

Ensuring there are check-in calls planned on the calendar is a great way to stay in touch with the team and set expectations about making meetings productive.

5. Flexibility

As important as it is to have a routine, it’s also necessary to stay flexible. One of the biggest joys of working from home is the freedom.

It’s to be expected that things will pop up once in a while that will change your plans.

Make sure your own schedule isn’t completely rigid and that you have time to accommodate for things that come up. Don’t shy away from the concept of spontaneous meetings.

Situations will arise when everyone needs to jump on a brainstorm session or potentially a meeting to put out a fire. Being adaptable and utilizing all the tools at your disposal will keep everyone on their toes and feeling fresh.

Working remotely is an entirely different experience than working in a traditional office environment. It can be more freeing and productive, but has the potential to get disorganized or disengaging.

However, managing a remote team successfully boils down to trust, communication, tools, routine, and flexibility.

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

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Topics: managing, manager, working remotely

How to Be An Outstanding Leader, By Being A Good Follower

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Sep 10, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Did you know that companies whose leadership was rated high in ethics, employee motivation, and communication achieve 20% higher profits?

That’s what the Center for Creative Leadership found. And who doesn't want to increase profits and have strong leadership?

Having these characteristics in your management is indicative of strong leaders. This comes with experience and understanding, but also by first learning how to be a good follower.

Fish following and leadingHere are 4 steps you can take to become a good follower and forge your path to become an outstanding leader:

Step 1: Stay involved

Good followers stay involved in the initiatives around them. They’re the ones who know the ins and outs of organizing a project or task and they know the most efficient and effective way to execute their plan.

In the same way, an outstanding leader will know, or at least try, to be on top of all the projects going on throughout the company. In doing this, a leader opens more in depth communication with employees and is seen as another member of the team instead of just the “person over you.”

Get more involved with employees by becoming interested and engaged in their work. As a leader, you’ll feel more inspired by staying involved with the activities of your company.

Step 2:  Play nice

Playing nice is a golden rule of life and it’s no exception in the workplace.

In the same vein, treating others as you would like to be treated is an essential step in becoming an outstanding leader.

Good employees play nice with their fellow colleagues and try to keep things running smoothly. Any good leader should do the same.

Simply thanking your employees from time to time can make the difference between a good leader and an outstanding leader. Who would have thought that using words like “please” and “thank you” (that you learn as a child) would help you become a better leader?

Step 3: Gain more knowledge

Good employees keep pushing forward. They strive to become better by reading and researching new knowledge, ideas or skills and then implement this newfound information through testing and practice into their everyday work.

Outstanding leaders must do the same. Ongoing development and training, keeping abreast of the industry’s trends, and being open to new ideas are just some of the ways to take your leadership skills from good to great.

Step 4: Work hard

Many times employees are required by their managers to work harder by staying later, completing a project faster, or helping in another area of the company.  By setting high standards, everyone is pushed to go above and beyond.

However, as a leader be sure to also continuously contribute. You need to be ready to put in just as much, if not more work than your team. It’s imperative to lead by example.

Following these 4 steps will enable you to embody the role of a follower while becoming an inspiring and effective leader. As a result, you will be able to more easily identify with your employees and relate to their work. By being a part of team, everyone will be more readily set up for success.

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

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Topics: managing, sales managers, success, leadership

A Sales Manager’s Guide: 4 Tips for Great Ride-Along Meetings

Posted by Buff Parham on Aug 25, 2015 9:10:41 AM

When a sales manager accompanies a salesperson on a sales call, good things should happen, but quite often things don’t go as well as one would hope. The buyer and the seller come away feeling less than satisfied with the meeting.

Which raises the obvious question: Why do a “four legged” or ride-along call if nothing significant can be accomplished? It’s the sales manager’s responsibility to optimize the results of such a meeting.

Here are 4 tips for productive ride-alongs:

1. Figure out the purpose of the call.

For various reasons, most sales managers who were once salespeople, like to make occasional sales calls. Sometimes the reason is “Let me show you how it’s done, kid”.

Bad idea! Showing off for a salesperson can destroy that salesperson’s relationship with the buyer involved.

The buyer might then begin to gravitate towards the sales manager and away from the salesperson. Going forward, the buyer might try to connect directly with the sales manager and not the salesperson, about important issues.

Trying to impress a salesperson with a stellar sales performance simply isn’t worth the aftermath.

2. Work out a “script” for the sales manager and the salesperson to follow.

This process distills the purpose of the call. What needs to be covered, who says what, the desired outcome, etc. all need to be worked out in advance.

It will also eliminate confusion that can kill a sales meeting. Buyers have little patience for sales managers and salespeople who don’t have their act together.

Walking in with a game plan for the meeting will give all participants greater confidence that it will be time well spent. Great sales managers always have a plan for these occasions.

3. Don’t let the salesperson “disappear” during the sales call.


Don’t let a three-way conversation turn into a two-way one. As stated earlier, the salesperson’s relationship with the buyer should not be compromised or jeopardized by the presence of the sales manager on a call—it’s simply not worth it.

Whenever possible, let the salesperson lead the conversation. That reinforces the bond between the salesperson and the buyer, and signals the sales manager’s confidence in the salesperson to both the salesperson and the buyer.

Any good salesperson wants to show his/her sales manager how well they perform—sales managers should never rob them of that opportunity.

4. Make it clear that all of the “next steps” will be handled by the salesperson.

This is one more level of reinforcement of the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer. Sales managers are already extremely busy and don’t need more “to dos” that should be handled by a salesperson.

Sales managers should commit to the general objectives post sales call, but the salesperson should commit to handling the details of making it happen. If the sales manager sends a follow up note to the buyer, it should clearly state that the salesperson will be handling the deal points from the meeting.

Make these calls as productive as possible and minimize any unintended consequences. The sales manager is definitely the producer of these joint meetings, but shouldn’t be the star. Keep that thought in mind to make ride-alongs much more rewarding for everyone involved.

3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Training 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: managing, sales management, sales meeting

Sales Managers: It's Time to Hit the Refresh Button

Posted by Buff Parham on Aug 11, 2015 9:05:00 AM

Standing still in a time of rapid change is not a formula for continued success. Leading a team in the digital age requires that the leader be the model when it comes to accepting change, embracing it, and using it to his or her own advantage. Being stagnant and refusing to upgrade one’s skills and abilities sends the wrong message to the team, and jeopardizes the manager’s chances of remaining relevant and effective.

Here are four tips to help you stay refreshed: 

1. Always be curious.

Even if you’re not blessed with a natural sense of curiosity, develop one! Being hungry to learn more about anything relevant to your profession is absolutely critical. Modern information technology gives almost anyone easy access to tons of material that will help grow themselves and the team that they are leading.

Searching out new and useful information should be a routine activity, and not something left over for “when time permits.” It is integral to ensuring that you stay fresh and sharp as a leader.

2. Don’t live in a comfort zone.

Too many sales managers think that way once they’ve arrived and that the hard part was making it from salesperson to sales manager. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sales manager’s job contains many different challenges. Given that truth, how can it be a “comfortable” position?

Delegating responsibilities to team members doesn’t mean that the manager has shed the ultimate responsibility—which is making sure that the team is successful by the established metrics. Taking “comfort” in the simple fact that “someone else” is doing the work misses the point of what managers should be doing. Stay “uncomfortable” and you will be far more productive.

3. Walk a mile (or two) in your team’s shoes.


Managers should actually take on the roles of their subordinates from time to time—this gives the manager a bird’s eye view of what team members are experiencing and what they need to be more successful. This is true empathy in action! It also yields profound respect from the team members.

Managers gain lots of insight from a first person point of view. And it doesn’t compromise the manager’s status with the team to “get down in the trenches”—in fact it does just the opposite. Guaranteed that any manager who tries this will benefit greatly from the effort!

4. Ask for feedback on your performance.

When Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, he famously asked lots of “ordinary” people, “So how am I doing?” It was an exercise that served him well and enhanced his popularity and credibility with his constituents.

Managers should also ask their team members that same question with the expectation of honest and frank answers that do not jeopardize job security or that staff member’s stature. Not every team member will be candid, but those that are will offer incredibly valuable and useful information to the manager. We all have “blind spots” and this is the best way to see what we’ve been missing and earn some trust and credibility with team members in the process.

Staying fresh definitely takes effort but it’s simply worth it. If a manager feels that the team is getting stale, the first place to look for a remedy is in the mirror! The only way to win in a changing environment is to change yourself first.

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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: managing, manager

How to Win in Crunch Time - 4 Tips for When the Going Gets Tough

Posted by Buff Parham on Jul 30, 2015 8:57:00 AM

Let’s face the facts - no matter how well your team performs under “normal” circumstances, “crunch time” can and will rear its ugly head! There are times when situations beyond your control require you to adapt immediately to what’s at hand.

Your ability to guide your team to victory in that kind of environment is a litmus test.

It’s much easier to perform well when conditions are to your liking, but the best managers know how to get the best out of their teams when the going gets tough. Here are some tips to make that happen:

1. Panic is not a game plan!


Quite often, managers, especially newer ones, freak out when “all hell breaks loose.” Panic is contagious. Almost immediately, the entire team is running around with their hair on fire because the manager is too.

Trying to win in the midst of self-induced chaos is just a bad idea! Managers need to remain calm, but project a resolute attitude that says, “not only will we get through this, but we’re going to WIN.” A positive and proactive message in the face of demanding business conditions is a must.

2. Be ready before crunch time arrives.

Anticipating “rough seas” before they arrive takes consistent effort and it pays enormous dividends.  This exercise will help generate an “emergency plan” that can be deployed at the critical moment it’s needed. And it beats having to come up with something “new and different” once crunch time has arrived.

Team members will also appreciate the fact that there’s a game plan ready to go when things get rocky. Managers who can conceive of and execute emergency plans generate tremendous respect from their teams.

3. Share the pressure with all members of the team.

No one should be spared the “pain” when crunch time arrives. It’s actually an opportunity to bring team members closer together.

No member of the team should feel that he/she is bearing an unfair or unreasonable amount of the pressure—that’s a surefire prescription for undermining a manager’s credibility and diminishing team morale. Since everyone’s an adult, there’s no good reason to shield anyone from the demands that the team is facing—think of this as a “growth exercise” for all!

4. Declare victory and celebrate the win!

There needs to be a clear and positive signal that the team has prevailed. Crunch time should never feel as if it goes on forever.

Giving everyone a chance to feel good about what the team has accomplished will build confidence for the inevitable next time. Managers should be as explicit as possible as to what the victory means and what it took to make it happen. It’s a feel good moment with a very powerful message attached!

No one necessarily looks forward to crunch time, but the best managers thrive when it shows up. That takes planning, patience, courage, and solid communication skills. Those are vital elements that get tested and refined under tough circumstances. Welcome the challenge and go for the win!

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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

Read More

Topics: managing, manager