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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

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

Why a Strategy Session is Essential to Training Success

Posted by Anna Adamczyk on Feb 23, 2016 8:53:00 AM

You wouldn’t start building a house without blueprints, would you?

Even though you might have a vague picture in your mind of what you’d want the building to look like, the finished product will definitely be an unstable mess if you go in without a concrete plan. Floors will be sloped and ceilings will be slanted - not the ideal outcome, right?

In line with this idea, sometimes companies think that in order to have a successful and impactful training program all they have to do is hire the trainers.

And yes, trainers are the experts in whatever they’re training on, but how do they know exactly what you need?

Do they know enough about your specific business to be able to convey the information in a way that’ll make sense to your people? Do they know what you expect a successful outcome to look like?

Don’t dismiss these as trivial questions or believe that they have universal answers because that’s not the case.

Often when you actually graze the surface, you might not even have clear and precise answers to the things your trainers need clarification on. Being presented with questions that on a deeper level may be challenging helps to reveal issues that might lie outside the scope of training, but will encourage you to work “on” your business, instead of constantly “in” it.

Ultimately, training can only be successful when a plan of action is discussed and crafted in collaboration with all parties involved.


So what exactly does that mean?

Well, for starters it means that the company stakeholders and the training content experts have a meeting to flesh out the nitty-gritty.

Here are a few examples of the types of questions your trainers will need answers to during that time:

  • What does a successful outcome to the program look like?
  • What are the priorities for your organization this year?
  • Where do you believe you have had the most success thus far?
  • What specifically are you targeting for development?
  • What are your current challenges?

Having several viewpoints from the executive decision makers, managers, as well as, the general population of employees, will give the trainers a true picture into what’s going on and how they can best address it to help ensure success.

Maybe these trainers have already done similar training programs in the past, so you might just think “Let’s save time and just give me what you did for [my competitor].”

You’re not giving yourself enough credit.

Are you exactly like your competitor? Do you have the same problems as them? Do your company ambitions align perfectly?

No. You’re not, you don’t, and they don’t.

So have some respect for your company and invest the additional time to think about the questions posed seriously and thoughtfully. Realize just how unique you are and that you deserve to have a program tailored specifically to your company in order to help guarantee your success.

A strategy session will also help establish who is responsible in the process of training for providing necessary materials and handling any operational matters. It will create accountability throughout the teams, as well as, serve in creating rapport and trust.

Planning in this way will also create a guide for future training endeavors. It’s unrealistic to think everything can be solved in one dose of training. So having a map of where your group is and where they want to be will help your trainers craft a logical and practical program designed to help you achieve your goals.

Stop expecting success without a master scheme and start strategizing to accomplish your desired outcome.

At DM Training, we believe training is personal. By starting each and every training engagement with a Strategy Session you’re provided the forum that’s essential to understanding your business, your people, and your processes.

Training shouldn’t be about “checking the box.” It should be an ongoing initiative focused on empowering your people and your organization to do and be the best it can be.

Sales Training Consultation from DMTraining

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Topics: training

Why the Need for Digital Sales Training Isn’t Going Away

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 17, 2016 8:54:00 AM

Throughout the past few years, the need for digital sales training has only continued to grow. The most significant change we’ve observed after training salespeople from all across the media space is that all media sellers, now need to be on the bleeding edge of all digital developments in order to have a “typical” sales conversation with the “average” advertiser.

The biggest challenge in the digital space is the pace of change, which keeps accelerating. For salespeople to keep pace their training needs to be ongoing, with the content continuously refreshed—all while being measured against ROI benchmarks to ensure that the sales needle moves in the right direction.

I still meet salespeople who tell me how they were able to wing it in their first few years in the business. It might have been possible that some premium content sellers with limited offerings could still do that in 2010, but in 2016 everyone is selling and up against competitors selling every form of targeted, ROI+ digital advertising.

“The other guy” likely has more reach, more visitors, more measureable engagement, and possibly less expensive inventory—apart from every conceivable agency marketing service.

In this marketplace an untrained seller has no chance. And while every ad team has at least one “rocket scientist” (or at least a really smart Digital Sales Manager), learning from the smartest person on your team is never as effective as bringing in people that are specialized trainers.


Without training, the majority of media sellers this year will be at a 2013 level of understanding—and that’s only if they actually spend time training themselves.

Training is practice.

We are training ourselves all the time. If you occasionally pick up a new insight into digital marketing, you get good at using that little bit of knowledge during sales conversations.

Over time, you’ll pick up more and get better at speaking with confidence, even if you barely understand what you’re saying. Since that happens to so many salespeople they are misled into thinking that they don’t need actual training.

Self-training isn’t going to give a seller a competitive advantage in 2016.

Every seller is trying to outsell their competitors using the same old “just winging-it” method. Only the seller who is better than their competition at aligning their offering with the advertiser’s goal while properly selling against their competition, over time, brings in more of the right deals at the right budget. The best trained sellers can convert a “test” budget into a long term relationship that equally benefits the advertiser, the publisher, and the salesperson.

Ongoing training is the key to having confident conversations. Last year’s vocabulary won’t cut it when you are having a conversation about attribution, safe environments, viewability, and engagement metrics. Even if a seller studied programmatic, video, and mobile 2 years ago, the space has changed so much that it’s like we’re starting all over again.

So what is the key benefit to ongoing training in a world that just never stops changing?

With ongoing practice, we improve our ability to learn. We speed up the process of learning new things, and start to be able to discuss new technologies, business models, and strategies. But to make that training work, it must be customized.

First, it must match the seller’s level of understanding and second, it must be applied to the specific sales situations that sellers find themselves in. When it comes to digital, most sellers are embarrassed about what they don’t know. As a result most organizations guess at the proper level for their staff and their training usually starts at a level that’s too advanced. Unfortunately, when the training misses that mark the affected salespeople tune out.

To make training situationally specific, role-plays based on actual upcoming meetings with real customers is essential. Otherwise sellers think they “get it” and don’t realize how poorly prepared they are until it’s too late and the sales opportunity is lost.

Let’s assume that the rate of change in the digital space will continue to accelerate and to keep up, the rate of sales training needs to keep pace. By employing purposeful and effective training, sellers can gain a competitive advantage that will keep them relevant.

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

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Topics: training, digital media training, digital sales

7 Strategies for Selling Search Engine Marketing

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Dec 29, 2015 9:30:00 AM

1. Start with a Great Target List

If you observe veteran search marketing salespeople, you will see that they receive inbound calls and email inquiries quite frequently from potentially ready-to-buy advertisers. Unfortunately, half of the calls will be less than optimal and shouldn’t be considered real prospects, but the other half will be first class opportunities.

Watching those veteran sellers, you may wonder what sort of magic makes them so effective. What is the real magic? The seller and his/her company have been prospecting for years.

The odds of cold calling someone today and reaching the final decision maker is low. But you can sow the seeds today- make sure they already know about you, and make them impressed enough to remember to contact you when they are ready.

So if you want a successful career, think ahead to the advertisers you want to be working within the next 1-3 years and begin pursuing them, without appearing desperate. Each day, given that you will have to make about 10-30 calls (especially if you are in your first year of SEM sales), you should be having at least one good conversation with a decision maker/advertiser.


2. Prospect Every Day

Although this seems obvious, especially given the point mentioned above, it can sometimes be difficult to carry it through. Since you sometimes actually reach an interested advertiser, you lose some prospecting time.

The "interested" calls can easily go on for about 10-45 minutes. Those calls often result in the promise to send something. That something can take an hour to 3 days to prepare. Managing your time so that, despite these needs, you still find time to prospect enough, ideally, you should aim for a call to be only a few minutes long that results in a face-to-face meeting.

3. Prepare for Each Meeting Like an Investor

Before investors will put their money into a company, they want to know everything about that company. Therefore, apart from the information you will glean online and from various databases, etc., you need to make sure you understand how big the vertical is, how big a share your target-prospect has and what their plans (ideally budget) and timing needs are to grow that share.

This level of information can only be acquired through conversations with the prospect. You may even need more than one good conversation before you can learn enough about this advertiser.

Remember, you are also trying to determine if this advertiser is a good fit with your own agency. Given your competition, you may never get a second chance at getting that advertiser back.

4. Create a Presentation that Tells Your Agency's Story

The normal flow of events leading to a sale with a new advertiser goes either through the RFP process or through a process led by the search agency. The RFP process gives the customer total control while the other gives the agency total control.

Either way, you are likely to need two presentations. The first is either the RFP response or your agency's initial presentation; the second will include the agency fee structure.

If you are involved with an RFP, you will likely be presented with a variety of categories (for example Proprietary Technologies, Bid Management Strategy, Service Team Structures, etc.) with a series of detailed questions below each. Your answers should tell a story about how your agency services accounts.

If the sale is outside the RFP process, then the focus still needs to be on telling that story: the story of how your agency's philosophy of servicing accounts is a superior fit for that particular advertiser.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

Assuming the advertiser is trying to improve the ROI of their search campaign, the seller needs to be specific about the advertiser's timing for those changes. Even if the advertiser's goal is to increase their SOV of search traffic (and conversions) to their vertical by the following year, the good search seller will be able to build up a sense of urgency in the client.

How does one do this?

By building a backward timetable.

Let's say it's currently January, and the advertiser wants to take advantage of the Q4 traffic increase. By describing each and every step leading up to October/November/December along with the amount of time needed to test and optimize each step (including keywords selection, creatives, matching strategy, landing page, etc), you can easily show the advertiser that starting in January may not even be enough.

6. Involve Your Team of Experts Pre-Sale - Without Wasting Their Time

If the seller is the smartest person in their agency, then the advertiser will suffer having to work with a not-as-smart service team. On the other hand, if the service team is a bunch of rocket scientists that the advertiser never meets, then the advertiser may have trouble visualizing the benefits of working with them.

Make sure you as a seller appear well-informed, but then top yourself by introducing the advertiser to at least one additional member of either the management or the service team - ideally both. Consider the introductions of other team members a great "next step strategy."

7. Stay Involved While Handing Off Campaign to Your Account Management Team

Some agencies ask their sellers to stay involved after the sale - some even insist that the seller joins weekly Account Manager calls. Other agencies ask that the seller cleanly hands off the advertiser, turning to focus on the next sale.

Either way, the seller is well advised to make sure they schedule a conversation (or 2, 3 or 4) during the first week/month of the new advertiser's campaign with both the Account Manager and the client. The last thing a search seller wants is to learn - too late - that the advertiser was unhappy and unable to get resolution through the account team.

How to Transition into Digital Ad Sales - eBook

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Topics: training, sales process, prospecting, value, sales tips, sales training, marketing, strategy, phone, account manager, agency's story

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

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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.

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

6 Reasons You Need a Bite-Sized Training Strategy

Posted by Molly Depasquale on May 5, 2014 2:35:00 PM


In today’s always connected digital age, we can easily become overwhelmed by the amount of information that is available to us. This is especially true when it comes to training for a new job or learning a new skill. Despite this flood of information, by implementing a bite-sized learning strategy, you can help your employees focus on what’s most important, one piece at a time.

Here are six reasons your company should start using a bite-sized training strategy today:


1. Easily on-board and get new employees up-to-speed

As a new employee, it can feel extremely daunting to go through pages and pages of information in an attempt to learn everything you need to know to successfully do your new job. When you implement a bite-sized learning strategy, you can help ease the pain of on-boarding new hires by creating specific content that fits into this “bite-sized” training methodology. The goal is not to overwhelm but to ensure comprehension. This approach to learning avoids throwing too much information into the mix at one time.

2. Increase engagement and knowledge retention

Bite-size content is easier to digest, understand and remember. This concept encourages trainers to identify important information, break it down into smaller pieces, and then streamline the delivery of that content in a way that is easy to digest in a short period of time. This will not only help employees feel less overwhelmed during training, but can also boost knowledge retention. In addition, providing training in small/focused pieces helps challenge learners to contemplate and think about the topic at hand.

3. Adapt to the growing mobile workforce

Increasingly, work is something people DO rather than a PLACE people go. Bite-sized learning, unlike a traditional approach, focuses on meeting the needs of the modern learner. This approach enables learners to access small chunks of information at their fingertips, anytime and anywhere. No need for a rigid schedule or lengthy lectures. The ability to access training on-the-go will also help encourage learners to utilize the training material more frequently because of the convenience.

4. Implement training content quickly

The beauty of bite-sized training is that it’s short and to the point. This learning format allows for easier content creation as well as quicker delivery and implementation. If you’re familiar with administering training, you know it can be frustrating to create fresh, engaging content that can be utilized quickly. Bite-sized learning can apply to both new and previously used content. The key thing to remember when crafting content is to stay focused on the topic at hand and keep it simple. To start, try revisiting older content that needs to be improved. You can do this by simplifying the content and breaking it down into key points for the learner to take-away. Additionally, the format (video, podcast, infographics, article, etc...) of the content plays a major role in how the learner successfully acquires and comprehends the material. In this way, you can take content that’s seemingly old, used, boring and make it into something fascinating and worth of spending time with.

5. Increase social collaboration

Bite-sized content is, by nature, social content. Why? Well, would you be interested in reading something that your contact posted that is titled, “5,000 Ways You Can…” No, I didn’t think so. Most individuals in our society have a waning attention span, especially when it comes to sorting through the mass amount of information that is available to us. We want to be able to find exactly what we are looking for when we need it. When we share bite-sized content with other like-minded individuals, it opens the door to collaboration and conversation.

6. Improve Behavior Change & Performance

When training doesn’t feel like a chore, individuals will most likely embrace the training. However, if the learner feels like the training is irrelevant, time-consuming and difficult to use, then the chances of the user embracing the training program is slim to none. Training should always be part of a company’s culture and when done correctly, the learner will feel like their company cares and is making an investment in them. This ultimately results in higher retention rates, increased business activity, as well as happier employees and better performance.

Does your company utilize this type of bite-sized training? What type of training culture does your company have?

Share below!



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Topics: sales, training, sales training, LMS, bite-sized training, micro-learning, eLearning