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B2B_Coffee_315_shadowThis week’s links covers content marketing for B2B organizations, effective prospecting tactics for email and other conversations, as well as some inspiration regarding the way you view your daily work in sales.

Come back daily and be sure to visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:


openview labs
7 Reasons Content Marketing Is Vital For Your B2B Business
Content marketing maven [and plant enthusiast] Kara Burney (@wkndatburneys with @trackmaven for @OpenViewVenture) uses some convincing data from the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, and other sources, to make a strong case for the use of content marketing by B2B organizations.

KEY QUOTE: “92% of B2B companies produce content marketing in-house.”

Are you in the 8%? Then it’s time to get started. If you’re a part of the 92%, don’t settle for “doing content marketing.” Never stop improving. #areyouconvincedyet
[Reading Time: 3:00]


SalesLoft Blog
One And Done: The Email That Will Get You A Demo
Content marketing specialist [and amateur karaoke star] Leah Bell (@leahwinterbell with @SalesLoft) gives us more than just a good example of a successful sales email. She gives us a great example of how to look at testing and learning with the email messages we send out every day.

KEY QUOTE: “We’re not saying that this email will work forever (or even at all) — especially if you don’t test it regularly. Use A/B testing to find the right balance of customization in your email templates. Measure your results, and then test again. Every process is unique, which is precisely why personalization and semi-automation are crucial with sincerity at scale.”

Even with that caveat, and it’s a wise note to add (or I may not have linked to it here), I believe each of you can definitely learn something new from this post. Find what that is for you, then apply it. #multiplysuccesses
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]


Score More Sales Blog
Great Questions to Ask Prospects
Speaker, author, trainer [and connector] Lori Richardson (@ScoreMoreSales) is back with another excellent, useful how-topost. This time, it’s geared toward prospecting. We all know we need to take advantage of it if there’s a way to make us even a little more effective with this task.

KEY QUOTE: “Get them talking and learn from them, without sounding like an interrogator. If you are truly curious and sound that way, it will be a more helpful conversation than if you have a list of questions to answer – so be flexible, and if they go a different direction with their answer, such as the need to find more good staff for their department, go with it and ask them more about that.”

Draw from Lori’s experience to make your next conversation with a prospect more profitable. #thequestionsyouaskmatter
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]

Selling Isn’t Meant To Be A Struggle
Speaker, author, trainer, podcaster [and Dad of two great daughters] Bill Caskey (@billcaskey) offers some great inspiration to help us change our mind sets about the effort we make in our sales work every day. We shouldn’t view selling as a struggle.

KEY QUOTE: “…when you are on purpose, prospecting behavior will never be a struggle.”

Doing hard work doesn’t need to equate to the idea of struggling. Be careful about the connotations you freely attach to things in your life. It really is your choice. #itstimeforchange
[Reading Time: 2:00]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Helping_2_-_312_shadow“When is it right for a sales professional be pushy to get a sale?” is the wrong question to ask.

In my opinion, you should never be pushy. But should you push at times? Absolutely.

A better question to ask is this: “How can a sales professional solve a buyer’s problem, through purchasing the seller’s product or service, without being pushy?”

I was excited to see someone helped me put the answer to that question into a helpful blog post giving us a new way to define a “sales leader.” I’ll get into that new definition momentarily.

CEO, sales trainer and consultant Lori Richardson (@ScoreMoreSales) recently wrote a very informative How-To style blog post titled Change From Being Pushy to Being a Sales Leader.” In it, she expertly helps sales reps learn how to convert pushiness into sales effectiveness.

Richardson hooked me into reading the post with some relevant stats from a credible source, the American Management Association (AMA):

The top three things that bother people about a salesperson are:

1.  Being too pushy – 24%
2.  Not taking “no” for an answer – 23%
3.  Not listening – 18%

In my experience, I would agree that for buyers, “Being too pushy” is the most annoying. I also believe “Not listening” is likely the most prevalent issue. The former can be significantly improved through correcting the latter.

Richardson centers the theme of this post around a new way to view the idea of a sales leader. It’s not akin to being a sales expert. It’s about leading buyers like a guide. It’s being their sales Sherpa.

Even as a salesperson you can become a sales “leader”. To do this, you help lead others to making a decision one way or the other. Sometimes that decision is a “no”. Getting a quick “no” is so much better than a “slow no”. By understanding your buyer and working to lead them forward you can guide a quicker decision and everyone moves forward.

Let’s begin to view the idea of a sales leader not necessarily as the person with the most sales but as a sales professional who effectively leads and guides the buyer toward the right sale for the right buyer at the right time.

The sales professional who becomes this kind of sales leader first can eventually resemble the more traditional definition, being the one with the most sales.

The meat and potatoes of the post comes after the section of initially explaining her premise to the reader. Richardson looks at a variety of moments in conversations where you can choose to lead/guide by your effective response.

This guidance for us centers around the all-important element of always working to set a next action. You’ll see it woven throughout her recommendations.

These effective ways to lead instead of resorting to pushiness will be very helpful to sales pros of all experience levels. I highly recommend reading Richardson’s entire blog post now in full context.

Using this training in your sales this week will set you up to receive more referrals from happy customers for some time to come.

[Reading Time for Richardson’s Post: 2:00]

QUESTION ::: Think back to a time when you were likely being pushy instead of pushing for the sale. What could you have done differently to be more of a guide to that buyer?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Reducing_Costs_309_shadowEmployee turnover is extremely costly for any department – but even more so in sales, where quotas and revenue goals rule, and the cost of replacing an employee are high.

According to expert estimates, replacing a sales rep costs approximately 150-200% of their annual salary – and associated opportunity costs or business lost due to client loyalty can boost that number even higher.

According to a recent Gallup poll, the top five reasons for employee turnover include personality conflicts with a direct supervisor, inadequate pay and/or benefits, a lack of engagement with their assigned role, an overall failure to connect with the company vision, and a lack of commitment to quality amongst team-members.

Sales reps deal with these issues, in addition to the pressures of frequent travel, mandatory quotas, and constant emphasis on performance and bottom line – so it’s no wonder that sales teams are more prone to high turnover rates than other departments.

With a cost so high, how can your business address high turnover before it cripples your sales department? These strategies are designed to improve your sales rep retention, and help you create a strong and engaged team.

  1. Hire strategically. The most effective way to avoid high turnover rates is to hire the right people from the get-go. Pre-screen your new hires thoroughly, employing the use of situational exams or personality profiles to help you weed through the field of applicants (and find the flowers!). Invite only the most qualified candidates for an interview. It may take longer to fill your openings, but it will save you a ton of time and energy, in the long run.
  2. Improve your onboarding process. Build a strong foundation for success, by ramping up your sales rep onboarding. Make sure your new hire’s desk and equipment are set up prior to their start date, so they can avoid the new-hire slump, and hit the ground running. Also, get specific about their role and duties, setting reasonable expectations for performance, designed around their individual experience and qualifications. Consider partnering new reps with a mentor, who can help them get up to speed – and offer solid, ongoing sales training for at least the first six months. This will help create a sense of stability, and ensure that your sales reps are familiar with the resources available to them.
  3. Educate your sales reps. Share data and information regarding previous goals, accomplishments – and even failures. Familiarizing your sales team with past trends, strategies, and approaches will help them gain insight into what works (and what doesn’t) – and save you all time and frustration, in the long run. Informing your team will also help them understand the wider processes and performance of your department – providing them with insight into buyer behavior, organizational goals, and other relevant knowledge.
  4. Check in with your reps frequently. Want to know if your sales team is a happy one? Ask them! Hold one-on-one time periodically, and check in with staff to see how they feel about their current roles, assignments, and compensation. Acknowledge their hard work and accomplishments, and make sure they know that they are valued, and that their opinions matter. This will help you beat turnover before it rears it’s ugly head.
  5. Pay attention to compensation and benefits. If you aren’t providing compensation commensurate with performance, take note – your sales reps sure will! It’s important to reward high-performers appropriately, as they make up the bread and butter of your sales. Use performance data to create a scalable compensation program, with smart, measurable sales goals – and reward those who meet them, accordingly.
  6. Hold an “exit interview”. When a sales rep gives notice, holding an exit interview can help you gain honest insight about the workings of your organization. Ask your departing reps to share their reasons for leaving, as well as any feedback they have regarding issues they’ve experienced, or ways in which you might improve. You might be surprised at the results – but listen carefully, take notes, and act on any pertinent info as quickly as possible. If possible have someone else in your organization conduct an exit interview so you can compare notes.  You might find some differences around the reasons.

By adjusting your management strategies, you’ll not only save time and budget, you’ll reduce your exposure to high turnover, and find your sales department staffed by a team of satisfied, engaged, and motivated sales reps.

Commit to these measures, and you’ll find you encourage an environment of longevity, beneficial to everyone in your organization. The positive impact could be incredible – so why wait?

To learn more about how SalesFitRX can help you improve your organizational strategy, increase employee performance through increasing selling time, and set the smart goals which encourage employee commitment – contact me today: | 602-427-2399


Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Drowning_330_shadowThe same data that can increase your sales can also bottleneck your sales progress if not handled wisely.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed, at times, with the vast amounts of data available? Perhaps you’ve resisted using the tools at your disposal because you didn’t want to take time out to learn how to use them.

Perhaps you simply don’t believe sales analytics will help you land more sales.

If so, you’re not alone. You have an industry full of many others feeling the same way.

Author, speaker and referral sales authority Joanne Black (@ReferralSales) recently wrote a post for the Sales 2.0 Blog about sales analytics called, Are Analytics for Sales a Technology Overkill?

[It’s a perfect companion piece to my post from last week, “Do You Know About This Deadly Trend In Sales Management?” where I featured Jason Jordan‘s resource on the @Salesforce Blog.]

Black opens the post writing about the struggle we have in common with non-selling time:

Oh, how I hate paperwork. Most salespeople feel the same way. We just want to spend time with our clients and close deals. It has been tough enough for organizations to get salespeople to use CRM and provide data. Now sales teams are also being asked to review data and trust analytics.

To be sure, more data isn’t a bad thing, but without solid guidance on how to both effectively and efficiently make the most of that data (i.e. application to your daily sales work), you’ll quickly find yourself lost in non-selling time neck deep in a swamp of data overload.

In the post, Black sat down with Mike Moorman, Managing Principal at ZS Associates (@ZSAssociates), to learn from someone who knows a thing or two about sales analytics and how to use that data to your advantage.

In the past, the sales data available to us has been about past events. But today, we’re experiencing the genesis of an entirely new type of data, and its seemingly endless possibilities, in predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Black’s discussion with Moorman helps us see how this information can assist us in answering questions such as:

  • What’s the optimal size of my sales force?
  • What’s the best way to deploy my people?
  • What are the optimal territories for us to target?
  • What are the best accounts to target?
  • What is each prospect’s propensity to buy?

But even more, we can apply this new level of understanding further into our sales weeks:

This doesn’t just help sales leaders make optimal decisions. It also enables individual sales reps to optimize their performance by answering such questions as:

  • Which accounts should I call on first?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What is my message or value proposition with a specific account?
  • Should I engage face to face or on other channels?
  • What should I send to each unique buyer – an email, research report, video?

Moorman then recommends three steps to get your sales team started on the analytics journey. You’ll definitely want to read those and consider how and when you’ll begin to press these steps into action for your sales organization. Read it all in Black’s useful post.

You don’t need to fear change in the form of a potential tidal wave of data you’ll be expected to analyze, interpret and set into motion. Understand how to use the tools at your disposal, learn to filter what really matters for you and your sales team, and then show your colleagues how to do it too.

A handful of sales reps in your team are going to step-up and lead the rest of you in this way. Make sure you’re one of them.

[Reading Time of Black’s Post: 2:30]

QUESTION: What’s your biggest struggle or frustration with the sales data you can currently access? Is the learning curve too steep with the tools you could use to make sense of the data?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



coffee_bags_313_shadowIf coffee is for closers, then you’re about to read some recommendations from 5 coffee magnates…

It appears Fergal Glynn (VP of Marketing for @docurated) recently spent some quality time researching what some of today’s top sales experts have shared about closing sales. He put it all together in a post for HubSpot’s Sales Blog titled, “9 Sales Closing Tricks That the Experts Swear By.”

I highly recommend reading it today.

Glynn’s opening paragraph paints the picture well. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the moment of truth that is the closing of the sale:

Closing deals is an art. Most sales professionals have their own unique styles. Combine these with their company’s specific sales process and the individual customer’s needs, and closing deals becomes a highly individualized process.

Okay. Before we really get started here, there’s something that needs to be said…

Please allow this old[er] gentleman a moment to express that I’ve firmly believed, since the beginning of my career, that there is no bigger misnomer in the field of sales than the phrase, “Closing the deal/sale.”

In my opinion, the sale actually begins to take on its life after the sale is birthed with a signature. What happens on the other side of the signature is what makes the sale a true win for all parties involved.

It’s more than a matter of semantics. It’s led too many sales reps astray. To think of the idea of the closing as an ending has led far too many sales professionals to work hard only up until the sale is signed, but not after it…at least, not with the effort they put forth to obtain the signature.

To put that in baseball terms: They’re running TO the base, not THROUGH the base…and that will eventually cost you some base hits, and gain you a poor reputation, if that’s how you play the game.

That reputation affects/hurts the reputation of every sales professional in the industry, because that perception is cast upon the rest of us. This creates an additional hurdle for us to help the prospect clear.

That hurdle can be removed during subsequent sales if you truly proved your value after the previous sale was made official.

That’s what we need more of in our sales industry: exemplary service after the sale as well.

Glynn offers a great quote about the wide variety of answers you would receive from a poll of sales leaders:

As sales careers expert Thomas Phelps explains, “If you asked 100 sales professionals for their best tips on closing a sale, you would get 100 different responses. You would hear the old school crowd preaching the benefits of the assumptive and Colombo closes. The newer breed would claim that a sale is simply the result of the relationship and rapport you have built with the customer.”

That’s okay here since we’re speaking with specific sales leaders who have proven their advice can work over the test of time.

You’ve surely heard some of these before, but we’re kept sharp by reminders like these along with a few new angles to keep us growing and trying new things.

First up is a pair of tricks from speaker and author Jill Konrath (@jillkonrath). Then, two pieces of advice from international sales expert Grant Cardone (@GrantCardone).

Next, co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar, among other ventures, Neil Patel (@NeilPatel) also has a pair of ways he’s been consistently successful.

The post ends with two tricks from account strategy expert and author Tom Searcy (@TomSearcy) and a final word from author, speaker, and entrepreneur Brian Tracy (@briantracy).

Now, I haven’t told you what each of these sales stars offer because, as you know if you read this blog with any regularity, I have no interest in stealing the thunder of authors such as Fergal Glynn. Read his post in its full intended context to learn best from this very helpful resource.

[Reading Time for Glynn’s Post: 2 minutes]

QUESTION ::: What would you offer as a trick or tip for consistently closing sales?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Email_2_-_309_shadowThis week’s links offer A LOT of optimization advice for being as effective as possible in your cold emails, as well as 33 little ways to give you a big ROI for what you’re doing in LinkedIn.

Come back and visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:


Sales Hacker Blog
7 Sales Email Secrets to Drive Deals Forward
First off, you do NOT already know all of this information, so you should definitely check out this resource. It’s extremely useful and informative.

Director of Sales at Yesware, Mike Haylon (@mhaylon for @saleshackerconf) presented this information so you can either read it as a regular post or scroll to the end and press play and click through the slides in the presentation provided.

Key Quote: “Best practices:

1. Identify the top performing templates.
2. Understand why they worked well.
3. Share the good templates.”

Make use of this one, and be sure to pass it on to your colleagues. #usetheseeveryday
[Reading Time: 4:00]
[BONUS: Audio Presentation Time: 25:09]


Marketo Blog
Marketo Data Tells Us: Which Type of Emails Have the Highest Conversion Rates?
Platform Product Marketing Manager, Johnny Cheng (@marketerjohnny with @marketo) keeps us on the email optimization theme with these helpful findings you should put into practice starting today, beginning with your trigger email.

Key Quote: “Trigger emails perform 3x better than any other email type. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that’s done trigger emails. The power of personalized messages based on behavior is powerful.”

Don’t miss the “Key Take-Aways.” #bemoreeffective
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]


SalesFolk Blog
How to Write Unforgettable Cold Emails
Kathie Irwin (@buildingspeak for SalesFolk @HeatherReyhan) created a post to keep us going on the email topic with a strong focus on storytelling and story development.

Key Quote: “…the best stories are like little brainworms– sticking around in our brains, occasionally coming to the front of our minds when something triggers it. Most cold emails are a soulless march through benefit after benefit, ending in a desperate plea for your prospect’s business.”

Keep an eye on the SalesFolk blog for useful content you can read and immediately put into action. #onceuponatime
[Reading Time: 3:30]

33 Tweet-Size LinkedIn Tips You Need to Try
Lily Herman (@lkherman) created a post featuring this valuable infographic originally created by @Ethos3. It offers 33 bits of advice, each in 140 characters or less from a wide variety of people.

Key Quote: “Being fans of tweet-sized tidbits of career advice, we thought we’d make the process of learning the latest facts about LinkedIn way easier. Check out the infographic below to learn what you can be doing to make your professional profile the best one ever in just 140 characters or fewer.”

Think of this as tapas-style social selling optimization at its best (I didn’t even know that was a thing). #bitesizeadvice
[Reading Time: 3:00]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Salesforce_300I don’t want you to fall into this all-too-common trap.

[Wait, did I appear to overreach in the titling of this post? A bit much?]

I may have used, well, a touch of hyperbole there in the title (borrowed from the resource I’m about to mention), but that came out of my concern for the welfare of you as a sales professional and for the well-being of your sales organization.

Please allow me to explain…

Sales management expert, author, and speaker Jason Jordan(@jasonrjordan for @salesforce) recently wrote the third post, “Deadly Sales Management Trend #3: Data Overload,” in a series titled, “5 Deadly Trends in Sales Management.”

I’ll give you those links in a moment, but I want to keep your focus on this particular post.

The past 20 years have been amazing as far as what information we now have at our fingertips. Jordan starts off by saying as much when he states:

Anyone on the planet within reach of a cellular tower can view the latest data on year-to-date revenue, opportunities in the pipeline, sales forecasts, quota attainment, sales activity, and any other data point that the heart or mind desires.
So what’s wrong with that? Data is good, and good data is better, right?

Yes, but…

 only to a point. In the absence of any data, sales management is starved of critical insights, so those first management reports feel like a cup of cold water on a hot summer day.  But as the reports begin to pile up, they become a torrential downpour that can leave sales managers adrift in a sea of data.
The challenge then becomes to identify the cupful of data that will quench your thirst, without drowning you in a flood of reports.

My early career certainly didn’t include these data luxuries we now possess, and there were certainly pitfalls, or false-positives, in the data we were able to use. The current abundance of data can quickly become a snare because of the flood of data.

It can be more difficult to root out the most important insights and, even more often, we see mirages in the data. We read the data according to our own biases. We want to tell the story that aligns with our goals…but the data may only seem to agree.

The rest of Jordan’s post walks us through the story of a real world business example, from understanding the potential problems to understanding how to use three specific, actionable steps to safeguard yourself from succumbing to this trend of increasing data overload.

The discoveries came from researching for Jordan’s book, Cracking the Sales Management Code.

You know I won’t tell you what those steps are here because, as always, I really want you to click over to the full post to read it for yourself.

If you’re in a sales management position, or if you aspire to be in that position one day, it’s worth your time to read it. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have taken my time to tell you about it.

AS PROMISED: Here are the links to the first two posts in this series:

  1. 5 Deadly Trends in Sales Management
  2. Deadly Sales Management Trend #2: Lack of a Common Language

Look for the fourth installment in this series on the Salesforce Blog very soon.

QUESTION ::: Were you already aware of the easy trap of misusing data, and have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of data you have at your disposal? If so, what have you found to be helpful to keep the data working in your favor instead of secretly against you?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Bokeh_300_shadowThis week’s links run through the topics of the importance of better focus, help for your cold emails, average sales reps & sales hiring experts offering advice about sales hiring.

Come back and visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:

HOW TO :::

Jill Konrath’s Blog
One Simple Way to Instantly Have Better Sales Conversations
Keynote speaker and award-winning author Jill Konrath (@jillkonrath) put together another great post with video and text. She calls this the “Instant IQ Killer,” and she backs up her claim well.

Just Between You & Me: I always enjoy reading posts like this while listening to the author’s voice. I secretly hope this will become a norm in the future for blog posts because the content comes alive a bit more when I can hear the emotional cues in the voice as I read.

Perhaps I’ll try this style of posts someday as well…with enough shadows to keep me anonymous of course.

Key Quote: Paschler’s study showed that dual task interference can cause a person’s intellectual capacity to drop from that of a Harvard MBA to an 8-year old.

Don’t miss this one. #focusononething
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]


SalesFolk Blog
3 Copywriting Mistakes That Make Your Cold Emails Look Stupid
Founder/CEO of SalesFolk, and economist, Heather R. Morgan (@HeatherReyhan) is better known to her clients as a copywriting genie when it comes to writing cold emails. She caught my attention with this blog post and I wanted to pass it on to you.

Key Quote: Your prospects crave simple messages that speak directly to their needs and goals. So, if your cold emails are the butt of everyone’s jokes, you’re probably making at least one of these copywriting mistakes…

Don’t miss clicking this link if either you currently write cold emails, or if you coach those who do. #warmupyouremail
[Reading/Listening Time: 3:00]


J. Barrows Blog
Death of the ‘Average’ Sales Rep
Sales trainer John Barrows (@johnmbarrows) wrote this excellent post back in March but it’s important you don’t miss it. In it, Barrows explains three disturbing trends keeping so many sales reps in the “Average” category (or perhaps “Below Average” for some). He also goes into the solution, so it’s a story with a light at the end of the tunnel.

Key Quote: If marketing and clients are getting smarter and sales reps are staying the same (or getting worse) what do you think is going to happen?

Learn from this one and come away better for it. #riseaboveaverage
[Reading/Listening Time: 3:00]


Sales Hacker Blog
32 Sales Development Leaders Share Their Best Hiring Advice
Digital Marketer Alex J. Burkholder (@alexjburk) recently wrote this guest post for the Sales Hacker Blog (@SalesHackerConf). It offers a great collection of tips if you’re in a sales hiring position for your organization.

Key Quote: What is a single piece advice you’d give to another sales professional who’s currently scaling or who is about to start building a sales development team?

Learn from those who’ve already learned. #dontregretahire
[Reading/Listening Time: 8:00+]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Questions_2_300_shadowNever assume. Instead, inquire.

It’s hard to comprehend how many sales were lost today, around the globe, because of a false assumption.

I don’t want this outcome for you. Neither of us do. So, before you go into your next sales call, please do 2 things for me…well, for you really:

  1. Scan your understanding of the prospect or customer for any assumptions you may have, then…
  2. …determine the right questions to ask to confirm what you were assuming.

That’s a good start, but I want to point you a great resource that will help you by giving you some excellent questions which can really open up the conversation. They can turn a sales presentation into a true conversation. It’s what they would prefer, so do it their way.

Co-presidents of RAIN Group, Mike Schultz (@Mike_Schultz) and  John Doerr (@JohnEDoerr), recently wrote a great blog post for the RAIN Selling Blog titled, “21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions.”

I could not agree more with this premise the authors propose:

… sometimes all you need is to ask one open-ended question and your client will share with you all the information you need to help them.

You may think, “Sure, that’s true once in a while, but not as a typical conduit to getting the sales signed.” What if…what if the right open-ended question could help you gain more sales quite a bit more often than you do now?

I believe this can be the case…and it should be.

This post from Schultz and Doerr offers 21 great open-ended questions you can use, in the right moments, to obtain the most important information you’ll need to get from the opening line to the closing of the sale.

The questions are smartly organized into four categories:

  1. Rapport-focused
  2. Aspiration– & Afflictions-focused
  3. Impact-focused
  4. New-Reality-focused

Without giving away the bacon, here’s a little sizzle, a taste of the questions:

  • RAPPORT: What’s going on in your business these days? How have things changed?
  • RAPPORT: It was good to hear the short version of your background at the meeting, but since we’re out for lunch, I’d love to get the long version. What’s your story?
  • ASPIRATION: Many of our clients are reporting problems with areas A, B, and C. How are these areas affecting you? What do you think about them?
  • IMPACT: If you were to make this happen, what would it mean for you personally?
  • IMPACT: If you don’t solve (insert the particular challenge here), what kind of difficulties will you face going forward? What won’t happen that you want to happen?
  • NEW REALITY: If there were no restrictions on you – money, effort, political issues and so on do not exist – what would you change? Can you tell me why you say that?

The authors make a good point with this statement:

As you ask any open-ended sales questions, bear in mind that the most difficult task is not sounding too contrived. While we’ve suggested wording here in this article, feel free to use the concepts, but make the wording your own when you ask the questions.

If you’ve read this far, and you have, then this topic is at least of some interest to you. I would also recommend this post from @SellingPowerMag: “The Power of the Right Question at the Right Time.”

As for this featured post by Schultz & Doerr, read it all. You’ll not only be able to pick-up a few more great questions to use in your sales conversations, but you’ll also be able to pass on this help so others can learn from you.

By doing that, by sales coaching when that isn’t even your title yet (if that’s the case), then word will spread that you’re the right kind of person who can help grow a sales team. Be proactive.

Don’t look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others around you. That approach will serve you well. It has for me. You’ll all benefit from it.

QUESTION ::: Do you have go-to open-ended questions you use to get deeper into the conversation/into the funnel? Do you actively search for other questions, better questions, to build your arsenal?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Teamwork_2_310_shadowThere’s a process in our industry in desperate need of a new, all-encompassing definition…whether you realize it or not.

It’s how the best performers in our sales industry consistently get the job done. You should want what they have. What they so often tend to have is effective sales force enablement behind them.

Please allow me a minute of your time to begin to make the case for this…

Sales enablement leader/analyst and research director Tamara Schenk(@tamaraschenk) recently penned a post for MHI Research Institute’s blog (@MHIResearch), “Evolving Enablement to Sales Force Enablement: The New Definition.” In it, Schenk helps us better understand the vastly underappreciated and undervalued element of sales force enablement. When that’s right, your sales team really is empowered to perform at their best.

Or, as Schenk puts it:

“…a strong definition of enablement helps you to build a solid foundation for your specific enablement practice in your context.”

I like how the post quickly goes into asking and answering the same question you may have in your head: “Why do we NEED a dynamic, strategic and holistic sales force enablement definition?”

Schenk uses far more than merely her opinion to make her point. Instead, she draws from the 2015 MHI Sales Best Practices Study. [You don’t need to give your personal information to access it; that link goes directly to the study.]

In this section of the post, the author asked the question: What are world-class sales performers doing differently?

Do you want to know what they do, with the stats to back it up? Then read the post.

I will share this:

World-class sales performers know exactly how to navigate the different dynamics along the entire customer’s journey, and they don’t walk away after a deal has been closed.

How the world-class sales performers pull it all off, time after time, is what sales force enablement is all about.

If I asked you to name 4 components that make-up true sales force enablement, how would you answer that?

Schenk offers these 4 components, based on data, within the new definition she proposes:

  • Integrated content
  • Training & coaching services (effective training/coaching…emphasis mine)
  • Understanding of the customer’s journey
  • Using the right technology for the team

The right technology these days really is key [and I’m not merely talking about SalesFitRx either]. There’s a handful of tools, a right mix, that will be most effective for your particular organization. Start with what you’re presently missing out on, then fill in your needs from there.

Some of the tools will be common to upwards of 90% of all sales teams simply because they specifically address common sales team issues no one else is addressing [or if they are, they’re being inadequately addressed]. Keep that in mind.

If your competitors have discovered the mix that works for them and you haven’t then they have a significant advantage over you. <insert knot in your stomach here>

Read the definition Schenk proposes and see if it aligns with where you presently are, or if it’s where you want to take your sales organization.

For me, Schenk now offers the best definition of this vital process I’ve read yet. And, I really love that strong data was used as the actual building blocks of the definition.

Next Step: Print out Schenk’s blog post, schedule time with your sales manager and begin the conversation about how you can work together to use this information, based on research data, to strengthen the sales performance of your sales team this quarter.

I’ve featured the writing of Tamara Shenk in the past. You can keep an eye on her work at her blog and also at the MHI Research Institute Blog.

QUESTION ::: Does the topic of “sales force enablement” come up in conversations with your colleagues or management?Does this new definition give you more to work with?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »