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HOW TO CONNECT CONTENT TO YOUR SALES FUNNEL

Sales_Funnel_X_-_249These days, the progression of sales is less funnel than maze – and the ability to retrace the path of leads back to their source is absolutely critical for businesses who strive to step up their game.

After all – if you don’t know what’s working, how can you improve upon it?

According to recent research by Aberdeenonly 39% of businesses currently have this ability – which means those who do are at an extraordinary advantage when it comes to nailing their outreach efforts.

In fact, those businesses who land in the top 20% when it comes to marketing performance are almost 2.5 times more likely to connect their leads to specific content assets. And it makes sense – by determining what is working (and what isn’t) they are capable of duplicating their efforts, or amending them.

This is definitely easier said than done – especially in the beginning. With so many points of customer contact, it can be difficult to determine where to start, what to research, and how to set milestones for measurement.

Still, the ability to track lead sources back to their origination point and connect them with specific content assets allows your business to construct its marketing strategy on a solid foundation.

Need some help getting started? Here’s a simple 5-step process:

  1. Avoid content paralysis – just begin by producing content designed for each stage in the sales funnel. In the top of the funnel, you’ll want to connect with your audience and offer content which introduces them to your products and services via value-added assets. Starting a conversation via social media is a great way to begin, as is offering informative content such as eBooks, How-To posts, and infographics.In the middle of the funnel, you’ll focus more on assets which help your prospective customers evaluate their options, such as buying guides, product demos, and case studies. And in the final stages, you’ll include deeper content, such as free trials, consultations, and customized estimates.
  2. Publish or promote your content. Push your messages out to your prospective audience’s preferred channels and platforms, and keep a close eye on the resulting conversations. (Yes – it’s that easy.)
  3. Pay attention to your results. Are you driving dialogue via social media? Are prospective customers lingering longer on any particular post or page? Have you seen a spike in traffic or interest following any particular campaign? Your key measurements will vary from one stage of the funnel to the next – but if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the critical insights which help you hone your strategy.
  4. Ask for feedback (and referrals!). If you aren’t sure where your clients are coming from – ask. Collecting consumer feedback can be an enlightening experience, and it may help you uncover some interesting insights regarding your content marketing efforts. It also helps to track your referrals – it can help you determine who your best and most loyal brand advocates are.
  5. Hone your strategy. Take what you’ve learned, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Throw out any approaches which aren’t working to your advantage, and focus on your top-producing approaches. Your audience is unique, and honing your strategy to suit what works best for them will help you create deeper connections – and drive future sales.

Contact me today to learn more about how to find more selling time, through award-winning technology, in your weekly schedule: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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3 MORE RECOMMENDED SALES TOOLS

Tools_3_-_310_shadowAs sales pros, we know that the hardest part of making the sale is often connecting to new business.In this day and age, rallying new sales

In this day and age, rallying new sales relies heavily on developing your prospective relationships – so that by the time your potential clients are ready to make a move, you’ve already been established as a trusted expert in their sphere of influence.

But, how do the most successful sales professionals climb the mountain of social media, in order to stay on top of their client conversations?

They do it by using the best tools available to gather info and gain insight into their clients’ needs – and then leveraging this information to drive relevant and engaging conversations with their potential customers.

Need some help kickstarting your conversations? I’ve reviewed a few tools which can help you identify your best prospects and open the door to more productive dialogue.

SocialPort (by rFactr)
http://rfactr.com/product  //  @rFactr

SocialPort is an all-inclusive content management system, which enables streamlined sharing via social channels. It helps users engage in more productive conversations, by allowing them to write, schedule, and share posts which have been optimized for social media.

It allows managers access to in-depth data and analytical insights helpful for tracking and monitoring the impact of social campaigns, as well as enabling sharing of corporate-approved content for use by sales staff. SocialPort simplifies the alignment of marketing, sales, and customer experience – and makes it easy to attribute revenue directly to sales initiatives.
 

Pros – Effective content syndication and easy integration with most major CRMs.
Cons – Auto-posting could be improved. Syndication functionality is also somewhat lacking.
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Riffle (by CrowdRiff)
http://crowdriff.com/riffle  //  @CrowdRiff

Riffle helps maximize their use of Twitter, by providing information regarding the reach and potential value of each user. This allows sales professionals to identify industry influencers, and prioritize, personalize, and tailor their interactions to develop more in-depth relationships.

The Chrome extension is simple to install and manage, integrates well with Hootsuite and Salesforce, and provides instantaneous insight into contact interest, engagement, and activity via the Twitter platform. It provides at-a-glance contact metrics regarding social stats, retweets, and network reach – as well as quick-links to your contacts connected social profiles and preferred platforms.

Pros – The simplicity of use basically eliminates the learning curve – making this a great tool for the less tech-savvy.

Cons – Riffle is less data-focused than its rivals – and strictly relevant for frequent users of Twitter.

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Discover.ly (by Google)
http://discover.ly  //  @discoverly

Discover.ly is a Chrome extension which connects your LinkedIn profile to your Facebook connections – allowing you to leverage “in common” connections, and develop stronger relationships.

Once installed, Discover.ly allows you to view any mutual Facebook connections from within LinkedIn – enabling sales professionals to shift their conversational focus to those prospective clients with whom they already have connections in common.

Pros – Discover.ly presents data within LinkedIn, so there is no need to move away from the social network you use most. It also places the emphasis on strength of connection and developing pre-existing social relationships, as opposed to merely identifying influencers or social reach.
Cons – This plug-in simply streamlines access to information which is already accessible to you (from a data privacy perspective). It also only supports one Gmail account per LinkedIn account, so consider carefully before installing it – it can be glitchy if you attempt to make changes.

At the end of the day – there is no cure-all app for streamlining your social sales. Still, used in conjunction, all of these programs can offer helpful insights which can be leveraged to improve your social selling, and improve sales effectiveness.

For more information on how SalesFitRx can help you leverage data to improve your sales efficiency, contact me today: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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SOCIAL SELLING 101: GET UP-TO-SPEED TODAY

Social_Selling_-_Laptop_287_shadowFor businesses looking to boost revenues and beat their quota, social media is an excellent [and often-under-utilized] sales tool.

Though marketing and PR have long accepted the value of social reach, many sales teams have been slow to embrace the social network as an avenue of consumer connection.

But gone are the days of cold-calling and face-to-face meetings – today’s savvy customers are using social media to screen their business contacts, familiarize themselves with brands, and connect with industry experts and influencers.

Which means if your sales team wants to meet increasing quotas and boost revenues, they’ll need to update their social skills and connect with your prospective audience on their preferred platforms.

HOW TO GET STARTED
Shifting your attention to social selling can take a bit of adjustment, but if your business is serious about boosting sales, you’ll need to take the leap; your competition has already done so.

I’ve outlined my best suggestions, below, to help smooth the transition.

  • Do your research. Prepare to enter the world of social selling by doing a little digging. Your sales team will want to identify your industry influencers and their preferred social networks, and spend some time following the current conversation – what are they talking about? And, who with?Remind your sales team that social selling is not about pushing a product or service – it is about establishing credibility and connection through conversation. A little research will help your sales team gain great insight regarding the values and attitudes of your prospective audience – and apply it to drive real dialogue.
  • Establish concrete, measurable goals. Outline a plan for increasing your social reach, and make sure your sales team is up to speed. Whether your goal is to increase your page Likes on Facebook or boost the number of posts re-Tweeted – take time to set real, actionable, and measurable milestones, and you’ll find it far easier to track your progress.
  • Allocate time specifically for social selling. It takes time to build a strong social presence – but even 15 minutes per day can hold a huge impact on your success. Build social selling into your daily schedule, by asking each member of your sales team to spend a period of time each day interacting via social media. At the end of the month, review your reach – and make sure to record your results.
  • Track activities and results individually, and as a team. Keep an eye on your metrics! While most networks offer built-in tools for tracking results, you may find it helpful to use a comprehensive sales solution such as that offered by SalesFitRX to aggregate and track your social selling results between networks.However you choose to approach it, make sure you follow your progress and results both as a team and individually. You’ll not only see the impact of your efforts – you’ll identify which members of your sales team have a knack for social selling.
  • Provide support and motivation. Check in with your sales professionals frequently, to see how their conversations are going. Provide clear content guidance, periodical prompts, or suggestions of interest to help inspire those who might benefit – and discuss the results as a team in your weekly meeting. Discuss your progress, and share the data which proves your results – and you’ll find your team motivated to continue extending your social reach.
  • Adjust the strategy to meet your desired results. Over time, you’ll discover the nuances of each social network, and learn which avenues are the best revenue generators. Maybe your prospective audience has a stronger presence on LinkedIn, or Twitter – whatever the platform, encourage your sales team to focus their efforts, allocating more time to presence where you see results.

Social selling is still a new world to many sales reps – so ease your team into the transition by providing effective education and guidance.

You’ll help your sales team extend your business’s reach, establish credibility, drive conversational connection, and meet their increasing quotas – all while boosting your bottom line.

Contact me today to learn more about how to find more selling time, through award-winning technology, in your weekly schedule: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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STOP DOING THESE THINGS – EXPERT ADVICE ON THE CUSTOMER CONVERSATION

Stop_341_shadowFrom day to day, all good sales reps are bombarded with a list of best practices for our craft – but few of us are focused on the challenges of altering our current approach and behavior to reflect the changing customer conversation.

It can be hard to step outside of our current practices, and think outside of the box – which is why I’ve done a little digging to come up with a list of five things the experts recommend you STOP doing today, to improve your sales strategy and drive more valuable customer conversation:

  1. Don’t Waste a Good Crisis
    In his article Don’t Waste a Perfectly Good CrisisJoe Calloway (@joecalloway) describes the opportunity available in crisis – specifically, that inherent in the aftermath of a recession. Calloway believes that when most companies are tightening their belts, it’s prime time to set yourself apart from the competition by increasing customer contact. Calloway says –“The historic economic meltdown of 2008 gave us an almost limitless supply of practical business lessons. Perhaps the most impactful of those lessons is that there can be tremendous value in a crisis.“When taking action is just an option, it’s easy to continue having meetings about it. But when the banks stop making loans, customers are canceling orders, revenue is plummeting, and your cash flow is slowing down to a trickle, you begin to realize that more meetings aren’t the answer. You have to do something and do it now.”

     

  2. Stop Using Sales Lingo
    In his LinkedIn article Stop Doing These 3 Things in SalesMichael Manzi (@MikeManzi7) of OfferPop (@offerpop) offers warning against lapsing into technical talk in your conversations with clients. He gives an overview of “sales speak” and describes how it can easily create disconnection, alienate customers, and breed distrust, saying –

    Sales talk assumes that the other people on the line are not human. That somehow they’re impressed when we use big words and long sentences. We think that if we say paradigm, fundamental, ROI and industry, we’re going to pull out the check books of VP’s at major companies.In reality, it makes the prospect do the “sales Heisman”. One hand on their wallet and the other hand up to defend you from getting to it.”
  3. Quit Thinking of Questions
    In his article Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Questions When SellingKeenan (@keenan) talks about the benefits of considering the client conversation from a new angle. He suggests that asking questions is not nearly as valuable as the consideration of what information you actually need to gain from your prospective customer during dialogue, saying -“The next time you are preparing for a sales call, don’t focus on the questions you want to ask, consider focusing on the information you want to know. Once you know what you’re looking for, the questions will roll off your tongue until you get what you want.”
  4. Don’t Snooze – Cat Nap
    In her recent article When it Comes to Sales Territories, Think Like a Cat, sales-pro-turned-comedy-writer Amanda Caswell (@AmandaCaswell) shares her tongue-in-cheek advice on remaining on top of client contact by developing good follow-up skills, saying –“Very rarely do cats sleep so soundly that they can’t hear what’s going on around them. This characteristic is actually a survival instinct. As a sales person, your sense of survival in the industry should be based on never getting too comfortable. Always stay on top of your game by checking in with your clients and potential prospects even on the days you’d rather just zone out.” 
  5. Don’t Assume You Control the Conversation
    In a recent Huffington Post articleVala Afshar of SalesForce (@ValaAfshar), interviews Tiffani Bova (@Tiffani_Bova) of Gartner,  as they discuss the new data-driven environment of sales. Bova describes the new customer relationship, stating that customers (as opposed to technology) are redefining perception of market disruption, saying –

    “The reality is, your sales teams are no longer in control of how customers explore or evaluate you as a provider, and sales needs to step up.Today’s sales organizations must shift from trying to control their internally driven sales cycle and truly embrace the new customer-driven buying cycle — otherwise, prospects will eliminate you from their consideration list and buy from your competition”

By following this expert advice, and altering your sales behavior accordingly, you’ll find yourself participating in more valuable, authentic customer dialogue – which will result in increased trust, improved customer loyalty, and higher revenues. Why not give it a go?

For more information on how you can streamline your sales, contact me today: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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3 RESEARCH FIRMS SALES PROS NEED TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER

Research_2_-_340_shadowThe effectiveness of sales techniques can vary between industries and gatekeepers, but there’s nothing quite like the backing of hard numbers and figures.

Using the latest statistics and research data to back your offer will greatly improve the effectiveness of your sales pitch.

Sales professionals have a lot to gain from using statistics and research data. It brings together context and presentation options into the mix to solidify your customer’s business opportunities and return on investment.

Here at SalesFitRx, I understand that sales pros are always on the move and don’t have the time to conduct surveys or manage data points. Which is why I’ve created a list of 3 research groups to follow on Twitter for access to the latest research across a multitude of industries:

Sirius_Decisions_Icon_170x170Sirius Decisions – Follow @SiriusDecisions on Twitter
Sirius Decisions makes actionable intelligence and guides on topics pertaining to B2B Marketing, Sales, and Product Leaders who want to drive the growth of their business.
Sirius Decisions uses holistic methodologies in their research, observing every facet of complex systems to find the true flow of a business process.
The group creates fact-filled blog posts, slide decks presentations, and webinars to showcase their findings. This variety in display options makes it easy for salespeople who need to understand complex issues information quickly.
Sirius Decisions posts frequently on their Twitter page with an average of 5 postings a day. They keep their Twitter followers in the loop of their upcoming massive research projects and worldwide webinar sessions.
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Aberdeen_Group_Logo_170x170Aberdeen Group – Follow @AberdeenGroup on Twitter
Aberdeen Group covers a wide range of industries and topics with a focus on the business practices that gives top performing companies. The group reviews the effectiveness of specific techniques, tools, organizational decisions, and business focuses for a comprehensive assessment on what works.
Research conducted by the Aberdeen Group comes in the form of highly-detailed white papers. Aberdeen Group is also transparent in the way that they conduct their research, providing multiple perspectives in how to interpret data sets given by companies.
The group’s research is perfect for salespeople who want an in-depth understanding of tools and business practices that have proven to work in the field by top performing companies.
Aberdeen Group is highly active on their Twitter page with nearly 10 postings a day. The group also responds to questions and comments tweeted to them, making them one of the more interactive groups on Twitter. ­The majority of their tweets are links to their latest research, keeping followers well informed on the most successful best practices.
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Forrester_Icon_170x170Forrester Research – Follow @Forrester on Twitter
Forrester Research is one of the largest research firms on Twitter with over 328 thousand followers. The group focuses their research on Marketing & Technology business processes.
Forrester Research gathers data from more than 500,000 consumer and business leaders worldwide for massive annual surveys and industry-wide research projects.
The majority of Forrester Research’s information comes in the form of reports with less emphasis on narratives and more on compact factoids. Forrester Research specializes in business performance analysis for unexplored opportunities. Their information is better suited for decision-makers and managers who are looking for new potential to growing business.
Forrester Research publishes over 10 posts on their Twitter page a day. Forrester Research also actively publishes detailed visuals with nearly 3 image postings a day from their speaker series and events.

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Keeping well informed on the happenings of your clientele’s industry trends is a solid business practice for any level of salesperson. Not only does it strengthen your sales position, but it allows you to tune your strategy directly to the needs of the customer.

Contact me today to learn more about how to find more selling time, through award-winning technology, in your weekly schedule: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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EXPERT ADVICE: THESE CONTENT MARKETING GURUS OFFER TIPS

King_1_-_328_shadowThese days, the phrase “Content is king” has become the mantra of sales and marketing. Which is why I’ve been reaching out and seeking the advice of these content marketing gurus.

They’ve devoted their careers to keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry – and we’ve asked them to share their insights as part of our focus on content marketing.

Sean_Si_125x125Advice from Sean Si, Founder & CEO of SEO Hacker

Question: What’s your most powerful content marketing tip?
This is a tough one. Content marketing by nature is a holistic practice. It involves thorough research, content creation, suave copywriting, awesome headlines, and promotion, promotion, promotion. Summing it all up in one ‘powerful’ tip may not make sense in the bigger picture.
So perhaps the one tip that I would give to anyone starting out with content marketing would be the most foundational – write evergreen pieces of content. These pieces of content will stand the test of time, acquire perpetual amounts of traffic from search, and will be shared the most out of all your other pieces of content.
Question: What other sales or marketing leaders do you follow?
Hiten Shah, who is an awesome technical serial entrepreneur; Alex Turnbull, from Groove; Rand Fishkin (duh!), Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs – to name a few.
Question: What essential question should we all be asking about content marketing?
Perhaps an awesome question would be – how exactly does content marketing help with SEO? I think that would be of interest to a lot of people. I’ve answered that question extensively, in this article.
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general – or connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.
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Advice from Drew McClellan, owner of Agency Management Institute & McLellan Marketing Group

Question: 
What’s the most important aspect of content marketing?
I think the most important aspect of content marketing is to have a very specific and narrow audience in mind as you create your content. The more specific your audience, the more focused your content can be.
Content that is tailored to a small group of people will reassure them that you understand their world and can help them.
Generic content may be interesting, but it’s rarely useful in a significant way. When you create content for your sweet spot customers – it attracts them to you and creates a “we get each other” bond that begins to build the foundation of a relationship.
Question: How do you define successful content marketing?
I don’t believe successful content marketing is when a single post goes viral or when a blog gets put on a list. I believe content marketing success happens when you have consistently provided value to your audience for long enough that you become their go-to resource and when they want to know something – they turn to your site or assets to see if you have the answer.
When they think of you as the holder of their solution – that’s content marketing success.
Question: What other sales or marketing leaders do you follow?
You can see my list of daily reads, here.
Drew McLellan is the owner of Agency Management Institute (formerly AMR) and McLellan Marketing Group. He is an author, speaker, and blogger – and has recently appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read. Follow his blog, here – or connect with him via LinkedIn, or Twitter.
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Doug_Kessler_126x126Advice from Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-founder of Velocity

Question: What’s your most powerful tip for improving content marketing?
Take all the time, money and effort you’re about to put into your next ten pieces – and put it all into one.  See what happens.
Question: What’s your favorite example of successful content marketing?
The new Cocainomics piece by Netflix and the WSJ Studio is pretty powerful. Not sure of its success, yet – but I bet it works!
Question: You’re the expert – what question(s) should everyone ask about content marketing?
Why the hell are we doing this?  What does our audience really need to know? Why are we an authority? And – how can our content be ten times better?
Doug Kessler is co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, the London-based B2B content marketing agency. Doug has written a lot about content marketing, including the B2B Content Strategy ChecklistInsane Honesty in Content Marketing and Crap: Why the Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing. Connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
 

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5 SALES INFLUENCER BLOGS TO FOLLOW

5_Stars_1_-_318_shadowIn sales, becoming leading-edge in your technique can make all the difference. The most successful salespeople are always fresh in their approach, bringing the best value to their leads as efficiently as possible.

A good way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends is to learn from those who have already mastered the art of selling. In an ever-changing market, there are always opportunities to be a better sales professional.

To help you find your edge, I’ve made you a list of 5 sales influencers whose blogs should be on every salesperson’s to-read list:

Dan_Waldschmidt_small_shadow-1Dan Waldschmidt
Dan Waldschmidt lives to inspire through his “Live EDGY” mantra from his book EDGY Conversations.
Dan works with a team as a strategist consultant to help companies bring results that matter. The Wall Street Journal calls Dan’s business insights the “best in the world”, working with leading universities, industry associations, and Fortune 100 companies to build strong values that foster organizational success.
Dan’s blogs teach salespeople to challenge conventional norms and think outside of the box to find the best habits that snowball into the path to success.
Twitter: @DanWaldo
Learn More: Dan Waldschmidt
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John_Barrows_122x122John Barrows
John Barrows is a world-class sales trainer of the tech industry. John has trained sales teams of large companies and corporations, such as LinkedIn, SalesForce, Marketo, and HP Software & Services, to bring them dramatic increases in sales.
His blogs cover a variety of sales techniques and suggestions, spanning from split testing conversations for individual salespeople to leveraging the talents of entire departments to secure a sale. John posts regularly, offering you a consistent flow of insight on how to sell in the tech industry.
Twitter: @johnbarrows
Learn More: John Barrows
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Nancy_Bleeke_113x113_shadow-1Nancy Bleeke
Nancy Bleeke is the Founder and President of SalesPro Insider, growing her company as a leader in sales since 1998. Her book, Conversations That Sell, was awarded a gold medal for Top Sales & Marketing book in 2013 and has become a standard read for modern sales teams.
Nancy’s experience in sales has earned her credibility to become a contributor to Top Sales World, Salesopedia, Sales Gravy, other popular business publications.
Her blog offers a range of valuable insight for sales managers and executives, covering topics such as tips on finding the best salespeople with the most potential and advice on how to calibrate sales goals. Nancy writes multiple posts a week, perfect for ever sales manager’s morning reading.
Twitter: @SalesProInsider
Learn More: Nancy Bleeke
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John_Spence_128x128John Spence
John Spence has presented workshops, given speeches and executive coaching to more than 300 organizations worldwide for over two decades as a leading expert in sales. John has authored multiple books about business leadership and strategy, such as Awesomely Simple, essential business strategies for turning ideas into action and Letters to a CEO.
John also has had experience as a guest lecturer at over 90 colleges and universities, from Harvard University to the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT. His insights and teaching are highly regarded as a must for salespeople looking to strengthen their sales techniques.
In his blog, he teaches salespeople to become better students of every opportunity. His articles are full of well-structured tips to help salespeople understand and bring the customer’s needs into your sales process.
Twitter: @AwesomelySimple
Learn More: John Spence
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Jack_Malcolm_123x123Jack Malcolm
Jack Malcolm is an expert in business literacy and sales communication, empowering sales teams to take command of the fast-paced and complex sale environment. Jack founded the Falcon Performance Group in 1996 to help, even the most technical, sales teams enhance their communication skills to directly speak to the needs of their customers.
Jack has nearly 25-years of experience in training high-tech sales teams of Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, NCR, Sun Microsystems and Tektronik.
In the world of sales, your pitch is everything. Jack’s blog is perfect for sales teams that want to improve their communication ability for more effective presentations and networking skills. His articles are full of field-tested advice and wisdom to help you improve fast.
Twitter: @jackmalcolm
Learn More: Jack Malcolm


Question: 
What blogs do you or your sales team read to improve your sales effectiveness?

To learn more about increasing the effectiveness of your sales teams, contact me today: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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