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TOP SALES BLOG POSTS TO READ [BEFORE YOUR COMPETITORS DO]

Sales_Executive_X_for_Twitter-1I’ll be back soon with more blog posts.

Until then, here are some of our most popular blog posts to date. We highly recommend reading them before your competition does…

Which one is your favorite?

 

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5 POPULAR SALES TRENDS TO CLOSE OUT 2015

Trends_1_-_3502015 has been an epic year for the sales industry, seeing major shifts in both strategy and technique.

While many of these changes are driven by the availability of new technology and tools focused on sales enablement, an equal number are motivated by the need to adapt to the shifting consumer attitudes and needs which are shaping the buyer’s journey.

At SalesFitRx, we pride ourselves on tracking the latest trends. We’ve compiled our observations on the five biggest breakthroughs for 2015:

  1. Hiring the eager (not the experienced). While it may seem counterintuitive, investing in fresh talent may get you farther than hiring experienced sales professionals. The reasoning behind this trend is simple – as the sales climate shifts, established sales professionals may be less willing to learn new skills and strategies than their less-seasoned peers – especially when it comes to integration of technology. Add to this the growing need for social selling skills, and the younger generation may have far more savvy and experience than their more mature counterparts – flipping the old hiring preferences on end. While recruiting previously trained sales professionals might seem the way to go, it may be worth your while to hire untrained talent, and invest the salary savings in additional training and coaching. You’ll have the opportunity to teach your preferred strategies and sales habits from the start – imbuing them with the skills which benefit your business directly, and avoiding complications which arise from pre-existing habits and poor training.
  2. Focusing on data-driven communications. Those who are ahead of the game have already placed themselves to benefit from big data and are focusing their efforts on honing consumer communications accordingly. By applying smart metrics to determine the impact and reach of content, businesses who are leveraging their consumer data can more easily assess their sales strategy and campaign effectiveness, and adjust it to gain maximum reach.By shifting the focus to data-driven content, your business can ensure that the communications which reach your target audience are relevant, applicable, and add value to the customer experience. This not only increases the effectiveness of your communications, it can help drive dialogue with your consumers, and help your brand establish credibility.
  3. Leveraging technology in the sales process. According to recent research by CSO Insights, most sales reps spend only 35% of their time actually selling – the rest is absorbed by the performance of administrative tasks and account management. By effectively leveraging today’s sales enablement and smart CRM technology to alleviate the burden of administrative functions, businesses can free their sales team to focus on revenue-generating pursuits, such as lead procurement, and social selling.The metrics and insight gained through use of advanced solutions (such as that offered by SalesFitRX) also allow sales management to more effectively track the behaviors and accomplishments of their sales team, providing the deeper insight required to reward individual successes, effectively outline milestones and goals, and assess and adjust their strategic approach to sales.
  4. Redefining the role of sales managers. Along with the role of sales itself, the role of the sales manager is quickly changing – and savvy businesses are already redefining their approach. The sales manager of the future is capable of analyzing sales performance metrics and data to identify areas of weakness or failure before it becomes an issue – or hone their approach to support tactics which produce results.Today’s sales manager is more of a professional coach than a player. He or she can effectively leverage the technology and tools available to zero in on team members who are underperforming, offering those individuals the additional training or coaching required to up their game, sharpen their sales skills, and meet demanding quotas.

    The new sales manager’s focus revolves around comprehensive training, sales education, and strategy – resulting in increased productivity, efficiency, and revenue.

  5. Fully embracing social selling. Social media is no longer an informal mode of communication – it has now blossomed into an excellent venue for driving dialogue and establishing credibility amongst consumers. One of the strongest trends in 2015 has been the increasing investment in social selling – namely, the devotion of significant time and effort towards the creation and maintenance of a rich social network.Still, many companies miss the mark entirely – as social selling isn’t really about selling. It’s about opening a two-way dialogue with your audience, inspiring authentic discussion, and establishing credibility through the provision of valuable, relevant, informative content.

    Failure to follow these unspoken rules of conduct can actually damage your business’s credibility (so be forewarned) – but the benefits far outweigh the risks. By investing in the creation of high-quality, strategic content, and adjusting your sales strategy to incorporate time devoted to social selling, you’ll see significant results, and extend your business’s reach.

If your business is still lagging behind these trends, it’s time to sprint into action, and start the new year right!

Unsure of where to begin? Contact me at SalesFitRx today: Karl.Gustafson@salesfitrx.com

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CURRENT B2B CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION

1st_Place_346_shadowHave you ever known a person you initially disliked but grew to really appreciate over time?

Billy Staniforth. That’s who it was for me.

He was the one who, from fourth grade through eighth grade, always did everything better than I did. Specifically, he was my [temporary] nemesis at the fourth grade science fair back in 19…well, a while ago.

I had given my science fair project a lot of thought and was sure I’d win first place for my grade. That confidence only lasted up to the point when Billy wheeled in his project into the room that morning.

At that moment, I knew I’d be lucky if they didn’t award him the first, second and third place ribbons. His solar system project was so comprehensive that I didn’t even want to set up my chemical reaction project compared to that.

Seriously, I swear that project contained some items even NASA hadn’t yet acquired. Who was this guy?

Instead of hating him, I soon learned a lot from him about what it takes to do things with excellence. We talked a lot about how he planned and executed his project, thinking deeper about each aspect of the presentation than I would’ve done.

Billy gave me my first taste of understanding the importance of doing things with true excellence, to the best of our abilities.

Sometimes we just need someone else to show us what excellence looks like compared to what we thought was an effort equaling the best of our abilities. What I learned from Billy actually helped me succeed in my career.

Tien Anh Nguyen (@tienanh) is the Director of Market Insights for @OpenViewVenture. He posted an incredibly rich guide earlier this month on the @OpenviewLabs blog. I’d call it a business world version of someone who went all out to create an fully comprehensive resource akin to a first-place-winning science fair presentation.

It’s impressive, and I want to make sure you know about it.

It’s titled: Finding Your Best Customer: A Guide to Best Current B2B Customer Segmentation.”

You’ll be thankful Nguyen went so deep into this topic once you get into it.

THE BIG IDEA
The big idea of Nguyen’s post is this:

Proper current B2B customer segmentation means no longer needing to take on every customer that is willing to pay for your product or service, which will allow you to instead hone in on a specific subset of customers that present the most profitable opportunities and efficient use of resources.

WHAT I LIKED
What’s not to like? Take a look at the table of contents for this resource:

  • What Is Customer Segmentation and Why Is It Important?
  • Why Establishing Segmentation Hypotheses and Variables are Important
  • Exploring Typical Customer Segmentation Schemes for B2B Software Companies
  • The Business Benefits of Current Customer Segmentation
  • Creating Change Your Company Can Believe In
  • The Best Current Customer Segmentation Process: 5 Steps
> Step 1: Setting Up Your Customer Segmentation Project
> Step 2: Analyzing Customer Data
> Step 3: Data Collection
> Step 4: Analysis and Prioritization
> Step 5: Presenting and Incorporating Feedback

The How, What, When, Where, Why and How of this topic are explained with effectiveness and [relatively speaking] efficiency.

The 5 steps included in this resource are really the bread and butter of the post, but the earlier sections are important for giving you the understanding and the ammo you’ll need to bring about change in your organization.

There’s also a final section that offers some important information, so don’t miss it.

This isn’t a resource you’ll likely read through in one sitting, so bookmark it and go through it with another colleague who also feels strongly about improving this aspect of sales strategy within your company. Bouncing it back and forth between you will help increase your knowledge and understanding of what Nguyen describes in this post.

[Reading Time For Nguyen’s Post: 20:00+]

 

QUESTION ::: Thinking back about what you’ve tried in the past re: customer segmentation, what are you most interested in with what this resource offers?

Let’s talk about it…

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WHAT’S THE BEST CONTENT FOR B2B TECHNOLOGY BUYERS?

Gene_303I’m dating myself here, but do you remember the old game show, Match Game?

Gene Rayburn used to host it, and it was an interesting merging of 25% game show, 25% comedy show and about 50% of it was a continuous stream of modern day HR violations. You never knew what was going to happen.

That show came to mind as I was thinking about the combination of matching the right content to the right buyers at the right time, along with some level of not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next and some spontaneous comedy (that happens at times, right?) and how it’s a lot like the Match Game.

If you’re too young to have watched that show, look it up on YouTube, kids. (Aren’t those some groovy fashions?)

Following up on my most recent Friday Sales Growth Links post from last week, there’s a lot of interest in our industry regarding how to most effectively feed the best content to your B2B buyers to continue to grow those relationships toward win-win results.

I have another very helpful and practical resource to tell you about today.

CEO and high-technology start-up executive Dave Orecchio (@dorecchio) wrote a post for Bristol Strategy’s Blog (@HighTechMkt) earlier this year. I was reminded of it last week while I was putting together the FSG Links post. Orecchio titled his post: “Learn the Best B2B Content for Tech Buyers.”

In the post, Orecchio draws data from an especially helpful infographic from @eccolomedia.  What struck me first was this statistic:

Most buyers consume 2 to 5 assets before they are ready to make a purchase.

At first it surprised me because I felt this number would be higher, but then I thought more about it. It now sounds about right. I’ll likely look at 2-5 assets if I’m researching a solution.

So the natural question to ask is: “What types of content assets should they be?”

THE BIG IDEA
The big idea of Orecchio’s post is this:

Create a content strategy that models your sales process.

ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WHITEPAPERS?
If you’ve been wondering if traditional whitepapers are dead, they aren’t. In fact, this data shows that whitepapers and emails receive roughly the same amount of readership.

That’s great news because a well-designed whitepaper gets to the heart of the problem, the pain point, and the solution you’re offering.

@HubSpot defines a whitepaper well as: “a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.”

It’s not just naming the right pain point to the right buyer with the right solution at the right time. It’s about persuasively doing so.

Orecchio goes on to talk about other types of sales collateral and their interest levels to buyers so you can draw from studies in reforming your current content strategy to align more with your current sales process (Bristol Strategy offers a data sheetabout this) in order be more effective in your content marketing activities.

Oh, and the content you’re sending to users should not be entirely drawn from resources you’ve created in-house.

In fact, finding a strong resource written by another organization, unless it’s a direct competitor, will often speak more effectively to the buyer since someone else is agreeing with your point.

Consider taking on a strong research resource to simply do this, to locate helpful third-party resource, for 15 or more hours/week. If they’re good at what they do, this feed to your sales staff will absolutely lead to more sales.

Orecchio finishes with some important direction in his closing remarks. So, don’t miss reading this post; it has more to offer than what I’ve shared here.

[Reading Time For Orecchio’s Post: 3:00 minutes]


QUESTION ::: In which type of content have your B2B buyers been most interested?

Let’s talk about it…

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WHY EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT B2B SALES IS WRONG

Wrong_353_shadow[I must admit I do enjoy writing an audacious headline once in a while.]

Surely not everything you know about B2B sales is wrong, but what if there have been some significant shifts within certain aspects of B2B you don’t know about yet?

That just may be the case.

Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and author Frank V. Cespedes and Research Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner Tiffani Bova (@fvcespedes and @tiffani_bova for @HarvardBiz) penned a new article for Harvard Business Review that truly is a must-read for anyone connected to the B2B marketplace.

It’s titled: What Salespeople Need to Know About the New B2B Landscape.”It’s essentially a primer on the B2B sales industry as it stands today.

There’s so much this article covers regarding the current/new B2B landscape that I need to say here, from the top, that the handful of highlights I’ll give you now will not do this resource justice. You really need to read this information for yourself.

With that said, here are just a few of the highlights that caught my attention…

The reader is initially hit with a dose of reality:

“Selling has always been more about the buyer than the seller. So any effective sales model must adapt to changing buying protocols, not ignore or resist them. This is a big transition for firms whose marketing, sales-training and enablement tools, and wider organizational processes reflect outdated assumptions about purchasing in their markets.”

Is your sales organization adapting to these changing? If so, upon what information are you basing your changes?

The authors then drop this research-backed nugget into the mix, causing some of you to shudder because your sales approach doesn’t account for this critical change in today’s B2B marketplace:

“Rather than moving sequentially through a funnel, buyers actually work through four parallel streams to make a purchase decision.”

The article then clearly defines each of those parallel streams. [Don’t miss those.]

This chart, from their research, helps us better understand what our peers believe are the most [and least] influential B2B marketing activities:

HBR_CESPEDES_MOSTINFLUENTIAL_-_shadow

 

We’re given a moment of relief when the authors state:

“Sales people have not been replaced by digital, and providing relevant solutions remains key in most B2B buying scenarios.”

Here’s one final highlight to consider:

“Going forward, many B2B sellers will need to reconfigure their selling processes more effectively and efficiently for each buying stream. They should not waste lots of time and energy debating whether to be online or in-person, interacting via the web or through sales reps, digital or human. They need to do both, and create the right mix for their go-to-market programs.”

There’s so much more to this article. I’ve merely skimmed the surface.

I highly encourage you to both read the article yourself and to pass it along to your colleagues and management. It comes from rock solid sources and it must to be considered as you and your organization plan your future and perhaps adjust your present approach to B2B sales.

[Reading Time For This Article: 7:30]

QUESTION: After you read this article, what jumps up at you most?

Let’s talk about it…

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B2B CONTENT, EFFECTIVE PROSPECTING TACTICS & A NEW MINDSET ::: FSG LINKS

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:

SOCIAL SELLING:
CONTENT MARKETING :::

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]

HOW TO: PROSPECTING :::

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]

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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]

INSPIRATION :::

BillCaskey.com
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

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FRIDAY SALES GROWTH LINKS ::: BETTER FOCUS, COLD EMAIL HELP, AVERAGE SALES REPS & SALES HIRING

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]

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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]

CAREER GROWTH :::

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]

FOR SALES HIRING EXPERTS :::

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 »

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FRIDAY SALES GROWTH LINKS ::: STORYTELLING, RULING THE CONVERSATION & B2B SALES

Storytelling_3_317_shadowThis set of links for sales professionals includes a couple of important “How To” blog posts from industry leaders, as well as quite a bit of vital information you really need to know about B2B sales.

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 :::

AgoCluytens.com Blog
How To Master Storytelling In Business (And Sales)
Business leader Ago Cluytens (@acluytens) put together this valuable look into the topic of storytelling for sales professionals. He takes a look at some of the ways in which great sellers harness the power of storytelling in business.

KEY QUOTE: Rather than simply conveying [your] points, stories enable you to do so in a way that evokes emotion, as well as reduces the danger of your prospect seeing you as yet another chest-pounding salesperson full of themselves.

Read it and you’ll be rewarded with an upgrade to your storytelling skills, and ultimately to your skills in earning more sales. #onceuponatime
[Reading/Listening Time: 3:00]

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Jack Malcolm’s Blog
How to RULE the Sales Conversation
President of Falcon Performance Group, Jack Malcolm (@jackmalcolm) introduces us to the idea of Motivational Interviewing, then breaks it down in a way that can clearly relate to sales.

KEY QUOTE: The premise is that clients are ambivalent about changing their behaviors, and trying to get them to change before they are ready only increases their resistance. So, the idea is to ask questions and manage the conversation so that the client talks about their own reasons for changing and arrives at their own commitment to change.

Malcolm explains the RULE acronym and shows how it can be immediately incorporated into your selling today. #RULEoutlostsales
[Reading/Listening Time: 1:30]

B2B SALES :::

RAIN Selling Blog
5 Changes in B2B Buying Behavior You Need to Know About
It’s Ago Cluytens again (@acluytens). This time, he penned a post for the RAIN Selling Blog (@rainselling). It offers some key information B2B sellers need to know about today’s B2B buyers.

KEY QUOTE: Today’s buyers are well-educated and often aware of the various options available to them. They tend to have a clearly articulated opinion about what it might take to address the challenges they’re facing.

What they seek, therefore, is not simply information, which they already have in abundance. They’re looking for a sparring partner—someone who can help them find the best way to move forward, and cut through the complexity of the decision making process itself.

Cluytens has the helpful background of being a former buyer. Receiving these insights from that perspective make this worth reading. #changeistheonlycertainty
[Reading/Listening Time: 3:00]

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openview Labs
35 Crucial Stats Every B2B Sales Professional Should Know
Sales Strategist CeCe Bazar (@howbazar for @OpenViewLabs) recently put some quality time into compiling this list of helpful information that’s important for B2B sales pros to know to increase buyer retention, response rate and overall customer satisfaction. You’ve heard some of these before, but not all of them.

KEY QUOTE: A new decision-maker enters the fray in the last 5 – 10% of the buying experience. Often times, this person needs to be engaged, educated and sold from scratch.

Some of these nuggets will come in handy in a sales conversation, others will motivate you to do more to keep up with and exceed what your peers are already doing. #theressomethinginhereforeveryone
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]

 

>>  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 »

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