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Sales Tips: A Resolution for 2018 and Beyond

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

2018 is here, a time for making resolutions that you may or may not keep. I’d like to suggest trying what may be a different approach to finding new opportunities.

The best leading indicator of future performance is the quality and quantity of opportunities in a seller’s pipeline.

charts-calculator.pngStarting 2018, the condition of each seller’s pipeline reflects how they finished the year. If it was a sprint to end 2017 there’s work to do. Regardless of where you stand I’d like to offer an approach that can allow you to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates moving forward.

Most sales organizations have an increasing reliance on inbound leads. If you’re selling complex or expensive offerings, these leads are likely to:

  • Provide entry points below Key Player levels
  • Put you in contact with people interested in products that don’t have budget
  • Have you contact people concurrently evaluating several vendors in a given space
  • Have you contact people unaware of business results that can be impacted
  • Yield a high percentage of “no decisions” and low close rates
  • Represent quantity more than quality

It takes courage and initiative but there is a way to start opportunities with Key Players that enables sellers to establish themselves as “Column A” from the start with buyers who can find budgets for new initiatives. Key Players don’t have time to visit websites and evaluate vendors. For that reason many are unaware of value and payback offerings can provide.

key-player-senior-executives-meeting.pngThese buyers have latent needs, not for offerings (an erroneous assumption many sellers make), but rather for achieving desired business outcomes. I recently used an approach Michael Higgins (Selling at the C-Level) provided. He suggested this:

👉 Review a prospect’s annual report to learn the company’s objectives and challenges and select a specific title and outcome that an offering could help them achieve.

Here’s my experience using this approach:

  • I researched a Fortune 500 company and sent a one-page letter via snail mail to their Chairman.
  • Four days later I called.
  • After being heavily screened I was told the admin was busy and I should call that afternoon.
  • 45 minutes later I got a phone call from a senior vice president that had been asked (or told?) to contact me.
  • A buying cycle began with a Key Player.

Superior salespeople sell outcomes rather than offerings.

These sellers pique senior executive interest by leading with relevant business goals or issues.

Leading with offerings puts sellers out of alignment with Key Player buyers who don’t have the time nor interest to learn about products.

I hope 2018 will be prosperous for you and that you may try this new approach to generate new opportunities.

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Sales Tips: 6 Strategies to Get Buyers to Talk to You

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

Are you having a hard time getting buyers to talk to you?

How many times have you tried to find out how your most recent sales opportunity went and got no response? Or attempted to talk to a customer to see how it is going only to hear crickets? Frustrating, isn’t it?

After completing well over 20,000 interviews with busy buyers, we’ve learned a thing or two on how to get them to talk to us. We also know:

Getting feedback from buyers is the best way to improve your win rates.

And talking to your current customers to see what benefits they’re receiving from your solution is a highly effective plan to retain them. By going straight to the source, you discover what is and isn’t working for you and most importantly, why.

Here’s an infographic sharing our top 6 strategies to get the conversation started.

Top-6-Strategies-to-Get-Buyers-to-Talk-to-You

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Sales Tips: 4 Foolproof Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

By Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo

Stressed SalespersonWith quotas and long term goals constantly at the forefront of our minds, sales professionals are under constant pressure to perform. With this in mind, it’s no wonder 65% of B2B companies say sales productivity is the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis.

Many organizations increase sales hiring as the only means to reach the goals they have set for themselves. Yet, many hesitate to make changes to their actual sales strategies. To truly boost sales productivity for the long haul, managers must examine every part of their sales process.

If you struggle to increase sales productivity, keep reading. We’ve compiled the top four ways you can increase your sales productivity today.

1. Provide ongoing sales training.

Sales training is an expensive process, both financially and in terms of the time it takes. However, an extensive sales training program is integral to your sales productivity in the long run.

Studies show that 84% of all sales training content is forgotten after 90 days. To remedy this problem, place an added focus on sales coaching and ongoing training:

Sales Training WorkshopsBy investing a small amount of each month on ongoing sales coaching, managers can ensure that their sales reps are always learning and absorbing best practices – and that will have a lasting impact on productivity.

To learn more about the many merits of sales training, check out these articles:

2. Invest in technology to automate non-selling tasks.

Did you know the average sales rep spends only one-third of their day talking to prospects? It’s true: the majority of a salesperson’s day is spent on administrative tasks like reading and writing emails, attending meetings, scheduling calls and conducting research. With so many tasks to juggle, it’s no wonder so many companies struggle with sales productivity.

Not only do administrative tasks cut down on selling time, but they actually damage your overall performance. Multitasking is often considered a desirable trait in sales reps, but research shows that juggling tasks can actually hurt the quality of your work.

The solution – automate these tedious tasks. By crafting the perfect sales technology stack, businesses can cut down on the busywork and ensure that more time is spent selling.

3. Prioritize sales and marketing alignment.

One of the biggest inhibitors of sales productivity is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing departments. And unfortunately, studies show that only 8% of companies have tight sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and Marketing Working TogetherSales reps waste valuable time when they aren’t on the same page as their marketing counterparts. To start, both departments should establish an agreed upon definition of a qualified lead.  This is because,61% of marketers send their leads directly to the sales department, but only 27% of those leads are qualified. Not only does this waste time, but it strains the relationship between the two departments and leads to further roadblocks.

Your sales and marketing departments must operate using the same goals and data. By doing so, you will see massive improvements to both your sales productivity and overall business performance:

For a deeper look at sales and marketing alignment, check out the following articles:

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break.

That’s right – one of the most overlooked ways to increase productivity is to step away from your desk once in a while.

76% of all people report the top two causes of stress in the US are job pressure and money. Because sales is often commission-based and money-driven, stress and pressure run rampant in this profession.

While taking a break may seem counterintuitive, psychological studies say that taking breaks throughout the day dramatically improves your mental performance. Rather than thinking of a break as a waste of time, think of it as a necessary step to keep yourself at peak performance.

Final Thoughts

Given the high-pressure nature of the industry, productivity will always be a top concern for sales professionals. Looking for a single, quick solution will rarely make a long-term impact on your team’s productivity. Instead, take a step back and look at every aspect of your sales process, from big picture strategies to day-to-day practices.

Sales productivity must be top of mind at all times and, therefore, integrated into your daily sales processes. Consider talking with your team members to determine their biggest inhibitors and motivators. Then, test new strategies and tactics.

Contact CustomerCentric Selling® today, to learn more about sales productivity.

Contributed by Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B sales intelligence to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve lead generation efforts. Visit zoominfo.com for more information.

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