1 Important Change To Prospecting

Has anything changed more in recent years than prospecting?  Cold calling a business phone number to sell a potential prospect is a marginal task, at best, today.  Email is a similar task with similar results.  Salespeople who do their own prospecting need an advantage, a shift, in their approach. This Selling Power article provides just such an advantage.  The gist of the article comes down to understanding System 1 and System 2 thinking.  First, let’s establish an important aspect of cold prospecting: The customer needs time to understand your words. In the first outreach, the customer is not expecting the call or email – and must change their mindset from… Read More

Continue Reading

Soft Skills Needed In Sales

The customer experience shift occurring right before our eyes is causing a sea change in sales.  The transactional sale is being consumed by a myriad of company websites offering products and solutions.  I think this description from the TTI blog deftly describes the trend in sales hiring: Only a few decades ago, a customer was mainly dependent on what was on supply. These days, a customer has so many options that the customer journey has become a key concept in the boardroom. Whoever delivers the most flexible, attractive, trustworthy and innovative product and/or support wins over the customer. The change is a supply issue – prospects have multiple solutions at… Read More

Continue Reading

The Shrinking Attention Span vs. Relationship Sales

Here is a problem I have seen developing in sales over the past 10 years – shorter attention spans in salespeople having to deal with longer sales cycles. First, some background from a quick American Management Association: Whenever I teach students, I tell them, “Your chance of being successful has gone up exponentially because all you’ve got to do now is actually try to pay attention for more than five minutes.” Ok, that is disconcerting.  You can see where this is going.  The integration of the Internet into our lives has provided prospects with a unique ability to research your company, and more importantly, your solutions.  We often talk about… Read More

Continue Reading

Best Salesperson Traits

Two crucial salesperson traits that rarely get discussed. Ok, not my list but Bill Golder’s article on LinkedIn:  Top 5 traits of the best sales people I’ve ever seen The list hits on two traits that I believe are crucial to sales success.  The first is curiosity.  This trait sounds insignificant, but it is far from it. From the article: Every salesperson knows that you have to ask good questions and be a good listener. Unfortunately, far too many simply go through the motions based on some type of training or methodology they’ve adopted vs. truly demonstrating an interest in solving a customer’s problem. The best sales people are not… Read More

Continue Reading

Oddities That Make Strong Salespeople-Noncompliance

I’ve been assessing salespeople since 2001 which, as you can imagine, has provided some unique experiences.  These experiences have revealed some odd factors that seem to be supportive of sales success. The oddity is that there seems to be a yin and a yang to abilities…a give and a take.  Here are just a few: Fearlessness vs. Compliance This oddity might be the most common.  There is a component to successful selling that involves a fearlessness to adroitly ask difficult questions to qualify prospects.  Many (most) people are uncomfortable asking these questions. For instance, it is “impolite to discuss money” is one of our social mores.  However, you will not… Read More

Continue Reading

Positive Prospects Are Trouble

Prospects have many moves they learn at prospects’ school, but one of the most lethal is the positive move.  The positive move is when the prospect appears to be eager to purchase your solution, especially early in the sales process. Don’t get me wrong, there are always “blue birds” that fly in to a salesperson.  Blue birds are minimal qualifying, quick-closing deals that close so fast that they may not even make it onto the forecast.  They are extremely rare…but salespeople are always entranced by them.  Prospects seem to be aware of these blue birds and will sometimes use a mechanism that mimics a blue bird. The prospect becomes overly… Read More

Continue Reading

Collaboration Kills Commoditization

There is a trend developing in the sales world that has caught my eye over the past couple years.  This Sales & Marketing Management article opens with a terrific summary of what I have experienced (emphasis mine): According to Harvard Business Review, “Traditional sales methods are increasingly unproductive. In fact, aggressive sales styles and product-focused selling are now so outdated that some customers are simply refusing to meet with salespeople using these techniques. In this situation, focusing on product features in the sales meeting is a waste of everyone’s time. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that high-performing sales people are those who listen and respond, who are flexible,… Read More

Continue Reading

The On-Demand Economy

More and more workers are moving away from traditional jobs and towards the “gig” economy of on-demand roles that have a finite time frame.  Some of the startling trend from the Yahoo article (emphasis mine): The report said the number of independent workers in America is expected to grow from 30.2 million to roughly 37.9 million in 2020, in part due to businesses seeking flexibility and also because young adults are more comfortable in the lifestyle. Adding occasional independents, the projected number of US adults working independently will grow to an estimated 54 million or nearly 45 percent of the private, non-farm workforce, the group said. I’m not sure what… Read More

Continue Reading

Make Time To Daydream

I’m not kidding.  From the Harvard Business Review: Thanks to our smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it’s easy to be working all the time. But our devices can actually make us less productive by interfering with an important mental process: daydreaming. To be effective, our brains need opportunities to be “off,” which is hard when we’re constantly taking in new information through our devices. And research has found that letting our minds wander facilitates creativity and long-term thinking. If we’re facing a challenge that needs new ideas, we’re more likely to find some if our minds drift away from the problem for a while. So the next time your mind starts… Read More

Continue Reading

Cultural Qualifying

I ran into an old coworker, whom I consider a good friend, at a coffee shop this Friday morning.  He is the VP of Sales with 75 or so direct reports.  His company is international with a majority of their revenue occurring in Asia. He was telling me about sales training he held for the entire sales team.  The focus was on negotiating and, more specifically, how to ask the right questions to qualify the opportunity.  The Asian sales reps balked at some of the questions based solely on their approach to qualifying.  Let’s just say they prefer to take a more passive, unquestioning approach which leads to prayer rug… Read More

Continue Reading