Sales Coaching: Motivating Your Sales Team

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A good salesperson has experience. A great salesperson associates experience with technique, and that sets them apart from the competition. Nevertheless, salespeople are self confident and optimistic, as it should be for a good professional, but many believe they are in a better position than they actually are on their opportunities. The consequences of this are not consistent with accurate sales forecasts.

Few managers realize how much they are affected by their salespeople and neglect to coldly analyze every opportunity. This results in a strong dependence on a probability that has been poorly evaluated. Instead of coaching, managers form the “pressure habit” and believe this will improve the results.

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Inside Sales Power Tip 103 – Plan Everything

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Reach Goal

Ed – We’re excited to present our first article by Lori Richardson, founder and CEO of Score More Sales. Lori is a thought leader on B2B front-line sales growth and works with technology brands worldwide. She speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies, and authors an award-winning blog of her own.

A week ago I sat down with a sales professional who told me that when he started at a mid-market big data company in sales, he was given no guidelines, no leads, and very little guidance in getting started with his new sales territory.  He started just one year ago. Luckily he had industry connections and with little direction from his leadership, he made his own plan. He worked it, and has a year under his belt along with his first large deal.

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Sales Education: The Sales Course Catalog

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Education Of Younth

In a previous post, after lamenting the sorry state of university-level sales education, I posted my own curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in sales. In the next few articles on the subject, I’ll create the course catalog for the strictly sales-focused courses. If I can do it, why can’t Florida State?

You remember college, don’t you? Parties and beer and road trips and, oh yeah, academics.

Your first introduction to college academics was the course catalog, the listing of every possible class you could take from required 100-level introductions to advanced seminars and independent study programs. This was a daunting book, right up there with Ulysses and Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles.

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Selling Isn’t Telling – Part 3: High Impact Qualifying Questions

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In the first two articles of this three-part series, we discussed a “High Impact Qualifying” process to help you probe more effectively, and examined the key areas to qualify your opportunities in order to develop and deliver the right solutions.

In this article, we are going to look at my list of the Top 10 questions to use to help you gather more complete information in a shorter time.

1.  “Obviously you must have a good reason for saying that. Do you mind if I ask what it is?”

This is question can be used whenever you want the customer to be more specific, and reveal more information about their stance. For example, it can be used when, in response to an initial call to a new prospect, the prospect says: “I wouldn’t be interested.”

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Selling Isn’t Telling – Part 2

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Ed. – Today we offer a new article by one of The HUB’s distinguished guest contributors – Derrick Pick. Derrick is a noted and respected sales expert, and we are delighted to have him as part of The HUB’s team and look forward to many more articles in the future.

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed a “High Impact Qualifying” process to help you probe for the information you need to be able to sell successfully. This article examines the key areas you need to qualify in order to gather all of the information required to be able to develop and deliver customer solutions.

Organizational profile
Develop a profile of the structure of the organization, and the formal and informal reporting hierarchies.

Current situation
Gain an understanding of their current situation, how business is conducted, market conditions, and latest business results.

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Selling Isn’t Telling

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The most successful salespeople know that great selling is not simply telling – great selling is all about asking the right questions. The most important phase of the sale, then, is the probing phase. Probing is not really a distinct phase per se, since you need to continue probing throughout your relationship with a customer. However, especially early in the sales cycle, your job is to gather all of the information you need to be able to develop the right solutions for the customer. It is almost impossible to effectively map your solution to the customer’s needs until you fully understand their situation and what is driving the need.

A process I call “High Impact Qualifying” allows you to hone in and explore the key issues that are affecting the customer and causing a need. The following guidelines will help you to implement a “High Impact Qualifying” process to gather this information as quickly and effectively as possible.

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Selling Technology to Non-Techies

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Jason Cohen over at Smart Bear posted on his blog last week about how to handle situations where your customers don’t understand technology. It’s a great post – and the doctor analogy makes a lot of sense.

Jason sums it up with the following:

That’s why this comes down to trusting your software vendor, just like you trust your doctor. If you don’t, no one can help you, because you don’t believe what they say and yet cannot evaluate what they say. If that’s case, sounds like you need a new vendor.

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Opportunity Portfolio Management

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This article continues the idea from a previous one that a sales opportunity has a persona. Why would I want to anthropomorphize something so basic as that? Salespeople are well aware of what an opportunity is and that it must be discovered, worked on, and, in the long haul, won more often than lost. The main reason I do it is to point out an unarguable fact in sales—salespeople like some opportunities more than others. It’s only natural, and my previous article points out some of the reasons that this happens.

There is a dangerous corollary to this, however, and that is salespeople prioritize their time and attention to the situations they are more comfortable with.

Any of us who have been in direct field selling knows the feeling. “Shall I plan a visit to customer A on my trip next week, when I know he or she will use any excuse not to see me. Or, maybe I will visit customer B, where I’m always welcome and don’t even need to call ahead.” Or, maybe it goes like this: “I’ve sold four Am-29’s this year and this customer will make my fifth sale, I’ll prioritize a visit tomorrow.” And, what about this one? “Out of the twenty deals I’m working on right now, ten are in the process of closing. I’ll take care of those first, which will give me a great third quarter.”

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Up in the Air

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OK, so it wasn’t so recent. This lesson from the George Clooney movie is still worth a look. Even if it is a second look. Originally published on The HUB on December 6 of last year, here it is again for those of you who might have missed it.

I recently re-watched the George Clooney movie Up In The Air. It’s a great movie, and there is a lot to identify with if you have been a frequent traveller. Within the movie however, there is a battle to move everything online – in this case, it was firing people remotely. Within the sales training world, it is conducting sales training over the internet to deliver the same content, but at a fraction of the price.

The concept is great – you don’t have to take your sales people out of the field and you save a bundle on travel. In addition, the course is often significantly cheaper, especially if it is a pre-recorded course with some simulation and evaluations.

The obvious primary question is whether the sales person actually absorbs the content. Many courses handle this through evaluations and simulation – pass the test, you have learned the content.

What about workshop-style training?

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Sales Training: My First ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment

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I remember my first sales training session like it was yesterday. I was a Product Manager at the time, and had little clue about anything to do with actual selling skills and no practical experience. I remember the trainer – it was Ken Wax. Ken was (and still is!) an experienced technology sales trainer, and was contracted by IBM to provide sales training to IBM business partners. He was delivering a two-day course, and the vision and program was to teach sales tactics to the technical business partners, such as myself, who were an important part of the overall sales strategy for IBM.

One of his early exercises was a role-playing session to help break the ice and get the class engaged. He started with what was probably the most common objection from potential customers that anyone selling IBM software was facing at the time: “We are a Microsoft Shop.”

This was the Microsoft strategy. If a customer had MS Windows, Active Directory, and other Microsoft technologies, they would consider themselves a Microsoft Shop. Their reasoning was that it was better to standardize on a single vendor for the benefits of integration, management, and support.

Ken challenged the class to provide a strategy and methods on how to overcome this objection.

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