May 8, 2016 11:00 PM
It’s a classic enterprise sales rep scenario. In a day packed with in-person meetings and phone calls to chase down deals, your field sales rep is tied to a table at a Starbucks between client locations. He has his laptop and 15 minutes to spare before walking into the next big meeting with a major prospect. Your rep wants to be prepared and to make the most of the meeting, which means he has to digest case studies on similar clients. He must be on top of specific industry trends and challenges, and how the product uniquely solves them.
May 5, 2016 06:20 AM
We live in the era of the vendor. Any given company is probably working with a number of vendors, from outsourced tech support to marketing agencies, who in turn may have their own subcontractors. The competition for business is intense.
That doesn’t mean vendors are a dime a dozen, but it does mean that some companies view their vendors as easily replaceable. If you’re in the business of managing customer relationships, you'll enjoy a strategic advantage (and a more mutually rewarding relationship) if you elevate your status to that of a valued partner.
May 3, 2016 03:56 PM
With his new book, “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business,” Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg has followed up his bestseller on habits with a close look at the choices the most productive among us make that the rest of us don’t.
May 1, 2016 11:00 PM
As it probably does for many of us, the day I realized I was no longer the “young guy” at work came as a rude awakening. It happened once I began to build and manage my own inside sales team, which was made up of 20-somethings. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated by habits like staring down at cell phones during meetings or lack of commitment to working normal 9 to 5. Coming up in the business world, I had learned that you showed dedication by coming in early, leaving late and putting in a hard day’s work during the hours you were at your desk.
April 30, 2016 11:00 PM
As soon as I get this issue off to the printer, I need to write my son a letter at the University of Nebraska, where he’s finishing his second year of studies.
I want to share some thoughts with him about my conversation with New York Timesreporter Charles Duhigg for this issue’s Closers feature, as well as my conversation with Greg Guy, who decided to eliminate sales commissions at his family-owned Ohio heating and air conditioning company. Guy is featured in our cover story on tough questions that sales leaders are asking themselves.
April 27, 2016 11:00 PM
After nine years working with companies on sales messaging, I have found that the number one inhibitor to salespeople articulating value is that they don’t create enough contrast between the before and after word picture of owning their product. And when salespeople fail to make the contrast feel concrete, customers can’t see the value, so it just feels like magic.
April 25, 2016 04:39 AM
There’s a big difference between being a rocket and being shot out of a cannon. Today, 95 percent of all digital marketing programs are the latter.
Too often, marketers treat digital marketing programs as discrete efforts that are launched into the world, typically without the planning, trajectory or sustenance needed to achieve and maintain orbit. And, many digital marketers build programs to suit their own tastes over those of their target audiences.
April 21, 2016 11:00 PM
There is always a relative handful of key people who, if you’re able to break through to them, can change the course of your career and the fortunes of your enterprise. These may be large potential buyers of your product or service, mega-potential referral sources or potential alliance partners who can change the scale of your company by giving you access to vast new sales channels.
April 18, 2016 11:00 PM
We’ve all heard it before — you can’t sell something to someone who isn’t buying. It sounds reasonable enough, but it’s not necessarily true.
April 17, 2016 11:00 PM
Sales leadership has never been easy. I once heard a senior vice president of sales refer to the job as carrying “a carrot and a baseball bat because a stick isn’t enough.” Of course this is a bit dramatic, but motivation was a large part of the job. Push and praise were the key roles of a sales leader for a very long time, but the game has changed in the new era of sales. Things are messier and more complex now. Sales leaders have to deal with numerous additional factors beyond motivating and rewarding the sales force.
April 15, 2016 05:54 AM
Growth is something we must nurture and generate, not just passively wait for it to show up (though sometimes it does). We must make it happen, and be in a position to capitalize on it when our entry point comes.
April 13, 2016 05:10 AM
If you have been in sales for as long as I have been, you notice the changes taking place in the selling world – particularly the challenges faced by the younger sales force. It was fairly easy for me to awe my customers with the product I was selling – Brother electronic typewriters, back in the early 80s. I could capture their attention by the sheer ingenuity of the product. I was their educator explaining its unique features vis-à-vis the traditional typewriter.
April 13, 2016 11:00 PM
Saying there’s an underperformance problem in sales is a bit like saying there’s a salinity issue with the ocean. Sales wouldn’t be sales if there were no hitches in executing your message, maintaining good habits or moving your opportunities ahead.
But what if the underperformance problem I’m talking about isn’t just an easily correctable flaw in process, but rather a big fundamental issue caused by skills gaps in your most important buying conversations? That makes it a little more urgent, right?
April 10, 2016 11:00 PM
There’s no doubt that our emotions have a large effect on our buying behavior. There’s the pride of ownership, the desire for comfort, the fear of “missing out,” and many other customer emotions that a marketer or salesperson would recognize.
April 8, 2016 06:00 AM
You have built a beautiful business. But lately, waves of change are slowly eroding its base. Until now you have held back the damage by reinforcing the foundation. Then one day the realization hits you: you must move the whole structure, or it will be swept away like a sandcastle on the beach.
April 4, 2016 04:55 AM
Virtually all companies claim to be “customer-centric,” but set many of their salespeople up for failure with the prodigious amount of product training they provide. Sellers’ comfort zones become talking about offerings rather than exploring business issues. While tolerated at low levels within organizations, it often shortens sales calls made on executives or abruptly ends them. Executives have neither the time nor the desire to be “educated” about offerings by salespeople.
April 4, 2016 11:00 PM
It’s no coincidence that the language, strategies and tactics of the U.S. presidential candidates mirror those of sales professionals. As they run sophisticated campaigns and work tirelessly to outmaneuver opponents, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and their challengers are competing in a sales battle royale.
April 3, 2016 11:00 PM
To capture favorable votes, salespeople, like politicians, need to pull six key levers that guide decision-making. These levers affect the limbic system of the brain, which holds memories, emotions and many core beliefs. Messages tied to these levers stimulate us to cast a vote or buy a product or solution. Here are the levers and how to pull them:
Emotional: Excite the neurons associated with your prospect’s beliefs. Those beliefs ultimately fuel the self-preservation urge.
April 1, 2016 08:17 AM
Sales teams are usually viewed as the most important business units in a corporate world. But sales teams have to be smart in order to deliver great results. Pretty much every sales team relies on a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage the sales process, but according to ISMM’s Sales Director of the Year 2015 Ian Moyse, the system itself is often misused when it comes to effectivenessand team motivation.
March 30, 2016 06:00 AM
Early in my business experience, I encountered a mystery. A tightly run inside sales team had an ocean of standardized offices with the same scripts to follow, the same goals, the same computer screens and the same incentives for success. They made a lot of outbound calls to sales prospects with little variety.
March 27, 2016 09:39 AM
This issue’s cover story on the skills that women bring to B2B sales and the challenges they continue to face has rattled around in my head for more than a year. I’m glad that it finally came together. There are a lot of topics within the topic of women making their mark in what has been a male-dominated environment. Men and women alike should find it an interesting and educational read.
March 27, 2016 11:00 PM
Organizations have traditionally taken a simplistic approach to global content creation, viewing translation of English-language content as “good enough.” This passive tactic is no longer sufficient – especially when you consider that 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power live outside of the U.S. Companies that wish to succeed on a global scale must move beyond standard translation to create engaging native brand experiences.
March 25, 2016 06:24 AM
Corporate buyers are a force to be reckoned with, commercial king makers, with the power to award huge multimillion dollar contracts. So shouldn’t salespeople be doing everything in their power to impress them? Yet why is it so many buyers remain exasperated by the number of senior salespeople that come in to see us, that are badly prepared, don’t listen or follow the process, miss hints, manage their time badly, submit poor tender responses and simply say the wrong things?
March 20, 2016 11:00 PM
In today’s increasingly digital landscape, organizations are more distributed and mobile than ever before. But, in the case of sales and marketing, mobility can sometimes bring a disconnect and impede collaboration within and between teams. Furthermore, traditional training methods, like online certifications and event-based training programs, are not effective in enforcing company messaging and product or service information.