Blog2017-05-22T20:11:07+00:00

Recent Blog Posts

Meet for coffee? Stop wasting our time.

So tired of the “we should meet for coffee or a drink” requests from people who clearly have not looked at each of our profiles to recognize the obvious… the only reason you want to meet with me is to try and leverage my network.

no_meetingsCome on, stop wasting our time.

Truthfully I see very little value in meeting. My intent is not to come off rude but be directly honest instead of making up some lame “I’m too busy” excuse. If you claim to value transparency then you should most likely agree.

I wish you well but I just don’t see the value and feel you deserve an honest answer.

Seriously if we tried to meet with everyone no real work would get done.

#ReactToMe!

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The Perfect Handoff: Best practices for conducting the SDR to AE handoff

Inside sales has come a long way in recent years. One of the fastest growing trends in inside sales is having a team of both inbound and outbound sales development reps (SDRs) handle things at the top of the funnel. The SDR’s primary responsibility is to make sure that anyone who talks to a sales rep is actually worth everyone’s time, both the potential buyer and the seller. In short: qualifying the person.

hand_offWe acknowledge that the topic of what makes someone qualified and whether or not an SDR is qualifying a person or an opportunity is important. That is not, however, the purpose of this post. This post is designed to describe how the SDR conducts the handoff to an Account Executive (AE).

So let’s define the following: SDR establishes communications with someone who wants to speak to an AE, or sales rep. The AE may be in the same physical location as the SDR or be a remote field sales rep. Often times, we see the SDR merely send out a calendar invite to the sales rep and prospect that includes dialing instructions. Then the SDR moves to the next prospect. Here is what usually happens: The prospect and sales rep make the call and all is well or the prospect misses the call and tells nobody.

Here are two options for making sure to promote success, teamwork, and accountability for all parties. I believe there are two main handoffs: the Email Handoff and the Meeting Handoff.

Option 1 – The Email Handoff  

In the email handoff, the SDR typically sets a calendar appointment with the AE and prospect; however, this is not the first thing the SDR should do. Here is what s/he should do after the call with the prospect ends.

  1. Put together an email that provides the following:
    • Thank the prospect(s) for their time.
    • Confirm date and time of appointment and that a calendar invite is coming shortly.
    • Ask the prospect to review the notes below and correct anything that may have been misunderstood.
    • Provide introduction to AE (who is copied and include a direct #).
    • Indicate who will now be main point of contact for the prospect (SDR or AE). Will vary based on your organization.
    • Provide a list of next steps, prospect’s challenges/pains, potential solutions, resources, and other interesting notes from the call.
    • Thank the prospect(s) again for their time.
  2. Send calendar invite with everyone’s email addresses and direct line numbers just in case there is an issue with the conference line.

Option 2 – The Meeting Handoff 

In the meeting handoff the SDR does the exact same steps as the email handoff with a very important distinction. The SDR attends the first meeting with the sales AE. See #4 below. After the call with prospect ends, the SDR should:

  1. Put together an email that provides the following:
    • A ‘thank you’ for the prospect’s time.
    • Confirmation of date and time of appointment and that a calendar invite is coming shortly.
    • Asks the prospect to review the notes below and correct anything that may have been misunderstood.
    • An introduction to AE (who is copied and include a direct #).
    • Indication that they (the SDR) will still be main point of contact.
    • A list of next steps, prospect’s challenges/pains, potential solutions, resources, and other interesting notes from the call.
    • Thanks the prospect(s) again for their time.
  2. Send calendar invite with everyone’s email addresses and direct line numbers just in case there is an issue with the conference line.
  3. Handle the front end of the call including:
    • Confirming Time
    • Introductions
    • Purpose
    • Agenda
    • Possible outcomes.

Once this has been agreed to, the SDR should politely confirm the AE is ready to take over, and sit back and listen. It is my opinion that the Meeting Handoff should be the standard. Everyone running an inside sales team says the SDR team is their “bench” for sales and that they provide a career path into closing roles. However, when push comes to shove there is not enough real world sales experience happening to help that SDR really understand the closing aspects of an inside sales role.

Additionally, the benefits of the Meeting Handoff include:

  • Building trust and rapport with the prospect through a professional buying experience
  • Greater teamwork between the SDR and AE on accounts and territory planning
  • Allowing AE and SDR to be accountable to each other with no ability to point fingers
  • Allowing AE and SDR to learn from each other – often times an SDR will hear something different but equally valuable to the sales cycle

Watch out for the following:

  • AE starts treating SDR like a secretary
  • AE tells the SDR the SDR has to put all notes in the CRM (this is a no-no, this is the sales rep’s job)
  • AE complains they don’t like the SDR on their calls (this is a management issue)

One of the best parts of inside sales is the greater ability to understand and know which parts of the sales cycle you can control. Some parts will always be harder than others. Other parts of the sales cycle, like the handoff, will be simple to understand, modify, and improve.

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Sales is a science, not an art

A lot of people may and probably will disagree with me, which is fine, I think it’s a healthy debate.

rocksIt used to be, and in some circles still is, that the sales reps are known for having “the gift for gab”, being a “conversational Cyrano de Bergerac”, or a “connoisseur of conversation”, whatever.

But ultimately that “art” is 100% rooted in science. That science is called psychology or psychiatry.

How people make decisions is not an art, it’s a psychology that has been talked about for decades. Understanding the science of human behavior and decision making is what’s behind this artificial art form people call sales.

Whether we are inside sales reps, field reps or customer success reps, one thing I have noticed consistently, we tend to be behind the curve a bit.

Marketing has always been ahead of us when it comes to research and data (the science of sales) to drive customers’ behaviors.  Fortunately, over the last few years sales teams and sales operations, and some very smart sales entrepreneurs teams have helped us crack the science of sales code with the sales stack.

We are just now beginning to better track and measure the “science” of what makes someone respond via email, phone call, text message, swiping left or right, etc…

Remember, the essence of sales is not to convince someone to buy your product or service, its to help them realize their life will be easier, better, etc. by utilizing your product or service, and that my friends, is psychology.

Share your thoughts below. Is sales a science or an art?

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One cannot preach accountability without first discussing awareness.

One cannot coach the concept of accountability without first speaking to awareness.

Awareness of yourself as an individual first. Understanding you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, you are not your emotions. You are just you.

Only then can you speak as a leader to help others become self-aware. Helping them to understand they are not their thoughts, they are not their feelings or emotions. They are just themselves.

Once you can understand the concept of awareness, you don’t even have to agree with this definition, just understand we must be aware.

Then you can start to teach accountability. At best you can encourage people to be more accountable based on their own awareness. You cannot force awareness or accountability, you can only encourage it. It’s up to each individual to decide how to interpret this.

#sales #coaching #management #leadership

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What it really means to be a special snowflake

Whether you are a #millennial that grew up with loving parents encouraging every moment or a #GenXer like me who grew up as a latch-key kid and a part of the “slacker” generation, it doesn’t really matter.

There is — and always will be — a certain level of selfishness that is required to be successful and happy. But there is another part too. It’s the selfless part of you.

What I have recently learned through reading a few books and engaging in mediation is so easy to understand, yet it seems to escape many of us due to the “hustling” and “side-gigging” we are focusing on.

Specifically, it’s not about all my use cases, what I am knowledgeable about.  It’s about my usefulness.

Am I useful in life?

Am I useful to my family?

Am I useful to my friends?

Am I useful to my work, organization, upper management, peers or direct reports?

I am not suggesting being submissive. I am suggesting making sure that I provide value to myself, and most importantly, to others.  For me, this has become the essence of a Work / Life Balance. Engaging and encouraging myself to be better, act better, and provide support.  This is what makes me a special-fucking-snowflake.

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How to conduct cold outreach on #LinkedIn, even when you don’t know them

I work with a lot of sales teams, especially inside sales teams, and very often people early in their sales careers.

One of the most common questions I get is how do I approach someone on LinkedIn who I know would be a great fit for our service? So here is what I tell everyone. And by all means if you have data to support something different please share in the comments below, I’d love to learn from others as I am sure others would love to hear your approach as well.

  1. It’s not a best practice to request a meeting in an invite request.
  2. It’s not a best practice to request a meeting in a first InMail.
  3. If someone is a total stranger, your best bet is to request an intro from someone who is connected with them on LinkedIn.

Now here’s what we all know. We have tons of LinkedIn connections, in many cases we don’t know them all. However, we have connected with people in the hopes of networking and sharing when appropriate. That is the frame of reference we are talking about when you try this approach.

In short, this is how you leverage the “you never know” mentality and ask for help without you or the person you are asking having to feel slimy or cheesy. It respects the person I am contacting, it’s direct, it’s honest, and allows them total control of the process.

While my data set is small, 100 attempts, 55% of the people I’ve contacted have taken a meeting. 95% of all people actually responded even if they don’t want to have a meeting.

Whether I am an inside sales rep, outside sales rep, SDR, or seasoned sales veteran, this is the message I would be asking my senior leadership team or someone I do know who is connected to my desired contact and sent on my behalf via LinkedIn.

Rep to Richard —-

Hey Richard, hope all is well, I see you are connected to _____ on LinkedIn. I was wondering if you’d be open to sending the following message to them on my behalf. It’s ok if you don’t know them because this message addresses that in a way that I think is respectful of you and them.

Sincerely,

Sales Rep Sara

——-

Subject Line: Request for intro

Hey _____________,

We connected on LinkedIn for sharing information and mutual networking. This could be one of those moments, but I will let you decide. I currently work with _________ at ______ and they are helping organizations solve the following problems.

1.
2.
3.

They have asked me to see if you’d be interested in a conversation. If so let me know and I will gladly facilitate. If not, that’s ok, I can politely tell them you are not interested.

There is no commission or payout for me on this, it’s just me putting some good karma out in the world.

Let me know how you’d like to proceed.

Richard
415.596.9149

PS – If I can ever do this type of messaging for you and your team to a contact let me know, I am happy to do so on your behalf.

——

There you have it. Simple, honest, sincere, respectful, and most importantly not slimy.

One final tip. If you are going to send a request to someone like me or an exec in your office please write the email so its merely a copy/paste. Folks are always happy to help but making it easier for them to help you, is always a nice touch.

Curious how others handle the “cold-outreach” via #LinkedIn?
#SalesTips, #SalesTraining, #ColdCalling #InsideSales

Feel free to share your comments below on your successes with this or other techniques.

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Stop calling it a sales playbook. It’s a sales cookbook!

Sports analogies are to sales as urinal troughs are to baseball. They go hand in hand, glove on hand because a baseball game is straightforward. A basketball game is simple. Team A competes against team B. Whoever scores the most points wins.

sales playbook

Is it a sales playbook or a cookbook?

We compare inside sales to sports because we want sales to be as straightforward as a sports game, with a defined “winner and loser.” It’s easier for us to think of selling as a game, and selling strategies as plays in a playbook. But inside sales isn’t a sport, and treating it as such won’t get you very far in today’s sales climate, because with that mindset, it means if you win, the other person loses and that is why your buyer hates dealing with you. 

Now don’t get us wrong, we believe there is a winning element to sales. And no, not a win-win, everyone gets a trophy scenario. This winning is about succeeding in your mission. Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work and personal life.”

“Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work AND personal life.”

Rather than a straightforward A to B structure, selling is a complex brew of variables. And it’s only getting brothier. If you’ve been paying attention to the industry, you’ve probably noticed that sales cycles are getting longer. More stakeholders are involved in a consensus buying process.  There’s more competition, a bigger concern for ROI, and almost an expectation for customization. What was easy is now complicated. And when things get complicated, salespeople need to get creative. They need to learn how to improvise. From our perspective, plays from a sales playbook don’t allow for enough improvisation.

But cookbooks do.

Sales Recipes

Most recipes in a cookbook serve as a jumping off point. When followed to a T, these recipes (usually) produce good food. But the more familiar you are with the recipes, the better you become at playing with the ingredients to adjust the outcome. That’s what good cooks do. That’s what chefs do. They start with a basic recipe, then extrapolate, revise and modify. Experiment. That’s when stuff gets tasty!

Good inside salespeople are like chefs. They know that no matter how many sales tactics and sales strategies they memorize, there will always be a selling situation that just doesn’t fit, and they’re going to need the flexibility to experiment with different spices and flavors.  

Sales Enablement

So what are these ingredients? What the absolute heck am I really talking about? Let’s get specific. As a salesperson, your ingredients are your information–information about the prospect and their industry. Information about competitors and industry trends. And let’s not forget your secret sauce, the real value your solution brings to the table, the Why and How factor, not the What factor. Ingredients equal the information necessary to do your job at peak effectiveness.

And where do those ingredients come from? The sales enablement process–The official 2017 Sales Buzz Word of The Year! Sales Enablement is the process of gathering, organizing, and delivering salespeople the most pertinent information, data, and tools to help them sell at peak effectiveness. If done well, sales enablement supplies you with enough relevant ingredients to cook something amazing in multiple ways.

And if ingredients are information, then recipe directions are our sales strategies. Combine them and you should be able to adjust to, and overcome, any sales situation you encounter.

Sales Secret Sauce – Calm Confidence

Let’s put this idea into practice. First, a cooking scenario:

You’re making your favorite pasta dish for a dinner party. Among other ingredients, the original recipe calls for cheese and cream. You’ve already started cooking when you remember that some of your guests are vegan. People are arriving. Everyone’s hungry. But you’re good at this. You know enough recipes, and enough about food to tinker with it in the moment. Suddenly cream becomes pureed tofu. Parmesan becomes a blend of cashews, salt, and garlic powder. Problem. Solution. Happiness.

Now let’s look at the sales version of that scenario.

You’ve got a second meeting set up with your prospect. You were told it’s going to be you and your two prospects, a VP of Sales and a Director of Sales, both of whom were on the first call. You get to the office, they show you to the conference room, and suddenly three people walk in. In addition to your two prospects, they have brought the CRO. What do you do?

Because you’ve gone through solid sales enablement training, you know your ingredients well, so you take this in stride, already prepared. Having done your homework, you know your prospects pains based on their titles. More importantly, you’ve also done your research on the CRO, and know her unique pains well enough to be able to address them. You’re calm, confident, and to your surprise, excited, because you now have a major decision maker in the room. All you need to do is adjust your ingredients. It might be a good idea to sprinkle some topics that directly relate to the CRO’s pain perspectives, onto the agenda. Based on her role, perhaps you can modify a few discovery questions to confirm her pains.

Conclusion

See, compared to a sales cookbook, a sales playbook just isn’t as adaptable to such a situation. A playbook tends to offer very specific, guided instructions focused a specific process. Got an SLA between SDRs and AE’s? There’s a play for that. Trying to sell to folks in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama? That’s more a cookbook’s territory.

Here’s another way to think about it: Want to know why The Rock is the definitive people’s champion? Because he didn’t just stick to the book, he improvised. He played to the crowd. He was dynamic. You could even say he …. cooks. And it smells delicious.

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9 Steps To Hack Your Interview Process & Score More Job Offers

My wife thinks I’m crazy for saying this, but I love the sales job interview process. And no, I don’t mean interviewing candidates, I mean interviewing as a candidate. I love it so much that a close friend, Scott Leese, SVP of Sales at Qualia Labs, and I often joke about how if we could make money just by landing job interviews, we would do it full time.

Landing, and of course, nailing job interviews is an invaluable life skill, and if you’ve ever had to wade through the job market, you probably know that your single greatest point of leverage is securing multiple job offers simultaneously. This puts pressure on employers to take you more seriously and make hiring decisions more swiftly. Therefore, the purpose of this post is not only to help score a job, but to help you score more job offers.

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What’s the Best Day of The Month to Buy a Saas Solution and Why?

Negotiation SkillsIf you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’m all about harsh truths. My experience in the sales industry has taught me that when someone or something is underperforming, excuses get tossed around like confetti in a hurricane. Sales trainers blame inside sales teams, inside sales teams blame sales trainers for poor sales training and negotiation training, sales execs blame sales trainers who blame inside sales teams who blame sales execs. And of course, everyone tries to blame marketing. And on and on and on.

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How Confirming The Physical Commitment Helps You Close Deals

physical commitment salesMovies are often wildly unrealistic, but there is one cinematic gaff that sticks in my craw more than all the others combined. Two people meet cute, perhaps at a bar, or an ice rink, or whatever the kids are doing these days. And they talk. They flirt. They laugh. And then one of them asks the other out.

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What Makes a Good Sales Kickoff?

It’s that time of year. That time when everything you’ve been planning for either happens or it doesn’t. And on top of that, it’s time to start planning for next year, which for many businesses means planning a sales kickoff event (SKO).  

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Get Ready to Crush Q4 on November 15

I will be presenting my own session on November 15th, 2016 at the Crush Q4 Sales Event.  I’ll share my tips for closing more revenue in Q4 with NEAT SellingTM. In this session you will walk away with specific strategies for navigating the sale as well as tactical strategize to implement immediately in every sales conversation you have in the future.

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The Evolution of Sales: Welcome to N.E.A.T. Selling™

Over the last few years, we’ve talked sales with more people than I can count, and while our conversations run the gamut of sales topics, a select few never fail to make an appearance: BANT, ANUM, and AN.N.E.A.T. Selling™ - The Evolution of Sales

For the uninitiated,

  • BANT is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.
  • ANUM is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.
  • AN, which was inspired by ANUM, focuses on the top of the sales funnel, where Authority and Need are discussed first.

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Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: The Value of Sales Training in Inside Sales

Webster’s Dictionary defines Efficiency as…

Oh wait, this isn’t a graduation speech. It’s a wake-up call. Something the sales industry is in dire need of.

See, in the past few years, sales organizations, have started to heed what those of us in inside sales have been saying for over a decade:

THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

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Why Your Customer Success Team Needs Real Sales Training

Generally speaking, the workflow of a successful sales operation looks something like this:

  • The Sales Development Representative (SDR) qualifies a lead and passes it to a salesperson.
  • The salesperson contacts the lead and wins their business, then passes the new customer to the Customer Success Team.
  • A Customer Success Representative (CSR) helps the customer with installation, support, maintenance, and increases the likelihood for long-term customer success.

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Women in Sales – The XX Factor with Jill Konrath

Women-in-Sales---The-XX-Factor-with-Jill-KonrathYou all know Jill Konrath. Or at least you should. She has nearly ¼ million LinkedIn followers. Her book Selling To Big Companies was chosen as one of Fortune Magazine’s eight “must read” sales books. She also wrote Agile Selling and SNAP Selling, both of which soared to #1 on Amazon within hours of their release. In 2012, she was inducted into Top Sales World’s Top Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame.

Needless to say, she’s kind of a big deal.

Which makes it a huge deal, at least for me, to have been able to chat with her about being one of the top sales people on the planet.

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