The Real Leadership Secret to Developing Your Sales Team

By Alice Heiman

This post is excerpted from “2 Things You Can Do To Ensure Your Success This Year” by Alice Heiman.

You know how, on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before you help another? Well, developing your team follows the same strategy. Once you’ve begun to develop yourself as a sales leader, you’re more able to help your sales team develop and reach their goals.

The best way to develop your sales team is to start by developing yourself, changing your mindset, and changing your behavior. They will notice – and you will provide them with a role model.

It’s your job to develop your team. Not doing so is very risky. You may lose good salespeople and, worse, the low performers might stay. Here’s how I usually break it down to sales leaders:

  • Low performers need to move either up or out quickly.
  • Top performers want a development plan. They want to improve. They want your guidance.
  • Middle performers want the same and they need development to become top performers. If you provide them a development plan and they don’t develop, it becomes very clear to all that they need to move on.

There is a lot more to understand about developing your team. One great investment you can make as a sales leader is to join me at an upcoming Sales 3.0 Conference this year, where I’ll be emceeing and serving as Chief Networking Officer (we’ll be in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas this year). But you can also get started today by asking your team members  what they would like to learn this year, what they would like to become better at, and how you can help them. Determine the best way to help them learn. Then, have them write down their development plan with what they will learn, how they will learn it, and by when. Review it with them frequently and you won’t believe how fast they will start changing and developing into a better salesperson.

Making It Happen

As Nike says, “Just do it.” You have to start somewhere. Choose one thing you will do and get started now. If you and your team need development, I’m here to help. Schedule an appointment and let’s talk about it.

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. She regularly emcees the Sales 3.0 Conference and is a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer. Join her at the Sales 3.0 Conference in San Francisco on March 12-13.

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How to Prepare Your Sales Team for Success in 2018

We all know innovation creates a bridge between the old and new ways of running your business to better serve your customers. Digital transformation demands that your sales team adapts so it can stay relevant in a rapidly changing marketplace. Both challenges require clarity of vision, the courage to change, and leadership that is driven to learn and collaborate.

Here are some of the speakers who have agreed to join us in San Francisco on March 12-13. (You can also see the full two-day agenda as we continue to add speakers.) Come learn and network with us, and prepare your sales organization for success in 2018!

The Four Pillars of an Effective Coaching and Training Program

Speaker: Shari Levitin, Professional Speaker, Author of Heart and Sell, and CEO of Shari Levitin Group | @sharilevitin

Tony attends a five-day training course. He’s pumped. He returns to the office with new ideas, increased energy, and 10 pages of notes. The problem? He forgets 90 percent of what he’s learned and can’t apply classroom knowledge to live customers.

Does your training fall on deaf ears? Research confirms 87 percent of traditional sales training doesn’t stick. In this session you’ll learn the four pillars required for a results-producing training and mentoring program as well as how to

  • Reduce the time and effort it takes to develop your training program, while increasing its effectiveness through the use of facilitated learning
  • Leverage scientifically proven methods to increase your sales and decrease turnover
  • Incorporate virtual learning, games, and interactivity to put the fun back in your sales meetings
  • Give your trainers tools to incorporate the four pillars and increase retention
  • Offer breakthrough tips for one-on-one coaching and mentoring to get the most out of each employee

Retrain Your Brain: The Power of You, Your Thoughts, and Your Actions

Speaker: Jessica Rector, Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker and #1 Best-Selling Author, jessICAREctor International | @jessicarector

How much do you think about what you think about? You spend more time figuring out what to watch on TV or what’s for dinner. It’s a pattern and a habit developed where your thoughts either help or hinder your actions. How are you using your thoughts to help or hurt your team and leadership? In this session, Jessica Rector will share how to retrain your brain and turn your negative thoughts into positive action that will improve morale, increase sales, and help you build a stronger sales team.

You will also learn how to

  • Implement the power of authenticity to create trust and open dialogue
  • Build stronger client, peer, and team relationships
  • Change your inner dialogue and actions to engage in strategic conversations to increase leads and connections
  • Develop a new blueprint for exceptional influence
  • Leave knowing “I can do this” with easy, proven steps you can implement immediately

A Crash Course in Winning Negotiation Tactics for Your Sales Team

Speaker: Jeff Cochran, Partner, Shapiro Negotiations | @SNINegotiations

Your salespeople are under increasing pressure to quickly establish credibility, build lasting business relationships, and produce results. To address these challenges and changing needs, you must provide your reps with the specific habits and tools they need to impact the bottom line. Finding these innovative tools and implementing them in the face of fierce competition are not easy tasks. In this session, you will be introduced to a systematic process that will allow your sales team to become more effective and drastically improve its execution. You will get an overview of SNI’s systematic process – 3Ps (Prepare, Probe, and Propose) – that is critical to sales and negotiation success.

The Human Side of Selling with Second City Works

Facilitators: Colleen Murray, Design Facilitator, Ensemble Member, Second City Works
Tyler Dean Kempf, Facilitator, Second City Works @secondcityworks

Sales is an act of improvisation. It’s no longer business to business; it’s human to human. Customers value how a salesperson interacts and communicates with them more than product knowledge or PowerPoint® skills. The critical skills that can make a difference in how you sell – listening, empathy, storytelling, and thinking on your feet – are things we can all probably do, yet we don’t have opportunities to practice them. Creating a time and place for practicing the human side of selling is what we do!

Join the team at Second City Works – the innovative business solutions arm of the world-famous Second City comedy theatre – in an interactive workshop designed to introduce the human side of selling through improvisation and its connection to solving common business challenges. Building on the tenets of improvisation, you’ll walk away with valuable lessons on the transformative power of using the same skills we’ve been teaching actors for 60 years, communicating more effectively, and using comedy and improv to navigate the ever-evolving business climate.

Crack the Code to Sales Growth with a Winning Sales Enablement Strategy

Speaker: Elay Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder, SalesHood | @elaycohen

Please join Elay Cohen – CEO of SalesHood and the former Senior Vice President at Salesforce – as he reveals the hyper-growth sales strategies that made Salesforce the global industry leader. Discover how Elay’s sales enablement best practices and adaptive processes create an unstoppable sales force. This proven blueprint to successful sales enablement can help your sales organization reach the highest level of success.

What Every Sales Leader Must Know about the Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Salesperson

Speakers: Chris Beall, CEO, ConnectAndSell | @chris8649

Bruce Lewolt, CEO and Co-founder, BrainX and JoyisJoy.com | @BruceLewolt

It’s a fact: A salesperson using AI can produce what it takes three salespeople without AI to accomplish. In this session, you’ll discover how AI can give your sales team this significant edge by

  • Connecting your reps to prospects at a rate of four to six an hour
  • Building an ideal cold-calling script for each prospect, including the correct tone to use
  • Listening in on cold calls and providing effective coaching without any judgment
  • Determining each prospect’s personality, then designing a tailored selling strategy
  • Using that strategy to build the ideal presentation deck for the presenting salesperson
  • Doing the tedious work salespeople hate, so they can spend more time selling

Because AI is smart and adaptive, it is far easier to implement than traditional sales-enablement systems. Attend this session to learn how to lead your team to a bright future where AI makes selling more productive and much more fun.

Training 3.0: Driving Profitable Terms of Trade in the Cognitive Era

Speaker: David Bauders, Founder and CEO, Strategic Pricing Associates

Increasingly, decisions are being informed and even made by machines armed with sophisticated deep learning capabilities. In a world where Amazon sells more than $100 billion per year without a sales rep, we must ask ourselves: What does the future hold for sales professionals? The answer lies in focusing training efforts so they maximize the development of the unique human performance traits machines lack. That is a new paradigm, and it will require an innovative approach to sales training – a Training 3.0 approach. Training 3.0 deploys a radically different learning paradigm that is quick, experiential, engaging, and uses daily-drip learning with built-in retention characteristics. Training 3.0 incorporates performance metrics that ensure a true and enduring ROI. High in social and entertainment value, the content is binge-worthy and is as ubiquitous on reps’ phones as their favorite apps. Coupled with a focus on negotiation/value capture, Training 3.0 will transform your company’s long-term growth rate, profitability, and employee performance. Join us for this session and you will learn how to leverage Training 3.0 so you can maximize growth, profitability, and customer relationships.

How Sales Enablement Leaders Prepare Sales Organizations for Exceeding Sales Goals

Moderator: Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO, Selling Power | @gerhard20

Panelists: Tony Rodoni, EVP Commercial Sales, Salesforce.com

Marvin Spears, VP Commercial Excellence, Wells Fargo, Capital Finance

Carol Sustala, VP Sales Productivity, Trinet

Laura Welch, Sr. Director Sales and Channel Enablement, Polycom

The profession of sales enablement is rapidly growing. Learn from sales enablement professionals who help world-class companies accelerate sales. Get an insider’s perspective and discover

  • How to create and distribute sales content efficiently
  • Best practices for onboarding salespeople
  • Which metrics help salespeople become more successful
  • How to select and integrate the best technology with the best sales process

Leadership in the Age of Digital Transformation

Speaker: Keith Krach, Chairman, DocuSign | @KeithJKrach

Keith Krach, the Chairman of DocuSign, has assumed many leadership roles over his career. He led Ariba from a startup to a $4.3 billion company. He has served on boards such as XOJets and Angie’s List, and was also Chairman of the Purdue University Board of Trustees. He served as President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and led many charitable initiatives, such as building homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In this session, Keith will offer his perspective of how sales leaders can be at the leading edge of the new wave of digital transformation – with a clear focus on high performance and high human values.

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated…

Speaker: Jim Hooker, President and CEO, Televerde | @HookerJimh

In sales, you need to be likeable and provide value and guidance to develop relationships with your customers to drive revenue. Whether you follow the SPIN, SNAP, or Challenger sales method, the ultimate goal is to build a trusted relationship with your clients. But how do you get from introduction to guide? There’s no roadmap to trust. Join Gerhard Gschwandtner and Televerde CEO, Jim Hooker, as they speak candidly about the ingredients of a trusted relationship and the pathway to establish an element of trust with your clients.

We hope you can join us March 12-13 in San Francisco for this terrific event. Go to http://www.sales30conf.com/sanfrancisco2018/ for more details and registration info.

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Keeping Up with Emerging C-suite Job Titles: Which Matter Most?

By Sharon Gillenwater

At the beginning of 2017, Ford Motor Company decided to take a leap of faith and create a new C-level position: chief brand officer. They hired brand expert Musa Tariq away from Apple, where he had been global marketing and communication director for retail. The guy clearly knows something about brands, having also been with Nike, Burberry, and ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

So, what does a chief brand officer do? And why wouldn’t a chief marketing officer do it? Well, according to Ford, Tariq is engaged in further building and differentiating the company’s Ford brand – and will collaborate with marketing, communications, and global company leaders to define, build, and communicate the brand and what it stands for with all stakeholders. Who does he report to? Ford’s EVP of global marketing, sales, and service as well as the group VP of communications.

This information is important to know as you are trying to assess if Tariq is the executive you need to contact and nurture.

Today, we’re encountering increasingly varied new C-suite titles. Thank the rise of emerging technologies for some of these uncommon titles. As Dan Charney wrote in a piece this year for MH&L, “New C-level titles are quickly emerging as businesses adapt to emerging technologies as well as new leadership requirements.” And, he added, another potential driver of the expanding C-suite is the war for top industry talent.

Where once C-suite positions centered around operations, finance, and information systems – think COO, CFO, and CIO, as well as, obviously, the chief executive (CEO) – we are now seeing chief digital officers, chief privacy officers, chief transformation officers, chief innovation officers, chief strategy officers, chief people officers, chief customer officers, chief information security officers, and chief brand officers.

What are we to make of this? It’s hard to tell on the surface. What they have in common are leadership skills and the ability – or mandate – to develop and implement a strategic vision to support the organization’s goals. Beyond that, it depends on the company. Frustratingly, with all these C-suite job titles titles – even the more conventional ones – there isn’t a lot of parity across companies. Some of these appointments definitely reflect the power that title confers. But you have to remember that, sometimes, they’ll place someone in a role with a title because it’s the trendy thing to do these days. The point is you need to dig in to figure out the real meaning behind the title and the true responsibilities given to the individual in that role.

If your company is targeting C-suite job titles, we offer some tips to help you suss out just what the alphabet soup means and what the individual holding the title actually does – as well as their status in the organization.

  • Examine the individual’s functional responsibility to know if you have the right person. The title doesn’t necessarily mean they own the area.
  • Find out to whom they report. Is it to another layer above them, like the CFO or CMO, or do they report directly to the CEO? If it’s the CEO, they probably have both the budget and the leader’s ear.
  • Familiarize yourself with the organization’s priorities and strategies. If the business is making big investments in new technologies, then the chief transformation officer may well be the point person for that focus, and be directing that budget. If not, is this one of these quasi-meaningless trendy roles designed to help make the organization look innovative?

Let’s look at an example. Dentons, a global law firm, hired John Fernandez back in 2012 as chief innovation officer. A lawyer who served as assistant secretary of commerce for economic development during the Obama administration, he also served as chief architect of the Obama administration’s inter-agency regional economic development strategies – creating strategic vision and providing executive leadership. At Dentons, Fernandez collaborates with the firm’s lawyers and professionals to drive their innovation portfolio. That includes everything from client service solutions and thought leadership to entrepreneurship, including – as global chair of NextLaw Labs – the ability to use this business accelerator to invest in new technologies that transform the practice of law.

Innovation here clearly means innovation in all aspects of how a law firm operates. Fernandez appears to have a broad portfolio of responsibilities – from thought leadership to technology. With Dentons as the primary investor in NextLaw Labs, Fernandez has the budget and authority to shape the kinds of technologies that will impact how law is practiced and the legal profession in the context of client services and solutions. They appear to be walking the talk of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit through Fernandez.

As technology and culture continue to evolve, it’s likely we’ll continue to see even more novel C-suite titles emerge. Whether you’re a vendor trying to figure out just who your point person should be at a target organization or a recruiter looking to place an executive at an organization – or fill a spot in an organization – there’s no room to assume that the title is self-explanatory. Your best bet is to do your research and learn just what that role means in the context of each organization. Otherwise, you could just be spinning your wheels.

Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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How to Understand and Calculate Your Total Addressable Market

By Falon Fatemi

Nearly all sales organizations struggle to accurately define their total addressable market (TAM) – the total annual revenue an organization can achieve with 100 percent market share. Usually, when calculating this number, sales and marketing executives take one of two approaches.

  1. Top-down approach: The overall market size is estimated, usually based on third-party analysis or data vendor reports. Then the market size is systematically whittled down until only the company’s target market segments remain.

  2. Bottoms-up approach: Sometimes referred to as “counting noses,” this approach uses primary market research and data to estimate how many end users an organization has and how much they are likely to spend.

Both approaches are limited. The top-down approach tends to result in overestimations. When companies whittle down their overall market, they fail to exclude many of the segments that don’t match their target demographic.

On the other hand, the bottoms-up approach tends to result in underestimations. Calculations are almost always based on incomplete data (usually CRM data) and rely on “lookalike” data that fails to capture new potential market segments.

To grow and thrive, an organization must accurately define its TAM. The objective isn’t to grasp the largest possible market share, but, rather, to identify a suitable market that allows you to grow and become profitable. If your TAM is too large, you won’t be equipped with sufficient resources to compete.

At Node, we help our customers accurately define and calculate their TAM. To do so most effectively, we’ve adopted an approach that is fundamentally different from our competitors. This approach has the following three elements.

  1. Diverse data perspective
    Using Node’s data layer that spans millions of people and companies, we help companies accurately identify their optimal set of existing customers. We also help them identify their next areas of opportunity – market segments not yet captured but that exhibit the attributes for higher deal sizes and win rates. To help our customers zero in on their TAM, we leverage diverse datasets, including commonly used technologies that correlate to larger deal sizes). Thanks to our superior data quality and coverage, Node drives 2 times higher conversion rates than other data point solutions.

  2. Dynamic forecasting
    Many organizations don’t appreciate the fact that their TAM is constantly in flux. As you release new products or features and open up new potential markets, your TAM changes dynamically. Economic fluctuations also play a role, including mergers and acquisitions and particular budget cycles that impact purchase decisions. We believe you should “manage” your TAM in the same way you manage customer relationships. As your world changes, so does Node’s data layer: Node data is updated in real time to ensure you are constantly in tune with your TAM.

  3. Prescriptive recommendations
    “Not only did Node give me better quality data than Data.com, it helped me identify my TAM and came with the tools for my sales team to execute effectively on it. Node acts as the intelligence layer for sales, marketing, and operations driving core use cases above. – Brett Queener, president at SmartRecruiters and former EVP Product at SalesforceData.com.

Once we’ve helped customers zero in on their TAM, we assist them with the tactical execution. Unlike our competitors, we focus on prescriptive recommendations rather than basic lookalike modeling. These recommendations help inform operations, sales, and marketing:

  • Operations: An understanding of TAM and the scope of the available opportunity at hand empowers operations to make informed resource decisions, including hiring strategies and technologies to deploy.
  • Sales: An understanding of TAM helps sales create frameworks for the ideal types of companies and prospects that sales wants to pursue. It informs prioritization and allows sales to more thoughtfully set quotas.
  • Marketing: An understanding of TAM helps marketing identify who to target (including key verticals, segments, and named accounts). It enables marketing to not only develop more targeted outbound strategies, but to also drive quality inbound by crafting messaging that resonates with accounts fitting the identified TAM.

Understanding your TAM is the first step toward supercharging other initiatives, including account-based marketing and account-based sales.

Falon Fatemi is the Founder and CEO of Node, the first people-based artificial intelligence platform revolutionizing how people and businesses discover new opportunities. At age 19, Falon was the youngest employee at Google and has since spent over a decade focused on go-to-market strategy, global expansion, and strategic partnerships at Google, YouTube, and in the startup world. You can follow her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/falon.

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How to Convince a Customer You Really Care

By Jim Cathcart

How do you convince a customer that you care about them and the value they will receive?

The most convincing thing you can do is to truly care. Sounds simple, even simplistic – doesn’t it? I once heard a theater director say, “Once you can fake sincerity, then you’ve got it made.” I so strongly disagree!

It may be good for actors, but not for sales professionals. People know when you’re not genuine. They can feel it even when they don’t realize what clues tipped them off. Malcolm Gladwell called this sensing a product of “thin slicing.” That is when we perceive microscopic messages via changes in behavior or contradictory body language and we “know” – from that thin slice of information – that something’s amiss.

How to Cultivate a Caring Mindset

There are ways you can proactively become more caring. You can learn to stimulate the concern for others. Here’s how:

  1. Stop putting money at the top of the goals list. Let money be a measure of your success, not the success itself.
  2. Seek to help people profitably. That’s not a play on words; it’s a difference in what you are seeking to do.
  3. Celebrate the ways in which you help people. Tell the success stories and congratulate the salespeople who have made a difference for others. What drives us is the meaning of what we do, so communicate it!
  4. Change the metrics you track to include customer value delivered and not only the monetary measures. Money counts, but only as proof of the value you’ve delivered.
  5. Talk openly about what you do for people; discuss ways to help them even more.

The more you craft a culture of doing good for people, the more your team will be self-motivated to make it happen. People are rarely motivated by dollars. Only when they see meaning in the money do they change their behaviors. Regularly tell stories of who you helped – and encourage your team to share their stories.

The essence of culture is communicated via stories. What’s your story?

I was once asked, “Can you teach my people to be strong closers?” I answered, “Yes, but I won’t. That’s not what you need if you want more sales. ‘Strong closers’ are power driven and customers fear and resent them. If you want more sales, show your salespeople how to clearly show people the value of doing business with you. ‘Closing’ is the product of someone wanting to buy.”

People don’t care what you have to say until they are sure you care about them.

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is a Top 1% TEDx speaker and the author of 18 books. He’s the sales consultant and motivator who popularized the concept and practice of “Relationship Selling.” Contact him at Cathcart.com. Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Mindset Trainer. Contact Jim at Cathcart.com.

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How to Avoid Creating a Toxic Sales Culture

By C. Lee Smith

Next to the talents of the people it employs, a company’s culture is its most important asset.

Am I exaggerating? Think about it. Your workplace culture can liberate and inspire employees to unleash and fulfill their talents. Or, on the dark side, it can stifle their performance and growth out of fear and skepticism. Your company’s culture is what keeps good people with you – because they want to be there.

On the other hand, a toxic culture can make the workplace a web of despair and excuses, where people feel under-appreciated, under-paid, and mis-understood.

With that in mind, here are at least three key ways you can avoid creating a toxic sales culture.

#1: Invest in your professional development as a sales manager.

Plateaus are not only career killers, they are culture killers – especially when it’s the manager on the plateau, willing to coast rather than strive.

If you don’t aspire, how can you expect to inspire? If your team doesn’t see you making a conscious effort to improve, why should they?

Your direct reports don’t care about the dues you’ve already paid. They work for you now. What matters is now. (And it’s not just millennials who think that way.) What are you doing to improve yourself right now, as a manager, as a leader, as a professional? Will your current skill set still be effective 3-5 years down the road?

Improve the manager and you’ll improve the team. You can’t talk salespeople into improving, but you can lead by example.

#2: Coach and develop your sales team.

If you want output, focus on input. Concentrate your efforts not on meetings and reports, but on how you coach and develop your team. Instead of perfunctory performance, set quantifiable goals for salespeople (that you both agree to in writing), and then measure individual performance against those goals – not just against revenue or production targets.

It’s about explaining “why” before you explain “how.” It’s about collaborating and taking joint responsibility for every member of your team.

A company culture wrapped around individual coaching and development is one where “team” doesn’t have to be defined. Your people live it.

#3: Cut bad hires loose without delay.

Being in a hurry to fill a position or compromising leads to bad hires. But hiring mistakes happen. It’s not that the person isn’t talented, or is incompetent, or is completely un-coachable (even if he seems that way). The person might be a good fit somewhere else. Just not here. Not in my culture.

The real trick in business is not waiting too long to fix a bad hire. A bad hire who’s allowed to fester will drag down the rest of your team. It will drain your time and energy and patience. A bad hire will pull your focus – and your team’s focus – away from growth and your customer’s needs. It will wound your company’s culture and decimate its momentum.

As complicated as it can be to let a bad hire go, the consequences of keeping him are much worse. So, document everything from day one. (You never know.) And follow the classic business advice: Hire slower, fire faster.

When you protect your culture, you protect your future…and the future of everyone you value on your team.

Want to learn three more ways you can avoid creating a toxic sales culture? Click this link and enter the password “toxic.”

Lee Smith is the president/CEO of SalesFuel – a firm he founded in 1989 with the mission to empower media sales professionals to help their advertisers make intelligent decisions on how to spend their marketing dollars. He is a graduate of Ohio University with an executive leadership certificate from Cornell University. He is also one of the world’s few (Jeffrey) Gitomer Certified Advisors for consultative sales.

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Three Subtle Ways Sellers Benefit from Sales Negotiation Training

By David Bauders

Recently, at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia, PA, I spoke about the need to use a modern approach to sales negotiation training. (My company, SPA, was a Premier Sponsor.)

A personal point of view of mine is that buyers (including procurement professionals) are more likely than sellers to have received professional negotiation training. This point was substantiated when I asked the audience at the conference how many had received one day of professional negotiation training in the past year — and no one raised a hand! 

You might be surprised to hear that, but it’s true. And it means sellers are often at a significant disadvantage in determining terms of trade even before they engage buyers.

This scenario is fueled by the notion that sellers, by nature, are good, profitable negotiators. One thing I’ve learned is that just isn’t the case. Negotiation skills, like other core skills, need to be developed, refined, and retained through a focused training program.

You don’t need to think hard to come up with the direct benefits of negotiation training for sales professionals. When you learn how to negotiate, your profit margins increase – and that means bigger paychecks.

But there are other career-boosting benefits, too. Here are three less obvious ways sellers benefit from negotiation training.

#1: Negotiation training makes you a more strategic seller.

In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey introduced the concept of beginning with the end in mind. According to Covey, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

When you become a trained negotiator, only then can you have a clear understanding of your destination. Sure, it’s easy to say, “The end is actually closing the deal, right?” And that’s true, but what good is a closed deal if it’s barely profitable? And how long are you going to keep that customer if you didn’t strategically de-commoditize yourself during the sales process? The moment another seller beats your price, you’re toast (which, as many companies discover, can actually be a good thing when the deal was weak in the first place).

Negotiation training makes it natural for sales professionals to think two steps ahead. Rather than fearing an unknown world of future objections and concession requests, you actually embrace them because you’ve planned for them and you know exactly how to respond.

The world’s best sellers begin with the end in mind. When you gain confidence in your ability to withstand pressure and close win-win deals, you can, too.

#2. Buyers enjoy working with you.

At its essence, sales negotiation training teaches you how to get to the heart of what buyers care about so you can strategically increase their satisfaction with the end result. Now here’s a fact about buyers: They want sellers to get to the heart of what they care about and they want to be satisfied with the end result.

Since negotiation training is typically the “last hurdle” for most sellers, mastering it naturally leads to a more thoughtful, more deliberate approach that professional buyers appreciate – pros want to work with pros.

When professional buyers enjoy working with you, not only does your win percentage shoot upward, but deals race through the pipeline faster, which frees up time to close more deals.

#3: Your reputation begins to precede you.

Closing deals and exceeding quota gets your immediate supervisor to notice you. Closing high-margin deals gets the C-Suite to notice you.

Think about it: The CEO’s ultimate goal is profitability. So, when someone finds a way to sell the exact same thing everyone else is working to sell – at a higher profit than everyone else – the CEO will want to know how you did it.

Closing profitable, high-margin deals is how sales pros become sales managers. It’s how managers become directors. It’s how directors become VPs.

David Bauders founded SPA (Strategic Pricing Associates, Inc.) in 1993 – and its subsidiary, SPASIGMA, in 2015. SPA is the world’s first company to provide an integrated, holistic, profit-driving solution that integrates decision-support analytics and entertaining, high-performance virtual training. SPA helps market leaders’ teams drive greater financial performance by providing the skills training and analytical tools to master the critical daily decisions that drive profitability and enterprise value: negotiation (sell-side and buy-side), profitability acumen, and emotional intelligence. SPA’s holistic approach helps clients sustainably create and capture higher economic value. SPA’s typical client experiences increased profits equal to 2-4 percent of affected sales in less than 90 days. Mr. Bauders and SPA have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inside Business, TED, CIO Review, and more. Follow him on LinkedIn, where he regularly publishes posts related to training, negotiation, personality, and analytics.

Posted in Sales 3.0 Speakers, Sales Training | Leave a comment

These Three Directives Will Shape the Future of B2B Sales

By Nicole Terzic

It’s no longer accurate to say social selling is the future of sales. Social selling was the future of sales…seven years ago. Today, it’s a ubiquitous strategy and arguably an industry standard.

Today’s buyers don’t just prefer a personalized, relevant experience driven by insights – they expect it. That means we sellers must up our games accordingly. We also need to be prepared for what’s coming.

The evidence tells us B2B sales is undergoing a fundamental shift. Transactional selling skills – the most common type listed in LinkedIn profiles – are becoming less critical and might even be at risk of irrelevance as digital self service gains prominence.

But strategic selling skills – complex selling, partner management, and ability to build business alliances – are in higher demand. Such skills are also quite rare. Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn’s VP of Sales Solutions, recently stated at the Executive Sales Forum in San Francisco that only 1.5 percent of sellers list these skills on their LinkedIn profile.

Three Strategic Trends for Sales Leaders

Forward-looking sales leaders in all industries should get on board with three emerging trends that figure to carry the future of strategic selling.

Trend 1: Enable your sales and marketing team to deliver a consistent brand experience.

If you cringe when someone says “smarketing,” you’re not alone. Buzzwords aside, there’s no doubt sales and marketing alignment is imperative for today’s organizations.

Buyers want consistent experiences with brands. When these departments are not on the same page, that doesn’t happen. Marketing content needs to jibe with sales messaging. The distinct division of the sales funnel that once existed is now blurred, so it’s important for members of one discipline to occasionally wear hats of the other.

On LinkedIn, we see plenty of data backing up the benefits of sales-marketing collaboration. Our Power Couples guide features a number of compelling statistics. For instance, members on the platform are 25 percent more likely to respond to a Sales Navigator InMail from a company’s salesperson if they have been exposed to that same company’s marketing on the platform. Conversely, LinkedIn members who are connected to a sales rep with a company are significantly more likely to engage with and share its marketing content.

When sales and marketing are aligned around the same strategy and messaging, customers are more receptive. This reality is the driving force behind the proliferation of account-based tactics.

Trend 2: Use sales automation to augment human effort.

The key word here is “augment.” Not replace, augment. Many professionals feel threatened by the rise of new technologies. It doesn’t help when we hear experts saying three million sales jobs will likely disappear in the next five years.

But we’d be wise to view these tools as our friends, not our enemies. Robots aren’t going to navigate the complexities of a high-consideration B2B sales process any time soon. What sales automation can do is cut down on the time we spend on tedious administrative tasks, allowing us to focus on work that truly matters.

How much time could your reps save if predictive analytics automatically organized and prioritized sales leads? Or if pertinent details about a prospect were displayed right in a seller’s email interface – negating the need to look around and research in order to personalize a pitch?

Trend 3: Deliver personalization at scale.

Companies like Netflix and Amazon have set a new standard, offering highly tailored experiences that are becoming the norm. And that’s why social selling can be so powerful. It presents an opportunity to meet buyers where they are and pick up important cues regarding their needs and interests.

On LinkedIn, sales pros see a 51 percent lift in InMail acceptance rates when they and the recipients have a mutual connection. Other commonalities (belonging to the same LinkedIn group, following the same topics, etc.) can lead to a 46 percent increase.

As you can probably tell, even as buyers are now relying more on 1) their networks and 2) new technology to make purchases, they’re also very responsive to B2B selling teams that cater to the way they want to buy.

Join the LinkedIn team at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on December 4, where Brian Walton, director of sales, LinkedIn Sales Solutions will discuss these issues and more in his presentation: “The Future of Selling – Bleak or Bright?” His session will explore changes in sales automation and personalization that winning sales and marketing teams are putting to work. You can learn what technologies LinkedIn and other industry leaders are using as well as how to efficiently personalize every sales effort to win big.

Going forward, social selling will remain a crucial piece of the B2B sales process because it aligns with an increasingly buyer-driven marketplace. But, more specifically, the three developing trends above – sales-marketing integration, adoption of new tech, and personalization at scale – will drive us into this new frontier.

Nicole Terzic is a San Francisco-based marketer at LinkedIn (which has more than 500 million members). She focuses on creating content to elevate the sales profession and has partnered with top sales professionals to realize that goal. Prior to LinkedIn, Nicole had nearly a decade of marketing experience in the nonprofit and EdTech sectors. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at nterzic@linkedin.com.

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Three Steps to Foster Sustainable, Predictable Revenue Growth

By Kevin Higgins

When the sales team is on track to reach quota, many sales leaders feel they can relax. This is an all-too-common trap. In fact, being on track to reach your total sales target isn’t a license to rest on your laurels.

Why? Because, despite clear stability, you probably still have some salespeople who are failing to perform well. And that means you’re likely not creating an environment that fosters sustainable, predictable revenue growth.

If you want to create a reliable growth engine, you need a capable and results-producing team across the majority. Here are three steps you can take to make that happen.

Step 1: Calculate your sales participation rate.

In sales, one of the goals of ongoing management is participation rate (PR) – the percentage of sales team members who are at or above plan.

For a sales team, participation rate is easy to calculate. On a team of 10 people with four people at or above their target for the year, the participation rate is 40 percent. 

Participation rate is a statistic rarely scrutinized – and here’s why:

Sales managers are measured for making their quota. If the quota is $100 million, the sales manager’s goal is to get each salesperson to deliver an average of $10 million. However, the different approaches to get to $100 million are not equal. If only a few make it, the likelihood of sustaining performance is reduced.

Whether some sales reps produce $15 million and others $5 million, the sales manager only needs the total to add up to $100 million. This incentivizes the sales manager to keep average performers because salespeople who delivers only 50 percent of their quota are better for the sales manager than the 0 percent they would contribute if the sales manager let them go.

Yes, you can achieve a great year on the success of a few sales reps, but it’s not truly sustainable. If sales managers don’t understand this dynamic, they will be compelled to keep average performers and forgo the opportunity to create increased results.

Our research reveals that a participation rate of 60 percent or less will give sales managers a 10 percent chance of making their revenue plan. Sales managers must aim for a 70 percent participation rate to have a good chance of making plan, although it is not guaranteed.

Given this, why do sales managers tolerate poor performance? What stops them from having tough conversations?

Our belief is that they don’t understand the impact of participation rate.

Step 2: Assess and categorize your salespeople.  

A sales rep’s performance can be evaluated on two criteria – behavior and results. If your sales team is not performing to plan, assess whether a sales rep is or could be delivering results using the following framework.

There are four performer categories a sales manager works with:

1. High Performers = Deliver results + behave correctly
2. Coachable Performers = Behave correctly, but results are not 100 percent yet
3. Tough Performers = Deliver results + behave poorly
4. Poor Performers = Poor results + poor behavior

In an ideal world, a sales manager would have 100 percent High Performers. Great concept, but not likely to happen. What is the next best thing? 100 percent High Performers and Coachable Performers. This is attainable but it’s not the norm. 

Most leaders will have some Tough Performers and some Poor Performers. Imagine having 10 direct reports with two in these groups. Not bad… manageable. Now imagine four out of 10. Life is tougher – and tough moments happen on a daily basis. At six out of 10, it is probably tough to get out of bed in the morning. 

Step 3: Don’t delay the performance conversation.

Try to improve behavior and results with monthly one-on-ones (more frequently for Tough and Poor Performers), observational coaching with feedback, and regular connects to lean in and support.

If these sales management disciplines fail to work, that’s when it’s time for the performance conversation, which has five key steps:

1. Set a clear standard and set milestones of performance for sales rep
2. Inform the sales rep where they are not meeting the standard and set milestones
3. Give the sales rep the opportunity to meet the standard and set milestones
4. Offer assistance to help them meet the standard and set milestones
5. Outline the consequences of not meeting the standard and set milestones

Sales managers know how to do this – the issue is gaining the courage. Sales managers need to have the conversation as soon as needed – putting it off spares no one.

Sales reps who want to be with you will step it up and improve. Those who are not capable/not interested will show very quickly (in weeks, not months) after the performance conversation. If things still don’t improve, the sales manager can move to the final warning, consult with HR, and decide to part ways, if required.

If you need to strengthen your coaching skills or sales management disciplines, refer to our practical sales management sales training solutions. Coaching to the challenges will develop your people and enhance contribution and performance across your team.

Kevin Higgins is CEO of DoubleDigit Sales and author of Engage Me, a best-selling book on Sales Management.

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Four Tips to Help Salespeople Develop Their Selling Skills

By Alice Heiman

At the Sales 3.0 Conference, we talk a lot about how technology is impacting the sales profession. One major upheaval is the waning patience B2B buyers have for salespeople who don’t have much to offer beyond basic transactional assistance, or who can’t function at a level that holds the buyer’s interest.

To make sure your sales team stays relevant in a digital age, you need to help them develop their selling skills. This is going to be the number one way to increase your revenue potential, because salespeople with highly sophisticated skills are going to remain highly valuable – even as automation and artificial intelligence solutions make simple, transactional sales roles obsolete.

Creating and carrying out these development plans doesn’t have to take a six-figure budget. Of course, you can spend money on training, tools, coaching, and rewards. But no matter what you spend, it’s about providing your team with the resources they need to succeed. With that in mind, try these four simple tips to start developing your sales team today.

Tip #1: Develop your own management and leadership skills.

You know how, on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before you help another? Well, developing yourself follows the same strategy.

Once you’ve begun to develop yourself as a sales leader, you’re more able to help your sales team develop and reach their goals. When you invest the time and energy to develop your own leadership and management skills, you lead by example. That will reap dividends with your salespeople when you ask them to improve their selling skills.

Tip #2: Understand that training alone will not lead to skill development.

It’s your job to help your sales reps understand their part in the company’s success and to develop personalized success plans. Of course, this may mean they have to change their behaviors.

We all know that behavior change is hard. Training alone does not equal behavior change. However, coaching makes it easier to change, because it gives salespeople an accountability partner and some incentive or reward as they work on their selling skills.

Tip #3: Task each member of your sales team to create a personal development plan and then review it with them and make it actionable.

Ask questions, like: What do you want to learn to do better this year? How will you do that? What could prevent you from hitting your goals? When you know the answer to those questions, you can help develop a plan.

Tip #4: Start a book club with your sales reps.

One tactic I highly recommend is creating a book club. It’s easy, inexpensive, and not time-consuming. Just pick a book based on what you want your team to learn, or have them choose. Ask them to read a few chapters a week and then get together to discuss it. Thirty minutes a week away from their desks to meet and an hour or two of reading time is the cost. The result? Agile learners that are improving selling skills and changing to exceed their goals.

Want to increase your sales success in 2018? Join me at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on December 4!

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. 

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