How to Manage Team Disagreement for Successful Outcomes

Picture1_900By Adrian Ballinger

As a certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide and founder/CEO of Alpenglow Expeditions, I’ve led more than 100 international climbing expeditions on five continents, including six successful summits of Mt. Everest. Along the way, I’ve learned valuable lessons about leadership.

A climb is always a team effort. And, though the physical challenges are daunting, the key factor in achieving your goal is how well your team collaborates.

On the mountain, strategic decisions can literally be life-saving. Makalu is considered one of the world’s most difficult climbs. Our team – four professional athletes and four Sherpas – was attempting to become the first to ski from its summit. It was here, hovelled in our Camp 4 tent, just one day away from our goal, that our team faced one of the climb’s biggest challenges: team disagreement.

Earlier in the day, one of our climbers had been caught in a minor avalanche, luckily only bruising ribs during his fall. Still, he was injured and was incapable of shouldering his share of the team’s carefully designed load.  

Now it was time for the team to make a decision. Our options were straightforward: continue pushing upwards in clearly dangerous conditions with one man down, end the expedition and try to descend safely, or retreat to Base Camp and hope for another summit window in the upcoming weeks. 

It had taken us three years of planning, six weeks of trekking, and four long days of backbreaking work in deep snow and high winds to reach 26,000 feet. Some of us wanted to continue; others thought it best to turn back. After some initial discussion, it became clear our team of eight could not agree on one option. Whether the avalanche hazard would reduce in the next few days was the main point of debate – along with different personal feelings on whether individuals had the physical energy to attempt the summit.

At almost 26,000 feet, rational discussion is made much more difficult by the lack of oxygen. Each of us were displaying symptoms of altitude sickness – splitting headaches, deep exhaustion, and constant nausea. As expedition leader, it was my job to manage the team towards a decision we all could live with, and then execute on it. But how?

Here’s the system I employed to get our team back on track and focused on a goal that would best suit the organization as a whole.

  1. Revisit the team’s mutual goals and their order of priority.
    In our case – (1) we wanted every member of the team to return home safely; (2) we wanted to leave the mountain as clean and untouched as we had found it; (3) we wanted as many members as possible to summit the peak; and (4) we wanted as many members as possible to ski from the peak. Revisiting our goals and the order of their priority helped us, as individuals, set aside our own personal goals and biases, and focus on the team’s goals.
  2. Give each team member the time to express their individual feelings and opinions.
    Despite the extreme situation we were in, it was essential to take time to hear from everyone. We spent two hours after the avalanche discussing options, and then again another two hours the next morning – allowing ourselves “to sleep on it.” During this time, each team member – from the most experienced to the least – played a part in the discussion.
  3. Respect each member’s opinion, even when you don’t agree.
    As the most experienced on the team (I have summited Everest six times and spent 20 years climbing in the Himalayas), I had my own strong opinions. But, to have buy-in from the team in a decision this controversial, it was essential I and everyone truly listened and tried to understand each member’s opinions.
  4. Be strong, make the decision, and stick with it.
    After four hours of debate, it was clear our team was not going to come to a unanimous decision. But, through the act of group discussion, my opinion had been changed and clarified. While I personally wanted to stay and climb – to meet our team’s goals in order of their importance – the right decision was to descend and to clean the mountain. An upcoming storm made the chance of a later summit window unlikely, and the storm also meant it was likely any gear we left on the mountain would be destroyed and lost – essentially left as trash. With our discussions at a stalemate, I thanked everyone for all of their effort through the difficult conversations, announced my decision, and laid out a plan to quickly and safely get us off the mountain before the storm began.

A month later, our team got together just to debrief the trip and begin to dream up ideas for the next expedition. We stayed friends and colleagues, and can’t wait for our next adventure together. So, while our trip failed to achieve two of its goals, it also succeeded at two. And we have become a stronger team through the process – more ready for the next challenge. 

For more information, visit

Adrian Ballinger is a certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide and founder/CEO of Alpenglow Expeditions.

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9 Things Sales Leaders Need to Know about Communication


by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

Do you have big ideas for success? Do you know how to communicate those ideas to your team and to colleagues?

Without communication skills, sales leaders will flounder and their ideas will go unrealized. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are nine communication suggestions based on my 25 years of training and coaching sales leaders. To hear more insight, join me at the Sales 2.0 Leadership Conference in Philadelphia on November 16th.

  1. People believe stories more readily than numbers or statistics. The listener processes stories in three ways: intellectually, emotionally, and visually (visual aids and the speaker’s movements). Start with a story, and then use a statistic or visual to emphasize or elaborate the point.
  2. Remember the Who factor; audiences are people and they are interested in other people. Use stories about people, particularly heroes. Look internally and externally in the company for the stories of your own everyday heroes.
  3. “Sound words” build tension. Crack! (Was that lightning?) Build tension in the leadership message, and then break it or relieve it as a means of holding audience attention. We all love suspense.
  4. Smell and other sensory words also trigger the formation of memory. See, hear, smell, feel, taste what?
  5. Twist a phrase, “You can’t teach a young dog old tricks.” – That’s a quote from billionaire Warren Buffet on why he consistently hires retirement-age managers rather than younger ones.
  6. Add interest to your speaking with alliteration, repetition, and rhythm.
  7. Statistics should be used sparingly and distilled. Startling numbers are effective.
  8. Quotes allow us to borrow the best that has been said or written. They can convey authority, brevity, relevance, humor, etc. Quotes get the human voice in your leadership message. Use contemporary quotes if possible. Be accurate. Use tone of voice to convey the quote, rather than saying “quote-unquote.” Edit quotes down to the meat. Paraphrase quotes that are longer than one or two lines.
  9. When discussing a complicated idea, break it down into small parts. Take the impact of the idea, and explain how that impact will affect a single person. In other words, tell the story of the war through the eyes of one soldier.

Hear Patricia Fripp speak live in person — register now for the Sales 2.0 Leadership Conference in Philadelphia on November 16. For more information or questions about the event, email


Patricia FrippFor over 25 years Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, has taught individual salespeople and sales teams how to speak more powerfully and boost their sales beyond expectations. Patricia is trusted by clients such as Microsoft, ADP, Visa, Genentech, Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Payroll Association. Her interactive virtual training platform offers a surefire shortcut to becoming powerfully persuasive and successful in sales. For more information, go to

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Become a Better Speaker with These Eight Powerful Tips

sales presentation tips

By Gene Hammett

Imagine yourself on stage. You are speaking directly to a room of 100 of your ideal clients. You are confident and prepared to give a message that connects directly to the heart of the audience and appeals to their logic side, too.

Does that scare you?

Does it excite you?

One of my clients, Jason Swenk (founder of, just came back from Inbound, a 13,000-person event hosted by HubSpot. Jason was invited to speak to a standing-room-only breakout room. He was given a mic and offered the chance to connect to those ideal prospects with his message. Jason was prepared and confident he nailed the talk. Well, the outcome was fantastic. He had dozens of executives asking him follow-up questions for 90 minutes after the talk. No cold calls. No gatekeepers. Just people eager to get to know him and do business with him.

By now, you have probably concluded that his speaking skills are powerful. And your skills have the same potential.

Improving your speaking is one of the hardest things to do – there is so much information in books and on the Internet. Much of it is contradictory and some is just plain crazy. Here is an example. Whoever said, “If nervous, picture the audience naked,” warps my mind. This is the last thing you want to do when on stage and looking to emotionally connect with the audience.

If the only thing holding you back is the skills to be a better speaker, you are in luck. A few weeks back, I got a chance to interview Michael Port (six-time New York Times best-selling author) about improving speaking skills. Michael has been performing for audiences large and small to become one of the best in the business of speaking. He has spoken for Fortune 500 and a variety of other events to hone his own performance.

We uncovered some common myths and fine-tuned a plethora of ways to improve your speaking. Michael brings a new perspective on speaking that allows you to see how a professional sees the performance of speaking.

Here, I give you eight powerful tips to improve your speaking – from the master, Michael Port:

  1. The Opening – Cut the filler words and phrases, like, “Hey I just flew in from…”. To get the audience engaged, get right to it instead of putting in unnecessary words.
  1. The Closing – Make it powerful, yet don’t fill it with fireworks. Ensure the audience has taken the big idea of the speech and never do anything after the applause.
  1. Emotional Connection – Really, the most important thing is connecting at an emotional level with the audience. You might think your “how to” speech doesn’t need emotional elements, yet – if you want your audience to connect to you after the speech – you want to connect with their emotions.
  1. Emotional Contrast – Any speech that is just one note is boring; great speeches have contrast in content, structure, and emotions. Move from sad to funny to engage the audience – this keeps them on the edge of their seats in a good way.
  1. Eye Contact – Don’t stare too long to make someone uncomfortable; scan the room and look at people to draw them into the moment (remember: don’t picture the audience naked, either).
  1. Movement – Use the whole stage to connect with the audience using your movements. Don’t wander or look down as these cause the audience to disengage and question your influence.
  1. Slides – It is never a question of using slides or NOT using slides; the issue is how you use them to support your message. Seth Godin is a master at using slides and can use 150 slides in a single presentation. Use slides to write your speech first and create slides to support your message (most people want to write slides then write the speech; this places the slides in the performer’s seat instead of you).
  1. Audience Interaction – This must be in proportion to the amount of trust you have developed with the audience. Opening with a question that is too invasive will cause you to lose the audience; by the end of the presentation, you will have built more trust and you can ask more of the audience.

Bonus Power Tip:

Practice – Michael believes you must practice your speech. OK, this is not news to you. However, are you practicing with the awareness of the above tips? In Steal the Show, Michael gives insights to better practice techniques that will make you more prepared for your performance on stage.

If you want to dive deeper into improving your speaking, I recommend you check out Steal The Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life.  It is packed with valuable insights to push you beyond your current level of performance.

Now that your awareness to speaking has broadened and deepened, you must push beyond the inner barriers that stop you from improving.

In the comments below, let me know what you will be adding to your speech.

Here is the full interview with Michael Port, if you want to check it out.

Gene Hammett is CEO of Leaders in the Trenches. Subscribe to his podcast in iTunes or Stitcher.

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Are Your Beliefs About Success Holding You Back?

Sandler training leadership

By Jim Marshall

One of the biggest obstacles to success for any sales executive is the “negative self-talk” that often results from the day-to-day realities of the profession: prospecting for new clients and customers, dealing with stalls and objections, inability to reach decision makers, increased competition in the marketplace, etc.

The most difficult to overcome, however, just may be the frustration of constantly hearing “no” or “I’m not interested.” Many sellers struggle with the fear of rejection without understanding or appreciating the fact that hearing “no” is natural and just part of the game. The best hitters in Major League Baseball fail seven out of ten times. NBA legend Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Some of the greatest business leaders throughout history were also some of the biggest failures; they simply didn’t let those failures affect them like others did.

The results can be devastating if sellers allow fear of failure and rejection to adversely affect their performance. Admittedly, easier said than done, but how does one combat the seemingly inevitable? Here’s what worked for one of our clients:

Andrew was still relatively new to his company and industry, and had been on the job only about a year. He learned the business quickly and his performance was a credit to the team.  Having originally been hired in a customer service role, he was promoted to an inside sales position – although he had never previously been in sales or business development. A very likable guy, Andrew was ill prepared for the large volume of nos, voicemails, hang-ups and downright rude “suspects” he often encountered. Consequently, his attitude suffered, his confidence waned, he became rather withdrawn, and his passion for his company and the industry was greatly diminished. In short, he didn’t believe he could succeed in his position.

In an offline conversation with Andrew, I learned that he was working hard to support his nine-year-old son. Andrew was divorced, and he himself came from a broken home. The difficult childhood he and his siblings had endured had torn his own family apart, and he was absolutely determined not to have history repeat itself with his son. As he related to me the countless hours he spent with his son on homework, on trips to the ball field and basketball court, and on weekend outings, he became quite animated. His voice rose, he began sobbing uncontrollably, and his passion for his life’s devotion to his son was unquestionable. A very moving discussion!

At that point, I asked Andrew two very simple and direct questions: “What do you suppose might happen if you could harness the same level of conviction in your job that you have in your son? What if you truly believed that rejection is normal and that some prospect out there actually does need your product/service – your job is to simply find them?”

Andrew’s perspective (and performance) turned around in a matter of days, and he is now one of the top performers at his company. He now takes pride in the fact that he can get a “no” from a prospect quicker than anyone else on his team, and he has come to the same realization that many sales professionals have long embraced: every “no” he gets from a prospect puts him one step closer to a “yes.”

How do you deal with your negative self-talk?

Jim Marshall SandlerJim Marshall is owner and president of Tampa Bay Sales Development, LLC, Sandler Training. Email him at or call him at (727) 796-1500.

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Why Are B2B Buyers Leaving Your Website?

b2b buyers existing your website

By Dianna Huff

Whenever I’m considering a new business purchase, my standard operating procedure is to research alternative products or solutions online. In fact, I take months to make a decision because I spend the time to evaluate how the new application will fit into my existing processes and integrate with other business apps. I’ve also learned (the hard way) to read review sites for ratings and feedback before making a purchase.

B2B buyers operate in a very similar way. Marketing hype, however, would have us believe that people make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Vendors develop their websites with this expectation in mind – that buyers will come to the website, read a few pages, and presto, will immediately convert by calling, emailing, or signing up for a trial offer or demo.

Thinking through my own research process for the last three applications I’ve purchased – accounting, CRM, and application syncing – I can now see that the vendors I chose all had content-rich websites that supported my research process.

The findings from the annual B2B Web Usability Report – launched in conjunction with my colleagues at KoMarketing – support this thinking. For example, consider what we learned from our 2014 survey:

  • 37 percent of survey respondents indicated they’ll visit a website three to five times
  • 33 percent of respondents said they do so because they want to research third-party references.

Our 2015 report reflects responses from 262 people, including presidents and CEOs; COO, CFO, CTO, and CMO positions; managers and executives; directors and vice presidents; analysts and specialists; and consultants. Our questions were designed to uncover the factors that cause a buyer to leave a vendor website and perform further research.

What did we discover? The number-one reason B2B buyers leave your site is to evaluate competitive products or solutions.

As you can see in the chart, 87 percent of survey respondents indicated this is why they leave a vendor website and then come back – multiple times.


Whether you’re offering a software app or you’re an industrial manufacturer, you need to create content assets that help buyers through this research process. Here are five elements you need to incorporate into your B2B website to keep buyers engaged.

1) Authentic testimonials – I do appreciate when a company provides extended testimonials that include the person’s name, company name, a photo, and the person’s words just as if he/she were speaking, as you can see in the following PieSync example. Testimonials like this are authentic, which helps build credibility and trust (one of the key research findings for our 2015 survey).


PieSync testimonials

2) Features – Explain to buyers how your product or solution works. Give information about how it syncs with other apps or works on a smartphone. Use lots of screenshots so buyers can see how it works. Let people know the benefits of these features.

I like how Freshbooks uses whimsical graphics to explain the software features. The whimsy shows that Freshbooks is easy to use and built for small business owners rather than accountants.


Freshbooks illustrated feature

3) Capabilities – If you’re a manufacturer or service provider, help people see the talents, skill sets, and expertise you bring to the table. Use graphs and short paragraphs to explain how these all tie together and how they benefit the prospective buyer. Help buyers understand what makes your company the right choice for them.

In this screenshot, you can see how Acme Wire Products used a graph and text to explain their turnkey wire forming capabilities.


Acme Wire Products capabilities page

4) Ratings – If buyers can rate your product on third-party review sites, list the rating on your website – even if it’s not a 100 percent rating. Most people don’t expect perfection; what they really want to know is that you’re responsive and will help them if they run into a problem. By being honest about your product or service, you’ll build credibility and trust.

In fact, a WhichTestWon Monarch airlines case study proves this point. SPOILER ALERT! By adding the trust icon, Monarch improved landing page conversions. What I found interesting, however, is Anthony’s comment:


Comment from WhichTestWon case study

5) FAQs – Before the Internet, prospective buyers would call a company and ask lots of questions to determine if the company could help solve specific challenges. (I know this for a fact because, in the old days, I used to answer four phone lines and had to answer these questions!) Help buyers educate themselves by providing this information on your website and include answers to everything – from how your product works and your business hours to how to receive free samples or move forward with an RFQ.

Here you can see that Kays Engineering, manufacturer of deep hole drilling machines, answers people’s general questions about machine build time, shipping internationally, and technical support.


Kays Engineering FAQ page

These are a few examples of how to help buyers determine if your product or solution is right for them. You’ll find lots of other great research and takeaways from the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, so be sure to check it out.

Dianna Huff is a marketing consultant for small, family-run industrial manufacturers. She’s also the co-author of 101 Ways to Market Your Website, a guide for small business owners, consultants, freelancers – anyone with a website.

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How to Lead by Listening

leaders listening

By Selling Power Editors

Have you ever heard the saying that humans “listen half, understand a quarter, think zero, and react double”?

In his book, Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, Steven R. Shallenberger cites this as one of his favorite quotes. Why? He’s found that communication is one of the top concerns among the executives and leaders he’s worked with around the globe.

“Our clients are always looking for ways to improve their communication,” he writes. “But few of them realize that better communication begins not with speaking or expressing yourself, but with listening to others.”

Communication is the heart of business and a classic leadership skill. “Whether we’re talking about a personal relationship in the home or landing a $100,000 business deal, understanding the other person and being a highly effective communicator can make all the difference in the world,” writes Shallenberger.

Tip #1: Listen with empathy in mind.

When it comes to listening skills, you want to strive to listen in an empathetic way. That means you must do more than simply understand the content of what the person is saying.

Shallenberger says many leaders listen “with the goal of finding a solution or resolution rather than simply trying to understand the person’s feelings as well as his words.” But, if you want to capture the hearts and minds of the people you hope to influence, you must seek to connect with them on an emotional level.

Tip #2: Make eye contact.

When you’re talking face to face, don’t let your attention wander. The best way to do this is to make good eye contact.

True leaders understand how to hold someone’s gaze as they’re speaking. They do so in a way that makes the speaker feel he’s the most important person in the world. Maintaining steady eye contact conveys that you are fully present and receptive. When speakers sense this energy from you, they’ll be more open and feel that you’re someone they can trust.

Tip #3: Pause and repeat what you think you’ve heard the person say.

Providing feedback on what you’ve just heard is a critical component of active listening. Shallenberger suggests using such phrases as, “Just to make sure I understand, you’re saying that …” or, “I want to get this clear in my head: you feel that ….”

The mark of a great leader is the ability to pause and provide your understanding of what you’ve just heard. This is evidence that we’re truly listening. What if you missed something or misheard? Perfect – now you can work to create alignment. If you had not stopped to repeat what you heard, you wouldn’t have known there was a problem.

When practicing this skill, make sure your tone and manner aren’t hostile, defensive, or patronizing. “If it’s sincere, it shouldn’t feel like an interrogation,” Shallenberger writes.

When you listen openly, sincerely, and empathetically, you become the kind of leader that people want to follow.

As Shallenberger puts it: “Think about the people you value as mentors and guides in your life, and you’ll probably realize that one of the things you value most about them is that they are willing to listen to what you have to say.”

What are some of your best tips for leaders who want to become active and engaged listeners? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Learn How to Validate Your Salespeople in Four Easy Steps

Lee D'Angelo

By Lisa Gschwandtner 

After 25 years of interviewing thousands of people about every topic under the sun, what has billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey learned about human nature? Everyone wants to be validated.

In a fireside chat about leadership and career at Stanford University, she revealed that everyone she interviews asks her the same question at the end of the conversation. “Was that okay? How did I do?” This pattern holds true for the very famous and powerful as well as ordinary citizens. “Everybody says that, and now I just wait for it,” she says.

Winfrey says that we all share three basic concerns when we interact with others.

1. Did you see me?
2. Did you hear me?
3. Did what I said mean anything to you?

“That’s what everything’s about,” she says.

If you want to start becoming the kind of leader who validates others, you must first understand that validation is different from praise or positive feedback.

In psychological terms, validation is not about agreeing with others or approving of what they’ve said or done. Rather, it’s about accepting the person – no matter what the person is saying or doing. As Karyn Hall, Ph.D., author of The Emotionally Sensitive Person: Finding Peace When Your Emotions Overwhelm You, puts it, “Validation is a way of communicating that the relationship is important and solid even when you disagree on issues.”

Here are four ways you can lead salespeople by validating them.

1. Give the person your undivided attention.

The first rule of validation is to listen wholeheartedly to whoever is talking. In other words, show the salesperson that you’re not simply waiting for your turn to speak or keeping one eye on your email while he or she talks.

This can be a tough practice for leaders who are used to multitasking and juggling many priorities at once. If it helps, think of how disheartening it is when you talk with someone – whether a client or your own boss – who’s constantly texting or interrupting your discussion to take phone calls. Doesn’t feel great, does it? When a rep comes to you to discuss something, set aside all distractions and really tune in to what he or she is saying.

2. Pause to restate and reflect.

Sometimes sales leaders assume that reps want them to provide immediate answers and solutions. While it’s true that your role is to help and give direction, be aware that sometimes salespeople just need someone to listen to them so they can get some perspective on their issues.

A simple pause to restate what you’ve heard shows that you’ve been listening actively and helps the salesperson hear what he’s said. For example, you could say, “So what I’m hearing is that you’ve sent three emails to the prospect this week and received only one reply in return, which you found vague and confusing.” This simple restatement makes the salesperson feel validated.

3. Notice and remark on the person’s emotional state.

Sometimes people are unaware of the way they’re feeling. This can prolong their distress and make problems more complicated as they’re unable to separate facts from emotions. If you say something like, “What I’m hearing right now is that you’re feeling frustrated and anxious,” you help the person start to identify his or her emotions and gain clarity.

Notice that you are not necessarily saying it is right or wrong to feel frustrated and anxious; you are simply making an observation. This creates greater openness and trust. Because you’ve validated the salesperson, he or she now feels safe in communicating with you in an authentic fashion.

4. Commit to what you have in common.

Again, validation is about underscoring the importance of the person and of your relationship with the person. It is entirely possible for a leader to disagree with someone and still validate him or her.

For example, it might annoy you when a salesperson complains that entering information into CRM is a waste of time. You might be tempted to explode and say something like, “Quit being so lazy! This is something I told you to do, so you’d better start doing it!” However, this is not going to leave the salesperson feeling validated (and probably won’t get the behavior you want, either).

Instead, validate the person by focusing on a commitment the two of you share. In this case, your shared commitment is to the success of the salesperson and to the sales organization as a whole. Accordingly, you might choose to say something like, “I know how frustrating it can be to feel like you’re being asked to do something that wastes your time. Here are three ways you and I both benefit when you enter data into CRM, and here are three ways your actions then benefit the entire company.”

If the salesperson continues to repeat unacceptable behaviors, then you might eventually have to end the relationship. However, if it comes to that point, you’ll be able to do so with compassion – knowing you’ve always practiced the principles of validation.

For more insight about life and leadership from Oprah Winfrey, order her book, What I Know For Sure.

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Lisa GschwandtnerLisa Gschwandtner is Editorial Director at Selling Power and Media Manager of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Find her on Twitter @SellingPower20.


[Image via Flickr / Lee D’Angelo]
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How to Tell If Inside Sales is Right for Your Organization

inside sales call center

By Alison Brattle

The structure of most sales organizations hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. The average organization is made up of a number of sales reps working in the field, who meet face-to-face with current and prospective clients. Those field reps are supported by additional staff members and “inside reps” who complete the internal work associated with completing the transaction.

However, that’s slowly changing. Organizations are transitioning their sales staff members from working as external reps in the field, to internal office-based reps who work primarily via phone and email. The inside reps are no longer support staff who do the “back end” work – they’re now the people who are actually closing deals.

One study by Steve W. Martin surveyed over 100 vice presidents of sales at leading service providers and tech companies and found that 46 percent of sales teams had shifted from the external to the internal model. However, 21 percent had done the opposite, moving from an internal sales model to an external field model. So, while there is some shift either way, there was more than twice as much movement from external to internal – a clear indication of a trend.

The Advantages of an Internal Sales Team

There are some big advantages to be gained from shifting to an internal sales model. One of the biggest is that sales rep training becomes much more effective with an inside model. Under the external model, sales reps don’t necessarily come into contact with one another on a regular basis; but, with reps working internally in the same office space, it’s much easier to provide sales training for new reps, share “best practice” sales tips, and disseminate new information.

According to Steve W. Martin’s survey, 84 percent of respondents who shifted from an external to an internal sales model cited these and similar benefits, as well as this:

  • 79 percent said the internal model provided for more rapid growth of the organization
  • 76 percent said the internal model was more effective for reaching mid-markets and small businesses
  • 78 percent reported increased call activity and volume of sales

Is the Internal Sales Model Universally Superior?

These are some exciting statistics, which definitely point to the value of internal sales, but it’s important to note that this isn’t the best solution for all organizations.

For example, for a newly-established organization, it’s often more prudent to adopt an external model to more effectively build the personal relationships sales reps rely on. As the organization expands, switching to an internal model may become more fruitful, since it provides the ability to integrate new staff more effectively and allows for more rapid growth.

Another highly influential factor is the complexity of the organization’s sales cycle – how many individuals are involved, purchase size and value, and the complexity of the product itself. An enterprise sale cycle, for example, is a long cycle based on high-value purchases involving multiple individuals at various levels of the organization. In these cases, external sales are necessary – again, because selling extremely high-value products over a long period of time is something that relies on the development of more personal business relationships and networking.

On the other hand, a short and simple sales cycle is where the internal model really shines: high volumes of low-value sales, where the customer’s purchasing decisions are made by a single department or individual.

Choosing the right model is key to any business’s growth and future profits objectives. However, in many cases, a mixture of both models is needed at various periods of time in the organization’s cycle. The most important element to consider is timing – when to implement the model (or models) that fit with the company’s current goals and capacity.

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Alison BrattleAlison Brattle is a marketing manager at AchieveGlobal UK, a global sales training and leadership development firm based in London. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Find her on LinkedIn.

[Image via Flickrplantronicsgermany]
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5 Things Sales Leaders Should Never Say

Sir Richard Branson

by Lisa Gschwandtner 

If there’s one thing Sir Richard Branson understands, it’s the pressure of conveying a clear message (either in meetings, public statements, or speeches) without sounding negative. According to his book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know about Leadership, here are five words and phrases he tries to avoid in team meetings and speeches.

1) “That’s not a bad idea.”

If this is your response to an idea, your team won’t be clear on whether you love the idea or hate it. “Not bad” could mean you actually kind of like the idea. On the other hand, you didn’t specifically say you love the idea. Don’t leave your audience confused.

“Be definitive,” writes Branson. “If you approve or disapprove of something, be assertive and make your position absolutely clear, making sure you explain why.”

2) “You’re not going to like this, but …”

This phrase sets up your listeners to hear something negative. As a leader, it’s your job to inspire people and instill them with positive feelings – even if what you’re about to share might upset or frighten them. Branson suggests instead saying something like, “This may be a tough nut to crack, but I’m sure we’ll get it done.”

3) “We’ve had better years.”

Sales leaders are often asked to provide some kind of public commentary on results for the month, quarter, or year, but Branson views the above phrase as a cop out. “People want the truth, not some sugarcoated version of it,” he writes. Admit the reality of your situation and follow up with an honest assessment of how you plan to achieve better results in the future.

4) “That said…”

Branson considers this to be “possibly one of the most destructive phrases in the English language.” When people hear these words, you invalidate anything you said just a minute ago. This can create great resentment among your listeners. “As a verbal bridge from the pros to the cons, try using something like, ‘Of course, we shouldn’t overlook…’” writes Branson.

5) “No comment.”

Branson understands that sometimes leaders aren’t at liberty to discuss sensitive information, but he dislikes this classic approach to discretion. “A stark ‘no comment’ tends to come across like, ‘We’re guilty as hell and don’t want to talk about it until our lawyers have come up with a plausible alibi,’” writes Branson.

Instead, he suggests saying something like, ‘I’m really sorry, but until we gather all the facts, we are not in a position to issue a statement.’

What are some of the key phrases and words you’ve learned to avoid during speeches, meetings, and presentations? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

For more leadership insight from Richard Branson check out his book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know about Leadership.

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Lisa GschwandtnerLisa Gschwandtner is Editorial Director at Selling Power and Media Manager of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Find her on Twitter @SellingPower20.

[Top image via Flickr / Jarle Naustvik]
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Three Things That Will Boost Your Brainstorming Meeting with Reps

brainstorming meetings

By Lisa Gschwandtner

As a sales leader, you want to welcome new ideas and innovation. Unfortunately, during meetings, many leaders can’t see past what Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of  Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, call “behavioral blind spots.”

In their book, Stone and Heen discuss the case of “Zoe,” who prided herself on the way she nurtured her team’s creativity during weekly brainstorming meetings. She didn’t realize, however, that people called her Annie Oakley behind her back. “As in, ‘she shoots down every idea,’” write Stone and Heen.

Zoe might never have become aware of the problem had she not decided to have a team member record a few of their meetings using a smartphone. “Zoe was stunned when she listened to the recording,” they write. Here are some of the phrases she heard herself utter:

“Here’s why I doubt that can work.”

“Here’s what I’m worried about.”

During brainstorming meetings, you might think you’re setting high standards or providing constructive feedback when, in fact, others see you as hypercritical. Try these three tips for leading a terrific brainstorming session.

Tip #1: Don’t worry about controlling the meeting.

Zoe truly believed in the benefit of new ideas. The problem was that she was afraid of wasting time during the meetings. Remember, creative energy needs room to breathe. Allow the ideas to flow, and stop worrying that you need to keep the meeting on track.

Tip #2: Stay open, positive, and curious.

Negativity quickly stifles creativity. Even if you can tell that an idea is not going to work, avoid saying so right away. Instead, see if you can pick one aspect of the idea that you immediately like, and focus on that.

For example, if someone suggests a customer-loyalty initiative but you can tell the plan is going to be prohibitively expensive, you might respond by saying, “What I like about this idea so far is that it addresses our key accounts. Let’s see if we can build on that.”

Brainstorming sessions are not the time to challenge ideas. There will be plenty of time to apply critical thinking after you develop ideas more and decide if you want to pursue them.

Tip #3: Plan ahead to capture ideas.

Although it’s ideal to let ideas flow freely, the lack of structure can sometimes mean that ideas become lost once everyone goes back to their desks. If this happens more than once, your team members are likely to be left feeling as though you’ve wasted their time. As a result, they might invest less effort in volunteering ideas.

Ask a good note-taker who’s not a core part of the team to attend the meeting and devote his or her full attention to capturing the ideas. Before the meeting ends, review the notes aloud to make sure they’re accurate and reflect the spirit of the discussion.

If you’re a sales leader, remember that your tone, attitude, and behavior sets the tone for the rest of your team. Also bear in mind that the way you perceive yourself is not necessarily the way others perceive you. Even if you don’t have doubts about how you’re coming across, try recording a meeting or two the way Zoe did. That way, you’ll hear the evidence for yourself.

How do you encourage the free flow of ideas when brainstorming with your sales team? 

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Lisa Gschwandtner

Lisa Gschwandtner is Editorial Director at Selling Power and Media Manager of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Find her on Twitter @SellingPower20.

[Image via Flickr /nhuisman]
Posted in: Sales Coaching, Sales Leadership, Sales Management | Tags: , | 1 Comment