The Personality Of A Perfect Salesperson

By Logan Strain

Your success in sales is a direct result of your daily habits. It’s simply a matter of taking the right action, at the right time, in the right order, over and over again. But your actions are the result of something more important: who you are. Your personal values, temperament, and motivation influence your actions; and therefore influence your success.

But what are the personal qualities that really matter? What separates salespeople who see success quarter after quarter from those who struggle? This a question that psychologists, social scientists, and business researchers have tackled over the last few decades. Thanks to their research, we now have a more accurate picture of what it takes to succeed in sales.

This infographic from NextGen Leads explains some of the most interesting and relevant findings. Some of the facts confirm conventional wisdom. For example, one study found that successful salespeople have a high level of grit, which is necessary to push through difficult times. Other conclusions challenge the traditional ideal. For example, one study found that “ambiverts” are more successful salespeople than traditional extroverts.

Take a look at these seven qualities. Do you recognize any of them in yourself?

The Personality Of A Perfect Salesperson

Logan-HeadshotLogan Strain is the Digital Content Specialist for NextGen Leads. His work has also been featured in Search Engine Journal, The Salesforce Blog, HubSpot, and other fine publications. He lives in San Diego with his wife and daughter. Follow him on twitter @LM_Strain.

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New Year’s Resolution: A Winning Sales Script

By Karen Tang

As we begin 2016, some are predicting the death of the cold call. However, with more than 75 percent of senior executives reporting taking a meeting after a cold call, I have to disagree. Cold calls can work for you, too – as long as you have the right sales script in place and are using the call to build an interactive, two-way conversation.

Sales scripts are incredibly important, especially if you are talking with a prospect over the phone. It can be intimidating to make a cold sales call, and you may worry that your potential customer will be annoyed with you or just hang up.

Sales executives who want to turn their sales force into a lean, mean, cold calling machine have to make a simple resolution this year: develop a top-notch sales script. A good script will guide your sales reps through a natural, two-way interactive conversation with each prospect, and will help them get to the bottom of each prospect’s pain so they can articulate the value of your product or service most effectively.

Not sure how to write a sales script that will help you win tons of business – and be more engaging to your prospects? Take note of these tips.

Skip the Small Talk

When cold calling, ask for your prospect by name (first and last) and then introduce yourself, providing your title and company name. From there, ask if you are calling at an OK time in their day and if you can take three to five minutes of their time. If they say no, ask if you can call back at a specific time the following day. That way, you will have an appointment.

From there, launch into the reason for your call. Condense this explanation into three to four sentences that go into the precise assistance your company provides, how your prospect can benefit, and a short example of a similar company with which you have worked.

The most important thing here is to stick to business-speak. Show them that you respect their time by getting right down to business.

Do Your Research

Spend a good deal of time gathering background information on your prospect. According to a recent study by Vorsight, only 3 percent of your market is ready to buy at any given time, but 40 percent are poised to do so. You can keep tabs on who is moving from the 40 percent and into the 3 percent by asking yourself the following questions: Has the company been in the news lately for a new product? What pain points are they facing these days? How is the state of their industry?

The more pertinent information you can present during your initial call, the more likely they will be to take you seriously and listen.

Use Their Jargon

Read up on the jargon, acronyms, etc., relevant to their industry and try to incorporate those terms into your sales script. Only 13 percent of customers believe a salesperson understands their needs, so, by using their jargon, you are not only making them more comfortable, but demonstrating you’re knowledgeable about their industry or product, which will help you gain credibility in the eyes of your prospect.

Listen

Cold calling can be nerve wracking – and those nerves can cause you to speak quickly and not allow any time for the person on the other end to have their say. Try to speak slowly and pause between sentences. Ask authentic questions that show you know their industry and want to start a dialogue.

Have a Conversation

In sales, customization is key – your audience is busy, so they want to know why you and your product are relevant to their lives within the first few minutes of your call, or you’ll lose their attention. Instead of giving a monologue or a lecture, start a dialogue to find out what your prospects care about most while you’re giving the talk, and then adjust your content on the fly.

If the prospect is interested in getting more information, schedule a follow-up presentation that is designed to be a two-way conversation between the presenter and prospect. Tools like Prezi – which are interactive and provide a zoom-able canvas that offers both the presenter and prospect a more unique, compelling, and engaging experience – can aid in the selling practice and be used while you deliver your script.

We have also found conversational presenting to be an effective tool for many of our customers, including Verifone. At trade shows, Verifone’s mobile sales team uses a Prezi that runs on an iPad so they can leave the booth and have on-the-fly conversations with prospects with a presentation they can take with them wherever they go, so they can extend the conversations to after-trade-show-hours dinners and networking events.

Stick with the Timeline and Finish with an Ask

If you told your prospect the conversation would last three to five minutes, stick to that. If you are about to go over because you’ve gotten to talking, pause for a moment and ask if they are still OK on time. They will appreciate this courtesy.

Before you end the call, ask for another meeting. This could be another phone discussion or a coffee date – whichever is best for their schedule. Offer a few times that work for you and ask them for their preferred time. After you get off the phone, confirm over email and then look forward to landing that sale!

Karen Tang leads the sales, customer success, and support teams at Prezi, and is passionate about growing and delighting its customer base. She leads the charge in expanding Prezi into teams and businesses, and in helping these business users adopt and maximize value out of the product.

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How to Master the Negotiation Process

By Kim Dean

Mastering the negotiation process is an ongoing challenge for sales professionals. Is the negotiation process different from the sales process? Yes, selling is the act of providing value through goods, services, and information/insights to address a customer’s challenges and/or opportunities. Negotiating is the interaction that determines the terms of the transaction.

Essentially, selling creates value; negotiating gets paid for that value.

What are the obstacles that impede negotiation?

Start with a Strong Platform

In an ideal world, negotiation terms are fair and fruitful – and all parties emerge satisfied with the terms

Too often, though, the sales professional assumes the customer’s concerns and positions without truly exploring what the customer is thinking and trying to accomplish. Salespeople must remain open and listen to the initial feedback regarding the opening offer.To end well, the negotiation must begin on a positive note….creating value. A salesperson must have established that value and have aligned it to the needs of the customer.  

How can both parties interests be served?

Avoid Playing Defense

A common tactical error is to begin the process in a responsive mode, waiting for a pricing challenge and then trying to justify value. This is playing defense. Instead, start strong with the opening terms and the rationale for those terms. Start from a position of strength.

If you open with a justified price and terms based on what you bring to the transaction, all changes should be a give and take. That is true trading. Concessions, on the other hand, are one-way gives and should be the path of last resort.

Andrea Moses put it well when she said, “When your customer says that your price is too high, he means that he does not appreciate the value of your product.” Make sure both sides are speaking the same language about the product before coming to any agreements.

Closing a deal for the sake of closing is not smart negotiating. It leads to difficulty in implementing the solution – as there is no meaningful basis for the terms. No deal is a legitimate close to a situation where the parties do not agree on value. Sometimes, the first step in achieving win-win negotiations is reaching a diplomatic – yet not consummated – close.

Build Trust

Some sales professionals choose to hedge their bets at the negotiating table, opting to keep something hidden as a form of insurance policy should negotiations go south. However, if your goal is to build trust and long-term business relationships, then the phrase “negotiating in good faith” must become a personal objective.

Professional credibility is earned, not purchased, and the easiest way to forfeit all hope of establishing credibility is to not play it straight. Negotiating can be done fairly and firmly without compromising one’s integrity, and will pay dividends with business partners who share a like-minded approach.

Prioritize Your Desired Outcomes

Not all terms are equal in value to both parties. The best trade is giving something of value to your customer that is not as costly as other options. Some trades are fixed costs to your organization and can be of great worth to the customer.  

A large portion of successful negotiating can be attributed to deftly prioritizing one’s desired outcomes. While not everything on a given priority list may be attained in a negotiating session, working toward achieving the most important results should be the goal. Similarly, it is important for one side to recognize the opposition’s priorities to maintain fluidity and balance in negotiations.

If you realize both parties enter a negotiation with different and sometimes competing interests, a potential win-win can be found. Figure out quickly – before starting to trade – what their top priorities are versus their opening positions. Discuss openly so negotiating partners know the order of importance and are willing to dispense with secondary requests to reach a mutually acceptable position.

Everyone wants to emerge victorious from a negotiating session. Know what would truly constitute victory for your company. Realistically, this does not mean getting everything you propose. Long-term victories require both parties to win what they really need.

At Richardson, we help sales professionals master win-win negotiations and achieve great results for both sides of the conversation. Learn more about Richardson’s negotiation training program or follow us on Twitter.

Kim Dean is senior training consultant at Richardson Sales Training. Kim facilitates highly interactive training workshops for sales and sales management professionals in a variety of industries.

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Secrets to Motivating and Recruiting Top Salespeople

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By Karl Gustafson

Sales professionals are inherently goal-oriented individuals. Achieving results and big wins drives most successful sales professionals. For most of us, that attitude started in the cradle.

When I started my career in sales (around the time Ronald Reagan was first elected president), goals were still a big part of the game, as they always had been. They were focused on a few key performance indicators (KPIs) such as prospects, opportunities, and, of course, sales numbers. It was a solid system that set goals to keep employees focused, yet allowed time for personal growth and development.

However, as the selling profession has evolved, so too has the focus on goals and metrics that sales leaders now utilize to measure the health of their organizations and the success of their sales force. With the invention of the CRM and dozens of other analytics programs, today’s sales leaders are immersed in data and new tools that allow them to create and track goals that span far beyond what was trackable in my early days of selling.

Today’s sales leaders have more KPIs than ever before. Some of these are fairly common, but many are completely customized based on experience and what forecasts the health and success of their unique sales organization.

The Overlooked KPI

Don’t get me wrong – sales technology has, for the most part, transformed the industry in a truly positive way. Today’s organizations have power and information we could have only dreamed of back in the day. However, along the way, I believe we lost sight of the most important KPI of all…the success of our people.

What I’m referring to is establishing and tracking goals that not only support the company’s vision, but also help foster the success and development of the individuals on the sales team. In my first management assignment (and every year since), I established goals for the professional success of my team and I held myself personally accountable for my team meeting those goals.

For my frontline sales professionals, I strived to have each member of the team meet their goals – and for at least one team member to be recognized by the company (in whatever award system they had in place). I also set a personal goal to have at least one member of my team be promoted.

All of these goals were incredibly important to me, because I felt personally responsible to not only motivate my team to push themselves, but to also help the top performers achieve their career goals – even though this would often mean losing a great member of my team. Fortunately, the personal satisfaction and loyalty gained in helping someone reach another rung on their career ladder significantly outweighed the loss of a key contributor.

Recruitment Benefits

This type of attitude and approach to the people you manage is also very helpful in recruiting. The more I helped others succeed, the easier it became to find quality leaders for the team. Good internal candidates started taking notice and became interested in working on my team. This also became a selling point in outside recruiting, as I was able to explain the reason the position was open was because the previous individual had been promoted. This, in turn, helped me attract the candidates I was looking for.

The environment for sales leaders and managers is difficult. The average tenure of a top sales leader is somewhere in the vicinity of two years, and it seems it’s about the same for frontline managers. The churn rate is high because these people are under tremendous pressure from the company to produce results…and quickly. This is why the CRMs and data analysis tools exist, and why KPIs are focused on measuring all of these data sources – to quickly identify sales gaps and subpar performance.

With sales leaders and managers under constant pressure to deliver results, it’s easy to move away from what we should be doing, and focus only on what we have to do. All this new information often results in taking time away from the one thing we should be investing in – our people.

I will leave you with this – one of the key things I’ve learned in my decades in sales leadership. People matter. In fact, they are the most important element of a successful sales organization. Investing your time and energy in supporting the development and career goals of your sales staff is a top priority, and you’ll be on the road to creating a top-notch, loyal sales team.

KarlGustafsonKarl Gustafson is CSO of SalesFitRx. Karl previously worked for Apple, Liveops, and Pearson, and has almost 30 years of experience in sales.

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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 www.alpenglowexpeditions.com.

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

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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 larissa@salesdottwoinc.com.

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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 www.FrippVT.com.

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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 JasonSwenk.com), 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?

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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 jmarshall@sandler.com or call him at (727) 796-1500.

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Why Are B2B Buyers Leaving Your Website?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

selling power magazine[Top image via Flickr / Bob Duran]

 

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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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