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Selling at C-level and the too late-too little puzzle

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Selling to C-Suite Puzzle. In major accounts sales success at the C-level is a “do or die” proposition.  What makes it particularly challenging is “one strike and you’re out.” ”  There’s no second chance to get it right. Successfully selling to senior executives is a book with many chapters. How do you gain access? How do you get it right? How do you get it right? 

Sales memo – winning starts with thinking strategically

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Crafting sales strategy. In B2B sales, one-size-does-not-fit-all is a cornerstone proposition.  There are no generic customers; hence there are no winning generic strategies – each customer is unique and every winning account strategy must take that uniqueness into consideration. Given this situation let’s explore two overarching ideas for how to develop a winning account strategy. What is X?

Best practices for improving sales process

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Sales Process. Listen to a conversation about the need for improving sales process and it usually begins like this: “We have very aggressive sales targets and we’re just not getting there.”. “We’re not leveraging our own best practices – a lot of our sales reps are simply doing what they did the last time.”. Today companies in most markets are undergoing transformational changes. Try it. 

Sales performance – average is over

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Sales performance. Constant change has always characterized the business world.  Looking in the rear view mirror has never been a recommended strategy for determining future direction.  However, from time to time the nature of the change takes on a different look.  The folks at McKinsey answer the question in the affirmative in their recent book –  No Ordinary Disruption.  Rethink sales training. 

What Salespeople Can Learn from Classic Songs

Navigating the byzantine world of the complex sale

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Complex Sales. When comparing small transactional sales to large complex sales, the differences in the buying process are difficult to overstate. In a complex sale the buying cycle is longer with more twists and turns; more buyers are involved both as individuals and as committees; and the competition is keene r. Everyone knows it – some because of a leap of faith and others because of experience.

How to optimize your sales training investment

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Sales Training Investment. How much money are companies spending on sales training? And is it enough to worry about whether or not one is optimizing the investment? This, as they say, is the easy part.  The answer to the first question is a lot; the answer to the second question is – yes.  ” There are several avenues to attack the question: How do you optimize your sales training investment?

Medical sales training – something different vs. more of the same

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Medical sales training. From time to time entire industries go through dramatic changes driven by forces that are disruptive in scope and scale. Today the healthcare industry is a prime example. Most healthcare organizations are uncertain about the best strategic path forward.  However, what is clear is standing still is not an option. Clearly for the market-leaders this journey has already begun. 

Building sales management excellence: 12 questions for getting it right

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Sales Management Excellence. Herminia Ibaraan, an INSEAD professor, published a provocative book arguing that in today’s market if you desire to get better at management you must venture outside your comfort zone.  Being stuck in outdated mindsets or ways of doing things will not lead to success. Here’s a short list: What is going on in the buying environment that would impact how we sell?

The Art of Social Selling -- Summarized by getAbstract

Sales Enablement – don’t put the cart before the horse!

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Over the last several years Sales Enablement has moved to center stage as a topic of attention in the world of sales.  Although the exact definition varies depending on the actor, Sales Enablement is all about creating and delivering the following:  practices, technologies and tools that enable a sales team to improve their performance and productivity. Fair enough.  They need to up their game.

Sales management – the power of culture

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Consider this …. “If you create an environment that inspires people in the good times and bad, they will figure out the right strategy and will do the right things from an execution perspective. used to think strategy, execution and culture were a three-legged stool. Now I realize that if you create a great culture, the other two will follow.”. Reward creative attempts as well as results.

Sales success – just how important is grit?

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One of the great studies of achievement was conducted way back when in 1926 by a researcher named Catherine Morris Cox.  Cox was interested in identifying the factors that contributed to the accomplishments of true genius.  She studied the background and works of 300 recognized geniuses, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Mozart to Albert Einstein. Grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals.

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Sales excellence – listening is not a spectator sport

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Listening isn’t a spectator sport.  You have to get in the game.  You must convert from thinking about listening as something that is passive – to something that is active.  Here are seven best practices to help salespeople do a better job at active listening: Make sure you understand what the customer is saying before you move on to the next topic – try summarizing. Click here.

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The Etch a Sketch Sales Force

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Etch A Sketch Sales Force. The Etch A Sketch was introduced at the peak of the Baby Boom in 1960 and was one of the best-known toys of that generation.  Today, it can be found in the Toy Industry Association’s  hall of the 100 most memorable 20th Century toys. Recent years have seen a tremendous disruption in how customers buy. And expect insights not product pitches. Reviewing the Research.

Winning Consensus-Based Sales

Sales management – balancing micromanaging and abandoning

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When asked about his early management challenges, Roger Ferguson – CEO at TIAA-CREF – shared: “You have to get the balance right between leaving them alone and micromanaging.” We all know from experience that when we’ve been micromanaged, the results are usually less then positive.  But swinging to the other side of the pendulum isn’t the right answer either. So where is the balance? 

The #1 sales challenge: developing new business – 6 best practices

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What is the one competency salesperson could most benefit from if they knew how to do it better? Survey of Sales Effectiveness: Global Research on what Drives Sales Success addressed that question.  The skill set was: Developing New Business. . For this discussion, let’s focus on the large B2B complex sales situations where one is developing new business with existing customers.

Sales training – too important to be owned exclusively by training

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Sales reps need to know more and their knowledge must be at a higher level of proficiency today than ever before.  To be among the emerging winners, sales reps must not only be able to sell a competitive advantage; they must be a competitive advantage.  They must bring value to the customer by the way they “sell” as well as by what they sell. First a couple of givens. 2015 Sales Momentum, LLC.

Managing your time – a key to sales success

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Time Management. A new medical device salesperson emailed us last week interested in one-on-one coaching.  We talked and learned that he wasn’t interested in working on sales skills, sales strategy, or even sales presentations. Fortunately, the salesperson had a sales manager who was helping in those areas. What the salesperson was interested in was: How can I do a better job managing my time?

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Secrets to Successful Inside Sales Management

Beat your competition – focus on the customer

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Beat your competition. Beating your competition … today’s it’s likely that you are facing more and better competition than in times of yesteryear. So how do you increase your win rate?  First, a competitive edge is rarely achieved by knocking your competition. Knocking your competition puts the competition on center stage.  You need to focus on the customer and manage the competition.

Sales success – don’t forget these 6 soft skills

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Develop soft sales skills, too. Asking questions. Selling value. Handling objections. Crafting sales strategy. Closing. Analyzing the competition. Check out any sales training program and you’re likely find some of these sales skills being taught. They are the fundamentals and they are critical to sales success. The study goes on to report six soft skills most often cited as critical to success. 

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Sales productivity – time to push the more button

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Companies spend a tremendous amount of time, money and effort every year to improve the productivity of their sales teams.  The intervention strategies range from sales training efforts to coaching initiatives to sales tools to marketing materials.  These efforts tend to be laser focused on helping sales reps enhance their ability to sell more effectively. How great is the opportunity? Substantial.

Sales success trap – confusing busy with productive

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Salespeople like everyone else can succumb to the temptation to stay busy. Research tells us that most people have an aversion to idleness and a bias toward taking action – especially when facing uncertainty. The rub is it doesn’t seem to matter if the action is a productive effort or not. Yet it is too painful to pull the trigger – perhaps tomorrow will be the day.  Sound familiar?

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Successful Selling

Sales managers and the empty-bucket strategy

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Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle, shared in a NY Times a simple, interesting framework for management strategy sessions. Whelan noted – we train our teams on what we call empty-bucket sessions where people state the facts of the problem, their interpretation and analysis of the facts and then and only then work collaboratively with their manager towards a solution. 2016 Sales Momentum, LLC.

Sales leadership programs – four common mistakes

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McKinsey reported an interesting research study on leadership training.  If you are a Senior VP or a Training Director, the study is a must read. Although it related to leadership programs across functions, we thought the finding would be particularly important for Senior VP’s of Sales and Sales Training Managers. There is little doubt that companies get it – leadership training is important. 

It’s okay for salespeople to say no and to disagree

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Sales success tends to be built on a foundation of saying “yes” to customers in order to garner those initial sales. So the sales challenge is how do salespeople say “no” – skillfully? How do you disagree and get rewarded for it?  Customers are becoming increasingly impatient with sales people who always tell them what they already know and simply propose what they think the customer wants.

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Sales excellence – put the horse before the cart

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Sales excellence. Major account selling  is truly a highly skilled and information-intense profession. Just like any highly skilled profession one must not only master skills; you must also understand the principles upon which success is built. In The simple proposition of selling the problem before selling the solution is the cornerstone for success in major account selling. 

Onboarding salespeople – yesterday’s good is not good enough

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Onboarding New Sales Reps. How salespeople are onboarded is a significant factor for building sales success.  Unfortunately, it is historically one of the most underemphasized aspects of sales performance development.  Great onboarding programs for new sales people are still the exception. This lack of emphasis is part of the larger problem companies have with Talent Management. Sign up here.

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Sales training – managing a conundrum

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Sales training. Here’s the conundrum … You have a 250 person sales team. You are a new, first time Sales Training Director. You replaced a sales manager who did no sales training for a long time. To add urgency, revenue numbers have been stagnant for too long. The VP of Sales now feels that sales training is definitely needed and it needs to be done in short order.  Context.

Sales management coaching – don’t forget those in their 40s and 50s

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Sales coaching. Coaching Millennials – lately much has been written about how to get it right. What works and what doesn’t?  What best practices are particularly important to keep in mind when coaching the Millennials on your sales team? This of course is all good stuff.  But a Forbes article about people in their 40s and 50s recently caught our eye.  Remember praise. Letting go. 

Sales training – what’s the biggest challenge?

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Given the substantial amount of money that companies commit to training every year, the notion of learning more about how to get it right is a question of interest.  With that in mind, McKinsey & Co conducted a survey of 1,400 executives worldwide to explore the question. Major Finding. This means that developing and applying metrics to training effort is indeed a business challenge.

Sales training – it’s time to play beat the clock

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One important core question presently circulating among those who care about sales training is: What percentage of sales training ought to be done in the classroom vs. some form of guided self instruction? The obvious secondary question is what goes where – that is, what should be done in the classroom vs. what should be assigned to some form of guided self-study. What does this look like?

Sales and Storytelling – 16 tips and 3 shout-outs for help

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Storytelling and Sales. Sales reps that are able to share engaging stories that resonate with customers can make a more compelling connection between their solution and the customer’s needs. Much has been written about the importance of storytelling to sales success. We’ve shared 12 tips in a prior blog.  Know your AIM – Know audience, your intent, and your message. ?  And a corollary … ? 

Getting sales rep onboarding right – it matters more than ever

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Onboarding new sales reps. Today a sales team must not only be able to sell a competitive advantage; they must be a competitive advantage. In most companies, it is increasingly difficult to sustain a competitive advantage by traditional means. So optimizing sales performance matters more today than it did yesterday and it will matter more tomorrow than it does today. Onboarding.

Sales manager trust – everyday, all the time, everywhere

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Sales managers and developing trust. Sales managers must develop the trust of their sales team and help their team members to trust each other. Trust takes time to create but can be lost in a wink of an eye. While trust takes time, it doesn’t just evolve over time.  It takes explicit thought and action.   Recently we came across a Harvard Business Review  blog by Carolyn O’Hara.

Negotiation strategy – positioning the glass as half full

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Negotiation Strategy. There are a substantial number of skill sets and bodies of knowledge that constitute the discipline of sales negotiation. In the end, however, the ability to craft and execute a thoughtful and creative plan for the negotiation is a bottom line for achieving a successful end result. The concept recognizes the old adage – “how you say it is as important as what you say.”

Happy New Year!

Sales Training Connection

Happy New Year. Wishing you a successful sales year. Keep an eye on the Sales Training Connection for new ideas that may help you improve your sales performance. To a smashing 2017, Janet and Richard