AA-ISP Inside Sales Conference in Dallas, Nov. 3rd

The Inside Sales 2015 Conference series will be held in Dallas on November 3rd.

Topics will include the CRM Tools, Sales Training, Leadership and Coaching, Employee Motivation, and Lead Generation Services.

Duane Cummings, author and consultant, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Cummings wrote The Sensational Salesman: A Second Chance Story: Providing a Simple Path to Improving Your Relationships, Career, and Life.


The book is a parable of a salesman who faces hardships but eventually rebounds with the help of mentors. The author focuses on both personal and professional development with lessons on building and maintaining relationships, setting goals and other tools you need to be successful.

The one day conference will also feature several popular speakers, including Steve Richard, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of VorsightBP, Josh Evans, SVP of Sales at Velocify, Marcheta A. Gardner, Client Manager at IBM, Nancy Munro, CEO of KnowledgeShift, and Sean Kester, Head of Product at SalesLoft.

Why you shouldn’t Slack Off during the Weekends

never slack off during the weekendI know. You had a tough week. You made tons of sales calls, or you attended a lot of client meetings. Maybe you just got back from a conference. You feel drained. You’re tired. Now with the weekend here, you want to kick back, relax, and watch sports or that movie you promised yourself to see.

It’s time to chill.

Or is it?

Should you completely spend your time relaxing? While your guard is down, your competitors may be working behind the scenes to undercut you and steal your clients.

While most experts agree that you should take time to relax during the weekend and clear you head, in sales you must constantly upgrade your skills to remain competitive.

Here are 5 things you can do during the weekend to remain in your A game –

1). YouTube – watch some YouTube videos on sales. You will find plenty. According to my count, there are more than 345,000 sales training videos alone on YouTube.

2). Paid online courses – or if you are more ambitious, you and enroll and take paid online courses. Here are three websites to check out –

www.lynda.com
www.udemy.com
www.smei.org

And don’t forget, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (which I’m a member) has a lot of resources you can review anytime.

read good sales books, articles and blogs3). Read – there are plenty of sales books to read. But if you don’t want to spend your hard-earned commission money on books, you can read of free articles and blogs online.

Blogrank has a list of the top 50 sales blogs.

Alltop also includes several sales blogs.

And SalesEngine has a list of the 18 sales blogs that you should be following.

(My blog isn’t on any of the above lists. No hard feelings).

4). Practice – are you still stumbling over your opening pitch, your presentation or getting tongue-tied handling objections. Relax – it’s the weekend – practice always makes perfect. Maybe spend time with your significant other and do some roleplay (no, not that roleplay, I mean roleplay in sales).

AGsalesworks has a good article on “5 Tips for Better Sales Role Plays.”

And Intelligent Conversations offers “Five Rules for Effective Sales Role Play.”

5). Study your competitors – Go to your competitor’s websites – what are they doing better than you? Are they offering new products or services that you should be offering? Review the list of clients they have on their website. See any clients you like? Good, now go after them.

Darren Dahl wrote a great piece in Inc. on “10 Tips on How to Research Your Competition.”

Derek Halpern wrote an interesting article in DIYthemes on “How to Learn From Your Competition (and Steal all Their Best Ideas).”

Yes, we all need to relax. And while the labor movement should be congratulated for giving us the 40 hour workweek and the weekend, you shouldn’t use all your leisure time relaxing.

The 10 spookiest things about Selling

spooky things about sellingWhat keeps you up at night? Is it the imaginary monster you remember from your childhood that is still hiding underneath your bed? Is it the ghostly sounds that you hear outside your window while you’re trying to sleep? Is it your black cat that’s scratching your bedroom door?

With Halloween fast approaching, what are the 10 spookiest things that scare you the most about selling?

1). Not getting enough qualified sales leads

You want leads? Sure, here’s the Yellow Pages – start calling! Seriously, most salespeople complain about the lack of leads or the quality of what they receive from their marketing team. But hey, thanks to the Internet, there are tons of free and paid sources now available. So stop complaining, and don’t be afraid of doing a little research.

Need help? Here are a couple of books you should consider –

New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development, by Mike Weinberg and S. Anthony Iannarino.

Power Prospecting: Cold Calling Strategies For Modern Day Sales People – Build a B2B Pipeline. Teleprospecting, Lead Generation, Referrals, Executive Networking. Improve Selling Skills, by Patrick Henry Hansen.

2). Getting little or no training

You were told by your employer that you would receive training after you were hired. Instead, you were introduced to your work area and given a prospect list – now start selling. What should you do? Start reading. That’s right – start reading sales books, blogs and articles. Start watching YouTube videos about selling. Study your company’s products and services inside and out until you know them by heart. Do what you have to do to be successful – because while your employer may not care, you better give a damn about your job. After all, what’s even scarier than little or no training is standing in the unemployment line.

Don’t know where to begin? Here’s help –

Here is a link to a guest blog post I wrote for Will Reed Jobs, an Austin based job hunting agency for young salespeople –

Ten books that New Salespeople should Read

And HubSppot has a list of the 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time.

don't panic in sales3). The “no show” prospect

I know. The prospect accepted your meeting calendar invite to view your short webinar, but he disappeared. Where did he go? Did he fall down a pit? Are you going to curse the darkness? Of course not! Don’t panic. Just pick up the phone and try to reschedule the appointment. Things happen. Prospects get busy. Don’t take it personally.

4). Competitors who lie, cheat and steal

Hate them or respect them, competitors exist in every industry. You can either be afraid of them or fight them. The choice is yours. While you may want to boil your competitors in a cauldron of oil, the better approach is to stop worrying about your competitors and just do your job. In the long run you will succeed while your competitors fail.

5). Cold calling

A cold call isn’t cold unless you make it so. Do a little research first before you call a prospect. Is he the key decision maker? Do you feel you have a solution that will help him? Or better yet, try to get a referral.

6). The mysterious marketing department

You heard about the mysterious marketing department, but you’ll be damned if you know if it really exist or not. Is it a ghost department that only comes out at night when everyone else has left work? You were told that the marketing department was going to provide you qualified leads, but you haven’t seen any for a while. Did the leads end up in the quicksand?  (See number 1 about finding your own qualified leads). And if your company’s social media efforts are still in the dark ages, start your own blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account, and become more active on social media yourself. While your marketing department may be invisible, you shouldn’t be.

salespeople pouncing on trade show attendees7). Trade Shows

So you’re afraid to stand at your exhibit booth during trade shows. Don’t be. Chances are, most of the attendees are just as scared as you are because salespeople are pouncing on them like vampires every time they near a booth. Rather than asking good qualified questions, those salespeople are sucking the life out of attendees. Don’t be like that. Act cool. Show some respect. Don’t scan and scam. Take a more consultative sales approach when meeting with attendees. Believe me, in the long run it will pay off.

Here is a good article from Jane Applegate on “How to Work a Trade Show.”

8). Conversions of your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system

You love your CRM. It helps you keep track of your sales notes, customer contact information and all of the records you need to do your job. But another salesperson came along and sold your employer on a better CRM. Now what? It’s conversion time – that long, lengthy, agonizing period of exporting all of your data into the new CRM. Scared? Hell, you should be. Because sometimes important data has a way of ending up in a dark hole that will never be found again. (I’ve gone through 5 conversions in my career. In one case, the programmers forgot to transfer our sales notes. In another case, they forgot to transfer all of our expired clients). But don’t be afraid – instead, download and save all your information or print it out. But whatever you do, protect your information or it may disappear.

Here a good article from Chuck Schaeffer on “Lessons Learned in CRM Data Conversions.”

bogeyman as a sales manager9). Bad sales managers

Yes, we’ve all been there, done that. But your sales manager may not be the bogeyman you think he is. Like you, he’s under pressure to make quota or achieve sales goals. The only difference is that he has to depend on you and the entire sales team to make it happen. That’s scary. There are a lot of books and articles on how to deal with difficult managers – here are a couple –

A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots, Back-stabbers, And Other Managers from Hell, by Gini Graham Scott Ph.D.

Dealing With Horrible Bosses: How To Handle Bad Managers at Work! (difficult managers,poor boss,difficult bosses,work bullies,bad bosses,bullying at workplace,bullying at work), by Damon Lundqvist.

And VorsightBP, a Northern Virginia based sales consulting firm, has an excellent webinar on “10 Tips to Transform Sales Leaders From Micromanagers into Great Coaches.” (You have to submit your contact information to watch it, but it’s worth it).

10). Slow sales periods

Every industry has its slow periods. You know, that time when most clients are not buying because it’s the holidays, or it’s the summer, or whatever lame excuse you are given. So does that mean you slow down? Hell no. Find other prospects to contact. When I once worked in the accounting industry, tax season was considered a slow time to call on CPAs, accountants and tax preparers. Unless you loved getting chewed out by stressed out accountants facing the April 15th tax deadline, you pretty much left them alone. While that made sense, we didn’t sit around and feel sorry for ourselves – instead, we contacted libraries, nonprofit organizations and financial institutions that we thought would be good candidates for our tax research program. You do what you have to do to hit your quota.

What scares you about selling? Please send me a comment.

5 reasons why Friday isn’t a Slow Sales Day

It’s Friday. The weekend is almost here. You’ve had a long week. You have secured some large orders. Now you are looking forward to receiving a large commission check soon.

Friday is not a slow sales dayWhile Friday is still a work day, you figure that you can relax and prepare for the weekend. So you’re kicking back and planning to see a movie, or visit friends, or go to that new hot restaurant you’ve been hearing about.  Maybe you have some administrative work to catch up on. Or maybe you want to catch up on your sales training by watching a video or two at your desk. Or maybe you want to take a long lunch.

After all, you’re thinking to yourself – “Fridays are slow sales days. Most of the key decision makers are taking an early weekend. I can relax.”

Wrong.

Fridays should never be considered a “slow sales day.”

Why?

1). Not all decision makers are the same – While you may think that all key decision makers are taking a long weekend, that’s not always the case. In fact, decision makers may be working harder to clean up their workload before they enjoy the weekend. Why? Well, because they’re decision makers and they have a lot of decisions to make.

2). The gatekeeper isn’t around – Chances are the gatekeeper is the real one taking a long weekend while her boss is working. That’s good news for you, because it means you may be able to reach the decision maker without the challenge of going through the gatekeeper.

3). The decision maker may be caught off his guard – Decision makers may think like you. They may feel that those “pesky salespeople” aren’t going to call them on a Friday, so they may end up answering the phone instead of the gatekeeper. And sometimes the decision maker, looking forward to the weekend, may be more relaxed and open to accepting your phone call.

4). Other salespeople aren’t calling  – Because they feel the decision maker isn’t around, so they make the common mistake of doing admin work, or leaving early for the weekend. With the competition out-of-the-way, that gives you a greater opportunity to reach and speak to the decision maker.

5). You’re more relaxed – After a long week, you may feel more relaxed and less anxious when making sales calls. Knowing that the weekend is upon you, you may actually find yourself being more consultative and conversational with your prospects. Which in turn means more sales for you.

So, the next time Friday rolls around, don’t be lazy. Pretend that Friday is like any other day of the week, and continue with your same high energy work flow.  You may be surprised by the results.

10 ways to Shorten your Sales Cycle

Let’s face it. No one likes a long sales cycle. The longer your sales cycle, the longer it will take you to earn your commission.

I’ve had sales cycles that have lasted anywhere from one week to two years. Sure, sometimes a high-priced item will take longer to sell. That’s a given. But don’t let your prospect treat you like a wimp. Sometimes you need to use a little tough love to ensure that you are not wasting your time. You’re a professional. Act like one.

So, how can you shorten your sales cycle?

1). Decision Maker – make sure you are speaking to the right person at the beginning of your sales cycle. Yes, some prospects will lie and tell you that they are the decision maker. OK. Play along. But start doing some research on LinkedIn or the company’s website to make sure that you are talking to a heavy hitter and not a summer intern.

herding prospects in salesOne good way of avoiding the “decision maker lie trap” is to ask about the decision-making process. Note, I said process, not who is the decision maker. By asking about the process, hopefully your prospect will not lie to you and string you along. Instead, he will explain how his company makes purchasing decisions.  More companies than ever have more than one decision maker, especially if you are dealing with a mid-to-large company. Just like herding cattle, you have to be patient and rope in all the decision makers.

2). Time Line – it doesn’t hurt to ask upfront what your prospect’s timeline is for making a purchasing decision. If they tell you within the few months, hold them to it. If they tell you in 6 months or longer, maybe you should circle back when they have a budget and interest in making a purchasing decision.

3). Pain Points – why now? Is there any urgency in them buying your product or service? What type of problems are they having that you feel you can solve for them? But just don’t ask about pain points – make sure you have a solution that will help them. Clients don’t buy products or services – they buy solutions. Make sure you have one that they can use.

4). Budget – do they have budget to make a purchasing decision? If not, maybe you should check back when they are ready. Sure, you may do a short demo or presentation of what you are selling to gauge their interest, but don’t devote too much time until they are in a better financial situation.

5). Competition – don’t be shy. Ask upfront if they are considering other vendors. Sometimes prospects will surprise you and honestly tell you that they have already considered others, but now they are considering you. That’s great. Ask why they didn’t consider the other vendors to ensure your service or product will meet their expectations. This will put you in a better position to offer real value to your client.

6). Limit Trials – depending on what you are selling, some prospects will want to do more than one trial. That’s OK, but don’t let them string you along.

Salesperson making a phone call, closing7). Firm Scheduled Call-backs – try to set hard scheduled call-backs or follow-up calls. The more specific the day and time of your next appointment, the better chance your prospect is really interested in what you have to offer. Send a calendar invite. Send a short email the day before reminding them of the appointment. Try to hold them to it. If a prospect isn’t willing to schedule firm appointments, maybe he’s not serious. The last thing you want to do is make endless phone calls, or leave countless voicemails and a stream of emails.

8). Ask pre-close questions – along the way, try to measure the client’s interest and determine if there are any objections. The sooner you overcome objections, the  better chance you have to close quickly.

9). Call High – stop wasting time calling low or mid-level managers who don’t like making decisions or who may not be the right people to speak to. Call the CEO or the president. You will be surprised that sometimes he will recommend the best person to speak to in his company. So when you call the real decision maker, you can drop the CEO’s name, and hopefully move the sales process a lot faster.

10). Use various cold calling techniques – making phone calls isn’t enough anymore. Use a combination of email, voicemail and social media (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn) to move your sales process along.

To learn more about shortening your sales cycle, please read Lean Selling: Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want, by Robert J. Pryor. 

Mr. Pryor’s main argument is that selling is a process, and to be more successful, you need to adopt his best practices and advice to achieve your goals. But he cautions that you can’t do it alone – your entire sales department – indeed your company, must adopt his program.