LeadFuze’s List of the Best Sales Blogs for 2017

I’m honored that LeadFuze, a B2B lead generation software company, has added me to their list of the Best Sales Blogs for 2017.

I’m very familiar with many of the other blogs and read them often. While I like to think of myself as a sales expert, I always encourage professionals to seek advice from others, regardless of whether your sources are blogs, books, articles, videos or training programs.

The only way to grow is to constantly learn.

best sales blogs for 2017

Sales and Marketing Conferences for 2017

We all have busy schedules. But no matter how busy you are, it’s important to attend at least a couple of conferences or trade shows a year. Conferences and trade shows help you network and stay in tune with the latest news and trends in your industry.

To help you find the best sales and marketing conferences for 2017, I have compiled a list below from several sites for your review.

Here are the links –

Sales Conferences

From PeakSales Recruiting

The Top 14 Conferences to Attend in 2017

From Sales Summit

2017 Sales Conferences

From Maria Milea

The Complete Guide – Marketing and Sales Conferences 2017

From the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP)

AA-ISP Event Calendar

(I’m an active member of AA-ISP. I attended the Boston event last year. There are always great opportunities at their events to network and learn new skills).

Marketing Conferences

From Brafton

12 Marketing Conferences to Mark on your 2017 Calendar

From OnSpot Social

Top 2017 Marketing Conferences to Book Today

From Digimarcon

2017 Marketing Conferences

From RedStag Fulfillment

Ecommerce Conferences for 2017

Tips for Attending Conferences

1). Register early, you usually get better deals.

2). If possible, obtain an attendee list so you can schedule meetings with key people (Note – not all organizations provide attendee lists).

3). Trade Shows are usually part of the event. Review the list of exhibitors and plan which booth you would like to visit. If there is a vendor that you are interested in, try to contact the company prior to the event and schedule a meeting during the conference. Vendors tend to be very busy, so having a scheduled meeting may save both of you time.

4). Make your airline registration early to receive low fares.

5). When attending an event, especially if I’m walking around during a trade show, I prefer using luggage with skate wheels and a retractable handle. Why? Because besides carrying your laptop, business cards, pens and notebooks, you will also be given a lot of swag and free literature to take home with you.

I’m currently using EAGLE CREEK TARMAC 20 LIGHTWEIGHT CARRY ON BAG (BLACK) (see below).

I hope the above lists and my advice will help you.

Safe travels this year!

Recommend: Tim Wackel, Sales Consultant & Trainer

While attending the AA-ISP conference in Boston a couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of taking a session from Tim Wackel, sales consultant and trainer, on “Stop Pitching, Start Solving.”

(For some bad salespeople, I would have renamed the session, “Stop Bitching, Start Working.”)

Mr. Wackel’s presentation was one of the best sessions I attended during the conference. Everyone I spoke to after the session had the same opinion. My only regret was his session was only 30 minutes long. I wish they had scheduled more time for him. But fortunately for all of us, he did squeeze a lot of good information for us.

I’m not going to reveal too much detail of his session, because I want to encourage you to ask your company or organization to hire him to train your sales team. Instead, I’m only going to offer you some sample nuggets.

One of the most surprising take-aways I got from his session is that the number one reason why most prospects buy from you isn’t because of price, product or the solution you are offering – it’s because of you. That’s right, you! The more effective you are as a salesperson, the better chance you have to increase your sales.

(Mr. Wackel obtained his information from Success Magazine).

Think about that for a second. How often have you heard prospects say they would love to buy your product or service, but the price is too high, or they need to check with their boss, or they will call you back when they are ready to purchase. Sure, some of the reasons are legitimate. But you know in your gut sometimes the reasons are none of the above – the real reason is that they just don’t trust or like you.

For example, in one of my previous jobs, I was working with a Florida hospital that was seeking a more robust password security program. The decision came down to me and a major competitor. My client was getting a lot of push-back from his boss and colleagues to purchase from the competitor. However, even though the competitor’s price was lower, my client bought from me.

Why? Because he trusted me. I went through several hoops to close the sale. For example, I quickly and honestly responded to all of his questions and concerns. I outlined some of the key differences between our products vs. the competitor. I did this without bad mouthing our competitor.  At the client’s request, I conducted two separate online tours rather than one tour because I wanted to show our product not only to him, but also to his colleagues.

After nearly four weeks, I closed the sale.

My client told me that the biggest reason he bought from me because I was willing to spend more time working with him than my competitor. He added that I showed the more enthusiasm and willingness to work with him than most salespeople he had worked with in his career.

So what is the solution to get more sales? Mr. Wackel outlines four principles.

They are –

Principle #1 – Prescription before Diagnosis is Malpractice!

Principle #2 –Make Fewer Statements, Ask More Questions.

Do you want to know the next two principles? Do you want to learn more? Contact Mr. Wackel. Hire him. You will not regret it.

Here is his contact information:

3415 Westminster Ave. Ste. 207A
Dallas, Texas 75205
(214) 369-7722
tim@timwackel.com

Below is a video about “Who is Tim Wackel?” –

 

Is your Sales Department a Turkey?

Is your sales department a turkey?With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a good time to remind ourselves what we should be thankful for. If you are working in a good sales department, be grateful. But if your sales department is a turkey, you better start seeking a new job.

Should you be thankful or gobble like a turkey?

You decide. Please review the list below of what makes a good sales department –

1). Customer relationship management (CRM) software – If you are using a good CRM software program, be thankful. There are still a lot of companies that are using outdated or lousy CRMs to manage their sales, customer interactions, and record keeping.

Need some reliable sources to find a first-class CRM?

Check out –

Capterra
Software Advice
PC Magazine

2). Sales Manager – if you have a sales manager who gives a damn about you, pray he doesn’t leave your company anytime soon. If he does leave your company, pray your employer hires the right replacement. One of the major reasons why salespeople leave their jobs isn’t because of money or status, but because of poor management.

Need some advice on what makes a superior sales manager?

Check out –

“How to Become a Great Sales Manager from 10 Sales Experts,” by Russ Henneberry
“The 4 Qualities New Sales Managers Need for Success,” by Lou Carlozo
“The 6 Traits Every Sales Manager Needs to Succeed,” by Phil Harrell

beware of back stabbers3). Co-workers – every sales department has their share of backstabbers and sharks. You know who I’m talking about – the ones who steal your leads or prospects, or sabotage your work. Eventually, they are weeded out, but not before they create a toxic environment that could lead to high turnover or added stress. (As if you don’t have enough stress at work already). If you work with colleagues that you trust, be very thankful.

Need advice on how to work better with your colleagues?

Check out –

“How to Create a Team Selling Environment,” by Irene A. Blake
“How to Handle a Toxic Work Environment,” by Alan Henry
“11 Tips for Staying Sane in a Toxic Work Environment,” by Kassy Scarcia

4). Marketing – while I think the on again, off again, love/hate relationship between sales and marketing is overrated, there is no doubt that without an effective marketing department, your sales would be mediocre at best. If you have a marketing department that’s providing you with great leads and prospects, be very thankful.

Need some advice on how to build a good marketing team?

Check out –

“How to Build a High Performance Marketing Team,” by Kevin Barber
“Tips and Tools for Building a Marketing Team,” by Tiffany Black
“7 Characteristics That Make Up the Best Marketing and Sales Teams,” by Ross Simmonds

5). Customers – Let’s face it, all the best sales and marketing strategies in the world are not going to do you a bit of good without having reliable and repeat  customers. Do you want to earn and maintain a high commission? Take care of the ones who brung ya!

Need some advice on how to find and keep good customers?

Check out –

“The 80/20 Rule of Sales: How to Find your Best Customers” by Perry Marshall
“10 Ways to Make Customers Fall in Love with Your Business,” by Brian Honigman
“Four Simple Ways to Find Customers,” by Brad Sugars

But beyond business, most important of all, be thankful that you have family, friends and loves ones looking out for you. Life is too short to spend all of your time worrying about work. Enjoy the holiday and don’t eat too much turkey!

Note: If you like my post, please read my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Are Salespeople White Collar Garbage men?

Are salespeople white collar garbage menA Rockville, MD publishing company has all of their editors and administrators working in sun lite offices, while the sales team sits in a windowless office in a dank basement.

While being interviewed for an exhibit booth and sponsoring sales position, a job applicant is told that he will not receive health insurance like the rest of the employees because he’s going to be “earning enough money to pay for it himself.”

A newly hired salesperson accepts a job at a Washington, D.C. nonprofit trade association to sell advertising, sponsorships and other services. He quickly discovers that he is the only employee who doesn’t have an office. Instead, he finds his desk located in the hallway and his seat is actually a high stool.

A national publishing company does not pay annual bonuses to their salespeople. The bonuses are only awarded to non-commissioned salaried employees. The thought is that salespeople are “earning enough money” and don’t need the bonuses.

All the above stories are true.

Which begs the question – are salespeople the garbage men of the white-collar world?

Now I’m not knocking garbage men. On the contrary, we need them to keep our communities clean. Without them, our neighbors would quickly be overrun by rodents and rats, and our property values would drop.

In fact, I agree with Rutger Bregman in his article “Why Garbagemen Should Earn more than Bankers” that they offer a great deal of value to our society. And yes, garbage men should earn more than bankers…as well as of other people.

But let’s face it. Garbage men are usually seen as a necessary evil – we can’t live without them, but they rarely receive any respect.

That’s the same for salespeople. Sure, most business owners intellectually realize the need for people to sell their products and services. After all, you can’t rely on word of mouth to sell alone. You have to be proactive these days. The problem comes into play when salespeople are not given the same respect as others in a company.

Why?

1). Business owners don’t always understand the sales process. Some in fact don’t even want to learn. They feel that selling is a grubby business. Just like enacting legislation has been compared to making sausage, the less you know about the selling process, the better off you will be.  As long as your company is earning profits, you really don’t want to learn all of the details.  But not understanding those particulars could mean the difference of keeping or losing your job. Just ask John Stumpf.

sleazy salesman2). Business owners have watched too many movies or plays depicting bad or desperate salespeople.  You know the ones – The Wolf of Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, Boiler Room, and of course, everyone’s favorite, Death of a Salesman.

The underlining theme of most of these films is that all salespeople are sleazy liars or losers who would sell their own mothers to earn commission. No wonder some salespeople don’t get any respect.

3). Business owners are too busy trying to develop their products and services, and would rather hire a consultant or sales manager then deal with the day-to-day operations of selling. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but sometimes business owners get duped into thinking their sales manager or consultants are geniuses, when in fact, some of them are just the opposite – con artists. They say all the right words, and go through all the right motions, but in the end they are just lining their pockets at the expense of gullible business owners and inexperienced salespeople.

The best owners that I’ve ever worked for were former salespeople. They may not have been the best salespeople in the world, but they came away from their experiences with a much better appreciation of the sales profession.  As a result, they usually paid generous compensation packages, invested in superior sales tools (e.g., CRM), and always made sure their sales team had enough qualified leads and prospects to keep them productive.

If some business owners and other employees would walk in the shoes of their sales team for a week or so, I bet most of them would come away with a much better appreciation for salespeople.

While selling is difficult, getting a little respect can sometimes be tougher.

While I’m not suggesting that you hug a salesperson today, at least take the time to thank him. After all, your likelihood depends on how much new business he’s generating for your employer.

Note: If you like my post, please read my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Top photo credit: North Charleston Hurricane Matthew via photopin (license)

The Wells Fargo Scandal and Setting Quotas

What can salespeople learn from the Wells Fargo scandal?

First, a recap

At this writing, the Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has resigned. His departure comes after it was revealed that the bank he managed was fined more than $185 million for allegedly opening more than 2 million bank accounts or credit cards without people’s knowledge or consent.

stressful salesperson trying to meet quotaThe fake accounts were opened because salespeople were under pressure to meet cross-sell quotas. Each salesperson had to cross-sell at least 8 accounts per customer. If they didn’t achieve their goals, they were fired.

Or, as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said at a Senate hearing last month to Mr. Stumpf – “You squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket.”

So what’s the lesson here?

Answer: Don’t create unrealistic quotas.

There is nothing wrong with quotas, per se. You want to motivate your salespeople to achieve their goals. And frankly, most salespeople want something they can shoot for. It makes the job more interesting and exciting. From a company point of view, you want to drive revenue. What better way of doing that is by putting a carrot on the stick, and encouraging salespeople to chase after it.

The problem occurs where you create quotas that are so unrealistic or aggressive, that salespeople are forced to lie in order to survive. In the short-term, salespeople will keep their jobs, but in the long-term, the scam will be discovered and people will be fired. Not to mention having your company’s reputation torn to shreds.

For example, I once worked for a publishing company that sold printed bid information to construction companies (this was before the internet was popular). In order to get a complete order, the customer had to sign a contract. So you would fax the contract to your client. Get his signature. And then that’s it – a new customer! Nothing wrong there. This is a standard practice for a lot of publishing companies that sell premium information services.

However, one new salesperson felt he couldn’t reach his quota. I’m unsure why this was the case. Maybe he didn’t receive the proper training, maybe he was lazy, maybe he wasn’t confident, maybe he felt the quota was too high, but for whatever reason, he decided to lie. He gave his manager contracts with fake signatures. Eventually, the home office caught on when they started receiving a lot of complaints from angry customers. The salesperson was terminated and his manager was reprimanded.

Setting quotas isn’t rocket science. But sometimes you feel like you have to be a rocket scientist to set quotas.

Eight is GreatThe problem with Wells Fargo was that there was no method to their madness. The “Eight is Great” goal of having customers sign up for eight products made no sense.

Why “Eight is Great” – because it rhymes? Really?!? You must be joking. But that’s how Wells Fargo decided to set their quota for low paying, overworked, stressed-out salespeople who had to grind out their numbers or get canned.

Is that anyway to work?

No.

So how do you go about setting sales quotas?

Opinions vary.

Some say don’t have any quotas. But if you don’t have any quotas you’re only going to encourage laziness among your sales team. Or worst, you’re going to attract poor or mediocre salespeople who don’t have an incentive to make a good living. You know the type – they come to work late, take long lunch breaks, play computer games at their desk, and only make enough sales calls to barely break even.

The other problem with working without a quota is that salespeople have no power. Think about this for a minute. If you don’t have a quota, then it’s going to be very difficult to persuade your boss to purchase tools to help you sell better. From your boss’s point of view, why should he invest money into his sales team if they don’t have any quotas to meet. Don’t like using Excel spreadsheets to manage your accounts? Too bad. He’s not going to purchase Salesforce.com to help you.

See my point?

So if having quotas is the answer, how do you set them? Here are some suggestions –

1). Get salespeople involved. Quotas shouldn’t be handed down from Mount High by an out-of-touch CEO or the Finance or Marketing Team. You need to get input from your sales team and their management. Since salespeople are serving on the front lines every day, they usually have a better sense of the market, their customers, and their competitors.

2). Not all salespeople are created equal. Each salesperson has his own pipeline and defined territories or market segmentations when it comes to selling. As a result, not all territories or market segmentations are going to be equal. Depending on what you’re selling, some territories may have more prospects than others, and some market segmentations may have more money than others. For example, a salesperson selling to academic institutions may have a tougher and longer time to close sales vs. another salesperson selling to for-profit companies. A salesperson selling in California is going to have an easier time finding a lot of prospects compared to someone selling in Maine.

3). History is not always a good predictor for the future. Times change. Market conditions may be worse now than ever before. You are fighting against more competitors. The quality of your products or services was recently rated badly by an independent publication. The Marketing Department isn’t providing the high quality prospects that you obtained last year. For whatever the reason, past performance doesn’t always equal better future results. Take a hard look at your data before setting quotas. Just don’t come up with an arbitrary number and expect everyone to meet it.

4). Consider using sales forecasting/quota setting software. Rather than come up with “pie in the sky” numbers, why not use software to determine quotas.

Here are some examples of what’s on the market –

Anaplan
Xactly Quota & Territories
Optymyze
eSalesTrack
IBM Quota Management

To help you further, here are some helpful articles about setting  quotas –

“Tough Truth about Quotas,” by Renee Houston Zemanski
“How to Use Sales Metrics to Set More Accurate Quotas,” by Cara Hogan
“Sales Operations and Quota Setting: Use the Right Data,” by Joseph Schroeder

Whatever you do, please don’t base your sales quota on how it rhymes. Because if you do anything illegal or unethical, your next rhyme may be —

“I’m in jail, where’s my bail?”

Note: If you like my post, please read my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.