Sales Coaching, Sales Management, Sales Techniques

5 tips to help you sell against your competitors

B2B sales is highly competitive. In all the sales I’ve experienced, the competition has been involved in the process at some point. This could be at the very beginning, half way through or the end.  Whether you like it or not, there is always a competitor or an alternative option just lurking around the corner.  So how do you know when to sell over your competitors? Which ones are in involved? When is the ideal time to discuss them?  How do you weave them into the conversation? What do you say about them?

These are skills I developed over the years and used to my advantage to get the very best results. Here are some tips that I hope help you.

Never talk trash about your competitors

The best ways to act, whether you are selling to SMB or Enterprise, is to act humble. Have humility, show that you really care and have empathy with your sales prospect. If you talk trash about your competitors at any point in the sales process you are showing none of these qualities. You also risk losing the credibility you have already earned. It is always best to show respect to everyone in your marketplace.

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Sales Management, Sales Techniques

How to build a kickass business case to drive more revenue

Everyone’s sales process is different. The basic steps, though, are often the same in B2B sales. What you really need to do is make sure you get under the skin of your sales prospect to understand how you’re going to help, not just the person you’re selling to (your key contact), but other people in the business as well. Often you follow all the steps in your sales process, send a proposal, and talk about pricing. The key is to show, every single time, how you’re going to deliver great, return on investment for the business with your product or service. Here are some simple steps to building a kickass business case to close your deal.

How will your champion benefit?

To build a foolproof business case you need to get to the root of why the prospect wants your product or service. What it will do for them. How they will individually benefit. What will it do for them? You need to understand their challenges and what they really WANT. What is their goal with this purchase? Is it a change that they are trying to make or a problem they are trying to solve? Will it make your key contact’s life easier, their job easier, improve their standing in the eyes of their boss? You must really dig deep, do your research and then ask lots of questions until you really understand. This is the only way that you will be equipped to really build a strong business case. Talk about how it’s going to help your day to day contacts do their job better and make them look great in the eyes of their boss.

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Leadership, Motivation, Sales Management

6 secrets to building a winning sales team

Managing a team of sales professionals is one of the hardest jobs in any business. You have a group of guys and girls that will, no doubt, be a mix of talent, skill and ability. That is just your starting point. Then you have to lead, manage, motivate, engage and coach this lot. Throw into the mix what they have to deal with the day to day… huge highs and lows of being in sales. It is not like finance or product teams where they can just put their heads down and finish their task or project with fewer interruptions or curve balls. It is a whole different ball game. So when you put all this together with the pressure of sales and delivering a number it’s a big job, and a very hard one to get consistently right.

At Reward Gateway (which was Asperity), we went from doing less than 250k per year in 2007 to £2.9M a year in 2011, just in new business. Recently a VP Sales asked me what the secret was behind this. He was looking to make 5 new hires while scaling and growing his SaaS business. The truth is all the things you naturally think of as being really important like Lead generation, CRM management, Marketing automation, Your Sales playbook and Pipeline Management are not the defining factors in high performance. Most VP’s of Sales can come into a business, work with the team and vendors, and implement these processes. What truly makes a high performing Sales Team is the other magic you put on top of this. Here are the 6 things that I feel are most important when building a successful sales team.

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Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Productivity, Sales Training

Why your sales training needs to be like your exercise routine

A classic mistake with sales training is to do it every so often like once a month or quarter. You’re too busy trying to hit your  numbers and firefighting that training often gets pushed down the list of priorities until we have an urgent issue.  Most sales training, when conducted this way, is often in the format of a whole day or half day of internal training, consultants or an external trainer. Problem is, training will not have an impact in isolation. Done this way it’s such a small part of your team’s work week, month or year.

Think about training like you would exercise

If you don’t work out regularly you get unfit, fat and out of shape. The same goes for sales training.  You can’t just go do a 10k run or play a match without doing anything for weeks. Sales training needs to be like a successful exercise routine: have a good frequency, be varied and be the right length based on your goals.

To get fit you create a plan to do it.  To train your team  for peak performance, you need to do the same. Here are some simple tips you can use to introduce your new approach to sales training.

Create a training plan.  Start somewhere and commit to it

You cannot wing it each week or it will not happen. Your plan should include scheduled group training as well as individual self-paced training. Create a plan so everyone knows where they stand for the week and the month.  This way your team won’t book calls and other meetings in the slots you create for group training.  You need to nail them down to the time and everyone needs to know it’s Monday at 10 am or Friday at 3 pm, that’s when we do this…or both.  This may sound simple but just having it added to everyone’s calendars will make a huge difference.

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Sales Management, Sales Training

4 reasons why sales training today is broken

How often are you running sales training sessions? Maybe you’re doing it once a month, or once a quarter. Maybe you’re the sales manager leading the training scrambling for content at midnight the night before it kicks off or maybe you’ve hired an expensive consultant. You might feel good being able to tick the box that sales training is complete, but how much did it impact your team?

Because sales training is so infrequent we build up to a one-day training session and dump as much information as we can on our sales teams in 8 hours. Would we dump information on our sales prospect in one meeting then expect them to buy from us?  Of course not, they want information broken down for them at the right times when it’s useful. So why is our sales training treated differently? Here is why I believe sales training is broken in B2B companies today.

Are you using your most valuable training resource?

Common practice is for training to be run by someone who is in a senior role or external with ‘experience’,  but what sales professionals really want to do is learn from people who are doing their job successfully every day. 68% of reps say they would rather learn from their peers than anyone else when training. I’ve found this to be true in my experience. Sales professional crave to learn from someone who is doing the same job as them, who are performing well and achieving results.  That is what inspires them to improve.

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Sales Management, Sales Productivity, Sales Techniques

5 ways to give your sales prospect a kickass trial of your product

So many software companies happily demo me their product but never offer me access to it so I can use it myself.  I find the biggest concern sales leaders have about offering a free product trial is the assumption it would devalue the high price that was trying to be charged. I don’t understand that way of thinking and believe if you’re obsessed about the price you can charge you’re not thinking about how best to help your customer with their decision to buy. My obsession is to always do everything I can to show my prospects the value of our product and service and I’m always excited to let them get their hands on our product.

Here are 5 things you should consider doing when implementing a free trial of your product.

Set a time period for the trial

Once you’ve understood the timeframe your prospect is working towards for a decision, then I’d suggest offering the free trial in line with it. So if they’re looking to have sign off in 6 weeks then say “I’m going to give you access to your trial site for the next 6 weeks to support you and your team in your decision and it will expire on the 30th April” This is much better than offering ’30 day access’ as a blanket offer for everyone, the trial period needs to benefit your customer and their buying process. Setting the trial period to end on the ‘decision date’ is a nice way of keeping you and your sales prospect focused on it.

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Leadership, Sales Management

The 6 signs your commission structure is doing more harm than good

The topic of sales commission structures and whether they should or shouldn’t exist is a widely debated one. Whatever your view, the fact is the vast majority of sales teams are operating with one so I guess at least for now, there’s a strong argument for them as opposed to against. What I can say from experience is there are signs your commission structure may need a re-think. Look out for the following:

Is there’s a flurry of new deals won shortly after your quota period ends

If you find that there’s a wave of new sales that come in shortly after the month or quarter deadline, you’ve probably got a commission structure that heavily incentivizes hitting a target but doesn’t incentivize performance over the target, certainly not in an attractive enough way.  Your sales people are ‘sandbagging’ to give them the best chance of hitting their revenue goals for the next month or quarter rather than helping the business to reach the best possible number of new sales for the current quota period.

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Motivation, Sales Management, Sales Training

Is your new sales rep doomed to failure because of these 3 things?

Whatever defines your sales training program, there’s no question that training a new sales rep takes a huge amount of time. The question is, are there things going on outside of your training program that is going to be holding you and your new sales reps back from success and undoing all your hard work? Find out here:

Don’t allow your new reps to train with sh*t leads

A new rep comes in, they’re learning, so they get given the lowest value leads to start training with. I understand we’ve got to protect this month’s quota. But be mindful of  your definition of ‘low-value leads’.  I’ve seen ‘low value’ in terms of ACV get confused with the leads your sales team find hardest to convert, maybe due to size, sector, buyer etc.  I understand that makes them low value, but is that really where you want your new reps training?  We want our new reps building in confidence every day, it’s so important to their longer term success. I’d argue we want them selling to the best leads, the ones we are guaranteed to win, the ones that will make our news reps feel like they’re sales heroes. Whatever you do,  make sure you are balancing your short term sales goals with the speedy development of your new sales reps who will be helping you achieve the longer term sales goals.

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Leadership, Sales Management

We need to stop saying ‘good sales people make bad sales managers’. Here’s why

If you’ve worked in sales for a while you must have heard this said before, ‘good sales people make bad managers’ I overheard someone say it last week which led me to write this post. It’s an unfair thing to say and as leaders, we should be careful. I know some incredible managers and leaders in the sales profession that started working in sales.

I might be biased but my wife for one, one of the greatest team managers I’ve ever seen in action, she inspires her team and can lead others in her direction effortlessly.  An old manager of mine Stuart Lascelles, his calm nature was always so reassuring in a high pressured sales environment, my old friend Dan Newton was always in the trenches with his team, he genuinely cared about them. And my Dad, who I used to watch doing his job as a kid, he was a friend to each of his team but they all knew where the line was and wanted to do their best for him, a bit like he was their Dad.

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Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Recruitment

Is it time to change the way we interview Sales Professionals?

The internet is not short of lists of questions to ask sales candidates. Questions to test skill, behaviour, results, teamwork, all that stuff. But here’s my sales interview puzzle, how can you be sure if the nervous person sitting in front of you is any good at building relationships, arguably one of the most important skills in sales, as you test their skill during one of the most unnatural environments we are ever likely to find ourselves in, the dreaded interview.

What about if we did it all differently.  What about if we set the candidate up to show us who they really are. What about if we listened to our own advice on what’s important in selling and applied it to the interview process to let those great candidates shine through. Why aren’t we as caring with our potential new team members as we are with our potential new clients?  It certainly seems to be as hard to find great sales people as it is to win new business.  Or maybe winning business is hard because we haven’t improved how we hire. Here’s an idea.

What about if it was a meeting, not an ‘interview’

I deliberately say ‘meeting’ as opposed to ‘interview’ as it’s a scary word, most people fear an interview. How about if we propositioned it differently. Instead of ‘we’d like to invite you to an interview next week, we said, “I’m really interested in meeting you for a coffee and learning more about what you’ve been up to, do you have any time next week?

We’d never say to a prospect “I’d like to do a needs analysis to see if I think I can sell to you”.  We’re so careful with our use of language when dealing with sales  prospects, I wonder what it would be like if we applied that same care to our potential new team members?

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