Get the Message Right: A Sales Mastery Interview with John Cousineau

In this Sales Mastery Interview, we talk about how to engage prospects with the right message, and John has developed a unique system to help sales folks understand what conversations are working and which ones are not.

John’s product is called Amacus and it is designed to accelerate revenue from Business Development by revealing what’s working and what isn’t. Its auto-analytics show buyer reactions to seller efforts. They enable sales teams to hone best practices using trial and error with small, fast, tests of new tactics. Imagine what you’d like to know, if you could, about sales performance and how to improve it. That’s what Amacus is all about.

Let me tell you about John…

With innovative information inc., John’s leading efforts to improve sales performance using auto-analytics that provoke learning and improve habits. Amacus is his firm’s award-winning application.

John’s spent over 30 years harnessing the capabilities of technology and information in ways that accelerate business performance. His mantra: design innovative uses of information that let clients out-perform expectations.

He’s been doing it for a while. Dropped his first deck of punch cards in 1977. Used his first spreadsheet in 1980. Had his first email account in 1981. Co-produced the first internet video for the PGA tour in 1999. Through  these and other learning moments, John’s pursued ways to use information that drive business performance by making work fun; by getting people, faster, to the value creating parts of their daily routines.

When you listen to my conversation with John, you’ll learn:

  • Why producing analytics for sales people makes sense.
  • The problem he is helping sales people and their management solve.
  • Why the right kind of data is more important than more data.
  • The benefits that added accountabilities create for sales people.
  • Bad habits that firms might be practicing without knowing it.
  • Client benefits and learning.
  • Gauging whether the sales approach and message you are using is working.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Make Your Sales Messages RELEVANT!

I was pondering what to write today, but then several spam sales pitches showed up in my inbox, and I thought, perfect.

Look. I get it. You want to sell something. Anything. But slinging hash up against the wall hoping that it will stick is a pretty lousy strategy.

Here is a great example of what NOT to do. I’ve removed the name to protect the clueless, but otherwise, the email is as it came to me with grammar errors and all. My commentary is after the email.

“Hi Barbara,

My name is XYZ, and I’m with XYZ company. Given that companies in the Entertainment industry are constantly hiring and back-filling positions, I thought you would be interested in what we offer. Do you happen to know who evaluates recruiting tools at Talent Builders Inc, if not yourself?

XYZ company has over 10,000 small business customers, many of which are looking for the type of candidates that exist on our site or visit our job board aggregator partners. In short, our software gets your jobs out there, organizes, and speeds up your hiring process. You can be up and running in minutes.

Features:

  • Unlimited users
  • Unlimted job posts that syndicate to 20+ top job boards including Indeed, SimplyHired, JuJu and more
  • Automated re-posting to your social media accounts
  • Access to XYZ’s extensive resume database
  • Pre-screening and filtering ability with video, audio, multiple choice and more
  • Interview scheduling and applicant tracking
  • Share application link – for hiring managers
  • Dedicated account support

Largest package is only $99/mo or $800 for the year

Do you or the person who oversees your hiring strategy have 15 minutes next week for a quick call?

Still in the dark? Check out the video on our homepage at whatever.com

Thanks in advance!
XYZ Sales Rep”

Where do I begin?

At least he got my name right, but the email is one that has never existed, so somebody just tried making it up.

I’m NOT in the Entertainment business. Talent Builders, Inc. is my corporation and we DBA as Social Centered Selling, an LLC that Talent Builders owns. It is not uncommon for someone to think that Talent Builders is in entertainment or recruiting, but we are not.

He gives me all the pricing. Why do I even need to talk to him? I can just simply file this away in the “maybe I will get to it someday”, but then again, probably not.

Do I know who oversees hiring? Of course, I’m the owner.

Still in the dark? Well, actually, I didn’t know that I was in the dark. Thanks for insulting me. But I get it, you want me to do your job for you and go figure out for myself why I should bother spending any time with you.

The problem I have with this email, beyond the fact that it is unsolicited, is that the sales rep is just lazy. I’m guessing his marketing team cued up this email and he just blindly sent it out. Or, maybe he came up with this piece of genius on his own. Whatever the case, it is a classic example of what too many sales people are cranking out there. Why would anyone bother to waste time getting back to you if you send these sorts of messages?

If you want to engage a prospect, and it is important to you that you get a sales appointment, STOP – take 5 minutes to THINK about what you are sending before bothering to hit send.

That is all.

 

Social Media Does Impact Revenue!

Social Media and Sales Quota” report is now available and packed with great highlights about how sales people use social media to sell.

When working with sales organizations in the business-to-business (B2B), space we are constantly asked if using social media as part of the sales process actually generates a measurable return.

Jim Keenan of A Sales Guy Consulting and I decided to find out if social selling truly impacted sales. With all the hype that surrounds social media and the term “social selling”, we wanted to know if social made a difference where it mattered…in quota.
With that in mind, we conducted a random, anonymous survey to find out what sales people had to say.

Our “Social Media and Sales Quota” survey report is packed with great highlights about how sales people use social media to sell.

You will discover that 78.3% of our survey respondents do use social media in their selling process and that 72.6% of sales people using social media outperformed their sales peers in 2012!

Here are just a few of our key findings…

  • Quota attainment and sales performance. In 2012, 72.6% of sales people using social media as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often.
  • There is a direct correlation between closed deals and social media usage. Sales leaders want to know where the Return-on-Investment (ROI) is if their sales people spend time on social media sites. 54% of our survey respondents have tracked their social media usage back to closed deals.
  • The time investment in using social media to sell. A common concern among sales leaders is that their sales people will spend more time on social media sites then they will actually spend selling. It turns out that their concern is unwarranted. 50.1% of sales people told us that their time spent using social media ranged from less than 5% to up to 10%.
  • The report includes other eye openings insights and clearly shows that those sales people using social media significantly outperform their peers when it comes to achieving/exceeding quota and closing deals!

Help Us Get the Word Out!

Sample Text:
FREE Social Media and Sales Quota Survey Report. Find out how savvy sales people use social media to achieve quota and close deals! Get the results from our 2013 survey.

Sign Up on the Home Page RIGHT NOW to Download Your Copy!

Get Social 123: A Sales Mastery Interview with Scott Miller

The buzz around the term “social selling” is getting louder. I suppose it is inevitable that the new kids on the block believe social selling is something new, but like anything else, it is only new to you when you become aware of it. People like me, Koka Sexton, Craig Rosenberg, Anneke Seley and others, however, have been talking about social selling since about 2009.

It is also not uncommon for there to be any number of definitions being applied to “social selling”. And, I know at least one sales professional who argues that social doesn’t sell, people do. I do not disagree, and I think of social selling as a process, a sales approach and have defined it in this way…

“Social Selling is the process of using social media to prospect, research, engage, collaborate, network, teach and close all with the purpose of attaining quota and increasing revenue.”

What that means for sellers today is that the savvy ones recognize that a better-informed and more connected customer controls the buying process. For sales people to reach this new buyer, they need to leverage the information that can be gleaned from participation in social networks quickly and easily, in order to turn information into leads and sales opportunities.

That leads me to my recent conversation with Scott Miller, Chief Sales Officer at Social 123.

With a variety of platforms in the market that say that they can serve up data to sales people in ways that create sales opportunities, many of them don’t quite cut it. After taking the time to check out Social 123 myself, I have to say that I think they have a winner.

Let me tell you about Scott.

Scott is responsible for new customer acquisition and monetizing Social Media for current customers. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the demand creation space having consulted and led numerous sales teams over the last twelve years. He is the author of two e-books and a successful blog on sales and lead generation best practices.

Scott previously served as District Vice President of Sales of Ceridian – a leading global business services and software solutions company that helps organizations control costs, save time, and optimizes their workforce. Under Scott’s leadership, his division doubled its revenue production two consecutive years. He was successful in implementing leading edge programs to generate demand using social media technologies.

Before Ceridian, Scott served as a Principle for the world-renowned sales consultancy, The Complex Sale. The Complex Sale is a sales strategy and training company that helps you win the sales you can’t afford to lose. Scott’s role was to acquire new business and he brought in the most new customers for the firm for two consecutive years. Scott was instrumental in the demand creating strategy of the firm with a heavy emphasis on web and social media.

When you listen to my conversation with Scott, you’ll learn:

  1. What Scott thinks about selling in today’s world.
  2. The difference between social media management and social lead generation.
  3. The difference between Social 123 and other platforms claiming to do similar things.
  4. Why you don’t need a large social network or personal Twitter following to use Social123 to get results.
  5. The best social networks for lead generation.
  6. How sales people can use Social 123 for selling.
  7. Data quality and how they serve it up.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Sales Coaching Excellence: A Sales Mastery Interview with Steve Martile

I remember when business coaching came into vogue about 10 years ago. It was not uncommon in those early days to meet lots of coaches at various networking events. With a low barrier to entry and not too many people questioning someone’s background and credentials, pretty much anyone could call themselves a coach…and did.

To this day, I remember a gal that I met at a chamber function that radiated exuberance off the charts and was certainly excited to tell anyone willing to listen that she was a Sales Coach. Intrigued, I spent a few minutes listening to her pitch and inquiring into her background. In asking what her experience was in selling, she admitted that she had none. Hum. A bit of a red flag, I thought. When I asked her why she decided to focus on Sales Coaching, given that she had no experience with it whatsoever, she simply replied that she had heard “that’s where the money is”.

No process, no background, no experience, no clients and nothing that demonstrated to me that this gal could even sell successfully for her own business. I remember thinking…why in the world would anyone ever hire you?

Full disclosure…if you cannot demonstrate that you’ve both done it yourself and helped your clients to do the same thing, I think you need to consider another profession.

And that leads me to my most recent interview with Steve Martile.

Our relationship began as a connection over LinkedIn and led to a later conversation about what we each did for a living. I was so impressed with Steve and his approach to coaching sales performers to higher levels of net worth that I just had to interview him.

Unlike a lot of coaches that I’ve met through the years, Steve has a “process” that is backed up by research and experience. In short, he gets results!

He has put the practical application of what he coaches into his own life and is quite successful by a long stretch. As always, I picked up a golden nugget from our conversation that I put into application immediately.

So, let me tell you about Steve Martile, Owner of Freedom Education.

Steve is an engineering consultant, blogger and sales coach.  He helps high commission sales professionals that are struggling to make enough sales, streamline their sales techniques and work more efficiently so that they can double or triple their commission checks.  His ideal clients are Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, High Performance Sales Professionals and Business Owners who have been in business 4-5 years or more, are big thinkers and are ready to do the work to take their business to the next level.

Last year Steve was published with authors Bob Doyle and Janet Bray Attwood in Adventures in Manifesting.  He lives 4 hours north of Toronto, Canada with his wife Trisha and his best buddy – his pooch Chloe.

When you listen to my conversation with Steve, you’ll learn:

  • How Steve got started coaching sales professionals.
  • How his 5 step approach helps his clients create results that last.
  • Out of the 5 key areas, the one that stands out as being the most important.
  • The big mistakes that sales professionals make when setting their own goals.
  • What stops top performing sales people from taking action and doing the things they know they should be doing.
  • How to Master Your Psychology to achieve the desired results.

And more…

You are going to love Steve’s energy. More importantly, you will benefit from his depth of knowledge and experience in getting his sales clients to achieve results that even they did not believe was possible.

Enjoy the interview!

Score More Sales: A Sales Mastery Interview with Lori Richardson

Great selling skills never go out of style and while the current buzz around “social selling” may cause you think that what’s used to work has no relevance anymore, you learn in my conversation with Lori Richardson that integrating technology into your sales process is only one small piece of a successful selling equation.

It is not uncommon for salespeople to have “good conversations” with a potential prospect and think that they now have a qualified sales opportunity. Not so fast, says Lori. She shared with me her Scoring Matrix and the criteria she uses – and teaches her clients to use – that truly determine if a good conversation is worth further sales time investment.

A gold mine of great sales tips can be found in my conversation with Lori, so let me tell you about her.

Lori is the CEO and Founder at Score More Sales and one of the top sales influencers in B2B selling worldwide. She spent 20 years in sales and sales leadership roles in financial services, technology, and distribution companies working for IBM, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Thomson Financial (now Reuters). In 2003 Lori launched Score More Sales, a sales consultancy that helps smaller mid-market companies grow front-line sales revenues. Lori teaches, trains, and consults on sales skills, sales tools, and soft skills helping sales reps and sales leaders turn efforts into dollars.

Lori also blogs for high visibility brands such as IBM Mid-market. She is the author of four books and will publish “Insight Sales”, a book for inside sales professionals, in Sept. 2013.

When you listen to my conversation with Lori, you’ll learn:

  • The changes that Lori has seen in sales through the years.
  • How some great sales practices never go out of style.
  • How Lori’s approach to teaching her clients to sell more effectively is different from others.
  • How sales leaders and their teams are responding to integrating social selling into their sales practice.
  • Advice for sales leaders who feel overwhelmed with so many things to be conscious of and get done in today’s 24/7 wired world.
  • Lori’s TOP prospecting tip.
  • What sales reps need to consider and follow up on first when they have a list of opportunities in front of them.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know

I notice things.

My daily goal is to be as present as possible in every conversation I have as I move through my day. I am also paying attention to the various things happening around me. Something that I hear, see or read just might spark a new idea, a blog post, get me thinking differently or cause me to dig deeper to learn from the experience and underlying meaning. I have this weird thing about three’s. If I see it or hear something three or more times, I really start paying attention.

That leads me to my post today.

A few months ago a colleague referred me to a potential new client. She had paved the way for a social selling discussion, because in the course of her conversation with the Sales VP, she knew there was a qualified opportunity. I set the meeting with the Sales VP, we had lunch, discussed his desire to train his sales team to more effectively use social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – to prospect, generate leads and secure more meetings.

That lunch conversation resulted in me sending over an outline of a potential program for his sales meeting. It all seemed good. After a few failed attempts at following up with him, I began to suspect something was amiss. Finally, I decided to send a note that said, “I have not heard back from you about my suggestions for your sales program, so I assume that you’ve decided to go in a different direction. I’ve cleared the date from my calendar, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to be considered.” A day later, he responds and says, “He had been traveling on business. He thanked me for the information that I had sent to him and went on to say that he liked what I had proposed, but he felt that the price was too high for his smaller team. He told me he would recommend me to his boss for the upcoming national sales event.”

Boom! There it is…price.

I am fond of saying that it is NEVER about the price! I knew that I had either not communicated a strong enough value message, or I misinterpreted how willing he really was to correct the sales problem he said he wanted to fix. In other words, no matter what he had told me, it seemed clear that the pain wasn’t great enough for him to take action. Given that I believe in the importance of learning from the deals that go south, I called him a few times with the intention of learning what went wrong. He never responded, so I let it go. My colleague, however, did not.

Recently, she had a scheduled lunch with the VP, so during that meeting she asked him what was behind his decision not to hire me. Side note…he didn’t hire anyone else either! At first he went with the line about the price. She pushed back and assured him that my pricing was quite reasonable. Finally, he admitted that the real reason was that he liked everything that I had shared with him and he went on to say, “She didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know.” Hum.

A few days later, in a conversation with a the Sales VP at two different companies who are also clients, they both told me that a couple of their sales reps when asked about the work we had done with the team also said, “She didn’t really tell me anything that I didn’t already know.” Now I know something is up, and I’m wondering if it’s me? After pondering the comments, I came to this blinding flash of the obvious…

Knowledge without execution is useless!

These people know what to do, but by their own admission, they were not doing anything about it.

If you think that you already know what to do, ask yourself what good it will do to learn something “new” if you don’t put that new information into practical application either? You already know the answer. Nothing.

For any salesperson who thinks that they already know it all and still aren’t hitting sales targets, I’d like to suggest that you don’t need to learn anything new. You need to get off your backside and put what you know into action!

Put the Social into Selling: A Sales Mastery Interview with Ago Cluytens

As I’ve been writing and speaking for the last 7 years about Social Selling and why salespeople need to adapt to changed buyer behavior, it still comes back to one key point:

If you keep trying to sell the way that you’ve always sold, you lose most of the time!

I have a number of kindred spirits who think as I do regarding this changed world of selling, so it was with great delight that I sat down with Ago Cluytens to talk about his views on what salespeople need to do to succeed in today’s complex B2B sales environment.

Ago shared some practical tips that salespeople can put into practical application now. One of my favorites is Ago’s three golden rules for sales success using social channels to sell. It all breaks down to:

  • 40% sharing
  • 40% listening
  • 20% talking

Given that I’m observing a lot of sales (and marketing) people spend 80%-90% of their time talking about themselves and what they want to sell – and I am being kind with my percentages – I want people to take Ago’s advice to heart. Using social channels to crank out generic sales pitches just do more harm than good and people WILL turn you off. Another time, I’ll tell you about the person I had to shut off on Facebook, because I had finally had enough of the constant self-promotion.

Anyway, as I always say, it is great interview with a sales thought leader who has amassed years of experience on both the marketing and sales side of the house. I know that you are going to enjoy my conversation with Ago, as much as I did!

Let me tell you about Ago…

As Practice Director EMEA at RAIN Group, Ago Cluytens specializes in helping clients sell complex, high-end professional, financial, and technology services to senior decision makers and C-level executives in the Fortune 500.

His early track record as a management consultant with “Big 4″ professional services firms Ernst & Young and Arthur Andersen (now Deloitte) made him intimately familiar with “selling to the C-suite.” Spending over a decade as an executive with Fortune 50 financial services firm ING helped Ago develop a unique insider’s perspective of how corporations really buy and make decisions.

As former Global Head of Marketing (CMO) for the Private Banking division, Ago is a former CxO – with a deep understanding of what other CxOs look for when evaluating providers.

He has worked with corporations such as Ernst & Young, Toyota, Telenet, Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, ING, Keytrade, JP Morgan, Accenture, Procter & Gamble and Firmenich, as well as dozens of smaller firms.

Ago is a regular contributor to industry research and a panelist and speaker at conferences hosted by organizations like Brits in Business, Executives International, Wealthbriefing, Dukascopy, Marcus Evans, Terrapinn, and the Financial Times (FT).

And to ensure his insights stay current, he hosts an online TV series called the Coaching Master Series – learn more at www.coachingmasters.tv.

When you listen to my conversation with Ago, you’ll learn:

  • What buyers are really thinking about during the buying process and how they determine who gets the meeting and who doesn’t.
  • How social fits when selling in complex B2B sales situations.
  • Why Ago made the leap to social selling.
  • About several great social selling tools.
  • What a former marketer who has now crossed over into sales has to say about the difference between social selling and social media marketing.
  • Ago’s tips for getting started.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Leads, Leads, Leads

Generating leads is a key element to creating a pipeline of sales opportunities that
ultimately results (well, if you do your job well that is) in closed revenue. Without leads there are no sales. Without sales, you don’t have a business.

Buyers start the sales process without your salespeople 70-80% of the time, which makes it clear that today’s buyer has changed. Cold calling and spam emails have diminished in effectiveness, because 92% of buyers say that they merely “hit delete” when the email or call comes from someone that they do not know.

In a Digital Marketing Digest released by Silverpop, they say that “Buyers, fed up with crowded inboxes and irrelevant advertising noise, are shutting out content that isn’t relevant to them and using search and social to control their own buyer journeys.”

When seeking information, buyers today have unprecedented alternatives. The Internet and social networks afford them the freedom to search for options – without salespeople being involved, compare alternatives and ask for recommendations when seeking the products and solutions that will solve their business problems.

What’s a salesperson to do?

If you are looking to engage with prospects in today’s selling environment, you need to do two things: Leverage multiple channels and engage often, as well as answer the core questions that will tell you if you are speaking to a qualified buyer or not.

When you think about a multi- touch, multi-channel approach for prospecting and lead generation to create visibility, demonstrate credibility and provide value – how are you using email, the telephone, webinars, podcasts, curated content, LinkedIn groups, your referral network, Twitter or blogs to reach a broader base? Sales opportunities can flow to you in numerous ways.

And once you have that prospect in your sights, have you answered the core questions that determine if your buyer is truly motivated to buy or just kicking the tires?

If you haven’t answered the questions that follow, you’ll likely end up spinning your wheels:

  • Is there some burning initiative inside the company that is driving this opportunity forward?
  • Have they budgeted for the project?
  • Where are they in the buying cycle?
  • Are you sure they will decide in 30 days and not 3 months or more?
  • How many people will be involved in the decision?

In the end, we all want more leads. Smart sellers will become more creative at generating them and faster at qualifying (or disqualifying) them. Your ability to do both will lead to less time spent with those prospects not ready to buy and more time focused on those that are!

Getting the Sales Forecast Right: A Sales Mastery Interview with Rob Brown

Last week, I talked to Rob Brown about sales compensation and forecasting and a new tool that he has developed to help ensure that those forecasts are actually accurate. Prior to the interview, I had Rob walk me through how his forecasting tool worked, and I admit that I was impressed. Easy to use and it uses a visual appeal to help you spot potential problems easily.
Let me tell you about Rob…

Robert Brown, President of Incite! Decision Technologies, is an experienced decision strategist with over 17 years of professional experience. He provides advanced decision guidance, risk management, and business analytics to help executive decision makers gain deep insights into complex and risky capital investment opportunities, system behavior, and planning exercises. Robert is a 1992 graduate from the school of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

When you listen to the interview, you’ll learn:

  1. How sales compensation and sales forecasting typically functions today.
  2. The gaps that sales management needs to know about and why.
  3. The problem that Rob’s forecasting tool attempts to solve.
  4. Conceptually how the tool solves the problem that Rob uncovered in his work with sales teams.
  5. The information that the tools provides to Sales Executives when striving to accurately predict their revenue.
  6. The sales groups that benefit most from Rob’s forecasting tool.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!