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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

How to Ensure You're Audible-Ready in Your B2B Sales Conversations

When you hear "audible-ready", the first thing you probably think of is football. Specifically, when a quarterback steps to the line and changes the play call to one that takes advantage of weak defense . In a matter of seconds, the quarterback analyzes the defense and changes the play. Being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the defense is crucial to how successful the offense will be. In football, making the correct audible calls can be the difference in winning and losing a game.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Call on Customers with More Experience

If you are just starting your sales career, it can be intimidating when you’re selling to much more experienced executives. After all, how can you convince them that you understand their business, when they can tell you’re only a few years out of college? The answer? Remember the key tenets of value-based selling. They’re your best weapon against combatting the bias experienced executives may have against you. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The Best Ways to Cross-sell and Upsell Your Products and/or Services

Accelerating growth is not always about closing new opportunities. It’s also about getting more out of the opportunities you have. That’s why the most successful companies are focused on cross-sell and upsell strategies, as well as net new business.  How do you create and capture continued value for your customers? If you’re responsible for cross-sell and upsell opportunities within your organization, here are some key steps you can take to improve your ability to cross-sell and upsell within your customer accounts.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Our Best Podcast Episodes to Help You Align with Your Buyer in Sales Conversations

When you’re successful at staying aligned with your buyer, you can drive interest, urgency and access to the key decision makers. However, there are various moving parts to effectively aligning your sales activities and conversations to your buyer, especially if you’re selling enterprise B2B solutions where multiple buyers are involved. We cover generating buyer alignment throughout the sales process in many episodes of The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. Here’s a rundown of some popular episodes that may help you adjust your approach:

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Categories: Sales Planning  |  Sales Process

Your Most Critical Accounts: 4 Questions to Ask

Healthy sales pipelines and accurate forecasts are grounded in structured territory, account and opportunity planning processes. Think about your most critical accounts. Do you have an effective plan set up around your top accounts? How are you going to improve and/or expand your organization’s position within those organizations?

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Why You’re Struggling With Metrics in the Sales Conversation

We’ve done hundreds of deliveries around our Command of the Message® methodology and there’s one topic that frequently comes up in our initial facilitation, even when we do refresher sessions for experienced reps. People continually struggle with defining the metrics in a sales conversation.

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Categories: Podcasts

Your Best Sales Tactic? Go in Curious

One of the most succinct pieces of advice our sales performance experts often share with reps is to go in curious and listen. Going in curious means you’re not going in assuming you know what the buyer's problems are. Instead, you’re asking great questions and letting the buyer do most of the talking. The conversation should be focused on buyer needs, challenges, and desired outcomes. Remember, opportunities are won and lost on effective discovery. You can't be a best-in-class seller if you can't ask great questions and actively listen to your buyer’s answers. 

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Categories: Sales Negotiation

Two Sales Negotiation Tactics to Use with Procurement

There isn’t a salesperson out there who hasn’t dreaded a meeting with procurement. After all, that’s where late-stage opportunities (those you’ve spent countless hours on) may hit detrimental roadblocks. It’s important to remember that a professional buyer, just like your other decision makers, has specific interests and value drivers just like everyone else. It’s up to you to understand, influence and align those factors with your value and differentiation. Here are tactics you can use to win more and help professional buyers be a hero in their organizations.

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Categories: Sales Planning

How to Hold to Your Committed Forecast

One of the greatest aspects of my job is the ability to speak to sales leaders / CROs / VPs on a regular basis and learn what their sellers do well and where they need to improve. One common theme that often comes from these conversations is the need to improve forecasting accuracy and eliminate “slipped deals”.  There are many reasons why opportunities don’t close on time. Spend 20-30 minutes reviewing any “slipping” opportunity using MEDDICC and you will likely identify red flags. The reasoning behind the red flags can differ. What I’ve seen many times is, sellers are either facing roadblocks that are out of their control or they’re uncertain about what to execute on to close that deal and how long those activities will take. 

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Categories: Sales Negotiation

How to Position Multiple Options in Sales Negotiations

A critical way to minimize price-only sales negotiations is to provide multiple options to your buyers. In our Value Negotiation sales engagements, we often help sellers understand the concept of presenting multiple options, coaching them on how to execute in front of their prospects. This article covers some of those concepts and the steps you can take in your opportunities to present multiple options and sell more.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

Key Ways You Can Make the Most of Your Next Sales Training Session

If you’ve been selling for a bit, you’ve been through your fair share of SKO events, sales training, sales methodologies, eLearning courses — the works. While some of these sales trainings may seem repetitive, others may have had a positive impact on your career. The way you approach these initiatives is directly correlated to how much value you get from the trainings. Elite sellers show up to sales training events with an understanding that this moment could have a significant impact on their quotas and their customer’s ultimate success. Show up with a mentality to maximize results and ensure you get value from your next sales training. Here are a few tactics you can use to get the most out of any sales training. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Don’t Forget These Key Steps to a Value-Based Sales Conversation

Value-based selling demands an understanding of a basic buying process, the stages that guide a buyer from determining their requirements to actually signing a deal. Improve your ability to progress your prospects through these stages in a way that leads a buyer towards your solution and away from the competition (including a do-nothing or do-it-internally competitor). Focus on providing your prospects business value throughout your sales process.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Six Sales Best Practices That Will Make Your Competitor Nervous

There’s as much differentiation in how you sell as there is in what you sell. The most successful salespeople don't stand out from the competition by touting the features and functions of their latest product. Rather, they are diligent about articulating customer value and practicing good selling fundamentals.  A salesperson who focuses on value and solving problems with business impact will make a lesser competitor nervous every time. Use these best practices to differentiate yourself with your prospects and stand out from the competition.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

5 Tips to Make Role Plays More Valuable

Role plays can play an important role in your ability to execute great sales conversations. They ensure you aren’t practicing your sales message in front of the customer. They allow you to test your agenda/question flow for gaps and prepare ways to pivot based on how the customer responds. When role plays are executed correctly, they provide valuable takeaways for everyone involved. Here are some best practices to ensure role plays are worth your time.  

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Sales Best Practices: 5 Ways to Prepare for Your Next Sales Meeting

When you’re pursuing an opportunity and you earn that coveted time with a decision maker, you have to be ready to uncover their needs and articulate your value. Oftentimes, you only get one chance to get it right. Ensure you achieve your desired outcomes in your next sales conversation. Do the work up front to make it happen. 

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Sales Conversation

Your Virtual Sales Persona: Five Areas to Assess for Success

Elite sellers stand out not just by what they sell but by how they sell. How you sell virtually can help you differentiate yourself from competitors and help you build trusted advisor status within your accounts.  Having a seamless and professional virtual presence is the least your buyers expect in remote sales conversations. This expectation leaves no time to let up on basic best practices. Don't let your competition win on better prep and execution.  Assess your virtual persona and ensure you’re maximizing your return from these important sales conversations. Here are some key focus areas:

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Categories: Podcasts

Being Elite: Four Lessons Learned From a Sales Veteran

We recently caught up with Force Management’s Senior Director of Consulting Patrick McLoughlin on the Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. He shared some lessons learned in his 30+ year sales career. Here are our top takeaways from that conversation.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

How to Stack Customer Requirements in Your Favor

If you want to steer a buyer’s solution requirements away from your competition (including a “do nothing” or a “no decision”), there are a few key areas of your sales conversation that you can focus on to successfully stack customer requirements in your favor.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

How to Get Higher in Your Prospect's Organization

Who doesn’t want to get higher in an organization and gain more access to people with discretionary funds? If you feel like you’re consistently selling to the lower rungs of your customers' organizations and your managers are telling you to get higher, you likely need to adjust your sales conversation. Remember, whoever you’re working with in a buyer’s organization is one of many. Selling higher requires you to expand your point of view on the business perspectives of other key players in a buyer’s organization. At the same time, avoiding stalls, losses or delegation requires you to expand your buyer’s point of view on the benefits of an enterprise-level business case, not just a business case for their siloed needs. Improve your ability to gain access to decision makers higher, wider and deeper in a buyer's organization and make an impact. Here are three common reasons why salespeople sell low and how you can shift your process to sell higher.

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Categories: Sales Process

Critical Factors to Uncover in Your B2B Sales Process

If you are selling in complex B2B sales, you know there are critical factors in every opportunity that could influence whether or not you’re able to close the deal. Improve your ability to control the sale. Make sure you're uncovering key information in your sales conversations through effective discovery and a value-based sales conversation. It may sound basic, but consistently uncovering the right information from your prospects requires discipline. Be sure you focus on these five sales drivers in every opportunity.

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Categories: Sales Negotiation

Win More By Making Procurement Your Ally

Many salespeople find dealing with Procurement an unpleasant task. While it may be a thorn in the side of your sales process, it’s important to remember you can reframe the experience by effectively managing the value conversation and the important interests of professional buyers. Find ways to make the sales process easier on professional buyers and include them as critical decision makers along the road to a winning deal. Here’s our top tips for shifting your negotiation approach so you can find success with procurement.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

The Decision Process: Everything You Need to Know to Sell More

As you transition in your career to selling larger contracts and working with more decision makers, your ability to navigate the decision process with multiple business influencers will be critical to hitting your quota. We often use the phrase, “getting multithreaded in your opportunities”. It’s a skill set that takes discipline and commitment in order to successfully navigate the decision process. Improve your ability to sell to multiple decision makers within your accounts with the following best practices. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Selling to More Decision Makers

Making the shift from selling smaller deals to enterprise solutions that require multiple decision-makers is a common career progression path. If you’re at this crossroads, congratulations, you’ve done the hard work to progress your sales career to this point. Now, make sure you’re prepared to adjust your sales process in a way that accounts for more complicated deals. 

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Categories: Sales Productivity

How to Ensure You're Selling For A Great Company

I recently participated in a fireside chat for the MongoDB SKO with my great friends Cedric Pech, CRO at MongoDB and John McMahon, Board Member of MongoDB. It is always so much fun to share my thoughts on how elite sellers are maneuvering through this environment with old friends and experienced salespeople. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

When To Use Customer Case Studies in the Sales Process

If you sell for a living, you know the power of a customer testimonial. An effective client reference may mean the difference between a lost opportunity and a won deal. While your company may have great testimonials, if you don’t know how to use them in a sales process ... their value will fall flat.   There are numerous ways to leverage customer testimonials in the sales conversation. The most elite salespeople look for the right opportunity to have the greatest impact and maximize the effectiveness of their proof points. After all, your sales process shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, it should align with what your buyer needs and how he/she buys.   The key to leveraging any testimonial is to use it in a way that has impact, depending on your prospect. How do you know when the timing is right? 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Maximize the Effectiveness of Proof Points in Your Sales Conversations

Customer testimonials are an asset to any sales conversation. Providing tangible points on how your solution provides the results you promise strengthens your message. Making the connection between third-party evidence and your prospect’s business challenges can provide the necessary validation to turn an opportunity into a closed deal.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

5 Ways to Gain Trust in the Sales Process

A seller’s biggest asset is their ability to articulate value and differentiation in a way that solves their customer’s most pressing business problems. Anything you share beyond what’s relevant to your buyer's business pains is just noise that could lead to you losing to competition altogether (including a do-nothing or do-it-internally decision).

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Trap Setting Questions

Get Beyond the Technical Buyer

Getting beyond technical buyers and in front of economic buyers requires you to make distinct connections between your solution’s technical capabilities and the business pains of your prospects. Conversations around technical requirements and buyer decision criteria can either propel a deal forward or cause problems that are difficult to overcome, like small deal sizes, stalled deals or discounts. Elite sellers take on this challenge by focusing on connecting those technical requirements to business challenges that have significant financial implications. This connection helps you move your deals higher in the customer organization, increasing the value and the price. Here are some key steps to make it happen: 

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Categories: Podcasts  |  Sales Discovery Process  |  Sales Qualification

Coaches VS. Champions: Know the Difference

Champions can be a critical component to closing complex details. Identifying a Champion in your deal is a key step, but one where salespeople can struggle. Champions can easily be confused with Coaches. Make sure you know how to identify a Champion.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

Our Most Popular Content on Executing Effective Discovery

We write a lot about executing an effective discovery process. It’s one of our most popular blog topics, likely because it’s one of the most important components to a value-based sales conversation. Effective discovery helps separate you from other salespeople, putting you in a better position to influence the decision criteria, instead of simply reacting to it. Top sellers know that solid discovery helps the customer clarify their thoughts and may encourage them to think about their situation in a way they haven’t before. We rounded up some of our best resources on executive effective discovery. Use them to your advantage.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Get Better Results by Simplifying Your Meeting Objectives

Sales calls can easily go awry when you try to accomplish too much. Your prospects may become overwhelmed or confused, and you may miss out on key opportunities to advance the deal. Before your calls, determine the key objective you want to accomplish in the conversation. Prepare your agenda accordingly.  

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Podcasts

Ensure Success by Staying Aligned with Your Champions

You’ve found a champion, now ensure you are leveraging their power, influence and vested interest in your success. Are you guiding your champion through their buying process, or are you dragging them along through your sales process? Continuously help your champion drive the success of the deal by staying aligned with their internal challenges and coaching them on how to execute effectively inside the account. Here are key ways to stay aligned with your champion to ensure a positive outcome: 

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Categories: Podcasts

2020 Podcasts: Improve Your Ability To Win More, Faster

“Some people want it to happen, some people wish it to happen, others make it happen.” - Michael Jordan You’ve likely got goals for yourself next year; to hit consistent quotas, gain higher commissions, speed up your close rates, etc. What’s your plan to make it happen for yourself? Top performers are constantly honing their craft, even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day — recapping what worked well in previous deals (or what didn’t), seeking advice from their team, or listening to tips from those with years of sales experience. Finding daily small ways to improve your skills can make a big difference in where you’ll be sitting this time next year.

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Categories: Podcasts  |  Sales Discovery Process

Why Your Active Listening Skills Are Crucial to Hitting Your Number

Great discovery questions can only get you so far if you’re not prepared to really listen to the answer in a way that enables you to dig deeper or pivot decisively. Listening is just as crucial, yet not always the easiest to master. Many people think they are good listeners, but sadly miss the mark.  Active listening is a key skill that elite sellers possess — and they are able to speed up their deals and close at better margins because of it. Understand what preparing to actively listen looks like and how you can refine your listening skill set to sell more, faster.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Remember these Phrases to Sell More Deals

If you’ve been around Force Management for any bit of time, you know that we have some phrases we repeat often. Here are three:  “How big is the problem?” “Help them get to a place they can’t get to on their own” “What you do matters”  They’re simple, but powerful reminders for any of us in sales. Put them on your mirror. Write them down in your journal. Instagram them. Recite them over and over as you develop sales strategies and progress your opportunities.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Three Ways to Improve Your Sales Messaging

Nothing moves a deal forward like a sales conversation that’s focused on the fundamentals. If you want to command your message, you need to practice and zero-in on the basics, consistently. Moving opportunities forward and closing them at high-value — are two critical areas even veteran sellers are struggling with right now. Improve your sales messaging and minimize risks to your forecasted deals with this quick refresher of three things to remember every time you make a sales call:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Virtual Selling is Here to Stay: Maximize Your Results

Remote selling is no longer just a tactic used in part of the sales process. It's becoming the way companies do business. Previously, salespeople may have had to conduct some conversations remotely throughout the sales process. Now, it’s becoming increasingly more likely that the entire enterprise sales process will be a remote endeavor for the foreseeable future. 

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

How to Reignite Stalled Deals

Mitigate the risk of deal stalls once and for all. Understand why stalls occur and three ways to avoid them.  You’ve got numbers to hit, and your buyers still have problems they need to solve. With the pandemic, you may find that stalled deals are “unavoidable”. Buyers may seem unable to move forward — fortunately, there are strategic ways you can compel them to action.  We’ve broken down the three main reasons why deals stall and how you can overcome these challenges.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Signs You’re Working for a Company That’s Staged for Growth

Towards the end of the fiscal year it’s not uncommon for many sales reps to consider new opportunities. Whether it seems like you’ve exhausted your territory or the current economic environment has left you to reevaluate your company’s growth potential – you need to feel confident you’re in the right spot. Is your sales organization primed for success? Are you working for a company that will accelerate growth? The answer generally comes down to the evidence of sales effectiveness as it pertains to how the sales organization will support you in these three areas:

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Categories: Sales Process

Tips for Getting Prospects to Take a Meeting

Even veteran sellers can struggle with cracking into new accounts, warming up cold opportunities and turning LinkedIn connections into active deals. In one way or another, today’s current business landscape presents new challenges for salespeople to overcome as they work to capture new accounts. Regardless, good selling is good selling. Fundamentals still apply in a murky sales environment. We’re sharing key selling fundamentals you can use to prepare for your sales calls in a way that gets your prospects to take action.

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Sales Process

How to Use Your Sales Skills in Your Next Job Interview

Matt Payne is a seasoned sales enablement executive, with extensive experience in software. A certified Command of the Message Facilitator, Force Management worked with Matt at Jama Software helping  the company align the sales strategy with the organization’s growth goals. After leaving Jama, Matt continued his sales enablement experience for a customer data platform company. Several years ago an engineer friend of mine was laid off and was trying to find work. After a few weeks of job searching, we met for coffee. I’ll never forget his serious, deadpan comment, “The skills that make me good at my job are the exact opposite skills needed for finding a job.”

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Joining Remotely: 7 Tips for Great Virtual Sales Conversations

Remote and virtual selling is nothing new. For many of us, we are often moving opportunities forward via conference calls and video chats. However, in times of uncertainty, it is critically important that you are differentiating yourself as a trusted adviser, as someone who adds value in every conversation.  Use this guide as a refresher checklist or an outline to share with your teams. Brushing up on your conversation skills is never a bad idea, even for veteran sellers and sales leaders. Remember, there's as much differentiation in how you sell, as there is in what you sell. 

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Podcasts

Align Your Differentiation to Your Prospect's Needs

We often write about the importance of discovery. Our facilitators frequently say that deals are won and lost in discovery. It's critical that you use this time in the sales process to uncover needs, and at the same time, align your differentiation to what the buyer needs. As a salesperson, you need to think about why people choose your solution and how you can get that criteria into every buyer's decision criteria.

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Categories: Podcasts

Don't Move Your Deal Forward Without These Three Things

If you are trying to move a sales opportunity forward, there is no better way than to ensure you're linking a solution to an issue that's mission critical to an organization.

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Categories: Podcasts  |  Sales Conversation

Podcast: How to Use Metrics in Your Sales Conversation

Metrics can be a tricky concept for salespeople, especially those who are new to our Command of the Message® methodology. Typically we find these sellers are using metrics in the wrong way in the sales conversation. Metrics are important, but they're not the whole story. They don’t necessarily solve the Positive Business Outcomes or the Required Capabilities.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

When to Leave A Voicemail

The role of the Sales Development Representative (SDR) has become more relevant today than any other time in the past. Organizations are investing in this resource as they recognize that SDRs can handle the “front end” of the sales cycle, freeing time for Account Executives or field Reps to focus on advancing the opportunities forward. This division of labor is effective.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

You Secured the Meeting, Now What?

There are several milestone achievements the SDR/BDR attains during the front end of the sales cycle. One is to successfully prospect, engage and finally qualify a potential prospect who will consider buying a solution to solve one, or many, of the problems they might have. You are wrapping up the call, reviewing the next steps, and confirming a date and time for the next meeting. Done!

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Categories: Sales Productivity

Our Best Sales Tips For Handling an RFP

We are asked frequently about handling request-for-proposals, especially by our Command of the Message Alumni. What if you're late to the RFP process? What if you know your prospect is going to issue one, but hasn't yet. How can you be ready?

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Categories: Sales Qualification

BDRs/SDRs: How to Prepare for that First Call

In the fast-paced world of sales development, you’re often confronted with hot inbound leads that need follow-up fast. According to research, your odds of qualifying a lead decrease by 21 times after the first five minutes. However, despite the need for speed, you want to have background on the prospect before trying to engage them to ensure you can provide value even during your initial connection. To strike that balance, use the 3x3 approach.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

Strategies to Increase Sales: Asking Bold Discovery Questions

Discovery is the most important part of the sales process. This is where you lay the groundwork for all future interactions with the client and build a relationship that will provide value over the long term. Some salespeople have a tendency to rush the discovery process, anxiously trying to get the order. Pushing the process leads to bad habits. Instead, focus yourself on being more efficient in uncovering key business issues that lead to great deals. Here are a few questions to use that will help lead a conversation to a business impact discussion.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Discovery Process

Sales Best Practices: Attach to the Biggest Business Problem

Every sales team strives for the same essential goals: More deals, larger deals, faster closes. We all know that whom the sales person speaks to and how they move the customer through the sales process profoundly impact these goals. But in an ever-shifting B2B buying landscape, and more decision makers as part of the process, it can be even more difficult to engage the people who have the authority to allocate funds for a pricey purchase. It boils down to a salesperson’s ability to attach to the customer’s largest business problem. Salespeople who speak to low-level problems will be delegated to low-level employees. If the salesperson talks like a network administrator, they will find themselves only selling technical solutions. When you’re bogged down with conversing back and forth with those who have fixed budgets, you may close opportunities but you won’t gain any traction increasing your deal size. Remember:

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Categories:

How to Close a Great Sales Discovery Meeting

Sales opportunities are often won and lost on the ability for the account team or individual rep to uncover the business pain and the financial impact of the pain. The most successful salespeople are the ones who execute great discovery conversations as part of the sales process. Elite salespeople know how to use those conversations as a way to drive next steps.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Structure Your Next Sales Meeting and Move the Opportunity Forward

Even the most successful salespeople have to remind themselves about sticking to the fundamentals. When we've had some selling success, it's easy to rest on our laurels and forget the basics that helped drive our numbers in the first place.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The Importance of Positive Business Intent

Building Positive Business Intent should be a goal with every one of your customer contacts. It’s a simple concept, but it’s not always easy. There’s not a cut and dry method to achieving it. Rather, it needs to be an underlying component to how you conduct business.

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Categories:

Why Do You Sell?

How would you answer the question, "Why do you sell?" In our trainings, we often challenge sales reps to reflect on why they do what they do. Having a passion for what you do gives you the confidence and conviction you need to solve large, complex business problems for your prospect.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

A Lesson on Resiliency and Process

There have been so many times in my life when I’ve admired the resiliency in others. The ability to recover quickly despite loss, hardship, or other difficulties is no easy feat. The quality is not to be underestimated. This past year showed me my own resiliency. 2017 was a difficult year for me. I experienced personal loss of family and friends which took the wind out of my sails. Even in their final days, each of these people stood in the face of incredible pain and their own mortality. It was so admirable and forced me to reflect on my own resiliency. I asked myself, “How resilient are you?” I didn’t necessarily have an answer and still don’t, but have found some clarity in reflecting on the topic recently.

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Categories: Sales Planning

Podcast: Sales Planning Tips for Reps and Managers

Like it or not, the end of a year is a good time to start thinking about your plan for the next year. Have you drained the pond this year? How are you stacked up for success next year? What's your plan to make the plan?

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Categories: Sales Planning

Do Your Job: The Power of the Sales Plan

Years ago at Xerox, I remember sitting at my desk late at night. In my hand, was my commission statement for the 4th quarter. This commission check would be the largest of my sales career. I absolutely blew the doors off of my business. I was the number one rep in the region for the year and I earned another trip to Hawaii.

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Categories:

8 Resources to Help Improve Your Sales Performance

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a sales rut? Are you taking the same steps with each prospect, without seeing any improvements to your sales success? It’s easy to take high-level strides to improve your overall sales process. But, making time daily to optimize your approach and sharpen your skills is difficult when you have dozens of emails to respond to or prospects you want to contact. If you want to get real results for your sales efforts, it’s time to add a few new tools to your sales arsenal.

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

The Best Way to Ask Tough Questions in the Sales Discovery Process

If you want to find the business issue with the largest impact, you need to be able to execute an effective discovery process that enables you to drill down on a business issue and demonstrate your own positive business intent. You need solid questions, if you want to effectively map your value to their business problems. 

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Sales Conversation

3 Skills to Improve Your Sales Conversations

Closing opportunties faster is easier when you can tailor your sales conversations based on what your buyers need. Sellers that exceed quotas excel at actively moving conversations forward by articulating value and differentiation in a way that ties their solutions to their buyers' most pressing business challenges.

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Categories: Competitors  |  Sales Discovery Process

Key Steps to Improve Your Discovery Process

Opportunities are won and lost on discovery. The ability to ask great questions in the discovery phase is one of the most critical abilities for successful salespeople. The greater your depth of awareness of the prospect's problem, the better equipped you are to sell a high-value solution to match. Still many salespeople struggle with getting prospects to truly reveal negative consequences and challenges with significant business impact. We've pulled together some of our best practices for executing a great discovery process:

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Categories: Competitors  |  Sales Process

How to Beat the Competition in Your Sales Process

If you've sold for any amount of time, you know that there is always a competitor in the sales process. It may be another vendor, or even the dreaded "do nothing" or "do it internally". Any of these options can stop a deal in its tracks. Without the ability to clearly differentiate your solution, and understand its value, a buyer's decision is arbitrary and often price-driven. We pulled together some key tips to help you beat the competition in your sales process. Use these concepts as ways to help you prepare and execute meaningful and winning sales conversations.  

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Make Your Sales Conversations Buyer Centric

Have you ever been at a party, and the person you were talking to couldn’t stop talking about himself or herself? One-sided conversations like that can be really off-putting. And, it’s no different in sales conversations, either.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

How to Improve Sales Performance

Sales professionals are under constant pressure – tasked with taking on bigger territories, facing higher quotas and making more customer contacts than ever. You’ve probably felt this stress, and like many others, you might struggle with the high demand and need to improve sales performance.

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Sales Process

How to Reassess the Deal You’ve Been Working On

Every salesperson has worked with a prospect that has dragged their feet on making a final decision. You may be working with one right now. There’s that one deal (or maybe several) that you’ve grown tired waiting around to close. If it’s not moving forward like you expected, here are some questions to ask yourself as it relates to where you may need to go back and reassess.  

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Categories: Sales Qualification

Never Lose to No Decision - Why Great Qualification is the Key to Sales Success

Losing a deal to your competition is frustrating, but sometimes, losing to no decision is even worse. Since it’s usually much easier for clients to stick with the status quo, every salesperson has lost a deal to no decision.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

6 Habits of Sellers Who Close Large Deals

Do you have healthy sales habits that enable you to close large deals? When you adopt the right sales approach, you’ll increase your client base and build long-term relationships that enable you to consistently achieve and exceed your quota.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The 4 Best Tips for Increasing Your Average Deal Size

Every salesperson is focused on closing deals. But, are you working towards closing the type of deals that allow you to charge a premium and solve the pain point with the greatest business impact? Larger deal size often means larger commission and a greater chance to exceed your quota.  

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process

ICYMI: How to Finish Strong in Your Sales Meetings

We often say that opportunities are won and lost on effective discovery. It's difficult to close a high-value deal if you haven't clearly uncovered the business pain to which to tie your solution. However, one of the most-often overlooked components to executing a great discovery call is to finish strong.  

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Why Vulnerability May Be a Salesperson's Strongest Asset

Vulnerability is a topic that has gained some attention in recent years. You may remember Brene Brown's Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability which has been watched nearly 30 million times. This idea is clearly one to which people can relate. Have you ever thought about how that concept can help you as a sales leader or even as a sales rep?

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Best Practices for Defining and Validating Required Capabilities

Determining what exactly your customer needs in a solution is a pivotal component to successfully closing an opportunity. Your customers have a set of a required capabilities for whatever purchase they’re considering. These are the minimum solution requirements that are needed to solve the business problem and achieve the positive business outcomes.

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5 Tips to Consider When Listening For B2B Sales Opportunities on Social Media

Good social selling can be broken down into several different components, and no matter who you talk to, social listening is a consistently vital component of the mix. Here are 5 questions to ask when considering your B2B social sales listening strategy:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Five Things That Will Help You Uncover New Business Opportunities

Finding a customer problem is the first step to winning the business. If you uncover a problem that has business implications, you set the stage for closing an opportunity that’s hinged on value. Remember, there is no value without a customer problem. The way to uncover that problem is by asking great questions that drive an effective discovery session. Here are five components to executing an effective discovery-based conversation and uncovering new business opportunities.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Five Fundamentals to Practice Before Your Next Sales Conversation

Effective sales conversations take practice. Even our most seasoned sellers on the Force Management team take the time to do pre-call planners, role play conversations and prep for important discussions. Taking the time to practice can make you audible-ready to dig deep on business pain and prevent missed opportunities. At the same time, it’s critically important for sales managers to reiterate the fundamentals with their reps. Here are five areas of focus to help your and your team and command the sales message: 1. Your Elevator Speech People love the question, “What do you do?” That's probably the question we are asked the most. Make sure you have an answer that demonstrates your capabilities, uniqueness and the value you provide your customers. 

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Categories: Podcasts

Podcast: Digging Deep on Negative Consequences

In B2B sales, every prospect account in your pipeline involves critical factors that will turn that open opportunity into a closed deal. Uncovering problems that are having significant impact on business helps elevate your solution to high-level decision makers.  

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The One Question You Should Ask Before Your Next Sales Presentation

We know a lot of work goes into a sales presentation. For many salespeople, the deck drives the conversation and is the one tool you may leave behind for your prospects to socialize internally. For all those hours spent belaboring the deck, here’s one critical question to ask yourself that will drive success in your next sales conversation.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Memorize these Five Questions and Sell Larger Deals

Salespeople who have the ability to ask great questions and use the answers to benefit their sales conversations are able to drive larger deal sizes. When you’re able to uncover the largest business problem and at the same time, create a sense of urgency in the sales process, you’ll create great value. That value prevents discounting and transactional commodity selling.

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Using Social Media to Demonstrate Value

There’s no question that the buying process has changed and that social media has become a very important channel to stay connected with your buyers during traditionally dark periods in the sales process. With so much information about any product or service online, what it means to be a sales person has entirely changed. What does exactly does this mean?

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Categories: Sales Process

Six Questions to Test Your Prospect's Decision Process

If your sales team is responsible for closing complex enterprise deals, you know that the process can be lengthy and complex. You’re probably also painfully aware that it can be fraught with peril. Anything from an unexpected objection to a shift in leadership can undo your team’s progress and kill the deal.  High-performing sales teams, understand that the key to closing more deals lies in a critical understanding the buyer’s process. These high performers leverage that understanding to anticipate obstacles and effectively drive the process to completion. Here are six questions to help your team members gauge the strength of an opportunity. 

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The Sales Snapshot: Three Ways to Put the Focus Back on Your Customer

The pace of change continues to accelerate in the B2B sales landscape. Corporate buyers have increasingly greater access to information, across multiple platforms, and in many formats, placing them in greater control of their purchasing process than ever before.

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How to Connect to the Digital Buyer

We often tell our Command of the Message® reps that there is as much differentiation in how you sell as there is in what you sell.

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Categories: Sales Process

How to Move Your Prospects Through the Sales Cycle Faster

The ability of your sales teams to sell higher in an organization is driven by a value-based selling rhythm that drives a shorter sales cycle and bottom-line impact. What sales leader doesn't want a team that's selling more deals, more quickly?  The key is to ensure your sales team has the ability to create urgency. 

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process  |  Trap Setting Questions

How to Ask Trap-Setting Questions

There is no value without a customer problem.  That premise is one of the most basic sales principles. Finding a customer problem is the first step to winning the business. The second step is effectively demonstrating why your solution is a better one than the competition's.  Trap-Setting Questions help you steer a discovery session toward your differentiators. We call them "trap setting" because they trap your competition. They highlight the value that a customer will receive with your solution and the components they won't have if they choose your competitor. 

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The B2B Lead Nurturing Shift and What it Means for Sales

The odds are that your organization is spending fist fulls of dollars on inbound marketing and generating qualified leads, many of which do not close that quarter, or the next. That’s because qualified doesn’t necessarily mean “ready to buy today!"  SiriusDecisions has found that 70% of the qualified leads that make it to sales get disqualified or discarded by sales, sent back to marketing or nowhere at all. Here’s the catch: Up to 80% of those “dead end” prospects will ultimately go on to buy from you – or from a competitor – within the next 18 – 24 months.

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Categories: Sales Process

Leverage Your Champion: Additional Resources

We received a lot of great feedback from our “Building Up Your Champion” podcast that we published last month. So much so that we wanted to provide some additional resources for you to further leverage the Champion relationship.

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Categories: Sales Process

Work Smarter: Don’t Waste Time on Deals That Won’t Happen

The competitive nature of salespeople mean that they hate to lose. Giving up an opportunity to make a sale just isn’t in the typical salesperson’s DNA.  Like a bad relationship, salespeople can linger too long hoping they’ll be able to change the circumstances. Sometimes though, you need to focus your time and energy on an opportunity that’s worth your time.

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Categories: Podcasts

Podcast: Building Up Your Champion

Champions can be integral to your success in an account. When you have a true champion, you have an advocate who is invested in your winning the business. However, the relationship shouldn't end with closing the initial opportunity. Best-in-class salespeople lift up their champion in a way that demonstrates business value. 

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Categories: Competitors  |  Differentiation  |  Sales Conversation

Three Common Sales Scenarios: How to Compete and Win the Opportunity

There’s hardly an opportunity that doesn’t come with some sort of competition. Whether it’s an established vendor that has the upper-hand, or you are dealing with some internal forces that are making it hard to move your opportunity forward. Today, The Command Center breaks down how to deal with significant obstacles in your opportunity.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Sales Tools: Write A Champion Letter or Email

A Champion can be a pivotal component to your successfully closing an opportunity. A Champion... Has access to the Economic Buyer Possesses organizational credibility, influence and power Actively sells on your behalf, when you’re not there Often salespeople can be confused if they're working with a Champion or a coach in their deals. This common confusion is why we always refer back to the definition of a sales Champion... The definition of a sales champion: A Champion is someone who has power and influence within their company and actively sells on your behalf. Champions sell for you because they have a vested interest in your success. Because they contribute to your on-going success, it’s important that you build that relationship. 

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Categories: Podcasts  |  Sales Discovery Process

Podcast: Five Mistakes You're Making With Your Discovery Process

When salespeople excel at discovery, they sell larger deals. Your ability as a salesperson to effectively move a complex B2B opportunity through the pipeline demands you know how to uncover high-level business issues. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Discovery Process

Find the Right Shot: Get Ahead of the Game for Effective Discovery

Opportunities are won and lost on effective discovery. As a salesperson, you need solid questions if you want to effectively successfully map your value to your prospect’s business problems. When you are trying to drill down on a business issue with the largest impact, you need a great sales discovery process that demonstrates your perspective and positive business intent. Solid thought-provoking questions help you effectively map your value to a prospect’s business problems. 

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Reaching Your Prospects on Their Terms: Is Voice Mail Worth It?

  Coca-Cola recently made news by eliminating their company voice mail system. Now, instead of being asked to “leave a message after the beep,” callers hear a message encouraging them to “call back at a later time.” As this Hubspot blog points out, Coke’s decision is indicative of a change in buyer behavior. Given what we know about B2B buyer behavior, relying on a single channel of communication in today’s connected world is detrimental to success. Your sales team needs the ability to connect with buyers through a variety of modalities. Help them focus on building a robust network, and initiating connections on the buyer’s terms.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The Sales Snapshot: Words to Avoid in Your Sales Conversations

  Effectively executing your sales conversations is the cornerstone to your success quarter after quarter. It may sound simple, but human behavior is heavily influenced by the words we use.  Knowing the right words to remember—and which ones to forget—can make the difference between a conversation that moves an opportunity forward and one that stops it in its tracks.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

5 Ways to Get Higher in Your Prospect Organization

It’s all too common for salespeople to get caught in conversational limbo while the “gatekeepers” of a prospective company relay messages to and from the actual decision-maker. This form of selling is inefficient and stifles your revenue momentum.

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How to Take Full Advantage of Search in Social Sales

Effectively using search tools can gain you that coveted access to decision makers in your prospective accounts. Our partners at rFactr recently posted this blog on maximizing "boolean" search for social sales. It provides some great tips for those of you who want to gain an edge over your competition. Each social network contains a highly detailed database of professionals that savvy salespeople can access to create targeted lists of prospects through social search. While that is great news for salespeople, search engines on social networks are also very robust. As such, it is important to familiarize yourself with social search best practices to ensure you are taking full advantage.

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Engage B2B Buyers Earlier in the Sales Process with Social Media

With the astronomically fast rise of social media and the increasing number of social media gurus and firms promising to help those who don’t understand these new tools, it’s no wonder that many B2B organizations are still reluctant to consider social selling a viable part of their selling process. Do these comments sound familiar? “It’s too new.” “It isn’t proven.” “There’s no way to measure it.”

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Categories: Sales Discovery Process  |  Sales Process

Four Questions to Help Your Team Recover from a Lost Sales Opportunity

A lost sales opportunity hurts the bottom line, but it can also provide a valuable teaching lesson for your sales team. There is usually a quantifiable reason that the sale wasn’t made. Identifying what went wrong gives your team an opportunity to understand how not to make the same mistake twice. Help your team recover from the lost sales opportunity quickly and effectively. Here are four questions you can ask your salespeople that will help them learn from their mistakes.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

Help Your Salespeople Avoid These Dreaded Seller Personas

The B2B sales conversation is a complex dance between seller and buyer. One misstep, and the whole conversation can be knocked off balance. But sellers who are able to maintain a steady selling rhythm and keep value at the forefront during the conversation are far more likely to succeed in closing the opportunity. Below is a list of four common personas that show up during a sales conversation, taking it down the wrong path quickly. We’ve also included tips on how you can help steer your salespeople away from becoming these types of sellers.

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Social Selling: It's More Than Just Making Connections

Most professionals now have a LinkedIn profile. The company boasts more than 100 million registered users in the United States alone. Many B2B salespeople are also now leveraging Twitter. Unfortunately, many people who use these sites are not using them to their maximum advantage. For example, most B2B salespeople have LinkedIn accounts, but they’re only leveraging them as a contact database. They’re likely connecting with key players and finding decision makers at prospective companies, but that’s where their LinkedIn use ends. We call that the “business card” approach. If you only use LinkedIn as a connection tool, it’s just like going to a conference and gathering business cards. Sure, you have people’s contact information, but you aren’t doing anything to capitalize on that relationship.

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3 Ways to Improve your Sales Communication through Social Media

  In today’s digital world, B2B buyers are more engaged and digitally informed. The rise of the connected buyer means your sales organization needs to account for a buyer who is more educated and researched than ever before. They’ve done their homework on your solution – and your competitors’ solutions as well. When they finally contact a salesperson, they’re ready to talk price. In order to move beyond regular vendor status, you’ll need to take action.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

What to Do When You're Competing Against Do it Internally

Your Challenge We’ve all been in this conversation at one time or another in our sales careers. Your prospect may understand some of the value you can provide, but is also considering using internal resources to achieve the same result.

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Categories: Differentiation  |  Sales Conversation

What to Do When “Do Nothing” is Your Chief Competition in a Sales Opportunity

Your Challenge Understanding the best way to differentiate against your competition is critical to being an effective salesperson. The “Do Nothing” competitor is always one of the toughest. Who has instant access to the decision maker? Who is always part of the sales opportunity whether you are or not? The dreaded “Do Nothing.”

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How to Incorporate Social Media into Your Sales Process

It’s no longer a bold statement to say that your organization needs to be in the social game if you plan to achieve optimal sales productivity. Social media helps sales organizations drive pipeline by (1) engaging with buyers earlier in the sales cycle, (2) maintaining relationships with current customers and (3) demonstrating valuable market insight. Eighty-seven percent of decision makers in B2B sales organizations spend time researching products and services on social media. Just like having a website in the 1990s, buyers are now judging the legitimacy of an organization based on their presence (or lack thereof) on social media. Research shows that salespeople who use social media are more successful, but how does a sales organization begin to embrace social activities as part of a sales process? The first step is to recognize that social selling isn’t your magic bullet.

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Three Common Sales Challenges and What to Do About Them

Even the most experienced salespeople can find themselves in the middle of a challenging sales opportunity that they’re struggling to either move ahead or close. Today, The Command Center breaks down three common sales scenarios and provides some easy steps you can take to correct your course, or avoid the same challenges the next time around.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Overcoming Sales Challenges: A Buyer Focus on Seller Deficit Disorder

Occasionally salespeople will sign up for the challenge of trying to sell me something. This doesn’t always end well, but is usually entertaining. I’ve had a few recent experiences with SaaS software providers trying to sell to me and I found myself thinking about John Kaplan and his comments around Seller Deficit DisorderThis common “ailment” encompasses two of the biggest complaints buyers have about sellers:  You don’t understand my business. You don’t listen. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Use Your Value Currency in Sales Conversations with Multiple Buyers

In complex B2B sales, research shows that more and more decision makers are needed to make the sale. The recent CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization report showed that 76% of B2B deals involved three or more decision makers. Thirteen percent had six or more. This can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity for a salesperson. Sales conversations with multiple buyers can work for you or against you. Here are a couple of scenarios to consider:

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Categories: Sales Planning

Improve Your Sales Planning Discipline: Remember the Rocks

  When our clients come to us to improve their sales planning processes, they often have a misdirected focus. As a result, they’re dealing with a waterfall of problems: Reps frequently missing quota goals Inaccurate revenue forecasting High percentage of deals closing late in the quarter Inadequate territory & account penetration

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4 Pieces of Social Media Content to Drive Sales Effectiveness

The key to using social media effectively, is to consistently share information of value. If you’re in sales, you likely have a social media network filled with people who are looking to generate more revenue per rep and improve overall sales effectiveness.  We’ve outlined five pieces of content that any sales manager or executive can relate to. Use these messages over the next week to show your own value with your social media networks, your colleagues and your own sales team.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Four Ways to Use Customer Testimonials in Your Sales Process

A powerful customer testimonial may mean the difference between winning and losing an opportunity. That’s why we put such an emphasis on proof points at Force Management. The key to leveraging any testimonial is to use it in a way that has impact, depending on your prospect. Your sales process shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, it should align with what your buyer needs and how he/she buys. You need to look for the right opportunity to have the greatest impact.   How do you know when the timing is right?    

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Discovery Process

Why The Best Sales Discovery Process Requires Silence

When I deliver Command of the Message®, one of the questions I am asked the most involves discovery. I think one of the keys to effective discovery is preparation, but I also believe there are some learned skills that help salespeople master the discovery component of a sales process. I’m from Cleveland (Go Browns!). And, like many college-aged students, I worked at Cedar Point in the summer. (For those of you who may not be aware of this Ohio wonder, it’s a giant amusement park, consistently voted #1 in the world.) It was a great place to work, especially when you were young.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Discovery Process

How to Prepare for a Valuable Sales Discovery Session

In real estate, it’s a commonly used phrase that the three most important words are location, location, location. In sales, I would argue the three most important words are preparation, preparation, preparation. One of the most overlooked components of many sales methodologies is the importance of discovery. It’s extremely difficult to align your solution with your prospects biggest business challenges if you aren’t able to effectively uncover what those pain points are. The key to effective discovery is PREPARATION.

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Categories: Sales Productivity

How to Get Out of a Social Sales Rut and Drive Revenue

Even the most seasoned social media users hit a wall sometimes when it comes to prospecting new opportunities. Much like the traditional sales process, social media has its ups and downs, and occasionally you may find yourself feeling as though you’re stuck in a social selling rut. Use these LinkedIn-specific tips to generate new leads or to invigorate old ones.

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New IT Priorities Demand Shift in Sales Conversation

New research shows some significant changes in organizational priorities for IT buyers. McKinsey Global’s eighth annual survey on business technologies indicates that executives are looking beyond merely cutting IT costs and plan to increase budgets for new investments. Executives ranked the following as their top three organizational priorities: Improving effectiveness of business processes Improving cost efficiency of business processes Providing managers with information to support planning and decision making

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Four Ways to Build Positive Business Intent

Positive Business Intent is one of the most important assets a seller can leverage throughout the sales process. The point was driven home when, after announcing a career change, a client said to me, “With your departure, we’ll have to reevaluate our relationship with your company.”  The client went on to say that my approach of always putting his business first was the key reason they did business with me and my company.  I never forgot that lesson.

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

Improve Sales Performance By Building Positive Business Intent

There are many sales organizations that are focused on ways to arm sellers in the new B2B buying process. Research from SiriusDecisions shows that nearly 70% of the buying process is done digitally. By the time these buyers speak to a salesperson, they aren’t interested in having a conversation. They’re ready for price quotes. This buying process shift makes a lot of salespeople nervous. It shouldn’t. Think of it as a positive; they’re interested!

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Improve Your Sales Message: Start Strong with New Prospects

Effective value-based selling starts with a sales conversation focused on solution value and differentiation in a way that ties back to the customer’s required capabilities. Remember, you don’t have to wait for a big sales presentation to get those points across to a prospect. Start with your next meeting or call with a customer. Whether it’s a cold call, a LinkedIn message or a brief email your initial sales contact should be succinct and impactful.  

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Remember the Customer in Your B2B Sales Conversations

In complex B2B sales, it can be difficult for even the most veteran of salespeople not to walk into a meeting or conduct a call with a new prospect and immediately start discussing the greatest features of their latest product or software plan. Many salespeople will make this mistake right after their sales kickoff, enticed by this year’s new offerings. Remember, the cornerstone to effective sales messaging is the customer.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Sales Best Practices: Five Ways to Beat Your Competition

If you want to repeatedly hit your revenue numbers, you need a sales team that can effectively articulate differentiation. Prospects not only need to see the value of your solution, they should also clearly understand why they should do business with your company, rather than your competitor.

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Drive Repeat Business: Build a Champion for Life

Think about the last great opportunity you closed. Remember the one where it couldn’t have gone better? It was a large opportunity. You earned a nice commission check. But, even better, your solution truly made a business-level impact for your customer. You had unbelievable measurable results and proof points. If each deal was like that, you would sail through every quarter.

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Categories: Sales Planning

Social Media and Sales: Is LinkedIn Premium Worth It?

Time and again, I am asked whether it is beneficial to upgrade one’s account from the free version of LinkedIn to a Premium version. In my opinion, the answer is two-pronged. The first thing to consider is whether you are maximizing the free version of LinkedIn. To start, look at whether or not you have a fully optimized profile.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Time is Money: Articulating Value in Health Care

The medical marketplace is dealing with unprecedented challenges that demand an audible-ready sales force who’s prepared to articulate value in this formidable environment.  Much has been written about the fiscal pressure health care providers are now under, but this recent blog on the New York Times website shows that the fight for a doctor’s time is an added burden.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

5 Ways You Can Demonstrate Value and Social Influence

Social media allows professionals to demonstrate their accountability, successes, and overall value through their account profiles and posts. For sales professionals, showcasing this value, or ‘social influence’, is an increasingly important part of the sales process. Social influence helps you establish yourself as a thought leader and helps build trust with others online, which are two key indicators of social sales success. Listed below are five areas of your social media accounts to focus on to help you demonstrate social influence today.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

The One Mistake to Avoid in Your B2B Sales Conversations

The New Year often brings new models, new gadgets, new and improved services and items to sell. Is your sales kickoff rolling out the latest and greatest function and feature of the product you’re selling in 2014?

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Three Questions That Will Help You Close Your Sales Opportunities

Understanding your customer’s minimum requirements and decision criteria is a fundamental component to any successful sale. If your buyers want to achieve specific Positive Business Outcomes, then there are a set of Required Capabilities that need to be in place with any solution they consider. Consider a deal you are working on right now. Ask yourself these three questions:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

5 Ways to Differentiate Your Solution and Win the Opportunity

In complex B2B sales, there’s always a competitor in the sales equation. Even if your biggest competitor is “No Decision,” effectively articulating your differentiation and the value you provide to your customer can make the difference between a closed deal and a lost opportunity. The most successful salespeople know how to demonstrate their differentiation in a way that aligns with the positive business outcomes their customers are trying to achieve. Having a solid grasp on how your products, services and company are different and better than the competition creates the opportunity for you to show value to your buyer.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Selling in Healthcare: Attach Your Solution to Top CFO Challenges

Healthcare is one of the most rapidly changing industries in existence. If you are selling in this dynamic marketplace, you know the success of your sales organization depends on your sales teams’ ability to have value-based sales conversations that speak to larger business problems. HealthLeaders Media just published an article on the top concerns for hospital and health system CFOs. After gathering input from nearly 40 CFOS, their most-pressing challenges were:

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Categories: Sales Productivity

The Best Sales Advice We've Ever Received

If you’ve been in the selling game awhile, you’ve likely received your share of sales advice.  We recently started a LinkedIn discussion asking for the best sales advice you've ever received. Here’s a list of some of our favorite responses:

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Categories: Sales Conversation  |  Sales Process

5 Things You Must Uncover In Your B2B Sales Process

In B2B complex sales, every prospect account in your pipeline involves critical factors that will turn that open opportunity into a closed deal. If you can’t uncover those key components in your sales conversations, you’ll struggle to get that signed contract. Before you make your next sales call, ready yourself to command your message.

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Categories: Sales Process

Improve Your Sales Execution: Know When to Walk Away

Sellers hate to lose. They have a competitive nature, and giving up a deal just isn’t in their DNA. But sometimes, as a seller, you have to know when to walk away.  We talk a lot about using Customer Verifiable Outcomes to build qualification into the sales process. These buying indicators help provide your sellers with the necessary information to advance the opportunity to the next stage of the buying process. They may include things like (1) the organization has to invest resources around a new product or a recent acquisition, or (2) your prospects may have documented pain points that they’re under pressure to correct.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Effective Sales Messaging: Take Credit for the Value You Provide

Attaching yourself to the largest business problem is a critical step towards achieving trusted advisor status within your accounts.  Putting a process behind gathering your proof points can give you the all-important metrics, but understanding the role your solution played in achieving the positive business outcomes is just as important. Even with Force Management’s own proof points, it’s important for our sellers to understand the story behind how our clients achieved those results. What were the before scenarios? How did they build alignment and buy-in to achieve the after scenarios?

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Influence the C-Suite with Effective Sales Messaging

Earning the buy-in of C-level executives is a critical step to improving margins and increasing your average deal size. Gaining access to top-level decision makers means you have to be skilled in (1) attaching your solution to the largest business issues and (2) understanding what influences their decision process.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Ask the Right Questions in Your Sales Conversation

There is no value without a customer problem. That premise is one of the most basic sales principles. As our own John Kaplan would say, “It’s Egypt old.” It’s also the catalyst to selling on value over your product’s features. Finding a customer problem is the first step to winning the business, and also the part of the sales conversation where many reps struggle.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Sales Challenges: The Worst Sales Call We’ve Ever Received

The Force Management Marketing Team receives a lot of calls from vendors. From content curators to graphic design teams to social media agencies to the logo koozie companies (Have you seen our audible-ready mints?!), we hear from vendors a lot. I’m sure those of you who have ever worked in marketing can relate.  Given the business we're in, we appreciate a skilled seller, someone who can effectively articulate the value they provide to our business, and how their solution may be different than other vendors we may be considering. At the same time, we have little patience for someone who can’t.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Articulating Differentiation: 5 Ways to Trap the Competition

Best-in-class sellers know how to effectively articulate differentiation in a way that builds a connection back to the positive business outcomes their customers are trying to achieve. Having a solid grasp of how your products, services and even your company are different and better than the competition creates the opportunity for you to show your buyer value.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Sales Messaging Challenges: Calling Too Low in an Organization

Many sales leaders are challenged with a sales force that consistently calls too low in the customer organization. As a result, their reps fail to gain access to the customer executives who make the buying decision. Their deal size suffers, and too many of their reps miss quota. 

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Categories: Sales Process

Improve Your Sales Process: Consider the Buyer Mindset

An effective sales process maps to and facilitates your customer’s buying process. Don’t assume that one size fits all. It’s likely that your market has different segments of buyers, and these segments have different needs. As a sales leader, make sure that your sales process is on target to align with the needs of your buyers.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Overcoming Sales Challenges: Change the Decision Criteria

One of the most critical things you can do during a sales call is to get the customer to establish decision criteria (required capabilities) that are in your favor. If you arrive late to the sales process and are faced with decision criteria that have already been set, you need to determine two things:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

LinkedIn Tips to Help You Increase Sales - Part 2

Once you’ve optimized your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to take your engagement to the next level. LinkedIn can help you communicate to prospects, share your subject matter expertise and articulate the value of your solution. We compiled some of the best LinkedIn tips for engaging your prospects, and put them in this “sales consumable” list.  Use these five tips to maximize LinkedIn's benefits and increase sales: 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

LinkedIn Tips to Help You Increase Sales - Part 1

Top sellers know LinkedIn drives results. Harvard Business Review blogger, Steve Martin says that more than 40 percent of top users have increased sales just by upping their LinkedIn game.  If you’re a seasoned seller who’s already using LinkedIn, you likely know the basics (e.g., optimize your profile, build connections, follow your competitors). So, we went to the experts to find some of their best tips to get even more out of LinkedIn. Here are five things you can do today to maximize your profile:

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Categories: Sales Process

How to Use Customer Verifiable Outcomes In Your B2B Sales Process

An effective sales process hinges on how well it’s aligned to your customer’s buying process. Building this alignment with customer Verifiable Outcomes shortens the sales cycle and improves your win-rate. Customer Verifiable Outcomes build qualification into the sales process, and allow sellers to qualify opportunities based on what the customer is doing at a particular buying stage.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Solving Business Problems: 5 Power Plays to Make You Audible-Ready

Solving business problems for your customer is easier when you can adjust the sales conversation based on what your buyer needs. Audible-ready sellers excel at actively moving conversations forward by articulating value and differentiation in a way that ties their solutions to their buyer's most pressing business issues. 

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Categories: Sales Conversation

How to Shorten Sales Cycles: Managing the Customer Conversation

We all know that even a savvy salesperson can sometimes get drawn into a conversation that focuses on product features. Preserving margins may be the goal, but if a conversation spirals into product features too early, the final deal will come down to price.  Sales organizations that understand how to shorten sales cycles and preserve margins rely on a sales strategy that uncovers customer needs, articulates value and minimizes the price-only discussion. Talking about the latest and greatest product feature can cripple a seller’s opportunity to attach a solution to the customer’s biggest business problem. Sales conversations that aren’t focused on problems and solutions are quickly on their way to losing margins.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Articulate Value and Differentiation: I Wish Our Salespeople Could Do That

Effectively articulating the value and differentiation of your products and services can make or break a deal. When a sales force is consistently expressing how their solutions solve customer problems better than the competition, the impact is clear. They’ll achieve:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Why Sellers Lose Deals: What Would Your Buyer Say?

Be More than Just a Vendor In my buying career, I’ve always had an aversion to sellers who showed up unprepared.  What buyer doesn't? However, I'm not just referring to having the right brochure to show me, or the right PowerPoint slide. I’m talking about a seller’s failure to do the prep work necessary to understand my organization’s business strategy and challenges.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Improve Sales Messaging: The Slide that Could Derail Your Next Deal

Think about your last sales presentation. Did it contain the slide that talked all about your company? When you started, how many employees you have, the number of customers, your locations all over the globe…. 'Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Customer – Look at our logos!' If my experience tells me anything, I’m betting you showed it right after the introduction slide. Guilty? I was too, for a long time.  It’s a classic seller mistake.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Two Questions that will Improve Your Sales Messaging

Effectively articulating the value and differentiation of your products and services can make or break a deal. If you can’t describe to your customer how your solution provides value and how it is different or better than your competitors, one of two things will happen:

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Categories: Sales Conversation

Hit the Driving Range: Practice is Key to Effective Sales Messaging

Many of you will be watching some of golf’s greatest compete this week at The Masters. The top golfers in the world know that without practice, they won’t come anywhere near a green jacket. No matter your field (or fairway), practice is a vital component to your success.

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Categories: Sales Conversation

A Buyer's Perspective on Ten Reasons Sellers Lose Deals

Today’s blog post comes from Force Management Delivery Partner Tim Caito. Caito has more than 30 years of sales, management, and business consulting experience. He has consulted with some of the largest companies around the world, including AT&T, Fed Ex, Symantec, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Walmart and American Airlines, on both the seller and buyer side. In Ten Reasons Salespeople Lose Deals, Harvard Business Review Blogger Steve Martin listed the top challenges sellers felt were keeping them from gaining new business. At Force Management, we hear the same challenges from sellers every day.