Six Critical Skills for Successful Sales Conversations
Fundamental communication and persuasion skills that flex as needed during a sales conversation
There are numerous factors and variables that go into a sale or selling situation. Many of those are beyond the sales rep’s control or influence, but the one aspect that is absolutely in the rep’s control and can make or break the sale is the conversation.
How to Spot an Adversarial Negotiator
Asymmetric warfare is what military and defense experts call it when an adversary seeks to attack where you are weakest. An enemy weaker than you will often use this method as part of the idea of choosing the battlefield. In military affairs, this is a smart idea. The military’s goal is to defeat resistance. The win-win, the mutual accommodations, of effective negotiations only then can come.
Richardson Partners with SAVO to Maximize Sales Training Investments
Richardson is very excited to formally announce a partnership with SAVO, the market leader in sales enablement. Together, the two companies have developed SAVO Sales Process Pro Richardson Edition™, an application that allows sales and marketing leaders to reinforce training and execute best practices through coaching at each stage of the sales cycle. Integrating seamlessly with CRM solutions, the application helps to improve productivity and sales forecasts and ensure overall deal quality.
Communicating and Selling Value: Why a Strong Offense is the Best Defense
Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have begun a Cloud Price War. How will you respond?
I recently wrote about the need for a “heads up” approach to managing and leading. Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for many), recent headlines about a shakeup in the technology space provide a great example of why it’s so important to look up and look around.
“Just Say No!” Do Your Job, Not Someone Else’s
You have a job to do. Most people are (or complain about being) overworked to some degree and are not looking for more to do. Yet, we often let ourselves get dragged into situations that distract from our primary responsibilities and fill up our calendars needlessly. What might seem like a harmless request (“Hey, Joe, do you have a minute?”) can quickly turn out to be a horrible drain on your time, energy, and productivity.
Consultative Negotiations: Why Not Just Split Things Down the Middle?
Compromise is a much-heard term these days, particularly with what is going on in the world these days. Politics is said to be the art of the possible. We get the two sides with positions seemingly set in stone. They should compromise; they should split the difference. This forgets that effective policy is frequently not splitting the difference but is rather taking ideas from both sides and mixing them into a better whole. Compromise is creating a third position, not split things down the middle. Both sides seem unhappy at first but will eventually realize that all have benefited.
Optimizing Your Time for Less Painful Prospecting Activities
Prospecting is one of those activities that you either love or hate. For most people in sales, it’s unavoidable. Those who hate it generally suffer from “prospecting procrastination,” which is when a person will seek out any kind of busy work in an effort to put off and avoid the dreaded task.
Perhaps it is loathed because it rarely (if ever) yields immediate gratification. Others can’t handle the hang-ups and rejection. Whatever the reason, sales reps must realize the importance of prospecting to building and sustaining a pipeline that will pay off down the road — depending on your sales cycle length.
What You Can Learn From the Rolling Stones about Win-Win Negotiations
Mick Jagger got it right when he wrote “You can’t always get what you want.” You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.
Win-win negotiations are where both parties to the negotiation walk away satisfied. They have each gotten something they can live with. They can go back to their bosses, their boards of directors, their stockholders, their union membership, their government, their constituents, and all other stakeholders and report “we were successful.” Win-win negotiations leave each side with a good taste in their mouths and with good opinions of the process and the result. Each side will want to deal with the other party in the future.
A Quick Guide for Structuring Win-Win Negotiations
Consultative negotiations, seeking win-win outcomes, following a certain structure — not a precise ritual or Kabuki theater-style performance, but a series of phases that usually occur in a certain order. Below is a quick guide to help you structure this process by understanding what to do at each phase of the win-win negotiations.
The Importance of a “Heads Up” Approach to Planning and Leading
Successful Leadership Isn’t as Easy as Riding a Bike
Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been seeing more bicyclists on the road. I was talking to a cycling friend recently who told me something surprising. He said that on long rides of 30 or more miles that require pedaling multiple hours at a time, it’s often not your legs that hurt, but rather your neck and shoulders. This stems from maintaining a fixed posture for a long period. How do riders prevent that discomfort? By forcing yourself to look up, turning your head from side to side, rolling your shoulders, and changing the position of your hands on the grips.
Social Selling? Make Sure to Ask for Referrals
Using LinkedIn is a great opportunity to network and potentially receive referrals for new prospects or expanding relationships within existing accounts, but not before you get involved. Referrals are about “give to get” and this video blog post, Jim Brodo, Senior Vice President, Marketing, shares some quick steps to take before asking a LinkedIn contact for a referral, including giving recommendations for skills and competencies. Need some more tips? Contact Jim directly at email@example.com
Avoid the Content Marketing Scrap Heap through Personalizing Insights for Prospects
The business world is being over-run by content marketing. Prospects are being overloaded with information, and e-mail response rates are in the tank. If you succeed in getting the attention of your prospect, your next challenge is to grab them with something that will keep them on the phone and engaged long enough to warrant a deeper conversation. Upon picking up the phone, inevitably, your contact’s guard is up while giving you only a portion of their attention as they wait for you to give them an opening to say, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”
9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them – Part II
In part I of 9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them, I introduced the first 5 traps to avoid when selling with insights. To review, they were:
Preparation Trap – Don’t be cavalier; thoroughly research the insight and target client to be ready. Paralysis-by-Analysis Trap – Research is critical, but don’t undertake PhD-level examination on the topic; once you have enough to get the dialogue going with confidence, act on it. Credibility Trap – Make sure that the insight is legitimate and that you are capable of resolving the issue or taking advantage of the opportunity. Arrogance Trap – Especially when introducing an “unknown” insight, be sure not to come across as superior and condescending; if you want the client to trust and hire you, then you need to be someone they feel comfortable with. Dialogue Trap – Following the previous point, be sure that you don’t show up to lecture the client; structure your insight in such a way that it raises points and promotes healthy discussion.
Each of the above traps may seem obvious, but following through – or more specifically, avoiding them – is often easier said than done. Here are the remaining common traps and suggestions for avoiding them.
9 Common Traps of Selling with Insights and How to Avoid Them
Selling with insights successfully should markedly separate you from your competition. This more sophisticated sales tactic goes well beyond the transactional approach (or lack of approach) of “We sell widgets; how many can I put you down for?” to one that is more meaningful and substantive to both the buyer and seller.
Big Data: How should a sales rep approach a customer with potentially sensitive data?
The availability of information provides many opportunities for sales and marketing to analyze prospects and create needs that they might not even know they have. However, sales reps must approach the conversation in a way that does not make the customer feel exposed or exploited. Join David DiStefano, President and CEO of Richardson, as he offers advice to sales reps about how to take valuable, but sensitive “big data” and present it to a client in a way that addresses their business challenges.
Richardson Named to TrainingIndustry.com’s Top 20 Sales Training Companies for the 6th Consecutive Year
Sales Dialogues – Provoking Needs, Can you do this?
When engaging in a sales dialogue with a prospect or client, it is important to acknowledge their current needs before approaching them with new needs. To provoke a need, sales reps can establish credibility by sharing insights and asking questions to better understand the client.
Time to Trash Event-based Sales Training!
In my last post, Strategies for Sustaining the Impact of Sales Training: Overview and Key Findings, I shared with you the key findings from a recent study from TrainingIndustry.com. This is such an important topic that I wanted to follow that up with a post focused specifically on the major takeaways from that research.
Strategies for Sustaining the Impact of Sales Training: Overview and Key Findings
When you invest in something, you expect a return. Otherwise, such an investment is known as a donation (or more cynically, throwing your money away). Before making a substantial investment, you are likely to give it careful consideration. “What am I paying for? What will I get for that investment? Could that money be put to better use elsewhere?”
Richardson’s Six Critical Skills are invaluable at all levels of the sales organization, as they provide a consistent methodology for sales reps. The Six Critical Skills represent the heart of the Richardson sales framework and are the foundation of a client-focused sales process. They allow users to create the building blocks for engaging dialogue, understanding client needs, closing business, and building long-term relationships. The Six Critical Skills are:
How’s Your Selling Energy?
With new goals and results just beginning to post for 2014, it is worth reflecting on what you are doing differently today to generate better outcomes tomorrow. The topic I’d like to focus on today is more fundamental than the selling process and skills you leverage to create an effective sales meeting. It is your Selling Energy — or how the energy you carry into and through a meeting impacts how successfully you close.
Improve your Sales Effectiveness with Insight and Dialogue
Selling with insight is all the rage now. I get why. As Brian Fetherstonhsugh of OgilyOne has alluded, selling needs to evolve because buyer behavior has fundamentally changed. While the impact of this is felt differently and more deeply in some industries and verticals than others (context and nuance always matter), the need for most selling organizations to evolve is clear.
Why Won’t My #@*&^ Customer Make Up His Mind? Common Causes and Fixes to “No-Decisions”
No-decisions are to be expected, but too many can signify a larger problem. If you’re tracking more than normal, then you should try to uncover the cause and take corrective action.
Your client’s decision not to change the status quo is now a significant “competitor” in many selling situations. According to a 2013 CSO Insights study of companies’ win/loss ratios, 26.1% of all deals were ending in a no-decision. As recently as 2002, the rate was only 17%.
Opportunities and Challenges: Bersin’s Human Capital Predictions for 2014
We often come across research reports in the industry from thought leaders who we respect. If human capital management is of interest to you, we recommend “Predictions 2014” by Bersin by Deloitte, a human resource-focused consulting subsidiary of Deloitte. The subtitle gives a good idea of what this report is about: “Building A Strong Talent Pipeline for The Global Economic Recovery — Time for Innovative and Integrated Talent and HR Strategies.” The link for the report can be found by clicking here. Take a look. You will find it useful.
Lessons from the Super Bowl — Improve Sales Training ROI through Gamification
Super Bowls Can Produce Super Memories — But How Many Do You Remember?
Super Bowls are quite the spectacle of glitz and glitter, pre-game and halftime shows, over-the-top commercials, and of course the actual football game. It’s a nonstop distraction for anyone interested. Social media will be buzzing with chatter about the funniest commercials and maybe even some spectacular plays. But by the time you get to the office the next day, the details will have already begun to fade. You’ll often hear, “I liked the commercial with the baby and the horse, but I can’t remember what the product was,” or, “That touchdown pass was awesome” without being able to recount the details of the drive that made it possible.
Quarter-end Contracts Slip-sliding Away? Check Your Sales Process!
Negotiations went well. You made your case to your buyer, and you have their assurance that the deal will close by the end of the quarter. You update your forecasts and just sit back and enjoy. Nothing can go wrong. Or can it?
There is a term you should know … slippage.
Fast forward now to the second-to-last week of the quarter. Your buyer still hasn’t returned the signed contract, and you’re feeling the heat to get it signed. You call to get a status update, and you learn from the buyer that IT still needs to complete its security audit. You’re in the queue. A week goes by, and there is still no signed contract. Now, your buyer tells you that a purchase of this size will need to go through procurement, and the CFO will likely need to sign off personally. The problem is that the CFO is on vacation and doesn’t share your sense of urgency to sign the deal by the end of the quarter. Now, your deal and your forecast are in serious trouble. At this point, there is little you can do. You can pray that the slippage is just temporary, that the whole deal has not gone south, and that your forecasts are not just off but gone. Otherwise, it is just damage control.
The best way to avoid the need for damage control » Continue Reading.
How to Stop the Spoon Feeding and Start Coaching Sales Reps to Remove Obstacles for Themselves
What’s preventing your sales reps from being successful? Are sales coming slower than expected or being blocked altogether? What obstacles are standing in the way of your sales reps, and how can you help overcome them?
Obstacles get in the way, slow you down, and force you to change direction, settle for less, or flat-out stop in your tracks. In short, they prevent you from achieving your goals. In business, these barriers to success can be physical, but they are more often process-oriented, procedural, or behavioral in nature. What obstacles are in the way of your sales team, and how can you help your sales reps to overcome them? How much revenue are you losing from obstacles due to slow, low, or no sales?
Why Selling is a Joke
A young executive was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.
“Listen,” the CEO said, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my assistant has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work for me?”
“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO, as his paper disappeared inside the shredder. “I just need one copy…”
Are Your Sales Reps Taking a “Show-up and Throw-up” Approach to Sharing Insights?
Leverage our Insight Blueprint to Engineer Your Path to Success
“The antithesis of selling with insight,” as one of my colleagues so colorfully describes it, “is to show up and throw up.” This negative metaphor illustrates the tendency to join a call or meeting with a prospect (or in trying to broaden an existing relationship) and overwhelm the listeners with information about your business and capabilities, which may or may not be of interest or even relevant to the purpose of the meeting.
Sales Process Optimization
The rules of B2B selling have forever changed as customers and competitors have more information at their fingertips through online channels. To achieve an effective sales transformation, businesses need to create a sales process that can drive sales productivity. This requires sales managers to coach their sales teams on the skills and behaviors needed to reach multiple decision makers—at the right time and with the right approach—to meet targets and close opportunities in the sales funnel. In this video blog, Richardson CEO Dave DiStefano in an interview with Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO of Selling Power, shares some of his ideas he’ll be presenting about creating a transformational sales process at the Sales 2.0 Conference on March 10, 2014, at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia.
Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson reviews the importance of not just “presenting” insights, but actually communicating insights during the sales conversation.
Video Blog from Richardson’s CEO David DiStefano, Sales Transformation: Can you take Control of a Customer Conversation?
Achieve Stronger Sales Results Through Better Preparation
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin, Scientist, Inventor, Statesman
It’s early January and many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. If there’s room for one more on your list, I encourage you to add this one: Preparation.
Anyone who has painted a room knows the importance of properly preparing before painting. Proper preparation generally takes more time than painting itself and can be tedious, which is why many choose to skip or cut short this step in favor of “just getting on with it.” A true professional might get away with less prep than the average person, but a sloppy job is a constant reminder that cutting corners rarely pays. Doing the job right from the start requires a good plan, patience, and discipline. The resulting satisfaction from a job well done likely includes the realization of how important those preparation steps were to the process.
In sales, the need to prepare is no different. Even the greenest sales rookie knows to take time to prepare before a sales meeting or call. But what’s the proper way to prepare? What boxes should you check before proceeding?
We take preparation very seriously and categorize it into three groups: strategic, client, and technical. Here are a few ways you should prepare when going after new targets:
Look at the big picture. Where are you in » Continue Reading.
Maintaining the Sales Machine
In their November 2013 Harvard Business Review article Dismantling the Sales Machine Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman of the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) assert that “Leaders must abandon their fixation on (sales) process compliance.” In place of “disciplined sales process” they favor a flexible approach to sales in which salespeople rely on their own insight and judgment. That they find sales process discipline and a sales force capable of insight and judgment incompatible seems untenable.
There are critical gaps in your business that prevent sales effectiveness. If these go unresolved, you’ll continue to struggle to hit your numbers. In part two of Five Gaps That Impact Sales Effectiveness and How to Fix Them, we will finish reviewing the list of gaps and recommended fixes.
In 2014, how will you better enable and support your sales force? It makes sense to consider your Sales Performance Value Chain!
In this video blog post, Richardson’s CEO, David DiStefano, discusses which resources sales reps should be leveraging to successfully navigate resistance from a client.
In today’s video blog, David DiStefano, President and CEO of Richardson, shares some of his best executive practices for participating in and improving the environment of negotiations.
In today’s video blog, Richardson’s Andrea Grodnitzky, Senior Vice President, Global Performance Solutions, discusses what is preventing organizations from fully adopting coaching as a universal skill.
The purpose of this post is to share my perspective, as a facilitator and former sales leader, on three common mistakes to avoid and five best practices to leverage as a sales manager in supporting a successful workshop that will drive sales training ROI.
There’s not just one big gap that impacts your sales effectiveness. In fact, there are several gaps (or chasms, depending on the severity) that get in the way of achieving peak sales performance. Failing to close these gaps prevents salesforces from achieving their optimal success. The most forward-thinking organizations address this situation by establishing a sales enablement strategy — a dynamic and long‐term initiative that provides the thinking and the tools to engage sales reps, sway buyers, and inform marketers. It’s all about smarter selling that transforms sales execution into a repeatable, results‐oriented process that ultimately creates optimal alignment between your salesforce and your customers’ buying processes.
Leveraging insight in sales calls is a very popular strategy in this age of the empowered customer. Our clients often ask us when in the sales conversation their sellers should lead with insight versus lead with questions. The simple answer to this question is, “It depends.” I’ll provide some further guidance in this post, but I suggest you start by downloading our Sales Insight Call Strategy Checklist and share it with your sales reps.
Richardson Sales Excellence Review Nominated for Top Sales Blog
Richardson is honored to announce that we have been nominated for two Top Sales World Awards… and we need your vote! The annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards contest recognizes “the heroes” of the sales and marketing space; to laud those companies and individuals who have gone that extra mile; who have been unafraid to challenge paradigms; who have had the courage to pioneer, when others remained wedded to the status quo. This year Richardson was recognized in the following categories. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take a few seconds to vote for us by clicking on the links below.
Complimentary Webinar – Gamification and Mobile Reinforcement: Making Sales Training Sticky
Richardson and Qstream are offering a complimentary webinar to introduce our groundbreaking technology from Harvard Medical School that helps sales reps remember complex processes and facts. This technology leverages mobile and social gaming to drive adoption and motivation, and extends learning from weeks to years while maximizing your return on investment.
Join us on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:00 PM EST for the latest webinar in Richardson’s eCoffeebreak series: Gamification and Mobile Reinforcement: Making Sales Training Sticky.
Richardson » Continue Reading.
Learning by Doing: the Magic Behind the Richardson Experience
Salespeople and managers who go through a Richardson program often comment that it is different from any other training that they have ever experienced. We pride ourselves in being experts in adult learning, in addition to being technical experts in sales process and dialogue. For participants, it is a transformational experience in their careers. Together we roll up our sleeves, work incredibly hard, get broken down (a bit) and put back together, and leave with a very different mindset and skill set than when they entered.
Liar Liar – Take care when you hire!
Many of our clients are in the final stages of wrapping-up their strategic planning for 2014 and setting their sights on execution. For most organizations, hitting growth targets will require hiring more sales people and replacing underperformers with those with the potential to hit the number.
Landing New Logos: Small Improvements to Make a Big Difference in 2014
How many new logo accounts do you need to land in 2014, how much will you to invest to achieve your objectives, and what can you do to get more bang for your buck?
Landing new logo accounts is essential to the health of any business. As hard as we try to maximize the potential of existing accounts, there will be some natural attrition over time as personnel and priorities change. New logos help build your base of accounts to expand, and landing new logos is an indicator of your relevance in the market and your ability to compete.
Learning and Development Leaders: Welcome to Your New Job in Sales
Sales? Learning and development professionals… in Sales? Perhaps frightening to some, but there’s some truth to it.
While it’s tempting to defer to the hyperbole that “we’re all in sales,” meaning that we all represent our companies and are responsible for growing them, that’s not what I mean. I’m also not just referring to those in sales training roles. I’m talking about the “Dan Pink” version of “we’re all in sales,” from his book “To Sell is Human,” meaning, that we’re constantly selling ideas and influencing, persuading, and convincing others (especially our colleagues and organizational leaders), to do what we think is best. (We diverge from Pink’s opinion somewhat, because unless you’re a sales professional with a quota, a pipeline, and likely a good portion of your income at risk based on your performance, it is NOT the same, but Pink is certainly correct that many of the dialogue, communication, and influence skills are the same.)
Connecting Dots in the Sales Performance Ecosystem
We’ve written a few times about the Sales Performance Ecosystem. It can be a daunting concept. While many people can relate to what’s included, either the sections or individual elements, how to actually intertwine and align the elements (or “connect the dots”) is often less clear.
Lead Nurturing and Prospecting emails that Make Me Scratch My Head and Go Hmmm….
It seems I hit a nerve with my blog post Is Email on Life Support as a Sales Effectiveness Tool. It has become one of our most popular, and it continues to generate conversation and discussion on social media.
As sales and marketing professionals, we have seen the declining effectiveness of email for prospecting, lead generation, and lead nurturing. Yet, it remains a necessary tool in our arsenal.
Creating the Skill and the Will to Unlock Sales Manager Coaching Power
Sales managers are the force multipliers of productivity and key players for supporting change in your frontline sales force. Research from the Corporate Executive Board indicates that when training is complemented by in-field coaching and reinforcement, productivity is quadrupled from 22% to 88%. However, many sales managers are promoted based on their ability to sell, and the characteristics that contribute to a sales manager’s success as an individual contributor run counter to their role as a developer of others. Some sales managers lack coaching know-how and skill, while others don’t make time to coach.
Customized Sales Training: Why It’s Important and How We Do It
About a year ago, we published the results of a survey that found that customization increases the odds of a sales training initiative being effective. This reconfirmed what we’ve believed for years and how we work with clients. But, some buyers push back on customization, hoping to take a cheaper and easier path to success. With this in mind, here’s a primer on why customized sales training is so important and how we do it.
Why does customization make for a better sales training program?
Clients often come to us with a particular business objective that they want to achieve, such as accelerating organic growth or growing market share. Changing behavior is one of the paths to achieving that business objective. To change behavior requires people to break old habits and learn the behavior.
We find that in order to really learn new behaviors and change old behaviors, you have to practice. It is best to practice in as real-world a situation as possible so that sales reps see clearly how the training is directly applicable to them. The training must be relevant and challenging, and this is why customization is so important.
Think about learning a new skill. It is a leap to learn a new skill and apply it back to the real world. You have to build that bridge for your sales reps by » Continue Reading.
5 Strategic Applications of Richardson’s Selling with Insights ®
Since launching Richardson’s Selling with Insights® program just over a year ago, we’ve seen incredible excitement and uptake from our clients, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. Selling in this era of an ultra-prepared buyer requires a seller to be even more skillful and prepared than ever. While interpersonal, communication, and consultative selling skills are still relevant and important, sellers need new skills to share value-creating ideas that shape and create opportunities with buyers. Sellers also need insightful content to share, which requires even greater alignment between the sales organization and other functions that may be the keepers of subject matter expertise, such as R&D, Product Management, and Marketing.
Selling With Insights: When is the Best Time to Provide insight?
Insights can be provided through any phase of the sales process. Today, selling with insights is about the value you are able to bring to your client or customer through the solutions you offer. Your sales team members need to become a source of ideas and insights for their customers to add value while building credibility and awareness of how they can help. In this video blog, Richardson’s Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer, talks about some of the best times to provide insight and how to do so when that moment presents itself.
Dialogue: The Oldest New Killer Sales Skill
The World of Buying and Selling Has Changed
Few people disagree that professional selling has changed. The internet has disrupted standard selling approaches because it has changed buying behavior. Request for Proposals (RFPs) are more frequent, as buyers do their own research and engage suppliers much later in the buying process. Buyers attempt to drive us toward commoditization while sellers strive to differentiate. With closer budget scrutiny, senior executives and procurement professionals are more involved and the number of decision makers has increased.
Social Selling: A Few LinkedIn Best Practices
Over the last few years, LinkedIn has rapidly evolved beyond a professional social networking site. Today, the LinkedIn network is becoming the hub of social selling. It allows members to leverage relationships with clients, participate in customized groups, and collaborate with your marketing team. Join us as Jim Brodo, Senior Vice President, Marketing, offers his executive tips for getting the most out of your LinkedIn membership and how to your social selling efforts.
Objection Resolution Model: Why is it Important?
For many salespeople, objections are the toughest obstacle they face in making a sale. Today, it is crucial for sales reps to be able to handle and recover from objections because they are unavoidable. Join us for this video blog post as Andrea Grodnitzky, Senior Vice President, Global Performance Solutions, discusses the purpose of Richardson’s Objection Resolution Model and its ability to establish credibility for a sales rep who can consultatively deal with resistance from a prospect or client.
Does it make sense for HR or Learning and Development to own Sales Training?
Professionals in Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development have tremendous expertise and can be extremely valuable to organizations. However, we believe that neither HR nor Learning and Development should own sales training. That may have made sense in the past, but it no longer fits today’s business environment.
Lead Nurturing and Marketing Automation: Make Messaging More Personal?
Behind the scenes, marketing is tracking campaigns and sending leads to sales reps, but sales could lose good opportunities if they don’t make a personal connection. In this video, Jim Brodo, Senior Vice President, Marketing, builds on his earlier blog post, Some Do’s and Don’ts for Better Lead Nurturing and Follow Up, to further discuss the impact of marketing automation on the ability of reps to effectively nurture leads with a more personalized message. Please join him for this short video blog post.
How do you support the transition of a high performing sales rep to a sales manager?
In this video blog, Richardson’s Andrea Grodnitzky, Senior Vice President, Global Performance Solutions, explains the first steps to transitioning from sales rep to sales manager: letting go. Andrea also discusses the responsibilities that new sales managers must create time for, including reporting, coaching, and planning.
Richardson and its Clients Honored with Eight Brandon Hall Group Excellence Award
We are very excited to announce that Richardson and some of our clients were recently recognized with eight Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards. The Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards recognize excellence in learning, talent management, and marketing and sales training programs. The Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards were announced on September 26, 2013, and included the following for Richardson:
Video Blog – Custom Sales Training: Why is it Important?
Changing behavior within an organization is a continuous learning process that requires alignment and support for the sales reps. In order to sustain the change, sales leaders must build a bridge for reps to learn the new skills and behaviors. In this video, Andrea Grodnitzky, Senior Vice President, of Richardson’s Global Performance Solutions, offers advice about the importance of developing custom sales training and how to leverage it to help sales reps learn, practice, and apply changing behaviors within an organization.
Sales Training Programs: Mission Impossible or Mission Accomplished?
Let’s face it. For learning and development leaders without a sales background, being assigned to develop sales training programs can feel like the kiss of death. Even for seasoned sales training leaders, it isn’t a walk in the park.
Why New Client Acquisition is a Lot like Flounder Fishing
This past summer, I spent some time fishing for flounder. While I was moderately successful, I still had plenty of time to think about the similarities between flounder fishing and new client acquisition. Consider the ways in which both work.
Would Your Sales Training Earn Your Customer’s Seal of Approval?
The Customer is King
This is still true, right? The phrase seems less than politically correct these days (with “king” versus “queen” or “royalty”), but if you conduct an internet search for “the customer is king,” you’ll find over 201 million returns in about 0.62 seconds. It’s still a popular phrase.
I don’t find myself quoting the Urban Dictionary much in my business life, but I have to admit, I peeked at their search return
Richardson Wins Two Stevie® Awards for Management & New Product Categories in the 2013 American Business Awards
Richardson is very excited to announce that we were presented with two Stevie Awards at the Stevie Award ceremonies in San Francisco, on September 16th, 2013.
Richardson’s President and CEO, David DiStefano, was awarded with a Gold Stevie Award for Upstart Company of the Year. Mr. DiStefano was recognized for his ground-breaking organizational achievements, helping lead Richardson to record growth in 2012. Among the many drivers for Richardson’s improved performance were new organizational roles, a three-year internal culture initiative, expansion into new territories including China, and the additions of new sales training and enablement services Collaborative Account Development™, Selling with Insights™, Richardson Quick Check™, and Change Leadership™ programs.
September Richy - Can a Sales Gamification Tool Drive Sales Team Engagement and Better Sales Results from Sales Contests?
It’s the start of a new football season and for millions of people there is a huge focus on Fantasy Football. For Adam Hollander, CEO of a new company, FantasySalesTeam, he is not only managing his Fantasy Football team, but helping clients manage their Fantasy Sales Team through his new sales gamification and sales enablement tool, FantasySalesTeam (FST), the winner of my September Richy.
Adapted from interview with Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson and Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for Brandon Hall Group
Part three of our series on applying key practices in learning and development to sales training.
Just like people and snowflakes, no two companies are alike. And by extension, no sales organization is identical. And before you ask, there is no magic bullet formula to set your sales organization on the right path or cure all ills. There are too many variables, both internal and external, to be considered.
So when asking the question, “What drives sales teams to perform?” you can certainly expect different answers, or at least differing priorities, among a range of responses. However, there are best practices and principles to guide you on your way towards improving your salesforce. Following is a list of our top 10 areas that contribute to driving – and if done poorly, draining – sales performance.
Is Email on Life support as a Sales Effectiveness Tool?
A few months ago, I did a blog post on the Top Ten Disruptive Sales Technologies. I did not include email because it was pretty much a given, considering its serious blow to postal mail and phone tag. But it’s worth considering the question: Has the influx of new and more personal technologies put email on life support as a sales effectiveness tool?
Let’s look at two examples that suggest email may be on the way out for developing new clients and building relationships with existing clients.
Coaching for Sales Teams: Less Superman, More Clark Kent
You know the picture … mild-mannered sales manager has one-on-one meeting with ordinary sales citizen, they discuss an issue, and WHAM, the sales manager makes a beeline to the phone booth (yes, they still exist) and out comes Superman or Wonder Woman, complete with red cape. Faster than a speeding sales cycle, more powerful than a strong quarter, and able to leap tall pipelines in a single bound. In their rush to rescue Metropolis, however, they may not realize that this method of coaching for sales teams is the kryptonite to their team’s performance.
What Is the Role of Technology in Sales Training Solutions?
Adapted from interview with Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson and Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for Brandon Hall Group
Part two our series on applying key practices in learning and development to sales training solutions.
It is fascinating to witness the innovation that is taking place across sales and marketing. And we are seeing opportunities to leverage technology throughout the learning process. When trying to improve the effectiveness of your sales training solutions, you must consider how technology can help your efforts.
7 Essential Ingredients in Creating Effective Sales Training for Sales Teams
Adapted from an interview with Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson and Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for Brandon Hall Group
Part one our series on applying key practices in learning and development to effective sales training
Listing ingredients implies that they are part of a recipe, which of course can be literal or figurative. Without wasting time on prologues and previews, we know you’re hungry to learn about the 7 essential ingredients in effective sales training programs. The ingredients can be easily categorized by pre-training, the training itself, and post-training.
Video Blog – Selling with Insights: How Specific Should Insights Be?
We are living in an age where we are overloaded with information. It is now no longer good enough for a salesperson to simply forward on a whitepaper or piece of data. Please join Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer of Richardson, in this short video clip as he walks us through the process and importance of aligning specific insights to your customer’s challenges. This is a third in a series including: Selling With Insights: How can sales provide more value to clients? and Selling With Insights: What are the barriers to Selling With Insights?
How to Fix Common Problems with Sales Training Transfer
I find it interesting that so many in our profession (and our company leaders) want to talk about how to determine sales training ROI (or Return on Expectations), but don’t want to focus on how to get the learning from courses actually used in the workplace. To me, that’s like wanting to determine the effects of fire on wood and putting your wood in sunlight, hoping it bursts into flames so you can study it. It’s folly. Without transfer, you won’t impact business outcomes and you won’t deliver a return, however you measure it.
Focus on Your Average and Bottom Performers to Improve Sales Performance
Yeah, I know. Based on the title, you’re already shaking your head, wondering if I’ve finally lost my marbles. Hang with me… I’m pretty sure you’ll see what I mean.
In an earlier post entitled “Which Top Producers Should You Study to Develop Sales Training Programs?”, I introduced a sales analytics approach that I’ve use for analyzing top producers and placing the sales organization into six major bands.
Selling With Insights: What are the Barriers to Selling With Insights?
In our last blog, How Can Sales Provide More Value to Clients, we discussed how sales provide more value to clients through insight selling. But what are the barriers to Selling With Insights? There are several barriers that sales reps encounter when trying to Sell With Insights to their clients, including finding the most relevant insight for the customer. In his video blog, What are the Barriers to Selling With Insights, Dario Priolo, Chief Strategy Officer, discusses what is required of sales and marketing teams to bring value to the buyer from Selling With Insights.
The Trust Equation – Four Essential Factors for Building Trust with Sophisticated Buyers Part 2
In Part 1 of Four Essential Factors for Building Trust with Sophisticated Buyers, I suggested that even though trust-based selling is far from formulaic, it helps to approach it with a formula in your back pocket: the trust equation.
Sales Transformation – No Guts, No Glory
I read somewhere recently that organizations should consider very carefully whether to undertake a full-blown sales transformation initiative, because of the time, effort and cost involved.
Really? Whatev! (Sorry, I live with teenagers.)
Yes, perhaps if your basic strategy or business model is flawed, your product has serious quality or value-delivery issues, your service delivery destroys customer loyalty, or your costs or pricing/profitability are grossly out of line, you might plug another hole first, while bailing water.
But before long, you need to address revenue, profit and growth. No organization has ever cut their way to the top. Sales remains the lifeblood of organizational success. As the old adage goes, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” I simply have a hard time imagining a more worthy corporate endeavor than transforming your sales force into a more effective, well-oiled machine.
And I’m not talking about 3 or 5 percent incremental improvements, either.
Aim Low, Hit Low
You’ve probably heard the quote that we use only a small portion of our brain’s potential capability, right? I’d argue that generally-speaking, we’re in the same boat with our sales effectiveness.
Perhaps you’re thinking that so many organizations are already doing extraordinarily well at growing sales year-over-year, that sales transformations aren’t necessary? I do know this is true in some specific cases. Some organizations are doing quite well; have already taken a logical, organized, piece-by-piece, evidence-based » Continue Reading.
12 Business Needs for Customized Sales Training
In my role, I spend a lot of time surveying the sales effectiveness market, interviewing buyers, and examining and articulating the need for organizations to customize sales training. We believe that customized sales training that leverages a company’s unique strengths combined with leadership that is ready, able, and willing to support and sustain change are the essential elements for improving sales performance. This is our core business, and we want to continue to excel at it for our clients and partners. Consider our approach:
Step Right Up: How L&D Professionals Can Help Sales Managers Sustain Change Post Training
Learning and Development must help sales managers to guide their sales reps after the training in order to sustain the changes introduced. Some sales managers may not be used to coaching and may need guidance themselves. Consider the following:
After Sales Training: Question, Observe, and Reinforce
In the first two posts of this series, I talked about what sales managers should do before training programs to support strategic change and during those programs to ensure that sales reps derive the greatest benefit. Where should sales managers focus once the training is over and sales reps are back to work?
How to Prevent Your Front Line Sales Managers from Inadvertently Sabotaging a Sales Training Event
Sales training programs to support strategic change initiatives should be approached with the weight and attention they deserve. If this sales training is essential to getting your reps on board and in line with the new way of doing things, then do all you can to ensure its success.
The first post in this series discussed what sales managers should do before a sales training program for their sales reps takes place. If there’s one theme for the pre-training activities, that would be communication. Sales managers need to convey to their reps why the training is important and how it will impact their jobs and remind them of what needs to be done in advance of the training in order to make the most of the time spent.
Sales Training Without Sustainment Is a Wasted Investment
When sales training is treated as a one-time event, participants have been shown to lose up to 87% of skill and knowledge within four weeks. This “brain drain” needs to be dramatically reduced and significantly reversed in order for companies to optimize their investment in behavior change.
4 Ways Sales Leaders can Better Leverage L&D Teams to Execute Strategic Initiatives
Working in harmony will almost always yield better results than constantly working at odds. Everyone can agree that Sales and Marketing are at their best when they work together, hand-in-glove style. Leaders of both business units are on the same page, working toward the same goals and on the same timeline. Conversely, when the relationship is contentious, there’s a lack of faith and respect toward each other, which is bound to yield subpar results that not only do each unit a disservice but the organization as well.
6 Steps to Enable Your Sales Team to Sell with Insight
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it should come as no surprise to you that buyer behavior has changed dramatically. I’ve come across a number of well-written research documents, such as Base One’s “2012 Buyersphere” report and Forbes Insight’s “The Rise of the Digital C-Suite” study, that highlight how this is playing out in the marketplace. Simply put, buyers are more educated, better prepared, and further along in their buying process when they engage sellers.
Dear Challenger: Sincerely yours, Willy Loman
In their article, The End of the Solution Sale, Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and Nicholas Toman explain that there is no longer a need for salespeople to uncover customers’ needs because customers define solutions for themselves. They propose that salespeople “altogether change how they sell;” for example, deliver a teaching pitch that enlightens customers and tells them what they need and what they should do. The authors assure us with their research that this is how the new breed of successful salespeople win.
Solving “The Forgetting Curve” to Help You Execute Your Sales Strategy - Two powerful lessons in learning from the medical profession
Helping sales reps to recall and apply knowledge and skills would not only increase their effectiveness on the job, but also improve the ROI of your investment in training. To solve this issue, Richardson has partnered with Qstream to provide QuickCheck™.
Using a patent developed at Harvard Medical School, Qstream’s solution helps clients’ sales reps and other employees who go through training to retain what they’ve learned over a longer period of time through a series of weekly short quizzes that continue to jog the memories of the trainees and help them recall the necessary details when the time comes.
Lessons from the Gridiron: Do You Have the Right People to Execute Your New Sales Strategy?
After attending the recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, it was clear to me that there is no shortage of ideas and technologies for developing revolutionary sales strategies. Yet executing your sales strategy will be nearly impossible if there’s a big disconnect between the people you need to execute and the people you have today. Remember, you have to sustain performance today while you transform for tomorrow. You can only disrupt your organization so much in the process.
5 Commonly Overlooked Activities in Sales Effectiveness Budgeting
In case you haven’t noticed, summer vacation season has ended, football is back, and we’re all focused on closing our year out strong. Believe it or not, in a few weeks, we’ll be head down budgeting for 2013, trying to figure out our priorities and the investment required to deliver on these important initiatives. Although budgets are never set in stone and will ebb and flow over the year, it behooves us to cover our bases so that we don’t miss anything substantial.
I recently read a white paper by a competitor that I’ve long known and long respected. The paper reflected the influence of The Challenger Sale on this company’s sales methodology. The concept of “Challenger” has captured the interest of the mainstream press and social media and sounds appealing to many sales leaders who are looking for new ways to drive business in a slow growth economy. Several voices in our industry have argued against Challenger. My initial reaction was to recognize it as an approach that I didn’t buy into — live and let live. But the interest in Challenger that I have seen has spurred me to add my voice.
Content Marketing and Insight Selling - Companies Need to Become a Source of Ideas and Insights for their Customers to Add Value
Buyer behavior has changed, fueled not only by the economy but also the ever-available and increasing sophistication of online marketing and social media. Our clients recognize this and agree that they need to do something about it or risk not being heard by their customers.