What Should Salespeople Be Doing With Social Media

David Brock reminds us that social media is changing the way our customers buy and the way in which we engage our customers.  Before customers even see us for the first time, they have a great deal of information—not necessarily knowledge—about our company, our products, and our competition.  He is often asked, “How should sales professionals be engaging in social media?”

The short answer is, “I’m not sure”—but every sales person must be gaining familiarity and leveraging social media.  Social media and social selling is changing everything we do, the pace varies by industry, but every sales person must get familiar with how the world of engaging customers is changing.

The most powerful way sales people can be using social media is to listen—listen to the market, listen to customers, listen to competition, even listen to their own company…

Mapping out the b-to-b sales territory

For related stories on b-to-b sales and marketing trends, visit Follow the Lead on a regular basis.

When it comes to managing the sales territory, some b-to-b organizations are better than others, said Lee Salz, president of Sales Architects. Forward-thinking companies tend to provide their sales reps with specific characteristics of their ideal client and how to get the most out of existing accounts with regard to upselling and cross-selling.
Then there are those managers who give sales reps “a piece of land or a vertical, and say. ‘Go sell,’” Salz said. This approach may work for some reps, but in today’s hyper-competitive sales environment – with budgets increasingly finite – sales people need guidance to help them pursue the right opportunities at the right time.
“Territory management is a synonym for time management,” Salz added. “Time is a sales person’s most precious resource. Rather than take a shotgun approach and pursue every account, the best approach is the sharpshooter approach where you focus on your target and develop a strategy for pursuit.” Salz shared a few tips on how sales reps can be more strategic with their territory, which, in turn, should save precious time.
• Create a detailed profile of the ideal client, such as size of the prospect, purchasing circumstance, buying style, etc. “If you don’t have an ideal client profile you end up chasing the wrong opportunities,” Salz said.
• Identify opportunities in your client profile that best match the profile. It’s crucial for sellers “to look in their own backyard” at existing customers for upsell and cross-selling opportunities.” When a complete solution has not been sold, not only is revenue lost, but also you are exposed to a competitor that positions the comprehensive offering.
• Craft a needs analysis process that is designed to separate prospects from suspects. The goal is to identify synergies between the ideal client profile and the suspect, with the goal of creating a prospect. Here are some baseline questions to consider during needs analysis:

  • Do they have a budget in place for your offering?
  • Are they under contract for an extended period of time?
  • Is this person the right prospect to engage to begin the process?
  • What are the identified challenges that are being experienced?
  • Do you have a solution that better meets their needs?

What Happens if I Embellish My Salary History?

By Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder.com WriterOriginal post

Talking about how much you earn is kind of like talking about how much you weigh. Both are uncomfortable subjects, so you might not always be 100 percent honest about either.  (Who hasn’t shaved 10 pounds off their physique or upped their salary by a few thousand dollars when hanging with their rich and skinny friends?) Most of the time, these little white lies are no big deal — it’s not as if your friends are going to ask you get on a scale to verify your  weight.

However, while telling an occasional fib in daily conversation may be a minor offense, lying about your salary history on a job application can be a serious transgression.

“Unlike many soft skills, salaries are finite, concrete numbers that can be verified through things like a W2, 1099 [or] tax return,” says Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager for Grant Thornton, a management consulting firm. That means that if you lie about your salary history on your résumé, there’s a good chance that your potential employer will find out. “If someone goes to extremes to embellish a salary prior to getting the job, one has to ask, ‘What will they embellish when they are actually performing the job?’” Peterson  says.

Though it’s true that not all employers conduct background checks or delve as deep as checking a candidate’s W2 forms, salary information can easily be verified through your references — which most employers do check.

“Salary is one of the very few things that former employers are often willing to reveal in a reference check,” says Barry Maher, author of “Filling the Glass: The Skeptic’s Guide to Positive Thinking in Business.” “Even if they won’t give the exact amount, a question like, ‘If I placed his salary range with you in the area of $100,000 would I be in the ballpark?’ usually yields the information.”

Bottom line? “Lying about anything as part of a job search strategy is not a good idea,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners, a recruitment firm. “Starting a relationship with a company based on false pretenses may not hurt you in the short term, but chances are you will be exposed.”

Yet what about job seekers who think they were underpaid at their last job? Should they continue to settle for less money than they think they’re worth, just to avoid embellishing their salary history?

Not necessarily, say our experts. There are plenty of ways to get the salary you deserve without lying on a job application.

Here, they offer three ways to broach the subject of salary increase with a potential employer:

1. “If you’re looking to make a significant jump in salary, my advice to people is to convince the potential employer why you are worth what you are seeking and, where possible, quantify that number,” Peterson says.

2. “It’s perfectly acceptable to say something like ‘I’m making $80,000 now. And though my present employer would certainly agree that I’m worth more, the simple fact is …’  then give the reason, [whether it be] a salary freeze, budget constraints, tough times in that industry, whatever.  [Then continue with] ‘Since the industry standard for someone with my skills and experience is $120,000, that’s one of the reasons I’m looking to move on,’” Maher says.

3. “When you are asked about compensation, you can say: ‘I was making in the mid-$70s, which included a 20 percent performance bonus, which I always got, and a very comprehensive benefits package.’ Then ask, ‘What is the compensation range for this position?’ Using this technique allows you flexibility and gets the employer to share compensation data. Be prepared to negotiate only after an offer has been made,” Varelas advises.

Top 20 Requirements – How Salespeople Can be Better at Closing

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and highly regarded sales development expert.

If you were to ask most executives for one thing that they would like their sales force to do better, you would likely get one of two answers:
1. Close
2. Prospect
Nothing wrong with those two choices – or is there?

While salespeople can get better at closing, closing is an outcome, and with the exception of real estate and banking, not really an event. When we evaluate sales forces and look at their ability to close, they may possess some of the strengths and skills that are part of the Sales Core Competency called Closing, but  most of those attributes are used prior to, not during, closing time. The ability to close depends on the following 20 variables (in no particular order) that a salesperson brings to the table – or not…

Selling a Pen (and Yourself) in an Interview: Outdated Tactic or Timeless Question?

A question was raised in one of my LinkedIn groups recently that got me and other members thinking about the tactics used by hiring managers during the interview process. The question: If you were interviewing for a sales job and the sales manager said “sell me this pen,” how would you respond?

The feedback from the group was varied. Some offered recommended responses to the actual question. Others thought it was a good question. Still others were indignant that such a question would be asked by today’s interviewers.

For my part, I am on the side of the detractors. This is a question I would never ask when screening candidates. In fact, if a client indicates to me that they want this question asked, I would push back to find out what they hope to determine by doing so. Nine times out of 10, they want to hear the candidate’s response – not gain a better understanding of skills and selling abilities.

To ascertain that, a more effective approach is a request: “Walk me through the steps you would take to sell our product.”

However, more than one respondent disagreed with me. Many felt that this simple question separates candidates into two groups: Those who do nothing but blindly pitch and those who take the time to understand their prospect’s buying motives so they can properly qualify and direct the sales process.

“This is one of the most basic of interview questions for sales reps, and the answer reveals so much about your previous training, your understanding of the sales process, and ultimately about what kind of sales rep you are,” said one respondent.

Conversely, many were appalled by the idea of asking such a question for multiple reasons. Noted one respondent: “I would be taken back by that request. It is a red flag, old school and shows the inexperience of the interviewer…Furthermore I would want to end the interview as politely and tactfully as possible.”

To me, asking candidates to sell a pen is similar to wearing a clown suit during an interview to see if they can keep a straight face in front of a client or prospect. It’s a setup rather than a true evaluation of skills, especially since the days of hardcore, transactional “burn and churn” selling are long gone.

7 Keys to Opening the Conversion Door – By Donnie Bryant

1) Exhibit genuine interest in finding out and understanding your prospect’s inner motivations. This isn’t manipulation. Let him know that you’re working to find out what he wants and needs.

2) Establish trust. When working on the first step, your prospect will begin to notice something unique about you. You’re not trying to “technique” him. You truly want to help. Trust begins to develop naturally.

3) Apply your product/service to the point where it meets your prospect’s needs and desires. Never try to fight his inner motivations. Your reasons for selling are often different from the reasons he’s buying. But who’s holding the credit card?

4) Appeal to the emotions behind those motivators you’ve discovered. Again, this is not manipulation. As sophisticated as we modern folk are, making a purchase is still a visceral experience. Just ask anyone who believes in “retail therapy.”

5) Give “reasons why.” Help him explain his irrational decision-making process with rational reasons why he’s making an intelligent choice. He has to be able to explain the purchase to his wife when he gets home…

6) Maintain credibility. At this point, he’s selling himself. It is essential to maintain integrity throughout your interaction. Don’t give any reason for him to doubt your intentions. Your intentions are honest, right?

7) Let the decision be his. Perhaps Jeffery Gittomer said it best: “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.” Pressure tactics are destructive more often than they are helpful, especially when you’d like to build an on-going relationship.

  • Many salespeople were trained to look at selling as a battle. Salesman versus potential customer. There really is a better way. Once you understand how conversion takes place in the mind of a prospect, you’ll see that working together is the easiest, most profitable and most rewarding way to sell.
  • Your customer needs what you have to offer. Why do you keep bringing weapons (i.e. sales techniques) to convince him?

About the Author:  Donnie Bryant is a copywriter located near Chicago, IL  If you’re looking for someone who can make your web copy more compelling, Donnie can be reached at DonnieBryant.com

How To Reduce Stress At Work To Increase Your Sales Results

Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life. ~Terri Guillemets
Post written by Jeremy J. Ulmer.

  • Identify Your Work Stress. Before you can eliminate or reduce stress, you must know what you are dealing with. Write down all the stresses that you deal with on a daily and weekly basis. Then create a top 10 list of all the things that cause you stress and determine which items you can eliminate from your list.
  • Shorten Your Scheduled Meetings. Consider cutting many of your 60 minute meetings to 30 minutes and your 30 minute meetings to 15. With a shorter time frame to work in, you will be forced to be more productive. 
  • Stop Procrastinating. Allowing work to pile up will stress you out. Plan time to get things done and off your desk. 
  • Get Organized. Disorganization can cause a significant amount of workplace stress. Block time to get things organized.
  • Always Be On Time. Being late will cause a lot of stress at work or in your life. Learn the habit of being early, and this type of stress will disappear. 
  • Stop Trying To Control Everything. Trying to control situations and people does not work. In fact, when we are in the state of trying to control, it just creates more stress at work and in our lives. Learn to let go of situations that are out of your control. The only thing you can control is yourself.
  • Stop Multitasking. Doing multiple tasks at the same time might seem productive, but in reality it slows us down from completing tasks, reduces the quality of work, and creates stress. Learn to single-task and get more done. 
  • Cut Out Negative People. You know who they are. They can drag you down and create more stress. Surround yourself with other positive minded people and you will feel less stress. 
  • Simplify Your Work. Look for ways to make your tasks more streamlined and simple. 
  • Give Back & Help Others. Whether you volunteer for a charity or just make an effort to be more compassionate to those around you, you will notice it lowers your own stress levels. Try it out for a day and see how you feel. 
  • Take Mini Breaks. Studies have show that concentration levels decrease 25 to 30 minutes into a task. If you don’t take any breaks, your focus and productivity will drop. Plan and enjoy mini-breaks during your work day.
  • Exercise! This is hands down #1 in my book and it works like magic. Exercise reduces stress and helps prevent it. Also, a healthier and fitter person is better equipped to handle stress. The key here is to be consistent and make working out a habit, just like brushing your teeth. If this article was helpful for you, please share it below, thank you! Want to take your sales results to the next level? Check out our sales coaching programs, sales seminars, and sales coaching seminars or contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your organization.