Sample Sales Proposal – Inc. Magazine

The Sample Sales Proposal is a comprehensive template used by independent contractors when responding to an RFQ or pitching products. The Sample Sales Proposal includes a description of the company, its projects, an estimate of the deliverables and a quote for the budget, among other vital items. This proposal is downloadable and customizable for your specific usage.

11 Ways To Facilitate A Linkedin Discussion

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that participating in Linkedin discussions is a great visibility strategy for you.

Paul Castain thought it might be helpful to offer you a few guidelines that have served him well.

1)    Don’t Post And Run: By far one of the quickest ways to look like a tool. Call me crazy but I actually have this as one of our rules in my Linkedin group. Aside from bad manners, your discussion has a greater chance of dying and dropping off of page one which doesn’t do much for your visibility huh?

2)    Facilitate Your Discussion: You facilitate a discussion by:

–       Expanding on someone’s thought with a new one of your own.

–       Asking them to expand on their thought.

–       Asking them to give you an example.

–       Asking follow up questions

3)    Circle This One Please: Everyone Has A Story And Wants To Be Heard: So make sure you acknowledge the thoughts of the participants. Want to know a secret? People like to feel good by being acknowledged publicly. That’s how you get more and more people hunting down your discussions because they get to feel good all over again. How cool is that? Answer: Way cool!

4)    Enhance The Rock Stardom Of The Dudes/Dudettes In Your Network: Think about people in your network that have a particular area of expertise that can be invited. In some cases I would even talk them up before they get there. Do this (sincerely please) and you have a network of people who will jump into your discussions at the drop of a hat! Oh, before I forget, we should be doing this on any discussion we come across where we know someone who could add value . . . not just our discussions!

5)    When You Disagree . . . Do It Politely. A simple “Thank you for your input” is a nice neutral way of “not going there girlfriend”. But that’s common sense and everyone understands that in the groups. Right? Common sense is always commonly practiced!

6)    Don’t Let Others Diminish Your Virtual Real Estate: I’ve had only a few situations where I thought someone was going out of there way to be an A Hole. In those cases I brought it to the group manager’s attention so I didn’t have to play “Paul Castain Online Vigilante” Do that, and you become an A-Hole by association.

7)    Thank People: Online and offline. Who doesn’t like a little gratitude in front of thousands of their closest friends?

8)    Don’t Grade The Responses: In my coaching practice I always remind people to never grade the question when handling Q & A. Grading in this context would be if I tell Mary that her answer rocks and meanwhile I go silent on the other 12 responses. Way to tell everyone else they suck! Oh, and can we all stop with the “(fill in the name) nailed it” comments. Do this and you shut a discussion down real quick.

9)    Don’t Disguise A Sales Pitch As A Discussion: I despise this one. If you want a discussion, start a discussion but don’t mislead the participants. And those reply privately messages with the sales pitch is equally annoying. Why would someone come back to participate in your next discussion if you just conditioned them to have their guard up? Think Forrest. Think!

10) Don’t Start A Discussion To Blatantly Posture Yourself: I see this one a lot. The problem with posting a question and then going in to “coach” mode is that most people don’t like it because they didn’t ask for it. Certainly not in front of thousands.  Nuff said!

11) Don’t Over Post: It spreads you out way too thin (especially if you do this over multiple groups). Give your discussions a chance to breathe. I would keep it between 1-2 discussions each week depending on the volume of comments you get. To that end, only post one at a time dude!

Tip: Create a word doc with a list of discussions as you think of them. One way to get ideas is to think about the responses you get during a discussion. You might find a great opportunity for a follow up discussion.
Now get out there and facilitate!

Startup Strategies: Overcome Customers’ Objections

Many sales don’t spend nearly enough time training their staff on “objection handling.” When Mark Suster talks to people about sales, he often describes the process as a series of hurdles that a customer puts up to avoid making a purchase. The sales rep’s responsibility is to work through these common objections with the customer.

Things to Consider Before Cold Calling

By David Tyner

I know that you have sales goals, and that pressure to produce can be overwhelming.  You know what level of person you are looking to reach and have a well designed cold-call script.  Are you missing something, is there more you can do to prepare?

Three Things to consider before cold calling your next prospect are:

What is the worst-case scenario?
What is the best-case scenario?
Are you prepared for both?
The worst-case scenario is the worst possible outcome once you have made contact with a prospect.
Usually, this means that the person tells you (among other things):

a. That they are absolutely not interested (followed by a dreaded sound…click).
b. Don’t call me I’ll call you.
c. That they are too busy right now why don’t you send me some information.

Many times these scenarios are indicative of a death sentence for a sales opportunity, mainly because the sales person is not prepared to transition a rejection to an opportunity.  What are you going to do about it?  Are you going to walk away/give up?  Unfortunately, many sales people do just that.  Yet elite sales professionals will tell you that that many of the high earnings they have enjoyed are tied directly to a sales conversation that began as a “worst case” scenario.  Never say die is a staple attitude in winning the sale.

Instead of cowering under the pressure of rejection, you should institute a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for yourself.  When your prospect takes the least desirable path, simply institute you SOP for that situation, every time it occurs.  As a sales manager, or high performing rep, an SOP is very advantageous.  You have a predictability factor, which is vital to sales success as well as customer satisfaction.  There are sales techniques that will assist in opening locked doors, but these must be done consistently.  If you want a sample of an SOP for this situation, send me an email or Linked in message.

What is the best-case scenario?

It does not happen often, but it does happen.  A prospect tells you:

a.    Sounds like something we have been thinking about what should we do next?
b.    Can you come and meet with us we would like to learn more?
c.    Yes this is perfect, let’s get started.

Ask yourself the following: If a prospect were to have one of the above responses, would I know exactly what to do next, can I paint a clear picture of the path outlined next steps?   Once a prospect has a moment of clarity, and realizes that your solution is the right one, the last thing you want to do is confuse them, because nobody buys confused.  Think of how it makes you feel when you excitedly start out on a road trip, only to realize that you have no idea how to get there.  Now think of your prospect who has just chosen you, I certainly do not want to be the one to let the air out of their tires.  Start to think of how you can combine old world sales skills with new world sales tools.

Ironically, sales people are often better prepared for the rejection scenario than the acceptance scenario.  If your quest is to become or remain an elite sales performer then you should have an SOP for this situation as well.  This SOP will serve as an implementation plan, it should be simple, professional and above all else utilitarian.  It is essential to refine your skills daily to practice and produce more effective sales communication.  Here is an example of best-case scenario response.

Please share any ideas that you have for responses to one of the above scenarios, which have proven successful in your selling process.

The Truth about High Performance Sales Management: It’s Not Just a Numbers Game

By: The Brooks Group

Sales managers are missing opportunities to get results from their sales teams

Sales managers need to be investing significant time in the field, coaching and mentoring their salespeople, not just studying (or creating) Excel spreadsheets.  Unfortunately, many corporate executives have inadvertently turned sales management into a numbers game.  Almost every day, sales managers tell us they have far too much to do, and they believe they’re wasting time on daily tasks that have very little to do with the real job of managing their salespeople.

In most organizations, sales managers face two big (but related) challenges:

1.Sales reps meeting quotas consistently
2.Sales rep productivity (or doing the right daily activities)
There’s a misconception that sales managers can rely on call reports, sales results, or other historical data – end-process measures – to manage their salespeople effectively.  As a result, time in the field suffers.  To be an effective sales coach, you have to rely on in-process measurement, working with your salespeople out in the field, not from behind a desk.  And to get truly impressive results, you must ensure your salespeople are applying best practices on real sales calls and improving their selling abilities with real clients.
Sales management is fundamentally a teaching and coaching job.

There’s more to it, though.  High-performing sales organizations don’t just encourage their sales managers to get out from behind their desks, they have a sales system that allows coaching to occur naturally in the field.  If you have a linked, sequential selling system to follow, you can work with your salespeople to establish performance standards and specific objectives for each step of the sales process.

That way, you have in-process measures that help you determine where, specifically, in each sale your salespeople are winning or losing the deal.  And you have “coachable moments” throughout the sales process, as it unfolds, to guarantee that your salespeople’s classroom training yields significant and consistent positive results (end-process measures).

  • The best sales managers are able to coach their salespeople to use a formal selling system.

When our clients want to make sales training really “stick,” they require not only sales training and coaching for their salespeople, but alsoclassroom training and a multi-week coaching program for their sales managers.  Our clients who follow through with classroom training plus coaching for their sales managers (in addition to training their salespeople) consistently find that their companies see an increase in sales volume and margin.  This success is a direct result of the sales managers’ improved abilities to effectively and efficiently coach their teams in the field.

In contrast, when sales management training is not part of a sales improvement initiative, sales teams often continue to struggle to get results even when sales training has been completed.   Why?  The salespeople aren’t being coached in real time by well-trained managers on a system for sales, so their close rates don’t improve at all.  A lack of in-process measurement and in-the-field coaching results in an end-process lack of sales!

The best sales organizations give sales managers the training, resources, and latitude to work closely with their salespeople in the field.  They implement a logical, systematic sales process within which coaching can occur.  And the most effective sales managers realize that holding their salespeople accountable for in-process activities related to a standardized selling system is far easier and more effective than attempting to coach their sales team after the quarter’s sales data are in.

PART III – GOVERNANCE – For Best-in-Class Organization for Solution and Value Added Providers

Howard Highsmith, CMC is the Founder of B2B Institute.  A Certified Management Consultant; Howard helps organizations operating in complex sales environments achieve their revenue goals.

Note:  This is the last post in the three-part series about three principles that are the imperatives to organizations’ becoming Best-in-Class.  The first post was Organizational Excellence, published 12/17/10 and explores the critical role that business acumen plays through individual sales initiatives and accountability leading to goal attainment.  The second post Managing To Goal, published 1/21/11 is about pipeline management and forecasting using a defined methodology and business model for managing a revenue generation strategy. 

The last in the series Governance is the shortest and in many ways the most critical element in building a best-in-class organization.  In my management consulting practice Governance is a time-driven engagement for proving the model and for participants being held accountable for results – PLEASE READ ON…

Making a commitment to move from a laggard organization to become industry average or to achieve a best-in-class organizational status is not some light switch you just turn on or some best practice solution that you can purchase.  In addition to an all-important executive commitment; it takes a clearly defined revenue generation strategy and it takes an investment in time by all parties, hard work, persistence, working smart, focus and more.  This transition process must include accountability at specific levels of the strategy or you will have simply traded one set of issues for another.  This is frequently the missing link to B2B Revenue Performance.
In sales, most best practice solutions are event driven.  That is to say; an assessment is made, a best practice solution is proposed and if agreed, an implementation takes place.  This process can be defined in weeks of time.  Governance is a time-driven engagement, typically six months, that is founded on three objectives: 1) prove the sustainability of the model, 2) manage the transition process to convert ‘knowing into doing’ and 3) holding persons accountable for attainment of specific elements of the strategy.

“BEST PRACTICE,” the endgame in a complex sales environment?
Over the past several decades ‘Best Practice’ has become the universal term for describing  a solution to buy that will improve performance and more.  Doing business in today’s business to business environment has become too complicated for most single, ‘best practice’ solutions to ensure sustained results.
Best-in-Class organizations must also adopt a Deliberate Practices Regimen that becomes the nucleus of the strategy for doing business in the current on demand era.  In October 2006 Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor-at-large for Fortune Magazine’s Secrets of Greatness wrote a game changing article entitled: WHAT IT TAKES TO BE GREAT.  In his article Colvin states; “Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success.  The secret?  Painful and demanding practice and hard work.”  He goes on to say; “Practice makes perfect – the best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call deliberate practice.  Its activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition, Colvin said.”

We believe Colvin’s assumptions accurately reflect the times we are operating in.  Take a look at professional sports figures and ask yourself if they did only one thing well they could be said to be best in their class.

Good Luck and Good Selling.

Howard Highsmith, CMC
B2B Institute

What Interviewing 31 Sales People Taught Me About “Sales”

Over the past few months Neil Patel has interviewed 31 potential hires for a sales position. He has posted openings on job boards, used recruiters and even tapped into his network. The one thing he quickly realized is that it’s really, really hard to find the right sales person.

Although he hasn’t found the perfect fit yet, luckily interviewing 31 people hasn’t been a complete waste of time since he learned much more about “sales” than he did before.

Here are some of the “ah-ha” moments Neil had over the last few months….