6 Habits of Highly Successful People Using Social Media for Sales

Social media has revolutionized how companies handle sales responsibilities. The traditional approaches to reaching out to new customers have been upended in many ways as business communication becomes increasingly social, with sales teams and social media managers working together in a unit to drive customer adoption.

In light of all these changes, sales representatives are faced with a new set of challenges. They need to maintain visibility, work with new tools, and rethink how to close a deal. It might seem like a lot, but the truth is that the fundamentals are the same even as the technology and culture have changed.

Here are some helpful habits that successful sales representatives can develop to get the most out of social media.

1. Engage Across Teams

Engage Across Teams

Before you reach out to a potential customer, you should reach out within your company. The overlap between social media and sales makes it essential for both teams to coordinate their efforts. A smart sales rep understands how interconnected those jobs are. Engaging and collaborating with the social media team members is a key element to the position, and thus should be a regular part of a sales rep’s activities.

Think about innovative new ways for sales and social media to augment each other. Since social media is still changing, there’s lots of room for creative approaches that can generate success in new ways.

2. Profile Upkeep

Profile Upkeep
A sales leader should present a professional face for the company he or she is representing. Since itmay be a work requirement to have a presence on social media, a wise approach is to maintain two separate profiles; one solely for sales duties and one for personal use. That will let you show that official side to the public while placing your personal life under whatever level of privacy you want.

A smart sales rep will also be sure to include a disclaimer in the bio of his or her personal social media accounts. Anything to the effect of “All opinions are my own” should help protect against most legal complications. Maintaining some level of professional conduct on your personal site is still important —since you may be in the public eye with both accounts.

3. Continually Build New Connections

Continually Build New Connections

Part of being a successful member of the social media community is building relationships with new people without making them feel like pawns in your mission to close a sale. Outreach may officially be a job for the social media team, but you should still be on the lookout for people to join your audience.

The focus should not be to push for a large number of followers who could be potential customers. Reach out to people who seem like a good match for your company’s goods or services. Target your sales initiatives toward a receptive audience. You’ll have a better chance of success without alienating large portions of your followers who aren’t interested in what you have to say.

4. Don’t Just Sell Products

Don't Just Sell Products

Your audience doesn’t usually enter into a social media network with the aim of becoming a customer. People most frequently join those channels for personal reasons, so they probably will not take kindly to direct sales pitches. Social media sales requires a different approach that doesn’t focus on buying merchandise or a service.

Successful sales reps will highlight ideas that have more intangible appeal. On social media networks, you are selling a lifestyle and a brand name as much as a product. This is an approach that can be remarkably successful for brands, as companies such as Red Bull have proven. Think about how to combine a pitch for your product with a broader idea that will appeal to members of your social networks.

5. Follow Up Without Pressure

Follow Up Without Pressure

One of the last elements to any interaction between a brand representative and a customer is follow up. For sales teams, that means checking in with your prospective clients after presenting them with information about your product.

This follow up doesn’t need to push the customer to commit to a sale. Instead, think of framing it as the conclusion to a conversation. Ask what they thought about the product or if they have any further questions about it.

6. Focus on Service

Focus On Service
A related part of all these interactions and conversations is to be genuine. Don’t disguise the fact that you are a sales rep, but try to cultivate a genuine interest in serving your customers as well as making a sale.

To succeed in business on a platform that many people use for casual fun, your focus should be on people. Some brands, such as Zappos and Rackspace, have made that element of service an integral part of their corporate culture. No matter what you need to sell, a focus on service can humanize your pitch and build a stronger rapport with your customer.

What does your sales team do to capitalize on social media? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Rituals of Top Performing Sales People

Sometimes, average sales people look at their top performing colleagues and wonder what they do to achieve their results.

Part of their success lies in their pre-sale rituals. Here are 5 rituals that top sales performers execute in order to capture that big deal.

1. They research

Before making their initial call to a new prospect they invest time researching that company. They find out who are the key decision makers, they look for areas of opportunity, and they learn exactly how their product, service or offering might benefit that company.

2. They plan

Top sales people invest more time planning than the average sale person.

They carefully craft their opening statement or value proposition for cold calls, face-to-face meetings and follow-up conversations.

They anticipate potential objections and determine the best way to respond.

They determine what the next steps should be and they figure out the best strategies to move each sales conversation forward.

3. They rehearse

Top performers never “wing it”.

They take the time to practise and rehearse their presentation or pitch. They verbally run through their sales call script before picking up the telephone. They practise their responses to objections. And they practise asking for the sale.

4. They warm up

No athlete or singer would ever start a performance without a warm up. Even rock bands that have been playing for years don’t take the stage without warming up first.

Top sales people are no different.

They often practise their opening and run through the potential concerns and objections that their prospect might have. As a result, they are completely ready to “perform” when they walk into their prospect’s office.

5. They study

Great sales people study.

They know that they need to constantly improve and upgrade their skills if they want to succeed. They study other top performers. They analyze their sales calls and determine how they can improve.

They study their competition. They know everything about their product or solution. And they read sales literature, trade magazines and constantly add to their database of knowledge.

Athletes, musicians, actors, singers all have rituals they follow before they perform or play. Top performing sales people are no different.

What about you?

Do you have certain rituals that help you succeed? Please feel free to share them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 Point Plan for Improving Your Sales Team

To achieve meaningful and significant improvement in your sales team, you must spend more time coaching your salespeople. Trouble is, there are so many barriers that prevent effective coaching from happening. Here’s a 5-point plan (sound familiar?) for overcoming these barriers and significantly improving your sales team’s performance.

Adopt the sales leadership mindset. Many of the instincts that served you well in your past responsibilities as a peak performing salesperson actually inhibit your performance as a sales manager. Become more of an observer, and less of a doer. Resist the temptation to jump in and take over. If you see a salesperson perform a task poorly, talk to them about it immediately so they know they need to make a change. Remember that sales management is, first and foremost, achieving results through others. Think like a coach, not a player.

Take control of your time. Many sales managers have natural coaching skills – and feel great pride in teaching others. Trouble is, they don’t make the time to use these natural coaching skills because they are constantly “firefighting” instead. By firefighting I mean dealing problems that come up during the day, problems that weren’t anticipated. These supposedly “urgent” problems, often created by others, should be solved by others. Instead, the manager jumps in to problem-solve, thereby diverting attention from performing more important duties such as developing the sales team.

Identify your biggest timewasters, and develop solutions for managing them. When somebody brings you a problem, resist the temptation to immediately drop everything you were doing to solve that problem. As an alternative, ask two simple questions of the person bringing you the problem: “What have you done about it so far? And “What do you think ought to be done?” Expect more from your people in terms of developing their own solutions, to free up your time for coaching.

Field a better team. If two of your salespeople were asked to define the specific skills and attitudes required for peak performance selling at your company, would you hear two different answers? Salespeople who don’t fully understand what you expect will be unable to manage themselves to achieve greater levels of performance and profit.

Define your expectations of your salespeople and communicate those expectations with everybody on your team. Observe your peak performers, identify what they are doing that distinguishes them from others, and then share those differences with everybody on your team. To field a better team, focus your entire sales team on the behaviors they need to achieve greatness.

Coach for success. Often, we sales managers can be our own worst enemy. We jump in, and take over. We don’t truly listen to what our salespeople are saying, and more importantly why they are saying it. And we don’t take the time to help salespeople fully understand the implications of doing (or not doing) certain tasks. But, that’s not what our salespeople need from us if they are to become more productive and self-reliant. Make sure that you have taken the time to ask the 2nd and 3rd level questions regarding their personal goals, their sales call planning, and their preparation for a sales presentation.

Motivate and energize your team. All too often, we look for the cause of a performance problem by looking at the salesperson and trying to figure out what they need to do differently. But, what about looking at ourselves? Look in a mirror, and ask yourself what changes you need to make to help salespeople be more successful. Ask your team on an individual basis, “Is there anything I am doing that doesn’t help you at all? What could I start doing to help you more? And, why would that be helpful to you?”

Peter Drucker, the well know management consultant said “You can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Pressure of September in Sales – 3 Tips for Success

It’s crunch time for B2B sales teams everywhere working to close deals
by the end of Q3, and by the end of the calendar year. Just like
professional sports, there are jobs on the line for sales leaders
(coaches) and individual contributors (players) if they don’t hit
promised and forecasted numbers.

Why now? Large, complex sales cycles for SaaS services contracts and
other product-based deals take time to come to closure. In order to
count some of these for this fiscal year, more action needs to take
place by the end of this month if there is hope of deals closing to
book this year.

Who is the pressure on? Sales teams in publicly traded companies where
the numbers will be revealed and sales teams in private companies who
don’t share their revenues publicly but do aspire to great growth.
There are startups looking for their second round of financing, and
there are many, many individual contributors whose end of year bonus
and commissions depend on more deals.

Don’t let the pressure change you from a consultative seller to a
pushy sales person. Here are 3 tips to help you in this stressful time
of the year:

1. Be value-added in all communications and interactions. Help your
potential buyer with creative strategies that show the return they’ll
gain, or the peace of mind, or the solution to their issue with more
than one explanation and more than a simple demo. Help them well, in
creative ways and you can find your deal coming to closure. As with
anything, sometimes it takes more than one approach to get agreement
and support from your buyer.

2. Make sure you have enough prospects so that you are not desperate
to try to close the only opportunities you have. Buyers don’t care
about your deadlines. Desperation is not attractive, either – and it
can push your buyer away quicker than anything.

3. Bring in new ways of looking at your sales opportunities. The idea
of working with a sales coach, for example, is one way to get new eyes
on a set of old data and often can help move deals forward. See a
previous post on why that is. Sometimes the answers are right in
front of you – and a simple comment from an outsider can shake things
loose.

What ideas do you use to move deals forward?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Infographic: A Sales Mind

Sales_mind

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When to Disappoint your Customers?

Frances Frei, Harvard Business School professor, explains why trying
to offer great customer service so often backfires.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why you need to Start NOW!!!

Start-now_mini

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To Build a Great Sales Team, You Need a Great Manager

This post originally appeared on HBR Blog on July 23rd, 2012 written
by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer

If you had to decide between having a team of excellent salespeople
with an average manager, or having a team of average salespeople with
an excellent manager, which would you choose?

Many will argue for the team of excellent salespeople:

“It’s salespeople — not managers — who develop and nurture the
customer relationships that drive sales.”
“Replacing one average manager is easier than replacing an entire team
of average salespeople.”
“An excellent salesperson doesn’t need managing.”
Others will argue for the excellent manager:

“Excellent managers consistently recruit the best sales talent.
‘First-class hires first-class; second-class hires third-class.’”
“Excellent managers motivate excellent salespeople, develop average
salespeople to make them excellent, and keep the entire team engaged
and aligned.”
“Excellent salespeople make sales today, but eventually they retire,
get promoted, or get wooed away by a competitor.”
Clearly, the best sales forces have both excellent salespeople and
excellent managers. A team of excellent salespeople will win sales and
make this year’s goal, regardless of who the manager is. But the
success of that team will be short-lived. Eventually, an average
manager will bring all of the salespeople that he manages down to his
level. On the other hand, an excellent manager will bring excellence
to all her territories. An excellent manager may inherit average
salespeople, but in the long run she will counsel, coach, motivate, or
replace salespeople until the entire team is excellent.

In our experience, companies that have winning sales forces start with
excellent managers. Most sales organizations focus considerable energy
to build a team of excellent salespeople, yet regrettably, they focus
too little attention on building the management team, which is truly
“the force behind the sales force.” Consider the following evidence.

Role definition: Most companies have a job description for
salespeople, and many have a defined sales process specifying how
salespeople should work with customers. But too many companies don’t
do a good job of defining the more varied responsibilities of
managers. Managers must play three roles — people, customer, and
business manager — so they get pulled from all sides. We hear all the
time about “role pollution” in the manager’s job. Without role
clarity, managers execute tasks that are urgent or within their
comfort zone, rather than focusing on what’s most important for
driving long-term performance.

Selection: Companies devote substantial energy to recruiting the best
sales talent, but when it comes to managers, most simply select their
best salespeople for the job. Yet what it takes to succeed as a
salesperson is very different from what it takes to succeed as a
manager. Unless you select salespeople who have strong managerial
tendencies, in addition to respectable sales skills, your sales
management team will be average at best.

Development: Too often, when sales managers come into their jobs after
having been successful salespeople, their company expects them to know
how to manage with minimal guidance. Of the $20+ billion that U.S.
companies spend training their sales forces every year, very little
gets directed towards sales managers. The result is inconsistent
competency across most management teams, as new managers struggle to
make the critical transition from salesperson, and experienced
managers can’t keep up with ever-changing job demands.

Support: Sales managers typically rank third, behind salespeople and
senior sales leadership, when it comes to prioritizing sales force
support initiatives (such as access to support personnel and
resources, and data and tools that enable good decision making and
increase efficiency). Rarely do managers get enough support resources
for getting everything done — and done well.

Sales managers serve as key points of leverage for driving long-term
sales performance. It’s a mistake to underinvest in this group. By
building a winning sales management team, you can capitalize on a
high-impact, tangible opportunity to drive sales effectiveness and top
and bottom line results.

About the Authors

Andris A. Zoltners is a Professor Emeritus of Marketing at
Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He and PK
Sinha are co-founders of ZS Associates. Together with Sally Lorimer,
they are the authors of Building a Winning Sales Management Team: The
Force Behind the Sales Force.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Leadership Lessons From “The Godfather”

BY Lydia Dishman

What does a real-life CEO have in common with the central figures of a fictitious Mafia crime family in The Godfather? According to Justin Moore, CEO and founder of Axcient, plenty. 

Moore is a serial entrepreneur, early-stage advisor, and angel investor. He’s currently at the helm of Axcient, a company he founded that provides backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery services to the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market. Right now, Axcient is protecting more than 2 billion files and applications for businesses across North America.

Moore also happens to think that The Godfather is “one of the best movies ever made” and had a chance to watch it again when the film was aired extensively last week to mark the 40th anniversary of its premiere. Though a decade had passed since the last time Moore watched it, his recent viewing offered an unexpected reward. This time he found the film rife with teaching moments for CEOs running a business today.

“I certainly don’t endorse crime or violence, and I’m not suggesting business should operate like the Mafia,” explains Moore, “but there are some universal themes in the movie I can relate to as a CEO.” Moore says The Godfather offers valuable lessons in community and team building, making tough decisions, and playing to win while not neglecting friends and family.

Here are five essential leadership lessons Moore distilled for Fast Company.

1. Build a powerful community. 

Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. ~Vito Corleone

Uttered in the iconic rasp of Marlon Brando, the words of Vito Corleone illustrate how he creates a loyal community among those he has helped. Moore says, “By granting these favors and helping people with their problems, Vito Corleone is building a network of influence–relationships that may or may not deliver a specific or quantifiable return, but all which serve to strengthen his power base and which have the potential to be reciprocal in the long run.”

Moore says building strategic partnerships enables companies to work through challenging markets and fast-track overall success. “As a CEO, I see it as part of my job to be a super connector, networking with the technology and investment community without an expectation of reciprocation. Partnerships forged through time, trust, and mutual benefit–such as those Axcient has built with HP, Ingram-Micro, and a vast network of service providers and resellers–are the types of community relationships that bring about the greatest returns.”

2. Hold people accountable. 

What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft. ~Vito Corleone

The Godfather reminds us of the importance of being tough when necessary. “As soon as Vito Corleone allowed a few moments of weakness to be seen by his enemy, they attempted to assassinate him. And it was largely because of failures of his team,” Moore observes.

“In business, accountability isn’t achieved by a murderous rampage. But the lesson is this–to be successful in business you have to be tough, and you have to be extremely focused on hitting goals and getting results,” says Moore. That doesn’t mean patience and understanding don’t have a place, he says, but ongoing tolerance of low-performing people or products just eats away at the success of the entire company. “You are ultimately responsible for all of your employees and shareholders, and that requires tough and swift decisions.

3. Don’t get emotional. 

It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business. ~Michael Corleone

“Many people don’t like to talk about the fact that in business, there are winners and losers. When Sonny Corleone reacts impulsively and emotionally, he gets taken out. In business, if you don’t take the opportunity to out-sell, out-bid, or out-market your competitor, they’ll take you out. I’m not suggesting doing anything outside the boundaries of morality or rightness–simply pointing out that when people make emotional decisions, they start making bad decisions. To lead successfully, you have to take your emotion and ego out of the equation.”

Likewise, Moore says it’s important to play to win. In business, that translates to knowing the competition and always staying at least one step ahead. “Operate your business with integrity and have respect for competition, but you also need to seize opportunities to eliminate your competition and win.”

4. Be decisive. 

Moore says that he, like most people who appreciate The Godfatherwatch the movie with a combination of shock and respect. “Shock because he is so ruthless that he kills his own family member, but respect for the fact that Don Corleone knows exactly what he wants, executes decisively, and commands respect through unwavering leadership.”

While you don’t have to kill anyone to prove a point, as soon as you know what choice to make, move forward. “Know who on your team is making the right choices, and trust them to take decisive action as well. Hesitation too often leads to missed opportunities.”

5. Spend time with your family. 

Do you spend time with your family? Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man. ~Vito Corleone 

Moore isn’t endorsing 1940s machismo, but he is decrying 100-hour workweeks that many entrepreneurs fall prey to in hot pursuit of the next big thing. Though he’s been dedicated like that in the past, Moore finds it’s not sustainable in the long run. 

“A leader can’t be successful in creative problem-solving and making excellent decisions unless that person is connected to people and passions outside of work. I find that it’s often time with family and friends that gives me the perspective I need to build the relationships and make the decisive actions required for continued success in business,” says Moore.

Think we missed any big leadership themes from The Godfather? Get thee to the comments and let us know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Accelerate Your Sales Success

By: Michael PedoneHow to Accelerate Your Sales Success

Sales Question:

“I’m doing OK at sales, but I want to be doing BETTER… what else should I do?”

Answer:

A key ingredient to accelerated success is something we all have the power to do. A simple tool that takes just a few minutes to use and is so powerful; consider it rocket fuel for your career. The challenge however will be having enough discipline and drive to use it consistently.

The Problem

Everyday we all have two choices:

  1. Have “life” dictate to us what we are going to do; or…
  2. Take control and steer our own ship.

If we allow “life” to dictate our every action, we simply end up going through the motions, handling what ever fire happens to pop up at any given moment, and at the end of the day, we’ve done a lot, yet have accomplished very little at moving closer to achieving our own personal and professional goals.

The Solution

Grab the wheel and map your own course.

Taking control and steering your own ship is as simple as this:

Everyday, make a list of 5 goals / objectives that you want to complete / accomplish before the end of that day — and then come Hell or High Water, make it happen.

These types of goals are called “process” goals… these are steps / activities etc that you can control and if done consistently over time, will help you achieve your results or “outcome” goals and at a much faster pace and will help you go from “good” to “great”.

Here’s an example of what these daily goals / tasks might look like for a B2B inside sales person:

  1. Listen to 10 minutes of a motivational audio-book on way to work (it doesn’t matter which one, just start with one and go from there);
  2. Get to work 20-minutes early and role-play
  3. Make 40 sales calls before noon
  4. Prospect 20 new accounts between 3 pm and 4 pm (just build the list; don’t make the calls yet)
  5. Prepare tomorrows “prospecting hit list” before 5 pm (this way when you come in the next morning, you already have your “hit-list” ready to call.

These are just examples for you to consider and they are ones that I’ve personally used and still use. But feel free to make up your own as you see fit.

Some can be daily repeats and others may only be needed once in a while. But always have at least five.

The Benefit

When we map out what it is we want to achieve and why, and we focus on doing what it is that we need to do to get there, you will notice how quickly you start to get closer to achieving your goals / objectives / desires.

When we start making progress, we feel better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves, we have more power to overcome the “rough seas” that would normally capsize our goals and knock us off course.

Most importantly, it swings the odds heavily in our favor that we will reach what we are all individually chasing. Whatever that may be.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“The longest journey begins with a single step”

Take five of those steps today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment