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  • 10 Sales Email Templates With 60% or Higher Open Rates
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    As a writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog, I'm always crafting new email templates. And my favorite source of inspiration is in HubSpot Sales -- I'll open up "Templates" and browse the real emails HubSpot salespeople are sending their prospects. Not only can I see average open rate for individual templates, I can also gauge their performance by response rate and click rate (i.e., how many recipients clicked on the links within the template). The following 10 templates have 60% or higher open rates, 8% or higher click rates, and 30% or higher response rates. I've lightly edited them so you can tweak them for your industry, market, product, and prospect. I've also included two templates to help you make sales introductions. Happy selling! Best Sales Email Templates 1. If You Want to Make a Sales Introduction The prospect hasn't heard of you before? Give them a reason to talk to you. Mentioning their goals and showing you did your homework will be enough to get most buyers to respond. Are you doubling down on [goal]? Hi [prospect name], I checked out your website, and it looks like you might be trying to [accomplish X specific goal]. Without making any assumptions about your business goals, I believe [Y] might play a pivotal role in your success.If you’re unfamiliar with [company], our solution helps businesses in [prospect company's] space with three main goals: [Goal #1] [Goal #2] [Goal #3] Are you free in the next few days for a call to discuss [prospect company's] strategy for [business area]? Best,[Your name] 2. If They Visited Your Site Based on the prospect's browsing behavior, you know they're interested in -- maybe even seriously evaluating -- your solution. Position yourself as a trusted advisor who can walk them through the decision making process and answer questions as they arise. Resource for [business area] questions Hi [prospect name], I'm sending this note to introduce myself as your resource here at [company]. I work with small businesses in [prospect company's] space, and noticed that your colleagues had stopped by our website in the past. This inspired me to spend a few minutes on your site to gain a better understanding of how you are [handling strategy for busines area]. In doing so, I noticed a few areas of opportunity and felt compelled to reach out to you directly. [Company] is working with similar companies in your industry, such as X, helping them [accomplish Y], while providing them with the tools to [manage Z]. When do you have 15 minutes to connect today? Please also feel free to book time directly onto my calendar here: [Meetings link]. Thanks,[Your name] 3. If You're a Stranger to Them 26 seconds (or less) Hi [prospect name] I'll keep this short and sweet to make the 26 seconds it takes to read this worth your time (yes, I timed it.) As a [job title] at [company], I get to speak with people like you about [achieving X]. [Prospect company] is on my radar because we've helped a lot of companies in [X space] with [business area]. Could we schedule a 15 to 20-minute call to discuss your strategy for Y -- what excites you, which challenges you see, and how you envision your plan changing down the road? Even if you decide not to continue the conversation after our call, you'll leave with some advice for [business area] that will make an immediate impact. Best,[Your name] 4. If You Just Called Them Use a quick email to reinforce the voicemail you just left. [prospect name] -- just gave you a ring [Name], Saw that you were checking out [product], and wanted to give you a quick shout after checking out the [prospect company] site. The last thing I want to do is waste your time or mine, but I thought it would be helpful to quickly speak and learn a bit more about what you hope to get from [product, and share some best practices. Most of our successful users will have a quick set up like this to get things started in the right direction. Is there a good time for you today or the next few days? You can book some time directly on my calendar here: [Meetings link]. Best,[Your name] P.S. Thought you might like this as well while getting started: [Helpful link #1] [Helpful link #2] 5. If There's Been a Trigger Event Strike while the iron is hot. A trigger event gives you a compelling reason to reach out, boosts your credibility (you clearly pay attention to what's happening in the space), and establishes urgency. [Congrats on X, connection to Y] Hi [prospect name], Your [LinkedIn description, company’s recognition in the Inc. 500, connection with XYZ colleague] inspired me to reach out. Other staffing firms like A, B, and C leverage [product] to [accomplish X and Y].Within six months of working with [company], client [saw X results]. I’d be happy to share a few ideas about how [prospect company] could accomplish the same. If you’re open to it, when would be a convenient time to chat? Say, [XYZ time]? [Your name] 6. If They Requested a Demo This email helps you establish a relationship with the prospect and set the right expectations for the process. If they're not prepared for a discussion of their company and objectives before the nuts-and-bolts product talk, they might become impatient. Showing you around [product] Hi [prospect name], I noticed you requested a demo of [product]. I work with companies in your area, and my goal is to be helpful during your evaluation process. Our demos are two parts. The first is a conversation focused around helping me to understand what you're hoping [company] can help with, as well as your strategy and goals in general, so then I can customize your demo accordingly. To get started, you can book time on my calendar here: [Meetings link]. Looking forward to connecting,[Your name] 7. If They're Using Your Free Tool or a Trial Version of Your Product Help your prospect get maximum utility out of their free sign-up or trial. Not only will this help them see the value of your product, it also lets you influence their purchasing criteria. X people on your team using [product] Hi [prospect name]Saw that [prospect company] is using [tool] and your team currently has [X number of] people accomplishing [Y]. I'm happy to share some best practices related to our products with you and the team. There are also a number of features we use with [product], that might be helpful for you or some colleagues. Also noticed [unique aspect of business]. Please pick a time on my calendar that works best for you and I'll follow up: [Meetings link]. - [Your name] 8. If They Opened Your Email But Never Replied The prospect is interested in learning more -- after all, they read your message -- but they're either too busy to respond or not interested enough. Get the conversation going again with an explanation of your company's solution and an offer to give them a demo. Helping your team accomplish x Following up on my last email, I wanted to see if [increasing X, decreasing Y] was something you'd be interested in discussing. [Company] offers tools for [business area] that include the following: [Feature #1 and why it's helpful] [Feature #2 and why it's helpful] [Feature #3 and why it's helpful] I'd be happy to give you a brief walk-through of the tools so you can evaluate whether there might be a broader application to leverage these tools at your company. What do you think?[Your name] 9. If They Still Don't Respond Heard nothing? Before you give up on this prospect, send a few more resources their way. You'll add value while simultaneously reminding them your tool might be able to solve a pressing pain point -- as it has for their competitors. Resources used by [competitor #1] and [competitor #2] Hi [prospect name] Following on my previous email, as they have a tendency to slip through the cracks. At the very least, I wanted to provide you with the top resources that your peers at other [prospect's industry] companies found helpful: [Helpful link] [Case study] Would it be helpful if we scheduled 15-20 minutes to discuss how some of these topics may align with [prospect company's] 2017 strategy? Just book some time on my calendar here: [Meetings link] [Your name] 10. If They Went Dark This light-hearted email gives the buyer a chance to change their mind. It's a great way to reengage them without using a guilt trip. Not as bad as an awkward first date Hi [prospect name],But it still stings 🙁 Sounds like we weren't meant for each other. But I wanted to reach out to you one last time. I have a few suggestions on how [prospect company] can [accomplish X and Y]. If I don't hear back, I'll assume that the timing isn't right.In the meantime, here are two [links, resources] I thought you might [enjoy, find value in] because [reason why they're relevant]: [Link #1] [Link #2] Best,[Your name] These templates are proven to get results, so what are you waiting for? Incorporate them into your prospecting strategy today. More Email Templates These don't have the impressive open rates of their brethren above, but they're still helpful templates to turn to when you need a little help. 11. If You Want to Build Rapport Let's say your conversation has stalled a bit and you want to keep the momentum going without being too pushy. Try a rapport-building approach. It requires you to know a little about the person you're sending an email to -- just another reason why it's important to get to know your prospect in your initial outreach and discover calls. [Location, activity, or interest] recommendations? Hi [prospect name], In our last call, you mentioned your interest in [insert interest area]. I was curious what advice you'd have for someone just getting started in [interest area]? Thanks,[Your name] Don't include a business-related ask in this email. Once you get a response, your reply can include an ask that steers the conversation back to the deal in question. 12. If You Need Them to Take Action Sometimes you've spent so much time on a deal that you simply need to know if the prospect is interested in moving forward. If they keep rescheduling meetings, missing calls, or pushing for a longer discovery period, it might be time to cut to the chase. Where do we stand? Hello [prospect name], We've been unable to connect for a few weeks now, and that usually means one of two thing: Either this isn't a priority for you and your company at the moment You've been busy and we should keep trying to connect If the answer is option one, I won't take up any more of your time. If the answer is option two, do you have time to connect tomorrow? Thanks,[Your name] Email templates can make a salesperson's life so much easier. Need a few more? Check out these sales prospecting email templates, these templates for boosting end-of-month sales, or these funny templates real salespeople use. Read more »
  • We Reviewed 25 Sales Decks. Here Are the Best
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    There's nothing worse than getting through an entire sales presentation only to hear, "That was great, but I just need some time to think this over." While many salespeople focus on making their presentations flashy, fun, and exciting, they do little to ensure that their presentations address the prospect's top concerns -- and provide an irresistible solution. As a result, many presentations are met with wishy-washy responses that drag along the sales process and waste valuable time. If you've done everything right during the discovery process -- digging deep into your prospect's challenges and understanding exactly what they need -- only to get a noncommittal response, then your presentation needs some major adjusting. But, what does a great sales deck look like? We'll take a look at some of the best, and provide tips for creating your own stellar sales deck and presentation. What is a sales deck? A sales deck is a slide presentation (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) that's used to supplement a sales pitch. The sales pitch is given by a salesperson to a prospect. It often includes an overview of the product or service, offers a value proposition and solution for the prospect, and includes examples of success stories from other clients. The primary purpose of a sales deck and presentation is to introduce a solution that ultimately leads to the prospect purchasing from your company. Ready to see some sales deck examples? Here are a few of the best, in no particular order. 1. Richter Sales Deck This slide deck from Richter starts out with an introduction of the problem and then follows with a value proposition, and a solution. They provide an overview of what they deliver to customers, who their clients are, and the results their customer base has seen. The sales deck touches on all the key points a sales presentation should cover. And when it includes graphics and logos, they are clearly organized and not cluttered. 2. Relink Sales Deck This sales deck describes how machine learning and AI are changing various industries. As a recruitment software, Relink elaborates on how HR will be impacted by these technological changes. This segues into an introduction of their product and how it addresses these shifts in technology. Statistics are highlighted with larger fonts and icons are used for visual appeal. A consistent, color scheme makes the presentation cohesive. And primary takeaways are presented as brief snippets of text, so prospects don't need to spend too much time reading to learn about key points. 3. LeadCrunch Sales Deck LeadCrunch is a B2B demand gen business whose sales deck features statistics and charts that highlight how businesses can predict and personalize their sales and marketing efforts. Key numbers and terms are either in a bold font, larger font size, or a different color to make it stand out from the rest of the text. While their slide deck is on the lengthier side (the typical presentation is around 10 to 15 slides), they include intriguing visuals and statistics that grab attention and keep viewers interested. 4. ReCheck Docs Sales Deck ReCheck is a blockchain platform that specializes in document protection, and its sales deck emphasizes the importance of simple text and organization. The problem and solution are introduced using bullet points, which makes the text easier for readers to prioritize. They include a comparison chart of the conventional solution and ReCheck's product -- clearly outlining the benefits of their product. And the following slides provide a step-by-step walkthrough of how the product works. Since each of the slides aren't text heavy, this gives the salesperson the opportunity to elaborate and answer any questions the prospect might have. 5. Keptify Sales Deck Keptify is a shopping cart abandonment software. Their sales presentation keeps things short and sweet. It doesn't overwhelm prospects with too much text and opted for more graphics and visuals instead. It introduces a hard-hitting stat about the problem their prospect is facing, engages them by asking a question, and provides a solution to the issue. The slide deck continues to outline specific product details and what sets the solution apart from others, ultimately leading to a slide that represents the expected outcome for the prospect. Each of these presentations provides a general overview of the products, problems, and solutions, and they can easily be tailored and customized to each prospective company. A custom presentation not only piques the prospect's interest, but it also increases the likelihood that they'll buy from you. Sales Deck Presentation Tips Ready for your presentation? Sticking to these five simple sales presentation guidelines, recommended by Marc Wayshak, will help you blow your competition away while dramatically increasing your chances of closing the sale. 1. Lead with solutions. Have you ever met with a prospect who was excited about your product or service -- and used your presentation to keep on selling? This is called over-selling, and it's the leading cause of death for sales presentations. When you start your presentation, first lead with solutions. Don't talk about the benefits of your product's features or tell the prospect how great your company is. Simply dive into how you're going to solve the deepest frustration your prospect is facing right now. 2. Incorporate case studies. Once you've addressed the specific solutions you can provide to the prospect, it's time to add some color to your presentation. Turn your sales presentation into an engaging story by sharing case studies of similar prospects and the results they've achieved with your help. This step is important for building trust and credibility with the prospect. At the same time, case studies bring your solutions to life in the real world, making your presentation more engaging. 3. Ask for feedback throughout. Most presentations are a one-way monologue by the salesperson. This approach is boring -- and it's certainly no way to connect with a prospect. Instead, ask short questions throughout your presentation like "Does that make sense?" or "Can you see how this would work for you?" Asking for feedback periodically ensures your prospect stays on the same page. 4. Welcome interruptions. If you want to close more sales, you have to care about what your prospect is thinking throughout your presentation. Any interruption is the perfect opportunity to find out. Whenever a prospect interrupts you -- either with a verbal remark or subtle shift in their facial expression or posture -- stop immediately. Acknowledge the interruption, and welcome the opportunity to explore it with the prospect. Never ignore signals just to stay on a roll and conclude your point. Invite prospects to ask their questions or share their concerns. The opportunity to respond to those concerns is always more valuable than whatever you were about to say. 5. Wrap it up quickly. Your presentation should be ASAP: As Short As Possible. It's natural for salespeople to get excited about what they have to share, but this causes most of them to ramble on for far too long. Prospects only care about themselves and their challenges. Present the information they'll be interested in -- and nothing more. Practice your next sales presentation with a colleague or friend and ask for their honest feedback on its length.Looking for more? Check out these sales presentation techniques next. Read more »
  • How to Identify the Next Big Thing
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    When I hear someone mention “the next big thing,” I generally roll my eyes. It’s usually the same recycled two or three points you find scattered across the web and every other self-titled thought leader’s blog (cue: “2019 will be the year or AI and Blockchain”). But how do you identify and personalize the next big thing for your own industry, career, or even personal growth? Below, I’m sharing a few simple questions to define the next big thing in your life. So, the next time someone asks you what the next big thing is, give them an answer that comes straight from your experience -- instead of a watered-down version you found on the internet. How to Identify the Next Big Thing in Your Career 1. What do I want to keep doing? These first three questions are derived from the classic Stop, Keep, Start (or SKS) formula. It’s a staple in employee-manager one-on-ones, but it’s just as effective at helping you determine what’s next in your career. In this first question, identify the tasks and projects you enjoy doing in your current role and the skills you like developing. Write them down and note what you enjoy about each one. An important part of the SKS framework is to avoid asking others for their opinion before you've identified your own feelings on the matter. Be honest with yourself. There might be a part of your role you’re really good at but hate doing. Marinate on these things before sharing them with your manager or mentor for feedback. Here's an example of what this list might look like: I enjoy preparing and giving demos because I love the rush I get when I present and it clicks with the audience. I enjoy closing deals that I know will bring value to the prospect's life and business. I enjoy initial discovery calls because they're like a puzzle I'm trying to solve to discover what the prospect's pain points are and if my solution can solve for those issues. I enjoy presenting in front of my team because I get to be the thought leader in the room and facilitate great discussions. I enjoy mentoring my younger colleagues and sharing what I've learned to help others succeed. These are specific tasks and you've noted what you enjoy about each one. This will help you identify what you want to continue to develop in your next role. 2. What do I want to stop doing? Don't hold back on this question. In fact, jot down a few answers before you've even spent time really thinking it through. You'll get your most honest response this way. If you're a team leader who dreads weekly one-on-ones with your direct reports, it might be time to consider moving back into an individual contributor position. If you're having a hard time identifying things you don't like about your role -- first of all, congratulations -- and second, here are a few questions for you to ask yourself: What do I put off until the end of the week or month? Which parts of my job would I most like to offboard to someone else? Which parts of my role do I hope I'm not doing one year from now? Don't be afraid to identify bad habits or areas you'd like to improve upon in this section either. Identify why you don't like certain tasks, just like you did in the section above. Here's what this list might look like: I don't enjoy sending outreach emails because they seem random, I rarely get great responses, and I don't have the time to really personalize them. I don't like managing my schedule because it requires a lot of back and forth between myself and prospects who seem only halfway interested. I don't like being stuck behind the phone all day. I love to be in front of prospects or presenting over video. I don't like simply being an attendee of conferences because I'd rather be speaking at conferences and attracting leads that way. 3. What do you want to start doing? Your answers to the first two SKS questions should help you answer this one, but feel free to identify growth areas outside of these parameters as well. Here's an example of what this list might look like: I want to start managing a small team because I like helping others on my team and I'd like to spend more time expanding those skills. I want to start speaking at conferences because I'd like to become a thought leader and experiment with attracting leads that way. I want to network more in my industry because I think it's a better way to prospect than sending warm or cold emails. I want to present in front of the executive team more because that's a great way to get my ideas implemented and grow my career. 4. What do I value? What's important to you in your role? Consider these the non-negotiable items. They transcend projects and quarterly goals. They're the pillars of how you conduct yourself in the office and outside of it. For example, your values might be: It's important for me to have a good work/life balance because my family is my priority. I must like and respect my coworkers, because if I don't like who I'm working with every day it takes a toll on my performance and my overall satisfaction with life. I need to believe in my company's goals and what we're working toward in order to feel like my time is being well spent. It's important that I feel respected and valued by my manager and company in order to feel adequately motivated to perform in my job. These values are what contribute to your quality of life. They also bridge the gap between work and life. Having these values met in your role is also how you turn a job into a career you love. 5. How is my current role fulfilling my values? Is your current role fulfilling those values? Run through your list of values and answer that question. If your answer is "Not really," to any of them, brainstorm how to change that. If You can't land on a solution, it might be time for a new position or company. If that's the case, ask yourself what steps you need to take to have those values fulfilled in another role. 6. Who’s career do I admire and how did they get there? This could be an old boss, your current supervisor, a mentor, or someone you worked with in passing. If you admire their professional accomplishments, schedule some time to ask them how they got there. How to Identify the Next Big Thing in Your Industry 1. What’s staying the same in my industry? What's not being innovated on within your industry? If there are areas no one's spending time to improve upon, that could mean one of two things: This area of you industry is becoming obsolete This area of your industry needs someone to innovate on it It's your job to determine which of those options is true. For example, if you notice that fewer and fewer deals in your industry are happening in person, ask yourself, "Is this because getting on a plane to close deals is expensive and unnecessary or is it because no one is innovating on outside sales?" The answer is probably the former. If you identify that inside sales isn't evolving because it's becoming obsolete, ask yourself what's replacing it. That leads us to question two. 2. What’s changing in my industry? Ask yourself how your industry is currently evolving? If we're looking at our outside sales example above, most sales organizations would rather give presentations to non-local prospects over video chat instead of paying for an expensive plane ticket, hotel stay, and per diem for a deal they're not sure they can close. So, the industry change that's being experienced is a rise of demos being given over video or dial-in service. Which leads us to the next questions ... 3. Where does my industry want to be? To determine where your industry wants to be, ask yourself what's being automated or what could be automated. Looking at our outside sales example, we know that traveling to close deals is outdated and video meetings are the current best practice -- but what's next? The obvious next step might be automating demos by creating pre-recorded presentations the prospect can watch whenever and wherever they wish. Simple Q&A might be available via chat bot once they've watched the demo, and that bot might schedule a live follow-up meeting with interested prospects. If your reps are able to give 12 demos a month to highly qualified prospects instead of 26 demos a month to a mixture of highly qualified prospects, somewhat qualified prospects, and no-shows, your sales organization immediately becomes more efficient and cost-effective. What will be automated next in your industry? Identify it and you might have found the next big thing. 4. What does my industry value? Where is the time and money going? Where are the investors going? Where are the highest paying jobs going? The answers to these questions will tell you what your industry values. For example, if you're a software analytics salesperson and you see that firms are investing heavily in platforms that have in-house analytics features, you might see that native analytics are an emerging trend -- and one you can help your company get on top of before if affects your business. 5. How are industry trends affecting my industry’s values? HubSpot faced this question a few years ago. The software industry refocused their values to be customer success and retention and the old sales funnel didn't align. HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan noticed this shift in industry values -- from "how can we innovate on our products to how can we solve for the customer," and he proposed a solution to the outdated funnel problem: the flywheel. HubSpot VP of Marketing Jon Dick explains, "Flywheels represent a circular process where customers feed growth. We’ve invested more in customer marketing, more in customer advocacy, and more in creating delightful onboarding for new customers." He continues, "Friction kills flywheels. We’ve made investments that systematically target our biggest points of friction." By identifying how the trend of refocusing on the customer was impacting the software industry, Halligan was able to introduce a flywheel approach to sales, marketing, and service that improved upon the funnel and would help the industry evolve with shifting demands. So, what's the next big thing in your industry or career? Use this formula to find out. Want to keep learning how to set your business up for success? Check out this ultimate guide to entrepreneurship. Read more »
  • 7 Creative Sales Team Names to Promote Unity in 2019
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    What's in a name? When we think of successful sport team names, like the New England Patriots or the New York Yankees, we picture the motivated individuals that make up the team. And we envision their dedication to achieving a common goal (i.e., winning a championship.) But, how does a name contribute to a team's success? A creative sales team name can help unite your team, foster collaboration, and help individuals learn, grow, and reach personal and team goals. For sales managers, a positive and productive team dynamic is crucial to your team's success. And as a salesperson, a supportive team can provide a sense of community and help you excel in your role.  If you're ready to brainstorm some creative team names, here are some stories and tips from sales managers at HubSpot. Learn how they named their teams and the benefits they've seen from creating a unique team name. Creative Sales Team Names Here are a few creative sales team names used by real sales teams that will inspire you to create your own. Team Central Yewww Crew Southwest Mighty Ducks Wolfpack Chaos Magic Ding Machine Mountain Goats Benefits of Sales Team Names Why should you and your team come up with a creative name? There are a number of benefits: 1. It unites your team with a common vision. The sales team name should be descriptive about what your team stands for and what its priorities are. For example, HubSpot sales team, Wolfpack, has a team vision "to achieve mastery through incremental improvement, deliberate action, authenticity, and conscious balance." This gives each member of the team something to work towards as a team. 2. It fosters collaboration. The process of creating a team name should be collaborative. Have your salespeople brainstorm ideas and vote on them during your next team meeting. This is a fun exercise that can get everyone's creative juices flowing. And it will result in a name that reflects what the team stands for. This collaboration often carries through into the day-to-day work of your salespeople. 3. It introduces team selling. What is team selling? It's a sales strategy where two-plus members of an organization working together to win business. A team name provides a way to define the values and vision of a team. This brings individual team members together to work towards their goals. Not only will salespeople build stronger, working relationships with their teammates, but team selling also helps increase win rates for the entire team. Sales Team Name Examples 1. Team Central Hugh Willoughby is a principal sales manager at HubSpot. He started his career at HubSpot as an account executive and saw that many teams simply create their name based on the name of the manager. But, Willoughby doesn't believe this is the best option. He takes a collaborative leadership approach and wanted his team name to reflect that. "It isn't about me, it has to be about us," he said. "Create a formula to come up with a name. What are the values of your team? What's the vision of your team?" Their team settled on Team Central. The name serves two purposes: It's based on their sales territory/region. The term "central" highlights that the team is at the center of all they do. It sets the tone for their team and creates mutual respect between manager and salespeople. They also created a team flag for their section of the office and a Slack channel to promote a greater sense of community. 2. Yewww Crew Sales manager, Kaitlin Callanan, and her team chose Yewww Crew for their name. "In sales, team names are often the manager's last name -- it's really impersonal. If you center the team around one individual, it introduces a hierarchy, which doesn't help with team unity." So, what exactly does "yew" mean? "Yew is an expression of excitement, joy, or a positive outburst," says Callanan. "It's used in a variety of sports (e.g., skiing, surfing, skateboarding). And it's focused on sharing the excitement with someone else and being excited about something someone just did. When someone would bring in a deal, the team started making a YEWWW sound." The sales teams at HubSpot are prioritizing diversity and inclusion and sales managers should ask, "How can we find a culture where everyone feels like they have a spot or space on the team?" Team names can play a significant role in making each member of the feel as they belong. The primary goal of a team name should be to get everyone on the same page and working together to do their personal best and achieve team goals. And she says, "The funkier the name is, you can attach whatever team culture or spirit you'd like to it. What does your team embody?" 3. Southwest Mighty Ducks What do the Mighty Ducks have to do with sales? For Pratik 'Tiki' Biswal's team, this 90's Disney movie provided the inspiration they needed for their team name: Southwest Mighty Ducks. This scene, in particular, highlighted the theme of unity with the "Ducks fly together" speech. Biswal met with his team to brainstorm and everyone provided their best suggestions. He was randomly looking through zip codes for territory assignments, and his team was in the southwest territory. "I saw that Anaheim was part of our territory. So I thought of the Anaheim Ducks (the professional hockey team) and then, Mighty Ducks." They added Southwest to their name to highlight the territory their team covered. Their name highlights that each team member plays a role in the collective team and they stick together. The team hopped on board with the name idea, and they got a Mighty Ducks flag to represent them, and jerseys for each team member. With a creative sales team name, your salespeople will have a sense of purpose and community that helps them learn, grow, and achieve their goals. Looking for more? Learn more about developing a team selling approach next. Read more »
  • 4 Growth Strategies Used By The Most Successful Companies
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    Whether it's customers, revenue, locations, leads, mentions, or profits, you've got to play the growth game if you want to be successful in business. Growth is fundamental to a business' survival. Roughly 66% of businesses survive their first two years in operation, 50% make it to the five-year mark, and just 33% will celebrate their tenth anniversary. Those numbers are remarkably consistent across most industries -- but they also highlight how important it is to plan for growth from day one. In 2018, 53% of American SMBs planned to grow, and 22% planned to hire additional staff. That marked an impressive uplift from the 2017 figures of 46% and 9%, respectively. A concrete growth strategy is more than a marketing strategy, it's a crucial cog in your business machine. Without one, you're at the mercy of a fickle consumer base and market fluctuations. So, how do you plan to grow? Growth Strategy (Business) Growth strategy allows companies to expand their business. Growth can be achieved by adding new locations, investing in customer acquisition, expanding a product line, etc. A company's industry and target market influences which growth strategies it will choose. Strategize, consider the available options, and build it into your business plan. Depending on the kind of company you're building, your growth strategy might include, among others: Adding new locations Investing in customer acquisition Franchising opportunities Product line expansions Selling products online across multiple platforms Your particular industry and target market will influence your decisions, but it's almost universally true that new customer acquisition will play a sizable role. Not sure what that looks like for your business? Start by learning from the most successful companies. Identify their strategies, test them in your niche, and see what works best. Here are four companies and their primary growth strategies to get you started. Growth Strategy Examples 1. Dropbox Growth Strategy: Viral Loops As a trailblazer in the cloud storage software arena, Dropbox launched in 2008 and introduced the world to the ease of keeping files in the cloud, rather than on a physical device. We take that convenience for granted today, but it wasn't always the case. In fact, Dropbox faced an uphill battle to convince users to abandon their trusty USBs and external drives in favor of the "cloud," itself a new and unknown idea. Dropbox knew it had a premium product that everyone from students to executives would find invaluable. They just had to get the word out. But they succeeded. The service hit its million users milestone by April 2009, doubled to two million only five months later, and to three million just two months after that. Currently, Dropbox boasts 500+ million users worldwide. How did they do it? Viral loops. The basic premise of a viral loop is straightforward: Someone tries your product They're offered a valuable incentive to share it with others They accept and share with their network New users sign up, see the incentive for themselves, and share with their networks Repeat As its best, a viral loop is a self-perpetuating acquisition machine that operates 24/7/365. Dropbox works on a freemium to premium model, offering all users 2GB of storage with the free account. But their incentive? An additional 500MB for every friend they refer who signs up, allowing users to get up to 16GB for free. Source: Inside Viral Loops The result? The service grew by 3,900% over a 15-month span. Viral loops are not guaranteed to go viral, of course, and they're less effective than in Dropbox's era since they've become more commonplace, but the potential is still there. Part of the appeal is that the viral loop flips the traditional funnel upside-down: Source: CleverTap Instead of needing as many leads as possible at the top, a viral loop funnel requires just one satisfied user to share with others. As long as every referral results in at least 1.1 new users, the system continues growing. 2. Harry's Growth Strategy: Milestone Referrals You might remember when Dollar Shave Club burst on the scene in 2012 with the promise of high quality, but affordable blades delivered right to your door. Harry's followed suit the next year, launching not with a viral video, but with through the savvy use of milestone referrals. It worked like this: visitors to a pre-launch landing page signed up to receive email updates. They also received a referral link to share via email, Facebook, and Twitter. The more they referred, the more they could earn in rewards. Source: Harry's In this case, the "milestones" were X number of referred friends. It was easy to share, easy to hit the milestones, and delivered a tangible product as a reward. The result? Harry's collected 100,000+ emails before it ever officially opened for business. 3. Slack Growth Strategy: Word-of-Mouth In less than six years, Slack has become the go-to platform for online collaboration and communication for both professional and personal users. From just 8,000 users at launch in 2013, Slack hit one million daily active users in late 2015. Today, the service boasts 10+ million DAUs. That's a pretty stellar growth metric. How'd they do it? In the beginning, Slack made itself available to large, established companies like Rdio and Flickr, generating plenty of early press coverage. The company focused on user satisfaction above all, answering thousands of help tickets and tweets each month, and leading directly to positive word-of-mouth amongst its early adopters. Even Slack's leadership team was blown away by the success of its word-of-mouth approach. In 2014, co-founder Steward Butterfield stated, "The growth has been completely insane and almost entirely on word of mouth. In fact, we just hired our first marketing person, but he doesn't begin until next week." Word-of-mouth is organic - and, as seen in Slack's case, it's effective. 83% of Americans say a recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase or try a product, and 50% would go with word-of-mouth if they could only choose one source of information. The secret of such effectiveness lies in a deeply rooted psychological bias all people have: we subconsciously believe that the majority knows better. That's why social proof remains the #1 instrument in sales copywriting and overall marketing content, and that's why most brands draw focus toward their online reputation. They know in today's customer-driven world, when communication methods change and the information is available to all, a single negative blog post or tweet can send all marketing efforts to the bottom. As the father of digital word-of-mouth growth, Pete Blackshaw says, "satisfied customers tell three friends, angry customers tell 3,000." That's why Slack focused on user positive experience to grow that number of satisfied customers and do that wave of loyal feedback. Focus on delivering a spectacular user experience, and users will spread the word for you. 4. WhatsApp Growth Strategy: The "When They Zig, We Zag" Approach When entering a crowded marketplace, you've got to stand out. Your value proposition needs to clearly demonstrate your competitive advantage over others. Why should users go with your product or service instead of someone else? WhatsApp wasn't the first cross-platform messaging app when it launched in 2009, but it has gone on to become one of the most successful, with 1.2+ billion monthly active users. Its founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, wanted to create a product that eschewed the crap plaguing other apps at the time. They intentionally opted for no ads, no marketing, and a free first year to attract users fed up with other providers. And it worked. They stood out by being dramatically different from every other option at the time. In short, they zigged when everyone else zagged. They created a product that was brilliantly simple for sending and receiving instant messages. People started to use and share it as a result - so much so, in fact, that WhatsApp's growth far outpaced the likes of Facebook, Skype, and Gmail in its first four years. Source: Growth Hackers Leverage this effect by asking what's wrong with the current options in your niche? Can you improve or eliminate it entirely? Highlight that, and get users talking. The competition zigs. You zag. Successful companies plan for growth. They work for it. They earn it. So what's your plan? To learn more, check out this growth hacking playbook next. Read more »
  • Capture Manager: The Sales Role Your Team Could Be Missing
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    How's your sales team like a football team? Both sales and football require a certain amount of strategy to succeed. And if your sales team was a football team, a capture manager would be the quarterback. Without a quarterback, there's no one to organize and initiate the plays. Hint: your team likely won't be winning without this key player. Instead of winning games, capture managers win business for your company. After an opportunity has been qualified, their focus is to understand the goals of the prospect, develop a solution, and increase the likelihood of winning the opportunity. Wondering what to look for in a capture manager? Have no fear, here's the capture manager job description that will help you find the best fit for your team. Capture Manager A capture manager is an individual who is a resource for a company's sales and business development teams. Capture managers oversee opportunities and help develop a strategy to win them. They have a solid understanding of the prospect's business and goals and they determine a plan to achieve them. If your team wants to win even more deals, a capture manager can help them do that. What is a capture manager? Capture managers oversee opportunities after it has been qualified. They assess the customer's needs and goals, competition, and potential solutions. Then they develop a win strategy. A win strategy is a plan to close the deal and earn the prospect's business. According to PayScale, the average salary for a capture manager is $114,005. This amount will vary depending on the capture manager's years of experience. Most capture managers hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Many companies will require capture management training, and they'll look for additional skills and qualifications like: PMP CMMI ITIL Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Word Capture Manager Job Description Here are the key job responsibilities and qualifications of a capture manager. Responsibilities Run capture on new business opportunities Lead strategic capture efforts throughout the sales lifecycle Perform market analysis, identify opportunities, develop and execute capture plans, and monitor competitor activity for each capture Ability to work with executives and senior leadership Conduct competitive analysis to develop competitive solutions Deliver strong financial results Qualifications Bachelor's degree or higher in relevant business, technical, or professional field of study. Understanding of capture management best practices Experience managing and writing proposals Demonstrated ability to capture business Excellent organizational skills and ability to meet deadlines Excellent presentation and verbal communication skills Exceptional interpersonal, problem solving, and business acumen Proactive, attention to detail, project management, and organizational skills Capture Manager Job Description Examples Capture Manager Job Description Source: Excella Senior Capture Manager Job Description Source: LTS With a capture manager, you'll have someone to call the plays and help win business for your company. To learn more, check out this business development job description next. Read more »
  • 4 Ways to Say 'Thank You for Your Consideration' in an Email or Letter
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    "Thanks for your consideration." In sales, those words are a white flag. They signal a competitor has won the business, and it's time for you to pack it up and head home. But before you call it a day or ask them what you did wrong, consider these alternative follow-ups and the opportunities they present. After all, you're in sales for a reason -- and it's not because you give up easily. These four ways to say, "Thank you for your consideration," help you identify your next move. Thank You for Your Time and Consideration "Thank you for your time and consideration" is a way to tell contacts that you appreciate their interest in your product or service. For example, if a prospect looks like they'll choose a competitor over your product, thanking them for their consideration helps a salesperson determine their next move (e.g., learn more about the prospect's decision, touch base at a later date, etc.) Here are some "thank you for your consideration" alternatives you can use with your prospects. 1. "Have you actually executed the contract yet?" You'd be surprised how often a prospect will tell you they've chosen another vendor before actually signing a contract. And if no ink has been spilled, it's not a done deal. If they reply, "Well, the contract is with our legal department," or "We're just waiting on the final documents to be sent over," the deal isn't done. Check with your manager and -- when appropriate -- throw a big discount at them. In this scenario, you've already lost the upper hand. Your prospect knows you're desperate, so trying to shortchange them on price or remain coy about what you can offer is futile. Offer them your biggest discount to try to jolt them into reconsidering your big. And be willing to walk away if your manager nixes a price cut. You've got better things to do than beg for business with nothing left to bargain with. 2. "Price and terms aside, which vendor had the best technology?" Many salespeople use this time to ask, "Is there anything we could have done better?" or "Were there features we were missing that gave [Competitor] the upper hand?" Don't do this. What prospect -- after working up the courage to tell you they're going with a competitor -- is going to tell you your shortcomings? Instead, ask, "I appreciate you letting me know. Can I ask, pricing and terms aside, which vendor had the best technology?" This gives you helpful, honest information, without putting your prospect on the spot. Hopefully, you're able to end the moment by having them say something positive about you. And if they think the competitor's product is better, say, "I appreciate the opportunity to compete," and move on. When your prospect has done their due diligence and selected another vendor, you must honor that decision.   Hi [Prospect Name], I appreciate you letting me know. Can I ask, pricing and terms aside, which vendor had the best technology? Kind regards, [Your Name] If you're looking for feedback on what you could have done differently or better, turn to current clients. They're invested in your product/service improving and are motivated to give you the hard feedback you need. 3. "Can I touch base in 12 weeks to see how the transition went?" Another trap I see salespeople fall into is trying to re-engage with prospects six months after they've chosen another vendor. I question these reps' motive. Best case scenario: the prospect is unhappy but can't sign with another company due to their contract, which is likely at least one-year long. It also sends the message you have enough free time to reconnect with closed-lost business. Why are you honoring dead deals instead of pursuing new ones? Think of it this way: if your ex gets married, you're not going to reach out six months after the wedding and ask if they're interested in pursuing things with you again. Apply that tenacity to new business instead. What you can ask during the initial breakup conversation is, "Would it be alright for me to touch base in 12 weeks to see how the transition went?" Follow that up with, "If you tell me it went well, you won't hear from me again. If it didn't go well, I'd love another chance to win your business, when your contract is up."   Hi [Prospect Name], Would it be alright for me to touch base in 12 weeks to see how the transition went? If you tell me it went well, you won't hear from me again. If it didn't go well, I'd love another chance to win your business, when your contract is up. Regards, [Your Name] This sets expectations you're not lurking in the corner waiting for them to need you again. Instead, it's straightforward and reinforces you care about their best interest and success. 4. "Thank you for the opportunity to earn your business." If it doesn't look like a deal will move forward, sincerely thank the prospect for their time. Take it as an opportunity to let them know that you're there to help address any questions or issues in the future. Just because you won't be working with them right now, doesn't mean they won't come back when the time is right. With this message, you further develop your position as a trusted advisor and end your correspondence on a good note.   Hi [Prospect Name], Thank you for the opportunity to earn your business. If in the future it ever makes sense to reconnect, you can book time on my calendar here: [Insert Meeting Link] I'm always here to help. Kind regards, [Your Name] If you lose a deal to another vendor, you've lost a full sales cycle. The only thing worse than putting three months into a dead deal is putting three months and one day into a dead deal. A new outreach call is better than nursing a lost opportunity. So, when in doubt, turn to these four alternatives to "Thank you for your consideration," and move on to bigger and better things. Looking for other ways to enliven your correspondence? Check out these "Hope You Are Doing Well" Alternatives, Nine Alternatives to Using "Dear Sir or Madam," 15 Alternatives to "As Per Our Conversation," and 12 Less Stilted Ways to Say "Thank You for Your Understanding." Read more »
  • Outsourcing: Pros, Cons, & Projects to Consider When Hiring a Third Party
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    You know the feeling of bliss you get when you reach inbox zero, cross the last item off your to-do list, and plan your week-long vacation with ease? Yeah, neither do most of us. Because of that, outsourcing is an increasingly relied upon tool for small or overworked teams who need help with tasks like booking meetings, replying to emails, and arranging travel. Other companies rely on outsourcing to fill knowledge or skill gaps they don’t yet have the headcount or budget to hire for internally, including paid advertising, video production, and payroll. Think you might need to outsource some projects? Here’s the ultimate list of tasks commonly outsourced to virtual assistants, specialists, and freelancers. You might never achieve inbox zero, but outsourcing the right tasks can give you the satisfaction of scratching off another item or two from your to-do list -- and that’s almost as satisfying, right? What is Outsourcing? Outsourcing is the practice of hiring outside specialists or generalists to perform certain tasks traditionally handled within a team or organization. These tasks can include calendar management, travel arrangements, and social media management. Outsourcing frees time for full-time staff to focus on more revenue-driving tasks. Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Pro: Cheaper than full-time staff Pro: Faster turnaround Pro: Specialization Pro: Access to more talent Pro: Can prevent burnout of full-time staff Con: They don't know your business Con: Communication challenges Con: Difficulty with quality control Con: Can be tough on team morale Con: Slow response time 1. Pro: Cheaper than full-time staff Outsourcing certain tasks, like content writing or accounting, can be cheaper than hiring a full-time staff person. You'll save on onboarding costs, healthcare coverage, and an annual salary. 2. Pro: Faster turnaround Depending on the task, the person you outsource may only take one project at a time. Having one person devoted to your job allows it to get done faster. Setting a timeline up front makes it easy to dictate when you need a job finished. Since a freelancer won't have the other demands of a full-time position to contend with, you can set aggressive (but realistic) timelines. 3. Pro: Specialization Need to hire a designer who specializes in stop-motion graphics? Outsourcing makes it easy to hire an agency or freelancer who's an expert at stop-motion instead of an all-purpose, full-time designer who might not have stop-motion experience but will be a more realistic choice for day-to-day needs. 4. Pro: Access to more talent Outsourcing allows you to hire the best of the best in your area of need. You're not vetting and hiring a full-time employee who meets a long list of requirements. Instead, you can narrow down your search to those who specialize in a certain area. For example: recruiters with experience helping startups develop a diverse baseline team. 5. Pro: Can prevent burnout in full-time staff If you don't have the budget to hire a full-time position but need to provide a little relief to your existing team, outsourcing can save the day. By taking simple tasks or time-consuming projects off their plates, you can keep your salaried employees happy and avoid costly burnout and turnover. 6. Con: They don't know your business While a good freelancer will do their best to learn your company's goals, brand, and style -- it's not realistic to expect them to understand your business like a full-time employee does. 7. Con: Communication challenges You might hire a freelancer without ever actually meeting in person. It's not unusual to conduct business with them entirely online or over phone or video communication. While today's digital workplace makes this increasingly easy, there are inevitably communication difficulties that can arise from working in different time zones, playing phone tag, or trouble communicating over email. 8. Con: Difficulty with quality control Make sure you're checking on their progress throughout your contract period. There's nothing more devastating to both parties than getting a finished product and finding that your freelancer has missed the mark. 9. Con: Can be tough on team morale If you outsource warm outreach to another sales organization, your sales team may feel nervous you're moving toward a fully outsourced sales program. If you outsource, make sure you clearly communicate the reasoning and goals behind outsourcing. For example, "We're outsourcing initial outreach to give our existing sales team more time to close higher-value deals." 10. Con: Slow response time Remember, you might not be the only client a freelancer has. Unlike an employee, you can't tell a contractor to prioritize a certain project. Be respectful of their time, but assertive if they're not meeting the milestones of your agreed-upon timeline. How to Tell if You Should Outsource a Task When you’re part of a small team or growing business, it’s tough to allocate budget for other people to complete tasks that normally fall to you or your internal team. Instead of thinking about the extra money you’ll spend, think of it as an investment in the growth and productivity of your team. And before outsourcing a task or project, have a checklist of questions you ask yourself: Is the task a primary service or benefit of your business offering? If yes, consider hiring someone internally to scale company growth responsibly. If not, it might be a task worth outsourcing. Will outsourcing this task free up time for you to grow your core business or product? If that’s a yes, outsource it. Will it cost less to outsource this task than to hire someone new or tackle the task internally? If yes, outsource it. Can someone else complete this task better and faster than your internal team? If yes, you should outsource. Is this a rare or one-time need? If so, it’s time to outsource. Will it give you a competitive advantage to handle this task in-house? If so, try to hire staff or complete this project internally to avoid outsourcing. It’s important to know when it’s time to outsource and when it’s time to buckle down and develop self discipline to finish tasks internally. By using this list of questions as your compass for whether or not to outsource a task, you’ll ensure your decision to outsource is always the right one. These questions will keep you honest and your business growing steadily. This list of best sales tools for small businesses can help too. Outsourcing Examples Content writing, human resources, and accounting are commonly outsourced tasks. It's often less expensive for small businesses to outsource these tasks than to hire full-time help. Outsourcing Marketing and Design Small businesses often don't need the amount of content and design work that necessitates a salaried position. By employing freelance writers and designers, businesses can pay by the blog post or creative project instead. Social media content creation Social media management Logo design WordPress design Newsletter creation Voiceover talent Webinar management Email management Data management and reporting E-book creation Proofreading Canva image creation PPC campaign management Writing and blogging Research Competitive and industry research Web maintenance Graphic design Presentation preparation Conference submissions Guest blog outreach Blog comment moderation Video production Email design Podcasting Photoshop Video editing Press release writing Public relations SEO optimization SEO site audit Link building App development Influencer marketing Photography Photo editing Editorial calendar management Infographic creation Market research Branding Outsourcing Administrative Tasks If you're bootstrapping a business and need you or your team's time to be devoted to high-value projects, outsource administrative tasks. Having someone manage your calendar, plow through mindless data entry, or transcribe meeting minutes can give you extra minutes back in your day. Calendar scheduling Meeting minutes Travel Greeting card sending File management Transcription Reminder services Data entry Client invoicing Voicemail checking Outsourcing Sales and Support Similarly, there's a lot of administrative work in sales and support. If you need your reps purely devoted to outreach and demos -- and not to data entry -- it might be time to outsource. Lead generation Customer service Expense report creation CRM updating Prospecting Pre-meeting research Outsourcing HR and Operations Don't have the time or expertise to take care of your company's taxes or hiring? These are just a few of the jobs you can outsource. This cuts down on costly errors and draws on the expertise of others. Training Taxes Payroll Recruitment Job posting Candidate follow-up Candidate screening tests Background checks Contract management Onboarding Project management Order fulfillment Inventory management IT support Outsourcing Personal Tasks Sometimes everything is going well at work but your personal life is suffering because of it. In this case, hire help with tasks like laundry, house cleaning, or grocery shopping to give you better work/life balance. Personal errands School pickup and drop off Meal preparation Grocery shopping Doctor appointment scheduling Mail pickup and drop off Outsourcing is a form of business delegation that can save you time, money, and energy better spent on growing your team or business. Consider outsourcing where it makes most sense for your company and foster a healthier work environment and better results. Are you an entrepreneur growing a business and looking for all the help you can get? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Entrepreneurship. Thinking of becoming an entrepreneur but not quite sure where to start? We’ve got a guide for that too. Read more »
  • 5 Tips and Tools for Finding When to Meet and Book Meetings
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    How many meetings do you have today? I'm assuming you have a fair amount. In fact, 23% of professionals in the U.S. spend five or more hours in meetings per week. Whether you're meeting with prospects, clients, or colleagues finding a time to meet can be a challenge, especially when everyone's calendars are equally as busy. And precious time can be lost while scheduling meetings due to countless email threads and back-and-forth messages. So, how can you balance your schedule and find the best time to meet with others? Luckily there are some tools that can help. Let's dive into some of the best tips and tools for finding when to meet and book meetings. Meeting Tips 1. Provide detail. When you request a meeting with someone, provide detail about what the meeting will cover. This will help the person evaluate the meeting's importance to them and prioritize it accordingly. And it gives them an opportunity to prepare any notes or questions. 2. Communicate value. What does the individual have to gain from booking a meeting with you? Make sure the value of the meeting is clear. Are you helping them solve a problem? Or do you have some advice to offer? If a prospect or client is going to take time out of their day for a meeting, a value proposition will increase the likelihood they'll meet with you. 3. Determine the meeting type. Will you be meeting in-person? Are you scheduling a call? Or will you be meeting via video chat? In some cases, some attendees might be in-person, while others will join the meeting virtually. As the meeting host, let the meeting attendees know what they should expect. 4. Consider all timezones. Finding the best time to meet is challenging -- especially if you're meeting with people in different timezones. When you suggest a meeting time for meeting attendees from different regions, it's especially important to include a timezone in your meeting request. Let's say you're proposing a time with a prospect in California, but you're located on the east coast. Specify the timezone in your meeting request, preferably including the prospect's timezone. For example, you could say, "Are you available to meet on Monday at 10:00 AM PST?" 5. Find the Best Time Consider the time of day you're meeting (and don't forget about those timezones.) The morning, between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM, is the preferred time to meet for 70% of professionals. While this is a good baseline for determining a meeting time, meeting tools can help you find a time that works best based on the availability of all attendees. When to Meet App If you're struggling to find a time to meet that works for all attendees, a meeting app might just be the solution for you. It eliminates the need for extensive back-and-forth emails to find a time and speeds up the meeting scheduling process. 1. HubSpot Meetings Tool Connect your Google Calendar and Office 365 calendar to the meetings tool, and your availability will automatically sync. Once your calendar is connected, create a meeting link, send it to your contacts, and they can book a time works best for them based on your availability. And teams can set up group availability and create a round-robin meeting invite. You'll receive an email notification and the calendar event will be added to the calendar you connected.  Plus, it integrates directly with the free CRM, so you can keep track of contact details and meeting information. If you need help getting started, this guide will walk through the steps to set up the meetings tool in HubSpot. 2. Calendly Calendly is a meeting scheduling tool that connects to your calendar and allows you to schedule a variety of meeting types: one-on-one, round robin, collective, and group. You can add buffer time around meetings so you have time to prepare for each event. Other features include automatic timezone detection and a meeting cap setting to limit the number of meetings that can be booked in a day. 3. FreeBusy This tool has all meeting attendees connect their calendars, and then meeting times are suggested based on their availability. This is especially helpful for meetings with internal colleagues. But, there's also a feature that allows you to send a link to share your available times with people who are external from your company. When to Meet Poll In situations where you're trying to work with the schedules of more than one person, it can be best to take a poll. Here are a few tools that will help you poll meeting guests and to find a time that works for all invitees. 1. Doodle If you're struggling to find a time to meet, use a Doodle poll. The meeting host suggests dates and times for the meeting, they invite participants, and the participants enter their availability. Once all of the responses are collected, the meeting host can select the best option based on everyone's calendars. This polling tool lets you connect your calendar and schedule meetings from anywhere with its apps for iOS and Android. 2. SurveyMonkey SurveyMonkey allows you to pick a meeting date and time, create a poll, and send the link to the poll via email. Or you can embed the poll on a website or Facebook page. The polling tool also lets you send out reminders to recipients if they haven't responded yet. 3. NeedToMeet Enter your meeting details and suggest meeting dates and times based on your availability. Once you invite attendees, they can indicate their preferred meeting date and time from the ones that were recommended. And the host will be notified when attendees respond.  With a meeting scheduling tool, you'll schedule meetings in less time with ease. Looking for more? Learn how to create the perfect pre-meeting email template next. Read more »
  • How to Send an Email: 13 Mistakes You Should Avoid in 2019
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    With active email accounts expected to hit 5.6 billion by the end of 2019, it's no wonder email is the one sales and marketing trend that just won't go away. But there's so much noise in our inboxes today. How do you stand out? For starters, avoid making these 13 mistakes guaranteed to send you straight to trash. Email Mistakes Misusing reply all Forgetting to proofread Using a deceptive subject line Choosing a lazy greeting Not formatting your message Sending emails late at night Not including a signature Having no call to action Using a "creative" font Not using email shortcuts Following up too soon Sending an email when you really need to call Not getting to the point 1. Misusing reply all Reply All is email functionality that can be used for good or evil. But which is which? Here's a quick refresher on when to use Reply vs. Reply All: Use Reply All if … More than one person needs to know the email was responded to Other recipients will be confused if they don’t see you respond Your response will impact 70% or more people on the chain Use Reply if … The email is addressed to you only Only one person needs to see your response You receive a company-wide email and you think more than .2 people will roll their eyes if you hit Reply All If you don’t need to reply to all seven people on your email but do need another one or two people to be included in your reply, this is a great moment to hit Reply and CC the other relevant people on your message. 2. Forgetting to proofread There's no excuse for misspellings in today's digital world. Even if you're just sending a line or two of text, run a quick copy and paste just to make sure a small error hasn't slipped by your Friday-at-4:00-PM eyes. Here are a few of my favorite tools: Microsoft Word's "Review" feature catches misspellings and punctuation. Hemingway Editor catches misspellings, punctuation, run on sentences, and passages that are difficult to read. Grammarly has a wonderful Chrome extension that edits your work in real time -- even in your email browser. Once you've proofread for grammar and spelling, double check that your recipients name, company name, and email address are spelled correctly. No spell check will catch the missing "n" you leave out of a prospect's email address -- that's up to you. 3. Using a deceptive subject line You've probably gotten one of these at some point in your career. It might look something like, "Re: Next week's meeting," or "Following up on yesterday's call." The problem is that you've never spoken with these people. Their subject lines are simply a ploy to get you to open, read, and respond. Don't send this kind of subject line. It's lazy, dishonest, and deserves to be sent straight to spam. Looking for a better way to craft subject lines that grab attention? Check out these classics, try a funnier approach, or use these subject line tester tools on your old standbys. 4. Choosing a lazy greeting If you've started an email with "To Whom It May Concern," you're guilty of using a lazy greeting. The internet has made it almost impossible not to be able to find out the name, email address, and professional title of the person you're emailing. Whether you're addressing an email to a hiring manager or prospect, spend five minutes doing a little digging on LinkedIn to find out who you're speaking with. Really can't find the name or title of your recipient? Simply address your email to the department you're attempting to reach. For example, if you're applying for a job, you might address the email, "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear Sales Team." Just make sure you avoid old fashioned greetings like, "Dear Sir or Madam." Want to brush up on how to write a formal email? Click here. 5. Not formatting your message In 2018, Litmus found 46% of all email opens happened on mobile accounts. So, if you’re writing eight-sentence long paragraphs without bullets or formatting, it’s likely a large portion of your readers will close your emails before they’ve read a single line. And, let’s be honest, no one likes to read long emails -- even from desktop. Format your emails with short paragraphs (no more than one to two sentences each), bullets, links, and lists. This keeps the recipients eye moving down the page, makes your message more mobile friendly, and increases your chances of getting a reply. Here’s what not to do:   Hello Robert, I received your email regarding your upcoming visit to Winterfell. House Stark is happy to host you and looking forward to discussing how the North can continue to support King’s Landing. Before your arrival, I wanted to ask a few questions. First, are there any food allergies our kitchen staff should be aware of? Are you interested in meeting a few of the local farmers during your stay? And what is your exact date of departure? We’d like to host a banquet in your honor before you leave. Looking forward to hearing from you. Kind Regards,Ned Stark This is long, rambling, and difficult for the reader to follow. A better approach would be:   Dear Robert, We’re looking forward to your upcoming visit to Winterfell. I have a few questions in preparation for your arrival: Do you or your staff have any food allergies? May I set up a meet-and-greet with a few of our local Northern farmers? What is your departure date? If you could provide answers to these questions by Friday, April 12, this will ensure we’re adequately prepared to host you and your team. Kind Regards,Ned StarkLord of Winterfellp: 123-456-7890E: wardenotn@winterfell.com 6. Sending emails late at night Sending emails late at night or on the weekends does not show you’re full of hustle. Actually, off-hours emails can have the opposite effect. Sending professional emails outside of normal business hours (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM) can signal your company is understaffed, you’re not skilled in time management, or you're desperate for the recipient’s business. None of these are signals you want to send to business associates. Stick to sending emails during business hours, and if you must answer emails on nights or weekends, schedule them to send first thing in the morning during the work week. 7. Not including a signature Simply signing your name isn’t enough anymore. Your email signature is valuable real estate. It’s also a great way to include plenty of information about you and your company, without cluttering up the body of your email. By including your title, headshot, contact information, and recent industry accolades at the end of your email, you'll avoid boring the reader with a long introduction before they’re ready to learn more about you. Your email should get right to the meat of your message to grab reader attention. Take this example: Source: Amy Volas Volas has packed a lot of important information into her signature. By the time her audience gets to the end of her email, she's already shared her message, including the benefits and a call to action. Now her reader is more invested in learning about Volas and her company -- and she’s ready with an action-packed signature that demands a second look. 8. Having no call to action Every email you send should have a purpose and a request. Sales pro Jeff Hoffman encourages salespeople to include small closes in every interaction they have with a prospect. "I consider closing to be any interaction where a salesperson asks a prospect to commit to something -- whether big or little," he says. That commitment could be asking your prospect to read a blog post, schedule a call, or make an introduction. By asking for these small closes, you’re getting your prospect used to saying yes to small requests and priming them to say yes to the bigger requests in the future. Hoffman warns to make calls to action specific -- even if a prospect has said no to you previously. "Change up your close, but keep it specific," he says. "Rather than asking for another meeting or call, ask for general information that’s easier to give." For example, you might say, "I’m trying to get a better understanding of your organization. Where can I learn more about [X project, team, announcement]?" 9. Using a "creative" font Think Gothic font really helps you express yourself over email? Save it for your personal account. When you’re sending professional correspondence, keep things clean and simple with Arial, Times New Roman, or Trebuchet MS fonts. These fonts are proven to be easier to read. Times New Roman uses a heavy serif design with contrasting line weights that guide the reader’s eye from one letter to the next. Arial gives similar letters the same angles and lines which gives your message a non-invasive and recognizable look that appeals to many readers. Trebuchet MS is one of the most web-safe fonts around. The flicks at the beginning and end of tough letters give this font legibility that’s hard to beat. 10. Not using email shortcuts If you're not using email shortcuts, you're wasting valuable time. In fact, the average worker spends 28% of their time each week on email. That's 11 hours a week. Become more efficient in your inbox, and use quick keyboard shortcuts to get to happy hour a little faster. Get started with these guides to email shortcuts in Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail. 11. Following up too soon Waiting 24 hours for an answer to an email is not enough time. If you send a follow up email within that timeframe, you risk giving the impression you're impatient, rude, or have too little going on to occupy your time and attention. As a rule of thumb, wait between five and 10 business days before sending a follow up. This gives your recipient time to thoughtfully respond to your message. It also acknowledges they might just be a little busy and don't have time to respond to your request right away. 12. Sending an email when you really need to call It's no secret that most of us prefer to be contacted by email rather than over the phone. A 2018 survey reported 61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands over email. But there are times you just need to pick up the phone anyway. If you're spending more than 20 minutes writing an email, find yourself writing more than three paragraphs, or think your message would be better understood or received in real time, give the recipient a call. 13. Not getting to the point You might be surprised to learn the average time spend reading an email grew to more than 18 seconds between 2011 and 2018. But that doesn't mean you can bury the lead. Kick off your emails with a killer opening line and introduce the reason for your email in the second or third sentence of your first paragraph. This immediately grabs the qualified reader's attention and should earn you those 18 seconds. Here's an example of how not to do this:   Hello Jon, I hope you're well. Things are going well here at Dragonstone. We continue to mine Dragonglass and should be able to meet the deadline of "winter has fallen." I wanted to circle up to discuss the transportation of Dragonglass blades to The Wall. Do you envision them being carried by dragon or by ship? Thanks,Daenerys Jon is forced to read through a full paragraph of small talk before Daenerys gets to the heart of the email: a logistical question about the transportation of Dragonglass. Here's a better email structure:   Hello Jon, Dragonglass mining is going well, but I have a question about transportation of the completed blades. Do you envision moving them by dragon or by ship? Thanks,DaenerysMother of Dragonsp: 123-456-7890e: khaleesi@3dragons.com This is shorter, easier to read, and more efficient. Introduce your ask early, and enjoy higher, quicker response rates. So, there you have it. Avoid these 13 email mistakes and enjoy healthier communication and better business in 2019. Want to continue learning how to send better email? Check out this roundup of email etiquette tips to avoid writing sloppy emails. Read more »
  • The Sales Script Is (Mostly) Dead: 2 Tricks for Better Interactions
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    You heard that right -- sales scripts as we’ve known them are dead in the water. The truth is, your prospects can sniff out a super-scripted pitch a mile away. The realization you’re hearing a prepared spiel will trigger one of the following responses: "Not another spam call! I thought I had my number on the do not call registry…" "I’ve never bought anything from a telemarketer before and I’m not about to start now." "This person doesn’t have a clue who I am. Why should I give them my attention?" If you’re paying real people to make sales calls -- then giving them a strict step-by-step script to follow -- you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to make personalized interactions which actually provide value for your prospect. You want to have an exchange of information. That’s the only way your team will get to the bottom of your prospect’s needs and explain how your product/service is the solution. Static pitches are the work of robocallers. 48 million of these automated calls were made in the United States in 2018, and Americans are becoming increasingly fed up with them. You’re here to develop a genuine connection with your prospect, not just dictate to them. Do this and you’ll easily stand out from the crowd. Remember, it’s still important to provide your team with the support they need to relay the right message to different prospects or leads. The last thing you want is the conversation getting off-track. However, it’s even more important to ensure that your agents have the flexibility to effectively handle objections, answer questions, and demonstrate how your product will provide value to the person on the end of the line. Don’t believe me? I work for contactSPACE, cloud-based call centre software that helps inside sales teams conduct better outreach. One of our clients noticed a massive 50% increase in contacts per hour after moving away from static scripts. In the same 12-month period, their team grew from fewer than 10 sales reps to more than 50. Another of our clients saw a 30% reduction in call-handling time after ditching a clunky dedicated scripting program. Their team was able to make calls more efficiently with an integrated, all-in-one solution, while still maintaining their conversion rates. So, how should sales teams use scripts to their full potential? When to Use Scripts There are exceptions to every rule. Let’s look at a few situations where static scripts could prove useful. 1. Your data is limited If you’ve just got a list of numbers, there’s very little you can do other than make a pitch and hope it sticks. One reason scripts are ineffective is that they leave little room for personalization. You want to make a genuine connection with the person you’re calling by using whatever data you have on hand. This could include very basic facts about your prospect, such as their name. But better results can be achieved with more complex data points that would be almost impossible to integrate into a static script. For example: Your prospect’s previous purchase history from your organization. Your prospect’s previous interaction history. Are they likely to know/remember who you are? When did you speak last, who did they speak with, and what did they say? Your prospect’s job, role tenure, and the solution their team is currently using. Using this information correctly is the easiest way of demonstrating empathy -- a crucial part of showing that you understand your prospect’s needs. Only around 20% of the population has an innate ability to see things from another person’s point of view, which is why providing support in this area is so crucial. Without quality data, it’s almost impossible to develop genuine connections with your prospects, even if you’re a naturally empathic person. However, if you’re limited in the quality of the data you can get a hold of, you can develop scripts based on customer personas. Create a profile for each of the different types of prospects you’re targeting, and then create a script for each of these personas. Or assign a script to every stage of your sales pipeline, to progress your prospects towards your ideal outcome. For example, a referral will require a different pitch than someone who’s never heard of your organization before. As you learn more about your prospect, you’ll want to move towards more personalized interactions. The easiest way of doing this (for low-volume operations. at least) is to assign a dedicated contact owner once your team has qualified the lead. 2. Your team is still developing New team members require more support than those who have been with your organization for a while. As a part of the learning process, it can be worth providing some basic scripts which new reps can use to make it past gatekeepers or introduce what you’re selling. It’s also important that new hires have the right support as they learn to articulate the benefits of your product and think on their feet. They should be able to develop individualized responses to objections, and craft original value statements based on who they’re calling. Let new team members learn from their mistakes. Studies reveal the human brain is wired to warn us of impending mistakes. So, if your rep is allowed to make an error, chances are, they won’t repeat it. On the other hand, if your reps rely entirely on scripts, their performance will be tied to the quality of the messaging you provide. If things go wrong, this may be the mistake of the scriptwriter -- and since your rep will be unable to deviate too much from the provided content, improving performance will be much tougher. In effect, there will be a cap on how well your team can perform until you go through your scripts and update them. You must give your agent the power to define their own results or their upside potential is limited. Excessive scripting is the worst form of micromanagement in an inside sales team. While it may help underachievers improve their performance, scripting restricts the abilities of your top salespeople. Allow your team to spread their wings and some reps will thrive. 3. You must maintain call quality Are you required to say certain things during every call? The FTC requires you identify who you are and why you’re calling at the beginning of every cold call. In the United Kingdom, you’re required to inform the prospect the call might be recorded. You might also want to use a standardized greeting to maintain a set level of formality. When selling certain products -- especially in financial services -- you might read standardized terms and conditions the customer must accept before making a payment. In these situations, scripting is essential to ensure call quality and regulatory compliance. But this doesn’t mean you must script the rest of the call as well. Scripting Alternative One: Data-Driven Pitches As we touched on above, you need quality data to deliver effective, ultra-personalized pitches to your prospects. 69% of buyers say that to improve the sales experience, sales reps should pay more attention to their needs. The first step in this process is profiling your prospect and understanding who they are and how your offer may be perceived. From here, you can craft lead-specific questions that cut to their deepest desires. Source: HubSpot Assuming you have quality data on hand, there are a number of outbound strategies you should consider to make the most of this information: When should I call this person in order to maximize my chances of connecting? What time zone are they in and are they likely to be at work? If a prospect doesn’t pick up, when should I try them again? Should I try them at a different time of day or day of the week? How many times should I dial the number before shelving it? Once your team has connected with a prospect, your challenge becomes how to display the right data in exactly the right place. For example, it would be useful to know the contact’s name, their previous interaction and purchase history, and what lifecycle stage they’re in. Having a comprehensive CRM solution, like HubSpot, can keep this data collated in a way that’s easily accessible, while also enabling you to report on your sales funnel outcomes. Scripting Alternative Two: Guiding Your Agents Through the Call Instead of providing a single script for agents to follow, it’s possible to develop smarter strategies enabling your team to have truly engaging conversations, rather than just making wooden sales pitches. Consider including some rough guides to keep your team on track, instead of a word-by-word script for your team to follow. After introducing yourself and explaining what you do, you might give reps this script: "Here at Acme Bananas, we have a pretty simple philosophy: the freshest, ripest bananas, delivered straight to your door! For as little as $15 a month, we’ll ship out a massive box of the best 100% organic bananas you’ve ever seen, every single week. No commitment required -- just continue your plan when you’re feeling like having a bananaful month." Approach new prospects by asking them about their banana-eating habits. This ensures the call sounds conversational, and it allows the rep to develop a much more personalized pitch. Instead of using this script, you could provide the following guidance: Ask: "Do you regularly buy bananas at the grocery store?" If yes, ask: "Great. How many bananas do you and your family typically consume per month?" Based on their answer, tailor the pitch. Present higher-tier plans to families or the cheaper option to individuals who consumer fewer bananas. If no, ask: "Does anyone else in your household ever buy bananas?" If yes, ask to speak to the decision-maker. If no, pitch: "Were you aware of the amazing health benefits of bananas? They’re an excellent source of nutrients and can even help promote weight loss." You do need to use caution here. Endless If/Then rules can get very confusing, very quickly. Having a roadmap of how to proceed during your call can be helpful. Consider displaying this information on the rep interface, with buttons matching the different stages. "Introduction," "qualification," "payment," and "signoff" are great ways to organize the information you’re providing your team. The Future of Scripting So, I guess I misled you a little with my title. Scripting isn’t dead. It’s just dead as we know it. Keeping your agents on-message -- especially if they’re new to your team -- is critical. To achieve this, preparing words and phrases is still a great idea. However, pure scripts cannot take into account the intricacies inherent in a conversation. If a pre-written spiel is all you’re giving reps, they’ll find themselves under-equipped to win the battle to convert your lead. Scripts fail to account for the nuances of the prospect’s situation, and they lead to dead-ends when the conversation heads in an unforeseen direction. You need a solution with the best of both worlds: guidance for agents, with included record-specific data, but also the freedom to try out different communication strategies. Only then will your team be able to get to the bottom of what each specific prospect really wants. This will enable them to achieve incredible results. Read more »
  • 8 Steps to Setting Smarter Sales Goals
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    Sales Goals Monthly sales goals Waterfall goals Sequence goals Activity goals Incentivized goals Goal progression Stretch goals Mentor goals If your reps only have one goal -- meeting their quota -- they’re selling themselves short (literally). Hold your reps accountable to smaller weekly or monthly goals, and you’ll increase the likelihood they’ll meet their bigger number. Smaller goals let your reps build confidence with incremental wins. They also help track your rep’s progress toward larger goals, giving you more time to work with struggling reps. A Harvard University study found setting specific goals increases motivation beyond simply telling yourself, “I’ll just do my best.” The study ultimately reported students who stuck to a goal-oriented plan performed 30% better than those who didn’t. What would a 30% better performance from each of your reps look like for you? Below, find out how to set sales goals on an individual and team level. It might seem like a lot of work, but the result is motivated salespeople who have the support they need to succeed. How to Set Sales Goals Calculate your monthly sales goal Set waterfall goals Sequence goals Set activity goals Incentivize goals Monitor goal progression Set stretch goals Suggest mentor goals 1. Calculate your monthly sales goal If you’re setting personal or team goals, they should align with annual sales goals. Figure your monthly sales goal by working backward from your company’s annual revenue target. Once that target is defined, calculate how much your department, teams, and individual reps need to sell to meet that goal. Be sure to take seasonal or staffing fluctuations into account. If you’re onboarding three new salespeople this fall, it may be hard to meet aggressive goals during Q4. However, because you’ve planned for this, you can adjust goals and push harder in Q3. 2. Set waterfall goals Budget for ramp-up time when you’re implementing new goals and onboarding reps. If your reps are currently sending 50 emails a week and you want them to send 100, don’t immediately double their weekly email goal. Instead, raise their goal to 60 emails next week, 70 the following week, and so on. This approach is better for morale, because missing goals can increase fear and squash motivation. The waterfall approach also produces higher quality work and better numbers. Your team won’t experience burnout from the increase in work, and you’ll give them time to ramp up quality. 3. Sequence goals This is another way of saying “prioritize your goals.” Determine which goals bring the highest value when hit, and make sure your reps are meeting those first. If you’re sequencing goals for a junior sales rep, set goals around where they can improve. If they need to get better at prospecting, make it a goal for them to increase outreach calls by 10% every week. Sequencing means even if your reps don’t meet every goal, they’ll meet the ones that matter most to your company’s bottom line or their professional growth. 4. Set activity goals If your rep needs to close $4,000 of business this month, convert that target into activity goals. First, use your salesperson’s historical performance throughout the sales funnel to figure out how many emails, calls, and meetings they need. Let’s say they have to close an average of four deals per month to hit quota. If 50% of their demos convert to deals, that means they must demo to eight prospects each month. If 30% of their calls lead to demos, they need to call roughly 27 people. Working backward lets you turn a (potentially intimidating) revenue goal into manageable metrics. 5. Incentivize goals The incentive for your reps to meet their quota? To receive their bonuses and/or variable compensation and keep their jobs. So what’s the incentive for meeting these smaller goals? Consider what motivates your reps. Promise a cash bonus or a round of golf to reps who meet their weekly goals. Don’t have the budget to offer monetary incentive? No problem. Position company-wide recognition or extra vacation time as reward for goals met. 6. Monitor goal progression Goals are of no use if they’re not being monitored. Track progress via a dashboard in your CRM, or have reps enter their weekly numbers the old-fashioned way, in an Excel spreadsheet. If someone on your team isn’t hitting their weekly numbers, talk to them before it becomes an impediment to meeting their monthly quota. Monitoring these small goals makes them worth the extra implementation time, so don’t skimp here -- even if it’s tempting. 7. Set stretch goals This isn’t right for everyone. If a rep is struggling to meet their quota every month, a stretch goal will only increase their anxiety. But if you have a high performer, set realistic stretch goals -- perhaps 125% of goal -- that will challenge and motivate them. 8. Suggest mentor goals If a rep is having trouble ramping up or hits a rough patch (it happens to everyone), suggest they find a mentor or two. Provide a framework you'd like them to work through, or advise them to create one with their mentor. Having someone to confide in besides their manager can be just what they need to thrive. Sales Goals Examples Attend one professional development event per month. Set up X product demonstrations per week/day. Touch base with each new client at least once a month. Share one article per week. Reduce the amount of time it takes to convert a lead to a customer. Create a collective goal. See who books the most meetings. Schedule at least three demos with enterprise-level prospects. Hit a retention number greater than X%. Now that we’ve talked about how to set goals, let’s take a look at some examples of goals setting for individual sales reps 1. Attend one professional development event per month. Type of Goal: Personal Sales Goal If a rep isn’t attending professional development events, set a goal of one per month to start. 2. Set up X product demonstrations per week/day. Type of Goal: Personal Sales Goal For a rep who struggles with product demonstrations, set a goal of giving a team member a demonstration once a day, then twice a week, to sharpen their skills. If a rep struggles to move discovery conversations to the next phase, make a goal for them to set up three demonstrations per week, then four, then one a day. 3. Touch base with each new client at least once a month. Type of Goal: Personal Sales Goal Some sales reps struggle to stay in touch with new customers. Make it one of their goals to touch base with each of their new clients at least once a month, then once every two weeks, to keep relationships strong. 4. Share one article per week. Type of Goal: Personal Sales Goal Does your rep need to be more visible within your organization? Set a goal of having them share one article per week on your team Slack channel or internal communication portal. Or ask them to contribute one article per quarter to your company's blog. 5. Reduce the amount of time it takes to convert a lead to a customer. Type of Goal: Personal Sales Goal Speeding up the sales process closes deals quicker -- this means the company will realize the revenue faster, and the sales rep will have more time to spend on other deals and prospecting activities. Creating a goal to reduce the amount of time it takes to move a lead to an opportunity or an opportunity to a customer will speed up the sales cycle. Once your individual performers have personalized goals in place, set team goals. Here are a few examples. 6. Create a collective goal. Type of Goal: Team Sales Goal Provide an incentive that’s only awarded when everyone meets the goal. For example, all salespeople must hit X number of calls/meetings/emails, X amount of revenue, or X% client retention. Dangle a company-paid happy hour in front of your team and watch them work together to help each other succeed. 7. See who books the most meetings. Type of Goal: Team Sales Goal Strike up friendly competition by challenging your reps to see who can book the most meetings or demos this week. 8. Schedule at least three demos with enterprise-level prospects. Type of Goal: Team Sales Goal Need your team to close more enterprise deals? Set a goal for each of your reps to schedule at least three demos with enterprise-level prospects this quarter. 9. Hit a retention number greater than X%. Type of Goal: Team Sales Goal If your reps are easily closing new business, but that business churns three months in, that’s not good. Set goals that incentivize reps to close only quality leads that are a match for your business. For example, you might give a cash bonus to every rep hitting quota whose retention number is higher than a specific percentage. As you’re setting new goals or revisiting old ones, check in with your reps and ask how they’re feeling. Make sure goals are remaining realistic, challenging, and attainable. That’s the recipe for happy, successful reps. To learn more, check out the characteristics of sales reps who meet and exceed their goals next. Read more »
  • The Risks, Benefits, and Point of a Loss Leader Pricing Strategy
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    Ever wonder why milk is always at the back of the store? It's a staple in most American homes, so why isn't it conveniently up front? Without even knowing it, you've encountered loss leader pricing. Loss leader pricing is the time-honored tradition of pricing certain items -- like bread or milk -- below the cost it takes to produce them in order to bring buyers into the store and entice them to purchase other items -- like, say, cereal, a candy bar, and some laundry detergent. It's a smart strategy, especially since recent surveys have found the average consumer spends $5,400 on impulse buys every year. That's $450 per month and around three impulse purchases a week. So, if it's giving consumers good deals and bringing in added revenue for businesses, what's the problem? Let's dig in below. Loss Leader Pricing Loss leader pricing is when a seller marks a product or service for sale below cost to lure buyers into their online or physical store. According to the strategy, the loss leader item is sold at a loss but the buyers it brings in will purchase other items, thereby negating the loss. The point of loss leader pricing is to entice buyers into your store with a steeply discounted item. Hopefully, they stick around and buy more. This strategy is commonly used by retailers but can be used by other professional services as well. Loss Leader Pricing Example Video game consoles are a common example of loss leader pricing. Consoles, such as the Xbox One X, are priced below the cost required to make them with the hope that consumers will buy expensive games and add ons once they’ve purchased the console itself. Gillette Gillette has practiced loss leader pricing by selling their mechanical razors below cost. These blades didn’t have a long life and needed to be replaced soon after buyers received their low-cost razors. They purchased replacement blades or other Gillette products and completed the loss leader sales cycle. Introductory pricing “Introductory pricing” is a type of loss leader pricing. You probably recognize it when you call your cable company to cancel and they offer you six months of free HBO if you agree to renew your subscription. Print news companies will often offer a trial subscription at a low cost. Once that trial period is over, however, the consumer's price will go up, sometimes drastically. For example, a few years ago The New York Times offered me six months of weekend papers for approximately $25/month. Two years later, that monthly cost had ballooned to nearly $60/month, but I paid that monthly cost for another year before changing my subscription. Black Friday Many of the deals offered on Black Friday also employ loss leader pricing. Stores offer appliances, televisions, and toys at cost and open their doors early to attract buyers. Some retailers even offer free gifts to the first hundred customers in line to drive up demand and push more people into their stores. The hope, of course, is that these buyers don’t simply take the free offer and run but that they stick around and buy other goods that are not as steeply discounted. Problems with Loss Leader Pricing Cherry picking When buyers purchase a business’ loss leader product without buying other goods, this is called cherry picking. It’s one of the downsides of loss leader pricing. These buyers might visit several online or physical stores purchasing loss leaders at each but never buying another item. The danger for these businesses is that they experience a loss that is not offset by the purchase of other merchandise. If buyers continue to cherry pick, businesses may lose too much money and face financial hardship. To guard against this, purveyors of loss leader pricing often set limits to the quantity of loss leader items that can be purchased in a single visit. For example, a retailer might limit one loss leader television per person or cap a loss leader discount to the first 100 people in line. Consequences for manufacturers If a retailer prices a product as a loss leader, they’ll likely draw quite a bit of business away from competitors who sell the same product at a higher price. This negatively affects the manufacturer/supplier who sees the volume of orders from non-discounting retailers drop and an increase in volume from the loss leader retailer rise. This places stress on manufacturer/retailer relations and can lead manufacturers to feel they must lower prices. Ramifications for small businesses Loss leader pricing often benefits large corporations that can afford to take a loss on some products or services to enjoy gains on other items. Small or local businesses are most often the losers in this scenario, as they can’t afford to cut prices so steeply. Legal implications Loss leader pricing has been banned in some U.S. states including Oklahoma, California, and Colorado. However, in some states, it's only partially banned, and it's legal in others, including Oregon, Texas, and New Mexico.Australia and Europe have also banned the practice. So, before you try out loss leader pricing on your business, check to make sure you're in a location where it's still allowed. Hungry for more pricing strategy information? Check out this piece on cost-plus pricing or this one on finding your product's actual selling price. Read more »
  • The 24 Best Sales Management Books Every Sales Manager Should Read
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    You were an outstanding sales rep -- and now, as a sales manager, you're eager to cultivate the same performance from your team members. But you quickly realize that leading a team is far different from carrying your individual quota. Both your day-to-day and ongoing responsibilities are completely different than your previous ones. Plus, you're calling on a brand-new set of skills, like coaching, scaling, and recruiting. Fortunately, you don't have to figure everything out on your own. Thousands of newly minted sales managers have been in your exact position, and many of them have written top-notch guides to thriving in this role. We've rounded up sales management books that every first-time manager should read. Scroll down to find your new reading list. Best Sales Management Books Sales Management. Simplified. The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits Sales Management for Dummies Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance Nuts and Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales' Front Lines Predictable Revenue 52 Sales Management Tips: The Sales Manager's Success Guide ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game The Sales Boss: The Real Secret to Hiring, Training and Managing a Sales Team Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World's Sales Leaders The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales Inbound Selling: How to Change the Way You Sell to Match How People Buy Race to Amazing: Your Fast Track to Sales Leadership The Sales Leader's Problem Solver: Practical Solutions to Conquer Management Mess-ups, Handle Difficult Sales Reps, and Make the Most of Every Opportunity The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever The One Minute Manager First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal The Sales Enablement Playbook To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team 1. Sales Management. Simplified. Mike Weinberg In part one of this concise, no-B.S. read, author Mike Weinberg outlines the various ways sales managers unintentionally sabotage their team. You'll get a crystal-clear idea of what not to do. In part two, he shares all the information you need to create a dynamite sales machine. When you close the book, you'll know exactly what to do at work the next day -- and the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. 2. The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits Chris Lytle Do you feel like you're spending all day putting out fires, trying to rally an unmotivated team, and missing your previous job, when you only had to worry about your own quota? If so, Lytle's manual is a must-read. It delves into the causes, symptoms, and cure of this "sales management trap." You'll learn how to turn your B players into A players, recruit and hire candidates with the most potential, run more efficient meetings, and more. 3. Sales Management for Dummies Butch Bellah If you want to get a high-level view of what it takes to be a successful manager, Butch Bellah's comprehensive guide is a good place to start. Bellah, who's been a sales trainer for the past 30 years, covers five main topics: Transitioning from individual contributor to leader Building your team Training and developing your team Running sales meetings and measuring performance Managing top performers, inspiring middle ones, and letting mediocre ones go Not only is this book chock-full of insights you can apply immediately, there are also helpful examples taken directly from Bellah's life. 4. Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana You can't lead your team to success if you don't know what success is. This book boils down a somewhat hazy topic -- "effectively managing a sales force" -- and makes it easy to understand. More importantly, it gives you the exact metrics you should track and sales processes you should implement for your desired business results. Yes, the data and formulas fly fast and furious. But thanks to the easy-to-read, engaging style, you won't have any trouble finishing this one. 5. Nuts and Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization John Treace Got the mission for your team down? Good, because this book is all about turning that vision into reality. Treace spends a handful of pages discussing the cultural foundation of your sales team, but he dedicates 90% of the book to what you should do in the trenches. You'll learn what to do when your salespeople miss their targets, how to present to your manager and other important stakeholders, how to create accurate sales forecasts, how to manage the expense budget, how to design a compensation plan, and more. It's practical and accessible -- and likely to be one of those books you regularly turn to for guidance or ideas. 6. Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives Keith Rosen In a world where sales strategies are constantly evolving, products change every day, and competition for business is at an all-time high, your ability to successfully coach reps is crucial. After all, it only takes 30 days for them to forget 87% of what they learned in training. To make your training stick through ongoing coaching, follow the strategies laid out in Rosen's book. It includes case studies, a month-long improvement plan for underperformers, coaching templates and scripts, and hundreds of coaching questions for every situation you'll encounter. Having a step-by-step playbook like this one in hand will instantly make you feel more confident and in control. 7. The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million Mark Roberge Here's the thing about intuition: More often than not, it's wrong. If you want to build the next $100 million business -- or simply a formidable sales team -- you can't rely purely on your gut. In this book, Harvard Business School senior lecturer and former HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge shares his sales playbook. You'll find the answers to hiring successful sales reps every time, training every salesperson the same way, holding them accountable to one sales process, and providing them with the same quality and quantity of leads every month. People used to think sales was an art, not a science. However, Roberge's predictable, scalable formula proves that's no longer true. 8. Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales' Front Lines David Brock Your first couple months as a sales manager can feel overwhelming and isolating. Enter David Brock's book. Its first section provides new sales managers with a concrete, detailed 30-60-90 day plan, so you'll always know what you should be doing, how much progress you should be making, and what you need to accomplish next. Once you've settled in, you'll find the rest of this "field guide" invaluable. Brock admits that he learned almost all of the lessons in the book the hard way -- but by reading his book, you won't have to. 9. Predictable Revenue Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler This book is all about process. If you want tips and tricks on turning your sales team into a lead-generation and business-closing machine, you've come to the right place. Ross and Tyler dive into the nuts and bolts of an effective sales process, recruiting and hiring strategy, and autonomous, self-managing team. 10. 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager's Success Guide Steven Rosen Are you overworked and under-supported? Do you have ambitious revenue goals -- but few resources? Have you realized you need to take charge of your own success? Anyone who's emphatically nodding "yes" to these questions should pick up Rosen's book. He's called upon 20 years of sales management and coaching to write this straightforward, impactful guide. 11. ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game William "Skip" Miller Reactive sales management is synonymous with "poor sales management." To drive results, you need to spot and resolve potential issues early. This book, which is jam-packed with actionable techniques, delves into: Motivating your reps Helping them prospect and qualify Streamlining meetings and reports Effectively coaching and counseling Forecasting with up to 90% accuracy Transforming good performers into great ones 12. The Sales Boss: The Real Secret to Hiring, Training and Managing a Sales Team Jonathan Whistman Hiring is a big part of any management position. But for a sales manager, it may well be the most important part. After all, your team members are collectively responsible for your goal. To become a fantastic people manager, you need to know how to hire the right people at the right team for the right role. You need to know what your salespeople need to be as successful as possible. You need to know how to remove obstacles from their path so they can focus on selling. Good news: That's exactly what this book will teach you. 13. Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World's Sales Leaders Thomas Baumgartner Have your eye on a director -- or someday, VP -- role? You'll want to study this pick, written with the help of experts from McKinsey & Company. It provides you with a blueprint for sales growth that's based on interviews with 200-plus of the world's most successful global sales leaders. You'll understand which levers to pull, how to develop your organization's "sales DNA," what technology to arm your reps with, and more. 14. The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales Trish Bertuzzi Need more customers? The answer is likely a yes. Author Trish Bertuzzi, with her three decades of sales experience, introduces six elements for using inside sales to build pipelines and boost revenue growth: strategy, specialization, recruiting, retention, execution, and leadership. This book provides strategies your team can use to fill their pipelines and generate more customers -- and ultimately propel your business forward with high-growth revenue increases. 15. Inbound Selling: How to Change the Way You Sell to Match How People Buy Brian Signorelli In the age of the empowered buyer, how do you and your sales team remain relevant? Brian Signorelli, director of HubSpot's Global Sales Partner Program, provides a step-by-step approach to inbound selling and details how to manage an inbound sales team. This book is a must-read for all sales professionals: frontline sales representatives, sales managers, and executives. And you'll have the information and strategies you need to cater to today's buyers. 16. Race to Amazing: Your Fast Track to Sales Leadership Krista S. Moore Krista S. Moore is the Founder and CEO of K.Coaching, Inc. -- a sales leadership coaching, consulting, and training organization -- and was the sales leader for multimillion-dollar startups and Fortune 500 companies. In her book, she expresses the need for companies to upskill their sales leaders so businesses can achieve sales success and innovation. She offers a “coach approach” to leadership and provides the information you need to build a winning sales strategy, create a sales management system, and develop your leadership style. 17. The Sales Leader's Problem Solver: Practical Solutions to Conquer Management Mess-ups, Handle Difficult Sales Reps, and Make the Most of Every Opportunity Suzanne Paling Training and development are often focused on individual sales representatives, with little emphasis on manager and leadership training. Founder of Sales Management Services, Suzanne Paling, took her two decades of sales consulting and management experience and created a guidebook for sales managers. The book acts as a coach and offers guidance on solving common issues with the salesperson who won't prospect, sells inconsistently, only pursues the easiest clients, doesn't enter data into the CRM, etc. Suzanne develops an easy-to-follow format for sales leaders to tackle these challenges head-on. 18. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever Michael Bungay Stanier Coaching isn't something you do once a week at check-ins with your staff. Bungay Stanier shares his techniques for making sales coaching an informal part of your day. How? Talk less and ask more with Bungay Stanier's seven essential coaching questions. Authors Brené Brown, Daniel Pink, and Dave Ulrich are fans of this book, so you'll be in great company when you give it a read. 19. The One Minute Manager Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D, and Spencer Johnson, M.D. Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D, and Spencer Johnson, M.D. share the secret to success in this strategic guidebook. You'll learn easy-to-master techniques like one-minute goal setting, one-minute praise, and even one-minute reprimands.  Dr. Johnson is the author of the revered business book "Who Moved My Cheese," and he brings his expertise to the table again in this quick read. 20. First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman, and Jim Harter Do you think all great managers have something in common? These authors do. Buckingham, Coffman, and Harter argue that not everyone can achieve everything they set their mind to -- even with the right training. Instead, good managers help people overcome their weaknesses.  This book looks at Gallup studies of great managers and draws 12 simple statements that set strong departments apart from the rest. Learn how to apply these statements to your own work and see your team flourish. 21. The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal David Hoffeld Social psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics ... if you thought none of these topics applied to management, think again.  In his book, Hoffeld shows you how to use the way our brains work to sell better. After all, the stronger you are at selling, the better you'll be able to lead a team to greatness. 22. The Sales Enablement Playbook Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey Sales pros Bray and Sorey share hard-learned strategies for creating a culture of sales enablement in this must-read. No matter your company's size or industry, the authors promise you'll discover how to impact growth and contribute to a sales organization that thrives. 23. To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others Daniel H. Pink Have a career in sales and haven't read this book? Blasphemy! Sales managers should brush up on this read and share it with all new members of their team.  Pink shares the new ABCs of moving others, explains why changing people's minds isn't always the best way to close a sale, and shares give frames for making your message clearer and more persuasive. Haven't read this classic in a while? Give it another look today. 24. Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team Josiane Feigon The shift from field sales to inside sales is undeniable. In her book, Feigon shares a playbook for selling to the new, elusive buyer, choosing the best tools for your team, and hiring, training, and retaining top inside sales talent. You'll learn from real-life examples and walk away with new communication strategies that will boost your managerial clout. Use these resources to cut your learning curve dramatically. In time, you'll be just as good a leader as you were an individual team member -- hopefully even better. Want more? Check out these must-read sales books for beginners, the most highly rated sales books of all time, or these must-read books for CEOs and entrepreneurs. Read more »
  • How the HubSpot Sales Team Used Video to Engage More Prospects
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    Sales calls and emails are tried and true methods of engaging and converting sales prospects. In fact, the average sales development representative performs almost 100 activities per day in an effort to engage prospective customers — including outreach via social media, phone calls, voicemails, and emails. However, only 24% of sales emails are ever opened. It also takes an average of 18 sales calls to connect with a potential buyer. These aren't very promising numbers. Working in sales is challenging. But this sort of challenge only served to fuel our team at HubSpot. They decided to tweak their prospect outreach strategy and try something a little different: Video. To learn more, I sat down with Cam Karosis and Ron DeCosta, two Business Development Representatives (BDRs) on HubSpot's Small Business team. Introducing Video to the Sales Prospecting Process It's an average day for HubSpot's Small Business Sales Team. BDRs across the sales floor are seeking out prospective customers for HubSpot products. The team typically decides to reach out for one of two reasons: A prospect has recently taken action on the HubSpot website that indicates interest. A potential growth opportunity for a prospect's business or website surfaces. If a prospective customer satisfies one of those two criteria, BDRs will follow up with a phone call or email. They'll also use the HubSpot CRM database to record any information or language relevant to a prospect's recent website activity: a CRM sign-up, content download, etc. Cam Karosis follows a more iterative process. He'll call a prospect, and if he doesn't get ahold of them, he'll Sequence them … unless it's more appropriate to send an individual, personalized email. "I prefer to have about four to six touches per prospect and up to 10 on Target Accounts," he said. Target Accounts are accounts that have been specifically assigned to BDRs to own, manage, and get on the phone. Karosis has found that, for those Target Accounts, a more personalized approach usually yields better results. "Otherwise, Sequences are a good way to elicit a response if you're trying to stay at the top of their inbox or connect with them through relevant language in one of the Sequence emails," he said. "I'm a big fan of staying respectfully persistent." Automate your follow-up emails and turn your most effective and repetitive sales emails into templates with HubSpot Email Sequences. Although Karosis has seen some success calling and Sequencing his prospects, he still felt like he could do more. Perhaps there was a way to make contact in a more innovative way. Ron DeCosta agreed. After leaving countless voicemails for prospects, he needed a creative outreach avenue. "I had gotten literally seven responses from the thousands of voicemails I'd left," he said. This is initially where the idea for video came into play. All HubSpot Sales teams have access to a video tool called Vidyard. "We were encouraged to use [Vidyard] to add an authentic personal touch to the outreach process," Karosis recalled. As a freelance video editor, Karosis immediately loved this idea. He began creating Vidyard videos for prospects, starting with a variety of candid videos of him sitting at his desk. Karosis's process was simple: He sourced companies with websites he could share on his screen as he recorded his videos. He recorded the website on-screen while discussing each prospect's traffic rankings and giving concise examples of where he saw missed opportunities. He also inquired about what was working and not working for the prospect. He filmed himself talking alongside their webpage so the two were visible at the same time. "I did this many, many times with companies, sometimes getting no results," Karosis admits. "But it was a good effort that made me feel like I went a little above and beyond to try to get in touch with these people." As the first to try video outreach, Karosis's efforts quickly rippled through his team and larger sales organization. Although some videos didn't see great results, the team acknowledged that a more creative, personalized approach to prospecting couldn't hurt. DeCosta was immediately intrigued. "In the same amount of time as a voicemail, I could record a personalized video and be able to see if they viewed it," he said. His efforts weren't wasted — after making his first 10 videos, DeCosta landed four prospect meetings, which was a much higher conversion rate than he experienced with voicemails. Personalizing Videos for Sales Prospects Karosis and DeCosta didn't stop there. They saw an opportunity to personalize their videos even more — by featuring a prospect's product in their video. Karosis purchased a hat from his prospect's clothing line, and DeCosta purchased his prospect's nutrition products from a sponsored Instagram ad. Both BDRs were genuine customers of the prospects they were pursuing. They decided to leverage this in their outreach videos. "It dawned on me that a Vidyard video with the hat on would be a much more impactful way to say ‘Hey, I'm a huge fan of your stuff'," Karosis said. "Not only did I buy their hat on my own accord, but I also wanted to see more people wearing their stuff — and I genuinely love helping the brands I like grow using a tool like HubSpot." The prospect had a great response to the video, and not long after, Karosis was scheduling meetings and showing demos. The specific response from the prospect was: "P.S. That video was slick. Great sales tactic with the hat! That certainly pulled you out of the sea of sales emails I get all the time, and set you apart from the rest." DeCosta had a similar experience. The day his order arrived, he looked up the prospect and noticed it was a Target Account. Activity on the CRM indicated that it was a high-priority account and that his team was working to connect with the prospect. "I recorded a Vidyard showing I was a fan of the brand and their ad strategy. It worked, and I ended up scheduling a meeting the following week," DeCosta explained. "I've found that prospects love [the Vidyard messages] because it's a chance to not only show you're a fan of their brand but to also point out opportunities on their website or holes in their strategy. I also show them where they could put a call-to-action or what content they could be gating to generate more leads on their site — and prospects appreciate the free advice." How to Introduce Video to Your Sales Prospecting Strategy Karosis and DeCosta's videos led to increased engagement across the board. Their Vidyard experiences also led to many team members recording their own videos, making authentic connections with prospects, and closing deals of their own. To readers who are looking to implement similar strategies, Karosis and DeCosta have some advice: "Don't dilute your video messaging," DeCosta implores. "Be smart and strategic, always add value, keep it short, and keep it extremely personalized." Karosis finds this strategy particularly helpful for companies who sell a product that's better explained or shown in person. For those companies, include a concise product demo right in your marketing emails, and include a link to your website to give prospects an opportunity to further educate themselves. "In my opinion, the tool is less important than the effort," Karosis says. "Just get out there and give it a real try, measure the results, and keep at it if it's a working formula!" Does video help close more deals? The team can't yet say for sure, but they intend to continue to use the Vidyard tool. This experiment was just the beginning. Video is still working its way into sales prospecting and engagement. Stay tuned for results! Read more »
  • CRM Best Practices: How to Choose the Best Free CRM System
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    Your business is growing, and spreadsheets are getting frustrating to manage. You know you need a CRM, but there are hundreds of CRMs and hundreds more features available. How do you decide which is the best for your business? This CRM best practices guide will walk you through how to evaluate a CRM, from how it will help your business and how to map your needs to core features. By the end of the guide, you'll know how to choose the best CRM for your business needs. Don't waste time and energy evaluating CRM systems and features you don't need. Get started below. What is CRM? What are the benefits of CRM? How do I know if my company needs a CRM? What is the ROI of a CRM? CRM Best Practices What is the ideal CRM for my company? How is HubSpot free CRM different from competitors?  I’m ready to move my team onto the HubSpot CRM What is CRM? CRM, or customer relationship management, is a strategy companies use to track customer relationships from pre- to post-sale. A CRM database is software that stores information on client and prospect interactions with employees. Marketing and Sales touchpoints (including email, phone, website, live chat, and social media) are tracked, providing customer-facing employees with detailed context on a client’s activity and feedback. What are the benefits of CRM? The benefit of having a CRM system is having a central database for all customer information. A business’s most valuable and important asset is its customer base. At many companies, knowledge about customers is stored in many places -- the CEO’s brain, a sales rep’s inbox, an accountant’s records, or even a spreadsheet. As your company grows, it’ll become harder and harder for your sales team to hunt down information about customers and prospects. It rapidly becomes painful to find answers to basic questions like, When did I last speak with a prospect? How should I prioritize my leads? Which customers are ready for an upsell? Hunting down those answers takes time away from what your sales team should be doing: Selling. Businesses often run off of spreadsheets, but that only works for a while. The spreadsheet gets bulkier as your team grows and quickly becomes difficult to manage. Salespeople will forget or choose not to enter details about their calls and emails to save time, and it becomes nearly impossible for managers to accurately forecast or get visibility into team pipelines. The result? Less organization, more confusion, and fewer closed deals. CRM systems are designed to solve these problems. By organizing all lead and customer information in one place and automating data entry, CRM software makes it easy to run the sales process smoothly. Below is a view of how HubSpot's CRM dashboard displays deal forecasts, sales pipeline, and deals closed against quota for a given month. How do I know if my company needs a CRM? Any company that wants to maintain a relationship with their customers will benefit from using a CRM system. Two types of companies that see the most benefit are: B2B companies that track leads across longer, consultative sales cycles and through upgrade paths (for example, software companies, agencies, or recruiting firms) Considered-purchase B2C companies (for example, realtors, financial services, or landscaping services) There are many companies that may not fall into the above groups but would still benefit from a CRM system. The questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your need for a CRM system are: Do I need records of information about prospects and customers? Does that information live in many different places? Is it becoming difficult to manage my data? Do my customers regularly interact with multiple people on my team? Do I need a better way to measure my sales team’s productivity? Is my team getting slowed down because they have to jump between different places to find lead or customer data? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, your business could benefit from a CRM system. Adopting one sooner rather than later will help you avoid frustration and save you future headaches. What is the ROI of a CRM? There are a lot of CRMs to choose from, and many appear similar to each other. We’re going to dive into how to decide which will give you the most value. A common misconception surrounding CRM systems is that they’re clunky, complicated, and tough to implement. But modern CRM systems don’t require the difficult setup they used to. They’re quick and intuitive to use, take many manual administrative tasks off your plate, and can be set up in a matter of minutes. Josh Harcus, founder of marketing agency Hüify, saw huge success within just one year of implementing a CRM system. "We wanted to grow quickly so we did a lot of research on inbound selling and created a documented sales process which we baked into the HubSpot CRM," Harcus said. “Within 12 months we saw our revenue multiply 6X." Hüify also saw a significantly shorter sales cycle after adopting the HubSpot CRM -- from nine months to four weeks. Let’s also look at some concrete numbers to show how much time and money a simple CRM solution can save you. The average salesperson makes about $60,000 annually and spends two hours a day on manual data entry. Assuming a 30-day month with 20 selling days, a team of 10 will waste 400 hours on manual data entry every month. That translates to paying your team $12,000 a month to do manual data entry. Assuming an 8-hour work day, that’s 25% of each month spent on data entry. In the data visualization below, the first scenario is an ideal situation: A sales professional spends one chunk of their day doing manual data entry and can spend the rest of the day focused on selling. However, the bottom scenario is more accurate. Out of every two hours, 30 minutes is spent on manual data entry. This results in lost productivity as your sales team switches gears from data entry to selling back to data entry. A study by the University of California, Irvine [pdf] found that it takes 23 minutes to regain focus on a task after an interruption. That time should be spent selling so your business is bringing in cash, not wasting it. To sweeten the deal? Many modern CRM systems are free. CRM Best Practices Here are a few tips to get the most out of your CRM. 1. Set clear goals. What major pain points will a CRM database help to solve? Before implementing a CRM system, understand what specific goals you'd like to achieve. Common goals might include: Creating a centralized database of contacts. Managing sales pipelines and targets. Tracking revenue and customer conversion goals. With a clear vision of how the CRM can help the business, you'll be able to use it more effectively. 2. Understand your CRM users. CRMs can be used by sales teams, marketers, and more. Understand how each business unit will use the CRM and know which tools they need to be successful. 3. Provide training. Once you know how each department or team will use the CRM, create comprehensive training. This will set them up for success. When they know how they can make the CRM work for them, they'll be more likely to use it. 4. Add automation. Automation is another productivity tool that your team can benefit from. And it can help your team adopt the CRM and use it in their day-to-day workflow. Automating activities like data entry and sending outreach emails can reduce the amount of time spent on tedious tasks. 5. Analyze the data. Your CRM is a database that's jam-packed with useful information. But, how can you make informed decisions with that data?  Create CRM dashboards with reports that compile and analyze the data. It will give you an overview of trends and key data points that can help your strategy. What is the ideal CRM for my company? There are a lot of CRMs to choose from, and many appear similar to each other. In reality, choosing the best one depends on your goals. We’re going to dive into the best practices for deciding which CRM will give you the most value. The biggest mistake many first-time CRM buyers make is evaluating vendors before deciding their own goals. By focusing on vendors, you end up reverse engineering their offerings to define your needs, rather than focusing on areas with real business value to your company. For example, a mobile CRM sounds cutting-edge, but if you only run an inside sales team that’s on-site, it may not be the best fit. Before evaluating CRM vendors, ask yourself these questions: Why are we investing in CRM? What operational business challenges do we need to solve? What processes do we lack that we should implement? How many people do I expect to use the CRM? How much customer information do we have? What other software do we use that the CRM should integrate with? How much budget do I have? According to SoftwareAdvice.com, small businesses that are first-time CRM buyers often overestimate the level of functionality they need. Using an overly robust system means you’ll have to invest more in setup and customization, which is a waste of resources if your challenges can be addressed by the most basic CRM systems. It’s much easier to start with a simpler CRM and move to a more comprehensive solution later on. Another point of concern is that businesses will lose the data they already have on their customers when they adopt a CRM. But it's easier than ever to import data into or between CRMs (yes, even from your spreadsheets). If many solutions look really similar, we recommend you: Contact the vendor and review your list of requirements with a sales rep Read product reviews and ask peers which system they use Compare prices and focus on getting the features you need An ideal CRM should include some of these key features: Detailed contact records Contact segmentation Automation tools Sales pipeline management Dashboard and reporting capabilities Choose the CRM software that you consider best for your needs and stick to your decision. Indecisiveness will cost a lot of time and money. How is HubSpot free CRM different from competitors? When you're searching for the right CRM, "free" can seem too good to be true. HubSpot's free CRM must have limitations, right? We decided it was best not to answer that question ourselves, so our friends at Capterra stepped up and shared interesting data about what sets our free CRM apart from our paid services. So, what does all of this mean? Capterra independently surveyed 135 HubSpot CRM users. Of those respondents, 20% of free users were more likely to be first time CRM users. 66% of HubSpot users reported accessing the free version every month, while 30% upgraded to gain additional functionality. Over 90% of paid HubSpot users said they integrate with another software, while that number was only 19% for free users. Email marketing and marketing automation ranked highest for the types of software HubSpot users integrate with, followed closely by social media. When asked how many employees free users had when they began using HubSpot CRM, 61% said they had less than 50 employees, and 15% reported growing above 1,000 employees after implementing HubSpot. So, what was the overall satisfaction of HubSpot CRM users? We're proud to report Capterra's data gave us 4.5/5 for ease of use, customer service, features and functionality, and value for money, oh, and overall use. I’m ready to move my team onto the HubSpot CRM. What’s the next step? Click below to get started with HubSpot CRM. Once you create an account, we’ll walk you through the necessary steps to get set up and start seeing the benefits of a CRM immediately. The first steps & best practices to successfully implementing a CRM are: Migrate your existing data (whether from a spreadsheet or another database) Import contacts from your current database or spreadsheet Invite your sales team to the CRM system Understand how to filter your contacts for high quality leads Good luck! Visit our community if you have any trouble setting up your CRM. Read more »
  • 8 Questions for Finding Business Pain Points
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    Ever spent time with a prospect who didn't buy? Of course you have. Is it fun? No, it is not. Selling to people who can't or won't buy is a huge drain on your sales productivity, budget, and team. Top two-percenters need to spend time only with prospects who need your help, want your help, and are willing to work with you to solve their problems. Your prospects need to have authority and money, but having business pain trumps both. If your prospects don't have business pain, they have no need. And without need, there's no hope for a sale. It's up to salespeople to ask effective sales questions and uncover business pain as quickly as possible. Business Pain Points True business pain isn't a problem where the solution is a nice-to-have. It's a budgeted, pull-your-hair-out, have-to-get-it-solved, discussed-at-the-board-level kind of problem. Business pain points affect a company's bottom line and must be solved in order for them to grow and function successfully. Examples of business problems include making a fully functional product slightly prettier, slightly decreasing a product's price, or small work-life balance issues. These are slight annoyances -- but aren't keeping the company from functioning. Business pain points, on the other hand, do. Business Pain Point Examples If your prospects say they have serious employee dissatisfaction and retention issues impacting their productivity and hiring, customer churn impacting their revenue, or a severe lack of leads making it impossible to hit their revenue goals -- you've hit on business pain points. Pain is the first thing top salespeople look for in their prospects. These are some of the most common business pain points your prospects might face. 1. Productivity Pain Points Is there something that's prohibiting a company and its employees from working efficiently and effectively? Your product or service might be able to help them solve these issues. 2. Process Pain Points Sometimes there are issues with a business' systems and processes. Additional pain points, like productivity issues, often stem from process challenges. Your prospects want to improve internal processes, such as assigning leads to sales reps or nurturing lower-priority leads 3. Financial Pain Points Many companies overpay for the products and services they use, which results in financial strain. Your offerings might be able to help businesses who want to reduce their spending. Now that you know which pain points to look for, here are eight questions to help you improve qualifying for business pain. 8 Questions That Can Identify a Customer's Pain Points 1. What's your biggest inhibitor to company (or division) growth? Pain point question for: All prospects This is a classic soundbite that cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Every company is in the business of growth, so the biggest obstacle to growth is generally a serious pain. Many prospects haven't thought about this at all, so this question builds your personal credibility as well. Helping prospects talk through their current business situation can increase your understanding of the company while demonstrating your expertise in a non-showy way. Usually, the business pains fall around revenue, customers, employees, product, or investment capital. Get to the meat of the conversation quickly with these follow-up questions: "What's your plan to tackle X pain?" "When is your deadline to solve this problem?" "Do you think it'll be easy or hard to solve it?" "Who in your company is working to fix this right now?" These questions will blow your conversation wide open. By drilling down on any of these questions, you'll learn a lot about your prospect's pain and spot opportunities to help. You will also learn how they are approaching their pain. You should hear a certain amount of stress in their voice. This is healthy. It means they are likely to spend money to help address a business issue. 2. What is your biggest hairball? Pain point question for: All prospects This is a more whimsical version of question one. I like using it because it has personality, is funny, and creates a vision of chaos. Most importantly, it'll stir up your prospect's emotion and gets to their core needs. Whether they're facing a major cross-departmental operational issue, an internal team problem, or a clear obstacle to growth, getting your prospect talking about what they're most frustrated by is a great way to get them excited about a potential solution. It is also more personal. You're asking your prospect how the pain affects them. Based on their answer, you'll be able to determine if they have a potential personal win that can give you some extra support to get the deal through. 3. What does your boss obsess about? Pain point question for: Individual contributors You won't always be talking to the head honcho -- sometimes, you'll be speaking to someone two or three levels below them. It's in your best interest to get them involved in the conversation as early as possible. There are three reasons for this. They usually control the budget for B2B buying decisions. Their pain won't necessarily be the same as an individual contributor's pain, but they're the one that needs to pull the trigger on a purchase, so start with her pain. A manager's pain usually filters down to her direct reports. While an individual contributor and manager won't view the problem the same way, a win for the manager will usually improve her direct reports' lives as well. A lot of your prospects will have crappy bosses, and getting them off your prospects' backs is a big motivator in the sales process. It signals inexperience. If your contact doesn't know (or think about) their boss's business pain, then it might be a sign that they're too junior or inexperienced to help move a deal forward. 4. What takes up the most time in your day? Pain point question for: Individual contributors and managers This is another angle to approach business pain that focuses on your point of contact. Salespeople hear over and over again that buyers care more about value than features, and this question reveals the concrete value your product could have to your prospects on a personal level. Ask your prospect about how solving a business pain would impact their team. Would it save them two hours of work a day? Cut their time spent in meetings in half? If you can find something concrete your prospect's itching for, dig deeper and see exactly how you can help. 5. What's been repeatedly discussed at standups or all-company meetings by senior management? Pain point question for: Senior managers and leadership As mentioned above, business pain isn't two employees complaining there isn't enough toilet paper in the bathrooms. It's not something that can be fixed quickly or easily. Pain is what keeps the CEO up at night. It has to be addressed for the company to continue operating at full speed. What do senior managers put on their quarterly planning agendas? What do they talk about incessantly? What do they send all-company emails about? This is the business pain you're looking for. 6. What are your gripes? Pain point question for: All prospects This might seem petty, but the responses you'll earn with this question can be extremely telling. What begins as a complaint about not enough toilet paper might lead you to bigger pain points such as, "We don't have enough toilet paper because our company-wide budgets have been slashed this quarter. We're really focusing all available resources on advertising in the coming weeks and months." A lack of toilet paper is a seemingly laughable and lighthearted gripe -- but when the experienced salesperson asks follow-up questions and digs in here, it can illuminate a larger issue you have the resources to solve for. Not all questions need to be addressed to your prospects. It's important to take the pulse of the rest of your sales team's pipelines and challenges and understand what your prospect questions are not uncovering. Here are two questions to ask your fellow salespeople to uncover prospect and customer business pain points. 7. Why are we losing deals? Pain point question for: Your internal sales team If you offer more features at a higher cost than Competitor X but are still losing deals to them, you've uncovered a business pain point: budget. It's important to discern whether you need to get better at selling your product, qualifying your leads, or trimming unnecessary features/services from certain plans. 8. Why are customers churning? Pain point question for: Your internal sales team Just because you close a deal, doesn't mean your customer's pain points go away. Dissect why customers are dropping your business and address those pain points just as you would in the sales process. If you're losing business because your customer service wait time is too long -- that's a business pain point for both parties. For your customer, it's an impediment to them using your product/service to solve for their business. And your company can't continue to grow in this manner either. 3 Tips for Addressing Business Pain 1. Use your prospect's language when talking about pain This is a psychological technique that can go a long way in building trust with your prospect. Instead of trying to appear impressive by relying on jargon only your colleagues would understand, show your prospect you take them seriously by using their language and terminology. 2. Find out who's empowered to solve the pain Find the economic buyer as quickly as possible. Ask your prospect whose budget a purchase would come out of and what teams would need to be involved in a buying decision. There's little point spending hours with a person who can't ink a deal. 3. Identify additional key stakeholders as early as possible If you're selling to multiple teams and one team has completely different priorities than another, you need to know early. If you'll have to go through a two-month legal review process before you can close a deal, you need to know early. Prospects are sometimes worried they'll appear less authoritative if they tell you they're not the sole decision maker, so I like to use the following questions to avoid that impression: Who besides yourself needs to be involved in this decision? Who else would want to know that we had this conversation? Affirm your prospect's involvement while asking for information, and it'll be easier to make sure your pitch meets everybody's requirements. To learn more, check out these sales questions to quickly identify your customers' needs next. Read more »
  • The 34 Best Sales Training Videos on YouTube
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    Sales Videos Jeffrey Gitomer: "Stop Closing and Start Providing Value" Jill Konrath: "Stunningly Unused Sales Technique" Robert Cialdini: "Science of Persuasion" Art Sobczak: "How to Quit Cold Calling and Smart Call Instead" Brian Tracy: "Applying the 80/20 Principle to Goal Setting" Dave Kurlan: "Stop Making Excuses" Mike Weinberg: "Having the Right Sales DNA" Gerhard Gschwandtner: "How to Teach Business Acumen to Salespeople" Mark Hunter: "3 Fatal Mistakes When Giving Your Price" Jim Pancero: "Your Price is Too High! 7 Steps to Defending Price" Trish Bertuzzi: "The Biggest Problems in Sales Development" Will Barron: "Persistence and Harassment in Prospecting" Marc Wayshak: "5 Easy Phone Sales Tips" Sales for Life: "4 Simple Reasons Why Salespeople Should Be Chief Listening Officers" Jennifer Gluckow: "The Secret to Smart Networking" Annette Lackovic: "How to Set Up a Sales Follow-Up Call" Vanessa Van Edwards: "5 Killer Science-Based Sales Techniques" Sales Benchmark Index: "How to Beat the Competition and Increase Revenue Growth" Sandler Training: "Answer Every Question with a Question" Alexander Group: "How to Support the Rise of Subscription-Based Sales" Richardson: "The Four-Step Model for Handling Any Sales Objection" Sales Scripter: "Building a Value Proposition that Generates Leads" LinkedIn Sales Solutions: "Connect with the Right Prospects" Aja Frost: "How to Get a Job in Sales" Kyle Jepson: "Create a Sales Hiring Strategy" Kyle Jepson: "Build a Sales Playbook" McDaniel Real Estate Systems: "How to Prospect Like a Rockstar" Steve Richards: "If You Can't Justify the Price, You Don't Belong in Sales" Sean T. Bradley: "Handling Price Objections in a Very Different Way" Cesar L. Rodriguez: "How to Eliminate the Pain & Fear of Rejection" Matt Morris: "How to Define Your Purpose" Tony Robbins: "Change Your Life -- Be a Leader" Gary Vaynerchuk: "6 Minutes for the Next 60 Years of Your Life" Tai Lopez: "Audit Who You Are and Stop Hoping" Training magazine's 2016-2017 study showed the average annual training budget for companies under 1,000 employees was $290,000. For companies between 1,000 and 9,999 employees, that budget grew to $3.7 million. And for companies with 10,000+ employees, the budget balloons to $13 million. Clearly, if your team needs sales training, there are a lot of options available. But before your company forks over any more of your hard-earned revenue on sales training, check out the hours of free training on YouTube. To help you find the right ones, I invested a few hundred hours sifting through dozens of these channels to create a guide to sales training video channels on YouTube. Warning: If you’re supposed to be productive today, bookmark this post and come back to it. Otherwise, you might spend all day on YouTube. Best Sales Videos Sales Videos by Well-Known Selling Experts 1. Jeffrey Gitomer Jeffrey Gitomer, known to many as the King of Sales, is the author of 13 sales books and a National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member. You might know him from The Little Red Book of Selling, the best-selling sales book of all time (and one of our picks for 10 must-read sales books for rookie reps). With his books translated into 14 languages, he is literally known the world over for his simple, insightful, and direct sales advice. After watching a few of his videos, go re-read one of his books. I guarantee you’ll hear his voice in your head. I recently featured a few of Gitomer’s videos on writing sales emails on this blog. But my favorite video is "Stop Closing and Start Providing Value, or Lose to Price." Watch "Fear of Rejection is Bogus!" too: It thoroughly explains the attitude salespeople need to have to be successful. 2. Jill Konrath An award-winning author and highly sought-after keynote speaker, Konrath provides practical and modern strategies in her videos to help sales teams generate and close more leads. She is an expert at advanced prospecting strategies including positioning value to prospects through messaging and a big advocate of the mantra "Always Be Learning." To drive home the importance of silence in sales (especially when it's uncomfortable), I often recommend the video “Stunningly Unused Sales Technique." And my favorite is "3 Components Every Value Proposition Must Have." 3. Influence at Work Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., is the founder of Influence at Work. He's dedicated the majority of his career to researching the psychology of influence, and I keep a copy of his book “Influence: The Science of Persuasion” in my car’s CD changer. Admitting to listening to a CD might seem really dated, but the fact that I haven't purchased any CD in more than a decade just shows how amazing his stuff is. The video you should watch first is “Science of Persuasion," where he explains the six principles that guide human behavior. Don’t just listen -- the video boasts really slick animation that accompanies the audio. (I can’t wait for autonomous cars so I can watch these on the road. I wonder if they’ll have disc changers or YouTube in them -- Elon?) Another must-watch video introduces the core concept of a book Cialdini co-authored with Steve Martin and Dr. Noah Goldstein called “The Small Big” -- the secret to finding the smallest change that will have the biggest impact. 4. Art Sobczak Sobczak is known for his hands-on, practical advice for telephone and inside sales professionals. He pioneered the concept of “Smart Calling,” an approach to proactive prospecting that starts with researching prospects in order to break through the barrage of cold calls buyers now tune out. He published a best-selling book of the same name. Most of his videos share how to to do smart calling, including “How to Quit Cold Calling and Smart Call Instead." But my favorite are his more creative videos, including "Make Sales Great Again" and this mock commencement address video, “The Commencement Address Graduates Need to Hear, But Won't.” It rings true, and if you're a new graduate or ever have ‘experience issues’ in the workplace, watch it. 5. Brian Tracy Tracy’s company, Brian Tracy International, offers training on a variety of subjects. They provide sales training as well as other topics applicable to advancing your sales career, such as personal development, time management and leadership training. Over the last 30 years, Tracy has consulted more than 1,000 companies, and has spoken to more than 5 million people at over 5,000 talks in more than 70 countries. At 72, he’s not slowing down, addressing more than 250,000 people at keynotes per year. If his stamina alone isn't enough to inspire you, his YouTube channel -- "Success Channel" -- will. It features his renowned seminars on leadership, sales, and management effectiveness. In one of his most recent videos, “Applying the 80/20 Principle to Goal Setting," he teaches salespeople how to apply the Pareto principle to goal-setting in order to speed up your success. For a more thorough look at maximizing your sales productivity, watch “Tips to Structure Your Day." 6. Dave Kurlan Dave Kurlan, world-renowned expert on sales hiring, sales development, and sales management (and a personal mentor of mine), is the bestselling author of "Baseline Selling," as well as owner of training firm Kurlan & Associates and salesperson assessment firm Objective Management Group (OMG). OMG’s assessments are used by hundreds of sales training organization around the world to assess salespeople, giving Kurlan access to more data about more salespeople than anyone else. Despite Kurlan’s access to a ridiculous amount of data and insights, he manages to keep his YouTube videos for salespeople simple and actionable. He and his associates from Kurlan & Associates discuss sales and management tactics on YouTube. A must-watch, and his most-watched video is about getting salespeople to stop making excuses. And if you’re in sales management, watch "Use of Assessments When Hiring." 7. Mike Weinberg After I tell new salespeople to read "Baseline Selling," I follow it up with Weinberg’s "New Sales: Simplified."If you’re wondering why your new sales aren’t soaring, watch Weinberg talk about the importance of having the right sales DNA. 8. Gerhard Gschwandtner As CEO of Selling Power Magazine, Gschwandtner is no stranger to telling great sales stories. On his channel, he interviews the world’s sales experts, including many of the ones I’ve listed above. Listen to his interview with Cialdini, titled “How to Persuade without Pressure." Watch “How to Teach Business Acumen to Salespeople” to learn about the importance of being able to talk numbers and finance with business leaders, with guest Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling Associates. With more than a million views on his channel, Gschwandtner is delivering lots of value to lots of salespeople. 9. Mark Hunter Mark Hunter, also known as The Sales Hunter, is the author of "High Profit Selling" and an in-demand speaker and workshop facilitator. As an 18-year sales veteran of multiple Fortune 500 companies before starting his consultancy, he knows what he’s talking about. In most of his videos, Hunter offers tips on how best to improve your close rate by fine-tuning your negotiation skills. For a taste of his videos and his expertise, watch "3 Fatal Mistakes When Giving Your Price." Learn about Hunter’s three T’s of negotiating (time, trust, and tactics) in “Negotiation Skills that Rock.” Videos by Accomplished Sales Consultants 10. Jim Pancero For over 40 years, Jim Pancero has been delivering sales training, keynotes, and consulting. He’s a feet-on-the-street sales consultant who has helped over 600 sales teams across 80 different industries. An expert in both sales, sales management, and proactive customer service, Pancero focuses exclusively on B2B selling where products are relatively high-priced and complicated to sell. For an introduction to his expertise, watch “Your Price is Too High! 7 Steps to Defending Price." 11. Trish Bertuzzi You might recognize Bertuzzi from her must-read book, "The Sales Development Playbook." She also makes regular appearances around various YouTube channels. Learn about the biggest problems in sales development, get her thoughts on the account-based model, and learn inside sales mistakes. Whichever video you choose, Bertuzzi will leave you with solid lessons and actionable steps for becoming a stronger salesperson. Videos by Up-and-Comers 12. Will Barron Will Barron is as much a blogger and podcaster as he is a salesperson. His Salesman.Red blog and podcast reaches more than a half a million people each week. More than any other, he seems to be connecting with millennial salespeople -- not just because he's speaking to them on their medium of choice, but because young hustlers love his tone and in-your-face, somewhat irreverent style. He has frequent guests on his video podcast who are sales heavyweights, and intermixes them with short, informative video rants where he’s the star. He also shares sales lessons from famous people like David Bowie and Barack Obama and creates videos featuring them and their advice. To get a taste of what the kids are watching these days, watch Barron’s play-by-play of an argument about persistence and harassment in prospecting between two sales video heavyweights, Grant Cardone and Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re really ready for some of Barron’s blunt advice, watch "Shit Salespeople Say on The Phone." See why I love Salesman.Red? Brothers from another mother, maybe? 13. Marc Wayshak Wayshak sold his first business at 23, the one he started to put himself through college. His bestselling book "GamePlan Selling" is a favorite here at HubSpot. What I love most about Wayshak’s videos are their simplicity. He’s one of the few tried-and-true sales experts who has also mastered the craft of producing high-quality videos for YouTube. To see what I’m talking about, watch "5 Easy Phone Sales Tips." In a rut? Watch (and complete) Wayshak’s "5-Day Sales Challenge" to get back to the basics and put new prospects into your funnel. 14. Sales for Life Helmed by Jamie Shanks, one of the world's leading experts on social selling, Sales for Life provides training, a community and coaching for social selling. Featuring Shanks’ partner, Amar Sheth, Sales for Life's Social Selling in 60 Seconds videos are a quick and easy way for you to learn why you should integrate social into your sales process. As an Active Listening advocate, one of my favorite videos of Sheth’s is "4 Simple Reasons Why Salespeople Should be Chief Listening Officers," in which he discusses the importance of listening to what your prospects say on social sites. Sales for Life also has a series of videos featuring social selling tools, including HubSpot Sales. 15. Jennifer Gluckow Just as the title of Jennifer Gluckow's channel -- Sales in a New York Minute -- suggests, her videos teach you successful strategies that will have you closing sales in less than a minute. As a local, face-to-face salesperson herself, her videos effectively cover the importance of networking, prospecting and in-person selling. If you’re a member of a Business Networking International (BNI) group, you’ll recognize the advice in “The Secret to Smart Networking.” And just when you thought you might be too old to take a selfie, watch how Gluckow uses selfies to personalize her follow-ups. 16. Annette Lackovic Annette Lackovic, also known as Netty ‘D, puts a very fun spin on her sales videos and aims to encourage female entrepreneurship. Watch Lackovic’s intro video to get a full appreciation for how rapping can make sales training more fun. If Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas) did sales training, this is what it might sound like. Personally, I’m hoping she teams up with Jill Konrath and Brian Tracy to create a full music sales training group. Who knows, Maybe they can open for BEP's reunion tour? Also check out “How to Set Up a Sales Follow-Up Call" and "Top 10 Expo Stand Tips." 17. Vanessa Van Edwards As a body language and behavior expert, Vanessa is more of a researcher than a salesperson herself. In a way, she’s a younger, female version of Robert Cialdini. Backed by years of research and study, her videos and workshops can help you sell yourself, your business and your product -- whether you’re trying to land a date or close a deal. Check out her dance moves on "5 Killer Science Based Sales Techniques" (the techniques are smooth too). Or need a reminder of how to work a room at a networking event or make a great first impression in your first face-to-face meeting with a new prospect? Watch "8 Steps for Approaching Someone New." Videos by Top Sales Consulting Firms 18. Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) SBI is a “management consulting firm specializing in sales and marketing that is dedicated to helping you Make Your Number.” Focused on helping larger companies improve their sales results, SBI's YouTube channel covers sales strategy at a leadership, and management level as opposed to most other channels that emphasize helping individual reps. Their videos follow an interview format and are filmed in their own studio, featuring SBI's own marketing and sales consultants. For a sample, watch "How to Beat the Competition and Increase Revenue Growth." Unlike most sales experts on this list, SBI is also an expert at leveraging marketing to predictably generate revenue. Especially in big companies, it’s critical to align marketing and sales. If you fit this ticket, watch “Aligning Your Content Marketing Strategy with Your Company’s Overall Objectives." 19. Sandler Training With franchise-owned training centers around the world, Sandler Training is a leader in sales, management, and corporate training, as well as business consulting and coaching. First created by David Sandler in 1967, The Sandler Selling System, was one of the first consultative selling systems that’s still very applicable today. Now led by Dave Mattson, Sandler has grown to be one of the largest and probably the most recognized sales training company in the world. Today, their training has expanded beyond sales training to include courses on enterprise selling, sales leadership, and customer service to name a few. To get a feel for the importance of some of their time-tested lessons, watch: "You Have to Learn to Fail to Win, Sandler’s Rule #1." Another one of my favorites is "Answer Every Question with a Question." 20. Alexander Group The Alexander Group is a sales management consulting service provider. They help companies drive ROI and improve revenue -- and they share data-driven insights that steer the sales industry as a whole. They have a great library of quick five-minute-or-less videos perfect for fitting in between phone calls and meetings. I'd start with a few of their most recent offerings covering how to support the rise of subscription-based sales, handle the post-acute seller, and drive high revenue growth. 21. Richardson Founded by sales and sales coaching expert and 10-time author Linda Richardson, the Richardson Group is a 130-person strong global sales training and development organization. Like Sandler, they have developed their own selling methodologies, but focus on building a customized sales training strategy and performance improvement plan for each client. In many of their videos, the Richardson Group provides a sneak peek into their training services with actionable sales tips. Watch this video to learn a simple four-step model for handling any sales objection. Videos by Sales Technology Companies 22. Sales Scripter Sales Scripter helps sales teams create consultative sales processes through materials such as question sheets, email and voicemail templates. Their channel previews the sales process creation process embedded into their software. Want something immediately actionable? Watch this recorded webinar, “Building a Value Proposition that Generates Leads.” 23. LinkedIn Sales Solutions Linkedin’s Sales Solutions channel features videos explaining how to use Sales Navigator, testimonials from customers, as well as instructional social selling videos from social selling experts, Joanne Black and Neal Schaffer. See how Linkedin Sales Navigator helps salespeople more easily connect with the right prospects. And learn how to leverage Linkedin to begin conversations from Joanne Black. Videos by HubSpot Academy HubSpot’s YouTube channel covers both sales and marketing topics. Always experimenting with new platforms for our own marketing and sales, we started using YouTube to get our message out in 2008. Visit HubSpot Academy for countless sales training videos that are actionable, full of real-life lessons, and broken into "snackable" chunks. You can also get Inbound Sales Certified online. And our YouTube channel even has a sales training video playlist. 24. Aja Frost If you're searching for the right career in sales or are mentoring a salesperson just starting off in their career, this video is a helpful primer on the most common jobs in sales -- and how to land them. 25. Kyle Jepson Hiring is one of the most difficult challenges sales leaders face. When is it time to hire new salespeople to grow the company, and when is it just time for the salespeople you have to put their heads down and grind? This video shares how to create a foolproof hiring strategy for your sales organisation. 26. Kyle Jepson Need help creating your sales playbook? This quick video shares expert opinions from sales pros who have grown companies successfully. Find the sales methodology that will work best for your business today. Videos by Niche Sales Training Channels 27. McDaniel Real Estate Systems McDaniel Real Estate Systems is a live video podcast featuring two real estate practitioners, Greg McDaniel and Matt Johnson. They cover real estate sales best practices including marketing, lead generation, prospecting, securing listings and farming neighborhoods. From watching a bunch of their videos, it’s clear that McDaniel helps real estate professionals project confidence in their words and actions. To get a taste, watch "How to Prospect Like a Rockstar." They also post interviews with top producers like Misty Soldwisch, who sold 359 homes last year. 28. Steve Richards Automotive sales easily gets one of the worst reputations in sales. Steve Richards provides car sales tips and shows auto salespeople how to overcome their biggest challenges. I particularly love Richards’ video titled, “If you can’t justify the price, you don’t belong in sales,” where he shares three ways to deflect price objections. While his tactics are a bit too slick for my taste, his approaches are solid. And who am I to judge? I’ve never sold a commodity that can be instantly price-shopped via the internet. 29. Sean T. Bradley Another channel aimed at automotive salespeople is Sean T. Bradley TV. Bradley’s channel has a bit higher production value than Richard's. But so that you can compare these two channels’ advice head to head, here’s a video on handling price objections in a very different way. Many of Bradley’s videos focus on motivation, organization and inspiration, like this one from his Make Money Mondays Series. Videos by Modern, Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Magic Makers 30. Cesar L. Rodriguez As a speaker, sales trainer, and success coach, Rodriguez focuses exclusively on direct sales and network marketing programs. He’s an executive director of LegalShield, an MLM opportunity that provides human resources to small businesses. He has thousands of people in his organization, but spends most of his time training and coaching now. Watch "How to Eliminate the Pain & Fear of Rejection." And learn how to use Judo-like sales moves to close analytical and skeptical prospects. 31. Matt Morris If you’re in sales or a business owner yourself, Matt Morris of The Unemployed Millionaire should be your idol. (After watching his stuff, he’s definitely my newest one.) The author of eight bestselling books, Morris achieved millionaire status at 29 years old after being in debt just a few years earlier. He’s built massive multi-level sales teams for multiple direct selling organizations, as well as one of the largest personal development organizations in the world. He’s also visited 70 countries. Feel like a slacker yet? If so, watch some of his videos for inspiration. He’ll urge you to chase after bigger dreams, while showing you the incredible life that network marketing can enable you to have. Here's "How to Define Your Purpose." Also check out "Lifestyle Freedom." Videos by Inspirational, Entrepreneurial Motivators 32. Tony Robbins Robbins is an amazing person. After being chased from his home by his mother at knifepoint when he was 17 years old, he is now the most well recognized motivational speaker in the world. In between speeches, though, he’s also a ridiculously successful entrepreneur (chairman of a $5 billion holding company), best-selling author and a philanthropist who helps millions of people around the world. He is driven by his mission to help people in all of his pursuits. Check out his video "Change Your Life -- Be a Leader" to get inspired. And learn about the importance of coaching from the master himself. 33. Gary Vaynerchuk With over 240,000 subscribers, Gary Vaynerchuk's channel is a must-watch. The brash social media star has built two successful companies into the tens of millions of dollars revenue range and written several best-selling books. If you’re looking for inspiration to get started doing something you can love, watch this video -- "6 Minutes For the Next 60 Years of Your Life." And you have to watch “The Most Important Word Ever," because you need to know the most important word ever, right? 34. Tai Lopez Lopez lives the good life and works smarter (and harder) than your average bear. At a young age, Lopez discovered what many people go years without knowing when he asked his grandfather for the answer to “life’s hard questions." His grandfather responded by sending him books to read, suggesting that no one knows all of the answers. That started his love affair with learning and lead to him reading literally thousands of books and seeking out some seriously successful mentors. Lopez is now an “investor, partner, or advisor to over 20 multi-million dollar businesses.” His videos cover way more than just sales, helping his followers achieve “the four pillars of life: health, wealth, love and happiness” too. A constant learner, many of Lopez's videos feature videos with lessons from other entrepreneurs. Here’s an interview with someone you might recognize. The volume and quality of sales training content on YouTube is high. It’ll take you a while to get through this list, let alone the rest of the sales training content on the site. But this is just the start. These videos should lead you to better sales results, but they'll also direct you to more training and more insight from these and other sales experts. Read more »
  • The Ultimate Guide to Formal Emails
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    Formal Email A formal email is used when conducting business with a new associate or executive, sending a professional inquiry, or corresponding about a job. Best practices include using a formal greeting like, "Dear [Name]," closing with, "Sincerely," and keeping the subject line short and descriptive. You know you’re writing a formal email if … you have to pause and wonder, "Is this too casual?" or "What salutation should I use?" or "Is this the right tone?" Salespeople will use formal email for most of their correspondence. You’re introducing yourself, hoping to make the best first impression possible, and want to treat each prospect as a VIP. Using these formal email guidelines is a surefire way to make sure your business emails always hit the right note whether you’re reaching out for the first time or just following up. How to Write a Formal Email Greet appropriately Check your email address Choose a professional font Craft your subject line Introduce yourself Keep things short and concise Use a formal close Include a professional signature Proofread So, how do you write a formal email? Here are nine easy steps to get started. 1. Greet appropriately First, choose an appropriate greeting. Casual introductions like "Hey," "Hi there," or just the person’s name, should be reserved for casual correspondence with friends, family, and familiar colleagues. If you’re addressing an executive, business associate, or prospect, take a more formal tone. Here are a few formal email greetings to consider: How to start a formal email: formal email greetings Dear [Name] Hello [Name] To Whom it May Concern Greetings [Name] Dear [Department Name] Dear [Job Title] Dear Search Committee Good Morning, [Name] I hope this email finds you well When in doubt, always choose a greeting that’s more formal than casual. One salutation to kick to the curb for good? "Dear Sir or Madam." Here’s why. 2. Check your email address If you’re not sending an email from your work alias, revisit your personal email address to make sure it’s professional and reflective of your current life stage. If you’re still rocking that sk8rgurl2003@aol.com address, consider updating to one that includes some combination of your first and last name. This ensures your first impression is authoritative and adult -- and not the early 2000s equivalent of a trucker hat. 3. Choose a professional font Read: Ditch the purple comic sans. While you might prefer to use the Papyrus font in your personal correspondence with friends and family, keep your professional emails distraction-free by choosing Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri. After all, you want the first thing your reader notices to be your message, not your font. 4. Craft your subject line Keep your subject line to seven words or less for optimal open rates, and don’t try to dazzle your reader with extreme subject line wit at first email. Before you write your subject line, ask yourself three questions: "Who is my audience?" - Is it an executive, a marketing manager, or maybe a small business owner? Knowing who your audience is will help with step number two … "What do they care about?" - Your subject line is your reader’s first impression of you (minus your email address). Make it count by focusing on something they care about. That might be a mutual connection, a business pain point, or a meeting you’ve already scheduled. Make your subject line relevant to them and earn the email open. "Does my subject line reflect what’s inside?" - Never try to trick your recipient into opening your email. If you send a message with the subject line, "Regarding next week’s call," and you have no such call scheduled, you’re asking to get marked as spam and lose all trust and credibility. Short, clear, and concise is the best way to open formal correspondence. Here are some examples: "RE 6/8 demo call with HubSpot" "[Mutual connection] recommended we chat" "Meeting RE: demo call with HubSpot" "Follow Up RE: Phone call with HubSpot" "Question about [goal]" "Hi [name], [question]?" "A [benefit] for [prospect’s company]" "We have [insert fact] in common" Want more great subject line inspiration? Check out this list, guaranteed to get prospects to open, read, and respond. 5. Introduce yourself Your first sentence should tell them who you are -- without telling them your life story. Many of us start emails with our name, title, company, and what our company does. Many of us also receive emails like this and skim through the first paragraph because we just don’t care yet. We want to know what the sender can do for us not who they do it for and why. Here’s what not to do:   Dear April, My name is Leslie and I’m a park director with the Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. We’re dedicated to making Indiana parks more beautiful and visitor-friendly. I’m reaching out today to see if you would be interested in learning more about our summer initiative to get more kids outside and to the parks. I know you run a summer camp, and I’d love to talk about partnering with you to use our parks for certain outdoor activities. Let me know if you’d like to learn more. Sincerely,Leslie Knope This email is long, it spends too much time telling April who Leslie is, and it never addresses how using local parks will benefit April and her summer camp. Instead, try this greeting:   Dear April, Do your summer camp kids (and counselors) ever need a change of scene after a week or two in the same location? I’m Leslie Knope with the Parks & Rec department, and I’d love to help your campers burn off some energy in our local parks this summer. If you’d like to learn more about our summer parks program, book time on my calendar here: [Insert calendar link] I hope to speak with you soon. Sincerely,Leslie Knope This email is shorter, leads with the benefit, and follows up with Leslie’s name and company name only. It also closes with a clear call to action. More impactful? I’d say so. 6. Keep things short and concise As discussed above, it’s important not to burden your professional emails with a lot of "fluff" or information that doesn’t matter to your recipient. Edit your emails for length and clarity, and add bullets, new paragraphs, and lists wherever you can. These formatting tools can make your email easier to read and more impactful. Here’s an example of what not to do:   Hi Ron, My name is Donna and we met at the Carpenters of Indiana conference last week. I wanted to follow up with you regarding some contract work for a few of my clients. Specifically, I need someone to make 50 park benches, three pergolas, and eight gazebos. I’m gathering bids from a few local carpenters and was hoping you could provide me with a quote for these projects by the end of the week. Thanks,Donna Meagle This is clunky, it’s hard to discern the most pertinent parts of Donna’s message, and the language is a bit too casual. Instead, try this:   Hello Ron, My name is Donna and we spoke at Carpenters of Indiana event last week. I’m currently collecting bids for the following projects: 50 park benches 3 pergolas 8 gazebos I need these projects done no later than June 6, 2019 and I’m requesting all bids be returned by March 15, 2019. Your work is impressive, and I hope we receive a bid from you. Regards,Donna Meagle This email is much more direct, professional, and well-organized. It’s easy for the reader to skim, clearly features the most important information, and increases the likelihood of Donna receiving a response from Ron. 7. Use a formal close Ready to bring it home? Make sure you close your email appropriately. Leave casual closing phases like, "Cheers," "Thanks," and "Best," for close colleagues. Choose one of the following, more formal, closes below: How to end a formal email: formal email closings Thank you for your time Sincerely Respectfully Thank you Looking forward to hearing from you Have a wonderful day Best regards With gratitude Will follow up soon These sign offs carry the right tone through the last drop of your formal email. As you develop rapport with your business associates, it’s normal to pick up more casual and creative closes. Until then, these farewells are your best bet. 8. Include a professional signature If your email address is the first impression, your email signature is the last. Make sure it includes the following: Your name Your contact information (phone number, website, calendar link (if appropriate), address) Your title A professional headshot A link to or badge for any professional accolades you’ve recently received Links to appropriate social media channels (i.e., LinkedIn or Twitter) Want to see examples of stellar email signatures from real people? Check out this roundup of professional email signature examples. 9. Proofread This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised what you overlook when you’ve read the same email draft three times in a row. Instead of trusting your eye, drop your email text into Microsoft Word and use their "Review > Spelling & Grammar" tool. Or copy and paste your message into Hemingway Editor to proof for run on sentences, comma splices, and other pesky grammatical errors. Always double check you’ve spelled your recipient’s name and company name correctly. If there’s one thing that ruffles the feathers of my inbox, it’s seeing an email come through addressed to "Megan" when my name everywhere on the internet is listed as "Meg" or seeing someone tell me how much they love "Hubspot" when the correct capitalization is "HubSpot." Formal Email Template Now that we’ve discussed the nine most important aspects of a formal email, let’s put them together to create a template you can use in almost any situation. [Appropriate subject line] Dear [Name], My name is [Your name], and I’m reaching out to [insert the benefit you’re offering or the request you have of them]. [Two- to three-sentences supporting your main point and bulleted list or bolded terms when necessary]. [Include CTA when appropriate]. Kind Regards,[Signature] Formal Email Example It’s hard to visualize a template in action, so let’s create an example using all of our best practices to bring the template above to life. RE: Parks & Rec + Sweetums Proposal Hello Nick, My name is Tom Haverford and we spoke last week about Sweetums’ proposal to be the exclusive supplier of lemonade to all Indiana parks in 2019. I’d like to get a meeting on our respective calendars to discuss the following: When lemonade would be delivered to park refreshment centers Lemonade sizing and pricing Recycling efforts for used lemonade cups Please feel free to book time on my calendar here: [Link to calendar] Kind Regards,Tom HaverfordAdministrator, Pawnee Parks & Recreation123-456-7890 See my latest article on our "Healthy Parks, Healthy You" initiative here. Writing a formal email doesn’t have to be scary -- and it doesn’t have to be stuffy. Use these nine tips for better professional emails and ensure your correspondence earns you the respect you deserve. Want access to more email templates? Check out these templates, guaranteed to start a relationship with your prospect. And click here to learn how to find almost anyone’s email address without being creepy. Read more »
  • 6 Essential Elements of a Successful Sales Pitch or Presentation [Infographic]
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    Calling a sales presentation a "pitch" is a little misleading. In baseball, good pitchers strike batters out. But in sales, a successful pitch is one that connects -- and gets hit out of the park. As a pitch, however, good selling is something of an art form. People want to be told a story, to understand how your value proposition is going to mesh with their business and enhance it. How you accomplish that is up to you. But along with the art of sales is a bit of science. The types of information most likely to convince a person to buy, or help them understand what you're talking about, can be broken down to zeroes and ones. For example, did you know 40% of people respond better to information in visual form than when it's written? Or that the best presentations are two-thirds stories? What is a sales pitch? The sales presentation is where a huge part of this work gets done. Though you'll be speaking with your prospects about different concerns and questions on the phone, a sales presentation may be the best chance you have to put all your cards on the table and demonstrate exactly why your service is perfect for the prospect. This infographic from PPTPOP breaks down the six essential elements of a successful sales presentation and includes examples from other companies' winning pitches. From limiting the service offerings you recommend for a particular customer to ease their decision, to the types of proof you should include to demonstrate your product's worth, these helpful tips will help juice up any sales presentation. Read on for tips on creating the perfect sales presentation, or skip to the infographic here. Structure of a Sales Pitch A Stellar Cover Slide A Value Proposition A Powerful Story Enticing Solutions Proofs A Clear Call-to-Action 1. A Stellar Cover Slide Your cover slide should reflect your company stance and industry. Your audience needs to "get it" instantly. Since 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text, Google, Flickr, Unsplash, and Fubiz can be great sources for images that immediately boost your pitch. 2. A Value Proposition What do you do? Summarize the value of your promise to deliver to prospects, and explain why they should buy from you. To help hone your value proposition, try using the "VP" formula: [Company name] helps [target audience] with [services] so you can [benefits]. Still not quite breaking through? Check out these examples of great value propositions: Geekdom - "We're a new kind of collaborative workspace where entrepreneurs, technologists, developers, makers, and creatives help each other build businesses and other cool things together." Airbnb - "Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world." 3. A Powerful Story The most successful presentations are 65% stories. Present your story and your team to humanize your company and increase likeability. Make sure you include the reason why your company and product came to be. Tell your audience what motivates your team to wake up and work every day. And offer tips that are personal and will make your audience smile, like, "John eats fast and makes things work." 4. Enticing Solutions First, focus on your client's problem. Here's how Airbnb did it: Airbnb's first pitch extract: "Price is an important concern for customers booking travel online. Hotels leave you disconnected from the city and its culture. No easy way exists to book a room with a local or become a host." Problems - Price, convenience, access Aspirations - Have choice, unique experience, make money renting your place Then, break down your value propositions into solutions tied to the benefits your clients want. Examples of benefits are, "Make more money and grow your business," "Look good and impress," and "Save time and money." How to list your solutions: Don't give too many choices Communicate results customers will get Make it easy and quick to understand Give examples that demonstrate your product's value. 5. Proofs The proofs you'll provide have to answer this question: "How do I believe you?" You should also: Add testimonials - They highlight what clients love about doing business with you. Use real client's pictures to enhance credibility impact. Share research data - Use expert quotes and findings that tie to the benefits of the product you're offering. Compare your products vs. competitors - Show your audience how you're better. Provide extra benefits - Offer a money-back guarantee, free trial, or free shipment to show and earn confidence. 6. A Clear Call-to-Action A call to action is a simple command directing customers to take action (buy, start a free trial, sign up for our mailing list). To make your call-to-action even more enticing, include these sensory words to enhance your pitch. Creating a Sales Presentation Build rapport with your audience. Lead with solutions. Include case studies. Ask for feedback. Be open to questions. So, you're ready to create a sales presentation? Here are some tips to keep in mind. 1. Build rapport with your audience. If you want to give a successful presentation, you need to connect with your audience. Start out the presentation by addressing the audience and by appealing to them. This can be done by asking about their business (e.g., a new product launch or announcement). 2. Lead with solutions. What's the biggest pain point your product or service will address? Start your presentation by providing the solution right off the bat. Not only will this capture your prospect's attention, but it will also keep them engaged and hungry to learn more about what you and your company have to offer. 3. Include case studies. How can you support the solution you provided? Show the prospect how that solution can be applied. Case studies allow you to highlight specific aspects of your product or service that will positively impact the prospect's company. This helps you build credibility and further develop trust. 4. Ask for feedback. It's important to connect with your audience and make sure they're engaged in your presentation. For example, you could ask, "Does this make sense?" or "Do you see how this would work for you/your team/your company?" Asking for feedback ensures that you're on the same page. 5. Be open to questions. Let your audience know that they can ask questions at any time. Be aware of your audience and their reactions throughout the presentation. Sales strategist, Marc Wayshak, recommends, "Whenever a prospect interrupts you -- either with a verbal remark or subtle shift in their facial expression or posture -- stop immediately. Acknowledge the interruption, and welcome the opportunity to explore it with the prospect." You'll provide even more value to the prospect by addressing their questions and concerns during the presentation. Your pitch is the fastest and easiest way to set yourself apart from your competitors. Make sure it pops with these tips -- and see the difference in your quota results. Looking for more? Check out these sales pitch examples next. Read more »
  • 19 Tips to Leave the Perfect Sales Voicemail
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    There's no doubt about it -- leaving a good sales voicemail is hard. And even if you do record a well-crafted message, do prospects actually listen to them, or take the time to call you back? Not usually. So what's the point? Should salespeople even bother with voicemails? Absolutely, and here's why. Although a seller might get a higher response rate from an email or another type of message, responses to voicemails are generally richer and demonstrate a greater level of interest. So what a salesperson loses in quantity, they gain in quality. Of course, you won't get any responses at all -- high quality or otherwise -- if you don't leave a carefully planned and thoughtful voicemail. Here are the nine elements of a perfect sales voicemail. How to Leave a Voicemail Leave a voicemail by using your normal tone of voice and keeping your message short, between 20-30 seconds. Start the voicemail with information that's relevant to the contact and ask questions that are tailored to them. 1. Keep the length between 20-30 seconds. A perfect sales voicemail should be in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 seconds -- not much longer, and not much shorter. I realize this is a very specific window of time, so let me explain the reasoning. Obviously, prospects aren't going to listen to an overly long voicemail from a caller whose number they don't recognize, so pushing past 30 seconds ensures the message will get deleted almost immediately. On the other hand, buyers are also unlikely to listen to an overly short message. Most cell phones show the number and voicemail duration when a call is missed. So if the recipient sees the message is from an unknown number and only a few seconds long, they'll assume it's not important and hit delete. Since the message doesn't appear to be substantive, they're not prompted to listen. 20-30 seconds is the sweet spot. A voicemail in this timeframe sparks curiosity without demanding too much time. 2. Lead with information relevant to the prospect. Sales reps tend to be very declarative in their messaging. Their starting phrase in both voicemails and emails usually sounds something like, "My name is John Doe, and I work for Gadgets Inc." It might be a straightforward approach, but it's not effective in the slightest. As soon as the prospect realizes this voicemail is a sales pitch from a salesperson, it's getting deleted. And if you lead with your name and company, the prospect's finger hits the delete key almost immediately. This is why it's important to lead with something relevant to the prospect, such as a thought-provoking question. 3. Ask a question you wouldn't pose in an email. If your voicemails and emails are exactly the same, you lessen your chances of getting a response to either. So make them different by reserving certain questions for voicemail instead of email. While both types of messages should be customized to a given buyer, voicemails should be ultra-specific. In an email, I might ask for a referral, an appointment, or feedback on a content asset they downloaded. These sorts of classic questions -- while still tailored to the buyer -- can be customized for reuse with another prospect, or another 100 prospects. But the questions you ask in a voicemail should be so specific that they could never be intended for another listener. For example, if I was selling financial management technology, I might ask the voicemail recipient which financial software they use today, or if all of the company's financial analysts work out of the central office. The more personal and specific the question, the more likely it'll get a response. Think about it this way. If you start to have chest pains on a busy city street, and you cry out, "Somebody call 911!" you might get help … but you might not. However, if you were to point at one specific person and shout, "Would you please call 911 for me?" it's almost a certainty that the stranger you selected would grab their phone and dial. Why the difference in response? When you made the request specific to one person in the second circumstance, you placed a burden of responsibility on that person. So it is with sales voicemails: The more specific the question, the more responsibility the person feels to answer you. 4. Don't use a traditional close. Here I'm referring to lines such as "Please call me back" or "I'll check in again on X date." Because they're generic, these asks don't increase the buyer's feeling of responsibility. Instead, I suggest posing your specific question and ending the call there. 5. Don't hang up without leaving a voicemail. If you're going to call a prospect, you have to leave a message. Regardless of whether the prospect was actively screening calls or simply away from their desk when the phone rang, your number will pop up as a missed call. And if there's no accompanying voicemail? Well, it must not have been terribly important. If you do this two or three times in a row, you further degrade your chances of ever connecting with this prospect. Since they've now seen your number come up multiple times without once receiving a voicemail, they're aware this call is definitely not one they need to take. You can bet the next time you call, they're not picking up. Salespeople who call and hang up screen themselves out of the process. No matter if you're prepared to leave the perfect voicemail or not, you need to leave one every time. However, if you do record a few messages with the same ultra-specific question, the prospect feels a twinge of guilt each time you call back because they feel they owe you an answer. 6. Use your normal tone of voice. Salespeople are often coached to sound enthusiastic and excited on the phone, thus raising their natural voice pitch to a high, unnatural tone. In my opinion, this tone of voice makes it clear to the listener that not only is this an uncomfortable call, but a generic one. It's easy to imagine the caller hanging up, dialing another prospect, and leaving an identical voicemail using the exact same high pitch, and then another … and another. If it sounds like a salesperson is just doing their 50 prospecting calls for the day, it absolves the listener of any responsibility to respond. I recommend salespeople start voicemails at their normal tone of voice and then go gradually lower. This implies that you're at ease making the call, and also that the call is unusual. Without the fake tone of excitement in your voice, the listener understands that the specific question you're posing is just as meaningful to you as it is to them. And the more the listener feels the message is meant for them and only them, the more likely it is they'll respond. 7. Leave voicemails at the end of the day. Voicemail connect rates usually go up as the day advances, so you should schedule your phone activity toward the end of the day. Wondering why this is? We can thank the serial position effect. This psychological phenomenon says when you show people a list, they'll remember the first and last items the best. That means when you're trying to grab a prospect's attention, you want to be one of the first or last things they hear. But imagine if you received a sales voicemail at 9 a.m. It might be the most compelling, well-delivered voicemail you've ever heard, but you're probably dealing with several other tasks. You decide to respond to the rep when you have more time. By the time the end of the day rolls around, you've completely forgotten about her. If you listened to the voicemail at 4:30 p.m., on the other hand, your day is likely wrapping up. You might email the salesperson that night or return their call first thing the next day. 8. Split up your voicemails. You can also try leaving two voicemails. In other words, rather than leaving one 30-second message, record a 20-second voicemail -- then immediately call back and leave a 10-second one. Your second voicemail should include information that was missing from your first. For instance, a rep using this technique might leave the following two messages: Voicemail #1: "Hi Jerry, I recently attended one of TrustPilot's webinars. I didn't receive any follow-up emails, which made me wonder if you have a marketing strategy in place for nurturing webinar leads. Folks who attend a live event are 30% more likely to convert, according to my team's research. What strategy, if any, do you have in place today?" Voicemail #2: "Jerry, I forgot to leave my name and number. This is Sarah Griffin from Acme Corp. You can reach me at 884-867-5309. Thanks." Splitting your message into two parts has a couple of benefits. First, it makes you more memorable. Second, you seem less rehearsed. If you're reciting from a script, you're probably not going to forget a key component. Prospects will automatically trust you more. 9. Slow down as you speak. Start your voicemail with a regular cadence, but get slower and slower the longer you speak. By the time you get to your phone number, you should practically be crawling. It sounds counterintuitive -- but this tactic actually makes prospects likelier to finish listening. Not only do you sound more articulate and confident when you're not rushing to the finish line, but you also sound more authentic. Speaking in a rush suggests you've been dialing all day and need to be as efficient as possible. Yet if you're making three calls rather than 30, you're probably going to sound far more deliberate. A slow finish tells the buyer they're not just another name on a list. How to End a Voicemail Make the last thing you say be your phone number. This ensures it's clearly visible on voicemail dictation, and makes it easy for prospects to call back. Avoid phrases like "Call me back when you get this," which can sound pushy. And, finally, tell them you'll follow up with an email. This gives the prospect two ways to return your call, which certainly can't hurt. 10. End with your phone number Your phone number is the last thing you should say on a voicemail. Say it once, slowly, and make sure to repeat it again. This has two benefits: First, it makes your phone number the last thing they hear, which encourages an immediate call back. And, second, in the age of voicemail dictation, it ensures your phone number appears clearly at the end of the message text. It will be hyperlinked and easy to push for a quick reply from your prospect. 11. Don't sound desperate Phrases like, "Please call me back when you get this," "I'm really looking forward to hearing from you," and "Call me at your earliest convenience," are pushy, aggressive, and borderline desperate. Avoid telling your prospect what to do. You'll make returning your call seem like a chore or, worse, a demand. This should feel like a mutually beneficial relationship -- one in which each party wants to call the other back -- unprompted. So, leave "Call me back when you get this," at the door, and try, "Talk to you soon," "Thanks for your time," or a good old-fashioned, "Have a great day." 12. Say you'll follow up with an email Keep the conversation going, and give prospects an easy way to return your call by shooting them a quick email once you hang up the phone. Salespeople are used to being on the phone all day -- but not all prospects are. Hedge your bets by giving them two ways to respond. A simple, "I'll also follow up with an email," before you hang up, is short, concise, and shows thoroughness on your part. If you're in need of some more tips, here are some additional soundbites you can use when ending a voicemail. 13. "Next time we talk, you'll have to tell me more about X." End your voicemail by asking your prospect to tell you more, whether about their recent vacation to Thailand or their unique business pain points. It's a simple request -- and easier than, say, "Give me a call back, I'd love to find out when we can write up our contract." Generally, voicemail is not the medium to discuss deal logistics. Keep messages short and to the point, and steer clear of deal specifics. Ask relevant questions and you're likelier to get a response. 14. "Next time we talk, I'd love to tell you more about X." This scenario piques your prospect's interest by teasing information. But it's only effective when your prospect actually cares about the info. If you say, "Next time we talk, I'd love to tell you more about our latest award for customer satisfaction," they probably (read: definitely) won't care. First, they're not a client yet, so they won't find your ambiguous award that interesting. Second, news like this takes the focus off the prospect and onto you -- not where you want it to be. Instead, lead with, "Next time we talk, I want to share two goals on our new product roadmap that speak directly to several pain points you've raised. I'll tell you more in our next meeting. How about next Tuesday?" You prove you've been paying attention by referring to pain points they've previously mentioned and kept the conversation centered around benefiting the prospect. You've also slipped in a specific timeline for when you'd like to connect. 15. "What should we cover in our next conversation?" You probably touched on this at the end of your last conversation, but if you haven't heard from your prospect in a while, this can be a useful strategy for getting back on their radar. Say, "I know we identified implementation, onboarding, and QA as topics to cover in our next call, but I wondered if there were any other areas we missed -- specifically whether you could use Feature A, which was an area of concern for you." Again, you've referred to a previous pain point, and reminded them of what you both agreed to discuss in your next meeting -- and you've done it all without the dreaded, "I haven't heard from you in a while, I really want to schedule this meeting we talked about." 16. "I know we ran out of time, but I'd love to continue this conversation [insert date]." This is another helpful outreach strategy for prospects you haven't heard from in a while. Remind them of your last conversation and give them a timeline for when you'd like to talk again, saying, "I know we ran out of time in our last meeting, but I'd love to continue our conversation about why other suppliers have disappointed you in the past. Do you have time to chat more on Thursday or Friday?" This is a direct and persuasive way of asking for a follow-up meeting. Your prospect is more likely to agree to discuss their pain points further than if you were to say, "I'd love to talk more about how I can help. Let me know when we can get a call scheduled." The latter is vague and feels like more of a burden than the first request. 17. "You said something earlier that I'd love to ask you a question about." If you wrapped up a meeting earlier in the day but weren't able to schedule a follow-up appointment, leave this voicemail a few hours later. Refer to your previous conversation to jog their memory, saying, "In our meeting earlier, you said something about your shipping needs that really stuck out to me. I'd love to ask you a question about that." In addition to showing active listening, you've also awoken their curiosity about what question you want to ask. Once they're back on the phone, you can confirm a date and time for your next meeting. 18. "I just sent you an article and I'd love to hear what you think about it." Only leave this voicemail for interested prospects. If you're talking with someone who isn't really invested in fixing a problem or implementing your product/service, they probably won't want to read an article you sent on the subject either. If you're working with an actively engaged prospect, however, this voicemail can be perfect for building rapport. Say, "I just sent you an article about the new trends in AI we were discussing on our last call. I can't wait to hear what you think." If you already have a call scheduled, it will serve as an incentive for your prospect to show up. If you don't have a call on the books, use their response to this voicemail to ask for a follow-up meeting. 19. "My phone number is …" I always end voicemails with my phone number. The reasoning? First, it's his cue to wrap up. It keeps him from rambling and gives the prospect a clear call to action: Call him back. It also ensures that, in the age of voicemail transcripts, your number stands out at the end of your message. And because most phones link to numbers automatically, all your prospect has to do is press the number provided at the end of the transcript to easily call you back. Voicemails don't have to be a last resort or a dead end. Use these tips for messages that actually move the conversation forward. You'll enjoy richer prospect relationships and fewer opportunities gone cold. How to Leave a Voicemail Without Calling Services like slydial allow you to bypass the dial and go straight to voicemail. Simply download the app for iPhone or Android, choose from a basic (free) or premium subscription, and start dialing. Your address book will populate automatically in the app. All you have to do is click on a contact to reach their voicemail. This is something that can be done, yes. But I can't think of a time when a salesperson would want to do it. Best-case scenario, the timestamp will alert the prospect you left a voicemail at a late hour or on the weekend, and they'll wonder why. Worst-case scenario, they'll just think your desperate. If you find yourself wishing for your prospect not to pick up -- you might need to consider a new profession. A great follow-up voicemail is a thing of beauty. Incorporate a few of these tips into your daily phone calls, and see the benefits as your phone starts to ring back a little more often. Read more »
  • The Ultimate Guide to Sales Scripts (With Examples)
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    Many salespeople believe they won’t sound good if they read from a sales script. While I agree you should never read from a script when selling, a sales script can greatly improve your results by preparing you with the best questions and lines to say and ask. First, let’s walk through the sales script creation process. You can follow this framework to craft your pitching strategy -- then simply plug in your unique value props into the template. (Or, skip straight to the examples.) How to Write a Sales Script Identify a product or service to focus on Hone in on your target audience Develop your benefits Link your benefits to pain points Ask questions about those pain points Don't talk too much Always close for something Step 1: Identify a product or service to focus on Start by identifying the product or service you would like to ultimately sell to the prospect. For example: Recruiting services Step 2: Hone in on your target audience You can certainly create one sales script that works for every type of prospect -- but it’s more effective to adapt your questions and points to the specific buyer persona. In this step, consider the different types of buyers you’ll be selling to. For example: Hiring managers Step 3: Develop your benefits Take the product you selected and then think about the buyer that you are planning on talking to. How does the product help them increase productivity, cut costs, improve accuracy, etc.? Come up with at least three benefits. For example: Shorten the time it takes to place a new hire Reduce internal time spent searching, screening, and interviewing applicants Build top-caliber teams leading to the best business results Shorten the time it takes to place a new hire Reduce internal time spent searching, screening, and interviewing applicants Build top-caliber teams Step 4: Link your benefits to pain points Build a list of pain points to discuss by looking at the benefits you identified in the previous step. For each benefit, there is usually a related pain point that is resolved, minimized, or avoided. For example: It takes too long to place a new hire It is difficult to find time for interviewing process because of everyday responsibilities They lack top-caliber employees It takes too long to place a new hire It is difficult to find time for interviewing process because of everyday responsibilities They lack top-caliber employees Step 5: Ask questions about those pain points The best salesperson is the one who asks the best questions. To develop a strong list of questions, look at each pain point identified in step number four. Use one or two questions per pain point to determine if it’s a relevant challenge for the prospect. For example: "How do you feel about the amount of time it currently takes you to fill open positions?" "How happy are you with the quality of candidates you are being presented with? Do you feel like you can choose from top caliber talent?" "How important is it for you to decrease the amount of time you spend interviewing?" "How do delays with filling positions impact business operations and the bottom line?" "Do you feel like you have the internal resources and processes necessary to fill positions quickly and with the right quality talent?" Using the points you came up with in steps one through five, adapt these scripts to your own product, company, and prospects. Step 6: Don't talk too much If you're doing more talking than listening, you're doing it wrong. A script should leave ample time for your prospect to ask questions, share comments, and generally be heard. Record yourself giving your pitch to a friend of colleague. When you go back and listen, if more than half the pitch is you talking, rethink your approach, edit your script, and include more moments to ask your prospect questions. Here are a few example questions: "So, what I'm hearing from you is [repeat what you've heard from your prospect]. Is that right?" "What are your goals this quarter?" "Is this relevant to your company goals this year?" "What's your single biggest pain point right now?" "How long have you been thinking about this?" "Is there anything I've overlooked?" "What's your biggest priority at the moment?" "How will this solution make your life easier?" "What is your manager hoping to accomplish in the next year?" "Have I earned two more minutes of your time?" Work a few of these questions into your script and entice your prospect to answer. It's an easy way to keep the conversation going and learn more about them. Want more question inspiration? Check out these probing questions, this ultimate list of sales discover questions, and this rundown of questions that identify your customer's core needs. Step 7: Always close for something Sales pro Jeff Hoffman says a salesperson should have a close in mind for every interaction they initiate. It might be as simple as asking for five minutes more of your prospect's time. Or it might be asking for their business. Hoffman explains, "Your talk track should always be about your prospect. Don't finish with 'Does that make sense?' or 'Is this something you'd be interested in?' These closing questions feel like a quiz and are more about you than them." He continues, "Instead, close with, 'We have clients who love being able to build software anywhere in the world. How many software engineers do you have at your company?'" This question doesn't assume your prospect followed your whole pitch. If you lost them, this type of question can gain their attention back. But every time you send your prospect a message, make sure you have a call to action for them. Sales Call Script Sample So, what do these seven tips look like in action? Let's take a look. Salesperson: "Hello, [Prospect name]. My name is Michael Halper and I help hiring managers like you reduce the time it takes to interview, hire, and onboard new talent in 50% less time than the industry average. How many new hires do you have planned for the year?" Prospect: "Well, my department has the budget for seven new hires in 2019." Salesperson: "What's your biggest pain point in the hiring process right now?" Prospect: "I've got a million other things going on, and finding qualified candidates has been a challenge. We need to get these positions filled, but I'm having a hard time making it a priority with everything else on my plate." Salesperson: "I hear that a lot. I'd love to set up a 10-minute call to learn more about your goals this year, and share how Recruiters International might be able to help. What about this Thursday?" Prospect: "Um, sure. I think I've got an 11:00 open." I've introduced myself but also gotten straight to the meat of what I can offer to make my prospect's life better. Then, I've asked plenty of questions to get her talking. I ended by closing for another call. Simple, straightforward, and prospect-focused. Sales Script Examples Sales Call Script Templates Introduction "Hello [prospect’s name], this is Michael Halper from Recruiters International. Have I caught you in the middle of anything?" Value Statement "Great. The purpose of my call is that we help hiring managers to:" [Insert your value points here] (Optional) Disqualify Statement "I actually don't know if you are a good fit for what we provide so I just had a question or two." (pause or ask for agreement or availability) If you have a couple of minutes? Pre-Qualifying Questions "If I could ask you quickly:" [Insert your questions here] Examples of Common Problems "Oh, OK. Well, as we talk with other hiring managers, we have noticed they often say:" [Insert your pain points here] "Are any of those areas you are concerned about?" Company and Product Info "Based on what you have shared, it might productive for us to talk in more detail." "As I said, I am with Recruiters International and we provide:" [Insert some brief details about product, service, and/or company] Close "But since I have called you out of the blue, I do not want to take any more of your time to talk right now." "You have asked some good questions and there is a little more information that I would like to share. I would also like to learn more about you. Are you available for a 15-20 minute meeting where we can discuss your goals and challenges and share some examples of how we have helped other managers build top-caliber teams?" Sales email template It takes too long to fill open positions Hello [prospect name], I am with Recruiters International. Hiring managers often tell us: It takes too long to place a new hire It is difficult to find time for interviewing process because of everyday responsibilities They lack top-caliber employees Are you available for a 15-20 minute meeting to discuss your goals and challenges and share some examples of how we have helped other managers solve these challenges? You can book time on my calendar here: [Link to Meetings tool]. Best, Michael HalperRecruiters International[phone][email][website] Sales voicemail template "Hello [prospect name], this is Michael Halper from Recruiters International. Many hiring managers tell us: It takes too long to place a new hire It is difficult to find time for interviewing process because of everyday responsibilities They lack top-caliber employees Placing a new hire demands too much time Interviewing gets in the way of regular work Despite the investments they make in hiring, it’s still hard to find the best employees We help to improve all those areas, which is why I am reaching out to you. I will try you again next week. If you would like to reach me in the meantime, my number is [phone]. Again, this is Michael Halper calling from Recruiters International, [phone]. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you soon." Sales voicemail follow-up email template Following up my voicemail -- Recruiters International Hello [prospect name], As I mentioned in the voicemail I just left, I am with Recruiters International. Most hiring managers we speak to struggle in three major areas: It takes too long to place a new hire It is difficult to find time for interviewing process because of everyday responsibilities They lack top-caliber employees We can help you solve all three challenges. Are you available for a 15-20 minute meeting next Tuesday or Thursday morning to discuss your goals and challenges and learn how we’ve helped other managers address these? You can book time on my calendar here: [Link to Meetings tool]. Best, Michael HalperRecruiters International[phone][email][website] Sales breakup email template Is this the case? Hello [prospect name], I've reached out a few times and we've been unable to connect about how I might be able to help you reduce recruiting time by up to 50%. Usually when this happens it means recruiting isn't a priority for you right now. Is that the case here?  If so, I won't take up any more of your time. Regards,Michael HalperRecruiters International[phone][email][website] Sales breakup phone call template Salesperson:"Hello [prospect name]. I noticed you rescheduled our demo again today. Usually when this happens a few times, it means this isn't a priority at the moment, is that the case here?" Prospect: "Actually, I just forgot I had a dentist appointment today. I'd really like to reschedule for tomorrow, if you're free." Salesperson: "Absolutely. How does 9:00am sound?" Sales breakup voicemail template "Hello, [Prospect name]. I've left a few voicemails now and we still haven't connected. Usually when this happens, it means recruiting just isn't a priority for your company at the moment. If that's the case here, I won't bother you again. If not, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks." With these examples and templates, creating a sales script should be simple. And remember, you don't have to follow it word for word. Use it as a tool to prepare and practice. Want more script examples? Check out the best cold call script ever, these customizable scripts for handling objections, and these pitch examples too good to ignore. Read more »
  • How to Schedule an Email in Gmail (Quick Tutorial)
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    Have you ever written an email but didn't want to send it immediately? I don't know about you, but this is a normal occurrence for me. I've created email drafts and let them sit in my Drafts folder in Gmail, patiently waiting to send them so they reach my contacts' inboxes at just the right moment. Does this sound like you too? Well, if not, here are a few more reasons you might want to delay sending an email. You want the email to arrive in your prospect's inbox at the best time for them. The person you're emailing lives in a different time zone. You're working late and you want the email to arrive in the morning. No matter the reason, having the flexibility to schedule emails so they send at the ideal time is a luxury, especially since email providers, like Gmail, lack this functionality. This is where the HubSpot Sales saves the day. This free email scheduling tool allows you to schedule emails to send later in Gmail. Plus, you can preview or cancel the email before it sends if you need to make any last-minute changes. Sales automation like this can speed up your email sending processes, make you more efficient, and free up your time. So, how can this tool work for you exactly? How to Schedule an Email to Send Later in Gmail Add the HubSpot Sales Google Chrome extension. Open up Gmail. Connect your inbox. Click the Compose button. Click the clock icon. Click the Schedule button. 1. Add the HubSpot Sales Google Chrome extension. Navigate to the chrome web store and click the Add to Chrome button. You'll be prompted to log in. 2. Open up Gmail. Once you're logged in, open up your Gmail inbox. You should see a HubSpot icon in the top, right-hand corner of the inbox. Click the icon and click the Turn on button. 3. Connect your inbox. Click the Connect inbox button and follow the on-screen instructions. With the HubSpot tools turned on, now, you're ready to start writing and scheduling emails. 4. Click the Compose button. Create a new email by clicking the Compose button. This will create a brand new email draft for you to work with. Next, fill out the email details: To, Subject, and the content of your email. (If you're reaching out to a prospecting email, check out these prospecting email templates for inspiration.) 5. Click the clock icon. Click the clock icon next to the Send button and select one of the following options: Tomorrow: This allows you to send the email tomorrow. Click the dropdown menu to select the recipient's timezone. Custom: Choose a specific date and time for your email to send. Best time to send or Best time to send this week: These "best time to send" features are available with Sales Hub Professional or Enterprise only. The tool suggests times to schedule your email so it will have a higher likelihood of opens, clicks, and replies based on the recipient's prior email engagement. 6. Click the Schedule button. Once you've selected a time to send your post, click the orange Schedule button. Once the email is scheduled, it will appear in the Scheduled Mail folder. When you click on the folder, you'll be brought to a Scheduled emails outbox where you can see all your scheduled emails. From this page, you can either preview your email or delete it. If the email preview looks good to go, your email is all set to send out at your desired time. By scheduling emails, you'll ensure that your message makes it to the top of your prospects' inboxes and reaching them at times it's convenient for them. Looking for more? Check out the steps to create canned response Gmail templates next. Read more »
  • 26 Sales Jokes to Brighten Up Your Day
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    Sales can be rough. Some reps deal with hard days by going for a coffee or listening to music. I'm always asking what salespeople's most effective motivation-boosting techniques are. One of the most popular responses? Scrolling through funny sales memes, and short videos, or having a little fun with their email subject lines. Here are a few of my favorite sales jokes. Hope you get a nice little chuckle out of them. Sales Jokes 1. When they tell you they need one more week to think it over … on the last week of the month. Source: GIPHY 2. Underperformers A sales manager was addressing an underperforming sales team at the start of a new month: “We are going to have a sales contest this month. The winners will get to enter next month’s contest.” Source: ThinkAdvisor 3. "Sorry, I didn't get your call" Source: Pinterest 4. "Yes ... she should be" Source: Medium 5. Overworked Office Manager Salesperson: “This computer will cut your workload by 50%.” Office manager: “That’s great! I’ll take two of them.” Source: ThinkAdvisor 6. "Your car ran off the road, your house is overrun by fire ants, and your identity has been stolen?" Source: Me.Me. 7. The "beginner" approach A young salesperson peeped into the office of someone who looked like a sales manager, muttered something, then started walking away. After retreating a little he seemed to change his mind and headed back to the door -- where after some hesitation, he started to back away again. The sales manager, feeling sorry for the young man, and surprised that he was so badly trained, called him in. "You're a salesperson aren't you? What are you selling?" "Sir ... uh ... yes ... I'm a salesman. I'm sorry to bother you. I was selling insurance, but I'm sure you don't want any. Sorry to have wasted your time." Feeling sorry for the young bungler, the sales manager bought two policies to give the young salesman some confidence and then started teaching him about selling. He said: "You should have different pre-planned approaches for different kinds of—" "But I do, sir,” the young salesman interrupted, “the one I just used is my planned approach for sales managers. It always works. Thank you!" Source: WorkingHumor 8. Wishful thinking Source: LinkedIn 9. I like Jim Carrey's mentality better Source: Sales Humor 10. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. A salesman was demonstrating unbreakable combs in a department store. He was impressing the people who stopped by to look by putting the comb through all sorts of torture and stress. Finally to impress even the skeptics in the crowd, he bent the comb completely in half, and it snapped with a loud crack. Without missing a beat, he bravely held up both halves of the "unbreakable" comb for everyone to see and said, "And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what an unbreakable comb looks like on the inside." Source: Workjoke 11. When your prospect actually has a good objection. Source: GIPHY 12. Since we're all dog lovers at HubSpot (part 1) The entire North American sales force of Frisky Dog Food was gathered together for their national sales convention at Miami Beach. In the great auditorium the marketing director was giving a performance that any revivalist would have been proud of. Using the old pattern of call and response, he was really working up the spirits of his sales team. “Who’s got the greatest dog food in North America?” the marketing director asked. “We have!” the audience replied. “And who’s got the greatest advertising campaigns?” “We have!” “Who’s got the most attractive packages?” “We have!” “Who’s got the biggest distribution?” “WE HAVE!” “Okay. So why aren’t we selling more of the product?” One bold voice from the crowd replied: “Because the darned dogs don’t like it.” Source: Desicomments 13. Since we're all dog lovers at HubSpot (part 2) Source: Sales Humor 14. Is that all? Source: Spiro Retail Jokes 15. Thank you, next Source: Pinterest 16. "I'm just looking, thanks." Source: Sales Humor 17. Passion for my job "I love my sales job, it's the work I hate." Source: SalesJokes 18. When you sell the customer no one else thought was ready. Source: GIPHY 19. As they should be! Source: Pinterest 20. You mean, "I have to check Amazon to see if they have it cheaper?" Source: Spiro Sales Puns Please forgive me, these are truly terrible but completely necessary. 21. "Always trust a glue salesperson. They tend to stick to their word."-Unknown 22. "The salesperson claimed the shoes were made from alligator, but I knew it was crock."-Larry Levin 23. "With some cashiers, things are slow to register." -Unknown 24. "I was fired from my job selling amplifiers because I didn’t achieve the sufficient volume of sales." -Unknown 25. "I used to sell Velcro, but I couldn’t stick with it." -Unknown 26. "I’m almost done making jokes about unemployed salespeople but they still need some work." -Unknown At the end of the day, though, most salespeople just want two things: Read more »
  • How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]
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    Business development. It’s usually confused with sales, often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long term success and ensuring that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal. But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below. Strategic Plan Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy -- and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company. It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether. When we refer to a business development strategic plan, however, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through your flywheel and close deals. Strategic Plan Template Craft your elevator pitch Include an executive summary Set SMART goals Conduct a SWOT analysis Determine how you’ll measure success Set a budget Identify your target customer Choose an outreach strategy 1. Craft your elevator pitch What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why. Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all, but a story. Recent studies show 5% of meeting attendees remember statistics and 63% remember stories. Others have their favorite types of pitches, from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 140 characters. Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy. 2. Include an executive summary You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here. You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition. Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities. Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business -- without having to read the rest of your strategy. 3. Set SMART goals What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals. Remember, SMART stands for: Specific Measurable Assignable Relevant Time-based If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target. Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successful upsell a customer and close the business? To make your goal assignable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps. This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter. 4. Conduct SWOT analysis SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.” Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers. Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic. Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers? Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment? What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue? Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company. 5. Determine how you’ll measure success You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals, but how will you measure it all? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include: Company growth Revenue Lead conversion rate Leads generated per month Client satisfaction Pipeline value Reach 6. Set a budget What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic. Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up. 7. Identify your target customer Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market: Analyze your product or service Check out the competition Choose criteria to segment by Perform research Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business. 8. Choose an outreach strategy What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy. 1. Networking Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media? 2. Referrals If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy. 3. Upselling and cross-selling Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important this tactic comes with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need -- that’s when turnover and churn start to happen. 4. Sponsorship and advertising Will your BDR work with or on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate. 5. Outreach What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound, outbound, or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business. Strategic Plan Example Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Elevator pitch Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow. Executive summary At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long. To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed upon timeline. SMART goals Dunder Mifflin’s 2019 goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost. SWOT analysis Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same day reams to our customers -- something the big box stores cannot offer. Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer than average sales cycle, which costs money and time. Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow-up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with the big box store. Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long resulting in low revenue and slow growth. Measurement of success We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost. Budget [Insert budget breakdown] Target customer Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs. Outreach strategy Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers. A strategic plan for business development is crucial to have your team aligned and working toward the greater good of your company. Not tapped out on planning? Check out this sales plan template, or this free template for building a successful business plan. Read more »
  • What's Your Product's Actual (and Average) Selling Price
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    It's a well-known fact: businesses need money to survive. Not only can it be spent on short-term business purchases, but it can also be used for long-term investments in the company's growth.   The primary way companies earn money is by selling their products or services. And about 75% of a company’s revenue comes from its standard products. How you price these products can be a make or break decision for your business. The price should be high enough to cover production costs, but reasonable enough that potential buyers will be willing to purchase it. But, what's the best way to calculate your product's selling price? Let's dive in and demystify the process. Selling Price The selling price is the amount a buyer pays for a product or service. The price can vary depending on how much buyers are willing to pay, how much the seller is willing to accept, and how competitive the price is in comparison to other businesses in the market. Selling price can also be known as market price, list price, or standard price. And the following factors help organizations determine the selling price of its products: The price a buyer is willing to pay The price a seller is willing to accept The price that's competitive in the market Depending on the type of business and its offerings, it might prioritize one of the factors over the others. The average selling price of a product can also be used to determine the price you should assign your product. Average Selling Price Average selling price (ASP) is the amount of money a product in a specific category is sold for, across different markets and channels. It can be used as a benchmark for businesses who need to determine a selling price for its products. For example, the average selling price for PCs is $632. Let's say you're trying to determine a price for your high-end, personal computer (PC). You'd likely choose to price your product above the average to stand out as a luxury PC provider. When you're ready to calculate your product's selling price, a simple formula can be used. Selling Price Formula The selling price formula is: Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin Cost price is the price a retailer paid for the product. And the profit margin is a percentage of the cost price. So, how do you calculate the selling price for your product? Use the selling price formula below: Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin Let's define the key elements in the formula. Cost Price: The price a retailer paid for the product Profit Margin: A percentage of the cost price. How to Calculate Selling Price Per Unit Determine the total cost of all units purchased. Divide the total cost by the number of units purchased to get the cost price. Use the selling price formula to calculate the final price: Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin For example, Hot Pie's Bakery Supply needs to calculate the selling price for its product line of bread machines. The business purchased 20 bread machines for $3,000. Total cost of units purchased: $3,000 Number of units purchased: 20 Cost price: $150 ($3,000/20) Now it's time to plug the numbers into the selling price formula. The cost price for each bread machine is $150, and the business hopes to earn a 40% profit margin. Here's what the formula would look like in action: Selling Price = $150 + (40% x $150) Selling Price = $150 + (0.4 x $150) Selling Price = $150 + $60 Selling Price = $210 Now, Hot Pie's Bakery Supply has a selling price -- each bread machine will be sold to buyers for $210. With the correct selling price, your business can earn a profit. To learn more about pricing strategies, check out this quick guide to cost-plus pricing next. Read more »
  • A Quick Refresher on Price Elasticity (& How It Impacts Your Strategy)
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    I know what you woke up thinking this morning: “I sure could use a quick refresher on price elasticity.” If you’re shaking your head saying, “Yes, Meg. Yes!” then I’m so happy to have met your needs with this miraculous piece. Understanding the price elasticity of your product/service and how it impacts your sales and business strategy is crucial to building a responsive, successful company. It goes a step or two beyond identifying the going rate for your offer and is a more strategic approach to pricing. Brush up on the basic economics of price elasticity below and, don’t worry, you can thank me later. Price Elasticity of Demand This formula (also known as PED) is used to identify how a change in price affects the supply or demand of a commodity. If people still buy a product/service when the price is raised, that product/service is inelastic. A product/service is elastic when demand suffers due to price fluctuations. For example, research shows that raising cigarette prices doesn’t do much to stop smokers from buying cigarettes, therefore making cigarettes an inelastic commodity. Cable television, however, is a very elastic product. As the price of cable has increased, demand has decreased as more consumers “cut the cord.” Substitutions like Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services have made the cable industry elastic. There are also substitutions for Tobacco (i.e., vaporizers, nicotine patches, etc.), but none that have affected their core consumer’s desire and ability to continue buying cigarettes. Price Elasticity of Demand Formula % Change in Quantity / % Change in Price = Price Elasticity of Demand If you sell 10,000 reams of paper at $100/ream and then raise the price to $150 per ream and sell 7,000 reams, your elasticity of demand would be -0.88. This would be considered inelastic because it is less than one. Broken down even further to include the calculation of percent change, this formula looks like: ((QN - QI) / (QN + QI) / 2) / ((PN - PI) / (PN + PI) / 2) QN = New quantity (7,000) QI = Initial quantity (10,000) PN = New price ($150) PI = Initial price ($100) Our numbers plugged into this formula would be: (7,000 - 10,000) / (7,000 +10,000) /2) / (150 - 100) / (150 - 100) / 2)  Head spinning? Check out this free calculator. This formula is helpful in determining if a product/service is price sensitive. Ideally, you want your offering to be a must-have (inelastic) that consumers consider non-negotiable during price fluctuation, not a nice-to-have (elastic). Types of price elasticity of demand 1. Perfectly Inelastic Demand - If your PED equals 0, price changes do not affect your product’s demand 2. Relatively Inelastic Demand - If the percent change for demand is less than the percent change of the product’s price 3. Unit Elastic Demand - If the change in demand yields a proportional change in price 4. Relatively Elastic Demand - If demand change is greater than the change in your product’s price 5. Perfectly Elastic Demand - If demand falls to zero at the slightest price increase or demand becomes great with a slight price decrease Price Elasticity of Supply The price elasticity of supply (PES) measures how responsive the supply of a product/service is when there is a change in price. If supply is inelastic, it might mean a company is struggling to keep up with demand because they are short-staffed, need longer lead time to produce more of their product, or do not have the resources to expand their facilities. If supply is elastic, a company might have a surplus of staff or laborers available to increase supply. Knowing PES allows businesses to determine whether a change in price with negatively or positively affect the demand for their product/service. The formula for calculating PES is: PES = % change of supply / % change in price If supply is inelastic, an increase in price leads to a change in supply that is less than the increase in price, meaning the PES is less than one. If supply is elastic, the price change yields a larger increase in supply making the PES greater than one. For example, if the price of “World’s Greatest Boss” mugs falls 10% and the supply falls 5%, the PES is .5 and considered inelastic. If the price of bobbleheads increases by 15% and supply increases by 20%, the price elasticity of supply (PES) is 1.3 and elastic. Cross Price Elasticity Cross elasticity of demand measures how responsive the demand of a product/service is when the price for another product/service changes. For example, if Hulu with Live TV raises their prices to $45 per month, will customers leave the service for YouTube TV -- a similar streaming service charging only $40 per month? As the price of Hulu Live rises the demand for their competitor’s service rises. Within cross price elasticity, YouTube would be considered a “substitute good.” If, however, the cost of televisions increased and the number of customers using subscription services like Hulu or YouTube decreased because of the price increase of televisions, this would be called “complementary goods.” Cross price elasticity allows businesses to price their products/services competitively, plan for risks, and map their market. If your product/service has no real competitor, you do not need to consider cross price elasticity because there is no substitute for your offering. However, if a complementary product/service sees a market fluctuation, you might need to prepare for cross price elasticity. Cross price elasticity formula Cross Price Elasticity of Demand = % change in quantity demanded for Product A / % change Product B’s price Want to dig into pricing strategy a bit more? Check out this article on cost-plus pricing or this one on prestige pricing for your premium offers. Read more »
  • The Ultimate Guide to Strategic Planning for a Perfect Sales Operation
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    So, what's the plan? Or should I say, what's the strategic plan? Without a proper strategy, your business or organization can suffer. But, with strategic planning, businesses can increase productivity, profitability, and increase their longevity by creating a clear plan for the future. Does strategic planning sound too good to be true? While it sounds great in theory, it can be challenging in practice. In fact, 56% of executives and their teams wasted time on strategic planning, while only 44% spent the strategic planning time productively. Luckily, you can join the 44% of leaders and teams that had productive strategic planning sessions. If you take the right approach, strategic planning can have a positive impact on your business and its bottom line, and it will certainly be worth your time. Strategic Planning Strategic planning is a business activity that's used by the leadership of an organization. They set long-term goals and priorities for the business, agree on ways to reach these goals, and how to measure progress. This provides a clear action plan for the company. Common frameworks used in strategic planning include the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Objectives and Key Results (OKR), and the Theory of Change (TOC). The purpose of strategic planning is for an organization to determine the direction its heading in the next three to five years. The objectives set during strategic planning can be modified if strategies were based off incorrect assumptions, or if the organization needs to adjust in response to changes in the business environment (e.g., internal or external). And strategic plans are often adjusted each year. Balanced Scorecard Institute sums up strategic planning nicely: "It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful." Strategic vs. Operational Planning Strategic planning is used by the organization to outline its long-term visions and goals for the next three to five years. These are the overarching priorities for the entire company. Operational planning supports the strategic plan. Different departments and divisions of the organization focus on short-term goals that can be accomplished within a year and impact the priorities set in the strategic plan. While strategic planning and operational planning sound similar, they are different business activities. Strategic planning focuses on long-term goals -- these goals are often set by the executive leadership team. They'll outline their mission and vision for the business and Operational planning breaks down the long-term goals of the strategic plan into short-term goals and activities. Oftentimes, this sort of planning is performed by individual departments or teams, and the planning is done by department leaders. They focus their efforts on creating strategies and tactics they can pursue throughout the year that will support the broader goals laid out in the strategic plan. Wondering how strategic and operational planning impact sales teams? The strategic plan is determined by senior leadership or executives to develop a long-term vision for the company. It's up to individual departments to create plans and strategies for their teams to align with and work towards the objectives set in the strategic plan. Sales leaders create a sales plan (operational plan) that outlines the short-term strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve long-term goals. This aligns sales teams and salespeople so they know exactly what they're working towards, and how progress and success will be measured. Strategic Planning Process The strategic planning process is how an organization defines its vision and long-term goals. Company leaders hold planning sessions to define the vision of the company and the high-level objectives. They outline the goals they'd like to achieve and which tactics and resources will be used to reach the goals. This information is written down in a document known as a strategic plan. What is a strategic plan? A strategic plan is a document that outlines the results of the strategic planning session. The length of the strategic plan varies depending on the complexity of the company and its size. The document is the source of truth and keeps the organization on track to hit its goals. So, what exactly does the strategic planning process look like? Here are the steps. Strategic Planning Process Steps Prepare for strategic planning. Assess the business. Outline your mission, vision, and key stakeholders. Choose a strategic planning framework. Create a strategic plan. 1. Prepare for strategic planning. Who do you want to include in the strategic planning process? Ideally, you should assemble a cross-functional group that includes executives and leadership from your critical business functions (e.g., finance, operations, product, sales, marketing, human resources, etc.). After your strategic planning group is assembled, set a timeline for completion. Depending on the size or complexity of your company, planning can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Pick a timeline that works best for your organization. 2. Assess the business. Look at the internal and external factors that impact your business. For example: Is there a particular business area that's growing quickly? How can the business further support its growth? Will a new technological advancement help improve your business processes? Are any pieces of legislation being passed that the company needs to respond to? These are just a few things to consider when evaluating the environment your business is operating in. Tools like SWOT Analysis, Porter's Five Forces, and PESTLE Analysis can help you assess the strongest and weakest parts of the organization. Plus, you can determine opportunities for growth and see where potential challenges might arise. 3. Outline your mission, vision, and key stakeholders. What's the business' mission or vision? Identify the core values and priorities of the business by outlining your mission and vision statements. Determine who your key stakeholders are (e.g., customers, employees, owners, board members, suppliers) to understand exactly who your strategy will impact. And take the opportunity to identify your target customer as well. Since customers are your primary stakeholders, you'll need to create an accurate customer persona or profile so you know how their needs should be met. When working through the strategic planning process, you'll start by outlining your aspirational goals first, so you can eventually develop specific strategies and tactics that will be used to achieve the aspirational goals. Source: Jacob Thoft-Christensen This strategy pyramid is an ideal reference tool to make sure your priorities are on the right track. 4. Choose a strategic planning framework. Once you've identified key opportunities, it's time to choose a framework that will help you develop your strategic plan. Here are a few of the most common frameworks businesses use for strategic planning. 1. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) framework helps you outline your business' mission, vision, and strategy and creates a visual strategy map that your business can follow. It includes strategic objectives, targets, measures and KPIs, and the strategic initiatives that will help you reach your goals. 2. Objectives and Key Results (OKR) With this strategic method, organizations make a list of three to five, high-level objectives. Below each objective, they'll list three to five, quantifiable key results which are measured with a score between 0 to 1 or 0-100%. Check out these OKR examples to get started. 3. Theory of Change (TOC) The Theory of Change (TOC) is a framework where you identify your long-term goals, then work backward to determine which conditions must be in place for each goal to be reached. Here is an in-depth description of how and when to use the Theory of Change method. By using these frameworks, you'll be able to develop your strategies, the tactics you'll use to accomplish them, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you'll use to track performance. These are the strategic planning methodologies that are used most often. If they don't seem like they'll work for you, check out this list of strategic planning models and find the best one for your business. 5. Create a strategic plan. Now that you've consulted with your team and came up with your long-term plans, it's time to record the agreements and strategies in a strategic plan. The strategic plan is a physical document that can be shared across departments in the company. But, many companies have gone digital with strategic planning software, so their strategic plan can be accessed by anyone in the company from their electronic devices. Many of these software options are collaborative for people at all levels of the company, which increases the transparency of the business' primary goals. Strategic Planning Software Need some tools to start your strategic planning with? Here are some strategic planning software options, in no particular order. 1. Cascade Strategy Cascade Strategy helps you create a plan and execute it with its strategy planning platform. It allows you to create a strategy map, outline your goals, and include specific details like goal timeframes and the metrics used to evaluate goal achievement. Additional features include a KPI builder, smart frameworks, goal and project management tools, and dashboards to report on progress. Source: Cascade Strategy 2. ClearPoint Strategy This strategic planning tool has Balanced Scorecard Software that enables you to build your strategic plan. The platform provides you with the ability to build interactive Balanced Scorecards, and create dashboards and strategy maps to track your goals. You can assign elements of the strategic plan to different owners so they can tackle specific parts of the strategy. Source: ClearPoint Strategy 3. WorkBoard WorkBoard offers a strategic planning solution that's specifically for CEOs and General Managers. And with tools like the active OKR solution, teams can identify plan using the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) technique. The tool provides a way to align organizations and help them identify risks with OKR heatmaps. Source: WorkBoard 4. Khorus Khorus is a strategy execution software that creates transparency for CEOs, management, and individual contributors. CEOs set objectives in Khorus, and then teams and individuals can add their own goals that contribute to the overarching objectives. This strategic planning software improves the ability of businesses to execute their strategies, and it increases alignment and transparency. Source: Khorus 5. COMPASS® Quality Management System With this project portfolio management system, you can manage ideas and projects to help you and your team develop a strategy. An interesting feature is the star rating system that allows employees to rate each project. The system takes this information, analyzes it, and rates the project's overall potential. The tool creates transparency between leaders and employees, and management is able to engage with the feedback to improve upon their strategic goals and projects. Source: Creato Performance Solutions With a strategic plan, your company and your sales organization will be well-equipped to set goals and achieve them. Read more »
  • The Best Way to Reach Out to a Prospect For the First Time, According to 20+ Sales Experts
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    For years, there's been a debate raging in the sales community: When reaching out to a prospect for the first time, should you call or email? After all, first interactions with prospects are key -- you're aiming to establish trust, provide value, gather key information, and perhaps even secure a follow-up meeting. If you don't use the right medium, they'll be less receptive to your message (and that's assuming they engage at all). Luckily for sales reps everywhere, more than 20 sales experts and practitioners on Quora decided to weigh in. The Best Way to Reach Out to a Prospect For the First Time When In Doubt, Email First The majority of experts recommended starting with an email. "An initial email usually makes more sense because it doesn't require [the prospect to] answer at the moment they receive it," writes Robert Graham, author of Cold Calling Early Customers. Plus, as others pointed out, you can use an email as a reason to call. "I always start by referring to this first email to show we're one step further in our relationship," explains Stan Frering, head of Client Relationship Management for Easytrip France. Emailing has a third advantage over calling, according to EchoSign co-founder Jason Lemkin. It lets you educate your prospect on the product's value proposition, and clearly connect it with the prospect's situation. "The prospect needs to understand the value proposition first," he explains. "It needs to be very strong, and very clear. No one will take a random call about a product they've never heard of it's not 100% crystal clear they have a huge, pre-defined need for it." When to Ignore the Email-First Rule However, there is one exception to the "email first" rule. Lemkin says once your brand has been established, it's time to start calling your prospects. "If your prospect has already heard of [your company], they'll know if they want to speak to you about the product and learn more about buying," Lemkin writes. For example, say you're a salesperson for Dropbox. You call a prospect and say, "Hi John, I'm with Dropbox, and I noticed your CEO tweeted that your company is almost out of free virtual storage. I'd love to discuss how we could get you some more so you can keep all your files in one place." John already knows Dropbox and understands why it's a useful product -- so he's got a good reason to stay on the phone. However, if you were selling a brand-new cloud storage solution, Lemkin argued that it would be better to send John an email first so he has more time to consider your value prop. Not sure how much clout your company name carries? To quickly gauge brand awareness, go to Google Trends and compare how many people are searching for your company versus your top competitors. If your company gets the most searches, that means it probably has the highest name recognition in your space. A Better Method Than Phone Or Email? But to one expert, the question of "phone vs. email" is innately flawed. SVP at LivePerson Sean Burke says that, in fact, your default shouldn't be calling or emailing. He recommends using your network to get an introduction -- great advice, considering that having a referral makes a buyer five times more likely to engage. "You'd be surprised how often this crucial first step is ignored," Burke writes. Once your mutual connection has agreed to introduce you, ask him or her which communication method the prospect prefers. Most people have an individual preference for calling or emailing. However, if you don't have a shared connection, Burke suggests looking at the prospect's social media presence. If she is "social" -- meaning she's got 500-plus LinkedIn connections and an active Twitter or Instagram account -- use those channels to interact with her and start adding value. If she's "traditional" -- meaning she doesn't meet those criteria -- Burke gives you the go-ahead to call or email. Whatever You Do, Don't Cold Call or Spam While opinions differed on the relative merits of calls vs. email vs. social media, the experts were unanimous on one point: You should never reach out to a prospect via any channel without doing research first. "Ultimately, you are in a much better position -- either calling or emailing -- if you have background information on the person you are contacting," notes Jeremy Boudinet, head of marketing for Ambition. "That way, you can tailor your message off the bat, since you have an idea of how you can add value to that person or company." Sales Email or Sales Call? Experiment and Find Out Although these guidelines should definitely guide your prospecting strategy, don't forget they're just that: guidelines. "Why not take a test-and-learn approach to this problem?" writes Nick Dellis, Weebly's VP of Business Development. "What works for you may not work for others." Dellis suggests emailing first, then calling with 10 to 20 prospects, doing the reverse with another 10 to 20 prospects, and comparing the results. "Taking this approach of testing ideas and optimizing is the only way to find out for yourself," he says. "And it'll help you be a better salesperson in the longer term." First Contact Email If you choose to start the conversation with an email, be sure you include a rapport-building element and communicate your value proposition. Not sure what a first contact email should look like? Here's an email template you can use to start your outreach.   Hi [Prospect Name], Because I work so much with [targeted industry], I constantly follow industry news. Recently, I noticed you've [insert company action]. Usually when that happens, [insert business issue] becomes a priority. That's why I thought you might be interested in finding out how we helped [similar company] quickly get started in a new direction with a customized solution. Check out our [case study/research] here. If you'd like to learn how [your company] can help [prospect's company], let's set up a quick call. Schedule 15 minutes here on my calendar. Kind regards, [Your Name] P.S. If you're not the right person to speak with, who do you recommend I talk to? And to learn more about sales prospecting, check out these email templates to get and keep buyers' attention next. Read more »
  • 14 Sales Presentation Techniques That Will Help You Close More Deals Today
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    What makes a good sales presentation? An effective presentation tells a compelling story, highlights your value proposition, and aligns with your audience's needs and desires. It ends with a strong call-to-action. Hate the thought of doing sales presentations? You’re not alone. But the best reps have sales presentations down pat, even if it’s not their favorite activity. The best sales reps know that when done right, sales presentations are a high-earning skill. So, let’s hone that skill with 14 simple sales presentation techniques that communicate an irresistible narrative and get buyers to close. Sales Presentation Techniques 1. Send your buyer the presentation deck before your call Be honest. Internally, you read that title and said some version of "No way." Am I right? Well, know this: I only preach what I practice. When the Gong.io team started sharing our deck before opening sales calls, we learned it’s a winning move. You might assume that sending a buyer the deck before a call is like revealing whodunnit on the cover of a murder mystery. No one’s going to pay attention to the rest of the book, right? Wrong. If your deck is compelling, prospect’s will want to get into it with you, even if they know the main point. Together, you can dive in, dissect the good bits, and talk through questions. It’s going to be a juicy conversation and they know it. If you want to see how closely your buyer paid attention to your deck, start your call with, "Based on the information in the deck I sent, where should we start?" Don’t worry if they didn’t review it. They’ll just tell you to take it from the top. Nothing’s lost except their opportunity to jump into a deeper conversation faster. That’s what you’re after: a top-tier discussion, right off the bat. You can get into one much faster, if your buyer has seen your deck and is ready to talk about it. It saves everyone time and kicks the sales process off to a quick start. 2. Invoke self-discovery It’s tempting to stick to a positive and linear story during your sales presentation. That usually involves talking about benefits, outcomes, and desired results. But that approach is a mistake. Before you discuss solutions and results, you must understand the problem. More importantly, you have to be sure your prospect understands (read: admits to) the problem. Self-discovery is the ticket that gets you there. Instead of telling your buyer what the problem is and how you’ll address it, get your buyer to connect with the problem on their own. Tell a story in which your buyer is just like the main character. 3. Talk about Point A. Don’t skip to point B. This tip is 100% linked to the last one. There’s a problem (Point A) and a desired outcome (Point B). Point A is the status quo. It’s the problem your buyer will continue to face if they don’t make a change. Would it surprise you to know that 95% of messaging focuses on Point B (shiny outcomes) instead of Point A (the problem)? Here’s how you can stand out. Switch the focus of your presentation to Point A. Talking about a pain point is shockingly more effective than talking about positive outcomes. That’s because of one simple principle called loss aversion. Here’s the quick version: People will work twice as hard to avoid loss as they will to gain benefits. Focusing on Point A triggers loss aversion, and the natural human reaction to loss aversion is a sense of urgency. Now you’re getting the inside scoop on deal-closing sales presentations. Make your buyer feel the pain that results from the status quo. Convince them the pain is only going to get worse without your solution -- because you know that to be true. You should only talk about benefits once they’re on board with that line of thinking. Urgency is what allows benefits to land. Without urgency, benefits are just happy points that hold no real meaning. 4. Insight is your #1 lead story Buyers are the experts on their company’s circumstances. But they want insights into their situation from you. You’re most likely to impress a buyer by telling them something new about themselves. They’re bogged down in their own perspective, and your shiniest offering is new insight into their problems and opportunities. They can get common information about your product’s benefits from a brochure, thank you very much. But an insight into themselves? That’s worth its weight in gold. Check out this TaylorMade video. It’s a bang-on example of how to lead a presentation with insight, and then move on to your product’s strengths: You learned how to get more distance from your golf swing (an insight into what you’re doing). Then you learned how that’s supported by the product’s particular strength. Insight comes first. It changes how your buyers think about the problem your product solves. Only then benefits can land effectively. 5. Don’t lead with differentiators, lead to them Think about what makes your product unique. Nothing you say about differentiators matters, if your buyer doesn’t value that differentiator. So, how do you get buyers to care about your unique strength? Help your buyer understand a problem or opportunity they’ve missed. Educate them, and be sure the solution relates to your differentiator. At Gong.io, we’ve taught our sales reps to speak with buyers about an important problem only we can solve. It’s the delta between top producers and the rest of the team. After naming that problem, reps offer insight into it and begin to build urgency: "The numbers from your top reps are fantastic." "The downside is they’re annulled by everyone else who’s missing their quota." "Your team goes from outstanding numbers to breaking even or missing quota. Both of those options are unsustainable." We only introduce our key differentiator once the backstory is clear and the buyer gets it. Then, our reps say something like this: "Gong is the only platform that can tell you what your top reps do differently from the rest of your team. We can tell you which questions they ask, which topics they discuss, when they talk about each one, and more." See why we lead to our differentiator, and not with it? It just wouldn’t land the same way if we started with the differentiator. In fact, it might not land at all. 6. Say it like an exec Remember this the next time you open your mouth in a meeting: You get delegated to the person you sound like. Focusing on specs and features is a poor sales strategy that gets you booted from decision makers. "This is interesting stuff. You know who would really connect with this? Our IT guy. He’s in charge of these kind of things and I think we’ll hand off to him at this point." -Every senior executive you bored with features talk Time for a reframe. When you talk about your value prop, use language that reflects strategic issues. That’s what resonates with executives. They want wins for corporate business problems, not tech snippets in the trenches. They want you to help them tackle strategic opportunities like these: The competition Market dynamics and market share Trends If your solution relates back to those problems, you can sell to the C-suite. 7. Flip your presentation There’s an incredibly predictable bent to most presentations. They’re logical and they flow from one point to the next, eventually achieving a shiny, final outcome. This is a great way to set yourself up for failure. Logic works when we introduce people to new topics. It’s used at all levels of the education system. But it doesn’t work well for presentations. Here are two presentations for constructing a new city. The first one is logic-based, and the audience is a big-wig politician. "Ms. Politician, we’d like you to consider this empty plot of land": "Sure, it’s a barren patch of earth right now. But hold on to your hat! We’ve envisioned a transformation: new buildings, roads, sidewalks, greenery. A day when our first stop light appears." "And if we take that a step further, we get to the good part. There’s an economic boom coming, and pretty soon we’re going to have homes and local businesses moving in. There’s going to be a big box store around the corner in no time." "Growth begets growth. New enterprises will emerge and eventually, we’ll have a metropolitan centre that will amaze and astound you. According to our plans, in just a couple of decades, that empty plot of land will have turned into a booming, gorgeous city rivaling Manhattan!" Let’s debrief. There’s a lot of build up. A lot of anticipation. And it’s all built on logical progression. But it took so long to get to the point, and that’s the wrong approach when you’re dealing with busy politicians. Or, in your case, busy decision makers. Here’s the second presentation. "Ms. Politician, we’re pleased to present our audacious dream for a new city. We’ve set out a plan and determined that if we stick to it, in just a few decades, our city will look like this:" "We’d love to have a conversation about our plans in any level of detail you like. Big picture or granular, let’s talk about what’s interesting to you." The main difference in the second example is that it started with the end result. The conversation unfolded after the seller revealed a big outcome. Of course, we know these conversations sound different in real life. But you take our point, right? During a presentation you want to reveal an outcome first and let the conversation grow from there. There’s one other tactic underlying it all: The best product demos start with topics the buyers highlighted on the discovery call. Your product demo should mirror those important topics back to the buyer. Start with the most important one first, and work your way down as the conversation moves along. This is something the team at Gong saw repeatedly in our analysis of winning product demos. In the opening section of your presentation, address the biggest issue from discovery. Address the second biggest issue second, etc. It’s called solution mapping, and it’s going to change your sales presentation process forever. Stop saving the big reveal for last. Stop building anticipation. Start with the good stuff. Let it rip right out of the gate. 8. Turn your presentation into a conversation If you sensed we’re looking for a two-way dialogue during your pitch, you’re right. That’s a relief to most salespeople, especially the ones who hate delivering traditional presentations. A two-way dialogue is going to make your pitch feel more natural. Stay away from one-way conversations like this one: If you look at this through the lens of a talk-to-listen ratio, it’s terrible. So much talking. So little listening. That means the rep isn’t asking the right questions, or getting long enough answers. Save your long monologues for Broadway. They won’t help you have a real conversation with your buyers. Instead, aim for a great two-way conversation: Picture that conversation in your mind. It’s connected, and real, and both people are fully engaged participants. That’s exactly how you want your buyer to behave at this point in the process. 9. Keep your presentation to 9 minutes max This tip is crisp and clear: Don’t present for more than nine minutes. Presentations for lost deals last an average of 11.4 minutes. Why does anything over nine minutes go poorly? Because humans don’t think well for that long. Our brains call a timeout at the nine-minute mark. When you hit the nine-minute mark, you need to change channels in your buyer’s brain. You can do that by switching up who’s speaking in real life or on a video or demo. That resets your clock to zero and you’ve got nine more minutes for the next portion of the show. Ignore this rule and you’ll lose your buyer for good! 10. Use this kind of social proof or face the consequences Social proof. Best friend or worst nightmare? It can be either one, so use it carefully. Generic social proof (i.e., naming impressive clients for brand power alone) is a disaster. Try it and your close rate is likely to drop by 22%. Early stage calls are the worst time to throw down generic social proof. That move will earn you a 47% drop in close rates. What’s happening here? Why is it so damaging to name two or three mega clients to regular buyers? Simple: The regular buyers don’t identify with big-name brands. Sure, they’re dazzled that you nabbed those clients. You’ll probably get some impressed nods in your meeting. But internally your buyers are thinking, "Wow. Google is their client?! Clearly their product isn’t designed for me." Here’s a much more effective strategy: Use tribal social proof. Clients who belong to your buyer’s tribe have the same pain points, challenges, and needs. Instead of naming a couple of magnificent clients, evoke tribal social proof by naming six same-tribe clients. The best reps rattle off half a dozen or more, when they’re using this technique. If you don’t have that many, you can get away with naming clients from a different tribe. But you have to know what you’re doing. You have to tell an accompanying story about the client and their pain points must match the buyer’s. Otherwise, forget about naming clients from different industries. The reason you’re naming these clients in the first place is so your buyer will see themselves in the customer story you’re telling. Keep reading for more tips on customer stories that sell. 11. Ditch ROI calculators. Use customer stories. ROI has a deep psychological hold on plenty of salespeople. They think these cold, hard facts are hard to ignore. But they missed the memo that says using ROI during the sales process leads to a 27% drop in won deals. That’s true at any point in the process, and I’ll tell you why. It’s connected to how human brains work. We process information in two ways: logically and emotionally. Discussing ROI triggers the wrong process. ROI awakens the logical processors where critical analysis and debate happen. When you talk about ROI, your customer’s brain can’t help but argue with your assumptions. It’s a natural reaction when you trigger their analytical system. Instead, provoke your buyer’s emotional brain, because that’s where buying decisions happen. Do that by telling a before-and-after customer story. It’s a tactic that doesn’t stir any arousal in your buyer’s logical brain. It sneaks into their head and makes a point without setting off any alarms. And don’t get so excited about the "after" results that you forget to mention the "before" metrics. The contrast between "before" and "after" is where buyers learn about your product’s value. This unedited slide is straight from one of our business case decks: One of the reasons this works so much better than discussing ROI is that there are no assumptions to argue over. Your story stands entirely on its own and buyers understand it at face value. The trick is to get your buyers to see themselves in that story. If they do, your job gets a lot easier. They’ll be ready to sign in no time. 12. Talk price after you establish value Would it surprise you to know it matters when you talk about certain topics? It can actually affect whether you win or lose a deal. Pricing is a great example of this principle. The top salespeople wait to talk about pricing. They know it’s important to demonstrate their product’s value first. You can get into real trouble if a buyer decides they want to talk pricing early in the call. Set an agenda at the start of your call, so your buyer knows when to expect a pricing discussion. They’ll be less likely to raise it early, and if they do, you can refer back to the agenda. Open with something like, "I’d like to talk about A, B, and C on our call today. Then we can go over pricing at the end and -- if it makes sense for you -- talk about next steps. Does that work for you?" You’re all set. 13. Learn your competitor’s strength and use it This is one of my favorite competition-crushing techniques. It’s easy to focus on your competition’s weaknesses. That’s why most salespeople do it. A more sophisticated technique involves using their strengths against them. Mentioning your competitor’s weaknesses leaves you vulnerable to attack. Your buyer can dispute or correct your points. What if you could show your buyer how your competitor’s strengths make their product a poor fit? That’s exactly what one of the biggest names in the fast-food business did in the mid-1980’s. By 1985, McDonald’s was losing market share to Burger King, and their marketing teams were going head to head. That’s when Burger King decided to take down everything McDonald’s promoted as its strengths. McDonald’s branding was highly focused on being the place for kids. From Happy Meals and Play Places to Ronald and his friends, McDonald’s was undeniably kid-oriented. The genius marketing crew at Burger King framed their counterpoint: it was the place for adults and real burgers, not just "fun food." Knowing your competitor’s strengths is just as important as knowing their weaknesses, if you know what to do with that information. Sales jiu-jitsu in your back pocket. 14. Solidify your position early on Here’s another way to use the competition to win deals. Talk about them. Our data shows that you’re more likely to win a deal if you talk about the competition early in the sales process, instead of ignoring them completely. For best results, practice this during your first sales presentation. Waiting until the end of your sales process puts you into a dangerous red zone. Your buyers will already have formed opinions, and they’ll be harder to change. Sales managers, pay particular attention to this one and jump into competitive deals early on. We love these words from Geoffrey Moore, who wrote "Crossing the Chasm:" In other words, at the end of the day, buyers will justify a decision they made early in the process. That’s why it’s critical to set yourself up as the winner early on. Talk about the competition in your presentation. Put the conversation out there. Get your buyer to see you through that lens, and you’re golden. You have 14 new tips and techniques to throw down this quarter. These data-backed moves are straight out of our own playbook and have proven highly effective. Implement them all and I know you’ll boost your numbers. Want to keep reading? Check out these tips for ending your presentation with a bang. Read more »
  • Mass Email Is Dead. Try This Better Marketing Strategy Instead [+ Examples]
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    My name is John Sherer. And I spam my prospects. At least, I used to. You're likely thinking one of two things: "What a monster. I can't believe he did that." or "How the heck did he ever stop?" Unfortunately, I didn't stop mass email marketing until it stopped working. And, at that point, it's too late and you're left with no money. So, today I'd like to share the evolution of my email prospecting strategy and how it went from old school robotic to modern and strategic, with a series of different email templates. Want to skip straight to the SlideShare? No problem, click here. Mass Email Marketing Mass email marketing is when the same email is sent to a large subscriber list. It's a marketing strategy that isn't used much today as it usually yields a very low conversion rate. Mass email is not customized, contains no personalized offers, and is sent to an unfiltered audience that may or may not be interested in what the sender has to say. Today's consumers expect targeted and customized emails that use AI to provide information and offers relevant to their immediate needs. The Old Mass Email Example I used to mass email my leads three times a week, which generated enough appointments to consistently fill the top of my pipeline. The old mass email looked something like this:   Hi there, Do you remember FAQ sections on websites? Occasionally you still see them, but for the most part, they've disappeared. That's because a website's job is to answer a researcher or prospect's question. If you set up your website to answer your prospect's questions, you'll increase sales. Check out this New York Times article on why. We offer a complimentary Website Content Assessment. When would be a good time to walk through your site? Let me know what works best. John This mass email worked for two reasons: 1. It included a valuable piece of content I knew the New York Times article would grab many people's attention. While this email wasn't personalized -- I did know that the prospects on my list would be interested in learning how their websites could answer prospect questions and save their reps time. While it's obviously a mass email, this article made it interesting enough to grab my reader's attention for a second longer. 2. It included a request to connect To always be closing you must always be asking. You don't want to ask for your prospect's business in a mass email, but you do want to close for a connect call. Asking for a consultation regarding their site is a great way to pique interest in how I can help their business identify and fill gaps. So, this old mass email wasn't necessarily bad. But one day it stopped working, and I have a few hypotheses as to why: 1. Maybe it was the generic opening We all remember FAQs, but asking a generic opening question isn't offering anything of value to my prospects. They don't know why I'm asking them if they remember FAQ pages, and if I'm a busy marketer, I'm likely already zoning out and moving on to other emails. A better way to phrase this opening might have been, "The best way to increase your sales is to answer prospect questions. And the easiest way to do that is by optimizing your website." I've immediately offered a piece of information that serves my prospect's business and should earn their attention. 2. Or the assumption the prospect had a horrible website No one wants a random salesperson to insult their website -- especially via a mass email. A better approach would be to research my prospect's website before sending a personalized email. Then, I could include one element I like about their site and an idea or two on what I would improve. This is a less jarring way of offering help. It also provides immediate value to the prospect, without being pushy or offensive. 3. Or putting all the work on the prospect to find a time to chat The least I could do here would be to link to a calendar or booking tool. Simply telling my prospects, "Let me know what works for you," is a vague, noncommittal way of asking for a follow up. A more proactive way to phrase this closing sentence would be, "I'd love to learn more about your website and its unique business challenges. Click here to book a free website content assessment: [Link to calendar]" Whatever the cause, prospects stopped opening my emails -- and that was a problem. The "Personalized" Mass Email Personalizing the greeting I knew it was time to start personalizing my emails. So, I went crazy and ... sent the same email as above but opened by greeting each prospect by name. You're probably not shocked to hear this didn't work. Customizing the time Next, I tried customizing the time. In this case, the email still stayed the same, but I suggested a specific time for us to talk. It looked a little like this:   Hi there, Do you remember FAQ sections on websites? Occasionally you still see them, but for the most part, they've disappeared. That's because a website's job is to answer a researcher or prospect's question. If you set up your website to answer your prospect's questions, you'll increase sales. Check out this New York Times article on why. Would you be able to talk at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday? Let me know what works best. John By now, you know what's coming: this still didn't work. My conclusion was "personalized" mass email didn't work on my prospects either. Looking back, it's not all too surprising they could see right through my copy-and-pasted templates. The Non-Mass Email I was still confused. After all, for the past few decades, prospects just like these had been responding to mass emails. And now, all of the sudden, adding a name wasn't enough, adding a company name wasn't enough. Basically, any one-word adjustment just wasn't enough. Then, it hit me. Prospects don't want "personalized," they want "tailored," "focused," and "value." So, how did I respond? By giving my prospects what they wanted. Here's what that new email looked like:   Hello [First name], You did an excellent job speaking at the recent 21st Century B2B Culture event. You have a great understanding of social business. Do you see social business being effective in B2C? I had a few ideas on how it could work in B2C that are related to your recent book (which I read). I help B2C SMBs use the internet to bring their business to the national market. What's the easiest way to get 10 minutes on your calendar Thursday to share how our market expertise can be mutually beneficial? Best,John I sent these emails one at a time -- no more mass email for me. And it worked. It still works. And here's why: I open with a custom event in the prospect's life I connect their expertise with my/HubSpot's own I provide a specific timeframe to chat Suddenly, my prospecting emails started working again. Collectively, our team tracked these emails to see which ones were opened. Then, we followed up immediately. Now we don't have to robotically send mass emails. And we're not just filling the top of our pipelines. We're moving people through them. So, start sending and tracking valuable prospecting emails to see what works best for you. While your at it, try increasing your email prospecting response rate by 1400%. And find almost anyone's email address (without being creepy) here. Oh, want to make email personalization even easier? Click here to learn more about Sales Hub's personalization tokens, and automate email personalization in the templates you use every day. Read more »
  • 7 Ways to Get a Prospect to Respond to You
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    Sometimes a salesperson gets lucky with an ultra-responsive prospect. Every time the rep sends an email, a response follows within the hour. When they call, the prospect picks up and makes time to chat. No matter when or how the rep reaches out, the prospect is sure to return a prompt reply. Unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule. It's far more common for a prospect to go dark after being responsive for a while. When this happens, the salesperson has to come up with creative ways to rekindle the conversation before the deal dies. In these types of situations, it's important for reps to realize that a prospect's silence doesn't reflect badly on how they've handled the sales process thus far. It's not you, it's them. For whatever reason, their interest in the sales process has waned temporarily, and nine times out of 10, it's due to something internal at their organization. But if you notice this happening more frequently than you'd like, take some time to brush up on your questioning and closing skills. If a prospect becomes unresponsive, don't waste time beating yourself up or trying to uncover the reason -- here's how to follow up with a prospect to re-engage them and get the deal rolling once more. How to Get a Prospect to Respond Don't refer to the past. Change your close. Engineer an opening with someone else. Vary your contact attempts. Throw a Hail Mary. Get personal. Ditch the break-up email. 1. Don't refer to the past. Although reps should continue to pursue prospects gone quiet, it's important they don't call attention to their buyer's silence. By starting an email with “I sent a message on Tuesday, but haven't heard back from you, or “I called but have not received a return call, you don't spur your prospect into action -- you just make them feel guilty. And what do people do when they feel guilty? Avoid the situation. If you want to hear back from your buyer, don't mention the fact that they haven't gotten back to you in a while. Start every sales follow-up interaction as if from scratch, and they'll be more inclined to reengage. 2. Change your closes. I consider “closing to be any interaction where a salesperson asks a prospect to commit to something -- whether big or little. Some examples of closes include requesting that a prospect read a white paper, schedule a call, make an introduction, or provide information. Consistently asking for closes throughout the sales process is a crucial factor in sales follow-up success.  When a prospect goes quiet, a salesperson might be tempted to just rehash the last close over and over again. Maybe they want to set up a meeting with the contact and their boss, and they sent an email to this effect over a week ago. If the prospect doesn't respond, a salesperson might just send another email asking for the meeting again, follow it up with a voicemail asking for the meeting, and send a LinkedIn message asking for the meeting. However, I wouldn't recommend this approach. Obviously, there's something about that ask that's not inciting the prospect to respond, so it's time to pull out a plan B. Make your closes specific, and change them up. Rather than asking for another meeting or call, ask for general information instead. For example, you could ask, "I'm trying to get a better understanding of your organization. Where can I learn more about [X project, team, announcement]?" The different asks explain why a salesperson is calling a prospect several times despite the lack of response. In addition, if a prospect was shying away from a particular close, they might be more inclined to reengage on a different one. 3. Engineer an opening with someone else. Many sales experts advocate using a breakup email to get an answer from an unresponsive buyer. While it's true that these emails do tend to receive higher than average response rates, I think breakup emails are a lackluster sales tactic. After all, if you haven't gotten through to a prospect in six months or more, why do you think you will spark up a meaningful conversation again now? It would be like if a couple didn't speak for several months, and then one partner called the other saying they'd like to break up. Isn't it pretty clear that you broke up months ago? The boyfriend or girlfriend has probably long moved on! Instead of sending a breakup email months after a prospect goes quiet, I suggest that salespeople strike up a conversation with someone else at the company soon after the silence starts. But how can a rep do this without coming off as sneaky? Glad you asked. On the fourth or fifth attempt with the contact who has fallen silent, I know they're probably not going to get back to me, but I give them one last chance. Here's an email I might send:   Hi [prospect name], I found this new white paper recently, and I thought of your company while I read it -- I think a lot of the lessons would be very helpful to you. I've attached it here. Please give me a call once you've read it because I'd like to get your thoughts and ask some follow up questions. Jeff Now I know full well I'm not getting a call. But that's the point. Once I've waited a few days, I am then free to send this white paper to another person at the organization to see if I can strike up a conversation with them. And if word gets around to my original contact that I'm now pursuing a conversation with someone else? Well, I can just say, “Since I never heard back from you, I assumed you moved on. In this way, the salesperson takes the contact's passive-aggressiveness as a “no instead of trying to make it into a “yes. 4. Vary your contact attempts. This sounds so obvious, but I've found most salespeople don't do it: Call and email your prospect at different times of day. Reps are creatures of habit, so after they finish, say, leaving a voicemail for their prospect, they'll put a reminder in their CRM to call that person again in three days or a week. And they'll typically choose the same time. That means they'll unsuccessfully call the buyer at 2:30 PM on a Tuesday -- and then they'll do the exact same thing at 2:30 PM next week. Maybe their prospect has a standing conference call at that time, or maybe they're much less responsive in the afternoon. Whatever the case, there's no reason to keep trying when something hasn't worked the first time. I recommend switching up both the day of the week and the relative time. If you were unsuccessful on Tuesday afternoon, try Thursday morning or early Monday evening. 5. Throw a Hail Mary. When a prospect who seemed interested goes dark, and I'm 0 for 10 contacting them again, I'll leave them this voicemail: "Hey [prospect name], don't hang up. It's Jeff from [company] -- I have a question that has nothing to do with our meeting last month. It's important. This is my cell; call me back today at this number." When they call me back, they'll ask, "What's this about?" I'll reply, "I lied. This has to do with our meeting last month. I couldn't get you on the phone." They'll have one of two reactions: Either they'll be pissed, or they'll laugh. If they're annoyed, they weren't going to buy from me anyway. And if they laugh, I've restarted the conversation. It's important to note you should have something valuable to say during this call, otherwise, they'll never respond to you again. 6. Get personal. Try a non-business approach by commenting on something your prospect's interested in outside of work. If they have an Alaskan vacation coming up, send a quick email saying, "I was watching a documentary on Alaskan polar bears and thought of you and your upcoming trip! Any plans to see them while you're there?" This is the easiest close you can give them because it has nothing to do with business. People are excited to talk about what's happening in their lives, so you're more likely to get a response than if you ask them when they want to schedule that demo for the fifth time. Once you get them talking again, you can slide in a "Great! And while I have you here, can I get that demo scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday of this week?" 7. Ditch the break-up email. I'm a firm believer in never sending break-up emails. Your prospect did or said something at some point in the buyer's journey that made them a qualified lead. Don't throw that away with a glib break-up email. Often, reps will use this type of last-ditch effort to push the prospect into moving forward. But what really happens is you give them an easy way out. You're doing the breaking up, so they don't have to. Rather than saying, "It seems you're not interested in what I have to offer. If that's the case, this will be my last attempt at reaching you." Try saying, "It seems like this isn't a good fit for your company right now. I don't want to bother you unnecessarily, so I'll follow up in a few months to see if our goals are better aligned." And instead of slamming the door on yourself, you've left it open and full of promise. You've been considerate of your prospect's time while staying assertive and action-oriented. Looking for more? Check out Jeff's blog for more great tips. Read more »
  • The Salesperson's Guide to Competition-Based Pricing
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    Did you know, on average, a 1% price increase translates into an 8.7% increase in operating profits? It's hard to believe the smallest percent increase or decrease in price can make a significant impact on profit margins. This statistic highlights the importance pricing can have on your company's bottom line. Now, I'm sure you're wondering which pricing strategies will help you turn a profit. Should you charge the going rate for your industry? Or should you choose pricing that's well above the market price? It's worth considering competition-based pricing. This dynamic strategy allows businesses to use competitor prices as benchmarks when finding a price for their product. Since competitors enter and exit the market, and the market fluctuates, businesses have the ability to proactively adjust their prices. Competition-Based Pricing With competition-based pricing, competitors' prices are used as a benchmark. And products are priced at, below, or above competitor prices, rather than pricing based on customer demand or production costs. It's also known as a competitor-based pricing or a competitive pricing strategy. Competition-based pricing is also known as competitor-based pricing or a competitive pricing strategy. It's often used by businesses that sell similar products. For example, retail companies often use this method because prospective customers often evaluate the switching cost between each competitor (e.g., lower cost versus higher quality), and the products are relatively similar in design and function. Businesses have three options for pricing their product with a competitor-based pricing strategy: Price below competitor prices Price match competitor prices Price above competitor prices If companies choose to set their prices lower than competitors, they'll be a low-cost leader in the market. Salespeople can communicate their products' value and attract prospects to the low price. Before decreasing their prices, businesses often lower production and overhead costs to make sure their profit margin doesn't shrink too much. When a business matches the price of the competition, they need to set themselves apart from the competition. This is often done through creative marketing and branding techniques that help create a unique value proposition. A company that chooses to set its price above competitor prices has to justify the premium price. This can be done by offering more features, additional benefits (e.g., expert customer service), or creating higher quality product than competitors. With a competitive pricing strategy, you'll stay on top of the competition and make your pricing dynamic compared to other competitors in the market. Advantages of Competition-Based Pricing Think a competitive pricing strategy will work for your business? It's always a good idea to weigh the benefits and costs of a pricing strategy before making a final decision. Below are some of the primary advantages of pursuing a competition-based pricing strategy. 1. Prices are dynamic. Since you're basing the price of your product based on competitor benchmarks, prices can change as your business grows and develops. Competitive pricing analysis will keep you informed so you can compete with market leaders. And price tracking software can help you automate this analysis. 2. It's simple to execute. With a relatively simple analysis of your competitors and their prices, you can determine your selling price without any complicated formulas or calculations. Whether there are two competitors in the market or 200, you'll still be able to evaluate their prices to set your own. 3. It can be combined with other pricing strategies. Competition-based pricing focuses solely on the competition, ignoring consumer demand and production costs. It's often in a business' best interest to use more than one pricing strategy to take these additional factors into account. For example, a SaaS company can look at the cost to develop and market its software, and use the cost-plus method to determine its selling price. Before settling on a final price, they can see where it places them in comparison to similar competitors in the market. With a pricing model that combines both strategies, they'll be able to stay ahead of the competition and cover their costs. Disadvantages of Competition-Based Pricing This pricing method won't be beneficial for all businesses. Here are a few of the disadvantages of competition-based pricing. 1. It ignores consumer demand. Competition-based pricing assumes that competitors are pricing their products intelligently and that other players in the market should follow suit. This pricing strategy works well if a few businesses in the market use it. But if a large portion of the market uses a competition-based pricing strategy, the market will eventually lose touch with consumer demand. This is because prices either remain stagnant from following the lead of a primary competitor, or companies change their prices on a whim based on competitors pursuing the same competitive pricing strategy. 2. It's easy to become passive. Since it's so simple to base prices solely on the competition, businesses risk becoming complacent in their price setting. They might ignore other signs (e.g., a drop in profit margin or a change in consumer demand) that indicate they should adjust their pricing strategy. 3. It's not ideal for small retailers. Oftentimes, smaller retailers have limited funds, which can make a competition-based pricing strategy challenging. If they price their product too low, this could cut into their profit margins and hurt the business. And if they set the price too high, they might not have the financial means to outdo their competitors and live up to the price (e.g., lack of capital, resources, employees). Competition-Based Pricing Examples Competition-based pricing is a pricing strategy where businesses use competitor prices as benchmarks. For example, let's say a pasta sauce company matches the price of its competitors. How do they set themselves apart from the competition? They create a strong brand that gives back to the community and donates some of their profit to charity. Here are a few competition-based pricing examples that demonstrate how this pricing strategy is often implemented. 1. Price below competitor prices A grocery store chain has its own line of cereal. It analyzes the prices of the brand name cereals and prices its own cereal below the average price of the competition. They'll hope to make more sales based on the assumption that consumers will choose their low-cost product over the pricier cereal options. 2. Price match competitor prices There's a gas station on one street corner who has its standard gas priced at $3.18. You look across the street and see a different gas station offering gas at the same price. Both gas stations sell a similar product, and the force of the market has resulted in each business selecting the same price. 3. Price above competitor prices Let's say a computer company is trying to determine a price for its laptop. It looks at the competition and decides it can make the most profit by selecting a price that's above competitor prices. How does the company attract customers to a higher price point? It sets itself apart from the competition by offering a premium product with a sleek design and additional features. Since the competitors don't offer these perks, consumers will be more likely to pick the premium laptop. With competition-based pricing, you'll be able to keep up with the Joneses (aka your competitors). As with any pricing strategy, you'll want to evaluate its advantages and disadvantages. But, with the proper planning, a competitive strategy can be a valuable addition to your pricing model. Want to learn more about pricing strategies? Check out this guide to cost-plus pricing next. Read more »
  • 9 Professional Email Signature Examples That Work in 2019
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    How many times have you received a business email and scrolled to the email signature to learn a little more about the person, only to see something that looks a little like this: Yep, that's me. There’s nothing inherently wrong with my signature -- but is there anything really great about it? No. It doesn’t tell my readers anything they don’t already know from my email alias and introductory first sentence ( "Hi, my name is Meg, and I’m the editor of the HubSpot Sales Blog."). Other than your subject line, email signatures are often your first impression. Whether you’re conducting outreach or emailing a new customer, your email signature should grab attention, inform, and include a CTA. So, I’ve gathered nine great email signatures from my inbox, and I’m sharing what they get right along with tips for how you can quickly transform your own signature below. Professional Email Signature Examples and Tips for 2019 1. Share your latest publications I love this signature from Avenue Talent Partners CEO Amy Volas. Her email signature is engaging, informative, and action-oriented. It shows her readers exactly where she’s active online, offers the ability to quickly schedule time on her calendar, and links to her most recent blog posts. Volas’ signature shows that she’s engaged in her work and industry, an active thought leader, and proactive about setting meetings. A playful quote also gives readers a glimpse into her personality and work values. Source: Amy Volas 2. Include your picture Humans like to help other humans. Including a headshot in your email signature makes you more than a faceless salesperson on the other end of the internet. Make sure it’s professional and appropriately sized. Donald Kelly, founder of The Sales Evangelist, includes a sharp photo, a link to his website, and social media icons to guide his peers to other channels of connection. This signature is friendly and invites the reader to connect over more than just email. Source: Donald C. Kelly 3. Tout your accomplishments Sales expert Kristin Anderson prominently features her company’s most recent awards in her signature. Whether you’re emailing prospects or longtime customers, these accolades matter to them. Prospects want to know you’ve been recognized by peers or customers as a top-tier company, and customers like to be reminded they’re with an award-winning company. When you win an industry accolade, ask the awarding company for badges to include on your website and in your email signature. Source: Kristin K. Anderson 4. Keep things branded Include a branded image of your company’s name. It’s professional, memorable, and gives your reader a good impression of your business. My eye was immediately drawn to this SmartAcre logo in Marketing and Sales Technology Director Jenay Sellers' email signature. Sellers also smartly linked to her company’s inclusion as an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company. Because not every accolade will come with a badge, hyperlinking is the next best thing to share news with your contacts. Source: Jenay Sellers 5. Include customer reviews Salespeople know peer reviews are one of the most important tools available to sellers today. Include a link to customer reviews right in your signature, like Senior Account Executive Jack Matsen does below. Make it easy for prospects to hear how great your company is -- straight from the mouth of the customer. Source: Jack Matsen 6. Include a calendar link Avoid the endless email chains of "Does this date work?" "What about this time?" by including a link to your calendar in your email signature. CMO Eric Quanstrom makes it easy for colleagues, customers, or prospects to grab time on his calendar without the back and forth that can sometimes lead to a loss of interest. Quanstrom says CIENCE built an email signature template for their employees, creating a clean, cohesive, and well-branded first impression across the company. Source: Eric Quanstrom 7. Share product announcements Show prospects there are exciting things happening at your company by linking to your latest blog posts or feature landing pages. This signature from Canva also includes a link to the company social media pages, which is an alternative for folks who don’t want to advertise their personal pages. Source: Canva 8. Use a template Don’t have a design team? No problem. Create an on-brand template to use across your company. This example, from Senior Director Chris Orlob carries Gong’s signature purple color across phone, email, and website icons, and wraps things up with the company’s eye-catching logo. Source: Chris Orlob 9. Include a slogan or value proposition "Your 6-figure sales career in 6 weeks " serves as a tantalizing glimpse of how you’ll benefit from CEO Josh Jordan’s company. It’s a quick way to sneak in a pitch without pitching anything at all. Paired with a headshot and a Top 50 badge from Sales Hacker, this email signature is one to copy. Source: Josh Jordan So, what have we learned? Well, for starters, I have a lot of work to do on my email signature. This valuable real estate should be put to good use, so block off 15 minutes this week to refresh your signature -- and don't forget to make sure it renders well on all major browsers and devices. Hungry for more? Check out these 10 sales email templates with 60% or higher open rates. Read more »
  • The Ultimate Guide to Setting Sales Quotas
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    Salespeople, how tired are you of hearing "Coffee's for closers?" If your answer is "very," I've got to apologize now, because I'm about to get a little "Glengarry Glen Ross" on you. This 1992 classic has become a rite of passage for every salesperson. In the film, Alec Baldwin's straight-talking sales manager arrives at a small business to motivate the sales team. The top two salespeople at the end of the week will be given access to promising Glengarry leads while the others will be fired. For sales managers, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is a cautionary tale. Motivating your sales team isn't about taking the coffee from their lips, it's about setting realistic quotas tailored to each rep, the type of product or service they're selling, and the market they're selling to. So, how do you avoid driving your reps to stage a burglary to steal the best leads? Here's everything you need to know about setting successful sales quotas. Sales Quota In sales, a quota is the financial goal individual or team sellers must reach by the end of a specific time period, usually one month or one quarter. Quotas are set by sales leadership and attainment of quota generally results in a performance bonus. The difference between sales quotas and sales goals Are sales quotas and sales goals the same thing? Not so fast. Sales quotas are often part of a series of actions set to help salespeople achieve a certain goal. For example, if JVN Skates sets a company-wide goal to increase revenue by 25% in 2019, the sales leadership would identify how many sales they need to close in 2019 to meet that revenue goal. Then, they would calculate how many deals their salespeople need to close per quarter to contribute to that goal. The financial value of those deals would be the salesperson’s quota. A salesperson’s quota is often directly tied to their compensation plan, including commission and bonuses. Different types of sales quotas There’s not just one way to measure quota. Smaller companies selling a single product with a static price often set quotas around how many units (i.e., 28 pairs of skates) a salesperson must sell every month. Larger companies selling multi-tiered products or services might have a more nuanced quota structure where the salesperson’s is held to the overall value of the deals they need to close (i.e., $4500/month). But quota structure doesn't end there. Here are the five most common types of quotas and examples of each. 1. Activity Quota An activity quota requires salespeople -- usually BDRs or SDRs -- to complete a set number of activities during a period of time, usually one month or quarter. Activities usually include phone calls, follow-up emails, scheduling meetings, and leading demos. This type of quota is usually assigned to BDRs or SDRs who are part of a larger selling team and aren’t responsible for closing actual business. An activity quota ensures they’re contributing to the sales organization and providing valuable help to the reps they support. Activity Sales Quota Example: Sales rep Jonathan has a quota of 45 phone calls/month, 84 follow-up emails, and 12 demos each month. These activities are tracked in his CRM and his sales manager can easily see how he's tracking to meet his quota. 2. Volume Quota Reps with volume-based quotas are goaled on the number of units they sell or the total revenue they generate during a specific time period. Salespeople with volume quotas are incentivized to sell as many units as they can. Volume Sales Quota Example: Jonathan, with JVN Skates, has a quota to sell 75 pairs of skates each month. He must sell at least 75 pairs to meet his quota. He likely receives commission on each pair of skates he sells and receives a bonus when he reaches his quota. 3. Profit Quota This type of quota is based on the gross profit or margin of a dedicated sales team, product/service grouping, or salesperson. If you’re held to a gross margin quota, your number would be calculated by subtracting the cost of goods you sell from the overall revenue. A gross profit quota is calculated by subtracting selling expenses and the cost of goods sold from the final revenue number. Profit Sales Quota Example: Jonathan sells skates to professional skaters. He sells fewer skates at a higher cost than his sales colleague Antoni, who sells a larger volume of cheaper skates to recreational skating rinks. Jonathan and Antoni would both have profit quotas of different amounts. 4. Combination Quota Some salespeople may have more than one quota. A combination quota might include an activity quota and a profit quota. A combination strategy gives reps a roadmap to success and provides smaller milestones to make their quota more easily attainable. Combination Sales Quota Example: Jonathan's quota includes several activity quotas and a profit quota. He must make 50 calls every month, lead 15 skate demos, and close $2500-worth of business adjusted for selling expenses and the cost of the skates. 5. Forecast Quota Forecast quotas are generally assigned to specific sales territories or teams. A forecast quota is calculated based on historical performance of a region and the revenue goal it must hit. Forecast Sales Quota Example: Let's say Jonathan is the pacific northwest territory rep for JVN Skates and traditionally closes $7500 in sales during Q4. If his goal is to increase Q4 revenue by 25% this year, his quota would be $9400 for the quarter. If Bobby, the rep who's responsible for the southwest sales region, historically closes approximately $4500 in Q4 revenue, he might have an adjusted quota based on his unique market. How to calculate a realistic sales quota A commonly referred to rule of thumb is that 80% of your sales team should be able to meet their quota most of the time. If that’s not the case, consider that your sales quota might not be realistic and recalculate based on more attainable goals. Here’s how to set a realistic sales quota for your salespeople. Establish Your Baseline A baseline is your sales organization’s minimum standard of performance. It’s important to establish a realistic baseline to understand how much business reps need to close to meet the basic needs of your business. To establish a baseline, look at the revenue your sales team closed over the last 12 months. Divide that number by 12 to understand how much your team must bring in every month. From there, adjust that number to account for territories, reps, and seasonal fluctuations. If your east coast territory has less market opportunity than your west coast territory, sales managers should adjust each team’s baseline quota accordingly. Your baseline quota will also likely be different per quarter. If Q4 brings seasonal highs for JVN Skates, rep baseline quota’s in Q4 would likely be higher than those in the Q2 late spring/early summer season when skate orders are down. Finally, account for forecasted growth. While you never want to set unrealistic sales quotas, it’s important to ensure they’re growing with your business. If your executive team forecasts 15% growth in Q3, adjust quotas accordingly. Start from the Bottom Up Top-down quota setting is when sales leaders set quotas based on growth goals over their salespeople’s abilities. The danger with a top-down approach to quotas is it gives less weight to a sales team’s historic data and proven abilities. It's almost entirely driven by where the company board or executive team would like to be and less by realistic and healthy expectations of the sales team. A top-down approach starts with a quota and works its way down to what’s necessary to achieve that number. Ideally, sales teams take a bottom-up approach to setting quotas. Sales managers start by looking at historic data showing what their reps are capable of generating and calculates a quota based on those results. Set Activity Goals Once you’ve calculated a baseline quota and adjusted it for seasonality, rep ability, and growth goals, set activity goals. While you may or may not tie activities to a formal quota of their own, it’s helpful for reps to have a roadmap showing them approximately how many calls, emails, and demos they need to conduct in order to meet their quota. Platforms like HubSpot Sales Hub allow sales managers to track sales activities and performance, so you can easily see which reps are your top performers and the type and number of activities they’re taking to close business. Sales Quota Template Your sales quota should be unique to your business, and it should evolve with your market and business goals. To help, click here for a downloadable sales plan template to help you set goals, calculate quotas, define an action plan, and more. A simple formula for sales quotas is: Average number of closed won deals per month x average contract value = Baseline sales quota Your sales quota should include a rep’s base salary, average number of leads, number or target activities (i.e., 15 calls/day and 20 follow-up emails/day), target incentive pay, target total compensation, and any extra bonuses available. Sales Quota Calculators 1. Yesware Quota Calculator Yesware has calculators for top-down and bottom-up quota setting. Pick your poison, input the required data, and Yesware will give you a number. Source: Yesware 2. Panalysis Sales or Conversion Target Calculator This calculator is best for giving reps an idea of what their quota should be. It takes a broader approach asking for your annual revenue target, average monthly visitors/leads, monthly conversion/close rate, average deal size, and monthly growth goals. Source: Panalysis You’ll likely want to do some tweaking for seasonality, territory and market opportunity, and rep ability. 3. Calculator Soup Profit Goal Calculator Setting profit-based quotas? This calculator is for you. Enter your average monthly or quarterly sales, profits, variable costs, and fixed costs, to calculate your quota or goal amount. Image: Calculator Soup 4. SellX Sales Calculator This customizable calculator allows reps to calculate the number of calls, connects, meetings, demos, proposals, and closed won deals they need to win every day, week, and month in order to hit their quota. If you already have a quota defined for your reps, this can be helpful. Source: SellX Enemies of a Healthy Sales Quota 1. Unrealistic quotas If you set your quota without considering seasonality or historical rep performance, you're setting your team up for failure. Similarly, don't adjust quota based on an unexpected renewal or larger than average deal. Raising rep quotas because of a great month can demoralize high-performing reps and stall growth. Before raising quotas, make sure you have at least three months of data to support the decision -- and that it's not just coming from one rep and their specific territory. If you have one rep or territory consistently beating their number, identify what their success is due to and consider adjusting their quota instead of everyone's quota. 2. Stress due to unrealistic quota The fastest way to see your sales team stress out and burn out is by setting unrealistic quotas. As a sales manager, it's your job to know your team's limits and make that argument to your executives when they push for a more top-down approach to quotas. The average tenure of SDRs has seen a 50% decline from an average of 2.5 years in 2010 to 1.5 years in 2018. Sales is already a volatile profession. Retain top-tier employees by ensuring their quotas are realistic and they have the support to meet and exceed their goals regularly. 3. Commission caps Commission caps limit the amount of commission a salesperson can earn. When a rep has hit their commission cap, they are not financially rewarded for closing more business. This de-incentivizes reps to push the limits and close more business. SaaStr founder and sales pro Jason Lemkin says there's no good reason to cap commission, "At least, not until you are at $20-$30 million ARR or more, and maybe much higher." He continues, "If you cap this too early, you are limiting your revenue per lead." In the final scene of "Glengarry Glen Ross," the salespeople scatter and face the various consequences of their actions from the previous night. But one salesperson heads back to the office. Why? To make his usual sales calls. At the end of the day, salespeople have the same goal: to move deals forward and close business that will benefit the customer and the salesperson. Stay focused on setting realistic sales quotas and tune out the rest of the noise for your team. Read more »
  • The Ultimate Guide to Entrepreneurship
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    Entrepreneurship is the process of starting (or improving upon) a business with the ultimate goal of making a profit. It often involves great risk and uncertainty, but it's also an opportunity to overcome those challenges and to manage multiple aspects of a business operation. From marketing to accounting to logistics and beyond, entrepreneurs get to oversee the many facets of running a business. But isn't easy. In fact, data shows that 90% of startups fail. Despite this, entrepreneurship remains an extremely attractive path. Like many high-risk activities, it often draws people who see the risks as an exciting challenge — and not a disclaimer. And while the risk might be great, so are the rewards. Entrepreneurship is easily one of the most creative forms of business — and it can be immensely satisfying on a personal level. What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is an individual who starts their own business. They identify a business need and develop a product or service that addresses that need. Entrepreneurs manage the business and assume any financial risks associated with the endeavor. Examples of famous entrepreneurs include: Oprah Winfrey Bill Gates Walt Disney J.K. Rowling Steve Jobs If you aspire to be like these successful people, entrepreneurship might be the path for you. What is entrepreneurship? Harvard Business School professor, Howard Stevenson, says, "entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled." But, what does this mean exactly? Entrepreneurship means an individual (entrepreneur) focuses their time, energy, and resources to create a unique offering that consumers would be interested in buying. They continue to pursue this idea despite any resource constraints (e.g., lack of funding, working capital, production facilities). Entrepreneurship Trends & Stats At a high level, one fact is clear about the entrepreneurship trend: It's on an upward trajectory. After taking a steep decline during the U.S. recession between 2008 and 2011, it has rebounded and is now back to pre-recession growth rates. Source: Kauffman Foundation A few other interesting stats and trends on entrepreneurship: Skills and expertise matter. Incompetence is the #1 reason small businesses fail, followed by inexperience. (source: FitSmallBusiness) Source: FitSmallBusiness 82% of entrepreneurs work 40+ hours per week. 19% work 60+. (source: TAB) In 2018, 75% of CFOs of mid-sized organizations reported that their job was becoming more strategic. (source: Forbes) 64% of entrepreneurs surveyed said they believe it is their duty to have a positive social and economic impact. (source: HSBC) 7.4% of all job seekers started their own business in 2016. (source: Fortune) Women were starting 40% of all new businesses, and persons of color made up 40% of entrepreneurs in 2016. (source: Inc) The United States is still considered the world's most small-business-friendly country. (source: FitSmallBusiness) The U.S. also the best place to start a business as a woman. (source: HubSpot) 1 in every 18 people on the planet owns their own business. (source: HubSpot) How to Start a Business When you're ready to start a business, there are a few initial steps to complete. Let's walk through each of them. 1. Determine the legal structure of your business First, you'll need to figure out the kind of business yours will be from a legal point of view. This may change as you grow, and state laws vary. You might consider popular options like: Sole proprietorship: In a sole proprietorship, you are the business as far as laws and taxes are concerned. While this is a straightforward way to organize, it can present difficulty when the time comes time to raise funds because you'd be asking backers to invest in a person rather than a business. Additionally, the sole proprietor is personally liable for debts and losses. LLC (limited liability company): An LLC is more costly and complex to set up, but it comes with a number of tax advantages and protects its owner(s) from personal liability (hence its name). 2. Choose and register your business name Next, it's time to select and register your business name. This might sound like a fun brainstorming activity, but it's actually a paperwork-heavy legal process with far-reaching implications for your business down the road. If you're starting an LLC, your name will be registered automatically when you register your business with the state. Otherwise, you'll need to go through a separate registration process. Start with a trademark search, then see if the domain name you want is available. You can trademark your name and logo for around $300. 3. Secure licenses, permits, etc. From here, make sure you have all the right permits and licenses to do business legally. If you sell "tangible property" (i.e., physical items) you're going to need a seller's permit. This allows you to collect sales tax from customers. Some states require it for certain service-oriented businesses as well. The IRS can point you to the right office in your state, and SBA.gov has tools to help you find out what kind of license you'll need to operate your business. 4. Build your mission and vision statements What does your business do? What do you stand for? What problem do you solve? How do you plan to make the world better? These are questions your mission and vision statements will answer. This step is a key component of your marketing strategy. Brands with a strong identity and mission statement have an easier time producing authentic and meaningful content that effectively communicates their core values. For inspiration, take a look at the websites of your favorite startups. What is each one's mission? How do they communicate their vision?   5. Write your marketing plan Once you have your license and your name, it's time to start building an online presence and telling your story. To start, think about your target customer. Ask questions like: Who wants what I'm selling? Who would find it useful? Who would become promoters of it? From there, dig in to who those people are and what kind of messaging would resonate with them. Think about their backgrounds, interests, goals, and challenges, in addition to their age, what they do, which social platforms they use, and so on. Use these answers and build out buyer personas with the help of free templates. These are in-depth, semi-fictional profiles designed to help you better understand the needs of your target customers. You should consider your buyer personas when making any business decisions. Source: HubSpot   The Keys to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success because so much of entrepreneurship is about blazing your own trail and doing what hasn't been done. That said, there are some key traits and best practices that most successful entrepreneurs tend to share: Get into it for the right reasons Don't start by wanting to be an entrepreneur. Start by identifying a need or a problem and looking for a way to solve it. Focus on the process, not the potential outcome. Prioritize learning over earning (at least in the beginning) Prior experience — whether from your day job or past startup ventures — is often critical. 98% of founders surveyed said their prior work experience was "extremely important" to their success (according to the Kauffman Foundation's Making a Successful Entrepreneur). According to one UK Study, at least 50% of all startup ideas come from experience gained in previous employment. Set yourself up for luck Luck is a huge factor and one that nobody can fully predict. Luckily, there are all sorts of things you can do invite luck: Lucky people network Lucky people pitch often Lucky people make plans (and execute those plans) Understand that execution is everything Guy Kawasaki said it well: "Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard." By executing and being first to the market, you can seize the "first mover advantage." Simply put: if you're the first to market with a good idea, your competition will have to play catch-up. Factors like brand recognition and switching costs will work in your favor and make it harder for others to replicate your success. The classic example is Amazon. By the time their success prompted competitors to start their own online bookstores, Amazon had already taken a big enough market share to make competition nearly impossible. Their execution — not their bright idea — is what changed the way the world shops. Execution is a habit, it's something you can hardwire into the DNA of your business. Make it a priority to develop a culture of action and execution. Embrace uncertainty and risk Starting your own business is, by definition, a journey into the unknown. If you can't handle uncertainty, you probably don't have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Risk is not only an essential element of entrepreneurship, but it also tends to be directly related to success: The bigger the risks, the bigger the potential payoff. Don't fear failure, learn from it Studies have shown that one of the clearest indicators of future success for an entrepreneur is past a failure. This may sound counterintuitive, but not when you think of failure as a teaching tool. Today's tech startups live by the mantra: "Fail forward." Many businesses that are now household names — like Airbnb and Uber — took multiple launches to succeed. In the long run, it's better to focus on developing a minimum viable product, launching, and optimizing based on feedback, rather than trying to get it right the first time with an untested idea of a "perfect" product. How much risk you can take depends on your business and circumstances. Buying a domain name isn't the same level of commitment as building a prototype, for example. What matters is that you grow from setbacks and maintain a willingness to try things that might not work out. Entrepreneurship Risks Demand Risk Technology Risk Execution Risk Financial Risk There's a certain amount of risk that each entrepreneur has to manage when starting their own business. Here are some of the most common risks entrepreneurs face. 1. Demand Risk Are consumers interested in your product or service offering? Demand risk is the prospective customers' willingness to purchase or adopt the offering. 2. Technology Risk An entrepreneur assumes technology risk when engineering or scientific research and development are necessary to create the product. For example, if you plan to create a ground-breaking cure for a disease, you'd assume the risk if the scientific development wasn't successful. 3. Execution Risk To be a successful entrepreneur, you also need to be a strong leader. Execution risk is used to describe the entrepreneur's ability to build a strong team of employees and partners to carry out plans. 4. Financial Risk Every entrepreneur assumes financial risk, and oftentimes use personal funds to grow their business. They must operate under the assumption that they'll be able to access external capital from other funding sources (e.g., investors, venture capitalists, crowdfunding). How to Find Funding Anyone who's built a business or multiple businesses will tell you there is no scarcity of money available for entrepreneurial ventures. If you have valuable ideas, strong execution, and clearly communicate your vision, you should have no trouble raising funds. That said, if you lack those foundational qualities--no amount of funding can save you. Stop worrying about how to get funding and instead focus on determining which funding strategy best suits your needs. Think about how you can offer value to potential backers. Here's a quick look at the most common options. Bootstrapping Bootstrapping has many advantages over other forms of funding: It doesn't incur interest, and it allows you to maintain control over your business and its equity, to name a few. So what is it? Bootstrapping means self-funding. That means no taking on outside funds to grow the business. Instead, profits are reinvested. Bootstrapped businesses keep costs low and scale at a sustainable pace. We all know the stories of multi-billion dollar companies like Apple that started in a garage or a basement. According to SBE Council, 51.6% of new businesses do likewise. The internet is your friend: Domain names are cheap. Social media offers free marketing. Online retail has a fraction of the overhead of a brick-and-mortar location. When it comes to generating cash early in the game, look at your business model. Consider pricing in a way that generates revenue in a recurring fashion (i.e., subscriptions over one-off sales). Small business loans/venture capital Traditional small business loans and venture capital funding offer big money … but often with big strings attached. Small business loans provide an established source of financing that favors more traditional business models. If you go this route, expect to present a meticulous and clear business plan and to account for every penny. Venture capital is on the opposite end of the spectrum. VC backers look to put serious cash behind ideas that promise quick and massive growth. Very few have what they're looking for. The ones that do can expect to trade some of their control of the business and a share of its profits in exchange for VC backing. A check for a few million dollars sounds exciting until you realize you're now working for your backer. You have to ask: Is the value they bring to the table work 25-75% of my business? It's essential to find a backer who shares your vision and offers more than just money. That said, there are some less obvious benefits of equity financing. The process of honing your pitch will reveal areas for improvement in your business model that you might not have been otherwise discovered. Funding is also validating. It means someone was willing to put a dollar amount on how much they believe in what you're doing. And an influx of cash when you're starting out make all the difference when you need to quickly solidify your first-mover advantage. Silent partner Another option is to work with a silent partner. Like a VC backer, this is someone who puts significant funds into your project and expects significant returns. But unlike a VC, a silent partner doesn't want any part in your business decisions. Because silent partners don't have a say in your business, they're considered investors by the SEC. Crowdfunding Crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are a new source of funding that have many upsides for entrepreneurs. Crowdfunding provides money without taking equity or autonomy. These platforms allow you to go straight to your fans and potential users. This promotes future growth and raises capital at the same time. Source Crowdfunding sites also serve as marketing platforms. Your content, branding, and mission statement will attract people to your campaign and hopefully motivate them to back it. Since you're not giving crowdfunding backers an equity stake or seats on the board, you've got to give them something. Campaigns on these platforms tend to offer backers prizes in exchange for their contribution: this can be early access to your product, tickets to a live event, etc. Here you have another learning opportunity. Designing a crowdfunding campaign forces you to consider the value you're offering your customer. They say that the best marketing technique is to design an outstanding product. If what your offering is really of value, your backers will let you know by paying you for it. Friends and family Mom and dad might not have as much money as a venture capital firm or a big bank, but they tend to have much better terms. Family and friends can be a great source of seed money, particularly when you're young and inexperienced. They're more likely to invest in your potential and your work ethic than a backer who might want to see proof of concept that you have yet to produce. Special programs There are entire industries out there — from co-working spaces to CRM software to government grants — dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. The recent boom in entrepreneurship has sparked competition between governments at local, state, and national levels to attract and foster business development. Business incubators provide essential infrastructure and tools that might otherwise be out of reach for small businesses. Seed accelerators are highly competitive programs that put startups in head-to-head competition for seed funding. Winners often receive mentorship and educational resources along with financing. Here's a ranking of seed accelerators. Here at HubSpot, we have a few special programs of our own: HubSpot for Startups offers software, education and support for new and growing businesses. HubSpot Academy provides free education in sales, design, marketing, and more. The Best Books on Entrepreneurship to Read Before Your Start Looking for books to inspire and guide your entrepreneurial efforts? Look no further. 1. "Tools of Titans" by Tim Ferris From the #1 business podcast on iTunes: learn the tools, tactics, and morning routines of 200 of the world's top performers in areas ranging from tech to powerlifting to special operations and the music industry. 2. "Influence" by Robert Cialdini Based on 35 years of research, "Influence" breaks down the psychology of persuasion into six key principles. This is a must-read for anyone interested in hearing the word "yes" more often. 3. "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries A blueprint for the modern startup and a survival manual for a business environment where failure is the rule and not the exception. Learn how to innovate rapidly, put ideas to the test, and operate in the "extreme uncertainty" that is the startup ecosystem. 4. "Idea to Execution" by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg "How to optimize, automate, outsource everything in your business… ." The authors used the process outlined in this book to take a business from an idea on a cocktail napkin to a launch in 24 hours. 5. "Pivot" by Jenny Blake "Pivoting" is the act of taking your existing strengths in a new direction. It's about maximizing the opportunity presented by the question, "What's next?" Blake explores the value of pivoting in business and in one's own career. 6. "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" by Jim Collins Case studies of business that have stood the test of time. "Built to Last" breaks down the structural secrets to organizational longevity. This is inspiration for anyone hoping to leave a legacy in business. 7. "Smarter, Faster, Cheaper" by David Siteman GarlandA guide to marketing for entrepreneurs in the digital age. Garland includes practical advice to make the most of online marketing tools and platforms. Conclusion Entrepreneurship is a learning process and a journey of discovery. You don't need to know everything to take the first small step, and when starting your own business, oftentimes, the best way to learn is by doing. Now, you have the tools and information you need to start — all that's left to do is to get to work. Read more »
  • 5 Strategies the Best Reps Use to Tell Tire Kickers From Real Prospects
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    You've spent hours prospecting: researching, making warm calls, reaching out via email and on social media. If you have prospects who are dragging their feet or slowing a deal down, you might be working with a tire kicker. The Cambridge Dictionary describes a tire kicker as, "someone who appears to be interested in buying something and asks a lot of questions, but doesn't buy anything." Sound familiar? Tire kickers are the people who beat around the bush, haggle you for prices, and generally waste your time. These are the types of prospects you should remove from your pipeline ASAP so you can focus your time and energy on better opportunities. Quality over quantity. Working every deal might sound like the best way to close more deals, but your time is best spent on quality leads that have a higher likelihood of closing. So, how can separate these tire kickers from well-qualified prospects? If tire kickers have you pulling your hair out, use these tips and strategies to identify them. How to Identify Tire Kickers They don't match your target persona. They haven't done their research. Their need isn't urgent. They don't have the budget. They waste your time. 1. They don't match your target persona. The first way to identify a tire kicker is to determine if they match your target persona or customer profile. Here are a few questions to consider when determining a good fit. Are they in the industry or territory you're targeting? Do they fit the demographics of the target persona? Does your product or service fill a need for them? If the prospect doesn't meet the criteria you and your team have set then they're not worth your time. This is one of the simplest ways to tell tire kickers from real prospects. 2. They haven't done their research. Consumers and companies are more informed than ever and often research potential products and solutions before ever speaking to a sales rep -- this is true for B2B and B2C companies. Prospective customers often have a general idea of what your business does and the value it provides to customers. While you shouldn't rule out all cold leads (those who haven't shown interest in your business), you should keep in mind that it can take more time to nurture these leads. It's especially challenging if you're working with a prospect who seems disinterested right from the start. It takes time and energy to educate prospects (e.g., discovery calls, sending emails, providing additional resources) on your product or service's value proposition. If you continue to work with poor-fit prospects that don't see value in your product or service, this cuts into the time you could be using to pursue viable leads that have a need or interest in your value proposition. 3. Their need isn't urgent. Once you've identified the problem that can be solved by your product or service, it's time to determine how important this problem is to them. Are they highly motivated to solve it? Do they have a timeline for when the problem should be resolved? Is there a different issue or initiative they care about more that will compete for their attention and decision-making capital? If the prospect doesn't show a willingness to act or a pressing need to resolve their issue, then they might not be ready to work with you or make a purchase. 4. They don't have the budget. Tire kickers often come up with budget objections, which can be an indicator that they're not actually interested in purchasing your product or service. Or, they simply can't afford your product. Sales expert Geoffrey James says, "a price objection isn't 'real' until the customer has brought it up twice." If a prospect has an objection, James recommends using the following soundbite: "I hear you. The best products are often more expensive." Using this response the first time you hear "it's too expensive" helps you separate the prospects who truly don't have the budget from those who are just kicking tires. It's easier to make a sale if the prospective customer has the budget and authority to make a purchase -- these are the people you should be dedicating the majority of your time on. If there isn't a budget fit, let the prospect know, "Given what you’ve told me about your budget, I don’t believe our product is the right fit for you.” When possible, provide them with free tools or resources they could benefit from in the meantime. Just because they aren't a good fit now, doesn't mean they won't come back when the budget's right. 5. They waste your time. When you finally get on the phone with a prospect, do they stray away (far away) from the planned agenda, or go off on unrelated tangents? You might be talking to a tire kicker. While providing a personalized experience is crucial to building rapport with a prospect and earning their trust, it puts a strain on the salesperson to answer each and every question about the product or service, provide minute details about features, and offer consultative advice. Sales expert and CEO, Pete Caputa, provides the following advice when it comes to protecting your time. He says, "While it's critical to ask your prospects what they want to talk about and incorporate those topics into the agenda, it's also important for you to have a goal for every sales call as well. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time talking to tire kickers." It's key to outline an agenda for each call or meeting. But, if the prospect takes full control of the conversation every time you meet, it's challenging to make progress with them and can be a sign for you to walk away. While this isn't an exhaustive list of ways to identify tire kickers, you'll save time by keeping them in mind throughout the prospecting and qualification process. Don't ignore the warning signs and your own intuition. If a prospect meets one or more of these indicators, they're likely kicking the tire and aren't willing to move forward with or commit to purchasing. Once you implement these strategies, you'll start to relate to this tire kicker meme and smile knowing you're working with the best-fit prospects. Remember, the best salespeople are those who can walk away from the deal early when they recognize it isn't a good fit. They use the time that would be spent on tire kickers nurturing better-fit prospects instead or prospecting to fill their pipelines with quality leads. Looking for more tips? Check out this ultimate guide to prospecting next. Read more »
  • 11 Key Benefits CRM Systems Provide to a Business
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    CRM systems don't always get a good rap in sales. Sure, there are notable benefits: They help sales professionals track deals and flag opportunities that might require additional nurturing. But to sales reps, they can seem like nothing more than tedious time sucks. Data goes in, and no clear benefit comes out. Showing sales professionals what's in it for them can help change their perception of the benefits of CRM and boost adoption and usage. Here are some of the major benefits of incorporating CRM systems into a company's sales process. Benefits of a CRM Organize contact data. Segment customers. Create sales reports. Forecast sales. Scale your sales process. 1. Organize contact data. With a CRM, you can easily keep track of contact data. You'll be able to see if the contact visited your website, downloaded content from the site, or spoke with a member of your sales team. Sales reps can also log notes from their calls or email interactions with the contact. And all of this information is searchable within the CRM. 2. Segment customers. Have you ever wanted to create a list of contacts to reach out to based on specific criteria? If you and your sales team are working out of an Excel sheet, this seemingly simple task can be quite difficult.  Many CRMs allow you to sort contacts by the data you've collected about them. For example, you can filter by location, company size, deal stage, etc. This way, you'll have a clear idea of how to position your outreach for each segment. 3. Create sales reports. CRMs allow you and your sales team to collect and aggregate data about prospects and deals. By creating sales dashboards and reports, salespeople can better manage their pipelines, deals, and contacts. Sales managers can see how their team is tracking towards quota attainment and see the number of closed deals. And VPs and other organization leaders can monitor the amount of revenue that's been generated. 4. Forecast sales. The key to any successful sales organization is the ability to plan strategically and make informed decisions. With CRM reports that pull in key metrics like MRR and year-over-year growth, it's easier for sales leaders to identify trends and develop forecasts. Plus, CRMs allow them to see which sales activities and sources are the most profitable lead generators. This data helps sales leaders create sales projections for upcoming months and adjust pipeline estimates if needed. 5. Scale your sales process. Your sales team will have one place to keep track of leads, prospects, and customers. Many CRMs allow you to see activities like emails, calls, and meetings booked. Sales managers can use this type of data to identify patterns and see which sales processes are working for their team and which ones could be improved. And this information will help you grow your sales organization and business. Still not convinced about the benefits of a CRM? Here are a few, high-impact statistics that might just convince you to add a CRM to your sales process. 1. A CRM is one of the most popular tools for sales reps. 2. The use of a CRM can increase sales by up to 29%. 3. Sales teams that use a CRM can increase productivity by up to 34%. 4. The average return on investment for a CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent. 5. Organizations that use CRMs have increased rates of customer retention and satisfaction. 6. CRMs improve data accessibility. And data accessibility can shorten the sales cycle by 8-14%. Benefits of a CRM Infographic Using a CRM system means reps can be more productive, sell more, and get references. Armed with these stats, you might just change some perceptions about CRM system benefits and find the best CRM for your business. To learn more, check out these additional CRM benefits next.  Read more »
  • 26 Habits of Incredibly Successful Salespeople
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    How to Be a Good Salesperson Identify and stick to your buyer personas Use a measurable, repeatable sales process Know your product Review your pipeline objectively Find shortcuts and hacks Practice active listening Work hard Follow up Personalize your message Shadow your peers Practice your people skills Be a team player Know when to walk away Be honest Always solve for the customer Roll with rejection Always ask for referrals Stay Balanced Take breaks Get 8 or more hours of sleep Believe in what you’re selling Identify your strongest motivator View your customer’s success as your own Build personal relationships Prepare ahead of time Look for potential customers wherever you go The difference between good salespeople and great ones is staggering. Good reps hit their quota ... most of the time. Great reps don’t just consistently hit, they have blow-out months or quarters. Good reps earn their prospects’ trust and respect. Great reps earn their prospects’ admiration, loyalty, and referrals. Good reps can skillfully handle objections. Great reps preemptively surface those concerns and make them disappear. If you want greatness, good news. Following these rules of good sellers will help you become one of the top-selling salespeople on your team -- or even company. Selling habits of effective reps 1. Identify and stick to your buyer personas A clearly defined buyer persona is crucial to an effective sales process. And a sales rep who sticks to that persona is effective in generating sales. Otherwise, a salesperson might fall back on spray-and-pray tactics that result in inefficient prospecting. An effective rep researches the prospect to make sure they’re a good fit. They stick to their ideal buyer persona and know exactly whom they're selling to and why. 2. Use a measurable, repeatable sales process Low-performing reps let intuition guide them. High-performing reps use a process that’s optimized to move as many prospects as possible from “connect” to “close.” Low-performing reps are always letting things slip through the cracks. High-performing reps know the state of every deal in their pipeline, what actions they’ll take next, and when. Low-performing reps never analyze their results -- because they haven’t been tracking them. High-performing reps obsessively review their key metrics and adjust as necessary. TL;DR: To be extraordinary, you need a consistent process. 3. Know your product Being able to sell is half the battle. Understanding what you’re selling is the other (often under-appreciated) half. In the old days, selling relied on charm and snake-oil tactics. But now that prospects have more access to information than ever before, they’re not fooled so easily. To gain their trust and add value to their lives, you have to truly know your product. 4. Review your pipeline objectively Effective sales reps don’t mark a deal as likely to close because the influencer likes them. They’re able to objectively review their opportunities, avoid happy ears, and come up with accurate sales forecasts. 5. Find shortcuts and hacks Once a great salesperson finds a strategy or technique that works, they use it -- again and again and again and again, until it stops working. This is smart. Reps are always working against the clock, which means the more time they spend experimenting, the less time they have for true selling. Plus, there’s an opportunity cost. Try one thing that doesn’t work, and you’ve missed the opportunity to use something that does. I’m not suggesting you should never change up your approach. Just do so selectively, and get results ASAP so you can either implement the tactic or move on. 6. Practice active listening Successful salespeople are completely present when they talk to prospects. They’re not thinking about another deal, scrolling through Reddit threads, or sending funny memes to their team members. They’re engaged -- and as a result, their conversations with buyers are deeper and more meaningful. Active listening may be one of the hardest skills to develop, since it’s human nature to care more about what you have to say than your prospect. However, it’s incredibly valuable. Not only will you build stronger relationships, but you’ll unlock information that’ll help you position your product as the best option. 7. Work hard It’s 5 p.m. on the last day of the month or quarter. The B players have already left the office -- they’re at a bar nearby celebrating because they all met quota. The C players are still in the office -- they’re sending off last-ditch email attempts to prospects they haven’t engaged with in weeks. The A players are in the office too. They’ve already hit, but they’re still sending emails, scheduling meetings, and making calls. And by laying the foundation for a great month before they need to, they always blow their goals out of the water. 8. Follow up Many salespeople fail to effectively follow up after sending a proposal. They don’t even know if the prospect opened their email. HubSpot Sales helps with this issue, letting salespeople know when and how often a prospect opened an email. With this information, they can follow up at the optimal time. 9. Personalize your message Instead of following a script and approaching each prospect with a “one size fits all” mentality, high-performing salespeople are committed to learning as much as they can about a prospect to tailor their message. These sales reps understand the unique pain points their prospect are facing and can explain why their product is a good fit. Tips to become a better salesperson 10. Shadow your peers Want to improve your objection handling? Identify the salesperson who's best at it within your company and ask if you can shadow a few of their calls. Learning from your peers is a great way to get better at your job while building strong relationships with your coworkers. 11. Practice your people skills Excellent small talk is a learned skill -- and one that's crucial to salespeople's success. Whether you're at housewarming party or a networking event, practice making other people feel at ease. Notice what makes them open up, zone out, and laugh, and take what you learn back to the office. 12. Be a team player So much of sales pop culture glorifies the lone wolf in sales. But the best salespeople know it takes a village to build a career and a successful sales team. Help your colleagues, and know when to ask for help -- that's the key to a long, fulfilling sales career. 13. Know when to walk away Are you wasting too much time on deals that just aren't that into you? Know how much your average deal length is and use that as a guidepost for how long is too long to spend on one deal. There are exceptions to this rule, but if your average sales cycle is 45 days and you're working a deal going on 90, consider trying Sandler's Reverse Negative approach. 14. Be honest The days of telling customers anything to close are over. Don't promise a feature that doesn't exist yet, a price you can't deliver on, or a service your company can't do well. This might earn you a close, but it won't keep their business, and you'll end up with bad reviews and poor word of mouth. Plus, new research shows honesty can actually help you lead a happier life. 15. Always solve for the customer Similarly, don't oversell your customer on services or features they don't need, just to bump up your number. A consultative selling approach allows you to be honest with your customer about what they really need to solve for their business. It's the right thing to do and you might be surprised how much it will benefit you when it comes to renewals and referrals.  16. Roll with rejection You won't win every deal, and some buyers just won't like you. That's part of being in sales. And while it's important to be thoughtful about how you can improve, it's crucial to move on easily from rejection. Experts suggest viewing rejection as proof you're pushing the limits. So, examine why you weren't successful with your prospect, ask for outside opinions when appropriate, and move forward quickly and positively to bigger and better deals. 17. Always ask for referrals Successful salespeople know the easiest close often comes from a referral. Sales pro Marc Wayshack recommends asking for one introduction every day. The social proof is already there, initial outreach is direct, and sales cycles are often shorter. Once you've closed successful business, always ask for a referral and follow up quickly on those leads. Life habits of effective reps 18. Stay balanced Salespeople experience more highs and lows in a single week than most professionals do in an entire month. Some days, you feel invincible. Other days, you wonder if you even belong in sales. The successful reps have learned to manage their emotions and stay somewhere in the middle. When things are going really well, and almost all of their deals are closing, they remind themselves not to get too cocky. When business dies down, they tell themselves not to become demoralized: Sales will pick up soon if they keep chugging. 19. Take breaks In sales, activity is often correlated with results. The more emails you send, the more meetings you book. The more meetings you book, the more demos you set. The more demos you set, the more deals you close. Following this line of thought, many salespeople end up working 10-hour days every weekday and even putting in time on the weekends. Not only is this bad for your mental and physical health, it's also unproductive. As Basecamp founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson points out in this fantastic piece on workaholism, some of the highest-achieving people in history -- like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin -- prioritized sleep and a balanced schedule. Breaks are scientifically proven to boost memory, focus, and the quality of your ideas. If you're regularly burning the candle at both ends, you'll eventually burn out. And plus, how much are you actually getting done between 6:30 and 8:30 at night? That time would be better spent reading, talking to your friends or family, watching TV or playing video games, cooking, walking your dog -- basically, anything that gives your brain a break. 20. Get eight or more hours of sleep Think you can get away with five or six hours of sleep? Think again. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you get less, you’ll suffer from a laundry list of ailments, including: Irritability Decreased motivation Anxiety Symptoms of depression Distractibility Reduced energy Fatigue Restlessness Poor decision making Increased errors Forgetfulness To be at your best on sales calls, prioritize your sleep. Motivation habits of effective reps 21. Believe in what you’re selling It’s easier to be passionate about -- and sell -- a product when you genuinely believe in it. The most effective salespeople actually use their product and believe in its value. If you feel “meh” about what you’re selling, find happy testimonials from customers. Examples of how your product has improved people’s lives -- in ways both large and small -- will reinforce your motivation (and give you valuable social proof when you’re meeting with prospects!) 22. Identify your strongest motivator It doesn’t matter what drives a salesperson -- they simply need to be motivated. Every top salesperson has a burning reason for showing up to work every day and giving it their all. Maybe they want to buy a house and must make at least 110% of quota every month. Maybe they’re super competitive and always want to be at the top of the leaderboard. Maybe they need to prove to themselves they can do well in sales. Ask yourself, “What’s my #1 reason for wanting to be successful?” If you can’t immediately come up with an answer, you need to find that motivator. 23. View your customer’s success as your own Salespeople don’t stop working as soon as the prospect signs on the dotted line. Instead, top reps touch base frequently with their customers to seek feedback and provide tactical suggestions. Life habits of effective reps 24. Build personal relationships Dan Tyre, one of the best salespeople I know, is a relationship builder. Tyre connects with people everywhere he goes -- not in the surface-level, LinkedIn way, or the “let’s exchange business cards” way, but in a genuine, human way that makes you want to talk to him again. As a salesperson, relationships are your capital. You don’t need Don Draper levels of charisma; on the contrary, a desire to help goes a lot further than a magnetic personality. 25. They prepare ahead of time An effective salesperson prepares before a call. That means they do research on their prospect and gather all the information before a big customer meeting. Top reps don't wing it. They go in with a plan and a contingency plan. This way, they anticipate challenges or questions and prepare an effective response to avoid losing the sale. 26. Look for potential customers wherever you go To over-perform, you can’t stop being a salesperson as soon as you leave the office. Successful reps are always looking for potential customers -- at parties, networking events, dinners, and so on. Of course, you have to read the room. Should you deliver a five-minute speech about the importance of life insurance at your Cousin Jack’s memorial? Definitely not. But if you’re talking to your new friend Greta, and she mentions she’s in the market for life insurance, give her some handy pointers and let her know you’d be happy to talk more in depth. Read more »
  • The 33 Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts That Save Me 60 Hours Per Year
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    One year ago, I invested about two minutes into learning shortcuts for Gmail. Since then, it's saved me about one second per email action (ex. deleting, reply, composing, etc), which equals roughly 15 minutes per day. That means over the past year, I've spent 60 fewer hours in Gmail. As a marketer, this extra time is crucial. For salespeople, it could be the difference between hitting quota and falling short. Here's the problem: there are a LOT of keyboard shortcuts for Gmail, and not all of them are actually useful. Understanding this, I've compiled the most useful keyboard shortcuts for Gmail. It's organized by the three views (Inbox View, Conversation View, and Compose View) we experience in Gmail: Here's the best part: these shortcuts can be learned in less than two minutes. The first step is to turn on Gmail keyboard shortcuts. How to Turn On Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts Click the gear in the top-right corner of Gmail and select Settings. Under the "General" tab, find the "Keyboard shortcuts" section and select Keyboard shortcuts on. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page. Go back to Settings, click on the "Labs" tab, find "Custom keyboard shortcuts" (by Alan S) and click Enable. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page. Once the Gmail keyboard shortcuts are enabled, you're ready to start testing them out. We'll start out with shortcuts for the inbox view. This view is the list of read and unread messages in our inbox: Then we'll take a look at shortcuts for the conversation and compose views. Without further ado, here are the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts Open keyboard shortcut help (Shift + ?) Select a series of messages (Shift) Select random messages (Command) Select all unread messages (Shift + 8 + u) Archive selected messages (e) Mark selected messages as important (=) Compose (c) Search for messages (/) Go to tasks (g + k) Add a conversation to tasks (Shift + t) Reply (r) Reply all (a) Forward (f) Mark current messages unread (Shift + u) Mark selected message as important (=) Archive selected message (e) Jump to newer email (k) Jump to previous email (j) Jump to next message in email thread (n) Jump to previous message in email thread (p) Mute a conversation (m) Jump back to inbox view (u) Insert link (Command + k) Insert numbered list (Command + Shift + 7) Insert bullet points (Command + Shift + 8) Bold/Italicize/Underline (Command + b/Command + l/Command + u) Remove formatting (Command + Control + \) Switch between send name, subject line, and body of email (Tab) Send Email (Command + Enter) 1. Open keyboard shortcut help (Shift + ?) Need help at any point during the shortcut process? Simply hold Shift, then the ? key. A cheat sheet of all Gmail shortcuts will populate your screen. Close it when you're done, or open it in a new screen to keep it easily available. 2. Select a continuous series of messages (Shift) To select a continuous series of emails, I check the box for an email, hold Shift, then select the last email in the series. 3. Select a random series of messages (Command) To select a random number of emails, I check the box for an email, hold Command, then choose the designated emails. 4. Select all unread messages (Shift + 8 + u) Hold Shift and 8, then press u to select all unread messages. I use this in combination with the next shortcut (archive) to quickly archive messages I don't need to open. 5. Archive selected messages (e) After the boxes are selected for the messages I want to archive (using one of the above three methods), I click e to archive them. This helps me quickly reach inbox zero by archiving messages that aren't important. 6. Mark selected messages as important (=) On the contrary, when I have numerous important messages selected, I press = to mark them all as important. 7. Compose (c) Sometimes I just need to quickly compose a message from the inbox view, so I press c to do this. 8. Search for messages (/) Press "/" to move your cursor into the search tab quickly. When I need to search my inbox, I press / to quickly put my cursor in the search tab. 9. Go to tasks (g + k) To go directly to tasks, press g then k. You'll be taken directly to your task list where you can ensure you answer emails, meet deadlines, and follow up in a timely manner. 10. Add a conversation to tasks (Shift + t) Simply select the conversations you'd like to add to tasks and hold down Shift while you press t. You'll be taken directly to your task list where you'll see your selected task auto-populate. The Most Useful Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts For "Conversation View" Conversation View is when we're reading an email after clicking on it from the Inbox View: 1. Reply (r) When reading a message, press r to quickly respond to it. 2. Reply all (a) Need to reply to more than one person? Press a to "reply all" in a message thread. 3. Forward (f) Do you need to quickly forward an email? Pressing f will forward the current message to someone. 4. Mark current message as unread (Shift + u) If I need to respond to a message, but don't have time, I'll hold Shift and press u to mark it as unread and come back to it later. 5. Mark selected message as important (=) If I'm reading a message that's important and I'll need to reference it later, I'll mark it as important by pressing = (the same shortcut for marking as important in the Inbox View). 6. Archive selected message (e) To archive the current conversation, just press e (again, the same shortcut for archiving in Inbox View) 7. Jump to newer email (k) To jump to the next email, press k. 8. Jump to previous email (j) To jump to the previous email, press j. 9. Jump to next message in an email thread (n) When I'm catching up on a lengthy email thread, I press n to quickly jump to the next conversation in the thread. This saves me time instead of scrolling with my mouse. 10. Jump to previous message in an email thread (p) Conversely, if you need to return to the previous conversation in a lengthy email thread, press p to jump backward. 11. Mute the never-ending-and-not-important thread (m) This is one of my favorites. When I'm stuck in a lengthy thread that's irrelevant to me, I press m to mute the thread. Thus, any new replies that come to this thread are automatically archived. 12. Jump back to inbox view (u) To jump back to the Inbox View from Conversation View, just press u. The Most Useful Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts For "Compose View" Compose View is simply when we're composing a message: 1. Insert link (Command + k) To insert a link, hold Command then press k. 2. Insert numbered list (Command + Shift + 7) To insert a numbered list, hold Command and Shift, then press 7. 3. Insert bullet points (Command + Shift + 8) To insert a bullet point, hold Command and Shift, then press 8. 4. Bold / Italicize / Underline (Command + b / Command + I / Command + u) Not trying to be captain obvious here, but couldn't leave these classic keyboard shortcuts out. 5. Remove formatting (Command + Control + \) Sure, there's a "remove formatting" button, but this shortcut lets you keep typing without hitting the mouse. Hold down Command and Control while you press the \ button. 6. Switch between send name, subject line, and body of email (Tab) Press Tab to quickly switch between the recipient, subject line, and body when composing an email. 7. Send Email (Command + Enter) Hold Command and press Enter to send an email. How to Undo Typing in Gmail If you need to undo typing in Gmail, press z to undo previous actions one at a time. Continue to press the z key until your previous actions have been undone. Did you delete a few emails by accident? All you have to do is press z to undo your previous action. How to Tab in Gmail To tab or indent in Gmail, press command + } to indent your line of text or paragraph. And if you'd like to remove the indent, press command + { to remove the additional spacing. Are you struggling to indent a line of text in Gmail? Indenting or tabbing can be tricky in Gmail, but luckily, there's a shortcut for that. Press command + } to tab your text to the right, and press command + { to undo the indent. How to Select All in Gmail To select all messages in Gmail, use the following shortcut: * + a This shortcut is particularly helpful if there's a bulk action you'd like to perform to more than one email (e.g., mark as read, move to a different folder, delete). If you need to perform a bulk action, like marking messages as read/unread, deleting emails, or moving emails from one folder to another, use the * + a shortcut to select all messages. How to Mark All As Read in Gmail Select all conversations by pressing * + a Press Shift + i to mark the selected messages as read Is your inbox getting out of control? Mark all messages as read by pressing * + a. Then, press Shift + i to mark all of the selected emails as read. It only takes a few minutes to learn these shortcuts. And since you'll be using email for the rest of your life, don't you think it's worth investing a few minutes into mastering these? Before you know it, you'll be the fastest person in the office, as coworkers start asking how you send email like this: To learn more, check out these tips for managing multiple inboxes in Gmail next. Read more »
  • Sales Incentives Aren't the Only Motivator. How One Company Got Rid of Them
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    We can all agree: Money changes the way we act. It's arguably one of the greatest motivators. In sales, it can incentivize reps to work harder to close more deals, meet their numbers, and even adapt to new sales tech. If set correctly, incentives can have a positive effect on your team's behavior. But if all your reps care about is making money and winning prizes, your customers are going to catch on. Quickly. The commission, bonuses, and sales performance incentive funds (SPIFs) you thought were inspiring your team can become more harmful than helpful if reps put their numbers ahead of their customers, who can feel pressured to buy. The reality is that most companies offer sales incentives — we at HubSpot do, too. But we put the customer first, and we compensate our reps for doing the same. But this takes time, a thoughtful approach, and the support of your entire company. Hear how we at HubSpot think about incentives and how we make sure we're motivating sales reps to do the right thing by our customers in the audio segment below. However, there's no one correct, catch-all way to inspire your sales team. It depends on your business and what you ultimately want to achieve. That flat screen TV or Paris vacation aren't your only options. There are a myriad of strategies to motivate your reps. Here's a story from one HubSpot customer about their shift to a 100% salary based sales team. Less Is More Sometimes, no commission or incentive is the best motivator. This is what Michael Baker, the fourth generation owner of Pet Food Experts (PFX), discovered 10 years ago. His current salesforce focuses on supplying independent pet retailers with natural pet food and supplies. And its sales compensation structure includes no commission, no bonuses, no incentives, and no monthly SPIFs — their salesforce is paid a set annual salary like every other department. In 1936, Baker's great-grandfather, Herbert, founded Rumford Aquarium, a retail fish supply store. Over the next nine decades, it expanded into what is today PFX — a one-stop shop for independent pet retailers. Rumford Aquarium founder Herbert "Salty" Baker in 1942 in his basement pet store. He specialized in live fish and aquarium supplies. Source: PFX When Baker became President and VP of Sales in 2003, eventually acquiring the company from his father in 2005, he was immediately wary of his team's commission-based compensation plan. He'd seen some of PFX's legacy salespeople take advantage of the system under his father's tenure. When visiting client stores to take inventory, they'd write excessive pet supply orders to pad their commission paychecks. "These guys had spent a career mastering this old-fashioned art of getting away with things and clearly took great pride in exploiting their strongest relationships," says Baker. "I'd grown up with these men, they'd trained me, but I knew in my heart of hearts that there was no way I was going to curve that behavior. I thought it best for the business that we go cold turkey." He let them go. Suddenly, the PFX sales team went from four to zero reps, despite having just doubled its territory beyond the New England region for the first time in the company's history. Growing Pains Shaking up his sales team wasn't the only change Baker made when he purchased PFX from his father — he also began to examine the company's mission and revenue sources. Up until this point, 93% of PFX's revenue had come from one single large vendor — and Baker recognized the need to diversify its portfolio. "Having one vendor had never struck me as a threat. Every year we grew, and it seemed like it would never end," Baker says. "But I began to consider our success in the long term, as I was the fourth generation in our business. I didn't want to be the one responsible for destroying the family legacy." Out of a "little bit of fear and a little bit of business sense," Baker began acquiring more companies and developing PFX's own sales strategy and relationships. As he rebuilt his team, Baker experimented with different compensation techniques. He created a base-plus-bonus system for the first iteration of his new team, and eventually, he reinstituted generalized monthly and quarterly bonuses based on sales growth in the territory. He even started to offer SPIFs for reps who met short-term monthly goals. Through these compensation changes, Baker found monthly SPIFs to be the most destructive. As their portfolio grew, the team strategized with new vendors to determine high-priority products for the PFX reps to push, assigning them as the "monthly focus brand." It was a key method of growing the business and attracting new vendors, who were thrilled with the numbers, but it put pressure on his salesforce to highlight certain brands to clients over others. Third generation owner of Rumford Aquarium and Baker's father, Buddy, in the 1970s. Source: PFX "Every vendor wants your sales guys to pull out their sales sheet first or show their bag of food first," Baker says . "They want to be presented at every client interaction — what vendor wouldn't?" Part of promoting a "monthly focus brand" was securing endcaps at the end of pet store aisles. A few reps in each region were consistently overselling endcaps, sometimes by 50%. At first, Baker was thrilled. But two months after a deal closed, pet stores would return their endcaps because they were unhappy with the product and were promised a guaranteed sale — and there wasn't a way to pull back reps' SPIFs or bonuses. "We were creating an incentive that was good for the vendor, the sales rep, and ultimately — if we had a guaranteed sale — for the client, too," Baker says . "But long term, it didn't make sense. We were incentivizing short-term bad behavior." Baker's discomfort with his team's successes felt counterintuitive. After all, they were doing what he wanted. "They were achieving, but it was like doing extra credit in school," Baker says. "They were getting 110% on a test, but it wasn't for the right reasons." One of PFX's salespeople sold the most endcaps for seven months in a row, so Baker called to congratulate him and ask about his methods. The rep said that one of his customer's line accounts receivable had cut her off because she couldn't pay her bills. "The rep paid her balance on his credit card and she bought two end caps. And the rep knew that customer didn't need even one," says Baker. Three generations of Bakers (first from left and first through third from right) at the grand opening of the new Rumford Pet Center in East Providence, RI, in 1992. Baker is third from right. Source: PFX And that wasn't even the worst of his problems. When trying to reach their monthly goal, some reps felt like this method forced unwanted products onto their customers. One salesperson reported that selling chemical-based tick repellant to stores in New England was impossible — these customers were ahead of the curve and only wanted natural products to use around their dogs and kids. Baker says: "My mission is to help independent pet retailers win. How can I do that if I'm pushing unneeded, irrelevant products they don't believe in down their throats?" That's when PFX began really focusing on distributing natural, holistic pet foods to independent retailers. And that change in focus meant prioritizing customer relationships above everything else — including the happiness of his vendors. Baker needed to build trust with these small mom-and-pop retailers, and that wasn't going to happen by promoting a "monthly focus brand." Baker found that he'd fallen into a trap of trying to please vendor reps, who themselves were incentivized based on how many trucks of supplies PFX bought. His sales team was promoting brands to clients not because they were good, but because they were paid to do so. That's when Baker realized he couldn't change his vendors' behaviors, but he could change his sales team. Gone went incentives and in came salary-based pay. Rough Transitions Switching to a 100% salary-based compensation plan wasn't easy. The majority of his salesforce and his vendors didn't take it well. Soon after Baker met with his teams and told them about the switch, many gave their notices. A few were upset about losing the ability to make more money, while others couldn't or didn't want to get used to the change. ‘It was a risk to abandon incentives, but it didn't sit right with what we were trying to build as a long-term, trusted partner of independent retailers," Baker says . "We couldn't afford to take advantage of these trusted relationships anymore." Sometimes the new sales teams he's acquired since also find it hard to stomach. After adding a four-person sales team through an acquisition, Baker informed them that they'd be treated no differently than the rest of the PFX team and would receive a set salary. The team was displeased by the change — they were used to a 20-30% incentive compensation. Within a few months, all of them left. "There's no doubt in my mind that the salary played a part in their leaving. They were just unable to live without commission," says Baker. "They were good reps, but they couldn't live with the switch." Baker found it ironic that many of the reps who protested salary-based pay admitted to the fault in the original system — they were selling for the money, not because they were passionate about the product, their customers, or the company they worked for. "People would say, ‘How am I going to get up in the morning? If I had a limited upside, why would I work extra hard?'" says Baker. But these were people PFX could afford to lose. Baker brought on new, skilled reps who understand the company's mission, drive, and relationship-focused sales approach — reps who are motivated by a personal connection with their pet, care about animals' health and nutrition, and value their customers. For those who stayed and welcomed the change, watching their peers leave only made them believe in the company's mission more. And his vendors? They're not thrilled about Baker's decision, but they respect it. PFX's vendors still have the budget to reward his sales team. While Baker can't stop them from awarding bonuses, he can stop the money from benefitting one individual rep. Instead of allowing one member of his team to benefit from a vendor's incentives, PFX uses the money to celebrate company victories as a team. The switch has been good to PFX. "We've experienced growth, but we're most proud of the way we've done it," he says. "My next goal is to fortify our company culture, people, and systems." Beating the competition isn't Baker's main goal — serving his customers is. PFX has a strong relationship with their clientele, who applaud his decision to operate without commission or incentives. Replicate with Caution When considering if he would recommend implementing an incentive-free system, Baker highlights that his career is in a singular industry, and this system may be difficult to replicate. It's very difficult to make the switch when a sales team is already used to a commission-based plan. Reps that are over-delivering — they're the ones that'll most likely walk. The PFX team in the company's PA warehouse in 2015. Source: PFX "If I was going to start another business, I wouldn't choose an industry or a product line that didn't allow me to have this compensation plan. I've seen the light," he says. "If you have the right people, and if there's a clear purpose and need for whatever you're selling, then I don't see why this couldn't apply to anything." Seven years later, PFX is still the only company with a salary-based salesforce within the pet food industry. Baker guesses it's because his competitors can't see themselves surviving after the switch. But for Baker, it's worked. Well. And PFX's clients agree. "Most importantly, the customers think it's great," Baker says. "They trust that when any of my reps walk into their store or calls them, they have no incentive to sell them something that isn't going to help them win. We have no reason not to do what's best for them." Read more »
  • To Whom It May Concern: The Quick and Simple Guide to Using This Phrase (With Examples)
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    "To Whom It May Concern" is kind of like that favorite old sweatshirt you pull on when you just can’t -- or don’t want to -- consider wearing anything else. It’s easy, it covers a multitude of sins, and it gets the job done. But is it doing more harm than good for you in business settings? That answer is a hard "Yes" when it comes to your sweatshirt and a little more nuanced for "To Whom It May Concern." It’s largely considered an outdated and lazy way to approach correspondence. The internet gives us almost infinite ability to search for the names and contact information of the people we need to reach -- and honing good communication skills is crucial to success. So, before you slap another "To Whom It May Concern" on your outreach email or cover letter, read through this simple guide to determine when to use it, how to use it, and which alternatives to consider instead. To Whom It May Concern "To Whom It May Concern" is a broad way to address professional or formal correspondence. It’s widely used when the recipient’s name or title is unknown, such as when you are providing a recommendation for a former colleague and do not know the name of the hiring manager. When to Use "To Whom It May Concern" Before each piece of correspondence you send, ask yourself, "Who is the intended recipient of this message?" If the answer is, "Anyone," you should be safe to use, "To Whom It May Concern." If, however, your end reader is someone with a specific role or title, keep digging to find their name. It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate to use "To Whom It May Concern," so here are a few scenarios where it’s usually alright: 1. Recommendations/reference checks If you’re providing a reference or recommendation for a former colleague or employee, the request might come through an automated system that doesn’t include any information about the hiring manager. They don’t expect you to research them or their company, they just want your thoughts on the candidate they’re about to hire. This would be an acceptable time to address your audience with, "To Whom It May Concern." Example:   To Whom It May Concern: Dwight was an excellent employee during his three years at Dunder Mifflin. He took his work very seriously, volunteered for projects outside his regular duties (i.e., volunteer floor fire warden and safety officer), and was our top-performing salesperson all three years. I would highly recommend him for this position. Regards, Michael Scott 2. Company complaints Lodging a formal complaint with a company? It likely doesn’t matter if that complaint reaches an administrator, customer service associate, or the CEO -- you simply want your complaint to be heard and addressed. Example:   To Whom It May Concern: I was extremely disappointed the cat poster I ordered only has three jazz-playing cats instead of the four depicted on your website. I would like a full refund and the correct poster as soon as possible. Thank you, Angela Martin 3. Introductions If you are introducing yourself to someone you’ve never met, it could be appropriate to use, "To Whom It May Concern." For example, if you received a request for a quote, or information regarding your business, from a generic company inbox or feedback form, you might address your response, "To Whom It May Concern." Just make sure to ask for their name in your message. Example:   To Whom It May Concern: I received your request for a price quote on 50 reams of paper from Dunder Mifflin. I’ve attached the quote to this email and would be happy to answer any questions you have. Also, I’d love to know your name and a little more about your business! Kind Regards, Phyllis Vance 4. Prospecting This is acceptable but not ideal. If you’re a salesperson conducting outreach -- it’s your job to put in the time and research to know exactly who you’re contacting. Ideally, you should build rapport with them over LinkedIn or Twitter -- or reaching out via a mutual connection -- first. If there seems to be no way to find their personal information, you might reach for "To Whom It May Concern," but don’t expect a high response rate. Example:   To Whom It May Concern: I noticed your company recently parted ways with its paper supplier. I work with Dunder Mifflin, a local Scranton paper supplier, and would like to speak with the person in charge of paper ordering at your company. We pride ourselves on personalized customer service and fast delivery, and I’d love to see if we’re the right fit for you. Best, Jim Halpert How To Write "To Whom It May Concern" If you’re using a formal greeting like "To Whom It May Concern," it’s important to format it correctly. Here's how to write "To Whom It May Concern:" Capitalize the first letter of each word Always use "Whom" instead of "Who" or "Whomever" (In the case of "To Whom It May Concern," "Whom" is the object of a verb or preposition and is appropriate to use in this context) Use a colon after "To Whom It May Concern" rather than a comma Add a double space before beginning the body of your message As we’ve identified above, if you’re using "To Whom It May Concern" you’re likely approaching a business formal conversation. Don’t let sloppy formatting muddle your first impression. These tips should always set you up for success. When Not To Use "To Whom It May Concern" Whenever possible, avoid "To Whom It May Concern." It’s largely outdated, stuffy, and lazy. With our access to the internet today, it’s fairly simple to find the name and even email address of the person with whom we wish to speak. Because of this, "To Whom It May Concern" can demonstrate a lack of effort in correspondence which doesn’t set a positive tone for the rest of your business relationship. Here are a few tips for finding almost anyone’s name: Ask your HR rep or recruiter - If you’re writing a cover letter or email to a hiring manager, ask your recruiter or HR rep for the correct name. Visit the company’s LinkedIn profile - At the top of their profile, you’ll see a hyperlinked prompt that says, "See all [number of employees] on Linkedin." Click that prompt to see a list of all employees. You should be able to skim the list until you find the person, role, or title you’re hoping to connect with. Visit the company’s "About Us" page - Smaller companies might list all employees and their titles on their "About Us" or "Team" page. At the very least, you’ll find a general company inbox where you can send a request to learn the name of the person you’re trying to reach. Pick up the phone - Call the company where your prospect works and ask the receptionist or administrator for that person’s name, contact information, or advice on how best to reach them. It might take a few extra minutes, but finding the name of the person you’re reaching out to is important. Show your email recipient their name matters to you and find it before resorting to "To Whom It May Concern." Alternatives to "To Whom It May Concern" Sometimes it’s just not possible to find a contact’s name. In these cases, here are a few alternatives: 1. "Dear Hiring Manager" When applying to a new position, it's not always possible to know the name of the hiring manager. If you can, figure it out with some good-old-fashioned LinkedIn sleuthing. If not, this greeting is an appropriate choice. 2. "Dear Recruiter" Similarly, if you're unable to identify the recruiter or gatekeeper for the role you're applying for, "Dear Recruiter" is a widely used greeting. 3. "Greetings" Save this for colleagues or business associates you already have open and casual correspondence with. It's friendly and familiar, so leave it behind for more formal introductions. 4. "Dear Recruiting Department" If you're applying for a job with a larger company, your application may be directed to a broad recruiting inbox. In this case, you're not writing to a specific person and might need the approval of several recruiters. This greeting ensures you're casting a broad net. 5. "Dear [Name of department you’re interested in]" If you're selling to a specific company department and are unsure who your target buyer is, addressing your email to the department alias is best. It's not ideal but if you can't identify the right contact person, don't be afraid to send this greeting. 6. "Dear [Name of the title or role of the person you’re pursuing]" Know the title of the person you're writing to? Great! Hopefully you can use that information to find their actual name -- if not, addressing them by their title (i.e., "Dear Marketing Director") is an acceptable, if not slightly distant, way to reach out. 7. "Dear Customer Service Manager" Whether you're addressing a message to a business contact or reaching out to customer support for a personal matter, it's smart to put your best foot forward. A more formal, respectful greeting is sure to be appreciated. 8. "Hello" Already mid-conversation with the person on the other end of your email? Open with a casual "Hello" and continue your message thread. 9. "Dear Search Committee" Perhaps you find yourself addressing an email to a final panel of buyers, or maybe you've made it to the final round of interviews for a new job. Regardless, if you need to send an email to a group of people in one of these scenarios, this greeting works well. 10. "Dear [Name]" An oldie but a goodie. This greeting is almost always appropriate. When in doubt, pull this one out. 11. "Hi Friend" Reserve this familiar greeting for non-professional email correspondence -- think happy hour plans and weekend BBQs. 12. "Season's Greetings" Looking for a way to give your emails some inclusive, work-appropriate holiday cheer? Dust off "Season's Greetings" -- just don't forget that apostrophe 's.' 13. "Hello There [Name]" This is another less formal way to open your correspondence. Save it for peers, colleagues, and business associates with whom you already enjoy open rapport. 14. "Good Morning" Sending an email you know will be read right away? Alluding to the time of day with a "Good Morning" or "Good Evening" is suitable for all audiences. 15. "Good Day" Feeling international? "Good Day" isn't a common greeting in the United States, but it might just enliven your next Monday morning email. The internet removes many excuses for using "To Whom It May Concern." Before you slap it in an email, consider the recommendations in this post. And wipe a few other outdated or lazy phrases from your vocabulary, including "Looking Forward to Hearing From You," "Best Regards vs. Kind Regards," and "Dear Sir or Madam." Read more »
  • Net Present Value (NPV), Explained in 400 Words or Less
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    Did you know Warren Buffet bought his first stock at 11 years old? Oh, and he filed for taxes at 13. I don't know about you, but at 11, my biggest goal was getting my Mom to serve pizza for dinner. Buffett is an investor, business magnate, and philanthropist who's known as one of the most successful investors of all time He's used decades of experience to grow his wealth and further sharpen his investing prowess. And he concisely sums up the process of evaluating investments with this quote: "Leaving aside tax factors, the formula we use for evaluating stocks and businesses is identical. Indeed, the formula for valuing all assets that are purchased for financial gain has been unchanged since it was first laid out by a very smart man in about 600 B.C. (though he wasn’t smart enough to know it was 600 B.C.)." So, what is this ancient formula? And how does Warren Buffett evaluate investment opportunities? He uses net present value (NPV). While I can't promise you'll be the next Warren Buffet, I can tell you more about net present value and how it's used to identify great investments. Let's dive in. What is net present value (NPV)? Net present value (NPV) is the value of projected cash flows, discounted to the present. It's a financial modeling method used by accountants for capital budgeting, and by analysts and investors to evaluate the profitability of proposed investments and projects. The net present value method is used to evaluate current or potential investments and allows you to calculated the expected return on investment (ROI) you'll receive. This video from the Harvard Business Review provides a brief overview of net present value. NPV is calculated using the following formula: Source: Harvard Business Review Here's the written formula: Net Present Value (NPV) = Cash flow / (1 + discount rate) ^ number of time periods When there are multiple periods of projected cash flows, this formula is used to calculate the PV for each time period. Then investors or analysts sum the values, and the initial investment is subtracted from the sum to get the net present value (NPV). The discount rate that's used depends on the company and how it gets its funding. For example, if shareholders expect a 10% return on investment, the business will often use that percentage as the discount rate. If the net present value is positive, your project is profitable. But, if the NPV is negative, your project is unprofitable. When comparing multiple projects, the one with the largest NPV will provide the highest return. In summary, net present value translates the amount of money you expect to make from an investment into today's dollars. Net Present Value Example Ready to see net present value in action? Let's say Pet Supply Company is comparing two projects to invest in. The discount rate for both projects is 10%. Project 1 Initial investment: $10,000 Discount rate: 10% Year 1: $5,000 Year 2: $15,000 Year 3: $9,000 Year 4: $18,000 Once the present values are calculated the formula would look like this: NPV = ($4,545 + $12,397 + $6,762 + $12,294) - $10,000 NPV = $25,998 Project 2 Initial investment: $5,000 Discount rate: 10% Year 1: $8,000 Year 2: $16,000 Here is the resulting formula after the present value is calculated for each cash flow and time period: NPV = ($7,273 + $13,223) - $5,000 NPV = $15,496 The NPV for Project 1 is $25,998 and Project 2 is $15,496. Since Project 1 has a higher NPV value, Pet Supply Company should invest in that project. NPV Formula: How to Calculate Net Present Value in Excel Net present value (NPV) can be calculated in Excel by entering the discount rate, the number of time periods (in consecutive order), and entering the expected cash flows for each time period. Then, enter the following formula in a new cell: =NPV(select the discount rate cell, select first cash flow cell:last cash flow cell) So, how can you perform an NPV analysis? Luckily, you can crunch the numbers in Excel. Here are the steps to do so. Determine the discount rate and add it to a cell. Add the number of time periods in consecutive order. Enter the expected cash flows for each time period. Calculate NPV by typing the following Excel formula in a new cell: =NPV(select the discount rate cell, select first cash flow cell:last cash flow cell) Download the Excel template below to try it out for yourself. Source: HubSpot When using the NPV formula in Excel, you'll need to ensure that you've properly calculated the inputs so the resulting number is accurate. This is a quick method of calculating NPV, but more advanced financial modeling is often used to see each calculation and input that goes into the formula. Investors and analysts can see all the formulas used for the calculations which makes it easier to audit. With net present value (NPV) you'll be able to effectively evaluate projects and investments to determine the return you'll receive from the investment. To learn more, check out this comprehensive guide to income statements next. Read more »
  • 45 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business
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    Small Business Ideas Personal trainer Freelance writer Ecommerce store owner Dog groomer House cleaner Accountant Personal assistant If you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss, you’ve probably considered a variety of small business ideas. But, while you have plenty of passion, direction can be hard to find. To help, I’ve pulled together small business ideas for anyone who wants to run their own business. Use these as a jumping off point to spark your own unique ideas. And if all else fails, live the words of Airbnb Co-founder Brian Chesky: "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life." Ready to take things to the next level? This ultimate guide to entrepreneurship can help you do more than dream up a good idea. It can help you turn it into reality today. Best Small Business Ideas 1. Handyman Are you always fixing things around the house? Often on call when friends need small projects completed? Put together a website, figure out what your time and expertise is worth, and start asking those thankful friends for referrals. 2. Woodworker Similarly, if you have a passion for crafting beautiful furniture or other home goods out of wood -- there’s demand for that. List a few of your pieces on sites like Etsy, eBay, or Craigslist. Once you build a following, consider starting a website, accepting custom orders, or expanding to refinishing work and upholstery. 3. Online dating consultant Dating consultants usually charge for their time. They help people create successful online dating profiles, source possible matches from outside normal online channels, and offer a level of personalization Tinder just can’t. Think you’ve got a knack for the match? This might be the business for you. 4. Sewing and alteration specialist People will always need clothing hemmed and buttons mended -- and you could be the person to do it. If you love sewing, start by offering simple services like those mentioned above, and expand your repertoire to dressmaking and design as you build a customer base and demand. 5. Freelance developer From building websites for other small businesses to providing technical support for certain projects, quality web development is in high demand right now. With such a technical skillset, make sure you can describe what you do and how you will do it in easy-to-understand language. Test your messaging on friends and family who don’t have a firm understanding of the work you do. 6. Personal trainer Offer in-home consultations, personalized nutrition and exercise regimens, and community boot camps to get the word out. Don’t forget to populate an Instagram feed with inspirational quotes, free exercise videos, and yummy snack ideas as well -- it’s a common way for fitness gurus to build their brands. 7. Freelance graphic designer Set your own hours, choose your projects, and build a portfolio and business you’re proud of. From website design to blog graphics and more, many companies seek out experienced graphic designers for all manner of projects. 8. Life/career coach If you have some experience under your belt, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers -- and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough. Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, sometimes everyone just needs some uplifting advice. 9. Resume writer Submitting a resume, cover letter, and -- when necessary -- portfolio for a new job can be tough and time consuming. That’s why many people hire help. Assist clients with tailored resumes, beautifully edited cover letters, and carefully crafted portfolios that make it impossible for employers to ignore. 10. Freelance writer If you have writing skills, there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore -- just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business. 11. Translator Speak a foreign language? Start a translation service. Consider specializing in a specific genre of translation, like medical or financial translation, as you might be able to fill a niche need in your community. 12. Garden designer Many people have the willingness to do the dirty work in their backyards, but few have the know-how to design a backyard space to begin with. Draw up the designs for your clients’ outdoor spaces and let them do the actual digging. 13. Ecommerce store owner Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down -- an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion. 14. Landscaper Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. 15. Videographer Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers. 16. Photographer Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients, which will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds as well. 17. Travel planner The time of the travel agent might be passing, but people are still looking for those with a knack for more nontraditional travel coordination. If you always plan the perfect vacations complete with beautiful hotels, the ideal location, and a bevy of delicious restaurants lined up for every evening, consider advertising your services as a more modern approach to travel planning. 18. Car-detailing specialist The devil is in the details and you can be too. Car detailing services that travel to the client are in high demand. Just make sure you have the flexibility, transportation, and equipment to take your business on the road. 19. Home inspector This will require a great deal of expertise and certification, but it’s a job that can give you the flexibility and pay you’ve always dreamed of. Confirm the licensing requirements in your state and consider taking a few courses to build out your knowledge, authority, and expertise. 20. House cleaner With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love -- soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work. 21. Personal chef We all love to eat, but few of us have the time or energy to cook healthy, delicious meals. Advertise your services to local families and businesses alike. And consider "chunking" certain groups of clients -- say, vegetarians -- so you can cook larger quantities of the same dish to feed them all. 22. Property manager Many people maintain properties they don’t live in -- often based in different cities or states. It’s helpful to have someone to ensure the property is being well taken care of, handle small fixes as they arise, and serve as a liaison to renters. 23. Packing services facilitator Moving is always a pain, and many people hire the entire packing process out. Want to have a steady stream of clients? Partner with a local moving service who will refer new clients to you. 24. Massage therapist Soothe aching muscles and promote peace for your clients as a massage therapist. Look into training and certification courses in your city and state and invest in a portable bed to take on client visits. 25. Hairdressing or makeup artist Sure, you could go to cosmetology school and pay for an expensive chair at a salon, or you could offer specialized styling and makeup services right to your client’s door. 26. Bed and breakfast owner This is another business venture that will require you to research the correct licensure from your state, but it will be well worth it to see your dreams come true. Consider what guests will be traveling to your area to experience and create special packages and themed stays to coincide with their interests in your locale. 27. Interior designer Similar to landscape design -- there are many people who have the ability to buy the furniture and home decor they need to fill their rooms, but few who know where to start. It might take some time to build a portfolio but documenting your projects and sharing them online can build a fan base beyond your wildest dreams. 28. Nonprofit owner If you dream of devoting your life to a cause you believe in, it might be time to start a nonprofit. You’ll need to incorporate your business and file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status -- and then you’ll be required to meet ongoing standards of compliance, but the payoff is making a meaningful impact on a cause you believe in. Want to do good while still making a profit? Consider social entrepreneurship. 29. Tour guide Love the local history of your city or state? Consider becoming a tour guide. Sure, you’ll need to conduct tons of research to be able to do the job well, but that’s half the fun. Set yourself apart by offering tours that speak to a specific niche of your community’s history. Some tour guides offer historical walking tours of their town’s most haunted spots while others curate guided foodie tours for guests to get a true taste of the city. 30. Tutor Whether math whiz, piano master, or Shakespeare aficionado -- there’s someone out there who needs a little help and is willing to pay for it. Advertise your services through local schools, community colleges, and community centers to get the word out and build a customer base. 31. Consultant If you have significant experience in or knowledge of a specific subject, consider becoming a consultant. Perhaps you’re an expert at hiring practices, have a knack for SEO, or have led multiple sales teams to six-figure success. If you’re good at it, market yourself as a consultant and charge the going rate. 32. Clothing boutique owner If you dream of building your own fashion empire, why not start with a local boutique? Build buzz with impressive window displays, inspiring social media accounts, and heavy community involvement. 33. Event planner You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event -- like weddings or company meetings -- or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades. If you’re highly organized, pay keen attention to minute details, and have experience planning large events, it might be time others benefit from your skills. 34. Specialty food store owner Gourmet foods, cheeses, sake, wine -- you name a food, there’s a specialty food store out there for it. Put your passion for exotic olive oils to good use and open a store where you offer the kind of expertise and selection your audience couldn’t dream of getting from their local grocer. 35. Personal assistant Again, if you’re an organized, highly detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment. 36. Food truck owner Always dreamt of owning a restaurant but not quite ready to take the plunge? Test out your concepts with a food truck. It’s a great way to become familiar with food and restaurant licensing in your state, see what people like and don’t like, and build a ravenous following before ever opening or investing in a brick-and-mortar location. 37. Consignment shop owner If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider going consignment. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic, without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments. 38. Caterer If that personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work fewer but larger events, and get really good at time management. 39. Gym owner Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by opening your own gym. 40. Daycare owner Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements. 41. Boutique agency owner What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help, but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position. Consider a building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk. 42. Coffee shop owner Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game but they usually require a little more cash up front. Starting a shop from scratch requires a little more planning and a lot more work -- but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future. 43. Moving company A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company. Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low. Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. 44. Home staging If you have a flare for interior design, a staging service might serve as your creative outlet and professional calling. You can build a portfolio with little initial investment by staging homes using the owner’s existing furnishings and decor. Most stagers eventually build up inventory of furniture as they become more established and network with area realtors. 45. Dog walker, groomer, or trainer Licensing and insurance will be the two most important factors in opening a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will surely make up for the initial red tape. To test the waters before jumping in, consider walking dogs through companies like Rover or Wag. Ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise like Dogtopia. How to start a small business at home Identify your small business idea Test your idea as a side business or hobby Create a business plan (Use our template below) Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship Determine if your business works well from home Set up an office space Get to work! 1. Identify your small business idea Whether you choose an option from the list above or have another idea up your sleeve, it’s important to have the experience, training, or skills necessary to be successful. Want to run a daycare but have never even visited a successful daycare center? Spend time conducting research to learn whether this is really the right fit for your experience and interests. 2. Start as a side business or hobby Can you get your business off the ground as an evenings or weekends side job? This allows you to make some mistakes, test the market, and understand whether your idea has legs before you quit your nine-to-five job and lose your primary income. 3. Create a business plan Once you know your idea has the potential to succeed, it’s time to build a business plan. Not sure where to start? Try this business plan template. Business plans should identify what makes your offering different from competitors. They should also be short and actionable. And your business plan should evolve with your business. 4. Decide whether you’ll be an LLC or sole proprietorship The most important differences to note between an LLC and sole proprietorship are that limited liability corporations (LLCs) offer the business owner liability protection and tax advantages. Sole proprietors are personally liable for their business. 5. Determine if your business idea work well from home Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to being based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead. 6. Set up an office If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated work space. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success. Need a more professional space? If you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more. 7. Get to work! You’ve put in the hard work and I’ve got good news … it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Selecting a small business idea is a personal decision. But it can be helpful to bounce ideas off your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout this process -- and remember to have a little fun while you’re putting in the work. Ready to begin building your small business today? Check out our complete guide for how to start a business. Or brush up on your reading with this high-impact list of books about starting a business you can’t afford not to read.   Read more »
  • 9 Sales Dashboard Examples That'll Help You Set Up Your Own
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    "The art of moving forward lies in understanding what to leave behind." This quote, from marketing guru Seth Godin, sums up the importance of good data in making better decisions. Failing is a natural part of life, what matters most -- especially for salespeople -- is how you move forward. Think about the last time you made a quick decision that yielded disappointing results. Did you use data to inform that decision? Chances are, you used intuition. Analytics inform decisions, lead to new ideas, and unveil opportunities for growth. In fact, the 2018 Global Data Management Benchmark Report found that 52% of the organizations surveyed said data and analytics would be a key source of opportunity in the coming years. And as more organizations rely on their data for strategic decision-making, their ability to derive actionable insights will be fundamental to their success. So, how can you visualize your sales data to make key decisions and analyze performance? The answer: A sales dashboard. What is a sales dashboard? A sales dashboard is a visual representation of your sales data. This information can often be filtered by different time periods, and many sales dashboards can pull in real-time data. Common metrics that are tracked include quota attainment, conversion/win rate, average deal size, revenue, sales funnel leakage. Sales dashboards provide an overview of your key performance indicators (KPIs) and show you how your sales team is tracking towards your goals and revenue targets. And sales leaders use these metrics to track progress toward goals, make decisions and plans, adjust compensation, award bonuses and incentives, and identify issues before they become large problems. How to Create a Sales Dashboard Determine which sales metrics you'll track. Identify how the dashboard will be used. Pick a sales dashboard provider. Pull data into the dashboard. Build reports for the sales dashboard. 1. Determine which sales metrics you'll track. The most challenging part of building a dashboard is knowing how to begin. Are there specific goals or targets you're trying to reach? A dashboard can help you visualize your progress towards those goals. But first, start out by identifying the sales metrics you'd like to track. Which metrics are regularly reviewed in company, sales team, and one-on-one meetings? Are there metrics that are considered more important than others? What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Do you have multiple sales teams within your sales organization? The sales metrics that you choose from, often fall into one or more of these categories: Activity Sales Metrics Pipeline Sales Metrics Lead Generation Sales Metrics Sales Outreach Metrics Primary Conversion Sales Metrics Channel Sales Metrics Sales Productivity Metrics Rep Hiring and Onboarding Metrics Sales Process, Tool, and Training Adoption Metrics If you don't know where to begin, check out this guide to sales metrics to determine which pieces of information are most important to your sales organization. 2. Identify how the dashboard will be used. There's no one-size-fits-all sales dashboard, so you need to know how the dashboard will be used and who will use it. Is the dashboard going to help individual sales reps track their progress towards their monthly quota? Or will it be used by sales managers to see the top-performing reps for the quarter? Here are a few things to consider. Who will be using the dashboard: Sales reps, managers, VPs, or executives How they'll use it: Are they checking the dashboard daily, weekly, monthly, etc.? What information they'll want to see: Which metrics, visualizations, and calculations will they look at? Think about where the dashboard will be viewed as well. For example, if you have an outside sales team who'll be on-the-go, consider making a mobile-friendly version of the dashboard so it can be viewed from a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. 3. Pick a sales dashboard provider. If you're already using a CRM, it likely comes with reporting features that allow you to create dashboards for your team. However, if you're not using a CRM, there are standalone reporting tools that allow you to either sync or import your data to create dashboards and reports. Sales Dashboard Software Providers Klipfolio: This software allows you to use data from your CRM and combine it with data from the other services to create dashboards. HubSpot: Create custom reports and dashboards for your team that pull data directly from the HubSpot CRM. Data can be synced from a wide range of apps and web services. DataHero: Pull in data from a wide range of services and tools to create custom reports. Zoho Analytics: Track key performance metrics by creating a custom report or using one of Zoho Analytics 60+ reports and dashboards. Slemma: Build dashboards that centralize your sales and marketing data. Visible: Automate report creation, build dashboards, and drill down to see the details of your reports. TapClicks: Address sales challenges by creating reports and dashboards that identify warning signs and notify your team so you can proactively resolve any problems. 4. Pull data into the dashboard. With dashboards that are integrated with your CRM, you'll be able to easily sync the data between them. For example, the HubSpot CRM allows users to generate sales reports based on data from their customer database. They can create a dashboard and reports to track sales performance, identify top-performing sales reps, create sales forecasts, and more. In some cases, it might be a more manual process. If your team doesn't use a CRM but uses spreadsheets to manage prospects and customers you'll likely have to build reports from scratch. Luckily, there are sales dashboard templates for Excel that you can use as a starting point. 5. Build reports for the sales dashboard. When it comes to building reports, you can pick from a wide range of charts to visualize your data. Depending on the data you're adding to your dashboard a variety of chart types can be used. Comparing values (e.g., compare sales from two different territories): Bar chart, column chart, line graph, pie graph, scatter plot Composition (e.g., total sales broken down by sales rep): Pie chart, stacked bar chart, stacked column chart, area chart, waterfall chart Trends (e.g., month over month revenue growth): Line chart, dual-axis line chart, column chart Source: Edraw Remember: the best visualizations are those that are easy-to-read and actionable. The intended user of the dashboard should be able to read and understand the charts at a glance, without having to click into the full report. Once the dashboard and reports are ready to go, share the dashboard with your team. Don't be afraid to go back to the drawing board if there are reports that don't meet the needs of your sales team. Sales Dashboard Examples Since there isn't a one-size-fits-all dashboard that applies to all sales organizations, here's a compilation of sales dashboard examples you can model yours after. 1. Sales Rep Dashboard Provide sales reps with a dashboard that allows them to track their individual performance. Include reports for key metrics like meetings booked, open opportunities, the number of deals in their pipeline, forecasted revenue, and any other performance indicators your team uses. 2. Sales Manager Dashboard This dashboard provides an overview of many key metrics sales managers use to measure performance. It includes a section for today's stats and it shows monthly progress towards the sales team's new account target and MRR goal. 3. Sales Leaderboard See who's performing the best out of all your salespeople. Sales leaderboard dashboards typically include information on the number of completed activities (e.g., calls, emails, meetings), new accounts, generated MRR, and customer retention numbers. 4. Deal Performance Dashboard With the deal forecast front-and-center, members of your sales organization can see how much revenue is expected to close. The reports that follow show how many deals are at each stage of the sales process and how many have closed compared to the goal. 5. Win/Loss Dashboard With a dashboard that includes a win/loss rate report and tracks why deals were won or lost, you and your team can identify what actions closed a deal or caused them to fall through. You can also compare your team's close rates to the rates from the previous reporting period or industry benchmarks. 6. Sales Performance by Product and Region Where are you making the most sales? And what products are customers buying? This dashboard gives insight into which territories are selling the most of each product type. Plus, it provides an overview of MRR compared to the previous month. 7. Sales Activities Dashboard A sales activities dashboard provides sales managers with a visual representation of what they're reps are doing on a day-to-day basis. Plus, it gives them broader information like the average number of activities per won deal.  8. Performance Overview Sales Dashboard This dashboard features the key performance metrics, front and center. This makes it easy to read and the most valuable information is the first thing people will see when the dashboard loads.   9. Time-Tracking Sales Dashboard Do you have a sales team that's always on-the-go? See where sales reps' time is being spent and how much revenue they're generating. Sales Dashboard Tips Are you inspired to crunch some numbers and build reports? Keep the following tips in mind as you create your own sales dashboard. 1. Use a clean layout. Don't make the visuals (e.g., graphs and charts) and colors too busy -- this will distract from the data. Many dashboard tools allow you to layout your reports in a grid to help you organize the data even further. Place the most important chart in the top left corner of the dashboard -- user experience research found the left side of a webpage is viewed more frequently than the right. With this information in mind, create a flow of reports so they can be read from left to right, positioning the most important visuals on the left-hand side of the dashboard. Source: UX Planet 2. Include calculations (when applicable). Calculations can add additional context to a report and help you save time. For example, you don't want your team to go through the trouble of doing mental math to determine month over month revenue growth. 3. Make the dashboard accessible. If you make the dashboards specifically meant for sales managers, VPs, or executives available to all, individual contributors can see which metrics and goals are important to leadership. Transparency is one way to motivate your sales reps because they have the ability to zoom out and see the impact their numbers have on the business. With these tips and tricks in hand, you're well-equipped to start building your own sales dashboards. To learn more, check out these metrics sales managers should track next. Happy reporting! Read more »
  • Sales Velocity: What It Is & How to Measure It
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    Have you been in an interview and asked your prospective employer which sales metrics they value most? That answer is probably, "Yes." What if I asked you if you'd ever questioned your interviewer about their sales velocity? If you answered "Yes" again, you already know how important this calculation is to understand the growth mindset and overall health of a sales organization. If you've never thought much about a company's sales velocity, take a moment to brush up on this important equation -- and go beyond KPIs to impress your manager or future manager the next time you meet. So, what is sales velocity? Sales Velocity Sales velocity is the measurement of how quickly deals move through your pipeline and generate revenue. A sales velocity equation uses four metrics (number of opportunities, average deal value, win rate, and length of sales cycle) to determine an organization's sales velocity and how much revenue they can expect to generate over a specific time period. The results of the sales velocity equation reflect the health of the business, overall effectiveness of the sales team, and where the team can increase sales productivity to positively impact revenue goals. HubSpot Director of Sales Dan Tyre says, "Every sales manager lives in fear their sales pipeline is a bunch of fluff. In today's instant gratification world, uncovering a sense of urgency and establishing sales velocity is important because it uncovers a slow-moving or, even worse, stagnant pipe." Now that we know what sales velocity is and why it's important, how do we calculate it? Creating Sales Velocity To accurately calculate an organization's sales velocity, start by separating small, mid-market, and enterprise pipelines. Your company likely has their own nuanced definition of what constitutes each of these segments and you should divide them accordingly. Once you've divided your market segments, run a sales velocity equation for each one. Sales Velocity = Number of Opportunities x Deal Value x Win Rate / Length of Sales Cycle Source: Altify The Four Factors of Sales Velocity The four variables that comprise sales velocity are: Number of opportunities, average deal value, win rate, and length of sales cycle. Your CRM should be tracking these metrics already. Let's break down what each of these are and how to use them to pilot your organization's planning and goal setting. Number of Opportunities - Your pipeline always contains a certain number of opportunities. Make sure they're qualified opportunities. If your pipeline is packed with bad leads and only a few that actually have a chance of closing, your bottom line will suffer. To boost sales velocity, consider sourcing high-quality leads -- even if that means attracting fewer total leads. Tyre says, "It's better to see opportunities show up and then terminate, rather than see the same tired pipeline week after week." For salespeople, bad leads are a fact of life, but moving on from them quickly benefits your sales velocity and your revenue. Win/Conversion Rate - Your average win rate is tied to your attainment of quality leads. To identify your win rate, divide the number of sales won by the total number of sales opportunities. Improve your win rate by capturing and nurturing high-quality opportunities like referrals or prospects who've already demonstrated high intent to buy. Deal Value (average deal size) - Every deal requires both parties' most valuable resource: time. Make sure you're maximizing this resource for your prospect and yourself by introducing offers or add-ons to make your prospect's life better while increasing your average deal value and increasing your sales velocity. Never force a product or service on a buyer who doesn't need it -- that's a recipe for losing prospects and churning new customers. Length of Sales Cycle (measured in months) - This is the only sales velocity factor you don't want to increase. Creating a more efficient sales process, redefining your sales playbook, and sometimes adding headcount to your sales team are all ways to shorten your average sales cycle and close more quality deals faster. Sales Velocity Best Practices First, if the results of your sales velocity equation point to a need for increased sales effectiveness, work to increase your number of opportunities, average deal value, and/or win rate. Generally speaking, you can suffer a little from the numbers above the line and still run a successful sales organization. When you have a problem with the length of your sales cycle, however, your business may suffer. Dan Tyre explains, "I worked with a portfolio company that had a big, fat pipeline going into the last quarter of the year. But we quickly saw that we were in trouble when none of the deals were progressing to the evaluation stage." He continues, "Not taking careful account of how quickly something went from opportunity to opportunity to demo to price negotiation to contract really hurt us." Having a calculated sales velocity helps companies like this one plan for a longer sales cycle and analyze how to shorten it moving forward. Second, the longer the length of time you analyze, the better. Measure the sales velocity of at least a quarter and as much as six months to one year. This extended sample period accounts for variables such as seasonality or an unusually long deal. Third, keep your variables and definitions consistent while calculating sales velocity. For example, when do you consider a lead to be a quality opportunity? Does it start when a lead fills out a specific form? Is it when they read a specific blog post on your site? Or is it not until they've scheduled their first phone call? Define these criteria early and keep it consistent when measuring sales velocity. How Discounts Affect Sales Velocity Discounts aren't always the answer to increasing revenue, but by offering your prospects incentives to close earlier, you might decrease the length of your sales cycle which can positively affect your sales velocity. Make sure your reps are well trained on how to use discounts to benefit deals instead of stunting your company's growth and serving as a crutch to struggling sales teams. A healthy pipeline or bigger sales team isn't enough to keep an organization growing -- in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Measure your sales velocity, know what the results mean, and have actionable steps in place to improve upon it quickly. Read more »
  • 19 Creative Spring-Themed Sales Email Templates to Use in 2019
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    Chances are, your email templates are no spring chicken. And with buyers becoming more discerning every year, it's never been more important to ditch your copy-and-paste strategy and take a fresh approach to email outreach. Boosting response rates (with quality responses, of course), is what matters most to reps, and timely, unconventional sales emails can be just what you need to get more eyeballs, clicks, and replies. Spend 30 minutes refreshing your tired email templates and you can give your buyers a memorable message they will reply to -- and one they might just forward to their colleagues. Emails that show this type of share-worthy personality benefit your company even if you don't get an immediate reply. Need a little help getting the creative juices flowing? Here are a few spring-themed sales email templates for you to customize for your prospects, product, and industry. Put your own unique spin on each one and start building that name recognition with your target companies and consumers. Prospecting Email Templates Use these emails to contact new prospects. Your creativity will make a great first impression. 1. Back to the Future [Today's date] 2020 Hi [prospect name], It's one year into the future. How has [prospect's company] handled [X pain point, Y opportunity, Z strategy]? If you're unsure about the answer, I have a few ideas you might find interesting. Would you like to hear them? [Your name] Remind the buyer the future is coming, whether they like it or not. The chances they know exactly what they're going to do are slim -- so they'll probably want to hear what you have to say. 2. A Good Read It's a big day Dear [prospect name], I recently learned March 2 is Read Across America Day. In honor of the occasion, I wanted to recommend a great book about [topic]: [Title]. Its [suggestions, insights] on [subject] may be particularly relevant to your [challenge with X, industry, product, market, etc.], especially [chapter Y, section Z]. I'm happy to discuss the takeaways on a quick phone call if you're interested as well. Best,[Your name] A book recommendation is only valuable to your prospect if you explain why that title is pertinent to their situation and highlight a part they should focus on. Doing so proves you read the book, and more importantly, thought about why it would benefit them specifically. 3. Watching the Clock Spring forward, fall back Hi [prospect], Hopefully, you remembered to show up to work an hour earlier today. Losing 60 minutes of sleep is never fun, but I do have a few suggestions for [saving time with X, boosting your efficiency at Y, reducing the time to do Z] that could make up (and more) for your lost time. Would you be interested in hearing them? Cheers,[Your name] Provoke the buyer's interest with an offer to help them accomplish more in their day. Once you've earned their attention, you can position yourself as a trusted advisor. They'll be eager to learn additional ways to boost their productivity -- including buying your offering. 4. New Season, New Strategy Spring is coming Dear [prospect name], Congratulations on making it through the winter -- is it just me, or does it seem longer every year? With Q2 almost here, you might be thinking about [launching new campaigns for X, starting a project on Y, solving Z]. I've helped several clients [in your industry, serving the same market, dealing with this challenge] and would be happy to share what worked and what didn't. Are you interested? Thanks,[Your name] Establish rapport with your prospect by mentioning the weather, which everyone loves to hate. Then demonstrate subject-matter expertise and a familiarity with their business by mentioning a likely challenge or focus are. Finally, leverage social proof by sharing that you've helped other companies with the same thing. 5. Congratulations on Your Success Lucky streak Hi [prospect name], Was [prospect's company] been blessed with the luck of the Irish? You guys have been killing it lately when it comes to [business area, strategy] -- I was impressed to see [recent announcement]. Typically, companies who achieve X [struggle with A, pursue B next, double their return by investing in C, minimize risk with D strategy]. Have you considered this approach? Best,[Your name] Prove your knowledge of the buyer's situation by congratulating them on an effective campaign or competitive move. Even if they've already thought three steps ahead, they'll be curious to speak with you. The language is casual, so consider tweaking it if you're emailing someone at a conservative company. 6. Theory vs. Practice Finding a 🍀 ? Hi [prospect name], My customers often tell me [capitalizing on X opportunity, solving Y pain point] can feel like finding a four-leaf clover: In theory, it's possible, but in practice time-consuming and often fruitless. Luckily, I've got several tips that can make your efforts easier and far likelier to pay off. Let me know if you'd like to hear them. Best,[Your name] To earn your prospect's trust, show some empathy for their challenges. This email also highlights the expertise you've built in this specific area. If the buyer is experiencing the problem or opportunity you mention, they'll be compelled to respond. 7. A Groovy Tune Here comes the sun … Hi [prospect name], Is everything all right when it comes to your strategy for [business are]? If not, you owe it to The Beatles to take some action. This [ebook, white paper, blog post, podcast episode] has some valuable tips on [resolving issue, boosting favorable metric, planning for upcoming event or occasion]. You might find [page X, section Y, clip Z] particularly helpful -- it speaks to [specific topic], which relates to your [company, problem, role] in [specific way]. Cheers,[Your name] A familiar song will break the ice with the buyer -- plus, once they've got it running through their head, they'll be thinking of your email all day. Add value with a highly personalized content recommendation. 8. The Right Place at the Right Time Hi [prospect name], You know what they say about spring: It's the perfect time to reevaluate your [business area] strategy. Okay, I might be the only one saying that. But I've got a good reason -- [similar company], one of my clients [in your space, serving the same market as you, selling the same product as you], recently [saw X results] after revamping the [way they approached business area]. Would you be interested in learning the specific steps they took? Best,[Your name] Citing results from a similar company will either make your prospect worried about falling behind or eager to get ahead. Whatever the case, they'll be highly motivated to schedule a conversation with you. 9. Follow That Rabbit! Down the rabbit hole Hi [Prospect name], I noticed you recently read several of our blog posts on [topic of interest]. I thought I'd help you continue down your rabbit hole of information by sharing a few other articles: [Blog Article 1] [Blog Article 2] [Blog Article 3] If you have any questions -- or need more articles on the subject -- I'd be happy to help. Regards, [Your name] Is your prospect obviously conducting research into a topic? Help them out with some material they might not find on their own. And don't be afraid to source blogs from outside your company website. This shows you're plugged into the community and not territorial about where you get your information from. 10. Temperature Whiplash Cabin fever hitting yet? Hello [Prospect name], They tell me it's spring, but it sure doesn't feel like it outside. Unfortunately I can't boost temps but I can help you boost customer retention. If you'd be interested in learning how [Your company name] can help [Buyer company name] increase annual member renewals by up to 40%, click here to book time on my calendar: [Calendar link] I'll leave you with a reminder that warmer weather will exist again. Thanks, [Your name] Spring can seem like winter's second wind. Playing into that universal feeling of "Please, not another cold, dreary day ..." makes you relatable, and your beachy GIF will hopefully bring a smile to your prospect's face. Follow Up Email Templates Are you trying to keep a deal moving forward or strengthen a relationship? These follow up emails help you check in without being annoying or pushy. 1. Getting a Good Season's Sleep [Prospect name], I'm pretty sure I know … … why you haven't been in touch -- you've been hibernating for the winter. Now that spring is here, are you interested in picking up our conversation about [solving X pain point, taking advantage of Y opportunity] again? Thanks,[Your name] P.S. I came across this [article, newsletter, infographic] the other day I think you'll like because it [reason why it's relevant to prospect]. It's always tough to re-engage prospects who have gone dark. With this tongue-in-cheek email, you'll remind them of your persistence without sounding aggressive. They may be amused enough to reply. 2. Some Mistakes Are Worse Than Others When it comes to [business area], are you feeling the pinch? Hey [prospect name], Forgetting to wear green on St. Patrick's Day is one thing, but letting [paint point] go unresolved is a little more serious. Here are two ideas you might consider trying: [Actionable suggestion #1] [Actionable suggestion #2] If you'd like more details on how to execute those, just give me a shout. Best,[Your name] Buyers will be impressed by your willingness to offer help with no strings attached. At the same time, you're demonstrating your subject-matter expertise. You'll have the ideal segue to discussing how your product can improve their efforts in the same area even more. 3. A Missed Connection Not very lucky lately Hi [prospect name], Maybe I should have brought my shamrock to work today -- I wasn't able to connect with you at [planned time]. I was planning on covering [topic #1] and [topic #2]. To catch you up, here are some helpful resources: [Link #1] [Link #2] If you'd like to try again, here's a link to my calendar: [Link]. Cheers,[Your name] While you might be tempted to guilt trip a prospect into rescheduling, this strategy never pays off. Even if you manage to get them on the phone, they'll only be humoring you. Rather than wasting their time and yours, send them a follow-up email that summarizes the situation in a neutral way. Linking to resources is a nice extra touch. 4. Spring Renewal It's the season of renewal Hello [prospect name], 'Tis the season of fresh foliage, new blooms ... and account renewals! Based on our previous conversations, it sounds like you're happy with the returns you're seeing with us. Are you ready to talk about renewing your contract? If so, I'll send the paperwork right over. We'd be honored to earn your business for another year. Thanks, [Your name] This template should not be sent unless you've been communicating regularly with your client and know they're happy. If you send this to an unhappy client, you'll strike the wrong chord and risk a negative answer to your final question. 5. Testing the Water Bow down to Recyclops Hey [Prospect name], Did you know that an old milk carton can be sawed in half and used as a planter? All "The Office" jokes aside, spring is a time when I touch base with old contacts to see if we're a better fit now -- like recycling old relationships to form the new. If you'd like to set up a quick phone call, book time on my calendar here: [Insert calendar link] Thanks, [Your name] If your prospect is an "Office" fan, this template will be a big hit. Perfect for reintroducing you into their inbox in a fun, friendly way. Breakup Email Templates Reach out one last time to prospects who have fallen off the grid. 1. Rinse and Repeat Do you feel like Bill Murray? Hey [prospect name], February 2 has come and gone, but I'm starting to worry my emails to you are making you feel like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. No one wants to relive the same experience over and over. If [solving X challenge, exploring Y opportunity] is no longer a priority, please let me know and I'll stop reaching out. Thanks,[Your name] Acknowledging it can be frustrating to receive multiple emails shows the buyer you're human and makes the situation feel less "salesy." And if they're Bill Murray fans, the film reference will make them smile. 2. Starting Fresh Spring cleaning Hi [prospect name], I'm spring cleaning my files and saw you hadn't responded to my calls or emails in a while. Are you still considering [doing X, solving Y]? If not, I won't reach out again. Thanks,[Your name] This short and sweet template gives the buyer one last chance to engage with you. If they've simply been busy, it'll prompt them to respond or lose the opportunity. If they've decided not to buy, on the other hand, they'll ignore you or say they're not interested. Either way, you can move on. 3. Spring "Break" Need a spring break from me? Hi [Prospect name], I haven't heard back from you in a while. I hate to part ways before you've heard how I can help you [increase X, decrease Y], but I understand that now might not be the right time. If you'd like to keep our conversation going, please respond to this email. If not, no problem. I'll simply assume we're on a break 🙂 Thanks, [Your name] This is a lighthearted way to break up with a prospect -- at least for now. There's no pressure from the salesperson. Instead, you've reminded them of the benefits you can offer and left the ball in their court. 4. So you're saying there's a chance? Is the sun setting on us? The days are getting longer and the sun is setting later, so I thought that might give us a little more time to discover whether [Your company] can help [Buyer's company]. I'd love to tell you how I've helped similar companies increase their D&I recruiting by up to 55%. If this sounds like something you're interested in, you can book time on my calendar here: [Link to calendar] Thanks, [Your name] This template keeps things light while helping you know whether it's time to move on. If you don't get a response, it's probably time to sunset this prospect for now. As the days warm up, your pipeline should too. Use these fresh spring-themed sales emails to engage new prospects, follow up with existing ones, and say goodbye to stale opportunities. Read more »
  • The Top 5 Reasons Your Sales Training Will Fail
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    Sales training is a big investment. Not only are you paying for the training itself and related expenses, but your sales team is also losing prime selling hours to attend workshops and sessions. Nonetheless, this investment can reap significant benefits and set your sales teams up for success. Research from SiriusDecisions found high-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low-performing ones. So, how do you make your training a success, not a flop? In the past 15 years, I've trained more than 20,000 salespeople working at companies of all types and sizes. Here are the most common reasons I've seen training fail -- along with ways to overcome them. Top Reasons Your Sales Training Will Fail Your managers aren't involved. Every rep is required to attend. Your objectives are vague. You want everyone to speak the same language. There are no corresponding dashboards. 1. Your managers aren't involved. If you spent three days in a language class, would you walk out as a fluent speaker? Of course not. Even if you already had some familiarity with the language, fluency requires both immersion and regular practice. It's the same idea with sales. Some leaders view sales training as an injection of concepts and best practices that their teams should be able to implement immediately. But unless those lessons are combined with a guided application on the sales floor, the training will ultimately have no impact. Motivating reps to consistently practice what they've learned requires total buy-in from your front-line managers. They can set the right expectations and inspect what salespeople are doing on a daily basis. However, you won't win their full commitment if you bring them in at the end of the process. Make them true partners: Ask them to help select your training vendor and curriculum, review the proposed agenda, choose the venue and date, and so forth. I'm always confident training will go well when an organization's front-line sales managers are involved, as this tells me they'll actively reinforce the lessons when training is over. 2. Every rep is required to attend. Most organizations require every salesperson to attend training. If you've ever attended a mandatory session, you probably know what this policy leads to a room of people with varying levels of motivation. Some salespeople are excited to take their sales knowledge to the next level. Some are neutral. And some wish they were anywhere else. As with any educational experience, the sales trainer ends up teaching to the lowest common denominator, or the reps who are disengaged and unmotivated. Not only is this unfair to the salespeople who are eager to learn, but it also lowers the quality of the training itself. I advise companies to make sales training a reward, rather than a requirement. If your reps hit a specific activity or quota-based milestone, invite them to attend. With the money you've saved on attendees, host the event at a nicer hotel or hire a high-end caterer. These touches will reinforce the idea training is a privilege. You'll raise the dialogue to a more mature level. It'll also incentivize salespeople to apply what they learn: If they don't, they'll waste the "reward" of new insights, strategies, and techniques. Some sales leaders say, "We can't exclude reps from training -- they're horrible at [core skill]!" If your sales team isn't proficient at calling, prospecting, and other foundational competencies, that's a hiring issue rather than a training issue. Sales training isn't designed to bring reps up to the basic performance levels: That's what your hiring and onboarding processes are for. Training should help your salespeople gain an edge over the competition. 3. Your objectives are vague. Without a specific goal or desired outcome, you can't measure the impact of sales training. Some management teams say they're investing in training because they want their reps to "work harder," "close more deals," "speak the same language," and so on. Who doesn't want those results? It's incredibly difficult to plan and implement sales training around a vague objective such as, "Make our salespeople harder workers." The more specific the goal, the better. For example, you might want to reduce discounting by 10%, win 25% more competitive deals against a competitor, or reduce your average sales cycle by two days. These objectives are highly focused, enabling you (or the vendor you hire) to craft your curriculum around them. If you want to discount less, for instance, you might cover alternatives to discounts, strategies for selling on value rather than price, and potential responses to discount inquiries. 4. You want everyone to speak the same language. Reevaluate your objectives for training if your primary goal is to get your sales team "speaking the same language." Great sales training introduces common disciplines and common language for talking about your products, but it shouldn't teach a one-size-fits-all sales style. The goal of training shouldn't be to fit each salesperson into a predefined box -- cookie cutter sales styles are unattractive to reps and prospects. Katelyn Craine, a Culture Program Manager at HubSpot, says, "The strongest teams create an environment where each salesperson is able to find their own authentic voice." This, in turn, helps salespeople relate to and build trust with their prospects. Sales training should provide your team with a set of tools and strategies each rep can apply their own style to. They'll bring their authentic selves and unique perspectives to each sales call, meeting, or email -- and this allows them to build rapport with prospects and customers from diverse backgrounds. Plus, a sales team with reps who have a wide range of talents and skill sets leads to knowledge-sharing and innovation for your sales team -- it's a win/win for sales reps and leaders. 5. There are no corresponding dashboards. Let's say you spent $2,500 on a comprehensive sales training package. Your team completes the training and they return to their day-to-day routines and activities. How can you be sure the sales training was effective? Are reps using the tactics they learned? If you haven't created a dashboard in your CRM to measure the results of the training, you're not seeing the return for your money or the time your reps were away from the sales floor. Take the time to create a CRM dashboard that reflects the results of the training. It should include reports that track the new behaviors and activities your salespeople adopted. When managers comment on the dashboard or reference it during meetings, sales reps will take the training seriously and be more likely to implement the strategies they learned. And you'll clearly see the results of your investment. The success of a sales training program is a team effort. Sales managers must set clear objectives and need to be involved at every step. This way, your salespeople will be motivated to learn and adopt new selling techniques and strategies. Ready to put this advice to the test? Check out Hoffman's sales training programs. Read more »
  • Top Sales Challenges Facing Salespeople in 2019 [New Data]
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    New research from Richardson's 2019 Selling Challenges Research Study captures the key challenges that sales professionals face in today's market. We received responses from more than 300 participants. Their input has presented a detailed picture of what effective selling looks like in 2019 as business cycles accelerate and competition escalates. The prevailing sentiment is that sales professionals must become agile. Possessing effective selling skills is not enough. Sales professionals need the ability to read the selling scenario and understand which skill is needed at that moment. Moreover, they need the ability to seamlessly transition from one skill to another as they engage with a variety of stakeholders, all with different leanings. This agility is what drives momentum today. So, what are the next steps, and how can you meet those challenges to advance the sale? We've got a few ideas. Don't have time to read through it? Click here to skip right to the infographic. Top Sales Challenges of 2019 1. It's more difficult than ever to build the case for change. The Challenge: We asked sales professionals what challenges their buyers face when making a purchasing decision. The most popular response, at 22%, was "building a case for change." The customer's business often has a deep, seemingly immovable anchor in the status quo. The reason: Businesses today must work harder and faster to simply maintain the current level of performance. Many leaders view change as a dangerous interruption to their acceleration. Those who are considering change, however, are overwhelmed by the complexity of the process. This trend explains why 21% of respondents cited "comparing their options" as another key challenge deterring customers. The Solution: Helping the customer build the case for change starts by identifying the elements of change with the customer's business. These elements include things like the customer's strategy, the core issue, desired outcomes, solution options, and perceptions of value and risk. The sales professional must understand which of these elements support the case for change and which ones are in opposition. Then, the salesperson must shape each of these elements in a way that advances the sale. At the same time, sales professionals can help stakeholders compare their options by influencing how the customers perceive differences between the solution and the competitor's offering. Doing so means linking the solution capabilities to nuanced business needs. 2. Gaining appointments remains a challenge when prospecting. The Challenge: Capturing the prospect's attention is difficult. Internal priorities and shifting economic conditions compete for the stakeholder's time. As a result, 14% of survey respondents indicated that gaining appointments is the biggest challenge they face in their prospecting efforts. The second and third highest responses of "getting to the right stakeholder" and "maintaining a consistent cadence of contact across multiple channels" illustrate the fractured nature of selling in today's market. Sales professionals not only need to get the customer's attention, but they must also organize the group and get them to focus on the solution at hand. This task often requires difficult logistical moves like aligning schedules. Each decision maker represents an individualized need and they have their own definition of the problem. The Solution: According to an ATKearney review of more than 1,600 B2B sales professionals, "accelerated commoditization and substitution" has made it easier for customers to circumvent the sales professional. Sales professionals can work to overcome this challenge by initiating the conversation with a "hinge." A hinge is any issue that's specific to the customer's industry or company. For example, a recent acquisition or new regulation are both examples of hinges. After identifying the hinge, sales professionals can cite a challenge associated with the event and suggest a course of action supported by the solution's capabilities. This approach culminates with a cited benefit to the customer and a request for an appointment. Using a hinge works because it is simplified messaging that's easy for a customer to absorb during a busy day. 3. An unpredictable market is driving uncertainty. The Challenge: The sales professionals we surveyed indicated that customers have become more sensitive to risk. Some data support this sentiment, with Deutsche Bank reporting that business cycles are likely to shrink in the coming years. Additional research from ATKearney echoes this finding, which reports that "about two-thirds of companies have a strategy horizon of four years or less." As one sales professional in our study remarked, some customers have already experienced "reduced income and related budget cuts." Another sales professional noted the difficulty of selling in 2019 given customers' fear of "potential economic slowdowns." These characteristics of the market today mean that fewer customers are willing to buy, and those who are prepared to make a purchase will only do so with the utmost attention to risk and measurable benefits. The Solution: Sales professionals need to leverage a value proposition that addresses the risk and reward of making a change. Sales professionals shouldn't seek to eliminate all perceptions of risk among the stakeholders. Instead, they should normalize risk and remind customers that some amount of risk is necessary when engaging a solution. What's important is that the risks are calculated, understood, and outweighed by the expected benefits. It's often helpful for sales professionals to articulate how the same solution has served other customers facing similar challenges. Doing so offers a "proof of value" that helps the customer make the leap from what seems theoretical to something that is practical and real. The Bottom Line Effective sales professionals in 2019 will advance the sale by leveraging the right skills at the right time. They will become agile in their approach to numerous stakeholders who represent a host of opinions and interests. The hundreds of sales professionals who participated in our survey have made it clear that succeeding in 2019 will require the skills to: Help the customer build the case for change by understanding how factors like desired outcomes and solution options influence decisions. Gain the appointment by expressing knowledge about the specific challenges within a customer’s industry and ways in which the solution helps. Help the customer acclimate to a calculated level of risk that normalizes their growing sensitivity to economic fluctuations. For more insights, download the research, "Richardson's Annual 2019 Selling Challenges Study," from the Richardson website. 2019 Selling Challenges Infographic What are your sales challenges this year? Whatever you're facing, we hope these numbers remind you you're not alone and there's always a way forward. Read more »
  • 30 Sales Prospecting Email Templates Guaranteed to Start a Relationship
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    Yes, you read the title right -- I guarantee that these templates will get responses from prospects. No, this isn't an infomercial. And you're right that they won't work every time. But, compared to the overly sales-y prospecting email templates most salespeople are sending, I am confident that these will work better -- or your money back. To be eligible, just pay me one easy payment of $99.99 before reading the rest of this article. Any takers? No? Moving on ... Where Sales Prospecting Went Bad I'm not sure where sales prospecting went bad. I don't know what happened exactly. But I do have a theory. My theory is that someone applied some math to this whole prospecting sales funnel-y thing and realized that spam is actually a decent prospecting method. That's worth repeating -- to be clear, the majority of sales development reps (SDR) and inside salespeople seem to believe that spam is the most efficient prospecting method available to them. After all, why should SDRs spend time crafting 100 personalized emails when sending the same generic email to 1,000 people results in the same number of responses? But, I don't blame our SDRs or our salespeople. This sad state of affairs is fully the fault of sales leaders -- including myself. In our pursuit of short term productivity, we've become addicted to the efficiency that technology provides. Caught up in this technology obsession, we've neglected to teach junior sales professionals how to build relationships. Somewhere along the way, we became way too enamored with "Predictable Revenue." All of the critical lessons we used to teach from our dog-eared copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People were pushed aside to make time for analysis and review of funnel conversion metrics. Shame on us. While technology and metrics are extremely valuable sales tools, relationship skills are still what builds businesses. Whether sales leaders feel guilty or not for their role in the devolvement of prospecting, we're on the cusp of a sea change that will force us to challenge our email prospecting methods. Prospects are ignoring emails, and clicking the spam button. They're voting angrily with their mouse. They're giving us the virtual dial tone or the virtual door in our face. But, we can't hear or it or feel it through email, of course. It's like flipping the bird to the TV -- prospects can do it without fear or the guilt that comes from slamming a door in a salesperson's face And up until now, what have salespeople done in response? Send more email to more prospects, of course. When a message goes unanswered or gets flagged as spam, salespeople don't feel the rejection, so there's nothing to prompt reflection. They simply copy and paste another email, and click "send." It's too easy to just send more emails to more prospects. Avoid the "Send More Email" Approach But this "send more email" approach will not be sustainable long-term. Just like spammers destroyed Myspace, Twitter blocked automated following, and caller ID crushed the effectiveness of cold calling, cold email spamming from salespeople isn't going to work forever either -- even if the messages are personalized by algorithms and predicted to perform. What will happen? Ten percent response rates will become 6%, 6% will become 1%, and 1% will become zero eventually. So no matter how efficiently salespeople can guess (or trade) email addresses, schedule spam, or use technology to fake personalization, it eventually won't matter. It's a race to zero, no matter how you look at it. It's time to get back to the basics. Back to how salespeople used to sell when the only way to communicate required a face-to-face meeting or a seven-day postal wait time. Now, I'm not suggesting we start using snail mail or knocking on doors again. But we do need to get back to building relationships. Luckily, this isn't that hard. Of course, it does require more patience, curiosity, and a true interest in helping other people. But the extra effort is more than justified because -- even though most junior sales professionals won't believe it -- it actually scales. Relationships create compounding results for salespeople in the form of inbound leads, incoming calls, referrals, and repeat business, just like content creates compounding results for marketers in the form of monthly search traffic, growing social followings, bigger opt-in email lists and, ultimately, significantly more efficient permission-based funnels. To make it easier for salespeople to do this, I've taken some of those "how to win friends" lessons and baked them into email templates. While telephone and face-to-face meetings are the most effective ways to build relationships with people, both prospects and salespeople today seem to prefer email as the first touch. Therefore, email templates are the lingua franca of the modern SDR. Best Sales Email Templates 1. Congratulate them. Do your research. There is more information available about prospects today than at any other time in the history of selling. Visit your prospect's website, search Google, set up alerts, view LinkedIn to dig into their professional dossier, stop by Facebook to learn about their kids' or grandkids' favorite sports, look into trigger events, and append all this information to your contact records. Be creative with this approach. Figure out ways you can congratulate your prospects. Flattery works.   Hey [Prospect], Congratulations on your recent round of funding. What you are doing is going to impact the law profession in a major way. I look forward to seeing how you'll deploy your new resources to do it even faster. Regards, [Your name] 2. Boost their mission.   Hey [Prospect], Congratulations on your new role as VP Marketing. Based on your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you've done an amazing job developing your career at [company]. If there are ways I can help you get your message out to my network of [title of people they're trying to reach], please connect me with the right people. I'm a fan and I want to help. Do you have a PR or content person on your team? Regards, [Your name] Try this approach with CEOs. CEOs and business owners are usually the creators of their vision and the ones most involved with communicating it. 3. Provide immediate value. Find a way to provide some value up front, even if it's just your expertise. Just be careful not to be too critical in your first email. Starting with a compliment softens the blow of any criticism.   Hey [Prospect], Your website's design is absolutely brilliant. The visuals really enhance your message and the content compels action. I've forwarded it to a few of my contacts who I think could benefit from your services. When I was looking at your site, though, I noticed a mistake that you've made i.e., search engine optimization. It's a relatively simple fix. Would you like me to write it up so that you can share it with your web team? If this is a priority, I can also get on a call. Regards, [Your name] Providing immediate value for free is something that software companies have mastered through freemium business models, creating some of the fastest growing businesses ever. Free feature-limited or usage-limited software offers value before any money changes hands. If you're a service provider, partner with a software company that has a freemium model. For example, if you're an accountant, partner with Expensify to introduce free expense report tools. If you sell sales training services, recommend a product like HubSpot's free email tracking tool. As long as you are the person introducing free value, prospects will appreciate it. 4. Offer help. Remember, your goal in the initial email is to simply get a response. With this in mind, your offer of immediate help might not be related to your service. In fact, it might even be related to another service.   Hey [Prospect], Welcome to town. My family and I enjoyed a nice dinner at your new Sudbury location last month. I really enjoyed the scallops and risotto. I'll be back. I drove by your restaurant last night fairly late (I play indoor soccer at night ... I noticed that you were open, which is nice -- I'll be bringing the guys by for a beer after next week's practice. But, I thought you were closed at first glance. I saw a few people sitting at the bar, but the light in front of the restaurant was really dim. This isn't my area of expertise, but I know a good sign guy. Would you like an intro? Regards, [Your name] 5. Compliment them. You could give cash away to your prospects. That might get their attention. Or you can offer what this study says people appreciate just as much as cash -- a compliment.   Hey [Prospect], Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the world. I love your wit and humor. I find myself nodding in agreement with your advice as I'm laughing out loud. Your article the other day with the three email templates really inspired me. I forwarded to a few of my clients. One of them has really been struggling to connect with key prospects and we've implemented your advice. A prospect they've been trying to reach for a year now responded within an hour. Would you like to see how my client applied your advice? Best, [Your name] 6. Build rapport using common interests. Warning: Don't be creepy. Salespeople of yesteryear could get away with walking into a buyer's office, noticing the photo of the prospect's grandchildren, and remarking, "You have a beautiful family." Today, the framed picture of decades past has become the digital photos on Facebook. Salespeople should certainly incorporate Facebook into their research. But that doesn't mean you should open with "How was your grandkids' soccer practice on Sunday?" That'll compel a prospect to issue a restraining order, not email you back. Instead, start with the safe stuff like common personal interests.   Hey [Prospect], Was browsing through LinkedIn. Looks like you and I are both in [industry] and we're both snowboarding fans. Have you ever dreamed of having an industry conference at a ski resort? I have. Have you gotten out this year? I got out to Loon last month. The powder was amazing. Regards, [Your name] 7. Talk to lower-level employees. While there's lots of information online, nothing beats insight gleaned from someone who knows your buyer. This is especially critical if you sell to finance, IT, or other back-office professionals since it's difficult to inspect or observe how they do their jobs from an external vantage point. The trick to this one is that you have to go into conversations with employees with the intention of gathering intelligence. Every company has customer-facing employees. Start with your prospect's salespeople. They will probably answer their phone and as peers, they know and may empathize with your struggle. They might also have a vested interest in their company investing in your solution.   Hey [Prospect], Your salespeople seem to be struggling with acquiring new clients according to an informal survey I did. [Name #1], [Name #2], and [Name #3] seem to all be struggling with acquiring new clients as you've grown the team. Specifically, they are struggling to initiate a dialogue with prospects like they used to. Is it a priority for you to improve their ability to put new opportunities in the funnel? Regards, [Your name] Another great source of information is past employees. I've interviewed hundreds of people with one foot out the door. Usually, they're careful not to bash their current company when interviewing for a new one, for fear of giving the impression that they are an excuse-maker. But after they leave, they are a lot more willing to speak freely about the issues at their last company. 8. Talk to your prospect's customers. Your prospect's customers and partners are great sources of intelligence. Look at your prospect's case study page if they have one, or check out reviews about them online.   Hey [Prospect], Two of your customers had excellent things to say about you: [Company #1] and [Company #2]. Your software has had a huge impact on the growth of their businesses. How could I learn more about how your team pulls this off? Regards, [Your name] Most likely, you'll find positive stuff. But, if you talk to a disgruntled or unsuccessful customer, use that information too. 9. Talk to your prospect's vendors. Vendors are another resource to learn about a company. Trusted service providers are in a great position to refer you. Not only do they know how your prospect buys things -- they can make introductions.   Hey [Prospect], Your commercial real estate broker, [name], suggested I reach out to you. Someone in your organization told them conference room booking is a real challenge. Everything is always booked -- even when people aren't in the room. This is an easy fix if you're interested in solving this problem once and for all. Interested? Best, [Your name] Make sure you get permission to use names when referencing vendors. The last thing you want to do is get your referral partner fired. Ask, "Would you mind if I email [Prospect] and say that you suggested we talked?" Then, you're free to write, "[Vendor] asked me to email you to see if I could help." Or just call and start off with "I was talking to [Vendor], and … " 10. Talk to friends (and strangers). While not always good advice (especially for children), talking to strangers is a smart idea too. Whether they're friends, acquaintances, or folks on the fringe, talking to people outside your universe can lead to great connections to prospects. A quick story. My family and I moved to a new house in May. We've become good friends with neighbors down the street. The husband owns his own business that is way out of my wheelhouse: hydrokinetic energy production. Nonetheless, I asked him who his target VCs were. After a quick LinkedIn search, I noticed that a HubSpot partner I know knows the managing partner of one of my neighbor's target VC firms. A few emails later, the connection was made. While I have no experience with hydrokinetic energy production, that didn't prevent me from making a valuable connection. Everyone you meet is like me: They know people who know people.   Hey [Prospect], My friend, [name], told me that you'd be willing to meet up with me to discuss my business and see if we might work together. I reviewed your website and am particularly interested in learning more about your [service]. Do you have time in the near future? Here's a link to my calendar to make scheduling easier. Regards, [Your name] Make sure you make connections for your friends too. Givers gain. 11. Respond to content your prospects publish. Pay attention to what your prospects are publishing online. They are sharing massive clues about their current initiatives that provide great openings for dialogue. Here's an email I wrote up for an SDR from RingCentral who asked for some advice:   Hey Jeetandra, Your CEO posted an article about expanding globally which speaks highly of the work you're doing. Judging from a quick LinkedIn search, I can see you're the guy who is probably making that happen. Congrats on the success. I know it's hard to duplicate the success of the home office. Usually, managing directors are involved with setting budgets and are under pressure from CFOs to minimize startup cost. I'm an expert at helping companies minimize these types of expenses. I talk to people like you all day. Would you be interested in a checklist of ways to reduce expenses? Regards, [Your name] www.ringcentral.com Global Office Consultant 12. Send your company's content. For every title or persona that can influence your sale, have content on hand that addresses their specific challenges.   Hey [Prospect], Your blog article about [topic] was excellent. Your ebook on the topic was even better. The part about [section] was amazing because [reason]. But, I had to click around your website quite a bit to find the ebook. Have you ever thought about putting a call to action on the blog post that encourages visitors to download your whitepaper on the same subject? Here's an article on how and why to do this: [link] Let me know what you think, [Your name] 13. Send other people's content. Don't only send your content. Prospects will be less suspect of your intentions if you send other people's or other companies' content that could be helpful for their situation.   Hey [Prospect], Congrats on closing your seed funding. That means you're probably starting to think about how you'll raise your A round. Other founders report that it's 100x easier to raise money if they've already figured out how to profitably acquire customers. I've found that David Skok's articles on unit economics are an amazing resource to help with that. Here's one: http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/ Have you read them? Regards, [Your name] 14. Publish original content. For the last few years, I've regularly asked my young son, "How do you get better at things?" Without hesitation, he now says "practice." Not every salesperson is a natural writer, but I'd highly recommend they all start practicing. Why should salespeople write? Prospects willingly talk to critical-thinking, problem-solving, effective salespeople if they have experience relevant to the prospect's world. So, write about your daily experiences helping prospects. Share your wisdom. While publishing content to your company website is the smartest channel for your organization, it's only good for you if you're able to track which of your prospects reads your posts. If you don't have marketing automation software in place that tells you when your prospects are visiting your website, publish to LinkedIn Pulse instead. As long as your 1st and 2nd-degree network consists of prospects, there is a chance they'll read what you post. When they like, comment on, or share something you wrote, start a dialogue by using a variation on the template below:   [Prospect], Yesterday, you liked my article on Linkedin Pulse. What did you like about it? [Your name] The really great thing about content is that it keeps on talking with prospects even when you're sleeping, exercising, or eating. It works around the clock for you. Every other prospecting method is ephemeral (especially email). Imagine what salespeople could do if we combined the staying power of relationships with the lasting power of content. 15. Monitor who views your LinkedIn profile. Even if you're not publishing much, monitor who visits your profile, and steal this template from Rick Roberge:   [Prospect], Looks like you visited my LinkedIn profile the other day. Did I do something wrong? [Your name] If you're doing research before picking up the phone, you're probably looking at your prospects' LinkedIn profiles anyways. Click around and view a bunch of their employees' profiles. Connect with them and use any of the templates in this article to start a conversation. Lower-level and customer-facing employees are a bit more likely to accept your connection, respond to you, or just check out your profile in return. As soon as they do, use the line above. 16. Put their name in lights. If you are publishing content, ask for feedback on your drafts. You can also ask prospects for quotes to add to your article.   [Prospect], Thanks for connecting with me on LinkedIn. From looking at your impressive career advancement from salesperson to sales director in just five years, I'm guessing you have some really valuable advice. I read a few of your testimonials and I noticed that many of them said you put people first. Many of them said that you always drop what you're doing to listen to the concerns and ideas of your front line salespeople. Would you be willing to contribute to an article I'm writing on that subject? Regards, [Your name] 17. Ask for advice. Most people like to give advice. Asking for advice appeals to their ego. (See the "esteem stage" of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In the age of social media, many of us get stuck at the esteem stage on our path towards "self-actualization.") Psychology 101 aside, asking for advice is a hard request for most of us to resist.   [Prospect], From your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you've been working in aerospace for 20 years. I'm guessing you've been involved in many engineering advancements over the years. I'm only two years into the aerospace industry. So, I lack some of the historical context I imagine you have. I'm working on a new product for creep-feed grinding of titanium aerospace blades. If I confidentially shared some of my findings, would you be willing to give me feedback? Regards, [Your name] P.S. I have a patent in my name for a method of creep-feed grinding of titanium aerospace blades. (Just in case you want to appeal to my ego ... 18. Ask for a recommendation. People also like to help other people, if it's not too difficult. For example, most people hold the door for others. It takes an extra second to hold the door, but it's not that big a deal and it feels right. The same logic applies when asking for recommendations. If you or your company are in the market for a service, make it a habit to ask your prospects for recommendations. It's another excuse to connect with people, and helping you will make them feel good.   [Prospect], A colleague of mine is investigating solutions for predictive lead scoring. I've been following you online for a bit. As an expert at sales, I'm wondering if you have any experience with any platforms or know anyone that does? [Your name] Make your request easy to oblige. Also, don't take this approach this unless you're really looking for a recommendation. Be genuine. 19. Offer an introduction. I recently posted a request for introductions on LinkedIn. Both Kim Cole and Carole Mahoney offered fantastic introductions in messages like the one below. Thanks, Kim and Carole.   [Prospect], On LinkedIn, you posted a request for introductions to salespeople who successfully practice social selling. I have a few that I could recommend. Would you like an introduction over email? [Your name] There are now 59 comments on that thread. Clearly, asking for introductions is also an effective method of connecting. 20. Seek referrals. Everyone with a quota should be part of a networking group. If you sell to SMBs, join a BNI group. If you sell to bigger companies, join a group (or start one) of professionals who sell to your target market. Asking people for referrals is a smart first interaction. Try reaching out to other sales professionals like this.   [Referral partner], It looks like we both sell to CIOs in the Boston area. I meet with a handful of successful salespeople every week to talk about accounts, and we help each other with introductions to prospects. In some months, my networking group books me more meetings than my SDR. Would you be interested in meeting for coffee to talk about how we might be able to help each other? [Your name] 21. Reference a common connection. Once you've developed trusting relationships with other professionals, ask them if it's okay to drop their name when connecting with their contacts. You might even ask them for a list of people that they recommend you reach out to.   [Prospect], Our mutual contact, [referral partner], and I were having a conversation the other day about experts at [topic]. You were the person who came to their mind immediately. I'm writing an article about [topic]. Would you be willing to review it? [Your name] 22. Respond to social media posts. Salespeople should use social media monitoring to watch what their prospects are saying online. Identifying opportunities for engagement with your right-fit prospects is easy with the right technology.   [Prospect], Your article about your marketing program was very well-written. Great job ensuring that your sponsorship dollars reached your target market. I left a comment on the article as it reminded me of [company X's] program. Do you see the similarities? [Your name] 23. Run a custom analysis. Depending on what you sell, it might be difficult for you to evaluate your prospect's situation. But, if you can evaluate it, do so and send them the results.   [Prospect], I used some software to evaluate the search rankings of the top 50 B2B accounting firms in the Boston area. Although your firm ranks in the top 25 according to the Business Journal, your search rankings are worse than the top 40. Would you like to view the report? [Your name] Chances are you don't sell marketing services. If you do, steal this approach. If you don't, try to find something you can analyze that your ideal buyer will care about. 24. Provide insights. According to Mike Schultz, author of Insight Selling, "Educating buyers not only shares the seller's expertise, but it also demonstrates the seller's willingness to collaborate with the buyer."   [Prospect], Looks like you started a blog, but have stopped publishing. Often times, companies stop prioritizing blogging when results don't come immediately. But did you know that companies that blog regularly generate 67% more leads than those that don't? [Your name] 25. Ask them what they want to learn from peers. Marketers use surveys as ways to gather proprietary data. It seems like I see a new one every week. They're clearly getting respondents. Salespeople should borrow this playbook. Engaging prospects in the design of the survey will ensure the results are interesting for the ideal buyer profile. This is also a perfect excuse to reach out, which can initiate a dialogue.   [Prospect], You look like you have an impressive amount of experience doing X. I'm designing a survey and will be asking 100 people with similar experiences in [role] and [industry] about their thoughts on Y. If you had the opportunity to ask any question of 100 peers, what would you ask? [Your name] 26. Invite them to participate in market research. Once a sales and/or marketing team creates a survey, salespeople can ask prospects to take it.   [Prospect], Thank you for your assistance in designing this survey. Will you take the survey now that it's ready? It's five questions long and should take you five minutes. As soon as we have 100 respondents, I'll send you the preliminary results. [Your name] The great part about surveys is that you can ask tough questions about challenges and goals. It's hard to do that on a phone call right away. Don't forget to sync your survey software with your CRM and marketing automation software so you can see the responses and use them to customize your future sales and marketing touches to each contact's context. 27. Get their opinion. Ask your prospects about what they think about something. Many people can't resist sharing their opinion.   [Prospect], Looks like your marketing efforts support a pretty big sales team. At HubSpot, we recently completed a survey of B2B buyers. We asked them to give one word that best describes salespeople. The most popular answer by far was "pushy." Do you agree or disagree with this? Do you think your buyers think your salespeople are too pushy? Do you think this reduces the effectiveness of your marketing? Regards, [Your name] 28. Ask them if they want access to market research. Once you've completed market research, use it in your prospecting. Start by asking if they are interested in reviewing it.   [Prospect], Your quarterly report shows an impressive growth rate, especially at your scale. Fast growth companies like yours usually dedicate significant resources towards recruiting. We have some market research that shows how companies allocate resources to different parts of the recruiting process. Would you be interested in seeing the report, so you can benchmark yourself? Regards, [Your name] 29. Ask if you've got the right person. People have a natural tendency to want to help others. Make the most of that and send an outreach email that asks, "Could you help me get in touch with the right person?"   [Prospect], I'm trying to reach the person who's in charge of implementing marketing software at your company. I've helped businesses like yours increase marketing qualified leads by as much as 25%. Could you help me get in touch with the right person? Thanks for your time, [Your name] 30. Congratulate the new hire. Sales expert Jeff Hoffman recommends keeping track of when a prospective company onboards a new hire. Then, send an email congratulating them on their new position. "New hires are often treated like a guest visiting Grandma's house," Hoffman explains. "They aren't challenged as much as veteran employees, so you can make bold demands through them."   [Prospect], Congrats on your new role with XYC Recruiting. I work with [Your company name] helping teams like yours increase employee retention by up to 35%. I'd love to talk with you about how your company could achieve the same results -- and help you make a splash in your first few months. Here's a link to my calendar, if you'd like to book some time: [Calendar link] Regards, [Your name] How to Write a Sales Prospecting Letter That Gets a Response These templates use a relatively simple set of guidelines. As you implement the approaches shared above, use these guidelines to customize your templates: Research the prospect and their business, and have an idea of how you can help them before reaching out. Grab prospects' attention with an interesting subject line. Personalize your emails. Start messages with something about the prospect. Use "you" whenever possible. Use "I" and "We" sparingly. Put the value proposition away. Share it only when it aligns with the prospect's needs. Don't try to book a phone call in your initial email. Only "in-market" prospects will… Read more »
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