• This Blog Is Inactive!

    On of May 8, 2009, I moved my blog over to a new domain: DaveSteinsBlog.ESResearch.com

    I will no longer be posting on this URL. Comments will not be moderated. More information.

  • ESR’s STVG

    Here is ESR's highly acclaimed Sales Training Vendor Guide, Third Edition.

Selling Through The Slump: An eBook

I was asked by my friend Charlie Green representing The Customer Collective to contribute to an e-book that was just published. I recommend that you download it, read it and use it.

Selling Through A Slump: An Industry-by-Industry Playbook

A Guide by Salespeople for Salespeople on How to Sell Your Way to Recovery

Download this Free eBook

Selling in a recession is tough. And simply doing more of the same is not the way to survive, much less thrive, in a recession. There are important dos and don’ts in times like these. This eBook is your industry-specific roadmap out of the economic slump.

Selling through a Slump: An Industry-by-Industry Playbook brings together sales strategies and best practices from 11 top sales experts from 11 distinct vertical market sectors, ranging from retail to health care to telecom—because one size doesn’t always fit all. The practical tips and experience-based wisdom here aren’t just limited to any single industry, though. Regardless of your market sector, you’re bound to find value in this arsenal of great sales ideas.

Get access to exclusive tips on how to sell in a recessionary market, from renowned
sales experts like Jill Konrath, Charles Green, and Dave Stein. We know you’ve
got questions—this eBook was created to give you answers.

Click here for valuable sales strategies from experts in every industry:



Charles Green, Founder and CEO, Trusted Advisor Associates
Selling for Accountants and Consultants



Mike Wise, VP, Insurance Technologies, IdeaStar Incorporated
Selling for Insurance Agent


John Caddell, Caddell Insight Group

Selling in Telecommunications Markets


Skip Anderson, Founder, Selling to Consumers Sales Training

Selling for Retailers


Mike Kujawski, Founder,

Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

Selling to Public Sector Clients


Matt Homann, Founder, LexThink LLC

Selling for Lawyers


Anne Miller, Founder, Chiron Associates Selling Media


Dave Brock, President and CEO,

Partners in EXCELLENCE
Selling to Manufacturers


Jill Konrath, Author, Selling to Big Companies

Selling in Services


Anneke Seley, Founder and CEO, PhoneWorks LLC
Selling in Health Care


Click Here to Download

(A simple registration is required)

Brought to you by The Customer Collective and Oracle CRM. Welcome to the conversation.

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ESR’s Sales Training Vendor Guide Published Today

ESR’s Sales Training Vendor Guide: Third Edition was published this morning.

The Guide analyzes, compares, and contrasts 23 leading sales training providers across many areas including:

  • Solutions Range
  • Range of Target Companies
  • Range of Target Audiences
  • Range of Training Programs
  • Adaptability
  • Range of Instructional Aids & Tools
  • Quality of Instructional Design
  • Measurement Programs
  • Post-training Reinforcement
  • Supporting Technology
  • Yield Growth
  • Return-On-Training (ROT)
  • Utilization among sales teams
  • Ease of Learning/Adoption

The Guide weighs in at more than 150 pages with 40 graphs and charts.

Based upon pre-publication sales, I believe this edition of the Guide is going to be the most widely appreciated and used to date.

You can learn more and order here.

Strategy 18: Become An Expert At Competitive Positioning

Hey, I have a proposition for you.

I had a really bad experience with Dearborn Trade Press (now Kaplan Financial Publishing) with my book, How Winners Sell, Second Edition. It’s no longer in print, although companies seem to be able to find copies somehow when I come in to present at their sales kick-offs and other events.  (I will write about the whole nasty Kaplan situation one day.  In the meantime, anyone considering publishing with Kaplan needs to give me a call.)

I was thinking about putting How Winners Sell up on Amazon’s Kindle. After a long, long effort, I finally got the rights back.  I wrote the Second Edition in 2004, but most of it is still very relevant.

The proposition.  Here is a free chapter.  All I ask is if you get some value from it and are interested in reading the whole book on either the Kindle or an e-Book format, let me know.  I may decide to republish it.


Strategy 18: Become an Expert at Competitive Positioning

I don’t know about you, but I get a big thrill when I watch a high-integrity, seasoned sales pro competitively position his company and offering. It may happen during a presentation or during a sales call as objections are raised by the buyer.

When you think about it competitive positioning begins when you formulate your strategy. From that point onward, your messaging, talking points and objection handling are driven off the same thing—the unique value you can provide to your client.

Here are some examples of how winners I’ve worked with masterfully handle competitive positioning:

Situation 1: Selling Against Goliath

If you sell for a smaller company that competes against the big guys, the age-old story of David and Goliath might come to mind. In this story, the giant, Goliath, was beaten in a fight by the small boy, David. I often see “Goliaths” beaten, but it takes flawless execution of a well-designed plan.

The most important thing of all when selling against a much bigger competitor is to be certain that if you meet or exceed all the prospect’s requirements, that size—for size’s sake—does not matter. That’s an issue of qualification. You may have the best product, innovative service capabilities, committed people, stellar customer satisfaction levels, top product quality, most respected investors or anything else that you consider of value, but if size matters, little else will measure up. And if size does matter, and you can’t convince your prospect fairly quickly that it shouldn’t, you need to get out of there—and quickly on to another opportunity. Know your prospect’s history regarding doing business with smaller companies. It may mean nothing to them, since they do it all the time. On the other hand, you may be the first and may have a long, bumpy road ahead.

What all this means is that there are certain opportunities for which you should not compete, because you can’t win them. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

Now What Do You Do?

You’re going to need to influence your prospect’s decision criteria, so that the perceived value of your competitor’s size as well as other size-related capabilities are diluted, neutralized or, in the best case, seen as a disadvantage. Many salespeople are accustomed to highlighting a competitor’s weaknesses. In the situations where you are competing against a bigger company, you will (professionally and subtly) dilute their strength.

Here is a simple, well-proven example. Let’s say I sell for a smaller professional services firm and I am up against a major player. Based upon preferences and needs of the buyers, I may decide to use the “small-fish-in-a-big-pond” approach.

It goes like this: “Ms. Prospect. There are few people who would not be impressed by my competitor’s size, global reach and financial as well has human resources. I’m sure they proudly reference some very prominent customers. However, you might consider that a project such as yours, although highly critical for you, might very well not have the same level of importance for them and therefore may not generate the ongoing attention within executive levels of their company that their premier customers’ projects would. It’s only natural…”

From that point, you would discuss how you would meet their technical requirements and establish a business relationship going forward, stressing attention that would be paid to the progress by your executives. You’d convince them that your company’s success would depend directly on their success, not the other way around. You’ll be portraying them as big fish in a small pond, with the driving message being how important their business is to you.

If you are effective with this approach, you will have moved down in importance the size and impressiveness of their customer list and up in importance the attention paid to them by your executives as well as your company’s interest in their success.

Here are challenges you might face in a David and Goliath situation and some alternatives to consider: Continue reading

Hope Is Not A Strategy, But It Can Make All The Difference

“Having hope,” writes Daniel Goleman in his  study of emotional intelligence, “means that one will not  give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or  depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.”

Rick Page is right.  Hope isn’t a strategy.   Profound words.  Hope doesn’t replace the comprehensive and objective assessment of a selling situation, the planning, the execution, or the hard work.  But hope is a source of energy upon which you can, under significant adverse circumstances, jump out of bed and face the day, a tough deal, a busines challenge, or a personal obstacle.

Abraham Lincoln said that hope is “more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right”; it is “believing you have the will and the way to  accomplish your goals.”

Ain’t nothin’ the matter with that kind of hope.

Quotes are excerpted from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Genius of Abraham Lincoln

A New Look At That Old Sales Capability: Empathy

We’ve always listed empathy as a required trait for salespeople.  In a Sales 101 application, empathy is the salesperson’s ability to understand the customer’s situation from the customer’s perspective.  Nothing new here.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, in her wonderful book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, provides us with another, very powerful reason why empathy is critical for effective selling, but this time it’s not Sales 101 stuff.  This application of empathy applies to advanced selling, and I got the chills when I first read this description of how Lincoln applied his empathetic capabilities to competitive strategy:

Though Lincoln’s empathy was at the root of his melancholy, it would prove an enormous asset to his political career. “His crowning gift of political diagnosis,” suggested Nicolay, “was due to his sympathy…which gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” She described how, after listening to his colleagues talk at a Whig Party caucus, Lincoln would cast off his shawl, rise from his chair, and say: “From your talk, I gather the Democrats will do so and so…I should do so and so to checkmate them.” He proceeded to outline all “the moves for days ahead; making them all so plain that his listeners wondered why they had not seen it that way themselves.” Such capacity to intuit the inward feelings and intentions of others would be manifest throughout his career.

The best salespeople use empathy in this way to win deals.  Do yours?  Why not?  What are you going to do about it?

© Norberto Lauria – Fotolia.com

Trust

I’ve been very critical of sales tips during the past six months.  My column in Sales and Marketing Management Magazine about it as well.

The simple reason is that sales tips keep salespeople and their managers focused on tactics and shortcuts rather than investing the time and effort required for planning and executing a strategic approach to sales performance improvement.

When we interview high-performing salespeople, what we consistently find is their success comes as much from who they are as what they do.  The foundation of their Personal Capital—a rep’s unique customer-valued amalgam of skills, experience, contacts and knowledge—is their customers’ trust in them.   And with respect to the companies for which those top performers work—integrity is consistently the number one or number two attribute sales people must possess.

When it comes to the subject of trust in selling there is no better source of knowledge, insight and practical advice than Charlie Green.  His wonderful book, Trust-Based Selling, is one every sales manager should read.  But let me warn you.  This isn’t a typical sales tips book to be skill-skimmed or speed-read.

Trust-Based Selling can be a key component of a strategic initiative to upgrade the quality and resulting performance of the individuals on your sales team.  Once you read this book, I don’t believe you’ll look at the subject of trust in selling in the same way ever again.

Photo credit: © Lisa F. Young – Fotolia.com

Let’s Get Real Or Let’s Not Play

Last July I was honored to be sent a final draft of Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig’s revised and expanded edition of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play.

Mahan and Randy are key members of FranklinCovey’s sales performance practice.  (Here is a podcast interview I did with Mahan.)

What is immediately significant about this book is its extreme richness—the product of four concurrent layers of considerable substance.

First, and perhaps the most important, is the underlying, immutable philosophy of seeking and handling the truth—the truth about our clients, our solutions, our sales opportunities, and the truth about ourselves.

The next layer is methodology. This is not like many books about selling, which are compendia of random tips and tricks. Here Mahan and Randy lay out the case for process and then employ one of their own to transport us efficiently through their content.

Then the “What you have to do” is layered throughout—clear, unambiguous guidance that takes us through the most difficult challenges we face as sellers.

Finally, the “How”—the words your client will say and how you might respond, powerful graphics that represent new concepts, and detailed checklists are examples.

Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play isn’t for the casual, opportunistic skill-and tip-skimmer who PLAYS at sales. It’s for those who need to get REAL about selling.

I highly recommend this book.