10 Sales Tips You Can Use Right Now to Close Out 2015 Strong
Written by Emma Snider
Have you made your annual number yet? If the answer is “no,” I apologize for reminding
you (although let’s be honest — it’s probably all you’re thinking about).
The year is winding down, and reps are readying themselves for the final sprint. If you
have a ways to go to hit your quota, you’re likely prospecting, presenting, qualifying, and
negotiating like crazy. But to finish the year strong, you might need to pull a few new
tricks out of your sleeve.
Need some inspiration? Check out the following infographic from Sandler
Training listing 10 tactics that can help sales reps meet (and beat) their yearly quotas.
Implement a few of these techniques today so you can ring in the New Year content
with the knowledge that you crushed 2015.
8 Traditional Sales “Tricks”: What Works and What Flops
Written by Art Sobczak
I’m amused by the articles I see written by non-salespeople warning about the secrets and
“tricks” that are used to supposedly manipulate people into forking over their money.
It’s as if we belong to this underground society and have powers that hypnotize helpless
customers. If it were that easy a lot more people would be hitting quota, right?
Actually though, most of these articles do have merit. They point out the proven influence and
persuasion principles that great salespeople, marketers, negotiators, teachers, parents, or anyone
in a position of influence uses (or should use).
What the writers normally don’t get is that real sales pros aim to help people by using these
techniques, not to deceive them.
Someone sent me the link to one of these articles the other day. Let’s look at eight of the “tricks”
the author warns his readers about.
In his article, the author relays a “trick” told to him by a top car salesperson: Telling a female
buyer that the color of a car matches her eyes.
Well, as cheesy as that might seem, flattery is proven to work. In his classic book, Influence, Dr.
Robert Cialdini conducted studies proving that even in situations where the test subject knew the
flattery was bogus, they still felt good about it afterward.
Here’s a mild version of it on the phone: Instead of the tired “How are you today?” question, try
telling your prospect that they sound like they are having a good day.
Here’s how I use this in my own sales practice: Whenever a prospective training client of mine
tells me they are doing well and beating quota I always congratulate him or her on what a good
job they must be doing.
2) Manufactured Scarcity
The article says, “If you can create the notion that a product or deal is scarce or limited, you
create a sense of urgency that will spur the customer to buy.”
Again, true, and proven. If you have a limited-time offer, closeout items, or anything that will
expire, point that out to create urgency.
3) Marking Down the Markup
This is an example I see all the time at my local grocery store. They will mark up the baby back
ribs to around $8 a pound, and then hold a “two for one” sale.
This is the one trick on this list that I consider a ploy. I personally think is insulting and suggest
The writer uses the example of a furniture store taking a core item, like a bed, and surrounding it
with other items that would be in a bedroom with the intention of getting you to buy other items.
Yes, hello, it’s cross-selling, and it’s very effective.
And it’s not a trick — it’s helpful for customers. For example, if someone is buying a tablet,
perhaps they might want an extra power cord, since people like me tend to leave them in hotel
rooms, or just plain lose them.
A good rule of thumb: The best time to increase the size of a sale is when someone is already
5) Making a House Feel Like a Home
The article cites the real estate examples of baking cookies to create a homey aroma, wetting the
grass to make it shine, and putting on mood music.
That’s a trick? I don’t think so! If we have something to sell, don’t we want to make it as
attractive as possible?
6) The Emotional Play
This “trick” — are you sitting down? — says that salespeople try to appeal to your emotions so
that you will feel good about a possible purchase and have that feeling override any rational
That right there is the goal of any sales conversation.
Of course our job is to get someone to picture themselves already owning, using, and enjoying
the results of our products and services. The more skilled you are at this, the more successful you
7) Making the Buyer Feel Obligated
The author gives examples of car dealers or stores giving you cookies or sodas, since “we’re
kind of prewired to have a sense of reciprocity, and it takes the smallest amount of niceness on
the part of a salesperson to make you feel obligated to buy.”
Yes, most definitely. Reciprocity is another proven principle of influence that Cialdini covers in
his book. This is especially effective after a first sale, whereby providing extras to a client can
help create a more loyal customer.
This is making customers feel like they are members of some exclusive club. Is that such an
Absolutely not. If part of your value proposition is that you are unique, and especially if you are
the top choice in your space, by all means, play these facts up. Know anyone that owns a Harley?
You bet they are members of that club and proud of it.
So there you have eight sales “tricks.” But actually, for the most part they are sound principles of
persuasion that I suggest you research, refine, adapt, and implement to increase your own sales.
And helping people buy isn’t trickery at all.
7 Deal-Derailing Sales Presentation Pitfalls to Avoid [Infographic]
Written by Mike Renahan
There’s nothing worse than developing a healthy relationship with a prospect, and then
losing the deal because of a silly mistake. Unfortunately, this happens to a lot of reps —
often during the presentation stage of the process.
After you’ve taken the time to complete the initial research, qualify the prospect, and
define goals and challenges, it’s time to give a presentation that knocks them off their
But what does a great presentation look like? And perhaps more importantly, what does
a terrible presentation look like?
The Janek Performance Group recently put together an infographic explaining the most
common mistakes sales reps make during a presentation that result in a lost prospect.
Avoid the following seven pitfalls at all costs.
7 Sales Phrases that Will Supercharge Your Credibility with Buyers
Written by Dan Tyre
So, like, I’ve been a salesperson for years and, well, I’ve learned kind of a few things.
And today, I want to, um, share some of what I’ve learned with you — if that’s okay?
If you’re a salesperson and you speak like this, here’s a reality check: It is going to be
very, very hard to convince prospects to buy. No matter how much you know, if you
don’t speak like an authority figure, you’ll never be treated like one. And prospects don’t
buy from salespeople they don’t trust.
It’s not easy to build authority, especially if your prospects can’t see you. When
Leonardo DiCaprio wanted viewers to believe he was the Wolf of Wall Street, he had his
whole body to prove the point. But when an inside sales professional wants to establish
their authority over the phone, they need to use their voice tone and pacing to get the
What Not to Say
Unless you remove the following problematic soundbites from your vocabulary, you
won’t be able to fully achieve the authority you need.
1) Filler words
The opening sentences of this post are full of unnecessary filler words: “um,” “like,”
“well,” “maybe,” “I think.” Sales reps who use these words sound like hesitant amateurs,
so be very careful to avoid them.
2) Overly enthusiastic language
Part of a salesperson’s job is to stay positive. You can’t get upset or annoyed at yourself
if you want to stay productive, and you certainly can’t become frustrated with your
prospects. But you can overdo it — acting overly excited or eager makes you seem
juvenile. Words and phrases such as “awesome,” “cool,” and “oh my god!” should be
deployed sparingly. Overuse will make you sound like you’re back in high school, and
decrease the likelihood of prospects taking you seriously.
You never know who you might offend. In some fields, swearing is accepted (from
personal experience, I know the copier industry and Wall Street use colorful language),
but in most cases, it’s not. If you sense that your prospect is a bit more foul-mouthed
than average and you can get away with it, go right ahead.
Speaking like an authority figure doesn’t mean talking like a pretentious robot. Talk like
a businessperson, but don’t assume deep knowledge or expertise in your buyers’
7 Phrases That Make You Sound Like an Authority Figure
When you’re qualifying prospects, you’ll need to ask some variation of the eight
questions below to get the information you need. But there’s a good way and a bad way
to find out who a decision maker is. Phrase your qualification questions like so to
establish yourself as a credible authority.
1) “Tell me about your business pain.”
This is a question that gets to the heart of need. You don’t want your prospect to tell you
every little problem they have — you need to hear about the challenge that’s keeping
their CEO up at night. Ask a prospect what problems they’re having and they won’t
know what to say first. Ask them about pain and you’ve focused them on the one thing
that’s their biggest obstacle.
2) “What is your biggest inhibitor to growth?”
The phrase “inhibitor to growth” makes you sound like a college professor. It’s also the
natural follow-up to #1. You’ll gain even more authority if your prospect’s not sure and
you’re able to work with them to identify blockers.
3) “What type of return on investment are you looking for?”
With this question, you’re tossing the ball to your prospect and giving them an
opportunity to show off what they know. It’s also an easy way to ingratiate yourself with
results-minded individuals. Instead of asking a vague question about goals, find out
exactly what they expect to get back from the money they’d put toward buying your product.
4) “What do you know about [name of solution]?”
Ask this question if your product is fairly differentiated and affiliated with a certain
business philosophy. For example, a HubSpot sales rep would ask prospects if they
were familiar with inbound marketing or inbound sales.
Like #2 and #3, this question plays double duty — it’s a gracious statement that allows
your prospect to share their knowledge, but it also shows you exactly how much your
prospect knows and reveals how much you’ll need to educate them.
5) “Do we need an executive sponsor?”
In B2B sales, an executive sponsor is a high-level employee on the seller’s side who
can provide guidance, expertise, or education to buyers. I’ve offered an executive
sponsor to prospects hundreds of times — but have only been called on to deliver one
once or twice. Letting prospects know early on that this is an option available to them
makes them feel taken care of.
6) “Let’s talk about the implementation process.”
This statement lends itself to walking through a methodology. It demonstrates to
prospects that you have an orderly onboarding process in place and that you’re not
about to haphazardly slap something together.
7) “Who besides yourself on the senior management/executive team is interested in this?”
Asking a prospect flat-out if they’re a decision maker is rude and condescending. Your
prospect may not be anywhere near the senior management team. However, this
phrasing flatters the prospect while simultaneously uncovering exactly whose sign-off
you’ll need to get.
As a salesperson, the only two things you can control in your job are how you spend
your time and how you communicate with prospects. Be highly deliberate about the
words you say so you’re able to command any prospect conversation.
5 Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques You Should Be Using
Written by Matthew Cook
Though many salespeople despise prospecting, it’s an important part of sales.
Unfortunately, the majority of reps use ineffective and outdated sales prospecting
techniques, instead of the effective practices that could actually lead to a higher volume
of better qualified leads (and make them more partial to prospecting).
Just like every other aspect of the sales process, you need to put in the effort and focus
required. This is the only way to prospect efficiently so that you don’t waste your time on
unqualified leads that aren’t suited for your product or service.
Use these five modern sales prospecting techniques to help you better find leads who
you can serve, engage, and eventually, convert to customers.
1) Make warm calls.
Your initial contact with new prospects doesn’t have to be — and in fact, shouldn’t be —
completely cold. It can be incredibly useful to warm up your prospects before making
the initial contact. You can increase your chances of a warmer reception by familiarizing
the prospect with your name or your company affiliation before you make your first call
or send your first email. A few ideas as to how to achieve this: get introduced by a
shared connection, comment on a piece of content the buyer shared on social media, or
“like” a status update or job change announcement on LinkedIn.
2) Become a thought
By establishing yourself as a thought leader or subject matter expert in your industry,
you can establish your credibility and trust before reaching out to new prospects. Ways
to establish yourself as a thought leader include starting a blog, writing guest articles for
industry publications, and speaking at trade shows and conferences. This also helps
you familiarize your leads with your name before the initial contact, which was
discussed in the first technique.
3) Be a trusted resource.
To be successful as a salesperson, you have to do more than sell. You have to be your
clients’ go-to person and support them after you’ve closed the sale. By changing your
position from salesperson of products and services to a provider of solutions, you can
increase your chance of getting referrals from happy customers. Draw on these referrals
when it comes time for you to introduce yourself to a new prospect. When you become
a resource for your clients, before and after the sale, they’ll remember your help and will
be willing to help you in return.
4) Reference a script.
For new salespeople, referencing a basic script while prospecting can help them reduce
uncomfortable pauses, use the right language, and respond to common objections.
Experienced, seasoned sales representatives often recommend not using a script in
order to sound more natural during conversations. However, some do still use a script —
it’s just so ingrained in their minds that it comes out sounding natural and unrehearsed.
But whether you use a script or not, make sure to actively listen to your prospects and
customize your conversation based on their needs.
5) Don’t sell.
Prospecting is the first step in selling, but in and of itself, it is not selling. It’s about
sourcing leads who can then be qualified and entered into the sales funnel. Only once
these steps have taken place can selling begin.
If you want to be successful in today’s sales environment, you need to focus on building
relationships while prospecting. Start selling too quickly and you’ll put undue pressure
on the prospect. Building a foundation of trust can help you and the prospect become
more comfortable with each other, so once selling techniques come into the picture,
they’ll be more effective.
Don’t just stick to the same old sales prospecting playbook because it’s what you’ve
always done. Practice different techniques until you find the right mix of modern and
effective sales techniques that effectively support your prospecting efforts and your
5 Easy Ways to Be 5x More Productive
Written by Leslie Ye
Productivity is key to sales. There will never be enough time in the day to finish absolutely
everything you have to, so the only way to up your output is to make better use of your hours in
That’s where the concept of “flow” comes in. In psychology, flow — also known as “the zone” —
is the state of being at peak productivity. When you’re in flow, you perform at a level five times
above your normal productivity, according to a 10-year McKinsey study.
Flow isn’t easy to achieve, especially on a crowded sales floor where you’re surrounded by other
people’s conversations. But each of these five tactics will improve your focus and bring you
closer to being in the zone.
1) Break up your day into “activity chunks.”
One reason multitasking is so ineffective is that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to
productivity after a distraction. Distractions are inevitable (especially in a profession that
involves so much interaction) but you can minimize them by focusing only on one thing at a
Divide your day into chunks of activity, and during each time period, work on only one type of
task. It requires far less brainpower to jump from one call to another than it does to switch back
and forth between calls, emails, and demos.
2) Establish routines for your common activities.
Within each activity chunk, make sure that when applicable, you’re following the same routine.
For example, if you’re on the phones for two hours each morning, you can use the following
sequence: make the call, take notes in your CRM, send a follow-up email afterwards, log the
email in your CRM. Or maybe you prefer to send your emails in blasts and just go from call to
call. Whatever it is, find the routine that works for you and stick to it.
Getting into the habit of following the same routine for each type of task means it will quickly
become second nature, and you won’t have to spend time wondering whether you’ve missed a
step or followed up with that customer.
3) Turn off all channels you’re not using.
According to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers’ Internet Trends report, the
average person checks their phone 150 times a day.
The implications of that number are staggering. If every interruption takes 25 minutes to recover
from, it would take you a total of 62.5 hours each day to fully recover from all that phone-
checking. Which, given that you only spend around eight hours in the office per day, means you
literally never operate at full productivity.
Not to mention the time you spend distracted by your email, instant messages, Facebook,
LinkedIn … you get the picture.
When you’re working, only give yourself access to the channels that you need to do your job.
Block out everything else, and your productivity will skyrocket.
4) Set the expectation with colleagues that you’ll only be responsive during certain hours.
Personal space at the office is getting rarer by the second. Almost three-quarters (70%) of all
offices use an open-plan layout, and it’s simply infeasible to give every rep in a large sales force
their own office.
That being said, you can’t get work done if people are constantly stopping by your desk to chat.
So block off time each day when you’re available to answer teammates’ questions, attend
internal meetings, or simply hang out — then communicate that to the rest of your team.
5) Schedule breaks into your day.
Of course, it’s unreasonable — and unhealthy — to work without stopping all day, every day. So
make sure to schedule time when you’re not doing … anything.
Your brain is a muscle, and repeated stress (i.e. working without a break) decreases its
effectiveness. After a spate of hard work, you need a break.
Research suggests that the optimal balance of work and relaxation is a 52-minute period of work
followed by a 17-minute break. Your ideal balance will vary, but make sure during your breaks
to get away from your computer and forget about work for a while. If you don’t take this time to
recharge, you’ll be exhausted and stressed by the end of the day.
The bad news? Flow isn’t a mythical state of productivity you can reach just by closing your
eyes and clicking your heels. And while that might be easier, the good news is that you can take
real, concrete steps to becoming more productive and making the most of your time.
The 7 C’s: How to Find and Hire Great Employees
by Allan Hall
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
A founder can’t grow a winning enterprise singlehandedly. Some may try, but it is nearly
impossible to do so. Every famous entrepreneur has built a flourishing company with great
employees by his or her side.
Hiring the best employees is more important than ever
An entrepreneur can invent and even commercialize an idea as an enterprise of one. In time,
however, the tasks of running a business become too great for the entrepreneur to manage alone.
At this point, a savvy leader must find and hire the best workers to help achieve the
In today’s economy, hiring the best people is more critical than ever. Entrepreneurs can’t afford
to lose time, money and results from a bad hiring choice (a recent Forbes article by David K.
Williams pegs the cost of a single bad hire at anywhere from $25-50,000). The cost of finding,
interviewing, engaging and training new employees is high. Employees also require desks,
computers, phones and related equipment, let alone the largest costs of being an
employer—salaries, benefits and taxes.
Leaders view new employees as an investment and anticipate an excellent financial return over
Over the course of my career, I’ve hired hundreds of people. Some were exceptional employees
who were major contributors to our success. Others didn’t work out. In most cases, when an
employee left or was terminated, I was the problem. Those dismissed were good people. I just
did not know how to properly hire new employees.
Historically, and sadly, the only criteria I had used were to find the candidate with the best skills,
experiences and ability to match a job description.
I have since identified seven categories—I call them the “7 C’s”–that you should consider to find
the best new employees, as follows:
Recommended by Forbes
1. Competent: This is still the first factor to consider. Does the potential employee have the
necessary skills, experiences and education to successfully complete the tasks you need
2. Capable: Will this person complete not only the easy tasks but will he or she also find ways to
deliver on the functions that require more effort and creativity? For me, being capable means the
employee has potential for growth and the ability and willingness to take on more responsibility.
3. Compatible: Can this person get along with colleagues, and more importantly, can he or she
get along with existing and potential clients and partners? A critical component to also remember
is the person’s willingness and ability to be harmonious with you, his or her boss. If the new
employee can’t, there will be problems.
4. Commitment: Is the candidate serious about working for the long term? Or is he or she just
passing through, always looking for something better? A history of past jobs and time spent at
each provides clear insight on the matter.
5. Character: Does the person have values that align with yours? Are they honest; do they tell
the truth and keep promises? Are they above reproach? Are they selfless and a team player?
6. Culture: Every business has a culture or a way that people behave and interact with each
other. Culture is based on certain values, expectations, policies and procedures that influence the
behavior of a leader and employees. Workers who don’t reflect a company’s culture tend to be
disruptive and difficult.
7. Compensation: As the employer, be sure the person hired agrees to a market-based
compensation package and is satisfied with what is offered. If not, an employee may feel
unappreciated and thereby under perform. Be careful about granting stock in the company; if not
handled well, it will create future challenges.
Job applicants will give you their answers to the seven categories. They may be modestly
presented or exaggerated. You are searching for the truth. To obtain a clearer picture of potential
workers, I recommend you talk to former employment associates. The references a job candidate
provides will nearly always provide a biased report. Instead, ask the candidate for the names of
former bosses, peers and subordinates.
I’m here to tell you that good references will share the truth and not mince words. With these
names in hand, call former co-workers and ask them if the job applicant fits my seven
characterstics. This will give you a full and accurate view, good and bad, that will leave you
much better equipped to select the best candidate.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in Forbes.com
The Insanely Simple 2-Minute Productivity Tip We All Can Use
Written by Mike Renahan
Nowadays, it sometimes feels like you can go an entire day without making any
progress. Maybe you didn’t hear back from your prospect, or you didn’t finish your
emails, or you just had a bad day. You’re down in the dumps because you didn’t
achieve what you wanted to.
Everyone goes through these peaks and valleys. But if you’re not careful, that feeling
will carry over into the next day … and the next day … and the next … until you decide
to make a change.
You have to do something to make that feeling go away. But what?
According to Richard E. Cytowic, accomplishment is the key to self-esteem. Regardless
of what it is you accomplish — no matter how large or small the task — the positive
feeling you get from crossing a task off your to-do list adds up throughout the course of
So with this in mind, I have some simple advice for you: Take the two minutes and
make your bed — every morning.
Before you brush your teeth, or make your coffee, or whatever it is you do when your
alarm clock starts buzzing, just make your bed.
Believe it or not, this incredibly simple and mundane task can set you up for a
productive and successful day. Here’s why.
Achieving one small task leads to accomplishing larger goals.
In a speech to graduates of the University of Texas, Navy Seal William H. McCraven
told the crowd, “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make
your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give
you a sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and
another. And by the end of the day that one task will have turned into many tasks
Accomplishing several small things not only adds up over time, but performing a simple
task can give us a feeling of satisfaction. In fact, each time we complete a task, we get
a rush of dopamine sent through our bodies, rewarding us for the effort. And because
we’re all dopamine junkies by nature, completing one simple action sets us on the
course to get another hit by accomplishing even more.
Being organized leads to greater productivity.
Reaching max productivity comes down to being in control of and efficient with your
time. Although it’s a small thing, having your bed, desk, or room organized actually
leads to feeling like you have more control, thus making you more productive.
Dana Gionta references studies in occupational health that say the more control you
think you have, the less stressed you are, and the more energy you have to complete
essential tasks. So by staying organized, you’re giving yourself control and the extra
energy necessary to get more work done. Those extra tasks could be bonus emails
sent, or more hours prospecting, for example.
Unfortunately, as we all know, developing a habit out of thin air takes time and a whole
lot of work. If you need help, here’s how to start making your bed every
morning, courtesy of Jerry Seinfeld.
After reviewing the research, it’s clear that achieving a small task — even a simple one
like making your bed — can set you up for success. The question now becomes: Are
you going to take advantage of this productivity trick?
Surprisingly, most people aren’t. In a recent survey, 59% of people said they don’t make
their bed, while 27% said they did. The study went on to conclude that the 27% of bed
makers are actually happier and more successful than their counterparts. Pretty cool,
The lesson here is simple: From now on, take the two minutes and make your bed.