8 posts categorized "Sales"

March 08, 2016

My New Sales Strategy Book Is On Sale Now!

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I'm so excited to announce the 5th book was just published! It's titled Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges. It's based on my experience at Yahoo and then as a consultant, where I helped sales teams close hundreds of millions of dollars of deals and account renewals through teamwork.  The main idea behind the book is that it's getting complicated to make a sale, keep a client or raise money for your business. To solve all the problems and stand out from the crowd, innovation is required at every step of the journey. And here's the key: Genius is a team sport. 
   
Dealstorming is chocked full of stories and case studies from my days at broadcast.com and Yahoo as well as from 200+ interviews I've conducted with sales leaders and business owners. In Dealstorming, I reveal the 7 steps to creating and leading a multi-disciplinary team to victory. Even if you work at a small firm, you can still recruit collaborators and in the book, I'll show you how to punch above your weight.
 
If you are in sales, own a business, want to be a business owner or aspire to become a more effective leader, this book is for you. I've spent the last three years writing this book, and today is very important as we need to sell enough copies to move the needle on the best seller lists and help the rest of the world discover my work. Your support means a great deal to the success of this book launch! 
 
BUY A COPY AND RECEIVE THESE BONUSES!
  • Immediate delivery of my Relationship Power eBook, an update to Love Is the Killer App with new tips on mentoring & networking.
  • One pass to my 120 minute Dealstorming video boot camp for each copy purchased. $299 value for each attendee!
  • FREE 45-minute live webinar experience for your team where I'll cover the book's content and offer advice on your specific sales challenges. Requires 50 book purchase minimum.
Purchase individual copies via Amazon
 
Purchase bulk copies for your team via 800CEOREAD (best price!) 
 
To receive your bonuses, fill out the form here.  
 
Check out this video, where I outline the bonus program.

February 04, 2016

Pre-Order Dealstorming and Receive Over $300 In Bonuses!

My 5th book is Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges. It offers you a strategy to complete the most complex and important deals you face through collaboration and teamwork. It shares stories from my days at Yahoo as well as consulting engagements I've been a part of.  It reveals insights from over 200 interviews with sales leaders and top B2B executives. Here's what one thought leader said about it:
 
"Dealstorming is a high energy book about the way people collaborate in business today. Whether you are in sales, operations, management, or executive leadership, Tim Sanders will show you how combining diverse perspectives leads to extraordinary innovation and success. Pack with ideas, stories and strategies, this is a book you can't afford NOT to read." - Ken Blanchard, coauthor of Collaboration Begins With You
 
The book comes out on February 23, but I need your help today to generate momentum with my retail and online partners and improve it's discoverability. When you pre-order a copy, it really makes a big difference to my campaign, especially on launch day.  So I've put together a package of great bonuses, worth over $300.00. 
 
Pre-Order AND RECEIVE THESE BONUSES!
  • Immediate delivery of my Relationship Power eBook, an update to Love Is the Killer App with new tips on mentoring & networking.
  • One pass to my 120 minute Dealstorming video boot camp for each copy purchased. $299 value for each attendee!
  • Immediate delivery of a signed limited edition advance reader copy of Dealstorming. Requires a 20 book purchase minimum.
  • FREE 45-minute live webinar experience for your team where I'll cover the book's content and offer advice on your specific sales challenges. Requires 50 book purchase minimum.
Purchase individual copies via Amazon
 
Purchase bulk copies for your team via 800CEOREAD (best price!) 
 
Check out this video clip for complete details on the pre-order bonuses! 

 

 


December 08, 2015

This Should Be Your Theme For Your 2016 Sales Conference

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Each year, sales leaders invest heavily in their annual kickoff or sales conference.  Presumably, it's purpose is to motivate the troops, introduce new products and services and solidify messaging for the market.  But that's only thinking tactically.  Winning sales leaders use their kickoff conferences to drive behavior, set tone and build culture. That's why the selection of the conference theme is critical to producing a strategic game-changing meeting.  

Your conference theme determines content, messaging, scheduling and how sales leaders can evaluate the meeting's ROI later. But the theme should be driven by business needs, not word-smithing capabilities. As you plan sales conference ask yourself, "What is my group's biggest challenge in the field?" or "What can we do next year to leapfrog the competition?" This will help you craft measurable objectives for post-conference behaviors, which can lead to your sales kickoff being one of the best investments you'll ever make. If you pick a theme because you like the song's title, the way the words look on a whiteboard, etc., you are missing a huge opportunity.  Choosing something that resonates with you (All In! or Changing the Game!) may sound good in a brainstorming meeting with your planning committee, but does it really address your business needs?

Examples: In 2010, several sales leaders determined that the 2008 recession had slowed down their prospecting and put them in hold-mode. So the theme they chose was "Bouncing Back!" This helped the sales team realize that it was time to get aggressive again and move the company forward.  In 2012, several sales leaders realized that the market was heating up faster than their sales culture when it came to seizing opportunities, so they chose "Carpe Diem!" to signal that it was time to go-for-broke. In both cases, the theme was contextual and purposeful.  And it worked! 

For the last few years in B2B, the rising sales challenge is complexity.  IDC research and Corporate Executive Board (CEB) find that there are more decision makers than ever involved in a quality sale. Buyers are teaming up, combining a variety of expertise, and it's making it harder than ever to land anything but the test-and-scale deal. Worse, the nature of what we sell is more complicated than ever, combined with the prospect's new habit of doing their own research and bringing sales reps into the process late in the game.  In my research for my latest book (Dealstorming) I find that in many industries (technology solutions, advertising, BPO, services) the speed in which sales teams solve complexity determines their market position. It's no longer a matter of developing the best products or refining our delivery -- we have to innovate around sales complications faster than the competition to win. 

According to MHI research in 2014, world class sales organizations that sell 20% more than their competitors cycle quickly through sales challenges by collaboration. For larger opportunities, they go wide, involving everyone in the company that has a stake in the outcome or knowledge about the problem. For medium sized deals, they create teams within their groups and in many cases, recruit customer champions to act as mentor-advocate-sounding board. In other words, sales innovation comes from team work.  To quote General Stanley McChrystal, "It takes a network to defeat a network!" 

This means that the new center for sales excellence is team building, team prep and team leadership. It's not just about smiling-and-dialing or forceful closing techniques. So, for 2016, a highly strategic theme for sales conference would signal leadership's focus on team based collaboration and rapid problem solving.  "Come Together" or "One Company, One Team" or "Teaming Up To Win" or "Team Work Makes the Dream Work" would all be market centered themes that attack the greatest threat to the business ... deal complexity. 

This is why I'm 100% focused on speaking about how sales leaders, managers and ambitious account executives can team-up their way to success. It's a matter of looking for collaboration opportunities, using sales skills to recruit team mates, then applying leadership talents to moving them to ideation, agreement and action. In my mind, this is exponentially more valuable to the sales cultures I address than simply, "pumping everyone up, so they too can climb a mountain or win a marathon." 

As an opening keynote for a sales conference, I would emphasize a straightforward idea: Don't Go Down Alone! (Video


November 18, 2015

Details about my next book and the future of Sanders Says

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After a writing journey that took almost three years, I'm excited to announce my next book, Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges. Penguin Portfolio will publish it on Feb 23, 2016.  It marks my return to talking about my days at Yahoo as a sales executive and introduces research and experiences I've gained as a consultant since then. For those that read Love Is the Killer App, you'll appreciate the voice and perspective of this book.  

Initially, I set out to write a book on creativity in the sales process, something very needed in business to business, where it's getting tougher to land quality deals due to competition, more decision makers and technology.  During my career, I often called upon my creative experiences (musician, poet) to tackle high-difficulty sales situations.  A 2012 survey I conducted found a high correlation between sales executives who had creative projects and sales executives who were top 5% performers at their company.  But as I dug into research on the nature of creativity, especially as it could relate to sales innovation, I made a startling discovery: There is no big idea, no lone inventor, no genius person.  Most of all the breakthroughs in history occurred because of team-based collaboration, where multiple minds from diverse disciplines built upon ideas or observations.  

This made sense once I could dispel the romantic notions of the lone inventor experiencing the eureka moment.  At Yahoo and as a consultant, sales genius was always a team sport. When we included everyone with a stake in the outcome or knowledge about the sales challenge, we closed the business most of the time.  After interviewing 200 sales leaders across all industries it became clear to me that cross-department team work is the secret to B2B success.  So this book will reveal a repeatable process for team building, team leadership and sales innovation I term "Dealstorming."  Over the next few years, I'll be writing about sales innovation weekly here along with my usual coverage of leadership and success.  

If you have a sales conference next year or a B2B client summit, please consider bringing me in to give your keynote. I'll motivate everyone to collaborate when stuck, lead others to explore new paths and forge relationships across their company and out into the market.  I'll also do free consulting prior to the event, helping you and your team immediately put these concepts to work against big opportunities in your pipeline or major accounts at risk. Contact us for more on this. 

Thanks to my good friends at SLAM Agency, there's a video trailer to explain the book's concept and reveal details on how you can get a free chapter.  Please share it with your friends and connection in sales and leadership.  I'm going to be scouring social media to spot your shares, and will be picking out some of you to send a special gift to. 


October 21, 2015

The End of Empowerment & The Return of Prescription

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Yesterday I attended the first day of CEB's annual Sales & Marketing Summit.  It's a must-attend for all B2B sales and marketing leaders, offering the most current view into the buyer's world and the best practices that come from following hard data.  The opening keynote by CEB's Brent Adamson blew my mind as he revealed a plot twist in the B2B buyer's journey.  

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The customer's age of empowerment was short lived.  The tipping point has been passed, where today, the customer wants less information and fewer choices.  Like they were in 1990 ... simple prescriptions by suppliers will win the day.  To quote Yogi Berra: "It's like Deja Vu all over again!" 

Making matters worse, the rise in decision-makers (The 5.4 Problem) and the diversity of perspectives and agendas make the buying process "landmindish" -- cause Brent to wonder how companies buy anything or for that matter, get anything done!  Between the landmines and the overwhelming amount of info and options, he declared that the seller's #1 competition is now ... The Status Quo.  

Back to empowerment: Brent asks, "When you visit the grocery store today and there are 50 kinds of mustard on the shelf, do you feel empowered?"  This is a good point as we marvel as shopping sites like Amazon, Expedia for travel, TrueCar for auto purchase, etc.  While they put is in charge at some point, being in charge loses its luster.  The CEB data confirms that the modern B2B buyer is as overwhelmed as today's consumer...but the implications are far worse for suppliers.  

When the buying experience is overwhelmingly complex, the buyer usually regrets their decision later.  Think about the last car you bought: If you were swimming in information, with endless cars to choose from and myriad options to pile on ... do you still feel like you made the right decision today?  According to CEB research, the B2B buyer is more likely to regret their decision when the purchase journey was complex.  

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At this point, Brent raises the stakes for suppliers: "It's no longer about whether you win or lose, but now, it's about how the buyer feels about it later."  To support this (very Lovecat way) of thinking, he offered this stunning chart, which proves that regrettable purchases are BAD for sellers.  

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Pay particular decision to the bars on the right: When the buyer regrets their purchase decision they actively advocate against the supplier!  This isn't a Net Promoter Score dip, Brent points out, they are telling other people inside their company or out in the market not to buy from you! 

The conclusion of Brent's keynote outlines a new selling approach: Prescription to drive ease-in-buying.  "Put all your sales and marketing strategy through the Easeometer," he advises.  In other words, to capture the essence of Bill Jensen's classic book Simplicity: Reduce the stuff, the steps and make the process simple.  Brent defines prescription as "a credible and influential set of do this/don't do that recommendations, provided to customers across the purchase process, deliberately intended to ease the customer's movement toward purchase." This includes how the buyer should prioritize the problem, who they should involve in the purchase process and how they should arrive at supplier decisions.  CEB research indicates that the Prescriptive Process will dramatically outperform the Responsive Process in terms of sales cycle & overall satisfaction.  

He closed the keynote with a salient example of the Rise of Prescription: The comeback of travel agencies.  Over the last few years, travel consultants have picked up a lot of harried consumers or business travelers who were overwhelmed with information and options about their upcoming trip. In a world of always-on smartphone powered buyers ... these travelers just wanted to "call someone and have them figure out the best way to book the trip."  As I've learned in my research for my next book (Dealstorming), B2C trends like this are the Canary In the Coal Mine for B2B sellers.  Which means that you might want to have a meeting today between sales and marketing and figure out how you can make the leap from responsive to prescriptive approaches.  

For more on the psychological impacts of information overload, check out the 2004 research I conducted with Heartmath Institute, predicting the rise of New Economy Depression Syndrome


October 02, 2015

How Sales Kickoff Can Supercharge Your Ability to Close Complex Deals Next Year (Networking Tips)

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In 2000, I attended my first sales kickoff at Yahoo!.  Our company (broadcast.com) had been purchased by them, and I had just moved to California to lead a sales-enablement/swat team.  Little did I know at the time, but this kickoff event would change my life. 

Usually, you'd think that the kickoff's purpose was to introduce new products, arm us with new tools and motivate us to hit the phones or bricks when we got home. But in this case, a single piece of advice changed everything. "Make some friends in unusual places," our Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Anil Singh told me. "Make our international managing directors feel at home. Huddle with the content development guests we've invited -- get outside of your circle." He explained that these relationships I'd force at sales conference would later be important as I worked with global brands on big deals where they needed all of Yahoo!'s capabilities brought to the table. 

From the moment I stepped on the kickoff hotel's property, I shook hands and made friends.  My new contacts included managing directors from Yahoo Japan, Italy, Korea, Brazil, Canada and United Kingdom.  They were easy to engage with, and told me about promotions and products they'd built for their clients.  Many of them were news to me! I sought out our non-sales guests, especially those we frequently relied on for post-contract delivery. I told them I wanted to understand more about how their groups worked, so I could pursue revenue but not create problems for them.  At first, they filled my ear with concerns about various programs we were selling, but by the end of conference, they were suggesting new ways we could help our advertisers without compromising the user experience. 

Over the next few years, these relationships were rocket fuel for our deals with global brands such as Sony, HSBC and Toyota.  Because I'd developed relationships with international and non-sales leads at kickoff, I knew more about how they could drive a global relationship. Our post-conference conversations built up enough trust so that we could bring them into the sales process early, so they could help us tailor the global deal to each regions unique way of doing business.  When I was promoted to Chief Solutions Officer, I looked back at the 2000 sales conference as my launch point.

If you are in business-to-business sales, you'll likely attend a kickoff early next year or Spring. Don't miss out on the opportunity to network and create a solutions web for future clients.  The more you know about your company's total capabilities and the unique facets of each market it serves, the better you'll do at creating winning recipes for your customers.  Here are some rules of the road for sales kickoff networking: 

1.  Set A Goal - I decided that I would connect with at least 10 new people during the 3 day kickoff.  Having that goal kept me focused on adding at least three people to my network each day.  Create your goal based on the unique strategy of your sales organization. If you are focused on global selling, focus on connecting with international attendees.  If improving delivery is the goal, focus on connecting with non-sales leads. If sales collaboration is the priority, meet account execs and managers in other markets or product categories.

2. Go Outside Of Your Work Group - You see these colleagues every day, so don't be lazy and hang with them for convenience at kickoff.  When you eat, find a new group to join.  During breaks, look for friendly but unfamiliar faces.  Think wide.  

3. Establish Common Ground - During your encounters, seek out connection points. The best ones are common customers, common sales challenges (product/industry) or common sales opportunities.  Don't be afraid to connect at the personal interest level either.  I've connected over my love of World Cup or electronic music to open up the discussion...usually leading to frank work related conversations. 

4. Contract - Strike up some agreement for post-kickoff follow up. It could be information sharing or a conference call based on the business common ground you've established. Don't let new contacts end with the conference. (Now that we all carry smart phones, it's easy to share contacts or simply take a picture of someone's badge or business card for follow up later.) 

5. Follow Up - Send a note after you get home, keep any promises you've made and schedule a future time to reconnect.  Putting a process around internal networking ensures that you keep the first burning and establish credibility.  If you've been told about a concern that needs support or attention, be the messenger and marshal resources ... especially if you work at headquarters and have access to internal influencers and power brokers. 

6. Expand From This Base Of New Contacts Over the Coming Year - Ask your new contacts, "Who else should I meet and spend time with?" You'd be surprised at how many introductions they will make, sometimes over email or conference calls.  Whatever goal you set for kickoff, add a zero to that number for the networking you'll do over the coming year.  The more you grow this circle, the better you'll be able to serve your customers. 

The sales kickoff is important beyond any education or product introductions that happen there.  They can be the social operating system of a sales driven organization, where loose ends are tied and a company truly comes together as a customer-focused team.  Don't waste the opportunity to expand your network ... because it drives your company's net worth!


September 25, 2015

Three Great Fall Business Reads

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It's that time of year when publishers release copious amounts of business books.  You've probably seen them popping up in the airport book shops.  As a voracious reader and blurb-giving-author, I have the opportunity to review dozens of them between July and September.  My interests range from sales & marketing to leadership to futurism to success.  I look for a book that challenges conventional wisdom, offers a rich perspective grounded in fact and most of all, advice that I can put into practice.

This fall, there are three books in particular that I'm excited about and highly recommend: 

The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, Matt Dixon, Pat Spenner & Nick Toman: This is the follow up to the fantastic Challenger Sale.  In this book, the CEB team reveals how difficult it is for companies to buy services or change suppliers.  This is due to a rising number of decision makers involved in every major purchase, and the disfunction that comes from diversity of agendas.  Their solution is for marketing to create challenger content that acts as "a dog whistle" which attracts mobilizers inside prospect companies.  These mobilizers often display signs of skepticism or demand action as go-getters. But they are the key in driving consensus and ultimately change. This is a must-read for any B2B marketing or sales professional. But note: The authors will challenge your current attempts to establish your company as a thought leader with barrages of content. In their eyes, "looking smart" isn't nearly as effective as "proving you are wrong" when it comes to content marketing that finds the mobilizer.

Vaporized by Robert Tercek: This book will take you on a journey of technological disruption, which few companies have mastered.  Tercek is a certified futurist, with a career arc that spans from founding MTV International to consulting with the most elite tech and digital media companies in the world.  He chronicles the vaporization of print, television and all types of media ... and why companies either found success or failure in the transition.  Then he explains that "anything that can be infrastructure will be," using companies like AirBnb to illustrate the unfair advantage that comes from being digital.  He reveals insights into the App Economy, Peer-To-Peer media and Big Data. But unlike most futurists, he won't leave you hanging.  The end of the book offers a solid blueprint for navigating the vaporization of all things service, and how you can convert disruption into a game changing opportunity.  

Grit To Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval: This book is all about the power of pluck and determination when it comes to leading others, being an entrepreneur or succeeding in the face of adversity.  The authors reveal the attribute that Michael Jordan, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg share: Grit.  In a world of look-at-me or stand-out-in-a-sea-of-sameness, Thaler and Koval offer a different viewpoint: Grit is about sweat not swagger.  You are nothing special.  Grit is cultivated over time and is the result of practice and design.  The book lays out a series of steps, mostly decisions you need to make, that lead to a higher level of grit, which is easily converted in greatness (confidence, effectiveness, innovativeness).  From the Lead To Learn conference, Thaler offers a glimpse into the book's content in this video clip


September 25, 2014

What It Means To Be Creative At Work

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If you've attended a conference or visited the business section of a bookstore recently, you've likely been encouraged to bring your creativity to work.  There are dozens of books out, promising help you get unstuck and start your creative juices flowing.  Almost half of the lectures involve a discussion on the pressing need to be innovative and creative to survive.  A recent piece on this in the New Yorker (Creativity Creep) quotes a 2010 IBM study of 1500 executives to identified creativity as the #1 attribute they valued in employees.  

It makes sense, actually.  The business world is more complicated and turbulent than ever, putting pressure on everyone to "think outside the box."  This reminds me of all the marketing and branding books that came out at the turn of the 21st century, along with the proclamation that "Everyone is in the marketing department now!"  The best of those books (The End of Marketing As We Know It) finally defined marketing functionally, which empowered readers to actually become effective at it. 

We are at that point with the business creativity boom.  We know we need to be creative.  What most people aren't clear on is as to exactly what the heck 'being creative' means in a business context.  I'm writing a new book on creativity in the sales process and doing quite a bit of research along the way.  I've been looking for a very practical definition of creativity that applies to professional life.  And I think I've found a good one. 

In The Handbook of Creativity, Cornell professor Robert Sternberg offered a crystal clear business-centric definitinon of creativity: "The ability to produce work that is both novel (unexpected) as well as appropriate to the situation (useful)."  While other creativity experts argue that any new idea should be deemed creative, I like Sternberg's framing of the concept.  Like any other piece of business acumen, the proof is in the pudding. 

If you are creative at work, you produce the unexpected, the new...but it solves the problem and doesn't produce complications.  Notice I didn't say that creativity required completely original ideas as there is no such thing.  It's all about approaches that are unexpected.  

The reason we need to produce unexpected work (processes, products, ideas) is because people quickly develop tolerance to our expected approaches (often termed "best practices").  Think of the joke that you laughed at the first time you heard it, chuckled a little the second time you heard it and then didn't even respond the third time you heard it.  That's how a prospecting or closing technique plays out with customers.  That's how products become stale with customers, creating opportunities for incumbents to be disrupted with a fresh approach.  

The opposite of creative thinking is reproductive thinking.  This is where you use a conventional approach to reproduce success.  Your tried-and-true products yields customer delight.  Your conventional sales tactics yield revenues.  In the past, best practices had a long shelf life.  Companies could hatch them quicker than customers grew tired of them.  But those days are long gone.  To be successful, we have to take it upon ourself to produce the solution and not just rinse-and-repeat.  

What does it take to produce unexpected work that is appropriate to the problem at hand? Sternberg points out that creative work stems from ordinary thought processes that happen to produce extraordinary results.  It's not divine inspriation or genius thought processes.  Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile describes creativity as the "Confluence of intrinsic motivation, domain-relevant knowledge and creativity-relevant skills." That's it.  

If you care enough, learn enough and develop chops relevant to the problem space, you can produce creative work.  You can solve the problems that stand between you and success.  Creativity requires a lot of hard work on your part, and it starts with a clear understanding of your product, your customer and the processes that drive your business.  If you have the motivation to do all of this work, the fresh and useful ideas will emerge.  

In the end, regardless of your desires or effort, you'll need to be objective about the efficacy of your ideas.  You need to be able to test them for usefulness and be ready to jettison the out-of-the-box-never-been-done-before ideas that don't solve the problem.  They aren't creative.  They are merely imaginative and that's not what the CEOs in IBM's study were looking for in their talents. 

To borrow from designer Tim Gunn's lexicon, "Be the new, but make it work!"