How to Avoid These Worst-Case Scenarios in Sales

Jeff Cochran


Anyone who works in sales knows that there are a lot of potential pitfalls – and they happen all the time. Avoid huge potential hitches by following these tips.

Don’t trust a verbal agreement.

While, according to this Forbes article, it’s not always legally required to have a written contract, it definitely serves as insurance. This is because a verbal agreement is completely impossible to prove, which means that it is very, very easy to lose a deal. The worst possible case, here, is if you’ve already communicated that it’s a done deal to the leadership team. Not true – not until you get it clearly in writing.

Getting your contract in writing will also avoid dealing with a shady situation if the person who made the verbal agreement on the other end is not qualified to make that call. What if they’re not the decision maker? Get in touch with someone who is, schedule that person in, and make sure the deal is set.

Always be prepared when you’re on the phone.

Anyone who has worked in sales and had to make cold calls has probably experienced this. If an hour goes by and you have yet to connect with someone, you’re probably hitting the call button over and over without really paying attention to the dial tone. And then – suddenly – someone picks up!

Rather than stammering at the speaker and trying to deliver your pitch with no warning, make sure you’re prepared. Know whom you are calling. Know why you are calling them. This means getting your research done beforehand, so that you’re able to start your chat with the reason for the call, and with some knowledge about the company you’ve got on the line.

Still caught off guard? Don’t sweat it – just be transparent. If you crack a joke and admit that you were caught off guard, many people on the other end – even high-status executives – will be willing to forgive and forget, and you may even get a laugh out of them.

Speaking of research…

If you think you are prepared to make the call and you are already halfway through your pitch, avoid being blindsided. The person on the other end will know if you have no idea what their company does, and they will be highly inclined to call you out on it. When you do make the call, the very least you can do is to give the client’s website a quick once-over beforehand. Better yet, keep the webpage open while you are on the phone so you can quickly refer to it in a pinch.

Working in sales is a challenging job, but with the right tools on your tool belt, you will be highly prepared to do your best and make sure all your potential clients are impressed.

How Learning Effectiveness Works: Measuring Results

Jeff Cochran


There is no reason to have the members of your company’s team participate in an online training program if they are not going to implement what they’ve learned. This kind of training means that those who take part will be held accountable for their learning, and in most workplaces, the effectiveness of this accountability must be clearly delineated.

The Kirkpatrick Model of Learning

Measuring effectiveness of learning can be a somewhat amorphous process, but the most concrete way of actually determining learning effectiveness is by making sure that team members are achieving business objectives that have been set for them. This, however, cam be something of a confusing process.

Interestingly enough, the measure is not necessarily about ROI. Because ROI refers largely to a tangible return of input to output, the measure of something like learning is a little fuzzier. The best way to achieve an accurate measure of long-term results, in the end, is probably to distinguish between accountability and effectiveness – objective number crunching versus the individual and overall team usefulness of the training. You’re improving workers – not numbers.

The Kirkpatrick Model was created in the 1950s, and remains widely implemented today. The model relies on four well-researched levels of measuring learning. As you go up the ladder, the actual process of measuring becomes a little less concrete.

Reaction. This refers to the participants’ thoughts and feelings about the training, which can be difficult to gauge. The best way to “measure” the response to learning is to solicit individual reactions through surveying or feedback sessions.

Learning. What actual knowledge was gained? This is about the actual content of the training. Was it straightforward and transparent? Was the material clear and well delivered? In a school setting, results here would be best measured by administering a quantitative exam. In a work setting, this level of learning may be best understood by conducting an interview or observation.

Behavior. We’re getting closer to achieving real results. The response to training in changed behavior is all about how the learning has been applied in a practical way. Is behavior different now, and if so, how? Is the change positive? Is the change sustainable?

Results. Here we are – the greatest measure of learning effectiveness, and also in some cases the least tangible. How is the training affecting the overall environment and the actual outcomes within the workplace?

Learning Effectiveness and Accountability

When we talk about learning effectiveness, we’re talking about measuring outcomes, right? Person to person, measuring results is not so difficult. When it comes to implementing change, it is easy to observe what each team member is doing. With regard to the entire organization, the measure of how a process has changed as the result of blended training is a little harder to figure out. By letting these trainings be counted as an expense rather than an investment, business leaders are saved the project of objective measuring, an impossible task that does not necessarily provide concrete answers.

Gaining Trust for New Team Members

Jeff Cochran


Think about what trust means to you, or to your organization or company. Webster’s Dictionary provides some good keywords: confidence in something or someone else, dependence on something in the future, assurance of the character or ability of a person or group of people – ultimately, they will pull through for you.

So with this in mind, what does it actually mean to build trust? Companies that have high-performing team members and work to gain and keep their client partners rely deeply on relationships of trust, both within the employee team and with partners.

In the Office

According to Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis, one of the most powerful components of building trusting relationships is transparency. Transparency means two things in this situation:

  • Teamwork. When leaders are transparent about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, team members are able to work more efficiently. This means that problem solving can be based around what’s actually going on, rather than what people are inferring. New teammates will immediately know what’s going on and be able to bring their whole selves into the work.
  • Consistency. In order to build trust within the office, it’s important to remain consistent. Consistency in this case means treating everyone fairly; it should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Frequent communication doesn’t just mean letting people know what’s going on, either – remember, it is important to listen to your teammates, too.

What does trust building lead to in the end? Higher performance, according to this Guardian UK article, which is what customers are after.

With Customers

Believe it or not, building trust between a company and its customers is a very similar process. It all comes down to letting your clients or customers know that you care about them. Don’t just tell them – show them.

  • Be good at what you do – A more straightforward way of saying, deliver what you promise and then some. Do what you say you are going to do, and beyond that, exceed expectations whenever you can.
  • Ask for feedback – If you’re convinced your product or service is of the highest caliber, that’s not going to do much for your customers. There are few things that consumers trust more than peer reviews, so give people who have used your service or product a chance to share their experience through testimonials and reviews.

Remember: building trust takes time and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight. But by making sure your in-office team is working together, you will find that you are, in the end, creating a relationship of mutual trust with your clients. This leads to an empowered partnership between clients and coworkers.

How Email Marketing Increases Sales

Jeff Cochran


According to Sarah Kilborne of the Huffington Post, email marketing enables companies to do three things at once: remind, promote, and boost sales. If done right, email marketing will do all three of these things, while building a stronger loyalty to your company. Quickly becoming embedded in the marketing world, email marketing, along with social media and mobile marketing, will grow to 26% of all advertising by 2016. According to Forrester’s interactive marketing forecast, advertisers will spend $77 billion on these marketing techniques.

With numbers like these, executives who want to increase business sales and establish connections cannot afford to not advertise their company over email. But what are the benefits of this vital tool?

Advantages of Email Marketing

It saves time. When considering marketing techniques like those that involve mail or the telephone, you can see how email marketing carries a significant advantage. Less time and energy spent = more profit. Email marketing is a great improvement because it only takes a few hours to send a mass email to a very large audience.

You can personalize emails. After a user registers with you on the web and subscribes to your email list, you can send them emails that have their name in them, outdating the old marketing techniques like phone calls that had a stereotypical salesman tone to them. This causes the targeted individual to feel more a part of your business.

It enables you to communicate frequently. Email marketing has revolutionized the way companies stay in touch with their customers. Companies are able to keep their customers informed with less effort. However, flooding user’s inboxes with your emails will likely provoke frustration!

It is less costly. Because it doesn’t require a team of marketing professionals, designers, or employees, email marketing has become one of the least costly ways of advertising a business.

You can track users. Email marketing provides a usable and precise way to determine what your users are up to. Certain email marketing platforms offer businesses ways to monitor their customer’s interest in the emails, identifying what the company can do to make it more appealing.

It is a green way to advertise. An obvious benefit, but one that can be overlooked, is how much better for the environment email marketing is. Email marketing is a smart decision that benefits the planet. This will likely be looked upon favorably by your customers who are trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Are you taking advantage of email marketing?


Sports Business Journal Champion – Ron Shapiro

Jeff Cochran


Ron Shapiro, co-founder and Chairman of Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI), was featured in the Sports Business Journal’s 2013 class of Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. Ron, along with the other 5 Champions, was recently honored for his achievements during a special ceremony on April 3 at the IMG World Congress of Sports in Naples, Florida. Ron was unable to accept the honor in person, so his son, David Shapiro, spoke on his behalf. Here is the brief video summarizing Ron’s accomplishments, experience, and expertise in the sports world as well as David’s speech:


What To Do and Not To Do in Email Marketing

Jeff Cochran


Communicating messages over email is almost an art form. In email marketing, businesses don’t have the opportunity to present themselves with a smile and a firm handshake, leaving them with the delicate task of trying to capture the targeted individual’s interest with just a few words. Yet, email marketing has proven to be a smart investment for those who are able to execute it properly. In order to master the art of email marketing and keep customers and prospects coming back, businesses must first know what not to do.

Email Marketing: What not to do

Don’t send a blanket email. More often than not, a blanket email that has a piece of general information is not going to be relevant to your recipient. A solution to this is simply asking each registrar what demographic they belong to and sticking to that. uses the example of a retail clothing salesman first pointing a man to the women’s section. Be sure to send relevant information.

Make it simple. Though it’s tempting to make it an elaborate and fancy message, the user is much more likely to click on an email that has a simple format. A useful practice is setting one primary option, perhaps including a single, easily clickable link that will require less thought. Asking too much of the reader will guarantee a negative response.

Consider the mobile use of the recipient. As NBC’s Suzanne Choney reports, “A striking 87 percent of smartphone owners check the internet or email on their phones, including 68 percent who do so generally every day.” The increased use of mobile devices requires attention when building an email. A poorly formatted email on a phone will not only frustrate users and guarantee less clicks, it will make your business look less professional. This can be remedied by following the instructions above and making it clickable and easy to read.

Make the subject line appealing. As said before, email marketers have a very small window of opportunity to catch the attention of their targeted audience. If the reader is not immediately interested in what you have to say, you can expect a quick delete. But with an exciting and announcing subject line, you can avoid being deemed as irrelevant. This requires great attention to who exactly your subscribers are, and what exactly they want.

Don’t send too many. The final and most important of all not-to-dos when it comes to email marketing is not flooding the inbox of your recipient. We’ve all unsubscribed from email lists for this reason: we’re tired of having to delete so many. Obviously an increase of sales will be the reward if email marketing is done right, but getting carried away and sending too many will reverse your fortune.

Are you email marketing effectively?