Complimentary Webinar Invitation

Jeff Cochran



training magazine free webinar series

Give The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

SNI, in conjunction with Brainshark, Training Magazine, and Sales and Marketing Management will be conducting a complimentary webinar: “Giving The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It!”

To make training stick and actually drive results, it must be practical, customized, and accessible when needed. How can you leverage on-demand training and tools to improve your sales team’s ability to execute?

Join as our EVP of Design and Production, John Buelow, and Brainshark’s VP of Sales Enablement, Marc McNamara, present examples of training content that it can be easily created, consumed, and tracked. They will share:

  • A systematic approach to sales and negotiation that increase accountability and drives results
  • Tips and tricks for delivering training content to boost engagement
  • How to measure and track results

To register for our webinar, please go to:

A New Face For Customer Relationship Management

Jeff Cochran


Let’s face it: customer relationship management (CRM) is a jumbled mess. We come to CRM with an empty box, and then an uncoordinated group works to add information to it. The leads generated by various parts of the sales force simply don’t come together into a coherent image of who our customers are. But with evolution in the field of CRM, there is potential for that to change. From the revolutionary no software world of Salesforce, CRM is evolving. The CRM of the future won’t require an entire team of its own, generating leads and pouring information into it. The only CRM worth having in the future will be one that provides those leads on its own.

Many highly successful companies have found that there is only one good way to deal with their CRMs, and that is to assign an entire team to the projects, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The empty box that every current CRM starts out as gets filled by these teams, but only large companies have the resources necessary to make this happen. Instead, the rest of us are forced to work with conflicting information or missing updates. With a system like that, it’s impossible to know who needs our products.

A properly functioning CRM in the future will have the answer to that question. Right out of the box, new CRMs will have a set of customer recommendations. And, to make the system even better, those recommendations will be consistent across departments. If one department discovers that recommendations are wrong, the CRM will update across all departments. Leads should be singular and consistent in this CRM of the future. There shouldn’t be duplicates or entire CRM-dedicated teams. And those leads shouldn’t cost millions of dollars to uncover.

Finally, to really have an optimized CRM will mean that we get the big picture. The new CRM should be able to tell us whether our customers are on Facebook, or if they are Twitter users instead. A wide variety of information should be available within the CRM, and the system should be smart enough to know which representatives need which kinds of information. This may sounds like a stretch, but we are rapidly approaching this phase in the world of CRMs.

It was exciting when Salesforce first revolutionized the market by getting rid of the extensive software needs that CRMs used to come with, but the future holds even more exciting prospects. CRM may still be a hassle, but coming down the road are changes that will streamline the lead process in ways we never imagined before.

Optimizing Your Corporate Training Program

Jeff Cochran


High turnover and worker attrition rates in the recent economy have left many businesses short of staff or working with a bunch of new hires who lack a grasp on the business. In addition to this, the last several years have produced some significant changes in the philosophy of worker training. Applying these new tips and techniques for training your workforce can get your business working more smoothly and make your employees more confident that they understand their roles.


Cross-Training Isn’t Just For Fitness

In order to deal with the high turnover rates of recent years, many businesses have on-boarded a group of less experienced employees to fill those roles. What may make more sense for many companies, however, is to cross-train existing employees. Many individuals already on your team can handle more responsibility, and more time on the job will have given them a clearer sense of how those responsibilities fit into the larger corporate scheme. A group of cross-trained senior employees will outperform a group of new employees tasked with a single role.


Training Is A Game

Gamification is one of the new tricks in employee training that has come about in the last few years. Turn training into a large-scale game, with tasks and quests that your employees must complete. This element of fun helps to keep employees engaged and motivated to participate in training activities. In this respect, training employees can be like working with children – learning needs to be fun for workers to engage enthusiastically, which is why turning training into a game is so effective.


Embrace Technology

More and more training can be done on an individual basis using technology, rather than in group settings. Employees today are increasingly comfortable using technology in all parts of their lives, and work training should be no exception. eLearning and other digital formats may hold the attention of workers who spend much of their time using technology.


Understand Their Goals

There is a large psychological element to training techniques today. If you better understand the goals of your employees, you will be able to motivate them more effectively. Helping your employees to pursue their own goals gives them an incentive to engage fully with the training process. Other psychological tools utilized in best training practices in recent years include providing positive reinforcement and embracing different learning styles. If you provide employees with training materials best suited to their learning style, they are more likely to retain the information.

Motivate and Support Your Sales Force

Jeff Cochran


Here are some troubling numbers for you:

– Fewer than 55% of all sales reps regularly make their quota
– 65% of all sales professionals give up on a sale after hearing their second “no” from a decision maker
– 7 out of 8 companies will never achieve profitable growth, despite having adequately detailed strategic plans.

If you are concerned that any of these statistics might eventually apply to you and your company, it is time for you to rethink how you approach your training, motivating and supporting your sales force.

First, take stock of your situation. Have you identified your star performers, core salespeople and bottom third reps? If you have not yet grouped your sales force accordingly, you are missing a valuable opportunity to appropriately motivate your sales team.

Super Sales Studs.

Some people are just that good at sales. These are your superstar salespeople. Typically, they make making their quota look effortless and they do it by selling ice to the Inuit. These people tend to be almost entirely motivated by financial incentives, but they are the first to leave when a ceiling if placed on their ability to earn.

Bottom Third.

If you have developed an onboarding program that instills your sales team with the appropriate habits and tools to effectively make sales quotas, your bottom third should be made almost entirely of new people. Your bottom third are the first to become discouraged and can often not be counted on to do anything more than show up in the morning.

Core Professionals.

Your core performers probably do not get that much of your attention on a day to day basis. Core salespeople can be counted on to make their quota most of the time. They show up to work and will accomplish whatever task you hand them, but because they are not struggling or rocketing to the very top, you often miss the fact that they too can benefit from coaching and motivation.

So now that you have figured out into which category each and every single member of your sales team falls, you can begin to coach them to be the best salespeople they can be. Here are some general rules and guidelines for being the most effective coach possible:

  1.  Find out what motivates your sales force.
  2. Apply individualized coaching strategies consistently.
  3. Allow your salespeople to invest themselves in their future with your company.
  4. Listen before you speak.
  5. Understand that small incentives yield big returns.

With the proper coaching, even your bottom third will see massive improvements to their sales performance. Make sure that you are taking time each day or week to individually coach and support your salespeople.



4 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Prospecting

Jeff Cochran


Prospecting is arguably the most underrated part of the sales process. What many salespeople fail to realize is that putting in the proper time and effort into prospecting can make all the difference between a wasted week and a killer sales period. It is crucial that our partners develop the right systemic approach to prospecting. Here are four critical errors to avoid when it comes to prospecting.

 1. Your Salespeople Are Not Prospecting At All.

A disturbingly large number of sales professionals fail to do any prospecting at all. It may be due to “call reluctance” or even a skewed belief that proper prospecting is ineffective, but really, any prospecting is better than no prospecting at all. If your sales force is reluctant to prospect for whatever reason, you need to instill in them the right habits and tools to properly prospect.

 2. Your Salespeople Talk Too Much.

Generally speaking, salespeople need to feel comfortable talking to new people in order to succeed. However, many salespeople, especially young salespeople, make the mistake of talking too much when they are meeting with a prospect. Whether they are jumping right into the pitch process instead of asking the important questions, or attempting to preempt objections by overwhelming the prospect with information, if your salespeople are talking too much at the prospect, your company is losing sales.

If you suspect that your salespeople are tanking their relationships with prospects by talking too much, there are a few valuable habits and tools that you can coach them on. First, you need to ensure that your salespeople are familiar with active listening and how to employ it to put the prospect at ease. Second, you need to coach them on your firm’s expectations for relationship building with the prospect. There is a time and place to hard sell, and the first time you meet with a prospect is definitely not the time or place.

 3. Your Salespeople Make Presumptions About the Prospect.

There is no quicker way to lose a prospect than by making unnecessary assumptions and presumptions about the prospect’s business. If your salespeople rush in to say things like “I can help you!” or “I know exactly what you need!” they are essentially disrespecting the prospect’s authority as a decision maker. Once again, if your salespeople are making this critical error, you may need to coach them on active listening as well as the proper way to point out the utility of your products or services.

 4. Your Salespeople Forget the Goal (or Do Not Have One). 

What is the goal when you meet with a new sales prospect? Arguably the goal is to make a sale, period. More often than not, however, the right goal for a first meeting with a prospect is to create a personal relationship on which a sale can be built later. If your salespeople are not approaching a new prospect with a concrete goal, they are at risk of damaging the relationship with the prospect. Remind your sales force that they must be goal oriented in their prospecting.



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 to Anticipate and Prepare for Sales Declines

Jeff Cochran


Any salesman who has been in the game for any amount of time knows what it’s like to see a decline in sales. A sales forecast is projected in advance using data, experience, and educated guessing. This sets the standard for your business over the next 1–5 years, creating vision and a sound strategy. Business plans give you a point of reference when you or your employees are losing focus. However, considering slumps in sales is an integral part of any strategic business planning, especially with the current unsteady economy. Looking at the bigger picture and thinking ahead is a key to success, and these tools can help you anticipate a decline in sales:

1. Specify the volume of sales. For example, how many 2 liter bottles of soda do you sell? What is the value of each sale? Knowing the volume of your sales and when they tend to fluctuate will increase your ability to predict decline. This is also a great way to be realistic in your goals. You are not simply thinking up a target figure and doing whatever you can to achieve it. Wishful thinking is a common error and most often results in a pitfall.

2. Consult your sales associates. If you are not the one who is spending face-to-face time with those who are doing business with you, consult those who are. They probably have a good idea of what your customers are thinking. Get your sales people to give their opinions on the goals you’ve set. This guarantees a realistic anticipation of sales or lack thereof.

3. Get counsel. The greatest advice you’ll find is that of someone like a senior accountant, who has more experience in the industry and knows the tendencies of the business you’re in. Preparing for sales declines is a part of any seasoned businessman’s plan for sustained success. Sound counsel from the wise is an essential element of preparing for hardship.

4. Get innovative. An ice cream shop owner, for example, could serve crepes and hot chocolate during the winter months when no one is buying ice cream. Creativity is a great gift in preparing for sales declines, and will keep you afloat in times when businesses are sinking.

These ways of preparing for sales decline put you in control of your own fate. Times of feasting present an opportunity to prepare for famine. These tools allow you to take responsibility for your company by focusing on the goal.


Are you properly planning for a decline in sales?

Sales Teams Should be More Competitive Internally

Jeff Cochran


Your sales team fights hard for your company, which is probably a big reason why you’ve been successful so far. While a healthy sense of external competition is good for the company, internal competition can work wonders for your sales team.

 What is Internal Competition?

“Internal competition” describes that sense of competition that the salespeople in your company feel amongst themselves. This kind of competition can increase conversions, drive sales figures, and allow you to promote and grow your team more effectively.

Here are seven ways to turn that sense of “internal competition” into an actual internal competition.


The 7 Essentials to Creating a Great Sales Contest

 1. Keep it short. You can give out quarterly and annual sales awards, but it’s unlikely that you can sustain the energy of a true sales contest for more than 2-3 weeks. In addition to keeping it short, keep it moving with daily updates and announcements.

2. Create personal prizes. There are few – if any – prizes other than cash that can motivate every single member of your sales team. Therefore, we recommend allowing the individual who wins to pick his or her own prize. Create some parameters, and allow their imagination to run wild. You can even have them pick out their prize before the contest even starts, which is a good way to incentivize.

3. Give everyone the chance to win. The Houston Small Business Chronicle wrote a great article about how to create a sales contest in which everyone can win. While one grand prize is fun for the winner, it won’t encourage everyone to participate. What would you rather have: one person performing at 150% or an entire sales team performing at 100%?

4. Reinforce training. If you’ve been trying to encourage your sales team to use specific elements of their training, make it a requirement that salespeople use those techniques if they want to win.

5. Use a CRM system. Your CRM system probably has the ability to tie-in with a sales contest. Why not start using it? If you track the contest solely through your CRM system, then it’s a great opportunity to get salespeople who aren’t as skilled with the CRM system more accustomed to using the platform.

6. Encourage checkpoints. Prospects don’t go from the receiving end of a cold call to the buying stage without some events taking place in between. Unfortunately, from the upper management perspective, it can be difficult to know exactly what is taking place between the initial pitch and the final decision to buy. Use this contest as a way to encourage your sales team to update the CRM system on more than just the accounts that are buying.

7. Have fun. If your team isn’t having fun with the contest, then you might have more negative long-term effects than positive short-term ones. At the end of the day, your sales team should be a team above all else!

Have any tips of your own for creating a great sales contest?

Creating a Sales Team That Wins

Jeff Cochran


Recession, depression, or economic boom… it doesn’t matter. Creating a winning sales team isn’t just important. It’s possible no matter what economic conditions your business or industry might be facing. Winning sales teams aren’t “winners” because of any one, single thing that they do. Management alone or a great CRM system isn’t enough to push your team beyond the competition.

Then again, there’s no “magic formula,” but we do have some tips and tricks from our own experience for creating a dynamic sales team…

#1 Powerful Lead Tools

We have found that successful sales teams have powerful lead generation and lead tracking tools at their disposal. If you want your sales team to really hit their stride, then you need to give them the appropriate tools to do it.

On any given day, we all have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of clients that are riding the fence. Having the ability to know where each one of those clients sits is key. Start tagging leads (#7 on this list) with essential information.

#2 Unified Front

Furthermore, those powerful tools need to be housed in software programs that are used across the board. Mobile technology and high speed internet have made it possible to do business from just about anywhere. Chances are, you have people working outside of your main office(s).

It’s more important now than ever before to keep a unified front. One effective way to do this is by making sure all of your sales team is using the same CRM software in the sales process. This also makes things easier for you when you have to transfer accounts to new team members.

#3 Vital Signs = Vital Competition

Doctors are able to make effective decisions only when they know the patient’s vital signs. In the same way, your sales team must have a grip on its own vital signs:

  • How many leads convert?
  • Where are our leads coming from?
  • What’s the protocol for engaging a customer we haven’t heard from in 6 weeks?

These are a few of the countless questions that your sales team needs answers to. Hopefully, your CRM system will help provide those answers.

Once you have those vital signs available, leverage them to foster a competitive atmosphere, which is also vital to your team’s success. For example, if you know what your average conversion rate is, then you can incentivize individuals on the sales team to attain higher personal conversion rates.

#4 Grow or Get Out of the Way

Lastly, members of a winning sales team are growing individuals. Be intentional about inner-promotion and increasing responsibilities. Sales people are especially focused on growth, numbers, and promotion.

If members of your sales team aren’t growing and improving, it’s time they step aside, and move out of the way.

What makes a winning sales team in your opinion?

Social Selling: How Being Social Affects Your Prospects

Jeff Cochran


Think that social media isn’t for B2B companies like yours? Think again. IBM did it. In fact, IBM reports “one-third of its B2B buyers were already using social media of various kinds.”

Sure, the 54-year-old executive that you negotiate with might not be using Twitter, but the 37-year-old one level below him (who has significant influencing power) is on Twitter… Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, too.

The Lesson? Start Getting Social

It’s time to start getting social.

Here’s what that doesn’t mean: creating a Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles just for the sake of having them.

When we say, “get social,” we want to encourage you to learn more about the power of social media in terms of sales. According to a 2012 study by the Aberdeen Group, 56% of sales representatives that used sales intelligence were able to meet or surpass their quotas. Compare that to the mere 26% of sales reps who did the same, but without using sales intelligence.

The sales people using intelligence aren’t necessarily working harder; they’re working smarter.

Of course, we don’t want to confuse “sales intelligence” with “social media” because they’re certainly not one and the same. However, as social media platforms continue to grow, the wealth of information available on these networks is becoming a bigger piece of the “sales intelligence” pie.

Here’s one last impressive fact before we cover how you can get started with social selling: According to another commentary on the Aberdeen Group study, sales reps that use social selling “are 79% more likely to attain their quota than ones who don’t.”

How Your Sales Team Can Be More Social

Here are a few ideas for encouraging social selling that are – at the very least – worth experimenting with:

  • Ask employees to perform “social research” on the buyers and decision-makers they’re targeting.
  • Offer interested employees the chance to spend the first 15-20 minutes of their day building their own professional social network and reaching out to prospective clients through social media channels.
  • Encourage company leaders and employees at all levels to contribute to a company blog. This is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership and have something to share with your online professional community.

Is your sales team using any “social selling” techniques?