The Sales Cycle – 2018


7/17 – Overcoming Sales Objections (Part 1)

ob·jec·tion /əbˈjekSHən/ noun  1. An expression or feeling of disapproval or opposition; a reason for disagreeing.

A prospect’s concern about your product or service is typically referred to as an “objection.” However, an objection should not necessarily be viewed as negative. It also does NOT mean a prospect is not interested in what you are recommending. When a prospect raises a sales objection, what that person is really saying is: “Your product sounds good, but I’m not yet convinced that spending money on it makes sense for me.” This person is telling you that he or she has unresolved questions in their mind.

In my experience, there are five major objections that you are likely to encounter:

  1. No need
  2. No confidence
  3. No interest
  4. No hurry
  5. No money

A salesperson must correctly classify which of the above objectives is being raised – failure to do so will inevitably result in a “stall” (best case) or a lost sales opportunity (worst case.) Once you’ve classified the objection, it’s time to dig a little deeper and get to the root of the concern. Here is a simple 3-step process to remember that is effective in most circumstances:

  1. Identify the underlying issue behind the sales objection
    The prospect’s objection statement is usually very brief, such as: “I don’t think that will work” or “That’s too expensive.” You cannot respond to this statement until you know exactly why the prospect feels that way.
  2. Present a response to that issue
    Once you have identified the actual issue, you can offer a clear, focused response that satisfies the prospect’s concerns.
  3. Confirm that the prospect is satisfied with your response
    After responding to a sales objection, you must get the prospect to agree that you have properly addressed their concern before moving forward. This is your opportunity to set your prospect’s mind at ease and get them thinking about making a purchase.

The phrase “overcoming objections” simply means asking probing questions that will allow you to fully clarify your prospect’s underlying reasons for concern. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’re able to offer a practical solution and move towards closing the sale. Your goal is not to prove that the prospect is wrong and you are right; it’s effectively aligning a need with a solution and proving that you understand their expectations of you and your product.

If it is your intention to genuinely build a trusting relationship with your prospect and do business together, you must learn to resist, assist and persist.

  • Resist … the temptation to back off too early when faced with an objections. Have confidence in your product and yourself and hang in there. Also, resist avoiding the opportunity to ask the right questions to help you fully understand and solve the prospect’s concern.
  • Assist … the prospect in defining his/her real needs. Help them understand the issues that stimulated the original objection. Also, assist the prospect after the sale to gain maximum benefit from your recommendation. Follow up and follow through.
  • Persist … in a manner that shows your prospect that you genuinely care and want to be considered a trusted business advisor. When you persist without the intention of avoidance or manipulation, you convey your concern and sincerity.

One of my favorite quotes is “Persistence Overcomes Resistance.” It has proven true for me time and time again. No does not necessarily mean no – sometimes it means “I do not quite understand and would appreciate you taking the time to show me.” Asking the right questions and actively listening to the answers will ensure you do not miss out on future sales opportunities.

We’ll continue the discussion next week looking at the biggest objection all newspaper sales professionals face today: Price.

Cheers,
Dan

7/17 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Can You Make A Sales Call Without Talking About Your Product?  (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
Sales Cycles Explained in 500 Words or Less (Courtesy of HubSpot)
5 Common Mistakes Salespeople Make When Closing a Deal (and How to Avoid Them) (Courtesy of Inc.)
Sales Shortcuts All Reps Should Avoid (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
How To Effectively Implement Your Sales Process (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of Don Howe Success


7/10 – Proposing a Strategic Advertising Recommendation

You’ve conducted a thorough needs analysis and have a solid grasp on who the prospect is, what their business objectives are, and how they make their marketing decisions. It’s now your opportunity to propose a strategic advertising recommendation based on the information you have collected.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what your recommendation should include, here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin this step of the sales cycle:

  1. Are you a ‘value creator?’ – Your recommendation needs to do more than communicate the value of your product; you need to focus on creating value by identifying cost-effective advertising solutions that will help the prospect exceed their business objectives.
  2. Can you quantify ROI? – Make sure you can communicate what a prospect can expect to see by doing business with you. At the same time, make sure you can speak to what the prospect could potentially be losing by NOT doing business with you.
  3. Do you know who your prospect’s customers are? – Putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer you are proposing to reach allows you to understand what it will take to motivate them to buy the prospect’s products or services.
  4. Can I build upon this relationship? – It’s important to make it clear to the prospect that you are more interested in building a strong relationship based on trust and shared goals than simply closing a sale. This is crucial to making the jump from a transactional seller to a business consultant.

The biggest mistake I see salespeople make is pitching a recommendation without effectively aligning benefits to the prospect. A trick I was taught years ago is to constantly use the phrase “And what this means to you is….” For example, if you recommend a 6x ad schedule then you must explain why and how this will help the prospect meet their needs. Personally, I’d say “Committing to a 6x schedule will allow you to create top of mind awareness with your customer through repeated impressions – ensuring they think of you first when making purchasing decisions. Additionally, I can offer added value by offering a special rate based on frequency discounts.” BOOM! The prospect now knows what benefit they will receive by agreeing to your recommendation, and (hopefully) in the back of their mind they are thinking “This makes sense!”

Keep your recommendation brief, and make sure each page represents value to the prospect. If you are using Powerpoint, I would suggest no more than 12 pages.

Six things every strategic advertising recommendation should absolutely include:

  1. Summary – Restate the prospect’s objectives so they know you understand their business.
  2. Plan – What you suggest is done to meet your prospect’s objectives and what it will mean for them (features -> benefits)
  3. Statistical Research – Why your plan makes sense (include circulation, reach, market penetration, etc.)
  4. Value Proposition – How doing business together will be beneficial, and what value you and your newspaper offer.
  5. Price – What your plan will cost (you may choose to include tiered options A/B/C if it’s appropriate)
  6. Next steps – How and when you recommend moving forward.

Whether you deliver your recommendation in person or via email, you should have clearly communicated how your proposal meets the needs of the client (based on what they’ve told you personally, not assumptions you’ve made about them) and what it will cost to implement your program. At this point, there is nothing left to say. Sit back and wait for the prospect to speak first – as 95% of the time they will counter with objections to your proposal. It’s at this point in the sales cycle that the real selling begins, and next week we’ll discuss how to effectively overcome these objectives!

Cheers,
Dan

7/10 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Want to Know A Simple Strategy To Score A Sales Meeting? (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
Stop Preparing So Much: Why Your Next Question Matters More (Courtesy of Hub Spot)
Are You Getting Better At Selling? (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
The Top 5 Phrases That Will Close The Deal With Your Prospect (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Sales is Storytelling. Marketing is Storytelling. Business is Storytelling. (Courtesy of Sales & Marketing)


Video Courtesy of Jeffrey Gitomer


6/26 – Conducting A Needs Analysis (Part 2)
The Questions You NEED To Ask

Last week I touched on how to conduct a thorough needs analysis using a proven four-step process: Open, Probe, Support, Close. Now we direct our attention to what questions need to be asked to accurately determine if our sales prospect is a viable future client and what our proposed solution to help them exceed their business objectives will be.

The most important thing to remember about asking questions during the needs analysis is to be sure they are “open-ended” –  questions requiring answers that are more than a simple yes or no and will assist you in gathering all of the information you need to move forward (or sometimes not to move forward) in the sales cycle.

Again, I cannot stress this point enough – ask the question and then wait patiently for your prospect to give their answer. Differentiate yourself from other media salespeople who fail by leading, prompting and interrupting during the needs analysis. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask probing questions that will help your prospect recognize problems and create a sense of urgency so they are more likely to take action. Asking questions that are critical to their success helps you to position yourself as part of the solution.

Obviously there are countless questions you can pose to your prospect depending upon the way the conversation rolls out, but there are a few that I always make sure to ask in 6 specific categories: Company, Customers, Competition, Objectives, Advertising, Conclusion. The answers to these questions reveal invaluable information I’ll need to propose a solution.

Company:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. How did you get started?
  3. Tell me more about the products or services you provide?
  4. What do you consider to be your niche or specialty?

Customers:

  1. Who is your current customer? (male/female, location, age, income, profession, level of education)
  2. Who would you like your customer to be?
  3. Has your customer base changed in the past year? And if so, why? Was this viewed within the company as a positive change?
  4. Do you anticipate any changes in your business that could affect your current customer base?
  5. How much do your customers usually spend and how often?

Competition:

  1. Who are your primary competitors?
  2. What does the competition offer that you can’t or won’t?
  3. Why do your customers come to you instead?
  4. What do you offer that your competitors can’t or won’t?
  5. What is your single greatest competitive advantage?
  6. What is your single greatest competitive disadvantage?

Objectives:

  1. How has your business performed in the last 12 months?
  2. Is your business experiencing the kind of growth that you want/need? If not, why?
  3. Can you describe your single biggest sales and marketing challenge?
  4. How are you actively addressing this challenge?
  5. How would you like to see your business change in the next 12 months?

Advertising:

  1. What media do you currently use? What media do you use most often and why?
    For each medium being used:
  2. What do you like best about this medium?
  3. What do you like least about this medium?
  4. What would you change about this medium?
  5. What is your typical monthly investment in this medium?
  6. What is your typical response from this medium?
  7. How do you track response -or- what does successful advertising look to you?

Conclusion:

  1. Is there anything else we should discuss before I prepare a recommendations for your company based on today’s meeting?
  2. Are there any areas of special interest that I should be focus on when preparing a recommendation?
  3. Are there any other individuals involved in making advertising decisions?
    Do you work with an advertising agency?
  4. I will have a recommendation ready for your review and consideration on (date.)
    Can we meet at (time) to discuss my ideas?

The Sales Cycle will be on hiatus next week due to the July 4th holiday.  Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous red, white and blue celebration.

Cheers,
Dan

6/26 – Advertising Quick Clicks
7 Awful First Sentences That Are Killing Your Sales Outreach Emails 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
The One Sales Question You Shouldn’t Ask (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
4 Clever Ways to Improve Your Sales Calls (Courtesy of Influencive)
Our Need To Sell Is Irrelevant To The Customer (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
3-2-1 Technique That Will Make Your Sales Explode (Courtesy of Inc.)


Video Courtesy of Paul Cape


6/19 – Conducting A Needs Analysis (Part 1)
It’s Not Just What You Ask, But How You Ask It

I believe that fundamentally, sales success is based on synergistically matching needs, wants, and desires between the prospect and the products and services offered by the salesperson. As I mentioned last week, it’s important for salespeople to always remember that each step of The Sales Cycle has nothing to do with them – it’s all about the person sitting across the table. The only thing that matters is what their needs, wants and desires are at that given moment in time. Without this information, it’s impossible for a salesperson to make a solid recommendation and close the deal.

Next week I’ll discuss what questions to ask during a thorough needs analysis. However, it’s critical to understand the process of how to effectively ask the questions. A proper needs analysis consists of four steps – each one part of a systematic series of repeatable events that must take place to ensure you are gathering the essential information needed to proceed to the recommendation phase.

Step 1: Open –  Explain what is about to take place
Step 2: Probe – Build a complete, mutual understanding of the customer’s needs
Step 3: Support – Help a customer understand how you can meet their need
Step 4: Close – Mutually agree on appropriate next steps

Open:

  • Thank the customer for their time and tell them you are excited to learn more about their business.
  • Propose an agenda – You’d like to spend 20 minutes asking detailed questions so you have a better understanding of what they do and what they are trying to accomplish. Always ask the customer if it’s ok to take written notes during this process.
  • State the value to the customer – Understand the customer’s business will allow you the opportunity to identify the possibilities for matching their needs with the features and benefits of the products you offer
  • Check for acceptance – Always ask the customer if they agree with the agenda and have any questions or concerns before moving forward.

Probe:

  • Ask effective questions – We will cover examples of questions next week, but topics to cover include: history, objectives, target demographics, competition, past/current marketing plans (what has worked and more importantly what has NOT worked), budget, decision making process, timelines.
  • LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! – Specifically, pay special attention to individual circumstances and the “need behind the need.’
  • Check for acceptance – Always ask the customer if they can think of any other information they would like to share to ensure that you truly understand their business.

Support:

  • Note: You must tread lightly with this step of the needs analysis process, as it is not always appropriate to lead the customer down this path. However, if you identify the opportunity it can be an effective way to accelerate the sales cycle.
  • If a customer has expressed a need and you clearly understand that need and are confident you can offer a product to address this need, then do the following:
  1. Acknowledge the specific need
  2. Describe relevant product features and benefits (Don’t forget the BENEFIT – what’s in it for the customer?)
  • Check for acceptance – Always ask the customer if they agree that the product feature you just explained might appropriately address a specific need they have communicated

Close:

  • Quickly summarize the information you have gathered during the needs analysis process. Always assure the customer that all details shared are strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone.
  • Propose next steps – Usually this includes setting the next meeting date where you will make a recommendation based upon the information you’ve gathered
  • Check for acceptance – Always ask the customer if there is anything else they like to discuss. If they have any concerns, now is the time to address them. A proper close will help build rapport with the customer and will assure them that they can trust you – the first step in building a mutually beneficial business relationship.

Next week in Part 2 of Conducting A Needs Analysis, I’ll provide examples of questions that provide the foundation of a successful consultative selling relationship. Proving to a prospect that you undeniably understand their business, their category, and their competition will help differentiate you from your competing media sales counterparts and ensure that you are receiving your unfair share of advertising dollars in the market. Any salesperson can make a recommendation, but true winners show time and time again that their recommendations deliver the largest return on investment because they took the time to understand their client’s needs, wants and desires.

Cheers,
Dan

6/19 – Advertising Quick Clicks
43 Questions to Create a Sense of Sales Urgency (Courtesy of Hub Spot)
It’s Always Time to Spruce Up Your Sales Pitch (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
The 5 Best Phrases To Use When Offering Your Sales Prospect A Discount (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Don’t Miss the Gold in Your Old Sales Leads (Courtesy of Business 2 Community)
How To Improve Your Face to Face Sales Meetings (Courtesy of Sales and Marketing)


Video Courtesy of Falls Consulting


6/12 – Treat Your Initial Sales Contact Like A Golden Opportunity

You’ve now made a list of prospective customers, qualified each of them, and are preparing to embark on the most intimidating step in the sales cycle: making initial contact. Whether via phone call or in person, it’s kind of like a first date. You’re going to be judged. If you drop in for a personal visit, someone will be watching you…even when you think they aren’t. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. At the same time, there is a tremendous opportunity to front of you. What if this prospect could be your next annual contract client?

There are three absolutely critical things to keep in mind that are crucial to the success of each and every initial sales contact.

  1. Have a Pre-Call OBJECTIVE – Ask yourself “What am I trying to accomplish?” Every step of the sales cycle is designed to systematically move towards the point when your prospect says “Yes!” and becomes a customer. Always continue moving towards conquering that objective.
  2. Think PROFESSIONAL! –  What can you do for your prospect, NOT what you can do for yourself. It’s all about them, not you. Also remember that as a representative of your newspaper, everything you say and everything you do will be directly associated with your employer.
  3. Don’t Fear REJECTION – One of my favorite sayings is “Selling does not start until the customer says no.” Expect rejection…but do not be afraid of it. Prepare for it. Embrace it. Learn from it. And then you’ll know exactly what you need to do in the future to overcome it. Remember, persistence overcomes resistance!
  4. Do Not Make a PITCH – The initial sales contact is not intended to close a sale. It’s simply the first step towards creating a sale. Whether done on the phone or in person, initial contact time should be very short. Your primary focus, as defined by your pre-call objective, is to secure an appointment for a future time where you can conduct a thorough needs analysis.

Always remember that when we make a phone call or walk through the door of a prospect’s business, usually we’re not expected and, for the most part, have interrupted their day. Your prospect may tell you that they do not have time to talk at the moment. Stay calm and ask if they can recommend a future time where they would not mind spending a few minutes with you.

The most important part in preparing for initial sales contact is to develop an “opener.” An opener is a statement that follows your greeting. Developing an effective opener takes careful thought. Preferably, it is a short and direct one sentence statement about your company that will grab attention and spark interest.

You only have a few seconds to get their attention. Make the most of it. Clearly define how meeting with you, and eventually doing business with you, will benefit the prospect and their business. Remember, it’s all about them..not about you.

One of the most beneficial things a salesperson can do before making initial contact with prospects is to create a script and rehearse. Be yourself, be personable, but stick to the script to ensure that you stay on track towards accomplishing your pre-call objective. At the same time, prepare two lists of questions to ask your prospect should you get the opportunity to speak with a decision maker. Always remember to keep moving towards your pre-call objective.

List #1: Questions for those prospects that express an interest in your product or service.
List #2: Questions to keep the conversation moving for prospects that do not have a genuine interest at this time.

Personally, here is how I break down the initial sales contact process in seven steps. These steps are applicable whether your initial contact is done via phone or in person:

  1. Give a greeting that includes your name and who you are with.
  2. Ask for the name of the decision maker (unless you already have this information) and if he/she has a moment to speak with you.
  3. Once you have an audience with the decision maker, confidently deliver your “opener” statement.
  4. Wait for their response and listen carefully for any signals that will tell you whether to use List #1 or List #2 as define above.
  5. If their response is favorable, proceed with one or two qualifying questions and listen. If their response shows no interest, ask a few additional probing questions and permission to follow up in the future (usually 6 months.) Then proceed to step number seven.
  6. If all is going well, be direct and ask for a meeting. Schedule the time BEFORE you leave or hang up the phone.
  7. Thank them for their time and confirm that you’ll see them at the predetermined time/date –or- will follow up in the future with their permission.
  8. Whether you achieve your pre-call objective or not, always be courteous and thank them for their time. If the initial contact was in person, leave them something of value as you say goodbye – a brochure, media kit, or anything they can look over after you’re gone. Always remember to leave your business card!

That is it. Keep notes on each prospect you make initial contact with and what the outcome was – especially if you secured an appointment for a follow up meeting. Record the day and time before you forget! Although the initial contact process can be intimidating, it can be a lot of fun, build confidence, and best yet be PROFITABLE if you are prepared, professional, and not afraid of possible rejection.

Next week I’ll focus on best practices for executing a successful needs analysis. Success is dependent on asking the right questions, and more importantly, LISTENING to the answers. Sales is not an overly complex process – in fact, your customers typically tell you exactly what you need to do to make the sale. The key is gathering the proper information and formulating a recommendation based upon the needs of your customer (again, it’s really all about them!) that will help them meet and exceed their business objectives.

Cheers,
Dan

6/12 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Can You Close a Sale in Five Questions? (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
How To Create A Sense Of Urgency In The Sale (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
The 5 Deadly Mistakes of Sales Prospecting Emails (Courtesy of HubSpot)
Sales Skills: The Best and The Worst (Courtesy of RAIN Group)
13 Tips On Handling Sales Customer Objections Efficiently (Courtesy of Forbes)


Video Courtesy of Jeffrey Gitomer


6/5 – Before You Make Contact, Qualify and Research Your Prospect!

A real life scenario: Years ago, I accompanied a junior salesperson (let’s call him “Alan”) on a first visit. Alan assures me he is well prepared to demonstrate how our newspaper product can help this prospect (let’s call her “Cathy”) exceed her marketing objectives. We walk through the front door of this retail establishment and make introductions (I also explain I’m only there to observe.) Alan launches into a brief needs analysis so Cathy feels confident that he understands her business. Anxiously, Alan then explains the features of our product and accurately aligns resulting benefits to Cathy’s business.

Positioning for an ‘assumed close,’ Alan tells Cathy that he can launch an ROP campaign to drive traffic through her doors that upcoming weekend – going so far as to hand her a recommended insertion schedule he’d prepared in advance. It’s at that point that Cathy looks at me and I can see in her eyes that she is quickly deflating. She calmly explains to Alan that her business – as clearly communicated on her website and in all of her advertising – is not open on Saturday and Sundays. I can hear Alan “gulp” from across the table.

Fortunately, Cathy is a kind and gentle person who went on to be a longtime loyal client. She understood that Alan was just getting started in media sales and was appreciative that he took such interest in her business. We walked out that day with a sale despite the fact Alan broke the cardinal rule of sales; he did not properly qualify and research his prospect!

(Note: I had to laugh as we exited Cathy’s store and I pointed out to Alan that her business hours were posted on the very door we had originally walked through.)

Just to be certain everyone understands the difference between qualifying and researching, I’ll explain:

  • Qualifying is the process of identifying if a prospect needs your products or services, if they have the financial means to purchase what you’re selling, and if they have the authority or ability to make the decision to buy.
  • If, after determining whether or not a prospect is qualified, you then move on to the researching phase – which is the process of collecting as much information about the prospect, their product, their target audience and their competition as you possibly can.

We live in a technical age where we have a plethora of information at our fingertips. Well…Hello Google! There is no excuse for not knowing a little bit of everything about a prospect before you even engage them in conversation. In some cases, effectively qualifying a prospect on your list will reveal that they are not a good fit for the newspaper product you are offering – allowing you to move on to the next prospect. In most cases, the information you collect doing a few minutes of research will keep you from making silly mistakes like our friend “Alan” that can potentially blow a sales opportunity.

The time, energy, and even financial resources you devote to selling to an unqualified prospect could be causing you to miss a more valuable sales opportunity. Some of my favorite ‘people research tool’s are just a few clicks away – I implore you to take a few moments with any or all of these resources to help make qualifying your prospects a more efficient and effective process:

Next week I’ll talk about some best practices for making initial contact with a qualified prospect. Reaching out for the first time, either through a phone call or email, can be an intimidating and frustrating process. At the same time, this is your one shot to provoke interest and action within an organization on your prospect list by delivering a unique and customized value statement that will get you through to key decision makers. You’ll likely have only a few seconds to prove your ability to become a “trusted business advisor” – not just another media salesperson looking to make a quick sale – and convince the person on the other end feel as if it’s in their best interest to meet with you. It’s your moment, the spotlight is shining, so make it count!

Cheers,
Dan

6/5 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Why “Does That Make Sense?” Is the Worst Question You Can Ask in Sales 
(Courtesy of Hub Spot)
The “Art” of Selling – The Permanent TO DO (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
Don’t Waste Time Chasing the Wrong Sales Deals (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
It Matters How You Lose When It Comes to Sales (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
10 Things To Ask Your Client At The First Sales Meeting (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of Victor Antonio


5/22 – Prospecting Like A Pro

Step Numero Uno of the sales cycle requires a fundamental shift in the way in which we think. Many look at prospecting as an activity, but personally I view it as a mindset. To be successful, a salesperson needs to ALWAYS be turned “on.” Every conversation, every introduction, every social gathering should be viewed as a potential opportunity to mine for new business. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that a salesperson should constantly be “selling” outside of the office; the key is to always be “listening” so that you have your finger on the pulse on what’s happening in your community.

The most effective form of prospecting is one that many salespeople overlook – business generated from referrals. Ask your clients if they would be kind enough to share their newspaper advertising success with their friends who could also prosper from your help. One tactic I’ve found extremely successful is what I call “The Power of Five.” After I’ve developed a solid rapport with a prospect/client, I give them five of my business cards and ask them for five in return. Then I explain my rationale: I like to support businesses that support me, so I look for opportunities to refer clients to my friends and ask my clients to do the same for me. It’s amazing how effective this technique can be.

Other prospecting sources I use frequently are local business journals, chamber of commerce meetings, networking events, real estate transaction notices, and of course the internet. It’s amazing how something as simple as “shared connections” on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can open the door to personal introductions and preliminary meetings with possible clients.

When I first began racing bikes, my coach at the time told me that the key to success is simple. If you want to be a better bike racer, you need to race your bike…a lot. Effective sales prospecting is no different – you will produce positive results if you create a system and do it routinely. Professional salespeople prospect daily. Proactively block-off specific time on your calendar for prospecting activities such as phone calling and emailing. Treat your prospecting time with the same respect as you would any other important appointment to ensure this vital step does not slip through the cracks. Stay focused and take your prospecting seriously. I assure you that mastering this step of the sales cycle will lead you to more sales victories.

Next week, I’ll focus on reviewing the list of new prospects you’ve generated and why it’s absolutely critical to do some research before reaching out and making initial contact. You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression and help your prospect understand that you want nothing more than to learn more about their business at this point. You are not trying to sell them anything, you are only asking for a few minutes of their time.

Cheers,
Dan

5/22 – Advertising Quick Clicks
The Sales Customer Isn’t Always Right – Here’s When  
(Courtesy of Inc.)
Why Sales Is the Best First Job (Courtesy of Hub Spot)
Do You Have the Same Prospecting Challenges As Other Sellers? (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
The Real Threat to Your Sales Goals and Ambitions (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
7 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of Jeb Blount


5/15 – Seven Steps to Strategic Sales a/k/a “The Sales Cycle”

With a wide variety of media options available and marketing budgets that continue to shift in response to changes in the marketplace, it’s more crucial than ever for you to be continually prospecting for NEW business that can supplement your sales figures and replace advertising dollars that are unexpectedly lost.

The process of mining for fresh revenue sources and untapped business opportunities is described in many different ways, but personally I have always referred to this as my “Sales Cycle” – 7 steps that keep me on track and increase the likelihood that I’ll be closing the sale. The most important thing to remember is that each step is absolutely critical to the overall success of the process. There are no shortcuts. Embrace each step, knowing that your client will feel confident in your ability to understand their business and make solid advertising recommendations.

  1. Prospect
  2. Initiate contact
  3. Conduct a thorough needs analysis
  4. Make a recommendation
  5. Overcome objections
  6. Close the sale
  7. Follow up (and ask for additional business based on previous results)

While managing “transactional” business – existing accounts currently running – you should also allocate time each week to analyze your market and determine if there are untapped opportunities out there to be explored. Effective prospecting is a critical component of sustainable sales success. But, remember that prospecting is NOT selling. Prospecting simply identifies and qualifies opportunities to initiate contact.

Top salespeople understand that effective prospecting is a result of a plan; a strategy that includes an objective assessment of your situation, a defined and measurable goal, and tactics to help you achieve that goal. Next week I’ll expound upon the process of prospecting including tips, tricks and resources I’ve used in the past to achieve success and add new business to my sales pipeline.

Cheers,
Dan

5/15 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Danger! Are You Out of Sync with Your Prospects? 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
Do You Commit These Common Sales Closing Mistakes? (Courtesy of Sale Fuel)
What Can You do if You’ve Lost Your Sales Mojo (Courtesy of Inc.)
It Matters How You Lose The Sale (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
How To Keep Your Prospect Engaged In Your Meetings (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of InfoTeam Consulting


5/8 – VERSION 2.0

Each year, the MNA Member Survey reveals a strong appetite for additional sales training. In recent conversations with publishers and sales directors, one of the consistent messages I heard is a desire for using the weekly MNA Bulletin as a “sales-generation” tool; a communication vehicle to deliver sales strategies, negotiation secrets and prospecting tips that will help stimulate the discovery and augmentation of untapped advertising revenue streams.

Additionally, Minnesota News Media Institute (MNI) sessions we hold numerous times throughout the year make it clear that there’s a healthy desire for additional tips from sales experts to help salespeople at MNA member newspapers to hone their sales and negotiation techniques – leading to increased advertising sales for their newspapers and a larger paycheck for themselves! You’ll find a plethora of ‘Advertising Quick Clicks’ below for your review.

So, without further adieu, I (re)introduce The Sales Cycle. Those of you who know me understand my passion for advertising, sales…and cycling. Besides managing major retail accounts in the newspaper, digital outdoor and magazine industries, I’ve also been racing bikes (road, mountain, cyclocross and fat bikes) under license by USA Cycling for the past 20 years. During this time, I’ve discovered an amazing synergy between my sales career and time spent “in the saddle” racing bikes – one which I look forward to sharing with you in future articles.

Next week, I’ll be introducing my 7-step sales process – otherwise known as my “sales cycle.” Clearly understanding each step and how they directly affect the overall success of your sales efforts will undoubtedly help transform your relationship with prospective accounts and existing clients from “transactional” to “consultative” – leading to new sales, incremental revenue, and delivering you to finish line in front of your competition (in this case, media competitors in the marketplace fighting for their share of your client’s precious advertising dollars.)

Cheers,
Dan

5/8 – Advertising Quick Clicks
The 4 Hottest Ways to Open Successful Cold Calls 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
The Only 4 Reasons Your Sales Prospect Will Buy (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Podcast: 5 Steps to Close More On the First Sales Call (Courtesy of 360 Ad Sales)
Simple Mistakes to Strike From Sales Emails (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
Sales Reps Must Evolve To Thrive (Courtesy of Partners In Excellence)


Video Courtesy of Brian Tracy


5/1 – Advertising Quick Clicks
81 One-Sentence Sales Tips Every Rep Should Know 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
Are You Making One of These 5 Closing Mistakes? (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
The Best Question To Ask When A Prospect Rejects Your Price (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Approach Each Sales Call Like A Game of Chess (Courtesy of Sales and Marketing)
Want To Build Lasting Relationships With Sales Customers? (Courtesy of Inc.)


Video Courtesy of Clark Kegley


4/24 – Advertising Quick Clicks
The New Sales Pitch Process: Shorter, Faster, Better 
(Courtesy of Ad Age)
9 Things You Should Never Say to a Prospect Over Email (Courtesy of HubSpot)
What to Do Immediately After a Sales Failure (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
Simple Guidelines for Better Cold Calls (Courtesy of Forbes)
5 Reasons Why Your Prices SHOULD Be Higher Than Your Competitors (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of Jill Konrath


4/17 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How Many Touches Does It Take to Make a Sale? (Courtesy of RAIN Group)
3 Ways Of Asking For The Sale, That ASK For The Sale (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Dig a Buried Email Out of Your Prospect’s Inbox in 15 Seconds (Courtesy of HubSpot)
3 Ways to Control Sales Client Service Expectations (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
The Hard Sell No Longer Sells (Courtesy of Forbes)


Video Courtesy of Ask Gary Vee


4/10 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Don’t Let An Unresponsive Audience Trip You Up During Presentations (Courtesy of Fast Company)
15 Science-Backed Tips for Making Better Sales Calls (Courtesy of HubSpot)
Mirroring Techniques in the Digital Age (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
7 Things Successful Sales People Never Say (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Harvard Professor Says 95% of Sales Decisions Are Subconscious (Courtesy of Inc.)


Video Courtesy of The Brooks Group


4/3 – Advertising Quick Clicks
The Most Persuasive Sales Emails Always Do These 5 Things 
(Courtesy of Inc.)
The Best Sales Cold Call Script Ever (Courtesy of HubSpot)
The 21 New Sales Core Competencies for Modern Selling (Courtesy of OMG Hub)
Voicemail Sales Messages That Will Get a Call Back (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
5 Essential Tips for Building Better Customer Relationships (Courtesy of Brooks Group)


Video Courtesy of Mark Hunter


3/27 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How to Negotiate When Your Time’s Up 
(Courtesy of SalesFuel)
Sales Meeting Agenda: The Master Tip for Closing More Deals (Courtesy of HubSpot)
The Reason You Think No One Is Buying (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
How To Build Up The Gains For Your Customers (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Get Relevant or Get Lost! 4 Ways to Increase Your Relevance to Drive Ad Sales (Courtesy of 360 Ad Sales)


Video Courtesy of Jim Pancero


3/20 – Advertising Quick Clicks
The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Sales Process 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
How to Handle Difficult Sales-Call Scenarios (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
Sales Is a Competition. You Are a Competitor. (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
How To Build Value In A Sales Presentation (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
Turning “I Have No Budget” Into A Closed Deal! (Courtesy of 360 Ad Sales)


Video Courtesy of Grant Cardone


3/13 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
Ask Your Sales Prospects These Important Questions (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
How to Get a Sales Meeting with Your Conflicted Dream Client (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)
Improve Your Email Sales Pitch Response Rate (Courtesy of Entrepreneur Online)
Sales Reps Must Clearly Define Product Value (Courtesy of Forbes)


Video Courtesy of Jennifer Gluckow


3/6 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Sales Leaders Know To Ask Questions Before Offering Solutions 
(Courtesy of Forbes)
The Top 29 Sales Blogs Every Sales Professional Should Read (Courtesy of HubSpot)
The Hidden Mystery Behind Building Trust with Potential Customers (Courtesy of Small Biz Trends)
3 Ways to Inspire Customer Loyalty (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
How to Make Your Opportunity Your Client’s Priority (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)


Video Courtesy of Trish Bertuzzi


2/27 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How to Handle Difficult Sales Calls Like a Pro 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
A Simple Sales-Boosting Hack for 2018: Show Up To Meetings On Time (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
Want Potential Sales Customers to Remember You? 6 Unusual Tactics (Courtesy of Inc.)
Who Are We Designing Our Sales Strategies To Serve? (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
Why Fear Is Holding Back Your Sales Performance (Courtesy of Sales and Marketing Management)


Video Courtesy of Vanessa Van Edwards


2/20 – Advertising Quick Clicks
7 Keys to Successful Selling for the First-Time Sales Rep 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
Selling Without Selling is NOT Possible (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
Sales Reps Must Challenge Potential Buyers (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
“I Can’t Get My Sales Prospects To Return My Calls!” (Courtesy of MTD Sale Training)
How to Make Your Dream Sales Client Want to Meet with You (Courtesy of The Sales Blog)


Video Courtesy of Victor Antonio


2/13 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How to Know When to Pivot Your Sales Strategy 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
Is Your Personality Leading You Away from Consultative Sales Negotiating? (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
These Seven To-Do List Mistakes Could Be Derailing Your Productivity (Courtesy of Fast Company)
Be Your Best Self, No Matter The Audience (Courtesy of Great Leadership)
Six Tips For Handling Sales Clients That Want Out Of Their Contracts (Courtesy of Forbes)


Video Courtesy of Karie Kaufmann


2/6 – Advertising Quick Clicks
4 Sales Questions to Never Ask Over Email 
(Courtesy of HubSpot)
How to Write A Sales Call to Action That Gets Results (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
5 Questions Every Salesperson Should Be Asking Their Prospective Customers (Courtesy of Inc.)
The Myth Of The “Single Sales Decision Maker” (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
How To Remove Objections And Speed Up The Sales Process (Courtesy of Forbes)


Video Courtesy of Marc Wayshak


1/30 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Prep for Success: 4 Tips to Better Your Next Sales Pitch 
(Courtesy of SalesFuel)
Why Bringing Your A-team to Advertising Clients is Key (Courtesy of INMA)
18 Sales Podcasts Every Rep Should Check Out (Courtesy of HubSpot)
Seven Ways To Show Sales Customers You Care (Courtesy of Forbes)
8 Tips For Preparing For A Sales Call (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of HubSpot


1/23 – Advertising Quick Clicks
Good Tips on How to Rebound from a Bad Sales Year 
(Courtesy of SalesFuel)
How To Handle A Buyer Who Objects to Price (Courtesy of Entrepreneur)
Identifying the 4 Buying Behavior Styles to Sell More Effectively (Courtesy of The Brooks Group)
The Ultimate List of Words That Sell (Courtesy of HubSpot)
Digital Ad Spend To Surpass Traditional In 2018, Per Analyst (Courtesy of Media Daily News)


Video Courtesy of Tiffany Peterson


1/16 – Advertising Quick Clicks
5 Ways to Re-Engage with Sales Prospects After the Holidays (Courtesy of Hub Spot)
Sales Reps Benefit From Face-to-Face Time With Buyers (Courtesy of Partners in Excellence)
Big Political Ad Spend Set for Local in 2018, but Will News Sites Be Ready? (Courtesy of Street Fight)
The Best Words To Use When Faced With Sales Objections (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)
How to Re-Engage With Sales Prospects In 2018 (Courtesy of SalesFuel)


Video Courtesy of Evan Carmichael


1/9 – Advertising Quick Clicks
How to Win More Sales in 2018 (Courtesy of SalesFuel)
15 Sales Email Templates Perfect for the New Year (Courtesy of Hub Spot)
Sales, Art, Science, Craft? (Courtesy of Partners In Excellence)
Certainty—The Ultimate Sales Closing Tool (Courtesy of Business 2 Community)
Revive Stalled Sales Deals With These Tactics (Courtesy of SalesFuel)


Video Courtesy of Jill Rowley


1/2 – Advertising Quick Clicks
5 Alternatives to “It’s End of Month. Want to Buy?” 
(Courtesy of Hub Spot)
Secret Sales Hack—Fewer Conversations! (Courtesy of Partners In Excellence)
Sell It With A Smile (Courtesy of Sales Fuel)
Quick Tips You Can Use to Improve Your Sales Technique (Courtesy of Entrepreneur)
The Top 10 Sales Blog Posts Of 2017 – As Voted For By You! (Courtesy of MTD Sales Training)


Video Courtesy of Jeffrey Gitomer