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July 2013

New Ways to Pitch and Other Advice for Sellers from Daniel Pink

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.


Author Daniel Pink writes extensively about work and human motivation, and in To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, he writes in particular about the motivation of salespeople. I wrote earlier this year about his view that, for many people, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are more motivating than money.

Earlier this month, Pink discussed the more tactical side of sales in a wide-ranging Webinar hosted by Buyers today are likely to have as much product knowledge as sellers, so he offered some tips on how sales organizations can adapt.

  • Be more consultative. Buyers can gather basic information about products on their own, so the sales role has shifted. Now there’s a new premium on expertise. As always, sales leaders need to be experts in their own product offerings, but they need to be almost as well versed in the buyer’s business.

    The most successful salespeople, especially in B2B, will be the forward thinkers who can help buyers “uncover problems that they didn’t realize they had,” said Pink.
  • Look beyond the extroverts. Research shows that extroverts are more likely to go into sales, get hired into sales jobs, and get promoted.  But, Pink said, “when scholars have looked at the link between extroversion and sales performance, the correlation is basically zero.”

    He cited a study by Wharton professor Adam Grant, who compared the performance of introverted and extroverted salespeople. The extroverts did a little better than the introverts, but not much.

“The big story here is that neither the introverts nor the extroverts did nearly as well as a third group: the ambiverts,” ­said Pink. These are people who land in the middle of the spectrum. Ambiverts by far make the best salespeople, according to Pink, because “they have a wider repertoire of skills. They know when to speak up, they know when to shut up. They know when to push and when to hold back.”

  • Know the modern ABCs. “Always be closing” is no longer the sales mantra. Social psychologists, behavioral economists, and others who study the way people make decisions have identified three qualities for being effective in the new world of sales:
  1. Attunement – the ability to see something from someone else’s point of view.
  2. Buoyancy – the ability to stay afloat in the “ocean of rejection” that comes with selling.
  3. Clarity – the ability to move from merely accessing information to curating and making sense of it. This ties in with adding value by identifying future problems, not just solving current ones.
  • Find new ways to pitch. Salespeople are familiar with the elevator pitch, but smart salespeople broaden their repertoire. A few examples:
    • Pitching with questions gets buyers to come up with their own reasons for agreeing with salespeople (effective when the facts are on your side).
    • Pitching with rhyme, oddly enough, increases “processing fluency” and makes ideas stick. Compare the phrase “Woes unite foes” with “Woes unite enemies.”
    • The one-word pitch is the one thing you want people to think about when they think of your product, e.g., MasterCard’s “Priceless.”

  • Hire good learners. If you’re looking to hire recent college grads, remember that they aren’t likely to have much of a track record. In that case, look for potential and eagerness to learn. You might think athletes perform well in sales because they’re competitive, but they (and musicians) often excel because they’re accustomed to practicing and realize that their performance affects others, and others affect them.

What do you think of Pink’s ideas about motivation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Enable Sales Teams to Spend More Time Selling

Untitled-2Today's blog post is by Javier Aldrete, Senior Director of Product Management at Zilliant.



Given years of investment in sales effectiveness technologies, today’s B2B sales teams should be more efficient and productive than ever before; however, recent studies have revealed that sales teams spend just 41 percent of their time selling by phone or face-to-face, versus 46 percent in 2006. The remainder of their time is increasingly being spent on administrative tasks, research, service calls, and training. In order for companies to make their numbers each quarter, many sales leaders agree that companies should enable their sales teams to maximize the time spent talking to customers.

Selling Time by the Numbers

There is strong evidence that correlates selling time with quota achievement. In fact, an increase of just a few percentage points in selling time across an entire sales force leads to higher overall profitability for the sales organization and can equate to additional sales headcount, at no additional expense. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, within a sales force of 100 reps at 50 percent selling time, a 5 percent increase in selling time equates to five additional sales heads without the incremental cost. So where are reps spending their time? It varies by company, industry, and sales process, but here are a few key areas: 


It’s evident that sales leaders must look for opportunities to minimize activities that do not directly contribute to revenue generation.

Technology’s Impact on Sales Effectiveness

When sales force automation (SFA) systems were introduced, they promised shorter sales cycles, higher win rates, and increased sales rep productivity. In fact, an entire ecosystem of vendors, consultants, and system integrators has been created over the past two decades in pursuit of this value proposition.

While SFA tools provide companies with a multitude of benefits, it’s hard to link them to increased sales effectiveness or revenue growth. More often than not, sales reps spend more time entering information into their SFA system than deriving useful information from it to close more sales at a faster rate.

Instead, sales effectiveness solutions should help sales teams focus on revenue-generating activities. They should provide clear and actionable guidance, help sales reps focus on the best opportunities, and integrate easily with existing systems and processes – and they shouldn’t require reps to spend time on data entry. Ultimately, these tools should add a few percentage points to average time spent selling and give companies the equivalent of additional sales headcount without the incremental cost in order to help companies make their numbers.

Getting Results with Sales Guidance Applications

Fortunately, a new class of sales effectiveness technologies has emerged. Predictive guidance applications apply math and science models to a company’s existing transaction data to deliver valuable sales opportunities. They require little to no work on the part of sales reps and deliver specific, actionable opportunities directly to the field, enabling salespeople to spend more time selling.

Many B2B sales reps have very large books of business, spanning hundreds of accounts and hundreds of thousands of products. This results in data sets that are too large to analyze and mine for opportunities through traditional means. Rather than create more work for sales reps, predictive guidance applications based on companies’ existing data act as virtual sales analysts, working around the clock to pinpoint the best opportunities for sales to pursue.

Ultimately, sales tools that provide actionable, predictive guidance enable sales teams to spend more time talking to the right customers with the largest opportunities for wallet-share growth. Companies can get the benefit of additional sales headcount without the extra cost.

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Do You Feel Handicapped by the Need to Boil the Ocean?

Several days ago, I was in Chicago, and I took a cab from O’Hare Airport to my hotel. The cab driver was wearing a Chicago Bulls basketball jersey with player Derrick Rose’s # 1 on the back. When I asked him about the jersey, he told me, “I’ve got something in common with Derrick Rose. We were both raised in Englewood, a rough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.” The cab driver told me that he, too, wanted to be wealthy and famous.

I noticed a book on the front seat: Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. At first I thought that the cab driver was also a philosophy student, perhaps taking courses at night, but rather than jump to conclusions, I asked. He told me that philosophy was a source of inspiration for the rap songs he writes, and that opened a floodgate of information way too long to share in this space. He shared with me that he actually felt pressured to become a superstar rapper, but he hadn’t written a good song in a long time.

As we were driving down the highway, he confessed that he had no idea how to create his brand, sell his work, or compete with rappers who capture the spirit of our times in the most edgy ways. He said, “I’ve been stuck in a rut for the past two years. I want to take three months off and do nothing but write new songs.”

Surprisingly, he asked me what I thought, so I made a suggestion, drawing from what I know: the art of selling. “Take baby steps; don’t try to boil the ocean. Why don’t you set smaller goals every day? Think about what you can do today. Perhaps write three good lines and call it a day. Tomorrow, you’ll add three more and within a month you’ve got 90 lines.”

His face lit up, and he said, “I can do that. I really can’t afford to take off from work anyway. I can write three lines over and over until they’re perfect – that takes less than an hour a day.”

That conversation brings me back to the rut in which many sales organizations find themselves. Sales leaders delay decisions until they have all the information they need. They wait for new studies and fresh surveys and buy-in from C-level executives, and they don’t think about what they can successfully do today. The world is shifting from the delay economy to the real-time economy. The time to get things done is now. 

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Sales 2.0 Tools: They Work Only If You Do

Anabel_De_Vetter_xsmallToday's blog post is by Anabel de Vetter, Content Creator at Showpad 



Some people want us to believe that sales is broken or has completely changed, or even that selling is dead. They believe that buyers spend their days on social media, happily progressing on their buyer journey all by themselves. Should we just let all our good sales reps go and advise them to start a career building Websites?

The fact is, there are new tools and technology available to help sales reps get better results:

  • social media to get to know prospects,
  • CRM systems to keep track of contacts,
  • mobile solutions to liberate sales reps from their desks.

Paying Is Not Enough

These new tools are not solutions by themselves, however, and that never changes. These new possibilities serve to make your sales reps better at doing what they do best – which is still basically convincing people that spending their money on your product is a good idea – but technology that immediately drives results to the bottom line without a salesperson’s lifting a finger has yet to be invented.

The act of paying for new technology, in cash or in time, will not get you results. Compare it to getting in shape: no matter how good we are at wishful thinking, a monthly fee to the health club is not going to get us any slimmer – but it might trim our wallets.

The Baby and the Bathwater

Work is the magic word: it drives results. When properly introduced, a CRM system, a tablet app for salespeople, or using LinkedIn as a sales tool contributes to getting better results. The challenge is to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. So these new sales tools are not solutions by themselves, but don’t let that be your main reason for not adopting them. If your pre-pre-predecessor at your company had thought like that, you'd be sifting through a box of index cards and dipping a quill pen into an inkwell right now, instead of reading this post.

The Key to Successfully Implementing Sales 2.0 Technology

What does it take to get new technology introduced? Working for a technology company myself, I must say I have wondered, too. Why do some of our customers get up and running quickly while others seem to take a lot of time?

The keys are preparation and follow-up: those other magic words. Getting new technology widely adopted in a sales team always involves some change, and good preparation and thoughtful follow-up will get you a lot closer to the desired results.  Don’t expect sales reps to spend valuable time trying out something new just because you think it’s a good idea.


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Sales Effectiveness in the Digital Age

Sales – has it ever been about anything other than generating leads, transforming them into opportunities, creating innovative solutions to suit your prospect’s needs, and successfully closing a sale? Once upon a time, all that was achieved face-to-face, using printed marketing materials carried in a sales bag and a hopefully well-timed visit to a prospect’s home or office. Today, however, best-in-class sales teams harness the power of the digital age to sell smarter; the time has never been better to maximize sales effectiveness. 

Start with Sales and Marketing Alignment

According to Aberdeen Group’s Peter Ostrow (Research Director, Sales Effectiveness), today, sales enablement is about sales and marketing alignment. It should be deeply collaborative. In best-in-class companies, marketing gives front-line sales teams access to company assets that are

  1. compliant and consistent with corporate messaging, and
  2. customizable so that they can be tailored to fit individual sales situations.

Follow with Improved Sales Intelligence

Sales intelligence – information about companies, demographics, trigger events – compliments what Ostrow calls “the bare-bones information” that reps enter into the CRM system, allowing for a more strategic and targeted sales effort.

Aggregated data certainly has its place in the digital age, but in sales today, there’s no need – nor any excuse – to abandon the human touch; sales intelligence actually brings that touch to the sales cycle. Best-in-class companies use it to guide their sales teams, enabling them to bring relevant information to prospects and customers right when its needed.

And Then Leverage Customer Intelligence

Customer intelligence, aka Big Data: this is the information about customers and prospects – buying history, customer service calls, etc. – that’s collected over time by personnel at all levels who’ve interacted with a particular client. Ideally, it gives what Ostrow calls a “360-degree view” of the customer.

Imagine what your sales team could achieve if each rep could pull this information into one screen and draw information from that screen while interacting with customers. To customers, it might seem that the sales rep has a crystal ball, delivering the right answers at the right time. Best-in-class companies, however, know that no magic is necessary; leverage the power of customer intelligence, and you can achieve results that are wholly replicable. 

To hear more of Ostrow’s sharp insight on these topics and others (including traditional training in the digital age – is it necessary or not?), watch this 9-minute SalesOpShop video, and then be sure to visit the SalesOpShop to learn how you can become a member of this highly collaborative, peer-to-peer community of sales leaders.

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The Value of Presentations

1d912eeToday's blog post is by Jacco van der Kooij, sales strategy consultant at Future Of Sales Is NOW.

Attending, preparing, and giving presentations is a critical part of doing business. The big question is, what is the outcome of your presentations? How many presentations lead to measurable results? Selling Power and SalesOpShop recently conducted a survey of B2B sales professionals to get a better understanding of this subject.

How Much Time Do You Spend on Presentations?

Of the 170 participants in the survey, 76 percent indicate that they need presentations to do their job, and for 53 percent, this means they attend at least one to two presentations a week. The most prominent users are product managers, who attend several presentations a day, present once or twice a week, and together with marketing, spend as much as a full day in preparation. Sales, which accounted for 56 percent of the respondents, present less frequently and spend only a couple of hours in preparation.

Q1-v2 copy

Q3-v21Q6-v2How Much Does a Presentation Cost? 

Let’s consider the example of a small company of about 50–100 employees and assume that a midlevel manager creates and delivers a presentation to 10 people in the organization:

8 hours to create (@ $65/hour)                                     $520
1 hour to deliver to 10 people (@ $65/person)              $650
The total cost for one presentation                           $1,170

This excludes the cost of a conference room, projector, technical support, and condiments for the participants.

The Costs of Presentations Are Staggering!

Similarly, assuming a company uses conference rooms for its internal presentations and inside and field sales representatives for its external presentations, it will find itself investing the following:

$273,000/year per conference room on internal presentations
$88,000/year per field sales professional on client presentations
$12,400/year per inside sales professional on client presentations

A company that employs five outside reps and two inside reps will spend nearly $1 million annually on presentations. If you want to estimate the amount your company is investing, use our online calculator.

What Is the Outcome of Presentations?

There is great value in getting people together at a set time to share ideas and conversation initiated by a thought-provoking presentation; however, in most corporations, the majority of internal presentations are provided by untrained people who deliver monologues instead of engage in two-way conversations. As you can tell from the results below, approximately one out of two presentations is considered valuable enough and leads to a measurable result.

Q3-how-many-were-worth-your-timeAs for external presentations, the results appear worse. In the sales industry, the monologue, one-way presentation is so commonplace that it is referred to as "a talking brochure." It is no surprise that a panel of buyers at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London rated only 1 out of 8 presentations valuable. When asked, "What do you fear the most?" the response was largely, "long and boring vendor presentations."

How Can Presentations Be Improved?

How can we deliver a better return on the sizable investment in both internal and external presentations?


These responses can be separated into a few areas of improvement:

  1. Prepare by researching your audience and develop a story line that matches the audience’s need.
  2. Make your content exciting. Base it on relevant, reliable data and add telling visuals.
  3. Improve your delivery by practicing, and with every practice shorten the presentation until it is between 12–15 minutes long.
  4. Integrate a way to engage and involve your audience early on.

For those presenting regularly, I recommend Duarte Academy and, in particular, its workshop Resonate. If you are presenting data, I recommend Edward Tufte and his class Presenting Data and Information.

Rethinking Presentations

The biggest opportunity for presentations does not come from improving the way we present. There is a far bigger opportunity with new use cases powered by the latest presentation tools. These emerging use cases operate at a lower cost and provide a more meaningful and measurable return. Here are use cases that will make you rethink presentations altogether:

  • The briefing presentation – pioneered by account executives in need of a presentation before the meeting to make room for conversation during the meeting, resulting in a shorter sales cycle.
  • The white paper presentation. White papers command the highest sign-up ratio of any online asset. Give your white paper exponential exposure with 100,000 views and 1,000 likes to drive lead generation.
  • The client road map presentation – developed by a product manager who wanted to let the client drive the discussion using double tap and swipe, resulting in a more productive conversation.
  • The online sales pitch – pioneered and developed by inside sales teams based on its efficiency and effectiveness. This includes desktop/application sharing for instant demonstrations.
  • The Starbucks experience. Conversations are moving from a conference room into a coffee shop, where you sit side-by-side and use an easy-to-navigate presentation tool to spark a conversation.

As you can see, a presentation no longer must take place at a set time and location, with a lean-back audience being asked to listen intently and ask questions at the end. These new use cases take aim at a lean-forward audience, and its goal is to drive conversation. For more examples, visit my Website at

How Do You Capitalize on the Opportunity?

If you want to capitalize on the opportunity, contact me at

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Selling for the Greater Good

When people generally think “salesperson,” who comes to mind? The desperately unfulfilled Willy Loman? It’s a Wonderful Life’s heartless and greedy Mr. Potter? Or maybe even Sesame Street’s Lefty the Salesman, whose slick but unsuccessful sales pitches are delivered in a whisper, as if too dishonest to be spoken out loud?

What about Bono, front man of the rock group U2? Or Craig Kielburger, who cofounded Free the Children at the age of 14? Or, for that matter, any salesperson who’s made at least one successful sale, not only solving a possibly pricey problem for a client but cultivating a lasting relationship with that client, who now regards the salesperson as a trusted source of valuable information?

“The greater good” is not a concept that is usually associated with sales, but in the 11 ½-minute SalesOpShop video below, Anthony Iannarino of The Sales Blog and I watch and share video clips featuring Bono, Kielburger, and the Dalai Lama and discuss how salespeople can make a positive impact, one client at a time.

We know that value-added selling involves determining the individual needs of a customer – and then working harder than the competition to meet those needs. In this video, the value-added selling concept is taken further, as Bono and Kielburger make good things happen on a global scale by utilizing the following timeless sales ideals:

1. believing in the sales script,

2. drawing attention to a problem that others (your prospects or clients) may not be aware of,

3. sharing your message in a way that clearly articulates a vision and thus motivates and inspires others.

Iannarino summarizes, “If you’ve helped one person, you’ve made a contribution. You’ve demonstrated compassion and made some small difference in the world.” A big plus, according to the Dalai Lama: compassionate people are actually healthier than those who are not!

What are your thoughts? How do you put your selling acumen to good use?

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