April 23rd, 2024

The Benefits of Time Blocking in Sales


One of the most important skills in business – but particularly in sales – is time management. After all, there is only so much time and it is important to use it wisely if you hope to be successful.

A common practice among business and sales professionals is time blocking, a time management strategy wherein you schedule your whole day and week into time slots, each one corresponding to a specific task.

There are many different benefits of time blocking, benefits that can make employees and managers more productive with the time they have. It is especially beneficial in sales, where time sensitivity is key from getting a product out on time to when to make a sales call. If you are considering using time blocking as a time management strategy, read on to learn the benefits of time blocking in sales:

Better Organized

The most readily apparent benefit of time blocking is that you will have a much cleaner schedule. Because you organize your day based on designating certain tasks into time slots, you are better able to see what you have to do that day and approximately how much time you will spend on it. It makes it easier to understand and makes it a lot less stressful. Additionally, it will make it easier for your managers and coworkers to know what you will be doing at what time.

Another benefit of being organized is that through this method, you may grow to understand how long a certain task will take and realize that you will have more time to do other tasks. You will be able to squeeze in a meeting or lunch with someone, do a task that you thought you did not have time for, and develop a workflow from which you are able to get more done because you know what you are doing that day and how long it will take.

Higher Productivity and Effectiveness

As previously stated, being more organized can lead to you making better use of your day. But more than just being more organized, time blocking can ultimately make your work day more productive and can make the work that you do more effective.

The first reason is because you were dedicating time to a single task, you’re not going to be distracted and you will be less likely to procrastinate. Not only will you get it done, but you will be able to fully engross yourself into the task at hand. Additionally, because what you will be doing is scheduled, you will be less likely to be interrupted or distracted. During that time of high intensity work, you will be able to get a lot more done and because you’re more engaged with it, it will likely turn out better.

Another reason you will have a higher level of productivity is that you will be able to get more tasks done with the time you have. As stated in the previous section, because your schedule is a lot more organized, you will be able to fit more tasks between the gaps or, in some cases, large chunks of time you’d otherwise spend piddling around.

Additionally, this gives you more control of your schedule, which means that you may be able to organize specific time slots in strategic ways in order to get better results. A great example of this is in phone selling, where a strategy used by some salespeople is to call someone five minutes before the hour or 25 minutes after; for example, calling at either 10:55 AM or 11:25 AM.

During these times, clients are more likely to answer their phones with much higher conversion rates. Knowing when the best time intervals for making such calls can make a world of difference and is usually easier to do if you use time blocking since you will be able to set up specific times to make those calls. Time blocking can be used with other time management strategies and can be used to make implementing sales strategies more effective.

Greater Work/Life Balance

Finally, time blocking will give you a much greater work/life balance because you will get your work done during the time dedicated to getting it done. You will not have to stress during your free time what you have to do because you have already scheduled what you need to get done nor will you have to spend your free time catching up on work since you will already have the time allotted for those tasks. With everything scheduled so that everything gets done during your working hours, time blocking can allow you to make the most out of your free time and have a better work/life balance.

April 19th, 2024

Three Common Misconceptions About Sales


When people think of salespeople, they tend to picture one of the following stereotypes:
A boring stiff painstakingly organizing their desk to kill time, a con artist wringing their hands as they devise better ways to swindle, or a struggling entrepreneur trying to sell something nobody wants.

Like most stereotypes, there is some level of accuracy to these examples but in truth, they are mostly based on assumptions. There are many misconceptions about sales and being a salesperson. By understanding and clearing up these misconceptions, you can get a better idea what the life of a salesperson is like. Read on to learn the most common misconceptions about a career in sales:

Sales is Self-Serving and Predatory

The first thing that a person thinks of when we think of sales is usually someone trying to sell us something we do not want or if we do want it, there is always a downside that we are not aware of. While there are some salespeople who are incredibly pushy hard sellers who are not willing to take “no” for an answer and there are some con artists who just want your money, we think of them that way because they are the stories that stand out.

Human psychology has an annoying aspect to it called a negativity bias whereby our negative experiences are twice as memorable and powerful than our positive ones. We will often remember one insult far more than a hundred compliments for instance. So when we have a bad experience with a salesperson, we remember it more. Because of that negativity bias, we tend to filter out the positive experiences we have had with them. Those working in retail, an online sales helper, someone running a restaurant, all of these are sales people that most people we experience in our day to day, most of which we have positive experiences with.

From this, it is important to understand why they are positive experiences, which being that those sales interactions were mutually beneficial. In a positive sales interaction, we get something valuable from the money we spend. While bad salespeople will try to swindle you out of your money, good ones will work with you to provide the best service they can offer you. Instead of trying to manipulate you, they will work with you and listen to your needs in order to best provide you with the best service possible.

Service is the key word here. Sales is supposed to be a service. Understanding this will not only help you see the difference between a good salesperson and a bad one but will also help you to see the profession in a much more positive light.

Sales is Impersonal and Only About Numbers

This mindset is why a lot of bad sales people exist, because they really only care about the money they can make or the position they can get from the numbers they generate. Even otherwise good sales people can fall into this trap, whether they were given bad advice by their peers, or they are simply ignorant of what a salesperson should be doing.

But sales means so much more than just closing a deal, it is also about cultivating a decent relationship with your clientele. Even if you have a good product or service, disinterest in feedback and disregard for their customers beyond what they have to sell will not go unnoticed and may result in their services being dropped if a better alternative arises.

Thus, good sales people will have the customer be involved in the sales process and will do things they may be inconvenient for themselves in order to help the customer. This may require rewards programs, making returns convenient, excellent customer service, whatever will make it more convenient for the customer. Doing this, while possibly making it so not as much money is made, will create a dedicated following that allows the candle to burn for longer. Customer loyalty will sustain a business longer than immediate profit and corner cutting.

Sales is Rigid and Limiting

Many see the profession of sales itself as a limiting profession, however it is far more flexible than people realize. Some people assume that you need a degree in order to get into sales, but that simply is not true. Many of the best sales people do not have their bachelors in anything and were able to work from the bottom up. While it can help in some areas of sales to have a level of higher education, it is not always necessary.

Further, some people assume that you need to have a certain type of personality to be a salesperson. They assume you have to be a logical left-brained type, an extrovert, or a rigid hard ruled busy body. While those types of people do succeed in sales, introverted right-brained types who like to be more spontaneous can also be very successful in sales. Many types of people have become great sales people and have changed sales as we know it with their unique perspective innovating on their, at the time, current models. While each personality quirk will come with their own set of challenges, if you want to be a salesperson, then go for it.

Finally, some people think that sales is a dead-end profession. To which we say: “Absolutely not!” Even within the industry you are already in, salespeople can get promoted to higher positions or look to work for more prestigious companies. Their knowledge of sales can allow them to work in other industries and even allow them to start their own business. Even if they do not want to continue working in sales, knowledge about sales can still be useful in other fields. It all depends on the person and their personal journey.

March 8th, 2024

How to Prepare for Sales Training

Even for the most talented and successful sales people, developing the necessary skills to be successful does not happen by magic.

For those just getting started or veterans who have gotten a little rusty, sales training is a necessary component of success. It teaches you the basics of your role as a salesperson, as well as the necessary thought process and mindset needed to be a successful sales professional.

But, as with taking any class, it can make some people a little nervous while others do not know where to even start. Before undertaking a sales training program, whether it is something being integrated into your schedule by your employer or something that you are doing by your own volition, it is good to know what preparations you need to take. Read on to know how to be prepared for sales training.

Stay Organized

The very first thing you need to do to be prepared for whatever sales training program you are going to take is to keep yourself put together and professional.

You are going there to learn how to be a salesperson, thus you should carry yourself like one. This means knowing what the program’s dress code is and making sure that you are presentable. This means knowing what to bring and having it with you and arriving on time if not ahead of time.

Knowing what the rules of the program are and what you need will often be offered to you ahead of time, whether it be through an email, the class description, a rule book or syllabus, what have you. If you have any other questions about the program, often they will be happy to answer your questions. If your sales training is being provided directly in your working environment, often your work attire and supplies are enough unless stated otherwise.

That said, do should try to arrive in a relaxed frame of mind so you can focus on the program and understand that this is not a hard and fast rule. Some programs are more relaxed than others and often, as long as you are polite, arrive on time, have all your supplies, and wear something decent, you will be fine. Try not to overthink it.

Keep an Open Mind

When going into sales training, your main goal is to learn. But it can be tempting to only half-listen, thinking that you know more than you actually do, especially if you already have experience in sales. While you should not disregard what you know about sales, you should go into sales training with an open mind.

This means being willing to learn new concepts and possibly unlearning misconceptions you have accumulated about sales. It means learning the more difficult processes of sales and being willing to shift your mindset and attitude in order to be more successful as a sales person. This can even mean learning new sales techniques and being willing to forgo obsolete techniques.

If you go into any learning environment believing that you know everything that you need to know, then you will not get anything out of the class, and it will be a waste of time. But understanding that you still have a lot to learn, even as a sales veteran, being willing to learn and absorbing the knowledge being presented will ensure you get the most out of sales training.

Listen and Take Notes

Even if you are willing to learn, you also need to be prepared to listen. While it may sound easy to say, “just listen,” with what we know nowadays about the different kinds of learning styles and those on the neurodivergent spectrum, it has become a far more complicated topic. But, in broad strokes, when it comes to being prepared to learn, do what you need to do to be able to learn best.

For some, they will be able to watch and listen. For others, they may have difficulty just listening and may need to do something with their hands. This may involve taking notes while they listen. In this instance, it may be a good thing to do in general as it will give you something to go back to, especially if the program provides worksheets for you to write notes on. However, this may involve having to doodle in class or play with a fidget toy, something that is slowly getting destigmatized as we learn more about how people learn. You may also want to consider recording the lecture if you are an auditory learner.

Overall, know what your learning style is and do your best to use it when you are taking sales training.

Review What You Have Learned

As said by Mathew Pollard, author of The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone: “Listen, not to answer, but to understand.” If you are taking sales training, you are not just there out of academic obligation to get enough credits to graduate high school, you are learning a skill and how to be successful in your career. Your focus when it comes to learning should be to understand what you are being taught.

Thus, when you are done with a session of sales training, try to review what you have learned and see if you understand what you were taught. If you were taking notes or recording the class, review them and see if you understand the subject or topic you learned. Go over it and talk to other classmates. If you feel you do not understand, it may be something you may want to do some personal research, or it could be a question you can ask during the next session. Either way, whether you understand the subject initially or not, prepare yourself to discuss it either to get a better understanding of it or to demonstrate your understanding of it.

Practice Being Proficient

Finally, practice what you were taught. This is simple if you are already a salesperson since you will be practicing the lessons you were taught every day. However, if you are working up to be a salesperson, then you need to go out of your way to practice. Practice these skills with your peers, try to imagine yourself in the kinds of situations you will be in as a salesperson, act out a scenario in front of a mirror, write down and go over notecards to practice a demonstration, et cetera.

Do whatever you need to do in order to practice the skills you have learned until you are proficient in them. That way, during the next session, you will be more prepared to demonstrate and discuss them, along with being prepared to learn the next skill.

February 27th, 2024

The Power of Quality Customer Service


In his work as a motivational speaker and sales trainer, The Sales Coaching Institute’s principal Doug Dvorak travels somewhere almost every week.

As a frequent flier, he has always made it a habit to fly United because it was convenient, and they were usually fairly reliable. That said, he would never have described himself as being loyal to United or a “die hard” patron. That all changed in November 2023.

On his birthday, Doug had to take a flight from Boise to Dallas. At one point during the flight, the flight attendant came approached him and asked him if he was Doug Dvorak. When he answered ‘yes,’ she presented him with a birthday card that had been signed by the entire crew. She also thanked him for being such a loyal United customer.

That simple act of appreciation made Doug’s day. It also served to heighten his awareness of all the other little improvements United had made to its customer service. By the end of the flight, he was as loyal a United die hard as you will ever meet!

It also got him thinking about how customer service is one of the first areas to suffer whenever a business cuts back on costs. From glitchy websites to automated help lines, many businesses will sacrifice the needs of their customers to save money. That is why businesses that really do care about their customers tend to stand out.

The power of quality customer service should not be overlooked by any business owner. Knowing what strategies to use and how to implement them effectively will help you keep the customers coming back for more over and over again.

Why Customer Service is so Important

According to Colleen Barret, President Emerita of Southwest Airlines, “To earn the respect (and eventually love) of your customers, you first have to respect those customers. That is why Golden Rule behavior is embraced by most of the winning companies.”

Seeing each customer as a statistic will not go unnoticed. In fact it is one of the most efficient ways to lose their business. Wasting their time, minimizing their concerns, or flat-out deceiving them to get a quick buck (even if you are not technically lying), are all anti-consumer behaviors that will flag your business as one that doesn’t care about its customers.

Even if your business is the only one in the area for a specific service, they will leave you the first chance they get. Customers have long memories.

But when you treat your customers like they are important to you, they will notice. Good customer service shows that they and their time are valued. When a business makes a customer feel valued, those customers will want to come back to support them. Additionally, good customer service will also make the experience that you are trying to provide a lot more appealing and will make them want to come back for that experience.

Furthermore, good customer service will boost your business’s reputation. When new people hear about your place and hear good things about it, they are more willing to try it out and are likely to become long-time patrons. It also shows that your business has standards, thus are more likely to be trusted.

Your boosted reputation will also make it a place where people want to work. While there are some who prefer to slack off and don’t care about how they work with customers, there are many who do want to make a positive impact, even if it is just a small part of their day. It will also boost your connections as more businesses will want to work with you due to your reputation.

How to Enhance Your Customer Service

There are many ways a business can improve their customer service, even if it is already fairly good. The first thing that you must ensure is that your customer service staff is polite and friendly. Ensure your employees always treat people with respect as a friendly interaction can ensure that your customers like interacting with your employees. They will remember that, too.

But one way to make someone’s bad day worse is to be inconvenienced, especially unnecessarily so. Ensure that your service is as streamlined as possible and eliminate any unnecessary hoops for your customers to jump through.

Most people just want to be in and out. Trying to convince them that your special will often lead to people not wanting to bother with your service. This means not correcting your customers on made-up company jargon or ensuring that they are able to easily connect to an actual person without having to cuss out the automated voice service. This also means making it easy to find your customer service number and providing easy means of getting a refund. Making things difficult for your customers will just steer them away from your business.

Another way to enhance customer service is to be accommodating. Be willing to help out customers who are struggling and be able to work with them to solve their issue. Sometimes this may include thinking outside the box and doing things that would inconvenience you. Even if you aren’t able to help, the attempt will usually be appreciated.

Finally, make your customer feel appreciated. Reward their loyalty with special deals, stamp cards, gifts, or even special events for a group of loyal patrons. Something as simple as remembering their name and thanking them for their time can go a long way in making a passing customer into a loyal one.

February 23rd, 2024

How to Outline a Killer Sales Pitch


One of the primary responsibilities of a sales representative is making sales pitches. Whether it be in person or over the phone, a good sales pitch is critical to the ongoing success of a sales rep’s career.

Like in many professions, there are a lot of people who are able to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to giving their sales pitch. However, there are also a lot of people who need to plan out their sales pitch and make sure everything is prepared before they go in and possibly make a fool of themselves.

If you are more of a planner than a pantser, then one of the best ways for you to prepare for your sales pitch is to outline it. There are many benefits to outlining your sales pitch, from detailing what topics you wish to cover to knowing how to answer certain questions. While it is also important to know how to go off script when certain scenarios, having a good outline can make it far easier to make a deal. Read on to learn how to outline a killer sales pitch.

Know the Context

The first thing you need to do before writing your sales pitch is to know as much as you can about your product or service and the client you are pitching to. Going in blind or making your pitch generic will make it seem like you are uninterested in the needs of your client and/or that you do not know what you are talking about. Doing your research and having the proper context for your sales pitch will allow your pitch to be more accurate and precise. This in turn, makes you seem more knowledgeable and interested, therefore trustworthy, boosting the likelihood of your client accepting your pitch.

The first thing to do – for your current outline and for all outlines to come – is to have a deep understanding of your product or service. You should know more than the surface level of elements of what you are selling, something that most people can figure out from a quick internet search. Rather, you should know things the layperson would not easily know.

You should know how it works, what the benefits are, what the potential cons are, what scenarios it would and would not be applicable to, anything that your client may want to know. If you are presenting them with your service, they will expect you to know better than a layperson. Ensuring you understand your product/service will boost your credibility and make it more likely for your client to listen.

The rest of the context you should know has to do with the client themselves. You should do as much research on them as you can before you go in to pitch them your services. You should know what the company does, what their needs are, what problems they are currently facing, what kind of people are working there, who you may be speaking to, as much as you can.

This applies to both pantsers and planners, but for the latter it allows you to create a more detailed and tailored sales pitch. Doing so will make your clients feel heard and confident that you may be able to provide them the solution to their problem.

Get to the Point

Now that you have done your research, the first step to writing the outline is to plan out what you are planning to discuss. While most would start with the beginning of the outline, knowing what the body of the outline is going to contain can inform what the opening will contain. There is nothing wrong with starting with an opening if you would prefer, in fact in some circumstances it is actually more efficient that way, but in either case, be prepared to edit your outline after you’re down drafting it.

In the body of your outline, it is good to know the specific topics you plan to discuss. One of the best ways to present yourself in a sales pitch is through addressing the problem directly, describing how your product or service can solve that problem, and providing a couple of examples as to how it has solved that problem. Within this framework, you are able to get to the heart of why your client wants to invest and it allows you to fill in the details.

That said you do not want to give them everything all at once, rather you only want to give enough to pique their interest. The best piece of advice for a sales pitch is to be concise and get to the point. You’re not writing an article or an essay, you’re trying to convince someone to buy something, and most clients don’t like their time being wasted. So do not go on tangents, don’t rely on cliches or faulty metaphors. All of that just wastes time and muddies the waters with superfluous detail, just get to the point.

However, there is more than just details about the product that you want to provide. There are other aspects of a sales pitch that you should consider adding. You may want to appeal to their emotions, whether that be showing how your service has helped someone or by impressing them with the capabilities of your product. Being able to provide evidence and context are also critical, especially if someone is skeptical. If applicable, you could even apply a storytelling structure to your pitch. Doing so will keep your client engaged and may keep their interest. However, that may be reliant on how you choose to start your outline.

Start Strong

Next, or first if depending on how you want to do it, you work on the introduction of your outline. The primary information you want to provide in your introduction is the problem, the stakes of the problem and how it may affect your client, and whether your service may be able to solve that problem. It is especially effective if you are able to tailor it to your client by bringing up a problem they have or are currently facing.

If you want to get right into the thick of it, perhaps you should consider addressing the problem directly. Perhaps you could do it in the form of a question or of a statistic. Doing so may pique the client’s interest and provide them with the context from which they can follow your pitch.

You also may want to consider starting the pitch with an anecdote, whether it be personally, from someone you know, or even an example from a significantly well-known person. Doing so will provide a storytelling structure from which the client can get engaged. Though it is also critical to keep it clear and concise, otherwise you may ramble, and the client may lose interest. The stories you tell in your pitch should always be relevant.

The way you set up your introduction may inform how the rest of your pitch goes or it may only be there to get the ball rolling. What matters is that in either case, prepare to edit and make sure everything connects to the primary goal of your outline and pitch.

Be Ready for Anything

Once you have what you want to say ready, you should be prepared to answer whatever questions they may have. This could be something as simple as details about the product or something as complicated as how your service may apply to certain scenarios. However, you cannot predict everything that’s going to happen. When it comes to sales pitch, what the client has to say is just as important, if not more so.

As said by Mark Roberge, who served as Hubspot’s SVP of Worldwide Sales and Services and its CRO in the sales division: “It’s no longer about interrupting, pitching and closing. It is about listening, diagnosing and prescribing.”

In a sales pitch, you should be listening to just as much as you are speaking, if not more so. So be sure to practice and ensure that you are able to adapt when something is not on your outline.