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6 Tips for Turning Your Customers into Valuable Marketing Assets

Free Advertising While Building Trust: Why Customer-Driven Brand Advocacy is Vital to Sales

customerThe role of the sales representative has greatly evolved from a cold-calling brand and product pitching position to a lead nurturing and purchase-enabling position. Often, the best marketing and sales teams work together to seamlessly move a lead through the sales cycle. Customer-driven brand advocacy enhances the sales team’s ability to close deals effortlessly.

The Difference between Customer Advocacy and Brand Influencers

Online you will find some difference of opinion about customer advocacy. Customer advocates are not customers. They are employees who focus on the customer experience and help businesses make strategic decisions around customer needs.

Brand influencers, on the other hand, are consumers and customers who write reviews and discuss brand experiences online. Companies of all sizes can and do leverage brand influencers to improve business processes, products, and the customer experience. Here are some insights into how customer advocates and companies commonly encourage customers to become valuable brand resources:

  • Launching loyalty programs and providing referral incentives – Loyalty programs give something back to the consumer, but they also represent an opportunity for brand conversations. Every time a customer uses a loyalty card or receives a great deal, he or she has an opportunity to highlight the benefits of the brand to others.
  • Developing brand influencer relationships – Many companies today are building brand influencer partnerships. Well known vloggers and bloggers review or mention certain products or services to improve brand visibility. They act independently and are not hired marketers. Brand influencer relationships and customer-created content increase market exposure in a way that helps both consumers and companies.
  • Engaging with consumers online – Social media interactions humanize a brand. Whether a company is responding to an inquiry or engaging in trending conversations, these small interactions strengthen brand visibility. Use carefully crafted content to encourage social media users and customers to talk about your products. Online communications are more important than ever for strengthening customer awareness and loyalty.
  • Bringing groups of consumers together – Encourage your target market to interact with brand influencers and references through roundtable discussions, teleconferences, and other events. Doing so demonstrates a brand’s commitment to customer outcomes, not just sales data.
  • Optimizing the brand experience – Every touch point a company has with consumers is an opportunity to earn a brand influencer or a new acquisition. Instead of focusing on the short-term sales goals, encourage sales teams to focus on building a great experience along the way.
  • Recognize customers – A customer who has a great experience is a natural sales representative for your company. You can either onboard loyal customers or invite them to events that are mutually beneficial, such as product launches or networking engagements. Recognizing natural influencers helps them, other consumers, and your brand. It’s organic and it works.

Sales representatives who leverage natural brand advocates can focus on providing real value for the customers. Customer-centric sales activities allow consumers to take the lead while a brand facilitates the natural sales cycle progression. If your sales game is not producing the results your business needs, then it may be time to try a different approach. Enable your customers to sell your products and services with the right tools and support.

Need more sales advice? Check out my Sales/Business Development Coaching program.

Additional Resources:
How to Create True Customer Advocates
How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program
The Essential Role of a Customer Advocacy Office

Boost Your ROI with a Sales Career Coach

Making a Sales Career Coach Work for You

salesSales success hinges upon a winning first impression. A sales career coach can help you fine-tune your technique and churn out more business, but where do you begin? A sales coach can provide you with a significant return on investment (ROI) but only if you know what to look for. Hiring a career coach specific to sales can make a noticeable difference in your career.

The Truth About Sales and ROI

American companies spend around $20 billion a year on various kinds of sales training – mostly with uncertain results. A study conducted by the ES Research Group found that the vast majority – about 90% – of companies slumped back to pre-training levels after a 90 to 120 day increase in sales. As a result, businesses are looking for another way to improve their ROI: sales coaching.

Some companies are wary of the subjective nature of coaching in contrast to the seemingly more quantifiable results of traditional training methods. However, research conducted by a Sales Executive Council (SEC) has reassuring news for those considering sales coaching: it does appear to have calculable ROI. A recent study noted that thousands of sales representatives enjoyed sustained performance improvement, while a separate SEC found that coaching improved productivity and sales numbers by an average of 17%.

What’s interesting to note about sales coaching and ROI is that the results can vary widely depending on your coaching demographic, as well as the coach you hire. The SEC study found that A tier (top level) and D tier (bottom level) sales reps did not benefit significantly from sales coaching, while B and C (mid-level reps) found great improvement from their numbers as a result of coaching sessions. How can you apply these findings to your particular practice?

Invest Your Money Wisely

We’ve established that sales coaching can provide a significant ROI. If you’re a smaller company or strapped by budgetary constraints, seek out coaching for your mid-level performing representatives first. This is the demographic primed to benefit the most from coaching. Seek to get your D tier associates up to mid-range performance numbers before investing in sales coaching for them.

Choose Your Coach Carefully

choiceThe internet is a wonderful resource, but it’s also a haven for people looking to make a quick dollar. Unfortunately, almost anyone can claim to be a sales career coach, so finding a quality candidate to aid your sales force requires some scrutiny and research on your part. In general, here are some things to look for in a good sales coach:

Experience in sales. This seems like a given, but some coaches claim to be able to coach in any industry, regardless of experience. Be wary of “panacea coaches”: if the promises they make seem too good to be true, they probably are.

Experience in consulting. The coach you hire should also have prior experience in consulting with small businesses, entrepreneurs, or larger companies.

A sales coach plays an integral role in helping your company identify its goals and achieve clarity about your sales process. In order to maximize your ROI, do your research before choosing your partner.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Sales Coaching

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From Snake Oil to Solutions: The Evolution of Sales Development Coaching

How Sales Development Coaching Methodologies Have Evolved

sales-development-coachingSales training has been around since the late 1800s. After the industrial revolution brought new, more efficient ways for factories to build products for the masses, salesmen began to pop up everywhere. It wasn’t long before sales training programs followed. These programs taught salesmen “tricks” like how to stand, how to hand over a pen when closing a deal, and other effective body language skills.

Early Sales Development Coaching

In the early 20th century, sales developed its stereotype. Early trainers such as Tom Hopkins, Arthur Sheldon, and Elmer Wheeler taught the art of salesmanship with coaching seminars and training classes on how to sell when the customer says no, and Wheeler popularized the phrase, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle!” in the 1930s. In the same decade, Dale Carnegie published his successful book, “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” which many executives and sales professionals continue to cite to this day.

Sales training in the 19th and 20th centuries went through a number of style fluctuations from decade to decade. The selling method (snake oil selling) in the 1800s was based on misrepresentation and the idea that you can say anything you want about a product, as long as it seals the deal.

Pyramid selling (identifying and targeting decision-makers) began in 1886. From there, trust-based selling, mood or emotion selling, brand selling, and many more techniques started to develop, increasing the complexity associated with the trade. Each distinctive method had its proponents, who capitalized on selling the method to sales professionals across an increasing number of industries.

Technology Enters the Space

As early as the mid-1950s, vinyl records were being released to help salespeople learn the art of the trade. Cassettes and videos soon followed, helping professionals identify methodologies, techniques for closing a deal, and understanding the psychology of the sales interaction. Now, sales professionals have their choice of media for learning more about the industry. Sales organizations and coaches offer classroom experiences, online learning, podcasts, articles and blog posts, and one-on-one coaching. Some focus on a particular aspect of sales, while others offer tips about handling the sales experience.

Over the years, sales training evolved to encompass more than tricks of the trade or one particular sales method. The industry combines a rich history of methodology to blend art and science. Today, sales training improves techniques, skillsets, and sales style development. It focuses on individualized sales styles and constantly fluctuates. Success looks different from person to person. There are as many successful approaches to sales as there are sales development coaching books on the market today. A successful coach has the intuition and sales expertise to unlock the potential of each sales representative that comes in for training.

CLICK HERE to learn more about SALES COACHING

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3 Ways to Be a Great Sales Manager After the Coaching Is Over

Beyond Sales Development Coaching: How Managers Can Continue to Nurture the Sales Team

sales-teamMany sales managers put their sales team through sales development coaching to strengthen their talents. Development coaching builds your sales team’s confidence, motivation, and the ability to achieve set goals. But the process can’t end there. Managers should continue to inspire and teach their sales teams long after the coaching program is over to improve team performance.

Talk with Sales Coaches

Sales managers can learn a lot about team members from coaches. Understanding what makes each member click is the key to driving progress over time. While some sales professionals may seek coaching on their own, others complete a training program on behalf of their companies. In either situation, an open dialogue among management, coaches, and trainees can enhance team performance on the whole. For instance, if a trainee needs encouragement from management, performance may fall after the coaching period if he or she doesn’t receive that positive energy and motivation from a manager.

Avoid Over-Managing

As a manager, the best way you can help your sales team is by playing to each individual’s ability and skills. Avoid making too many hard-and-fast rules that may not work for team members in favor of general guidelines that provide encouragement and support. Sales managers should also strive to be empowering and positive influencers, rather than deprecating power figures. Many sales professionals work best when congratulated for a job well done and constructively guided through difficulties.

A successful sales manager will be just as intuitive as a sales coach is in many ways. Those who can identify and cater to their team’s needs ultimately will build a low-turnover high-performance sales team.

Communicate Often

Communication keeps the whole sales process well oiled. Listen and aim to understand your team, identify and proactively address worrisome behavior patterns, and keep goals and expectations clear. Sales managers often walk a fine line between meeting sales goals and ensuring that team members are performing at their best. Keep pressure at an even level by recognizing achievement and maintaining an open dialogue about the team’s sales goals, key performance indicators, and individual responsibility.

Successful sales managers wear many hats. They may be a psychologist, friend, data and strategy scientist, coach, and educator. Working on each one of these skills can improve the performance of a sales team long after the sales development coaching program is over. Retain talent and drive revenue by focusing on team dynamics and recognizing those who work hard to improve their performance every day.

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4 Sales Development Coaching Styles

How Effective Sales Development Coaching Works

sales-blackboardSales development coaches are talented individuals. They have the ability to both “read” and cater to their trainees. Their customized approach to training improves results because they can discover and capitalize on trainee talent and motivation. There are several styles of coaching for sales development. Whether trainees are on the lower or higher end of the sales-ability spectrum, development coaches know exactly how to encourage growth in their performances.

Sales development coaches use some of these more common approaches to sales development, from the Association for Talent Development:

Tell (provide lots of direction)

Individuals who may not have much natural talent and may require some push and motivation to see results. Coaches can improve sales techniques in these individuals by providing specific directions and using incremental goals to feed motivation. As a coach, observing how these individuals complete tasks is crucial to understanding how they respond to different motivating factors.


Individuals who benefit most from the explanatory approach tend to have some natural talent but need to understand the reasoning behind their job to remain motivated. They benefit from a dialogue during the training process and need to understand the background of the sales process before they can perform at their best.


Naturally talented sales representatives who are somewhat naturally motivated may need only an occasional pep talk to keep performing at a high level. These individuals can get the job done on their own, but really shine when a leader is around to boost confidence.


Individuals in this style category tend to be company rainmakers. They are self-motivated and have a natural ability for sales. These trainees can go far in their careers with the right guidance. Coaches can help empowerment clients by offering confidence-boosting recognition and helping them learn how to leverage their talent with an ever-expanding sales skillset.

Sales development coaching requires an innate ability to see these different sales types and how an individual’s skillset will fit best into a particular sales culture. The typologies are basic, and a truly talented coach can mix and match qualities from each type to match an individual’s needs.

By teaching an individual from his or her unique learning style and in a way that complements aptitude, a sales development coach can encourage significant improvement in a relatively short time. Ultimately, coaching helps trainees and sales organizations sell more. Sales professionals can work toward a more-fulfilling career path and companies can identify and appropriately place sales representatives in the workplace for a higher rate of return.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Sales and Business Development Coaching

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The Art of Sales: Turning Clients into Friends

What Does It Mean to Be a Likable Salesperson?

sales-coaching2Despite the common perception, extroverted heavy-pushers are not the ideal sales candidates. Confidence sells, but the line between confidence and aggression varies for different people. What clients really crave in a strong salesperson is amiability. They are choosing a contact they can call on evenings and weekends. They are choosing trust.

Trust into Friendship

“Friendship” may sound like a strange word when discussing business needs. Affable salespeople definitely lighten the meeting atmosphere, but the best way to establish real trust is to consistently meet client needs. A salesperson must be both flexible and able to tailor their services to the needs of their client.

The Sales Executive Council published a survey identifying five important aspects to effective sales support:

  1. Offering a fresh perspective. A business relies on their sales reps to provide innovative ways to increase revenue while cutting cost. Their perspective can lower risk or help a company enter new markets.
  2. Flexibility. The ability to change a pricing structure, sales package, or other aspect of the business relationship to better meet client needs.
  3. Creative Thinking. Customers need salespeople who offer alternatives and can change their way of thinking.
  4. The ability to avoid problems. Good salespeople are attuned to all aspects of the supply chain they serve. They know when a raw material hike spells trouble for a line of products and can move quickly to protect their clients from losing money long-term.
  5. Offering education. Clients need to remain informed, and salespeople know where to find the right data, studies, and other information.

Long-Term Coaching

sales-coaching-3A true salesperson exists to provide support in terms of deals, market knowledge, and product information, while influencing their clients to make positive changes to their business. This ongoing relationship is a skill and like any other skill; it requires practice.

The best way to see a trusting business relationship develop is through experience. Shadowing co-workers is effective, which is why more companies are starting to establish long-term sales mentoring programs.

Sales coaching is another option. It is a uniquely effective service for young professionals, because the relationship the salesperson has with their coach closely mimics the type of bond shared with their clients. Coaching is so important to sales that companies that sell business-to-business (B2B) spend between $4-7 billion on it annually.

Selling with Noble Purpose

The concept of purpose in sales comes from new research surrounding job and client satisfaction and company revenue. Salespeople still live in the shadow of the used car salesman, but as trusting relationships deepen, the salesperson becomes more committed and attuned to their clients. Their job becomes something that is about more than just believing in the products and services they sell – it is about believing in their clients.

Interested in learned to be a better salesperson? CLICK HERE for more sales coaching info.

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6 Signs You’re a Natural-Born Salesperson

The Recipe for a Successful Sales Career

ambition-confidenceHas anyone ever told you that you’re a natural-born salesperson? If they have, they’re probably commenting on your confidence and enthusiasm or your way of getting people to listen to you. A topic often discussed is whether salespeople are born with the natural talent required to succeed, or if they can be taught to sell. The answer is likely a mixture of both.

A good example is coaching. Sales coaching teaches people to build and develop closing and persuasion skills for a positive career in sales. Most bosses will not hire a coach except for those who naturally have a gift for sales. Yet, without the coaching, many people see their careers stagnate without learning new skills. This chicken and the egg scenario is frustrating for people looking to advance their careers and daunting for those just starting out.

If you were ever curious whether you exhibited the classic signs of a skilled salesperson, here is the basic recipe:


This is probably the most surprising factor because a common stereotype of salespeople is that they are friendly, open, and love being around people. But wait, isn’t that extroversion? Well, a study of the top-ranked salespeople found that they were 30% less gregarious than their average and below-average counterparts.

Part of this phenomenon might be due to a salesperson’s ability to establish dominance over the sale. While clients perceive outgoing people as more friendly, and thus, trust them as friends, an introverted person explains less of their thoughts and more easily establishes dominance.


The classic stereotype of the used car salesman is not applicable to sales. 85% of top salespeople carry a strong sense of duty. They are reliable and committed to the product they sell and the company they represent. Dutiful salespeople excel at getting their customers to buy into the company’s brand.


Megalomaniacs are not the best at relating to people. Most people do not like dealing with someone who is in their face, attempting to close, right out of the gate.

Humility works when collaborating with team members, too. A salesperson who alienates coworkers with swagger and greasy charm better hope he carries himself on his numbers because his peers certainly won’t help. Humility allows a salesman to support his team and involve company consultants, technical support, and management to assist landing accounts.


People who are easily embarrassed or overly self-conscious make poor salespeople. They are too worried about what others think of them to get the job done effectively.


Less than 10% of the best salespeople are easily discouraged and overwhelmed with their job. Salespeople need to trust that they can always outperform their numbers from the year before.


This trait describes a person’s willingness to absorb information. Inquisitiveness improves salespeople’s product knowledge, and it drives their understanding of why customers should buy it. Curiosity is also a telling sign that a salesperson is actively engaged in sales calls. A curious person will ask more questions, try to see the situation from the customer’s point of view, and discern the truth.

Interested in learning to step up your sales game? Click here for more info!

Additional Resources:
What Makes a Good Salesman
Are Top Salespeople Born or Made?