Fri, 02/27/2015

What is a practice proposal?  Practice proposals  are those time consuming documents created for prospects that have no intention of doing business with your company.  This can be the prospect that buys on price not value.  Or, the prospect that doesn’t really have any pain, however, thinks it’s always a good idea to take a look at what’s out there.  (Yawn…..)

So how does this price shopping or 'content with current vendor' prospect end up in the sales pipeline?  It could be lack of hard selling skills or sales experience.   It’s usually due to lack of assertiveness, a soft skill. 

When the price shopping prospect asks the salesperson to “put something together,” non-assertive salespeople go along to get along and invest time on writing proposals they have no hope of winning.  They avoid rocking the sales boat and avoid truth telling conversations such as, “It sounds like the main decision criteria for your organization is price and we aren’t the low priced provider.  My firm probably needs to bow out….even though we would like your business.”   

Assertive salespeople are comfortable stating what they need because they know win-win relationships are just that---both parties win.    With the "it’s always a good idea to look prospect," the assertive salesperson might say something like this.  “Ms. Prospect.  I really appreciate the opportunity to bid on this work.  However, I haven’t really heard enough reasons for you to switch from your current vendor….is there something I’m missing?” 

Examine the proposals in your sales pipeline and do some serious reality testing.   Did you write proposals to go along to get along?  Do you have evidence that your prospect is committed to changing vendors or improving their current situation? 

Stop going along to get along.  Good business is a win-win scenario.  Get assertive, be nice and ask for what you need. 

Good Selling!


tags: sales, sales training, sales management, proposals, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 02/20/2015

Many owners and sales managers have been successful as a salesperson.  However, in scaling and building a company, it’s no longer how good you are….it’s how good  you are at building and training your team to take your sales to the next level. 

As the great author Maya Angelou said.  “When you know better, you do better.”  SalesLeadership wants to help you ‘do better’ in hiring and training top sales producers.  Join fellow CEO’s and sales managers at this content filled and sales leadership changing boot camp.  CLICK HERE FOR AGENDA

DAY ONE:  ‘High-er Expectations’  – How to identify and hire top sales talent

Can you really afford another bad hire?  Hiring is one of the most difficult AND most important decisions in accelerating growth.  Studies show that the wrong “hire” impact is 3-5 times the annual compensation of the position.  (Not to mention opportunity costs, reputation and personal mental energy.) 

Key Take-Away’s:

  • Telephone interviewing techniques that quickly qualify or disqualify candidates.  Stop wasting hours interviewing candidates that can’t or won’t sell.
  • Customized interview guide that helps you identify the best candidate for YOUR industry, YOUR culture and the lifecycle of your company.  
  • Behavior based interviewing skills.   Avoid hiring mistakes based on gut and missed competencies,  e.g. self-starting, problem solving, work ethic. 
  • On-boarding tips for decreasing ramp up time and increasing revenues. 

DAY TWO:  Professional Training and Coaching Skills – Good to great

Managers are easily distracted by the administrative requirements of running a sales team.  In the end, skill development and coaching contribute the most to the bottom line.  Research shows a coached team will outperform a non-coached team by 20%.

Key Take-Away’s:

  • Better diagnose sales performance challenges.  Work on the right end of the problem.   (Do you really need to tell the salesperson one more time….?)
  • Learn the difference between training and coaching.  Discover the power of ‘baton’ training to hone in on specific skills or attitudes.   
  • Develop skills to transfer the knowledge and habits that made you a top sales producer.
  • Avoid the top three training and coaching mistakes made by sales managers.  
  • Discover how to be the sales leader people want to follow and model. 


  • Telephone screening templates and guides
  • Proven behavioral based interviewing questions
  • Templates for pre-briefing and debriefing sales calls
  • Templates for role plays, exercise and drill skills
  • Tip and tools for running more effective sales meetings
  • Coaching and Feedback questions
  • Breakfast and lunch


Colleen Stanley, president of SalesLeadership is the author of Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success.  She is also a monthly author columnist for Business Journals across the country.  Prior to SalesLeadership, she was Vice President of sales for Varsity Spirit Corporation where she directed a national sales team of 130.  During her 10 years at Varsity, sales increased from 8M – 90M. 

Clients include:

Blue Sky Restoration, PCL Construction, ThinkHR, Arthur J. Gallagher, Clear Channel, OtterBox, BIC Graphic and Clear Channel.

tags: sales, sales management, Sale Training, Emotional Intelligence, Sales Manager
Fri, 02/20/2015

Multitasking was once hailed as a special skill – one that needed to be honed in order to effectively navigate the business world. We now know however, that multi-tasking is not a skill to possess, but rather a habit to avoid.

A 2014 study conducted by Stanford University found that people bombarded with constant information from multiple electronic resources had a more difficult time recalling information or switching between tasks than those who focused on a single task at a time. This same study found that people who term themselves “effective” at multitasking were the slowest of the bunch, often having trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering irrelevant information.

In our constantly connected world, putting down your electronic devices can seem impossible. It is not; but it is a skill that may need to be relearned. At SalesLeadership, we offer sales and management training courses that can help build these and other important listening skills. We would be happy to meet with you and discuss your company’s needs, and to help you determine which training programs will best help you grow your sales and improve the overall quality of your workforce.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced representatives, please contact SalesLeadership online or by calling (877) 541-4604 today.

Fri, 02/13/2015

Sales managers often invest time teaching their sales team new selling skills and behaviors.  And many wonder and ask the question, “Why isn’t my sales team getting this?”   The reason is most sales managers have never been taught how to be a good coach.  As a result, they work on the wrong end of a sales performance challenge.  Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops.  

It’s important to know the difference between training and coaching.  Training is imparting knowledge.  Coaching is making sure new skills ‘landed’ and can be executed effectively and consistently.  Coaching is where sales skills and results dramatically improve.  Here are three tips to make you a better sales coach.

#1:        Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Sales managers often grasp selling concepts and skills quickly.  As a result, they take that same expectation to their sales team.  They teach a sales concept once, conduct a couple of role plays and then expect the salesperson to demonstrate sales mastery.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Mastery of a skill is achievable only through repetition.  It’s neuroscience 101.  Neuroplasticity is the brains ability to adapt and build new neural pathways. As behavioral psychologist Donald Hebb discovered, cells that fire together form new habits of thinking and skills.  We like to tell our clients to aim for 144 repetitions.  By that time those cells are wired for consistent sales execution!  

#2:   Ask, don’t tell.  Most sales managers are assertive so their natural response to a salesperson’s question is to give a response.  The next time a salesperson comes to you with question, check your impulse control and ask three simple questions:

  • What do you think?
  • What have you tried?
  • What are other options to consider? 

Your value as a sales manager is measured by your ability to teach and transfer knowledge.  It’s not how much you know and do.  It’s what your sales team knows and executes.  Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops. 

#3:  Impulse control.   All of the above requires the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification.  Coaching takes time and patience.  The effective coach must put in the work of planning effective one-on-one coaching sessions and sales meetings.

For example, do you have a defined purpose or objective when meeting one-on-one with your salesperson?  Or are you defaulting to the ‘wing-it’ system of coaching?  Are your sales meetings operations meetings or skill development meetings? 

As the great Vince Lombardi said, “They call it coaching, but it is teaching.  You do not just tell them it is so, but you show them the reasons why it is so and you repeat and repeat until they are convinced….until they know.”

Good Selling!

tags: Emotional Intelligence, sales, sales training, sales managers, colleen stanley, Coaching
Fri, 01/30/2015

SalesLeadership is presenting a 1-day workshop that will help you advance your organization from satisfactory to excellent to extraordinary.  Do you know what is recognized as the most important capability for leaders to develop?  Click here for the workshop details.


tags: sales, sales management, sales management training, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/23/2015

Hiring top sales talent is no easy task.  More than one sales manager has been frustrated because he discovered he hired a terrific interviewer---not a terrific salesperson.   There are several reasons for misfires on talent acquisition. 

Salespeople get promoted to sales management with little training on behavior based interviewing skills.  (Click here for our hiring and selecting top talent workshop.)   A lot of sales managers only interview for sales experience or experience in their specific industry.   This experience is important, however, equally important is interviewing for emotional intelligence skills.  EQ is a key predictor of success in life and in business.    

There are several emotional intelligence skills that impact sales success.  Assertiveness or the ability to ask for what you need is an important EI attribute to include in your next sales interview.    Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board shows that top salespeople are assertive.   Assertive salespeople are comfortable asking the tough questions during a sales call and stating what they need to create a win-win business relationship.  

A great interview question to test for assertiveness is,   “Tell me about a sales call where the prospect was hesitant to share budget or didn’t have a budget.  What did you do?”  Listen to see if the salesperson demonstrated assertiveness and uncovered budget by asking more questions before writing a proposal.   Non-assertive salespeople acquiesce to the buyer’s process and follow the ‘go along to get along’ sales approach.  The result:  wasted time writing practice proposals and sales pipelines with prospects that are aren’t willing or able to pay for the value your company provides.    

Building a great sales team starts with carefully selecting each individual on your team.  Interview potential sales candidates for hard selling skills, industry knowledge and emotional intelligence.  Soft skills make a difference in achieving hard sales results.   Join us on March 3 & 4 and learn how to hire top sales producers.

Good Selling!

tags: Sales Manager, sales training, sales, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Sales EQ
Fri, 01/23/2015

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, two of the leading researchers on Emotional Intelligence (EI), have developed a model in which EI is divided into four main braches. These are:

  • Perceiving Emotions including nonverbal signs such as facial expressions and body language
  • Reasoning with Emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity in their expression
  • Understanding Emotions, which requires critical thinking to fully grasp their source and complete meaning
  • Managing Emotions, including regulating your own emotions and responding appropriately to the emotions of others

The branches of this model are arranged from basic psychological processes to those of a more complex and integrated nature. Some believe that these abilities are inborn, but we have found that through education, training, and guidance, EI can be developed and strengthened in nearly anyone.

Through comprehensive training, we provide our clients with the tools they need to effectively perceive, reason, understand, and manage emotions. This, in turn, can result in more beneficial relationships with current and potential customers, greater productivity, and enhanced workplace interactions.

We would be honored to discuss your needs and goals, and to help you choose which training would most benefit your company. Please contact us today to schedule a face-to-face or phone consultation and take the first step towards developing skills that will benefit every aspect of your personal and business life.

tags: Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/16/2015

I met with a few business colleagues last week to share goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.  One of my associates shared that she was looking for a new assistant.  She had fired her previous employee because in her words  she was a “95 percenter.”     Obviously the term intrigued all of us so we asked for the definition.  My colleague explained.  “My assistant was actually pretty good.  However, she just couldn’t complete the last five percent of a project or task.” 

This 95 percent remark got me thinking.  Where am I performing at 95 percent?  Where is it easy in the sales profession to give 95 percent rather than 100 percent and what are the implications?   Here are a few areas to think about. 

  • Business Development.  Your goal is to make 10 outreaches a day, both prospecting and client calls.  Life sets in and you complete 95 percent of the task.  That doesn’t seem too bad until you do the math.  10 times 95 percent equals 9.5, a shortfall of only .5.  However, multiply that number by five days a week, four weeks in a month and twelve months in a year.  The number changes from .5 to 120 contacts not made. By applying the five percent rule, what existing relationships could have been deepened with further contact? What new lines of business could have been sold? What new opportunities could have been opened? Five percent adds up.
  • Thank you notes.  You’ve just closed a large contract because of a referral from a strategic alliance partner or client.   You look at the clock and it’s the end of the day.  You want to go home so you choose the 95 percent route.  Instead of taking two minutes to craft a handwritten note, you shoot off a quick email of thanks.
  •  Finish the race and apply the five percent rule to pen a personal note of thanks.  Since no one is doing it, your thoughtfulness will stand out. 
  • Selling skills.  We work with clients on the “Take 10” strategy.  Take 10 minutes every day to listen to a sales audio, read 10 pages of a self-improvement or sales book.  Take 10 minutes to review your notes from sales training.  There are 2700 minutes in a 45 hour week.  The “Take 10” strategy is only  .0003 percent of your week!

Okay, enough with the numbers.  You get the idea.  Apply your emotional self-awareness skills and ask yourself the hard question, “Where am I only giving 95 percent?” 

Make it a goal to be in the 100 percent club this year.  Small steps lead to big successes. 

Good Selling!


tags: sales, sales training, Sales Manager, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/9/2015

It’s the beginning of 2015.  There are new sales quotas to achieve and opportunities to develop.   One of best ways to ensure you will hit your quota is to fish where the fish are biting. 

This is the time of year where sales professionals develop their Top 10 or Top 25 List of prospects.  Here’s an important tip to remember.  You can be the greatest salesperson in the world, however, if you call on prospects that don’t match your demographics or psychographics, you are going to be busy and broke.  

Get clear on your ideal client.  At SalesLeadership, we coach clients to look at both the demographics and the psychographics when developing their Top 10 list.  Many salespeople miss revenue goals because they only look at demographics when developing their target prospect list.  Demographics such as size of the company, number of employees, and revenues are important.  Equally important is the psychographic or the attitude and values of your best prospects. 

When I ask salespeople to describe their best clients, I often hear, “They treat vendors like partners.  They are proactive in seeking solutions.  They value outside counsel and opinions.”   None of those answers have anything to do with demographics.  They have everything to do with psychographics, the attitude or values of an organization. 

In the sales training business, we win more business with companies that value education and outside advice.  It is as important as the demographics which include size and revenues of the sales organization.    

Apply the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing.  Conduct a win-loss analysis and see how many opportunities you lost because--- you shouldn’t have called on the prospect in the first place! 

Set yourself up for success in the New Year by fishing where the fish are actually biting!

Good Selling!


tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Fishing
Tue, 12/23/2014

It goes without saying that listening to current and potential clients is key to making sales. However, listening requires more than simply hearing the words – it requires knowing how to read in between the lines and offering useful and honest answers to unasked questions.

The old adage is true: the question being asked is seldom the real question. Questions such as, “How long have you been in business?” may seem fairly straight forward, but lying just below the surface are questions about your credibility, your experience, and your performance. This makes it important to develop skills that allow you to garner those deeper meanings and provide answers to even the questions that are not directly asked.

SalesLeadership is pleased to offer training tools that teach valuable listening skills and help build client trust and confidence. Our training workshops provide in-depth information and integrative techniques to help ensure mastery of a variety of sales skills. We would be happy to discuss our training with you in greater detail and to answer any questions you may have about our services.

To learn more about our exciting training workshops, please contact SalesLeadership online or by calling (877) 541-4604 today. Based in Denver, Colorado, our team provides training for companies throughout the United States.

Fri, 12/19/2014

I recently enjoyed lunch at Racine’s, a local Denver favorite.  As usual, it was packed.  There are many reasons this restaurant has enjoyed success for over 30 years.  The trifecta of good food, ambience and ease of parking leads to many repeat customers.  AND….the owners are right in the “laboratory” of managing the customer experience. 

More than once, I have dropped my car off at their valet service, only to have it driven off by co-owner, David Racine.  Most patrons probably don’t know he’s one of the owners.  I mean really, what is a business owner doing parking cars? 

I suspect there are several reasons that David parks cars.  And these same reasons can translate into greater sales revenues for your sales organization. 

Reason #1.     Provide a great customer experience.  You might have a terrific sales force; however, if the person answering the phone graduated from “fun hater” school, your team may lose the opportunity to connect with a qualified prospect because of the first impression.  Or your prospect can’t even get a live body on the phone.  Carpal tunnel is setting in because of  “pressing zero” in their desire to connect and give someone their money. 

Reason #2:     Get out of the office and into the field.   I’m sure David hears a lot of conversations as people are walking out of the restaurant and waiting for their car.   Those comments may vary from compliments to complaints.  Either way, he knows what’s working or not working.    

Sales managers, can you hear a customer’s candid feedback sitting behind a desk or sitting in yet another corporate meeting? Schedule time to audit phone calls and hear what prospects and customers are saying, objecting to or requesting.  Get into the car and meet the person that signs your paycheck. 

Nothing, I repeat, nothing replaces hearing feedback right from the “horse’s mouth.”  (Prospects and customers--no offense intended.)

Reason #3:     Model the behavior you expect from your sales team.  The best leaders demonstrate they are willing to do what it takes to attract, serve and keep the customer.  This behavior builds credibility builds with their sales team because they see the leader walking the proverbial sales talk.    

Go out and park a few cars and learn about what your customers want, need and deserve. 

Good selling!



tags: sales managers, sales, sales training, Parking Cars, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Thu, 12/4/2014




Click on image to view video

Many salespeople have heard the phrase, “You learn more from your failures than your successes.”   However, if you look inside sales organizations, sales managers are sending a different message, one that creates a ‘play-it-safe’ sales culture.  

For example, most sales organizations have a wall where plaques of success are hanging.  There is a salesperson of the year, rookie of the year or best team player.  What’s missing is a failure wall, one that has plaques touting failures and lessons learned. 

Is it any wonder that salespeople avoid risk, play it safe and retreat to the proverbial comfort zone?   Sales managers, it’s time to inspire your people to take risks, experience failure and rise to greater level of success.   Here are three steps to failing well.

#1:  Create a lessons learned sales culture.  Take part of your sales meetings to discuss a lost deal or a selling situation where the competitor flat out outsold you.  Facilitate learning with these key questions:

  • What did you learn?  What will you change?
  • Could you have learned the lesson without this failure? 
  • How will these lessons serve you in winning bigger or better business in the future?

By walking your sales team through these questions, they understand how failure can and will make them more successful.

#2:  Remind your team to take the failure on their role as a salesperson, not their self-worth.   The most resilient salespeople have the ability to separate what they do for a living from who they are.   Most successful people have failed multiple times on their journey to success.  However, they don’t take the failure personally.  They know they still possess the attributes which make a great human being:  honesty, kindness, accountability, compassion, humor and the list goes on. 

A recent coaching session with a salesperson reminded me of this fear of failure.  We were debriefing her first year with the company.  She is hitting her quota; however, she shared an introspective comment.  “I wonder what I could have achieved if I had gone after the deals I didn’t think I could win.”   To her credit, she knew she had played it safe to avoid failure. 

#3:  Watch the video.  You will see that you are in good company with others that have failed and succeeded. Click on the wall image above to view.

Teach your sales team how to fail well.   You will find them taking more risks, learning great lessons and outperforming your ‘play-it-safe’ competitor. 

Good selling!

tags: colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales, sales management, Sales Manager, Sales Team, sales training
Thu, 11/20/2014

You have several good clients.  However, you know those good clients are purchasing a few lines of business from your competitor.    You know you offer a better product and service after the sale.  So what’s the reason they haven’t moved those lines of business to you?

Check out these three reasons for account stagnation rather than effective account management. 

#1:  You haven’t asked.   Or if you did ask, it was pitiful.  “You wouldn’t consider…..” Your self-talk about the existing vendor has turned into a full blown fiction novel.   And when you say something to yourself repeatedly, fiction becomes truth.  “They’ve been with X, Y, Z company for ten years…they’ll never move.   They don’t want to put all their eggs into one basket.”   Give your client an opportunity to tell you no!  Ask and you will receive an answer based on fact not fiction.

#2:  Lack of pre-call planning.  If you are going to unseat the incumbent, you research and know the incumbent’s areas of strength and weakness.  Once you are equipped with that knowledge, you are equipped to design value propositions that expose a gap in their offerings, without ever mentioning their name.   For example, if you offer a dedicated customer service for your clients, the value proposition might sound like.  “Joe, a lot of our clients are moving XYZ line of business  to us because of our ability to offer a dedicated customer service rep.   They’re tired of wasting time re-educating the rep every time they call in with a need or concern.”     

#3:  Lack of empathy.  Change in business is hard, for a variety of reasons.   Relationships are important, so even when the existing vendor is screwing up,  people can be reluctant to change due to a personal connection.  

Then there is the hassle factor of change.  Your customer is busy and the perceived (key word)  pain of change can appear greater than the current pain of mediocrity by the current provider.

Empathetic salespeople know how to ‘walk a mile’ in their prospects shoes.  They put on the customer hat and address  change issues up front.  “Jeremy, if I were you, I would be concerned about…….should we talk about that?”

Ask, plan and demonstrate empathy.  The combination of these skills will change your role from account stagnation to effective account management. 

Good Selling!

tags: colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales, Sales Leaders, sales management, sales management training, sales training
Fri, 11/14/2014

The countdown is on.  There are approximately 34 days left on the calendar (depending on when you read this) to hit your 2014 sales goal.  For some sales managers and salespeople, there is little anxiety because the ‘money is in the bank.’  Not so much for others.  There are sales professionals looking for ways to execute a Hail Mary pass in the fourth quarter in order to hit their revenue touchdown.      

So what’s the difference between the two sales camps?  Top sales producers are good at stopping and starting the right activities.


  • Wasting time.  Salespeople waste a bunch of time pursuing opportunities that are never going to close. They have a full sales pipeline filled with ‘suspects’ that keeps them busy with call backs, need more information, (and more information) and references.  These suspects have plenty of time to waste and little money to invest. 


  • Conducting quarterly win-loss analysis.  Look at the demographics and psychographics of where you are winning business.  Is there a size, industry, pain point, life cycle where your products and services provide a clear value and return on investment?  Clean out your sales pipeline.  Sure, it’s comfortable calling on the same people.  What’s not comfortable is staring at an empty bank account. 


  • Being average.  Sales is an absolutely miserable profession to be mediocre.  It’s kind of like running into a brick wall every day—on purpose!  Mastery is within your control.  You can control your sales activity, improvement of influence skills and knowledge. 


  • Treating sales as a profession.   Lawyers and CPA’s are required to earn continuing  education credits in order to practice their professions.  Why not require the same of yourself.  Business continues to change---do you?


  • Using words such as try, gonna, should or pretty soon.   They send a message to your brain that you are not serious about changing or improving.  No one cares about your intentions.  People only care about your actions. 


  • Improving today.

Good Selling!

tags: colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, hail mary, sales, sales management, Sales Manager, sales training, salespeople
Fri, 11/7/2014

Remember when you were a kid and your teacher or parent would say, “Pay attention.”  Little did we know that statement was great sales advice.   

In a world where people are addicted to being connected, they are becoming increasingly disconnected.  Look no further than the weekly sales meeting.  The sales team enters the room and places their smart phones on the table.  Then, for the next hour, they stare at them for fear of missing an email or phone call. The sales manager is at the front of the room sharing selling tips that help the sales team close more business.  Unfortunately little or none of the tools are used because the salesperson missed the advice---he was checking his smart phone. 

A study by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers found the average user checks their phone nearer to 150 times per day.  Now do some simple math.  If each check takes 60 seconds, that is two and a half hours per day of  “checking” in.   Multiply that number by five working days and you have a salesperson that has invested over 10 hours checking messages.  Multiply that number by four weeks and you are at 40 hours.  Hmm…wonder what selling activities could be accomplished if checking in was decreased? 

There is another problem created by multi-tasking:  lack of focus.  Salespeople that are constantly connected are training themselves in the non-revenue producing habit of distraction.  Again, do some simple math.  

A consultative sales meeting takes 45 minutes to one hour.  The effective salesperson needs to be present, focused and paying attention. Now, if you have never paid attention for one hour, prior to a sales meeting, how are you going to pay attention for that amount of time?  You can’t demonstrate a habit or skill which you have not developed. Focus is the new competitive weapon for sales organizations.

Do you want better sales results?   It might be as simple as turning off your technology. 

Good selling!

tags: colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales, sales management, Sales Manager, sales training