As seen in Denver Business Journal

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Fri, 10/9/2015

Colleen Stanley

There are thousands of sales books, but few talk about empathy, which is one of the most important soft skills for a salesperson to learn and demonstrate.

Empathy is an emotional intelligence skill, defined as the ability to know what another person is thinking or feeling. It’s the ability to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. It’s an important skill for building long-term, meaningful business relationships. So why isn’t empathy studied or emphasized in most sales training courses or sales books?

Well, empathy just sounds a little too soft and touchy-feely. After all, aren’t the best sales producers hard charging and competitive? Yes — and they’re also empathetic. Because how can a salesperson influence another human being if he doesn’t know what that person is really thinking or feeling?

Mon, 08/3/2015

Colleen Stanley

David Letterman may have retired from the Late Night Show; however, his infamous Top Ten list will probably never retire. It’s half-way through the year and sales organizations are either celebrating or starting to panic. You’re either on plan to hit your sales goals or scrambling to figure out why your sales team isn’t closing business.

Here are 10 reasons why companies miss their revenue goals.

Tue, 06/9/2015

Colleen Stanley

Salespeople waste thousands of hours and internal resources writing practice proposals.  What’s the definition of a practice proposal?  It’s quotes, recommendations, responses to RFP’s created for prospects that have no intention of ever doing business with your company.  These prospects vary from the price shoppers looking for a deal or prospects that just want to keep their existing vendor honest. 

Why do salespeople waste time writing such proposals, knowing their time is better invested developing current clients or uncovering new, qualified opportunities?   It’s  a combination of ineffective selling  skills and  lack of emotional intelligence skills.    

Here are three areas to examine and course correct with your sales team. 

Tue, 03/24/2015

Colleen Stanley

It’s a "Groundhog Day" scenario in the life of a business owner or sales manager. The company is growing and it’s time to add a new salesperson to accelerate sales. You spend hours interviewing candidates and after six months find yourself asking the question: should I keep working with this new hire or let him go? Have I given this person enough time and tools to succeed? Is it me or the candidate?

Look no further for the answer than the hit song from Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler" — " You’ve got know when to hold ‘em. You’ve got to know when to fold ‘em.”

Here are a few tips for knowing when to hold and continue training and coaching or fold and admit you made a hiring mistake.

Tue, 03/10/2015

Colleen Stanley

Emotional intelligence has long been studied in the executive, leadership world. However, sales leaders have not been as quick to embrace the idea of soft skills. They often confuse soft skill with, well, soft sales results.

It's time to challenge your thinking and gain an edge on your non-educated competitors. Successful sales organizations may not be labeling certain skills or activities as soft skills, but when you take a closer look, these top-performing cultures are embracing and leveraging the power of emotional intelligence skills. Here are three traits that help sales teams win more business with the right customers.

Tue, 03/10/2015

Colleen Stanley

We've just come off of the largest shopping season of the year. Consumers engaged in Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all sorts of last-minute deals. With the onset of a New Year, there's a new buying season and a different target audience: sales managers.

As revenue goals are set for 2015, sales managers are tempted to buy into excuses from their sales team as to why higher goals can't be achieved. Excuses vary from lack of time, leads and price. Let's take a closer look at excuses and ways to eliminate them.

Tue, 03/10/2015

Colleen Stanley

Your marketing and sales team is working hard. They are writing articles, posting blogs, making cold calls, engaging in social media and networking. With all this effort, why isn’t the sales pipeline bursting with qualified prospects?

The answer: your sales value proposition doesn’t offer value. You look and sound like your competitor so prospects default to the status quo or do nothing. The marketing and sales copy doesn’t create an emotional connection with your potential buyer, resulting in little urgency to change or improve. The good and bad news is that you are not alone.

At a recent Business Marketing Association Conference, Jay Gaines, vice president of Sirius Decisions, shared research showing the No. 1 challenge facing organizations was their ability to communicate value.

Tue, 07/29/2014

Colleen Stanley

Congratulations! Your company revenues require hiring a full-time sales manager. You, the business owner, are ready to transfer your current responsibilities of sales management and focus on leading the company.

You interview several candidates and are impressed with their selling prowess and resume of success. The offer is made and six months later the only thing growing is the additional cost to the payroll. What went wrong?

Tue, 05/27/2014

Colleen Stanley

Time magazine earlier this year published a cover story titled “The Mindful Revolution. The Science of Finding Focus in a Stressed Out, Multi-Tasking Culture.” Arianna Huffington, founder of the mega-digital publication, The Huffington Post, recently released her new book, "Thrive," in which she discusses her new found appreciation for getting unplugged from 24/7 technology. And now, Harvard Business Review just released its summer edition titled “Emotional Intelligence. The Essential Ingredient to Success.”

Is there a message that hard-driving, successful salespeople can gain from adopting these practices of mindfulness, unplugging and emotional intelligence? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s look at each one and its impact on sales.

Mindfulness

Mon, 03/24/2014

Colleen Stanley

We live in an Information Age and bad news is everywhere. There are stories about wealth managers embezzling clients’ money, corporate America not looking out for shareholders and the government overstepping boundaries.

Is there more scandal today? No, there’s always been scandal. The difference is that access to bad news is easier than ever before. You have TV, the Internet, social media, magazines and more.

So how does bad news affect the sales profession? For one thing, prospects are more skeptical. They wonder if you’re the real deal or just another professional promise maker. Are you like the person they just heard about on TV or the Internet that took advantage of someone?

Tue, 01/28/2014

Denver Business Journal by Colleen Stanley

Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," has sold more than10 million copies of his book. The question asked and answered in the book is “Why am I here?”

Now, many of you hard-charging sales types might be wondering what this question has to do with achieving sales results. Perhaps everything. Do the simple math. If more than 10 million people have picked up Rick Warren’s book, maybe there is a lesson for sales leaders to learn in managing and motivating their team.

Mon, 11/18/2013

Colleen Stanley

There are still reports of companies struggling in a post-recession economy. Slow growth is blamed on Wall Street, the White House and enemies overseas. All sound like valid reasons; however, it might be a time to stop looking at factors from the outside affecting revenues and take a closer look inside your organization. Are you creating raving fans or customers that are raving mad?

Case in point. A colleague purchased a computer earlier this year. Within a week, the infamous blue screen showed up, the computer shut down and had to be returned. The retailer replaced the “lemon” with a new computer.

Mon, 09/23/2013

Denver Business Journal by Colleen Stanley

Does anyone get tired of the buzzwords thrown around in the sales profession? For example, salespeople are told to be "trusted advisers" to prospects and clients. What does that really mean?

Webster's Dictionary defines trust as "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something."

"Truth" is the key word here. How many prospects believe you're showing up to seek the truth and do the right thing for them? Think about it. Sales is a broken model. You don't get paid unless you sell something, which makes prospects skeptical about your intent.

Here are three things that you can do to assure prospects that you can be trusted and have their best interests in mind.

(1) Tell the truth.

Mon, 09/23/2013

Denver Business Journal - by Colleen Stanley

The word "soft" is enough to turn off any hard-driving business executive. After all, doesn't it indicate a salesperson who can't stand their ground, is in touch with their inner child and can't negotiate the tough business deals? NOT.

Research supports the power of soft skills, often referred to as "emotional intelligence" skills. They're the new weapon for companies competing in a global, information-loaded world. It's no longer enough to hire a person with the highest IQ, unless that IQ is accompanied by high emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence? It's a person's ability to perceive their emotions, understand why they're feeling an emotion and to adjust their actions to achieve desired outcomes.

Here's the business case for "return on emotions":

Tue, 07/23/2013

Colleen Stanley

We live in an Information Age and bad news is everywhere. There are stories about wealth managers embezzling clients’ money, corporate America not looking out for shareholders and the government overstepping boundaries.

Is there more scandal today? No, there’s always been scandal. The difference is that access to bad news is easier than ever before. You have TV, the Internet, social media, magazines and more.

So how does bad news affect the sales profession? For one thing, prospects are more skeptical. They wonder if you’re the real deal or just another professional promise maker. Are you like the person they just heard about on TV or the Internet that took advantage of someone?

Mon, 05/20/2013

Denver Business Journal by Colleen Stanley

What do Notre Dame, Yale, Dartmouth and the MIT Sloan School of Management business schools have in common, besides teaching sound business practices?

They’re beginning to harness the power of emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) as they screen appplicants. Measuring EQ is the latest attempt by business schools to identify the stars of the future. IQ is important for success in business and in life. But research indicates that soft skills are equally important. (Have you ever met the smartest guy in the room — and didn’t want to have anything to do with him?)

Mon, 03/18/2013

When is the last time you went home at the end of the day and said, “I am so tired of being appreciated. I don’t think I can take one more pat on the back”? Unfortunately, probably less than 1 percent of the working population ever has uttered those words. It’s more common to hear people complaining about not feeling validated and recognized for their accomplishments.

Maybe it’s time to install an appreciation and recognition process at your sales organization in order to create better sales cultures and enduring business relationships. Start by asking two important questions:

Mon, 11/19/2012

Who would have predicted that Amazon and Netflix would raise the bar on what prospects and customers expect from salespeople? Both organizations excel at upselling, and suggesting things or movies you might enjoy based on your prior purchases. If you enjoy comedies, Netflix won’t suggest you watch “Rambo” or “Die Hard.”

Their customizations of suggestions make customers feel like the company really knows them. And in an information-overload world, their personal approach breaks through the noise of generic offerings and messages.

Today’s prospect doesn’t need or appreciate a generic sales approach. A cookie-cutter sales methodology just doesn’t work. Unfortunately, many salespeople have attended sales school at this bakery and default to this approach. It’s easier and requires no planning.

Mon, 07/23/2012

You’ve seen this movie before. In fact, you might have landed the starring role in this film.

Sales manager hires new salesperson, with high hopes that this individual is a keeper. The résumé looks good, the interview went well and the job is offered.

After the new hire unpacks his bags, the sales manager has her first doubts about the new superstar. There aren’t enough new opportunities coming through the door, but there ARE plenty of excuses.

• "If only I had more and/or better leads."

• "If only our pricing was more competitive."

• "If only our marketing material looked better."

• "If only …" (feel free to add to the list).

Mon, 05/21/2012

You’ve preached the importance of consistent prospecting and business development to your sales team. All heads nod up and down in agreement.

You dedicate a portion of each sales meeting to teaching your team new skills and strategies for opening up opportunities. Key performance metrics are set and tracked.

So with all this time and attention, why are so many sales managers and CEOs still complaining that there aren’t enough new opportunities coming through the door?

Most sales organizations try to fix selling challenges by throwing more hard sales skills training at the problem. In some cases, this might just be the fix. However, in many situations, an empty sales pipeline often is caused by poor emotional intelligence (EI) skills.

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