Call a Timeout

By | Sales Productivity

Guest Post by Mark Shalinsky – Business Development Manager at The New Office.  Mark is a veteran sales guy that loves the hunt and metrics.  He taught me some great techniques over the years including “whale hunting” at conferences, one of my go to strategies. In this article, Mark shares how to to become a communication catalyst, pulling in a collaborator to make everyone a winner.

I ran into a rough situation the other day.

My boss and I are in the boardroom. Across from us are sitting the client champion (I’ll call her “Darcy”), one of her colleagues, and two outside consultants. We had several short conversations with Darcy prior to finagling a sit. Usually, I go on these alone, or with a pre-sales engineer, not typically with my boss, the CEO of the company. I like to hold him in reserve so we can play good cop / bad cop during negotiations. For whatever reason, my boss decided he wanted to be in the thick of the action.

I’ve worked for a bunch of tech companies and up until now all the founders were tech people. Mostly extroverted, so they’d stare at my shoes not their own. My current boss is the consummate, old school sales guy. He loves filleting the pain, negotiating, and closing. He’s the encyclopedia of sales plays and effective meeting strategies, so I know I’ll always learn something when he comes along.

So we get started. I boot up our demo and immediately our champion, Darcy pulls out her Gatling gun and starts peppering me with questions. Right out of the gate she’s on fire. We’d barely finished the pleasantries, and she started to unload. And unload hard she did. You know those deep cutting questions that go to the core of your product and your value proposition.

While I was able to easily and deftly field these questions, it put me on the defensive track. Defensive is terrible. Defense deflects the ball. Defense does not control the conversation. The worst part, I could not get on the offense. Remember what I said about my boss being the quintessential sales guy? Well, he was able to grab the ball and called a timeout.

Wait. Can you call a timeout on a sit? Why did nobody ever tell me? How come I never knew? Regardless, my boss slammed his hand on the big red button and said, “Darcy, we’ve had a couple of conversations, why are you the only one talking?” Then he laid on the big William Shatner pregnant pause. Darcy mentioned something squirrely tried to go on offense again, but my boss wouldn’t let her. “Darcy, we’ve got two of your colleagues, I have an idea what they do from our intro, and are you are paying a handsome sum to these two implementation consultants to sit here and listen to Mark’s answers?”

Then he dropped the mic, put the ball right back in the middle of the table and went back to the edge. It was at that moment that something amazing happened. With little prompting, those two statements got five people starting to talk. Those two groups had not outlined the problems that they wanted to solve individually, as a group, nor had they had the opportunity to hash out their issues.

It became abundantly clear that the entire reason we were called in was to act as a conversation catalyst. Darcy needed to have the conversation with her colleagues and the consultants that my boss had created, however she did not know how to get that conversation started. Then when she found herself in a room with three different groups that, in her mind, all had set objectives, she believed she needed to dominate the conversation to get her way. Wrong.

Had the sit gone the way Darcy initiated the result would have been an impasse at best, a failed implementation that would have made my product look bad, the consultants overcharging their client, and Darcy pulling defeat from the jaws of victory that may cost her her job.

The better way, start from zero. If we are all not on the same page from the outset, start again. Yes, we did go around the table make introductions with roles and responsibilities. However, I failed because I let Darcy grab the ball and run with it. She ran to her end-zone. The problem, her end-zone was not my end-zone, her colleague’s end-zone or the consultants end-zone.

Step 1 is to identify the players.

Step 2 have each player define what success looks like.

Step 3 paint the complete picture where everyone comes out a winner.

If you can’t provide the complete solution, be honest and offer what you can. Gain credibility with effective meeting strategies like offering to pull in a collaborator that can help you make everyone at the table a winner.



Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster.

Read more of Mark’s articles here and follow him on Twitter.

Simple plan to solve Yosemite’s $1M print issue and yours too

By | Mobile Productivity Tools


Simple plan to solve Yosemite’s $1M print issue and yours too

I recently saw this article which describes how changing the name of the concession stand and a hotel in Yosemite National Park will cost the tax payers “$1 million” for reprinting the signs, garbage cans, and brochures.

With annual operating budget of $30M, $1M represents a significant share (1/30th) of the much-needed budget Yosemite requires to not only operate a park, but to attract more visitors in the future.

If you went to your boss or CFO tomorrow and told them you were going to spend 1/30th of the entire operating budget of your company to fix the words in your brochures or printed catalogs, what do you think the reaction would be?

Nes too good pas!

Yet, thousands of Marketers dedicate huge budget to print brochures, catalogs, and one-pagers every year.

Prices and spec changes? Reprint.

Rebranding after a merger or strategic change? Reprint. The costs can be astronomical, and the process takes years.

In this article, I’ll show you how your company and Yosemite can:

  1. Maintain a reasonable level of printed materials (50% of current spend)
  2. Replace print with digital versions on devices that people use already (30% of current spend)
  3. Deliver critical content digitally so that it can be accessed offline in the backwoods
  4. Re-allocate savings from your print budget to your lead generation marketing budget (20% of current spend)

As we enter the mobile age and Moore’s law continues its predicted rapid climb, Marketers (and National Parks) will have to deal with more and more rapid shifts in the way people consume and use information.

And the shifts are seismic. Like California-falls-into-the-sea seismic.

Yosemite’s print budget is just like yours.

Like most people, I get really upset when I see public dollars being wasted on printed materials in the digital age.

And the idea that our beloved National Park could possibly be spending 1/30th of it’s operating budget to fix some marketing brochures is especially maddening, given the need to improve roads and staff such a massive enterprise.

Many companies operate with the benchmark of 10% of revenue is spent on marketing to attract more buyers.  Let’s assume the National Parks operate on the same idea.

And like most companies selling products and services, I get that Yosemite has to “sell” its offerings (hotels, concessions, nature walks, new trails).

But why does Yosemite need to print that many brochures to accomplish this?

What happens to printed materials?

My hypothesis is 90% of Yosemite’s brochures are tossed into the newly stenciled garbage cans soon after people pick them up at the gate or, they get used to start camp fires.

Do you have a brochure drawer at home? Unlikely.

Will you look at the brochure again in a few months? Nope.


How many brochures are in those bags?

This perfectly parallels what I see attending major industry trade shows with our clients. Shows where companies spend thousands to have a booth and rely on that rented space to generate a huge portion of their qualified leads.

I bet you’ve had a similar experience where every time you go into a booth the staff keep trying to hand you printed materials.

It’s like a conditioned response.  Look, a prospect, here’s a brochure on our coolest product. Let me scan your badge. Sweet,  I got another lead.

However, it’s shockingly wasteful and represents wasted opportunity in the digital age.

The Marketing team spent money to design and print that product literature.  They also shipped it to the show and likely paid to deliver the box to the booth.

To take it one more step, many times the undistributed brochures get boxed up and shipped back home or worse simply dumped in the trash.

One marketing consultant I spoke with described another potential black hole for these printed brochures,

“Believe it or not, when these get shipped, they don’t always get received or found and then they have to be given out.  Remote offices don’t usually get the same love as headquarters.  Tons of boxes go untouched under a table or desk.” – Josh Krasnegor,  Consultant.

Josh said it well, tons of boxes of untouched marketing budget.

Simple plan to solve Yosemite’s $1M print issue

The biggest mistake for companies with out-of-control print budgets is that they don’t know how to best compare and contrast the cost of mobile content delivery systems to their status quo (e.g., printing catalogs, brochures, etc.).

And neither does Yosemite.

Let’s imagine the good folks at Yosemite took a look around the Park at what people are doing.  What do you think they would see?

yosemite_selfie_-_Google_SearchPeople using smart phones to take pictures, navigate roads, chat with friends, look up information on animals, or just ignore nature and stare into them.

Noticing this, Yosemite might create a mobile app that:

  1. Delivers key information offline (cellular is not always available in the park)
  2. Updates automatically when visitors phones hit WiFi hotspots in the park (entirely possible with background sync)
  3. Reaches visitors on the tool that 99.9% are carrying their pockets (yep, their phone)

What would Yosemite put in the app?

Everything!  Maps, brochures, videos, history, daily schedules, alerts to road closures. You name it.

Would they still need to print stuff?

Sure, I get that some people are just going to demand printed maps, etc.

So why not print, 20% of last year’s volume to start and direct people to their app for the other 80%? This might cut their print cost in half or more for the year.

One might imagine that an app like that would cost millions to produce however I suspect that the true cost deploy and maintain that type of app is in the $300k range in year one with roughly 20-40% annual maintenance in subsequent years.

$300,000/4 million visitors = $0.33 per visitor.

I’ll pay the 33 cents with my insanely under-priced entrance fee thank you very much.

Keep in mind that the park is spending $1m to simply FIX their outdated print materials.

The number one mistake made by marketers with out-of-control print budgets

The biggest mistake for Marketers with out of control print budgets is they, like Yosemite, are not comparing and contrasting the cost of mobile content delivery systems to status quo (e.g., spend on printing catalogs, brochures, etc.).

So using our Yosemite example, here’s a possible end result:

$1m annual print budget for Yosemite

x 50% CY = $500,000 print spend to fix their brochures

and $500,000 left over to spend:

$300,000 to deploy a mobile content app that everyone can use on their smart phones


$200,000 to spend on other items for growth.

Keep in mind that Yosemite’s $300,000 hypothetical app is based on 4 million people potentially using it.

Most mobile sales apps on the market cost between $100-300 per sales person per year. So your cost and savings might be massive compared to Yosemite’s $200,000 depending on your print spend currently.

So what do marketers share with Yosemite?

Although, I think the parallel is obvious let’s break it down.

  • Overspending on outdated technology with no measurable ROI = print
  • Refusing to see that people want to access information in a new way = mobile phones
  • Equals throwing away much needed budget

In a world where marketers and National Parks are continually asked to do more with less budget, delivering critical information to the devices people already own and want to interact with is the new norm, not the exception.

The reality is reliance on antiquated methods (print) will only widen the gap between the successful and those left behind.



Quotas are for losers. Presumptive Closing and Squishy Pricing. [Mark Shalinsky]

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

Note from Rusty – Introducing Mark Shalinsky – Rant from a proven closer. I asked Mark one question about how he consistently crushed quota and got this super useful answer.  It was kinda like drinking from the fire hose. Sometimes you just gotta shut up and listen, dawg. Edited for clarity.

Enter Mark Shalinsky…

Last week at Marketo Summit in Vegas, I bumped into an old colleague who runs his own sales team now. Nice!

Over drinks I got to talking to one of my buddy’s more junior sales reps, and she asked me point blank,” What is the single most important lesson you can teach me about sales.”

I said, “Listen.” 

Then an awkward silence rained down. Reps hate that, but they know it’s true.

She comes back, “Look, I know listening is great and, I do that, but what is next? Whenever I ask veterans like you what the second most important lesson in sales I get all sorts of answers”.

In my scientific mind there are two starting characteristics of people who make a career in sales; the qualitative salesperson and the quantitative salesperson.

The qualitative salesperson is the one who walks into the room and instantly begin connecting with clients. They commands the room, break the ice, are affable beyond belief, and people just love them.

People LOVE them, really really LOVE them.

By stark contrast, there is the quantitative salesperson.

By the books, by the numbers, by sales quotas, an unsympathetic process is driven. All the boxes are checked at one stage before they move to the next.

All sales are based on relationships, so the quantitative salesperson builds relationships on credibility and accountability. It takes time, but once that train is moving, nobody is getting off.

One of my Judo Sensei’s told me I have no natural affinity with people. Between that and being a trained scientist (PhD in neurophysiology), you can guess what persona I started out in sales with.

Yep, quantitative.

We all start with the persona in our nature and, if you make it early in sales, it helps you succeed.

Later, you learn how to become the other persona. So my hypothesis is, the truly successful sales person is an even balance between quantitative and qualitative.

Mark’s Sales System

So here’s my “closing a sale process” that’s been refined over the past 11 or so years.

Listen  > Question > Listen  > Repeat > Price > Paint  > Confirm > Close

The listening is the easy part, and you’ve heard it a million times. Listen to the pain, the problems, and the goals.

Only through attentive listening can you understand how you will define a solution.

Questioning is the only way you get you can get the prospect to tell you all the pains and problems they have. Even when the prospect seems adamant in their desires, you need to ask them a question.

When a prospect asks, “Does this shirt come in pink?” You need to understand why they are asking the question.

Never assume they question something out of motive, sometimes they don’t even know why they asked the question. Your role as a salesperson is to determine WHY they are asking specific questions.

The proper answer to the question, “Does this shirt come in pink?”, is, “would you like this shirt in pink?”

When they answer your question to their question, then you can go back to listening.

Listen  > Question > Listen  > Repeat > Price > Paint  > Confirm > Close

When working on closing a sale, repeating is critical. Prospects inherently don’t trust sales people because sales people are incentivized by sales quotas and commission. Commission only comes from converting prospects to customers. So, they have biases and preconceived ideas about what sales is trying “pull over” on them.

A prospect will never trust you if the prospect doesn’t believe you understand their problem.

The only way you can start building that trust is by connecting with clients and repeating the pain. It isn’t that hard. My go-to line is, “Ok, so you said that the problem is A, B, C and you were thinking about solving it X,Y, Z ways. Is that a correct statement?”

If the answer does not come back as an emphatic YES, go back to listening and questioning.

Again, process driven sales means never moving forward unless 100% of the boxes have been checked in the previous step.

So when the answer finally comes back as a resounding, “Hallelujah, he gets it!” we move to the next step.

Thoughts on Pricing

Pricing is usually the sticky point for sales reps.

Everyone believes that the main reason people don’t buy is due to price. That is not true. Price is only one reason you will lose a deal. The other two? Time and information. More on that topic at another time.

I bring up the price here for several reasons. First and foremost, if they are price conscious and have limited means and budget, I want them (colorful metaphor) off my pipeline. I don’t have time to deal with miserly buyers that will never see the value of my offering.

The second very important reason is that I plant the pricing seed at the point where I’ve started to build the most trust. I have gone through the exercise of fully understanding their pains and problems and got them to agree that I understand what they are going through. They are starting to see me as being part of the solution team, their team.

I don’t give them a hard figure, it is squishy, and I let them know as much, granted I’ll likely bake in some fat if I think they want to haggle.

I leave the price with the caveat, another go to statement, “I’ve demonstrated that I understand your issues, correct?” Pause for a positive response, continue, “my promise to you is that if you agree that my solution will help you, I will work with my team to ensure that we can get this deal to work so from here on out, this is not a waste of time for either of us.”


I’ve anchored my price.

I’ve solidified my stance that I’m on their side yet again.

I’ve rounded second and the ball still high in the air and moving fast towards the wall.

Now I’m ready to go into sales mode.

What the heck is painting?

Paint the picture. You know don’t paint seagulls in their picture.

You need to be able to define how your solutions will work, why it will work, and what it will take to work. Break it down into easy to understand pieces. Once you’ve had a chance to paint the picture, the prospect needs to acknowledge that your solution will indeed help them.

Confirming that your solution will work for them is the only way you can get the prospect’s acknowledgment.

Again this is another point where once I’ve completed painting the picture I have my go-to line,” Providing that I can do everything that I say I can do would you be happy with this solution?”

And again, if the answer does not come back as an emphatic YES, inquire where there are gaps in the image, repaint, and go for confirmation again.

Remember, there is no point in moving on until he answer comes back as a resounding, “that is exactly what I’m looking for.”

At this point, there is one thing left to do.

Closing is complicated, closing is hard. Closing requires paperwork.
The power of selling by a process is that by the time you get to closing the deal, you have built credibility, trust, and importantly, assuaged liability concerns.

Taken together, the presumptive close is very much a reality.

5 Apps That Are Always On My Home Screen for Sales Calls

By | Business Mobility, Mobile Productivity Tools

Joseph_Bishop’s_iPhoneI have always been a hacker and maybe that’s what I really love about the ‘mobile revolution’ and its apps in all flavors and colors.

Lately, I’ve been extremely curious about what apps sales people use on the road to make their jobs and lives easier.

I’m not talking about custom, corporate apps or email here. But the ones they use to get from A to B or get themselves out of a jam.

Sales on the road is tough, so I figured those gals and guys might teach us a thing or two about apps and how to hack them.

So my team and I just started asking sales people questions like, “What’s apps are on the first screen on your phone?” and…

…”What apps have saved your butt in a pinch?”

And we followed it up with, “How do you use it?”

Of course it’s a subjective question. But that’s the fun of it.

Because the best app for sales reps depends on the job a sales person needs to do at that exact moment.

Some reps travel constantly. Others stay close to home.

This is by no means a comprehensive list or a “best of” list regarding sales call tips.

Just some great home screen apps that we uncovered to make your life on the road a little easier.  Where possible, I’ve done my best to capture the use case with images and short videos, so you can visualize the hack.


Click Here to Grab a One-Page PDF with all Five Apps and Download Links

We present these home screen apps and sales call tips in no certain order and fully expect you to come back to us and say “but, you forgot…”

1. iAnnotate let’s you sign and send PDF documents in 5 minutes or less (Price: $3.99)

As a founder, I am constantly signing NDAs, CDAs, reseller agreements, and other documents.

I own a scanner, but I hate using it. I hate how big the files are once scan them and, figuring out how to get the signed image from the scanner to my computer to send it.

Thankfully, I found the iAnnotate App.

I no longer have to scan wonky looking documents or email gigantic files with my signature on them.

iAnnotate does all the work for me via my iPad or iPhone (just bought my first droid, too!).

Here’s my exact work flow (that will save you endless frustration with signing docs).

Step 1 – On your smart device 0pen the document you need in Mail, Dropbox, or Google Docs or whatever you’re comfortable with opening files.

Step 2 – Open the file and send it to iAnnotate using the action button. When it opens in iAnnotate, it’ll look like this

Signing files on iPad

Step 3 – Use the Pen tool located in the right side bar to sign.  You just need to tap on the feather, then tap the line you ned to sign to do this. It’ll look like this…

Signing docs on iPad

Step 4 – Sometimes you have to fill in a bunch of other annoying blanks like “Printed Name” or “Credit Card Number” when you sign documents.  No problem.  Just tap on the T (stands for typewriter) on the right side bar and then tap in the document where you need to type in information.

Signing PDFs on ipads

Step 5 – Next you want to flatten the file, which will save your signature and any thing you typed in to single PDF. Then you send the flattened signed document back to yourself (I use Mail on my iPad and iPhone synced to Gmail). I don’t recommend sending it directly from iAnnotate, because they put some self-promotion stuff in the emails.  I get it, but don’t want to send that to a business contact with a contract. Looks like this…

sending signed pdfs from Ipad

Step 6 – Finally, just forward the email you sent yourself to the person that needs your signature.  I typically remove all the iAnnotate self-promotion at the bottom in my email interface and personalize the email.  You can do this from your phone, tablet, or laptop.

That’s it, done. 5 minutes and no more scanning, faxing non-sense.

Note – I can’t speak to other uses of iAnnotate.  I only use it to sign documents and, it is totally worth the time it saves me.  Looking in iTunes there seems to be a good deal of negative reviews from power user types.  If you are one of those, I’m sure Acrobat or other apps may be better for the job.

2. Waze helps reps beat traffic in unknown cities

Waze continually amazes me.  Built on top of Google Maps this app has an uncanny knack for getting reps (and me) to their destination in the fastest way possible.

Imagine you fly into Milwaukee, rent a car, and take off to your first sales call that starts in an hour. With Google Maps or Apple Maps, you can easily route to your destination. But what do you do when you hit a huge traffic snarl on Interstate 94?

Answer: You scramble around start trying to find an alternate route, but it’s too late.  Your stuck and you have to call your prospect to tell them you’ll be late. Yes, that happened to me.

So I started using Waze to get where I’m going in strange cities on the road.

Waze uses the traffic data coming into Google Maps from the all of the cell phones on the road, it can accurately route you to the fastest route. Massive data = you get there faster.

Plus, there’s a really nice tranquil female voice that my wife likes to call “Wanda the Waze Lady.”

WAZE_ON_THE_TURNPIKEHere’s an example from a recent trip to New Jersey:

I was driving from Newark to Philadelphia to meet with clients for the day. I’m listening to Wanda’s instructions and driving down the turnpike… (I am from California, what the heck is a turnpike?)

All of a sudden she tells me to exit into a service island! I was like, “What?!” But, I did it anyway.

I arrived at the gas pumps off the exit and immediately noticed a massive wreck that must of just happened on the turnpike. Because the app re-routed me, I was then able to drive around the wreck through the island’s on-ramp.

From that day forward, I just do what the Waze lady tells me. Set Waze as one of your go-to home screen apps if you are in field sales, or just want to get places faster. It is invaluable for navigating unknown areas.

3. Evernote and 4. Skitch – Note taking and annotating images | Price – Free (upgrades at a cost)

We are featuring these two together because they are both Evernote “owned” apps that reps use for two distinct purposes:

  1. Taking notes
  2. Annotating images

Why it matters? Valuable sales call tips are all about efficient communication. If you are the kind of person that loves to improve things or share ideas you see in images, websites, or sales collateral, this is combination will “make your day” saving you hours of fiddling with images on the fly and transferring them to be sent in emails.

Plus it saves a copy to all your devices for future reference with tagging capability. This alone is worth it. Trust me.

For non-sales users, this combination is great for remembering the cool things you want to buy, read, watch, or share.

Let me walk you through how I used Skitch and Evernote while sitting in Starbucks this week.

My marketing team produced a new sales flier and sent it to the team.

Being the type A business owner I am, I noticed that the image of our Annual Pricing was too small for prospects to see when I showed my prospect the file on my iPhone.

As soon as the prospect left, I took a screen shot, pointed out the error, and emailed to Marketing in less than a minute.

Here’s a short video I made to walk you through it.

Super simple right?

Here’s the steps written out for you.

Step 1- Open the PDF on your phone.

Step 2 – Take a screen shot

Step 3 – Open Skitch

Step 4 – Open the image in Skitch

Step 5 – Mark it up

Step 6 – Save and Send


Now here’s the best part…

Because Skitch and Evernote are synced, your altered image or file is automatically synced to Evernote forever. Boom!

Watch this short video to see this in action.

Here, Im opening the image in Evernote, giving it a name, and them tagging it for future use.

Even though I did this on my iPhone it automatically syncs to ALL MY DEVICES.

Here’s a screenshot of the file I altered in video above on my MacBook Air in Evernote.


The sky is the limit and, you don’t have to do anything to make your image sync to your devices.  It just happens.

That is the kind of user experience (UX) I love.

5. LinkedIn App

Having the LinkedIn app as one of your home screen apps seems like a no-brainer, right?

But let me tell you how reps are using it for pre-call planning to set themselves up for success.

Imagine this scenario.

You’re own your way to an in-person meeting and get an email that 3 other people will be joining the meeting.

You are now at a disadvantage because you only did your homework on the prospect that agreed to the meeting.

No problem.  Here’s my cheat using the LinkedIn App and Photos on your phone or tablet.

Open the LinkedIn App on your phone and quickly find the new people in the meeting by searching (***requires Internet access, so stop at Starbucks or do this in advance).

Take a screenshot each person’s profile page.

Why take a screenshot?

Because you are going to be sitting in your car or the lobby of a building with crappy cellular signal when you need to scan/flip through profiles quickly to remind yourself of the relevant details for each person.

You can’t do this with the LinkedIn App, because it is a web-app and web-apps suck when your cellular or wi-fi signal is poor. Why take that chance?

Once you take a screen shot you a can quickly flip through each person’s profile anywhere, no matter your how weak your signal.

I made a short video that shows you just how fast this can be once you take the screenshots.



I know great tunes.  But you get the idea.

By taking screenshots of the people’s LinkedIn profiles, I was able to flip through them like flash cards. Easy to remember details like title and where they went to college.



Hope you find these useful.

Want to know about another great app? Download the document below to get a bonus app, Hotels2Nite.


Click Here to Grab a One-Page PDF with all Five Apps and Download Links

3 Growth Hacks for Sales Teams that Struggle to Get in Person Demos

By | Sales Productivity

Guest Post by Mark Shalinsky – Business Development Manager at The New Office.  Mark is a veteran sales guy that loves the hunt and metrics.  He taught me some great techniques over the years including “whale hunting” at conferences, one of my go to strategies. In this article, Mark shares 3 growth hacks for sales involving long sales cycles and in person sales demos.

Enter Mark.

I had a call today with a sales leader of a small regional company looking to expand his sales footprint. While they have done a lot of great things in the past, have recurring revenue, an active inbound lead funnel, there is a lot that they can be doing to accelerate their growth using a few growth hacking techniques for sales.

About the company

The company, including the sales leader, has a three person sales team. The sales reps do everything; prospect, demo, close, and book renewals. Currently they are using an entry level CRM marginally better than spreadsheets, but they are committed to growth and have bought a license to the big boy CRM, The commitment is firm as they are using a consulting service to set it up for them.

The are not looking at a stepping up digital marketing right, the need to tune their sales reps first. For this reason, I will not discuss anything on marketing at this time.

About the solution being provided

This company has a powerful disruptive technology with a 95% win rate when they get to the demo. The problem is getting to the demo. The decision maker for their product is either the CEO or CFO and the demo requires a 30 – 60minute in person hands on demo.

Pretty time and labour intensive for a C-level executive. This seems like a lot, but with a 95% win rate, the demo is pretty much cash in the bag.

As well, the sales leader says he has a >90% renewal rate, so they can count on a very stable recurring revenue. Also this data was built on several years of successful sales so there is a nice annual recurring revenue (ARR) buffer that will help fuel this growth phase.

The Question: How can they accelerate growth?

Sales is hard.

Anyone who is in sales understands this. The reason there is the 80/20 rule is because while sales is hard, it is a catch all career, and many people don’t have what it takes and linger.

The first question I asked this sales leader, is the first thing I ask any sales hunter, “What is your funnel equation?”

The funnel equation

V # Calls gives

W # Conversations which leads to

X # Demos that convert to

Y# Commitments resulting in

Z $ earned.

Once you understand your funnel equation you can start working the dials and increase conversion rates.

Over a longer period (thing week or month) your funnel number should be relatively stable. My funnel is a bit more involved than most people’s but I like to know how many raw dials I do because some days I strike out completely. However, like a slot machine, I know that the more dials I put in greater chance of a conversation, and it cascades from there.

Full disclosure, I have no idea how slot machines work.

I know logging calls is tedious, however there are a lot of softwares out there that can link and log your calls in your CRM, once in your CRM you can easily measure and report and on them. At that point you can have your funnel numbers. Put it on a dashboard, have it motivate you to crush those numbers.

As well, I’ve previously written another article about my call logging methodology. In short, to save you from reading another one of my articles, every call can be noted in 140 characters or less and prefixed with one of a handful of annotations such that;

GVM: got voice mail

LVM: left voice mail

Call: spoke to intended person

Demo: ran demo

Close: closed business

Email: sent email and email logged (Yesware, Cirrus Insights,& Sidekick do this automatically and nicely)

Solutions to accelerating growth

Now that I’ve learned about the company, the solution, the process, I am ready to recommend some ideas to help them accelerate growth.

Sales Growth Hack 1: Hack the reps

As mentioned above being a sales rep is hard. The caveat is most of us got into sales to make some money and most sales reps are coin operated. The brutal part of this company’s equation is being able to reach the decision, so we need motivate the reps to reach the decision makers, and reach them more often.

The first of the growth hacking techniques is to make sure that the reps are making their dials, emails, and initial contacts in sufficient numbers. How do you do that? Incentivize the different stages of the funnel equation.

What better way than to make it a cash based competition?

For this to be effective and ensure that nobody is gaming system (within reason), two competitions should occur simultaneously; most dials in the week and most booked sales demos in the week. This way there is an incentive to making a lot of dials, more dials equals more chances of sales demos.

As well, the prize for most demos should be larger than the prize for most dials. In this way if a rep decides to game the system for most dials and wins, their win will pale in comparison to someone who did the work, did the dials and consequently booked the most sales demos.

The second rep hack is giving the rep the tools they need to book the demo. This is done by being different, being affable, and being spectacular.

How can you be spectacular?

Everyone loves an unanticipated gift.

First determine the customer acquisition cost (CAC), from that how much can you spend on an introduction gift for 60 leads (20 leads per rep) per month. The rest is easy. The target demographic are mostly homogenous, CEOs and CFOs of companies that span many industries. Each rep is given a budget to spend on 20 leads and select some special gifts to send out to them. I’d guess the top reps would research their leads and find something very personal to buy their way to the demo.

Sales Growth Hack 2: Hack the client

One key advantage this company has is several years of sales and a very low churn rate. The best and easiest way to find new customers, is to request referrals. A better way to get referrals, and considering that the signatory on the renewal check is both the champion and someone with a keen eye on the budget, is to incentivize that referral.

I’d run my referral program in two different ways. The first way would be straight up incentivize the renewal. You are up for renewal, any email where you e-troduce me to a qualified lead gives you a free month of service. E-troduce me to twelve of your friends, get a year’s worth of service. The caveat here is to set a maximum. However if someone can offer forty leads with a 75% conversion rate, I’d let him ride and ask for more. Something to think about.

The second way would be to incentivize them on referrals and testimonials. This could come in the form of 6 months of free service for a few referrals and a testimonial. Have the testimonials come from leaders in the area, either in target geographically or target verticals, something that even without referrals the sales reps can use to gain an entrance to a company and book the demo.

Sales Growth Hack 3: Hack the company

The final acceleration growth hacking technique I would apply would be separate the sales reps responsibilities. If not completely then temporally. Based on the tenants of “Predictable Revenue” and the latest book from The Bridge Group, each part of the sales unit needs to function and be incentivized differently. Obviously for a small company with limited sales staff, doing so may be hard as initially gains will be slow with one rep is booking demos, one focused on closing, while the third is working existing clients for referrals.

The hack here is to take all the reps and have them all work on the same aspect of the sales cycle for a period, then they all move to the next stage.

For example, it is the start of the new fiscal quarter, everyone’s in on a call scrum working only on attempting to book sales demos. During this week the sales leader would run the most dials and most sales demos booked competition.

The next week everyone works the referral program, the next two weeks the whole team should all be out on the road running sales demos. When the new month starts, like groundhog day, everyone is back in the office for a week of booking demos call scrums.

This company is in a good place. They have a great product, they have existing clientele, they have cash to experiment with and they have trained sales reps. What the company needs do is start looking at their funnel metrics, understand their numbers and start testing processes that will adjust those numbers.



Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster.

Read more of Mark’s articles here and follow him on Twitter.

Using video during sales calls (New Case Study)

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

mobile sales tool tipsPeople love bright, shiny tips. This isn’t one.

But it is a great sales story about using business videos during in person sales calls to win deals.

I was pretty inspired by Linda’s story and believe you will be as well.

You can download Linda’s story in her own words here.

Linda at the Gate

Linda Hardwick sells some pretty high-dollar security doors, and often needs an approved vendor partner to get her into government facilities to meet with prospects.

After working for weeks to secure a sales appointment at the Port Authority in Houston, Linda’s distributor partner was unable to join her for the sales appointment due to a last-minute conflict.

The prospect was naturally distrustful, since he’d only interacted with Linda’s partner up to that point.

To have a fighting chance of winning over this prospect without her partner, Linda had two options:

Option #1: Leave the prospect with a brochure and HOPE she got another chance to return with her partner (can you say ‘extended sales cycle’?).

Option #2: Share something unique to grab the prospect’s attention fast, and use it to trigger a deeper conversation.

Hope is not a strategy and, we all know it.

Yet how many of us have been in similar situations and taken the easy path?

I know I’m guilty of caving in and tucking my head to fear.

Making excuses like:

  • It wasn’t meant to be today.
  • He wasn’t going to buy anyway.
  • Why does this always happen to me?

Look at those excuses carefully. Which of them do you feel?

Which of them do your reps feel?

Linda on the other hand did not fall to those fears and excuses.

What happened next?

Linda sells security doors. Remember?

During the walk from the front gate to her prospect’s office, she paid attention to her surroundings to mentally gather examples of where her products could benefit the prospect.

Knowing she only had a few minutes, she actually took out her iPad during the walk and cued up a product video.

The short hi-res demonstration video showed a security system currently in place in a similar government facility.

Importantly, the video showed the conclusion she wanted him to reach—e.g., “These doors could fit right into our facility today and solve a major problem.”

The prospect had no problem visualizing this because Linda set it up perfectly with her observations of her surroundings.

The video fit what the prospect knew of his industry and peers, so he could easily picture the result past the sale.

As a matter of fact, here’s the video ~1 min long…


How did the rest of the meeting go?

As Linda tells us, the prospect ended up watching 10 minutes of videos of different doors and features on Linda’s iPad.

Ten minutes is an eternity if you ever tried to engage a prospect that doesn’t want you there in first place.

45 minutes later…

…Linda and her prospect were discussing how to solve one of his pain points: “tail-gating” (when people sneak into a building at the last moment after someone swipes their security card).

Not bad for a sales rep that should, for all purposes, have been shut out of the call in the first place.

We can’t guarantee you Linda’s results, given variables like your reps’ training, skill level, and so on.

But, at a minimum, Linda’s story should spark ideas for employing visual cues and assets in a mobile sales tool, or app on devices your team already owns.

You can download Linda’s story in her own words here.

The other half of the story

What’s not discussed in the glory of the moment is how Linda’s company set her up for success.

So let’s take a look at the work that went into the story above.

  • She had an iPad
  • She had a mobile sales app on the iPad
  • She was well-trained on when and how to use it
  • She had access to RELEVANT short product videos on her device without Internet access

This did not happen by chance.  Rather by design.

Linda’s management provided her with the tools and training to act decisively in a situation that should truly have extended her sales cycle.

That’s how you get your sales team past their excuses and fears.

Text-to-Close and Using Your Cell Phone to Create More Appointments

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

This article was updated on March 30, 2016 after my 3rd successful try at texting a prospect I had never met before during an in-person sales call.

Grant Cardone -10XIf you’re a sales person, you gotta hustle.

I used to believe it was rude to pull out my iPhone during in-person meetings with prospects. However, for third time this year I successfully got a prospect to text himself our pricing PDF from my phone to his today.

Cell phones for business? This sales tactic really works.

Here’s where I got the idea.

Last December, I listened to a webinar titled ‘Cold Calling Secrets‘ with outspoken sales training guru Grant Cardone that completely changed the way I felt about pulling out my cell phone during in-person meetings with prospects (You can listen here or read the transcript., @hirevue).

I’ve re-read the transcript quite a few times since I watched the webinar.


Because the tactics Grant outlined are so alarmingly simple for using your cellphone even while prospecting with your landline or power dialer.

Here’s the crux of it in his own words…

“I’ll give you one little trick real quick.

Did you know that if I have a headset on and I’m taking a phone call, I want my mobile phone in this hand because I want to text to that customer, that prospect, the person asking for questions.

I want to to text them during the call.

It improves your chance at an appointment by 500% and your chances of closing a sales deal by 328% by merely saying, “Can I text you some data while you’re asking the best price or our proposal or the warranty or you’d like to see what this product is made of or what the FDA said about this or that? I can text that to you right now.”

Texting during an actual phone call will increase your appointment ratio, your appointment show ratio and ultimately ring a cash register.” (full transcript here).

Wait a minute.  500% more appointments and 328% more closed deals?  That’s nuts.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say Mr. Cardone is off by an order of magnitude (divide by 10).

Wouldn’t you want to play ball in a sales game with 50% more approved appointments and 32.8% more closed deals?

Thus the tactic, I’m going to share with you now with my exact phrasing for you to steal, borrow, and use.


Here’s what happened today according to my Activity log in

Chris and I met in his conference room this morning.

We had a conversation about replacing badge scanners with an iPad app tied to Pardot during trade shows for his team. Chris’s team was experiencing a pretty long lag between scanning a badge, getting the leads, loading them into Pardot, and ultimately adding them to a nurture track.

After about 20 minutes, Chris directly asked me for pricing information on FatStax.

I pulled up our pricing one page PDF on my iPhone.

Handed him my phone.

And said, “Here, just text it to yourself. I’m too stupid to remember all the details and, most people just forget or, I have to email it to them later.”

He texted himself from my phone in about 10 seconds flat.


The text came through.

He opened the PDF on his phone.

Fifteen minutes ago he accepted my invite to talk on Monday further about the deal.

Your real prospects will let you text them directly.

We made this short video to illustrate the point.




In B2B sales, BANT and Handshakes are Out. Tech Is In.

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Leadership

In the not-so-distant past, a B2B sales team could rely on a solid strategy like BANT and marketing funnels to identify a good lead.

They could count on soft skills and in-depth knowledge of their product to get them across the next couple of hurdles.

Today? Not so much, according to Pete Caputa, an executive with Hubspot.

As you already know, technology has changed everything for the average buyer who’s in the market for your product. One of the first keys to adapting to this new buyer is to get a full understanding of where she or he is coming from.

The next step is figuring out how to best approach them at the right time — not an easy proposition.

But the effort is well worth it, according to the McKinsey Institute, which conducted research that revealed that the B2B sales process is, indeed increasingly complex. But figuring it out and adapting can lead to a significant boost in your bottom line.

After interviewing more than 100 B2B sales organizations that implemented digital tools and better allocated sales to meet the demands of more Internet-savvy consumers, McKinsey Institute had this to say:

“While the change required is significant, so are the benefits: an up to 20 percent increase in customer leads, 10 percent growth in first-time customers, and a speedup of as much as 20 percent in the time that elapses between qualifying a lead and closing a deal.”

Here are 4 ways you need to adapt with an approach that integrates technology and mobile etiquette without losing the human factor.

1. Realize your prospect already knows about you.

digital tabletWhen approaching a prospect, you’re not starting at ground zero. 

Research shows that, because of the wealth of content available on the internet, the average B2B buyer is quite informed, already having completed anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the buying journey by the time they contact you.

2. Your prospect already knows about your competitors.

With all that research, don’t think the prospect is content with your options. It’s a shopper’s market.

It’s a shopper’s market. If you’re not looking at how you’re stacking up against the competition in providing answers to prospects questions through content and collateral, you could lose out.

3. You prospect still wants you to engage.

Maybe it’s not a matter of picking up the phone that will get you connected with your targeted audience.

Think social. According to the McKinsey study, B2B consumers also are checking reviews and consumer opinions online about your business. Keeping your current customers engaged and following you online can provide another path of influence in the buyer’s journey. It’s an endorsement of sorts.

Boost that presence with blogging, speaking and writing as an expert in your industry. Earn trust through social outlets.

4. You need to understand where your prospect is in the cycle.

Meeting your prospects where they are in the discovery process requires checking inbound marketing data.

That means that, more than likely, you will need to approach each one with a customized approach. Having those answers readily available is key to delivering that experience — and making the sale.

Finding the right sales enablement tools to provide those answers can be key to keeping prospects engaged.

Today’s B2B prospect is constantly evolving. The company that adapts to keep up with their needs wins.

FatStax provides the customization you need to accelerate your sales. Contact us to find out how it can deliver results for your team.

What ‘Better Call Saul’ Taught Me About Sales and Hustle

By | Mobile Productivity Tools
Credit: AMC

Credit: AMC

There’s a recent disturbing study that is driving me nuts.

74% of sales people are failing at their job according to a huge study by the Objective Management Group.

I can’t get this out of my head.  74% is astonishing.

Considering we sales people are some of the highest paid individuals on the planet, it’s even more disturbing (yep, I sell things to sales people for a living).

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

  1. I don’t have enough leads.
  2. I hate cold calling; it doesn’t work.
  3. is such a pain to update.
  4. They were never gonna buy anyway.
  5. They aren’t responding to my emails.

And on and on…

So what does that have to do with Better Call Saul?

If you haven’t seen it, BCS is the back story of Saul, the sleazy lawyer from Breaking Bad.  If you don’t know what Breaking Bad is then you don’t watch television and probably live in a hut. Congrats.

In BCS, Saul can’t help himself from ‘breaking bad’ like Walt, the high school teacher that made meth in the original Breaking Bad.  You really want to like Saul, but he’s truly a thief.

The show is a slow, epic, downward spiral to meanness and greed.

But that’s not what this article is about at all.

Last night the wife and I watched the ‘Rebecca‘ episode that aired originally on March 14th. You can watch the entire episode here.

In this episode, Saul’s gotten his girlfriend, Kim, into a world of trouble at her job.  Kim, an experienced lawyer, has been relegated to ‘document review.’

She’s forced to work insane hours, doing work that is far beneath her pay grade, and underlining crap in file after file.

She spends the first few scenes feeling sorry for herself.  Who wouldn’t!

But then in the pivotal moment, she tells Saul, “You aren’t going to help me.  I’m going to help me.”

Now that’s what got me.

“You aren’t going to help me.  I’m going to help me.”

She made up her mind to take ownership of her situation.

EXTREME OWNERSHIP (if you haven’t read Jacko’s book. Do it.)

Here’s where the tide turns.

The next 15-20 scenes play out in a montage.

Credit: AMC

Credit: AMC

Kim standing in a stairwell, staring at 5 Post-It notes full of numbers stuck on the glass.  She’s dialing her closest friends and asking for their business for her law firm.

She’s rejected.

Kim’s back in the stairwell, 5 more post-it notes on the window with names and numbers of her old law school buddies. Rejection.

Some sleazy dude even tries to get her to sleep with him.

Kim’s back in document review, brainstorming more distant connections to contact.

Back in the stairwell. More rejection.

And so it goes, until she is dialing people she barely knows that she met at a mixer a few years back. Rejection again!

Kim looks stunned.

She’s talked to everyone she can possibly think of from her entire network to get herself out of her hole.

Smoking in the garage.  Pacing.

Dying slowly on the inside.  Full in the knowledge that she is a loser in the game of life.

Then her phone rings.

Credit: AMC and

Credit: AMC and

She gets the meeting with a huge bank and closes a $250,000 retainer for her firm.

She hustled her butt off.

She failed, took ownership, and solved the problem.

Man, I love that so much.

So, you wanna know why 74% of sales people are failing?

Here’s what I think.

We don’t take extreme ownership of our situation.

We don’t turn ourselves inside out to get the job done.

We don’t call our closest friends, college buddies, people we met at a mixer 5 years ago and ASK for their business.

Instead, we blame the lack of leads, the buyer, the buyer journey, the lack of training offered by our firms, the lack of sales tools,…

…anything but ourselves.

So to top it off, a friend sent me this video in an email this morning.

I think Bryan sums up exactly the way I felt this morning when I woke up started thinking about my own failures.

The things I was blaming on anything but myself.

Here’s a short list:

  1. Lost deals to Fortune 500 companies
  2. Code delivered late and over budget
  3. Still trying to get started with LinkedIn Ads

And here are my excuses:

  1. The CIO was never gonna buy it
  2. Coding is always late and over budget
  3. Linkedin Ads probably won’t work anyway

Like Kim on BCS, I decided to take extreme ownership of my failures and act aggressively to get my ship headed in the right direction.

You aren’t going help me.  I’m going to help me.

Figure it out, Dawg! Figure it out.

3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales Apps

3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales Apps

By | Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity, Selling Tips

“Efficiency” may have been the top thing on your mind when you gave your sales team tablets.

The ability to streamline operations with an array of mobile devices is evident, as many businesses are realizing. Your sales reps can check email and schedules, access documents, share files and collaborate with their co-workers on mobile devices.

And, of course, any gains in efficiency means that you’re shaving off the time it takes to get things done — which eventually results in financial savings for the company.

But you don’t have to settle for just increasing productivity. More companies are now using enterprise mobile sales apps to aggressively drive more sales as well as energize their sales teams.

Think of a custom sales app as the tool that could prove to be a game-changer.

Here are three benefits of mobile apps for sales teams including how they improve team efficiency and how a customized app caters to the priorities of your sales team.

1. Prioritize your data.

3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales AppsBy developing a sales tool that’s tailored to feature and prioritize the collateral that is critical to your company’s sales outcomes, you can empower your team by keeping the most important information at the forefront.

Likewise, all components of a customized app can be designed to accelerate steps in the sales process. You are simplifying your team’s ability to access important information. More importantly, the benefits of mobile apps ensure that keeping the priorities of your sales strategies are at the top of mind.

2. Track progress.

With a customized tool to improve team efficiency, you have another avenue to make the most of your one-on-ones with individual sales reps.

Now that they have a tool — you could call it a personal assistant — to help them more quickly get to marketing collateral for their sales calls and presentations, you can hone in on other obstacles that may be impeding their performance.

It’s a great way to energize your team as well as eliminate the excuses.

3. Improve customer-facing collateral.

Prospective customers are smarter — a lot smarter than they were just 5 to 10 years ago.

With all the information available on the Internet, they’ve already done most of their research by the time your sales reps arrive on the scene.

Consider this research from CEB: The average business buyer does not contact suppliers until 57 percent of the purchase process has been completed.

That means they’re studying and comparing products and services provided by you and your competitors before your sales reps arrive on the scene.

That translates into the need to deliver a very customized sales presentation to each customer.

More than likely, each one will be at a different stage — with different questions.

A customized mobile app that’s searchable can help you sales reps quickly find the answers to their prospects’ questions without fumbling around — or saying something like “I’ll get back to you.”

The bottom line is that you need to provide your team with tools and benefits of mobile apps that will enable them to sell instead of complete administrative tasks.

While tablets and mobile apps are increasing the productivity of companies in various industries, a customized app provides what you need to accelerate your sales.

Want more on how to improve team efficiency and how to use mobile sales tools effectively? Read this article on 5 proven hacks for creating revenue with mobile sales tools now.