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Recently, I published an article that introduced a way to measure sales progress by means other than conventional numbers and metrics. 

Today, I received an email from a property leasing salesperson who had his own question about sales effectiveness.  He asked, "How do I determine if I am seeing results from me being a good salesman or if it’s from my sheer volume and what kind of selling would you say a Real Estate Salesperson uses most?"

I explained that there are four types of sales conversations and by conducting some self-analysis you can determine whether success or failure is the result of your own effectiveness, or because of your company's reputation, quality and features of your product or service, the timing of your conversation, or that you happen to have the lowest price.

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If you follow American football even a little, then you were paying attention this week when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl VII.  You might have been paying attention when a day later the Patriots offensive coordinator agreed to take the head coaching position of the Indianapolis Colts.  The press conference was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but 3 hours before Josh McDaniels would be introduced as the Colts new head coach he changed his mind, left the Colts in the lurch, and decided to remain with the Patriots.  Wow!  Good for Josh and the Patriots.  Bad for the Colts.  Bad for his reputation.  Interestingly, the thing that excited me most was that we now have a well-known, high profile example of someone  changing their mind AFTER the 11th hour.  And boy oh boy does this relate to sales!

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Recently, I installed vented plastic garage floor tiles like those in the picture above to improve the look of our garage.  It's the same garage, but now it looks awesome.

Yesterday I received an email from Richardson Training, letting me know that they have completed their 2018 Selling Challenges Study.  The data in the report, which you can download here, hasn't changed a great deal since 2017, but the report's new look is awesome.  I reported on last year's report in detail here, but my conclusion for 2018 is the exact same conclusion I came to in 2017.

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We want to get better at selling and as sales leaders we want our salespeople to improve.  We need them to improve.  We hope that training and coaching and sales ennoblement tools will get us there.  We have also been told that there is more than one way to skin a cat but it might come as a surprise that there is more than one way to measure the progress being made by your salespeople.

There are traditional lagging indicators, like revenue generated, and there are traditional forward looking indicators, like new meetings, pipeline value and pipeline quantity compared to a prior period.  Conversion ratios - calls to meetings, meetings to qualified opportunities, qualified opportunities to closable, and win rates, all compared with the same ratios from a prior period.

These metrics tell a story, individually and together, but forward looking indicators tell a more timely story, especially if you have a long sales cycle.  However, as you'll read below, measuring sales progress doesn't stop with metrics because there is another powerful way to get instant feedback on a salesperson's progress.

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The economy is doing well, unnecessary regulations have been rolled back, the stock market is soaring, unemployment is low, consumer confidence is up, manufacturing has returned, companies are investing in the American economy, businesses are confident about the future and tax cuts are about to make paychecks bigger for about 90% of all Americans.  What will consumers do with that extra money?  They'll spend it of course!  As a result of these positive developments, what should you expect to happen from a sales perspective in 2018?

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I was on the way to a meeting and the traffic was stop and go - not moving for a minute, then back up to 30 MPH, and then back to a dead stop.  I've been driving since 1972 and have driven in all kinds of conditions.  Pitch black on a moonless night on a narrow winding road with no street lights; on a 4-lane highway in white-out conditions where you can't see where the sides of the road are, down-hill on black ice with zero control of breaking and steering; snow-covered, two-lane road with cars stranded all over the place during the height of a blizzard, torrential rain when the roadways were flooded, heavy fog when you can't see the hood of your own car; and over a bridge in a tropical storm where the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to keep the vehicle on the bridge.  I haven't driven off-road.  

Comparing the stop and go traffic to the other conditions I have driven in got me thinking about a sales analogy that you might find helpful.

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Last week I wrote about the deep freeze, why prospects suddenly go cold, and how you can prevent that from happening. That article was instantly as popular as any I have ever written.  I also posted a 6-minute  cold-calling rant on LinkedIn that had more than five-thousand views after just a couple of days. The video, like the article, was about mindset, not scripting and tactics.  And last week I also posted an article about writing a good prospecting email.  It seems that there was a theme to the week and it resonated really well with the readers.

Let's build on that theme and discuss the same prospect that went cold two months ago, and now he calls or sends you an email. 

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Outside of Boston, today is the day after the blizzard of 2018, it's a winter wonderland, and the deep freeze we have been experiencing is expected to get worse, with extended periods of sub-zero temperatures and wind chills approaching -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  What does that have to do with selling?  Plenty!

One of the biggest frustrations that salespeople and their sales leaders have is when good prospects go cold.  These include prospects that were projected to close soon yet, they aren't returning calls, emails, inmails or overnight deliveries.  Not only have the prospects gone cold; the salespeople have been frozen out.  But it's more like the weather than the two scenarios sharing common words.  

I finished reading Dan Brown's new book, Origins.  I think it's his best work since The DaVinci Code although I did correctly guess the ending...  Anyway, at one point they are reading the Roman Numerals XI + I and coming up with an answer of 12.  12 was not the answer required to decode the matter at hand.  Professor Langdon, the main character, changes his perspective.  He rotates the equation by 180 degrees, turning it upside down until the equation becomes I + IX.  The new answer is 10, exactly what they needed.

If you change your perspective about prospects going cold, you might discover that you caused them to go cold, rather than the myriad of other possibilities.  I'll explain.

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I receive so many unsolicited emails each day that it makes my head spin.  Most of them, like the cold calls I get, are simply horrible.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  Junk.  Block.  Unsubscribe.

This week I received the daily double - a cold call with an identical, corresponding email.  The email read like this:

Hi Dave, 

I hope this message finds you well.

We spoke in the past regarding the copier equipment in your office.  At the time you indicated that your existing contract will be ending just over a year from now.  Have you started to look into this yet?  Our company would love a shot to earn your business.

I'll go through this line by line and explain what's horrible, what's OK and how I would change it.

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It's a family tradition that each December we attend the Boston Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker.  It's truly a magical show and even though the primary dancers change from year to year, the execution of the show's script and musical score is flawless.

Several years ago, during one of the performances, it dawned on me that the orchestra's role in the show correlated very nicely to an effective sales presentation.  There were 3 fantastic lessons that I presented then and as I have done each year since, will present again here.

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