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How to Make the Last 5 Minutes of a B2B Sales Presentation Memorable


b2b sales presentation first impressionIn our most recent piece of content – 100 Sales And Marketing Stats that Will Blow Your Mind – one of the most compelling stats is that the most memorable part of B2B sales presentations are the last five minutes… not your witty opening, not those fancy slides in the middle, but how you wrap up.

Apparently ending your presentation with “Do you have any questions?” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Frank Carillo, President of ECG, a strategic communications consulting firm, recommends in this Selling Power article that you end with a strong call-to-action. Something he said resonated with me: Carillo says, "If you ask them to do nothing, they will happily comply.”

That leads me to the first point in summarizing his thoughts on how to end your B2B sales presentation with a bang:

End with a Call-To Action

Carillo states, “Ask for the business in the context of the differentiated benefit that you've been arguing for the last thirty minutes.” It sure does make a ton of sense. We believe that it’s always a good idea to end any conversation with firm next steps; never has this been truer than at the end of a sales presentation.

Don’t Announce that You’re About to End the Presentation

Frank advises against using the phrases ‘in conclusion’, ‘to wrap it up’, or ‘the bottom line is’. He suggests that not only does this type of ending lack impact, it might even turn your audience off. OK, Frank. I’ve never heard this one before, but I can go there with you. I don’t think that colloquialisms like this are too damaging, but they may lack a certain ‘oomph’.

Use a Dramatic Pause or Stop near the End of the Presentation

Here, I believe there is a lot of merit. If you’re in a face-to-face presentation, the conclusion is the spot where you want to stop being animated and stop moving around. You want your audience to really key in on what you’re saying at this point. He says. “When you are heading toward your conclusion, bring yourself to a complete and utter stop so everyone can focus on you and what you are about to say. Use a pause as you plant your feet. This will heighten the anticipation for what you are about to say." Slowing your voice and adding a dramatic pause are great ways to psychologically bring the attention back to you as you finish out your sales presentation.

Let There Be a Clear Separation between Your Conclusion and the Q&A Portion

They really should be two separate things and not a blended conclusion. After you've made that last call-to-action, the author advises that you might say something like, "If your schedule allows, we can have a Q&A." It’s also advisable that you finish the Q&A portion by affirming once more the reasons you are a good fit for the prospect.

And I would add this one…

End Your Presentation with Something Impactful and Unforgettable

Think about some of your favorite movies. One of the things they probably have in common is that they ended with a bang. The climax to the story was gripping and compelled you to feel something. A B2B sales presentation is no different- it’s a performance, after all. Whether you end with a story about one of your clients who realized huge benefits or a witty quip or quote that summarizes the benefits of your solution, end with a bang. Those are the presentations I remember most, anyways. On this Carillo says, "Maybe my presentation is not about asking for the sale at the end, but it's making you believe that we are a credible company. Tell a story that will stick in their minds that makes you credible. Maybe it could be about how you came through for a client when that client really needed you. Stories have texture. People remember stories better than anything else." We’re not advising anything gimmicky or used-car-salesman-esque. Perhaps tell a story or make an impactful statement, then restate your conclusion.

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Lead with 1 of These 2 Openers to Grab a B2B Sales Prospect’s Attention


b2b sales prospect openerIt’s a fact, Jack. Sales prospecting ain’t getting any easier. There’s more clutter and white noise to break through. B2B sales prospects don’t answer your emails and it seems you are having a relationship with their voice mail. Prospects are busy with the 200 emails in their inbox and the fire to put out down the hall. You have to give B2B sales prospects a reason to listen or respond to your message. You have to be noticeable.

I attended a webinar this year which talked about how to open initial B2B sales calls and how to leave compelling voice mail messages. The presenter asked participants to chime in with their opening sentence and most of them were atrocious, I must admit. Of the worst offenders… Some were too lengthy. Some didn’t address the sales prospects’ needs. All of them sounded just like every other caller before them.

The point that these people (and anyone in sales really) need to key in on is that an outstanding opener usually doesn’t consist of a long diatribe about you, your company, or your products or services. In the first few seconds of the call or voicemail, you have to grab their awareness. You have to wedge yourself in their consciousness with powerful, impactful statements.

Some of the more effective call openers that we train are:

The “What’s in it for me” Opener

Sit down and think of the hard benefits your sales prospects realize by owning your solution. Mention one or two of the most powerful benefits.

Example: “We help manufacturing companies like you to track every single unit of inventory from arrival in the warehouse to shipment to the end-user. They know where every single one of their thousands of units are in a few clicks.”

The “I was researching your company…” Opener

If you are afforded the luxury to do a little research before calls, use some piece of information you’ve learned to open the call. It shows initiative and familiarity with their company and, after all, aren’t B2B sales prospects more likely to listen to someone that’s done some homework. Good sources of information can be found on the ‘Resources’ or ‘News’ pages of their website. Another source is a data provider (like Lead411 or InsideView) that provides current news stories and internal developments on organizations.

Example: “I was doing some research and noticed that your company made the Inc. 5000 list this year. What an accomplishment! Many of our clients are also high-growth Inc. 5000 companies, and they use us because…”

At the end of the day, an outstanding opener addresses the prospect. Furthermore, it should not be cookie-cutter, if you can help it. It should be specific to the prospect. It should be terse and to-the-point. Always have the end goal in mind.

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How a Webinar Can Be a Hub for B2B Content Marketing


A webinar can be an effective path to B2B content marketing success. It takes a good amount of effort to draft the content, acquire registrants, and execute a performance for your audience that they derive value from.

The rewards, in terms of repurposing content, more than pay for the hard work that your team puts in to execute. Think of all the possibilities. At Dreamforce this year, I was in a session where Ken Krogue from talked about how a webinar can become a hub for B2B marketing content. He flashed the following image on the screen and it really resonated with me, because it gave me some great ideas for our own webinar series and all of the wonderful ways we could bring that information to people who would find it valuable.

webinar b2b content marketing

So how do you repurpose a webinar into many of the other forms of content mentioned above? Simple.  You have to have a solid post-marketing effort to:

  1. Convert the webinar into all of the applicable content mediums – audio for a podcast, video for Youtube, slide deck for SlideShare
  2. Define a distribution strategy to publicize your webinar, including Social Media posts, blog posts – perhaps include the webinar in a premium content download like a kit of sorts

It’s really a formula that most marketers know well. But the key is in how you leverage the content to be the star of the show. In case you missed it, feel free to check out the recording of our latest webinar – The Ultimate Sales Funnel – How to Build the Machine:

Hey Marketers… Which is More Important for B2B Marketing Success – Frequency or Reach?


First of all, both terms – ‘reach’ and ‘frequency’ – are holdovers from traditional marketing of years past, when advertising campaigns (print, television, etc.) were the method of choice for marketers. But in today’s digital age, the definitions and usage can be expanded to include any B2B marketing activity – social media, email marketing, direct mail – anything.

How about we review, first, the definitions of the terms for those ‘green’ B2B marketers. The number of prospects you touch with your marketing message is called reach. The number of times you touch each prospect with your marketing message is frequency. If resources were infinite, you’d like to have both, but in our world of finite resources, you must choose to favor one or the other.

Real world example: A marketer has negotiated a deal with an email marketing vendor which allots them 1,000 email sends per month. He must now decide whether to send his email to 1,000 prospects, or gather the best 250 prospects and email them once a week for four weeks.

So what’ll it be?

b2b marketing frequency reachSeth Godin addresses this very topic in his book Permission Marketing, and I tend to agree with him. (In general, at least, because everyone’s situation is different.) He posits that:

Frequency is the key to building long-term relationships with prospects.

Why? The heart of B2B marketing is the forging of business relationships with prospects. You build a relationship through consistent, frequent interaction with prospects. Using an analogy of watering seeds, Godin explains that adequate frequency in your B2B marketing campaigns is critical. Imagine you are given 100 seeds with just enough water to water each seed only once. Would you plant all 100 seeds and water each one once or would you be more successful if you planted 20 seeds, threw 80 away, and used all of the water on those 20 seeds?

Most B2B marketers understand the value of frequency in B2B marketing campaigns but, for some reason, when actually executing the marketing campaign, they decide to forgo frequency for reach. Then what inevitably follows are grumbles about the ineffectiveness of the campaigns. So many marketing dollars are squandered on one-hitter campaigns with no frequency.

The next time you are fronted with the decision of sending one email to 1,000 prospects or four emails to 250 prospects, I urge you to think about those 100 seeds you can water only once.

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200+ Amusing Sales and Marketing Memes


b2b sales memeWhat has the world come to? Everywhere I turn, there’s a meme. And the sales and marketing industry is not immune by any memes. (See what I did there?)

I often post some of the best ones to the SalesStaff Facebook page. Below, you'll find a folder with more than 200 sales and marketing related memes. Take a look and download them by all memes necessary. It’s a quirky marketer’s dream.

Here are 25 of our favorites for your viewing pleasure:


Download the entire batch here:

sales and marketing memes

The Blueprint for Building the Ultimate B2B Sales Funnel


ultimate b2b sales funnelB2B sales professionals used to live in a completely different world way back at the turn of the millennium. In the year 2000, digital marketing was in its infancy – maybe even in an embryonic stage. There was a fairly symmetrical sales funnel driven by lots of phone calls maybe a few emails and, if you were lucky, a small email campaign.

But, as Bob Dylan told us, the times they are a-changin’. Marketing systems and sales processes are getting increasingly complex. What does the new funnel look like? Well, first of all, the new funnel looks differently and acts differently than the Y2K version. Visualize it however you want – a game of Chutes and Ladders, a twisty-turny map that can take multiple routes to the same spot, a bowtie like Matt Heinz describes – but no matter what visualization you use, the theme is the same: a non-direct pathway to revenue with multiple marketing influences and that all-important ‘human component’.

In fact, we are hosting a webinar on December 11 that addresses this very topic and lays out the blueprint for building the ultimate sales funnel as we move into 2015. We’ll give you a full rundown on the following all-important facets of building that ultimate sales funnel:

  1. Build an audience. Knowing who your prospect universe is exactly is key to the marketing process. It is the fuel that fires the engine. It is not static, but it is ever-changing as prospects move on to other positions, are promoted, etc. It is a living database of prospects that needs to be constantly updated, amended, and added to.
  2. Make sure your marketing content is mapped to buyer behavior. Step one here is to know your buyer personas. Who buys your product or service? What is their role? What is important to them, not only to help their organization but in their own day-to-day roles? Once you’ve done a deep dive into your buyer types, make sure that the marketing content you issue aligns with their needs. Make sure you have content that also addresses buyers who may be in different stages of the buying process.
  3. Accept marketing automation as a mainstay. As forerunners in the sales and marketing community, we view marketing automation as a must-have. In order to stay top-of-mind with prospects who have engaged with your brand or content, a lead nurturing track is essential. Make sure they remember who you are when they are ready to enter the buying process or risk getting left in the dust when they begin researching options again.
  4. Fortify your sales enablement by embracing the ‘human element’ of the sales and marketing. The idea is to enable sales to have the conversations necessary to close deals. You can automate much of the marketing process (social media, email campaigns, etc.) but you can never make the human element of sales and marketing obsolete. If you try, your sales funnels will start to break down. You need the human component. Even if you’re a marketing all-star and 80% of the process is complete by the time prospects are ready to engage, you still need a human.
  5. Use shared KPIs between sales and marketing. We no longer live in a world where the Marketing and Sales departments can be evaluated independently. Key performance indicators should be less compartmentalized and more of a shared KPI. Sales and marketing need to be accountable collectively for the results they produce. Closed loop feedback between these two departments is essential.

This may be the most impactful 45 minutes of your week. View our December webinar by clicking below.

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B2B Sales Leadership: The Best Way to Improve is to Develop Your “Middle Skills”


Guest Post by Milo Sindell from Skyline Group

b2b sales leadership 000With more than 100 coaches across the globe, Skyline Group specializes in offering leadership solutions that follow proven systematic methodologies to assess and advance leadership abilities of emerging leaders to seasoned senior executives. We’ve discovered some interesting revelations about skills development in the B2B sales leader.

There are 28 skills that we identify as being key factors to effective leadership. Skyline Group has worked directly with thousands of leaders, and using these 28 skills to assess their aptitudes, we have uncovered that the skills fall into 3 buckets: top 20%, bottom 10%, and middle 70%. Can you guess which bucket of skills provides the most return if developed?

Simply put…

It is far more beneficial to develop that middle 70% than the other two skill sets.

Examining the top 20% of skills leaders possess (the most innate talents of an individual), it’s easy to fall back on our core abilities. Leaders often use the same methods in their approach to new opportunities by relying upon what comes easily to them and what has worked in the past. On the flip side of the coin, there is that 10% of skills that B2B sales leaders just aren’t very good at – skills that, despite painstaking attempts to improve, just don't mature as well as leaders would like.

In between these two sides of the spectrum are the middle skills — the skills that fall between what you already excel at and the things that you may be fundamentally just not good at. Your middle skills make up the overwhelming majority of the skills that leaders retain. And consequently, with the proper effort, these are the skills that can become your most powerful weapon. Think of these middle skills as hidden strengths waiting to be developed.

In our years in leadership development, we’ve seen that the most common tactic for refining leadership skills is the exact opposite of the most optimal tactic. Once the assessment results are in, either the lowest scoring items are pursued for development or the highest scoring items are identified and augmented in their use.

Here’s the problem with that… Addressing low-scoring skills takes a disproportionate amount of effort to noticeably improve the things that you are not good at. On the other hand, the issue with using more of the same high-scoring skills is that you produce a liability called stagnation. Look at it this way, only developing huge strengths would be like a weightlifter who only develops one side of their body — they would be lopsided. Finding hidden strengths and converting them into learned strengths follows a different path.

There’s huge opportunity between the top 20% and bottom 10% of your skills. Therein lies the greatest opportunity for becoming a better leader. The question you must answer though is: Do you know what your middle skills and hidden strengths are?

You probably know what you’re good at and what you struggle with, but have you done a self-inventory of the things that you are just OK at? Imagine just how many things you could be really good at with some focus and training. It’s tragic but this middle skill set is often overlooked because people have a tendency to either focus on what is glaringly not working or fall back on what comes easily. You've may have discounted the true potential of your middle skills.

The world around you is dynamic, and what worked well today may not work well tomorrow. New challenges will arise. Adaptation requires the development of new skills and perspectives. In our experience at Skyline Group, uncovering hidden strengths by converting the right middle skills into newly-acquired strengths at the right time is the foundation of ongoing leadership growth.

For more on Leadership Assessment and how to develop middle skills, visit

milo sindell skyline groupMilo Sindell is the President of Skyline Group’s C4X division. Milo has over fifteen years as a business and human capital expert. He began his career working with the leading experts in the fields of executive development and employee development (Marshall Goldsmith and Beverly Kaye). Subsequently, he worked as a senior consultant for Intel and later at Sun Microsystems in areas including strategy development and implementation, change management, knowledge management, and leadership and employee development. At Skyline he is focused on market positioning, product development, and working with companies to maximize performance through their employees. Connect with Milo Sindell on LinkedIn. Connect with Skyline Group on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Everyone Wants the Credit for Creating B2B Sales Leads: The Problem with ‘Last Touch Attribution’


sales lead attributionWith all of the advances in sales and marketing technology, B2B marketers are able to track most (if not all) of their touch points with prospects. And these days, multiple marketing channels are the norm, so it becomes even more difficult to attribute sales leads to a single source. Like I wrote in a previous post, a prospect’s journey is less and less a straight line, formulaic journey and more like a game of Chutes and Ladders.

Let’s play this scenario out:

  • Last week, your prospect clicked on a Google AdWords link and registered for one of your webinars
  • On Monday, he attended that webinar
  • On Tuesday, he decided to investigate you a bit more and subscribed to your blog
  • On Wednesday, he got his first blog notification email and read your article. While there, he decided to download a piece of your content.
  • On Thursday, he got a call from one of your Inside Sales Reps because he downloaded some content. He said he was interested in what she had to say but wasn’t ready to set aside some time to talk.
  • But on Friday, he became available and decided to chat with one of your sales reps on the website. This chat turned into a sales demo and then finally a closed deal thirty days later.

Here’s the million dollar question… who gets credit for that sales lead entering the pipeline? Realistically, it could be any of these people:

  • the Pay-Per-Click Manager
  • the Marketing Manager that put together the Webinar
  • the Content Marketing Director that writes blogs
  • the Inside Sales Rep that called and got the prospect more engaged
  • the Sales Rep that fielded the chat from the website

The ‘Last Touch Attribution’ model would dictate that the Sales Rep gets the credit. You see the problem with that, right? He gets the credit at the expense of all of the others whose work influenced the prospect to engage.

There are a number of Lead Attribution Models available to Demand Generation teams – from the simple to the complex. Mark my words, though, they all have strengths and weaknesses. There is no perfect, magic unicorn that will take you off into Lead Attribution bliss. To every end, it is highly dependent on your organization and the complexity of your marketing channels.

The best advice we can give you is this:

No matter which Lead Attribution Model you use, you should have visibility into the touch points that led to a funneled opportunity.

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3 Ways (that Actually Work) to Ask for Referrals in B2B Sales


b2b sales referralsI was reading through our latest piece of content (100 Sales and Marketing Stats that Will Blow Your Mind), and one stat jumped off the page and slapped me in the face.

The Dale Carnegie Group cites the fact that 91% of customers say they’d give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them.

Wow… what an epic failure. After all, the referral is one of the most potent weapons in a salesperson’s arsenal. It’s a relationship that has already been vouched for by an independent third party and thus fosters trust right from the beginning. And, oh by the way, it’s also been cited as the lead generation method most likely to result in a sale.

But are there best practices in asking for a referral? You bet there are. After convening with a few of our sales reps, these were the most-named and most successful techniques for getting sales referrals.

When you ask for a referral, have the client bridge the connection for you, if they are willing.

Simple concept, right? Which is better? Calling up the referred prospect and saying, “Bob asked me to connect with you.” -OR- Bob sending an email to his contact that says, “Hey Carl, Garrett has something you might be interested in. We use them and couldn’t be more pleased.” No brainer. If your client is willing, ask them to make the connection for you. It could be email or phone, but it’s huge if you can get this done.

Quid pro quo. If you can think of someone in your network that can benefit from the client’s services or products, give THEM a referral.

One of our best sales reps is known around these halls as a networking superstar and he told me that he is always looking to connect his clients with people he knows that might be in the market for their services. If he knows someone, he makes the bridge between them. It’s simple. It’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone. Then, when you give your client a referral, aren’t they more likely to give you one in return when you ask?

Timing is key. It’s better to ask for the referral when you’ve delivered rather than at signing.

A newly signed customer has just shouldered some risk by buying from you. There is no reason to ask them to immediately put their neck out on the line again and refer you to someone else. You have to earn the right to ask for a referral by standing up to your claims and delivering a quality product or service.

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Can You Slam Dunk a Basketball? – A Snarky Argument for Outsourced Inside Sales


outsourced inside salesWhat does outsourced inside sales have to do with basketball? It’s actually a decent analogy.

I played some hoops back in the day. I’m not even the worst player on the court… most days. I can see the rim ten feet up there. I know how to dunk a basketball – how to plant my foot, how to gauge the distance so I take off at the right spot, how to extend my body.

But just because I know HOW to dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I CAN dunk. I have weaknesses. I’m a 6-foot-nothing guy with a horrible vertical leap. It doesn’t mean I can’t ever. I would have to put in the effort to train and learn and get stronger.

The same concept applies to outsourced inside sales. Just because an organization knows a thing or two about inside sales, doesn’t mean that they can do it well right from the outset. Has it happened? Sure. But there’s usually some training, some trial and error, and lots of hard work to get it right.

We often tell our prospects this:

“In this age of sophisticated sales and marketing alignment, you and I both know that you need to have an inside sales component to tee up opportunities for your closers. You have choices, though. You can do it yourself. Or you can outsource inside sales to a company that specializes in it… and, oh by the way, you can do no better than SalesStaff. But, either way, it’s something you MUST do.”

A 5’8” point guard that CAN’T dunk will never be in the paint trying to dunk. He’ll be doing what he does best. And if there’s an opening, he’ll dish it down low to a specialist like Shaquille O’Neal who focuses on taking it to the hole.

Just because you know how, doesn’t mean you’ll succeed right off the bat. You can put in the work and get really strong at it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Or you can dish it to a specialist.

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